Saturday, November 22, 2008

Saturday Early PM Stuff

In response to a question about his role in the Imperial Sugar case, Georgia Repug Senator Saxby Chambliss decides to shove his hand into a camera lens - nice freaking guy (h/t annrose at The Daily Kos)...

...probably because he doesn't want to talk about what is discussed in this video.

Update: Seriously, how dumb would the people of Georgia be to re-elect this buffoon as opposed to a stand-up guy like Jim Martin (and Martin is being attacked by those human stains at Freedom's Watch, one of whom includes Ed Snider; just remember, Sixers and Flyers fans, when you give Ed money, it gets channeled to these life forms).

Update 11/24/08: More of the same from Chambliss...

Friday, November 21, 2008

Friday Stuff

Hey, it took the Vatican 400 years to admit that it was wrong on Nicholas Copernicus, but it took 42 years to forgive John Lennon for this (story here) - I guess that's progress; wonder how much those busted-up Beatles records would've been worth today?...

...and gosh, won't you give Victor The Victory Elephant a home (and block the "Obama Democrat Agenda" - or something??)...

...Stone Roses ("She Bangs The Drums"; I guess they kind of gave up at about 2:50, and I guess we'll also just have to wait on "Pure" by The Lightning Seeds - still a nice tune, though)...

...and to commemorate the 45th anniversary (God, that long ago) of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy tomorrow, here's "Abraham, Martin and John" by Dion DiMucci (I put this up on April 4th for Dr. King and on June 6th for his brother Robert - and I thought this was a good related story).

Little Ricky, "Hugo" Your Way And I'll Go Mine, OK?

I know yesterday was “Elephant Poop In The Room” Day at the Philadelphia Inquirer, but I just couldn’t face the prospect of dealing with another Santorum screed (this one on Hugo Chavez), so I punted on it until today.

However, I really should deal with this, so (from here)…

This buffoon (Chavez, in case you hadn’t guessed) has maneuvered to monopolize power in every branch and level of Venezuelan government. He has nationalized much of the economy, including the oil, power-generation, telephone and banking sectors, along with most of the media. His Cuban-trained state police bully the opposition.
Little Ricky goes on to point out that Chavez is replacing “legitimate popular elections” (interesting, given this item from about a year ago) and is “(using) his petro-dollars to help achieve what the impoverished (Fidel) Castro never could: Marxist regimes in Nicaragua and Ecuador, and working relationships with Argentina and Brazil.”

Somehow I don’t think the voters in those countries care whatever label Santorum attaches to them, be it Marxist or something else, when you consider the following from this article…

Latin America is emerging from a long period of failed economic reform policies, known as "neoliberalism" there, which resulted in the worst economic growth performance in more than 100 years. From 1980-2000, regional GDP (gross domestic product) per capita grew by just 9 percent, and another 4 percent for 2000-2005. By comparison, it grew by 82 percent in just the two decades from 1960-1980. As a result of the unprecedented growth failure of the last 25 years, voters have demanded change in a number of countries, including Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Uruguay.

Venezuela has loaned more than $3 billion to Argentina, and has loaned or committed hundreds of millions of dollars to Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and other countries. It also provides subsidized credit for oil to the countries of the Caribbean, through its PetroCaribe program, and provided many other forms of aid to neighboring countries. These resources are provided without policy conditions attached – unlike most other multilateral (IMF, World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank) and bilateral aid. By providing these resources, Venezuela is helping other countries to bring their policies more in line with what voters have demanded, and greatly reducing the threat of economic crises in the process of doing so.

For example, before the Nicaraguan elections last November, US government officials made many threats to the voters of that country that if they elected Daniel Ortega, they would suffer greatly from cutoffs of loans, aid, and even the remittances that many Nicaraguans depend upon from their relatives in the United States. None of these threats have been carried out. This is partly because Washington knows it would be useless and counterproductive to do so, since Nicaragua would simply replace US-controlled funding sources with more borrowing from Venezuela. The same is true for Bolivia, which has vastly increased its hydrocarbon revenues, and is in a stronger bargaining position knowing that it has an international lender that will not try to interfere with its domestic political agenda. The new progressive president of Ecuador, who faces a number of important political battles to deliver on his promises of governmental reform, pro-poor and pro-development policies, is also strengthened by having Venezuela as a lender. When the Argentine government decided to say goodbye to the IMF in January of 2006 by paying off their remaining $9.9 billion in debt, Venezuela’s loan of $2.5 billion helped that government to avoid pushing its reserves down to dangerously low levels.

No other government in the region accepts the Bush Administration’s charge that Chávez is a threat to regional stability – not even President Álvaro Uribe of Colombia, which shares a 1300 mile conflict-ridden border with Venezuela. When Uribe met with members of the US Congress last year, he refused to criticize Chávez– reportedly even in private. The vast majority of Latin American governments also supported Venezuela’s bid for the UN Security Council last year, even after he called President Bush "the Devil" at the UN, and despite all the pressure that the United States – whose economy is 67 times the size of Venezuela’s – brought to bear on them.
Now I realize that the Weisbrot piece was written in April of ’07, and circumstances may have changed since then. I say this because Santorum notes that Chavez has met with Ahmadinejad of Iran, with the latter saying that he and Chavez are “brothers” (cue scary sounding incidental music and “Terra! Terra! Terra!” bold type all over the place).

The only place I have seen reporting about this is the Los Angeles Times by Chris Kraul and Sebastian Rotella, and though I have no reason to doubt the authenticity, I get a little suspicious when I hear about plots to abduct Jewish businessmen in South America and abduct them to Lebanon without actual proof (cited by Thomas A. Shannon of the State Department in this story).

Is Chavez using his petrodollars on behalf of people we don’t like? I’m sure he is, but I haven’t seen evidence that he’s doing so to cause an insurrection in this hemisphere.

As for our government, Weisbrot tells us…

What should the Bush Administration do about the non-threat from Venezuela? It could start by acknowledging that it was wrong to support the April 2002 coup that overthrew Chávez. The US Congress should have a real investigation of this involvement, as it did for the US-sponsored coup against the democratic government of Chile in 1973, which yielded volumes of information. The documents that we have so far on the Venezuelan coup from the State Department and the CIA show that the Bush Administration paid some of the leaders of the coup, had advance knowledge of it, and tried to help it succeed by lying about the events as they transpired. The administration also tacitly supported a devastating oil strike that tried to topple the government in 2002-2003, and funded opposition groups through the 2004 failed recall attempt and beyond. In fact, the US Agency for International Development, which is not supposed to be a clandestine organization, continues to pour millions of dollars into Venezuela, Bolivia, and other countries for activities and recipients that it will not divulge. This, too, needs to be made public.
Also, Little Ricky tells us (reiterating what I said earlier)…

Recently, the brotherhood of Iran and Venezuela announced a $4 billion joint venture in oil production. (We should) strike…at this alliance and the heart of Chavez's power.
You mean, “recently” as in October of 2007 (here)?

And oh yes, let’s put Venezuela on a “Terra! Watch list” or something and impose sanctions, making the economy crumble to the point where the people are destitute and rise up in rebellion (which won’t happen anyway, given that Chavez has enough dough to spread around the continent already), loving us even though we inflicted misery upon them (oh, and P.S. – this NEVER happens).

Another thing - let's not forget this act from the "boogeyman" Chavez that Buscho was unwilling to extend to our neediest citizens, which, as far as I'm concerned, is a truly embarrassing commentary on our political "leadership."

Also, Santorum said we should ratify the Columbia Free Trade Agreement as a response to Chavez in Venezuela….?????

Does Chavez pose a threat? Probably, partly due to our ham-handedness in South America. However, the way to respond to him is through diligent surveillance and intelligence-gathering, as well as working with international law enforcement against him when there is a case to be made. This is what adult leadership does, as opposed to Bushco’s typical bombast, half-truths and empty threats (helped in no small part by Santorum and his ideological playmates).

Update 11/25/08: Based on this New York Times editorial, it sounds like the people of Venezuela are rising up against Chavez just fine without our help - we'll see.

Bushco Parades Its Biggest Hangup Once Again

Call it “The Tit That Will Never Die – The Sequel” (here)…

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The US government has asked the Supreme Court to reimpose a half-million-dollar fine slapped on CBS television for a 2004 broadcast of live images of pop star Janet Jackson's breast, court documents obtained by AFP show.

It is up to the Supreme Court to decide whether it will consider the request.
The story tells us that this utter joke of a case was wisely thrown out by a Philadelphia federal court in July; the ruling was that CBS could not be held responsible for Janet Jackson’s actions (and those of Justin Timberlake also, of course).

And for a news story having to do with what I would argue to be a more legitimate situation where porn is being produced to the point where the legal standard of obscenity set by the high court is used to bring an action against it, click here.

(How much do you want to bet that the court of “Hangin’ Judge J.R.” will decide to hear the Super Bowl thing anyway, just to make headlines?)

Trying To Make Sense Of Pence

Yahoo News tells us here today of the ascent of Indiana Repug Mike Pence to the #3 leadership position within his party among U.S. House representatives (Pence is a former talk radio host also - he took a shot at Boehner's position as #1, but he got rolled)….

``The American people know we can't tax and spend -- or bail our way out -- to a better economy,'' says Pence, who as House Republican Conference chairman is responsible for shaping and selling his party's agenda.

With Democrats ascendant in Washington, poised to control the White House and Congress, Republicans are taking a long look in the mirror.

Pence's rise to the leadership is ``an indication of the power of conservative Republicans in the House, and it's a sign of his stature as an eloquent spokesman for the conservative position,'' says John Pitney, a political-science professor at Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, California.

Representative Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, who chairs the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, says Pence's rise suggests Republicans may become more combative, and their party may view the ballot-box losses in November as a matter of not being ``ideologically pure.''

``I respect Mike Pence for the consistency of his views, but they are consistently to the right of the American people,'' Van Hollen says.
Yeah, Pence is a great guy all right: he alleged that Valerie Plame wasn’t “a covert operative” here, he said that public disaffection over the growth in government spending under the GOP-controlled Congress paved the way for the election losses in ’06 here (uh huh – forget about that pesky Iraq war and the Republican culture of corruption having anything to do with that), and – best of all – he said that that infamous visit by he and John McCain to the hastily-assembled-for-the-media Baghdad marketplace “was just like any visit to an Indiana marketplace in the summertime” (except, of course, that Pence and McCain were accompanied by 100 soldiers, three Blackhawk helicopters, and two Apache attack helicopters) here (and I almost forgot about Pence and his "rock n' roll" quote over a spending impasse here).

And the Yahoo News story tells us of Pence’s ascent under the headline of “a return to the Reagan roots,” which is ironic given his opposition to embryonic stem-cell research here (advocated by Reagan's widow Nancy).

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thursday Stuff

OK, everybody in the world probably has seen this by now, but here's the "Alaska Disasta" herself giving her interview in front of turkeys being slaughtered (I thought the MSNBC captions were hilarious - h/t Atrios)...

Update 11/25/08: Bill in Portland Maine is a genius for this.

...and Rachel Maddow has all of the gory details (speaking of carnage) on how the U.S. Senate fluffed "Tubes" Stevens, and also an interview with Michigan Dem Senator Debbie Stabenow about the auto industry bailout that that "august body" couldn't get around to passing (oh, and nice move to "join the party," Harry Reid)...

...and just for the record, here is a big reason why our discourse on helping the automakers is teh stupid (how dumb do you have to be to take Inanity, Kristol Mess and The Mittster seriously anyway?)...

...Everlast ("What Its Like" - guess those Alaska turkeys know a thing or two about hard times too).

Thursday Mashup (11/20/08)

  • As noted here, a Russian court recently reversed itself and ruled that the proceedings in the trial of three four men accused in the murder of journalist Anna Politkovskaya should take place in secret because of jurors’ safety concerns; this was a blow to Politkovskaya’s “relatives, rights groups and journalism advocates” (the man accused of the actual shooting, Rustam Makhmudov, has fled the country, according to the story – a backgrounder is here).

  • Update 2/20/09: Ugh...

    Update 6/28/09: It tells you something about how murky this case is that a retrial of the four acquitted in the first trial (here) is viewed negatively by Politkovskaya's family and friends (i.e., the acquittal of the four meant that the search could continue for the shooter and the person who actually ordered the hit, but with a retrial, the focus once more will be on the other four who were largely incidental to this crime anyway).

  • Midnight tonight is the deadline for Dubya to sneak his rule changes into the Federal Register, and in the process, screw us even more than he has already (no wonder his party has numbers like this; I’m surprised they’re not lower – h/t Atrios).

    So what is Dubya up to here? Well, if you must know (from here)…

    Among the many new regulations—or, rather, deregulations—the Administration has proposed are rules that would: make it harder for the government to limit workers’ exposure to toxins, eliminate environmental review from decisions affecting fisheries, and ease restrictions on companies that blow up mountains to get at the coal underneath them. Other midnight regulations in the works include rules to allow “factory farms” to ignore the Clean Water Act, rules making it tougher for employees to take family or medical leave, and rules that would effectively gut the Endangered Species Act.
    And (from here)…

    ...end(ing) a ban on carrying loaded guns in national parks; a Labor Department plan to change the way regulators assess risk for jobs, especially those that expose workers to chemicals; and a proposal that could make it harder for women to get federally funded reproductive health care.

    ...more than 60 rules contain provisions making it impossible to sue in state courts for negligence on the part of manufacturers.
    And (from here)…

    On health care, the administration issued guidance (in August) that will make it more difficult for states to expand the Children’s Health Insurance Program to cover children in middle-income families. The policy has no expiration date, but Congress could override it and allow states to apply for waivers to set more generous coverage standards.

    The administration is also preparing new regulations likely to be published next year on airline security, mine-worker protections and automobile safety and fuel efficiency, White House aides said.
    I could use saltier language than to merely say that George W. Bush is a contemptible little shit for doing this, but I’ll leave it at that for now (just about at 60 days left of this nonsense – sorry, but sometimes swear words are the only ones that work).

    Update: Dana Perino does it again...

  • I’m sure we all know by now that the latest al Qaeda No. 2 surfaced in a video, calling President-Elect Barack Obama, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former Secretary of State Colin Powell “house Negroes,” referring to blacks of a supposed higher stature in the old South who were nonetheless more servile than “field Negroes.”

    There’s a lot that can be said about that, such as the fact that, were such a ridiculous statement not coming from a murderous coward of al Qaeda, it would actually be funny (this may be the ONLY time that you actually find me in agreement with that prickly guttersnipe Dana Perino on ANYTHING). How can someone who likely has only a passing acquaintance with personal hygiene and probably shares more intimacy with livestock than actual human beings pretend to cast judgment on anyone else?

    But I’d just like to point out that Ayman al-Zawahri, the alleged human being who spoke derisively of the people I just mentioned, said that they were “the direct opposite of honorable black Americans like Malcolm X” (the person who originally spoke of “house Negroes” and “field Negroes”).

    In addition to his numerous other faults, al-Zawahri apparently doesn’t understand (or doesn’t care to know about) the life that Malcolm X lived and the person he truly was (I suppose he only liked Malcolm X because he was once a revolutionary). Yes, there most definitely was a period of his life when he advocated violence, but as he grew older and his life circumstances changed, he grew to understand and embrace people of other faiths and ethnicities. I think that’s demonstrated in the following quotes (from here):

    Be peaceful, be courteous, obey the law, respect everyone; but if someone puts his hand on you, send him to the cemetery.

    I believe in the brotherhood of man, all men, but I don't believe in brotherhood with anybody who doesn't want brotherhood with me. I believe in treating people right, but I'm not going to waste my time trying to treat somebody right who doesn't know how to return the treatment.

    In the past, yes, I have made sweeping indictments of all white people. I will never be guilty of that again — as I know now that some white people are truly sincere, that some truly are capable of being brotherly toward a black man.

    They call me "a teacher, a fomenter of violence." I would say point blank, "That is a lie. I'm not for wanton violence, I'm for justice."

    I think there are plenty of good people in America, but there are also plenty of bad people in America and the bad ones are the ones who seem to have all the power and be in these positions to block things that you and I need. Because this is the situation, you and I have to preserve the right to do what is necessary to bring an end to that situation, and it doesn't mean that I advocate violence, but at the same time I am not against using violence in self-defense. I don't even call it violence when it's self-defense, I call it intelligence.

    I've had enough of someone else's propaganda. I'm for truth, no matter who tells it. I'm for justice, no matter who it's for or against. I'm a human being first and foremost, and as such I am for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole.

    Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.

    This religion (Islam) recognizes all men as brothers. It accepts all human beings as equals before God, and as equal members in the Human Family of Mankind. I totally reject Elijah Muhammad's racist philosophy, which he has labeled 'Islam' only to fool and misuse gullible people as he fooled and misused me. But I blame only myself, and no one else for the fool that I was, and the harm that my evangelical foolishness on his behalf has done to others.

    I believe in human beings, and that all human beings should be respected as such, regardless of their color.

    A man who stands for nothing will fall for anything.

    How can anyone be against love?
    And finally…

    "Since I learned the truth in Mecca, my dearest friends have come to include all kinds -- some Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, agnostics, and even atheists! I have friends who are called capitalists, Socialists, and Communists! Some of my friends are moderates, conservatives, extremists -- some are even Uncle Toms! My friends today are black, brown, red, yellow, and white!"
    I’m not going to waste another syllable criticizing a life form like al-Zawahri, but instead, I’ll merely provide a plug for the 1992 movie “Malcolm X” starring Denzel Washington here (a truly fine film).
  • How Dare You Try To Elevate Our Discourse!

    (Just a note as long as I’m thinking about it; I may try to scale back on things on Fridays through the end of the year, just to let you know – lots of other stuff to catch up on, and it might be a good time now with the elections all but over except in Georgia.)

    Time for another conservative battle over a nonexistent enemy, and that would be the Fairness Doctrine; as noted in this story, certain right-wing hammerhead radio hosts are all in uproar over the possibility of it returning under the incoming Obama Administration…

    While some Democrats — notably House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — have supported the doctrine, the new Democrat-in-chief does not, at least for now.

    “He considers this debate to be a distraction from the conversation we should be having about opening up the airwaves and modern communications to as many diverse viewpoints as possible,” a spokesman for Barack Obama’s campaign said before Election Day.

    Conservatives aren’t necessarily worried that a return of the Fairness Doctrine would mean more liberal and Democratic viewpoints on broadcast television and radio.

    Instead, they say, station owners would simply drop controversial programming — airing music and entertainment programs, much as they did until the doctrine’s demise.

    “In the early 1980s (when the doctrine was in place) … talk shows were visiting with authors of new books,” said Mike Shanin, co-host of an afternoon talk show on KMBZ 980 AM radio in Kansas City. “This kind of regulation chills the discussion of controversial issues.”

    In a speech earlier this year, President Bush — who has been on the receiving end of a few talk-radio tongue-lashings — made a similar point.

    “We know who these advocates of so-called balance really have in their sights: Shows hosted by people like Rush Limbaugh or James Dobson,” Bush said. “By insisting on so-called balance, they want to silence those they don’t agree with.”
    Wrong again, Dubya (and to prove it, here’s a link to a prior post telling us that a prominent Repug called for a return of the Fairness Doctrine as a response to the fact that common-sense immigration reform was defeated by the right-wing loudmouths; the person who did that was that noted “liberal” named Trent Lott – and just for the heck of it, I took a shot at figuring out the whole “liberal media” con here).

    Anyone who thinks the return of the Fairness Doctrine would mean the end of right-wing radio is truly delusional (though I wish they were right about that). I don’t know what kind of advertising revenue is generated by Flush Limbore, Sean Inanity, Bill Orally and that crowd, but given their contracts, I’m sure it is substantial. And sadly, that won’t change until they and/or their audience start dying off.

    Wednesday, November 19, 2008

    Wednesday Stuff

    Hey now! The Onion News Network goes international! Just don't tell your neighbor, or you'll be sent to a reindoctrination camp for questioning the Dear Leader (or something)...

    Chinaâ??s Andy Rooney Has Some Funny Opinions About How Great The Chinese Government Is

    ...XTC ("The Ballad Of Peter Pumpkinhead"; kind of got nostalgic for this song a bit when I was checking out Clinton and Bosnia again for the prior post - actually, I think this song explains a lot of what happened during his administration, though fortunately the "nailed to a chunk of wood" part was not realized, though if Scaife had had his way...).

    More Fun With Condi And "The Old Gray Lady"

    This is a follow up to this prior post about the feature article in last Sunday’s New York Times Magazine, in which Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and three others reporting to her were questioned by Times reporters Helene Cooper and Scott L. Malcomson.

    Basically, I have some issues with Madame Secretary’s answers – continuing…

    We have said to Iran that this is about changing your regime’s behavior, not changing your regime. That has been the message all along.
    I will give Rice credit here for being definitely less hawkish than the neocons, but for her to deny that Bushco has never had any thoughts on military action against Iran is a fantasy; as noted here, Sy Hersh of The New Yorker documented how our “good friends” the Israelis were helped Dubya and Deadeye Dick “stovepipe intelligence” in anticipation of military conflict by providing evidence of Iran’s development of a “trigger for a bomb” two years ago.

    (I’m not arguing that Iran isn’t a threat, by the way, but mainly pointing out that this followed the same pattern as the runup to the Iraq war, particularly when you add the Kyl-Lieberman Amendment to the mix.)


    If (the so-called “Responsibility To Protect”) turns out to be nothing but words, the Security Council is going to have a real black eye, and in the Darfur case it has turned out to be nothing but words. I think it has been an enormous embarrassment for the Security Council and for multilateral diplomacy.
    I think there’s a lot of truth in that, but the following should be noted from here also…

    It has taken President George W Bush nearly three years to match his impassioned rhetoric about what he decries as genocide in Darfur with tougher US action against some of those blamed for the suffering. When Bush announced sanctions on Tuesday, advocacy groups and lawmakers wished the president had been harsher and wondered whether it was a case of too little, too late for Darfur. The violence has killed 200,000 people and forced 2.5 million more from their homes since it began in February 2003.
    And to argue that the Iraq war had nothing to do with our decision not to commit troops to Darfur is an utter fantasy.

    And finally, here comes probably the most boneheaded remark of the entire piece (appropriately enough, by Daniel Fried again, at the very end)…

    Do you think Bush expected 9/11? No. Did Clinton expect Bosnia? No. Man makes his plans; God has his own.
    As much as I read and re-read that, I’m still having a difficult time with my thoughts of utter disgust and revulsion.

    As noted here, in March of 1999, Bill Clinton prodded NATO into a bombing campaign against what was once Yugoslavia and Serbian thug Slobodan Milosevic, which unleashed the disintegration of that country into Serbia and Montenegro as a result of a brutal domestic uprising.

    You can argue that Clinton and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s actions were ham-handed stemming from the so-called Dayton Accords of 1995, which some argue was a pretext for Clinton and NATO to flex their muscle against Milosevic. However, Milosevic’s troops in Bosnia were committing acts of genocide, and Clinton believed he had to act; he had already acknowledged that he was wrong not to intervene in a similar crisis in Rwanda earlier in his presidency.

    Also, you could forget about further U.S. troops in the region, since we already had about 20,000 there at the time, and without the bombings, the only other alternative was to send more troops (can you say, “Vietnam”?).

    And by the way, here’s something else to consider: brutal as it was, the bombing worked, and (with the help of Russian diplomacy), the Serbs withdrew, with no further U.S. casualties (here).

    Simply stated, Clinton made a controversial calculation that achieved the “least worst” result possible (and let’s not forget that this little matter was playing out at the same time).

    And to compare any of that to 9/11? To compare any of that to the utter horror and chaos precipitated by the fact that this bunch utterly ignored the warnings from Richard Clarke, among others, to pay attention to al Qaeda?

    There’s a lot of old history that I could rehash here, but I’ll merely point out the following from this article in The Nation…

    The various accounts offered by the White House are almost all inconsistent with one another. On December 4, 2001, Bush was asked, "How did you feel when you heard about the terrorist attack?" Bush replied, "I was sitting outside the classroom waiting to go in, and I saw an airplane hit the tower--the TV was obviously on. And I used to fly myself, and I said, well, there's one terrible pilot. I said, it must have been a horrible accident. But I was whisked off there. I didn't have much time to think about it." Bush repeated the same story on January 5, 2002, stating, "First of all, when we walked into the classroom, I had seen this plane fly into the first building. There was a TV set on. And you know, I thought it was pilot error, and I was amazed that anybody could make such a terrible mistake...."

    This is false. Nobody saw the jetliner crash into the first tower on television until a videotape surfaced a day later. What's more, Bush's memory not only contradicts every media report of that morning, it also contradicts what he said on the day of the attack. In his speech to the nation that evening, Bush said, "Immediately following the first attack, I implemented our government's emergency response plans." Again, this statement has never been satisfactorily explained. No one besides Bush has ever spoken of these "emergency plans," and the mere idea of their implementation is contradicted by Bush's claim that at the time, he believed the crash to have been a case of pilot error.
    The events leading up to the Bosnia bombing were premeditated by a president with a particular outcome that was largely realized. The events of 9/11 showed a president who was absolutely befuddled and overmatched by horrific events that possibly could have been mitigated or even prevented with a minimum of diligence or forethought (yes, it’s true that I’ll never know if I’m right, but I’ll never know if I’m wrong either).

    I only know that if Daniel Fried really believes what he says, then he has absolutely no business serving this country in any diplomatic capacity whatsoever.

    Update 11/23/08: And speaking of Richard Clarke, he had what I believe were some interesting words on the latest Zawahri tape here (tied to this post, the third item in particular).

    Shelby The Shill Worsens The Main Street Meltdown

    The AP (via Time Magazine) tells us the following here (and I also posted briefly over here on a separate topic)…

    (WASHINGTON) — The senior Republican on the Banking Committee said Wednesday he doesn't believe there will be a turnaround in the troubled U.S. auto industry until its top management is ousted and its manufacturing operations are revamped.

    "I don't think they have immediate plans to change their model, which is a model of failure," Sen. Richard Shelby said, a day after the top executives of General Motors, Ford and Chrysler came to Congress to plead for a $25 billion "bridge loan" to avert layoffs and plant closings. "I think a lot of it will be life support," Shelby, R-Ala., said. "I believe their best option would be some type of Chapter 11 bankruptcy ... These leaders have been failures and they need to go."
    Wow, that’s some harsh talk (and not entirely undeserved, I must say).

    Well then, since the financial meltdown precipitated the credit crunch that imperiled the automakers, forcing them to greatly “ramp up” production of vehicles that make much better use of alternative sources of energy (something they should have done long before now, I’ll admit – both the New York Times and the Murdoch Street Journal today have full page ads from GM telling us what they’re up to on that front), you would think that Shelby had equally harsh words for the mismanagement of firms such as Lehman and AIG, wouldn’t you?

    Not exactly; as noted here…

    Where the (two major) parties appear to diverge is over Democrats' demand for government authority over the paychecks of executives whose companies participate in a taxpayer bailout. House Republicans oppose the idea, aides said, and Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.), a key figure in the debate, said yesterday on CBS's "Face the Nation" that he thinks compensation should be set by corporate boards.
    Boy – somehow, that doesn’t have the same oomph of fire and brimstone, “make right your paths, you sinners!” as “these leaders have been failures and they need to go” in the case of the automakers, does it?

    Well, call me a filthy, unkempt liberal blogger if you must, but somehow I think that has more than a little bit to do with the fact that Shelby has received a hell of a lot of campaign finance dough from the financial services industry, as noted here by Open Secrets (don’t see any automakers on that list, just for the record).

    And while it’s true that Shelby voiced concern about the original bailout proposal by Dubya and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, as noted here (which was nothing more than a typical Bushco power grab and giveaway of our tax dollars with no oversight, as opposed to the little bit that currently exists), to me, that was more of a matter of political survival than anything else; maybe I should give Shelby props for that, but I won’t because it was a no-brainer.

    See, Shelby to me is another Repug in the mold of Arlen Specter, someone who pretends to be something that he’s not, and that’s a moderate (I’m not sure a species like that can survive long in that party). As noted here, he was originally a Democrat, having fought Bill Clinton over taxes and spending in the early ‘90s, though Shelby apparently kept his mouth shut when prosperity flourished largely because of Clinton’s money management (and he knew which way the wind was blowing, as it were, changing parties in ’94 when the Repugs retook Congress and starting doing just about nothing but making Clinton’s life an utter misery).

    Here are some more Shelby “lowlights”:

  • He received a 0 from the Republicans for Environmental Protection, as noted above by Wikipedia; he also loved Dubya’s tax cuts and voted to confirm “Strip Search Sammy” Alito (though he wisely voted against the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act that weakened financial transparency, I must admit).

  • He also revealed classified information to Carl Cameron of Fox News (possibly tied to 9/11), though Cameron didn’t air it but Dana Bash of CNN did instead – Shelby wasn’t punished because the Senate Ethics Committee dismissed the matter in ’05, when it was run by the Repugs.

  • He also opposed the FDA’s efforts to regulate tobacco here; also helped direct $50 million in earmarks to a space and missile defense company run by a friend who hired one of the senator’s former aides as a lobbyist.

  • He also blocked a Darfur divestment bill that would have put pressure on Khartoum to stop the genocide (also said in June of ’01 that we had bin Laden “on the run”).
  • Another thing - also like Specter, Shelby is due to defend his Senate seat in 2010 (and also like Specter, it will be tough to knock him off, since he has an approval rating of approximately 54 percent at this point).

    As you can see, though, Shelby has no trouble summoning up some serious harrumphing over the automakers in our current crisis (and as attractive as it is to punish them, it makes little sense since, like the money guys, the ripple effects would be felt everywhere - and I thought this was a good column pertaining to all this). But when it comes to the financial culprits who first toppled the dominoes, as it were, leading to the current economic misery, it looks like he’s out of gas.

    Update 1: I must admit that it's really hard to support help for these cretins (the carmakers, that is) when they pull antics like this.

    Update 2 11/20/08: And by the way, I think Shelby is an ideological fellow traveller with this guy.

    Update 3 12/08/08: Regarding the matter of a loan to the automakers, I thought was kos said here was spot-on (concerning another unrepentant egomaniac).

    Update 4 3/17/09: God, is Shelby a fraud (here).

    Tuesday, November 18, 2008

    Tuesday Stuff

    Bye, Ted...

    ...and as I said, Dana Perino will argue that water isn't wet unless she's covered in it over her head; here, she tells the White House press corps that Bushco didn't torture - uhh, no...

    ...and just for the record, Paul Krugman provides a minute-or-so history lesson in The Great Depression and pretty much "schools" George Will in the process (and fortunately, the video faded out before Cokie Darling could blather on in barely coherent fashion, probably about how great "free" trade really is)...

    ...and like many of you, I continue to be repulsed by the shameless cowardice of Harry Reid as Senate Majority Leader for allowing Joe Lieberman to remain in charge of the Homeland Security Committee (so down with kos on this), and the only song I could think of to truly capture how I felt was "Nowhere Man" by The Beatles, so here it is (the video makes fun of Dubya, which is deserved but is a bit off-topic at the moment - I was probably influenced by the fact that I'm currently reading Larry Kane's fine book "Ticket To Ride" about the 1964 tour).

    “Gunga Dan” Carries On

    A hat tip goes out to Will Bunch of Attytood for alerting us to the fact that former CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather’s lawsuit against his former management is proceeding, as noted in this New York Times story, which tells us…

    Mr. Rather has spent more than $2 million of his own money on the suit (alleging that his former employer had commissioned a politically biased investigation into his work on a “60 Minutes” segment about President Bush’s National Guard service). And according to documents filed recently in court, he may be getting something for his money.

    Using tools unavailable to him as a reporter — including the power of subpoena and the threat of punishment against witnesses who lie under oath — he has unearthed evidence that would seem to support his assertion that CBS intended its investigation, at least in part, to quell Republican criticism of the network.

    Among the materials that money has shaken free for Mr. Rather are internal CBS memorandums turned over to his lawyers, showing that network executives used Republican operatives to vet the names of potential members of a panel that had been billed as independent and charged with investigating the “60 Minutes” segment.

    Some of the documents unearthed by his investigation include notes taken at the time by Linda Mason, a vice president of CBS News. According to her notes, one potential panel member, Warren Rudman, a former Republican senator from New Hampshire, was deemed a less-than-ideal candidate over fears by some that he would not “mollify the right.”

    Meanwhile, (former PA governor, Reaganite and longtime Repug Richard) Thornburgh, who served as attorney general for both Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, was named a panelist by CBS, but only after a CBS lobbyist “did some other testing,” in which she was told, according to Ms. Mason’s notes, “T comes back with high marks from G.O.P.”
    There is so much to the story of Dubya’s National Guard service that has been neglected or ignored, with some of that here (sorry, linked video no longer available), including the promotion of Major General Daniel James to head of the Texas National Guard after he allegedly scrubbed Dubya’s records at the instruction of Bush confidants Joe Allbaugh (the guy who bailed on FEMA to make a financial killing from the Iraq war and handed over that beleaguered agency to Mike “Horsey Time” Brown) and Dan Bartlett.

    But if Rather’s suit proceeds to trial (even with five of the seven counts dismissed), it is likely that the story he tried to tell on TV will be told once and for all through the force of the law (and don’t get me started on the Burkett documents – there was a lot more to it than that).

    And for that, he deserves our thanks.

    Snarlin' Arlen Gets Ready For Another Scrap

    (By the way, I also posted over here.)

    It’s pretty much common knowledge in these parts that Arlen Specter is going to run for another term in the U.S. Senate starting two years from now (noted here). And given that, I’d like to point out some things before a Democrat decides to challenge him.

    Any politician can be beaten, but to dethrone Specter is going to take the performance of a lifetime for a Senate contender. I’ve seen great candidates such as Bob Edgar and Joe Hoeffel try and fail, and I would only say that you’re going to have to try and pin him based on substantive issues. And that will be tough because, though Specter has voted a lot more conservatively than his rep would indicate, he has managed to escape the media spotlight by feinting towards moderation when it suits him.

    Also (speaking of the media), this recent column by Michael Smerconish is pretty representative of the “Arlen love” by our corporate media in these parts (and I haven’t said much about Smerky because, like Specter a bit, he’s managed to avoid doing anything truly stupid lately). And that shouldn’t be underestimated; anyone gunning for Specter will have to beat both him as a candidate and his accompanying media narrative, which I have to admit is a powerful pair.

    I can’t think of a reason why any Dem in this area would take a shot, because this person would have to substantially out-perform Specter in this area to offset losses across the state, and that’s not going to happen.

    Here, though, are some of our senator’s lesser moments…

  • He voted against a bill to appropriate $96 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan over six months, $4.3 billion for veterans' care, and $19 billion for domestic programs. The bill (HR 1591) required the Bush administration to begin U.S. troop withdrawals from Iraq within four months of enactment and set a nonbinding target of March 31, 2008, for redeploying all but a residual force (here).

  • He voted against the fiscal 2007 intelligence budget that would have required the CIA to tell Congress the locations of its secret prisons abroad and identify interrogation techniques; the bill failed, 50-45, to reach the 60 votes needed to end a GOP filibuster blocking action (here).

  • He voted against a bill mandating that we withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq within 120 days and finish the pullout of all but a residual force by April 30, 2008; the bill failed, 52-47, to get 60 votes to break the filibuster (here, a second time he voted against a troop withdrawal timeline).

  • He voted against an amendment that set longer periods between soldiers' tours in combat and time stateside; the amendment to the defense budget (HR 1585) would have required at least as much time back home as in the war theater (it failed to reach the 60 votes needed to break yet another filibuster here).

  • He voted against a bill that would put children of illegal immigrants on a path to citizenship if they first serve in the U.S. military or complete two years of higher education (failed to reach 60 votes; this is a recordinghere).

  • He voted to confirm Michael Mukasey as attorney general (and yes, this is a bad thing – here).

  • He voted against a bill appropriating an additional $50 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan while setting a goal of pulling most troops out of Iraq by Dec. 15, 2008 (a third vote against an Iraq withdrawal timeline here).

  • He voted against the conference report sent to Dubya on the fiscal 2008 intelligence budget that required CIA personnel to obey the Army Field Manual's ban on torture of prisoners; the manual outlawed harsh techniques such as waterboarding (here).

  • He voted against a Democratic bill (HR 3221) enabling holders of shaky subprime mortgages to rework payment terms in bankruptcy court (failed to reach 60 votes, blah blah blah; God, I hope Chambliss, Coleman and “Tubes” Stevens all lose so I won’t have to say that any more!- here).

  • He basically blocked the attempt by Senate Dems to allow Dubya’s tax cuts for the rich to expire in two years here.

  • He voted to kill a measure that sought to give bankruptcy judges authority to change the terms of subprime mortgages on primary residences. The proposal, offered as an amendment to a House housing-related bill (HR 3221), would have given the judges power to cut interest rates and principal to help borrowers keep their homes (here).

  • He voted against a bill (S 3268) directing the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to curb "excessive speculation" in the oil-futures market, in part by setting higher margin requirements, requiring more public disclosure and working more closely with other countries' regulators in an attempt to hold down gas prices (couldn’t break yet another in a seemingly endless chain of filibusters here by falling short of 60 votes; at the time this was considered by the Senate, gas topped off at about $4 a gallon).

  • He voted against a bill to extend renewable-energy tax credits due to expire at year's end; the credits promoted fuel extraction from sources such as the sun, wind, earth and crops and promoted the manufacture of more energy-efficient homes, buildings and appliances (couldn’t get the 60 votes for the umpteenth time here).

  • He voted to increase National Missile Defense spending by $271 million over the $9.3 billion already included in the $601 billion 2009 military budget (S 3001 – fortunately, this boondoggle of a bill failed to pass here).
  • (And by the way, the 7/31 Specter post I noted at the beginning contained a reference to his Senate book deal, which apparently was legal given the looser rules for this sort of thing in that body of Congress as opposed to the U.S. House.)

    So this is what I’ve been able to assemble against Specter, for the benefit of anyone choosing to oppose him. If anyone think this is enough to beat him, along with whatever else a candidate can come up with, be my guest. All I’m saying is that you should know what you’re up against before you try.

    Monday, November 17, 2008

    Monday Stuff

    God, Georgia Repug Senator Saxby Chambliss is so far beyond clueless that it's a joke; to do something about it, click here...

    Update 11/18/08: Glub, glub, Saxby...

    ...Electric Touch, from Austin, TX ("Love Is In Our Hearts").

    A Love Letter To Condi From "The Old Gray Lady"

    (By the way, I also posted over here today.)

    As far as I’m concerned, the New York Times committed a journalistic atrocity in its Sunday Magazine section yesterday (and I’m not even talking about Deborah Solomon’s interview with Karl Rove, which, aside from the fact that the decision to interview a moral leper like Rove is bad enough, was made worse by the fact that the interview wasn’t even interesting because Rove will never give away anything that can hurt him).

    What I’m referring to is its “exit interview” with outgoing (happily) Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. There were so many unanswered assertions and examples of Bushco-friendly spin that I don’t believe that it will be possible for me to answer them all in a single post. And the worst remarks didn’t even come from Rice herself, but from someone named Daniel Fried (I’ll get to him shortly – “Welcome To My World, Barack”??).

    To begin, here’s what Fried has to say…

    The West does not go out and conquer countries by using force, try to deprive countries of a choice. It didn’t insist that Poland join NATO. Poland wanted to join NATO. It didn’t impose NATO membership or E.U. membership on Estonia; Estonia chose it. That’s a difference, and it’s a moral difference as well. . . . If you validate the assumptions of Russians who believe that the only proper relationship between Russia and its neighbors is one of subordination and intimidation, then how do you expect a more cooperative Russia to emerge in the future?
    Oh, and by the way, speaking of “not conquering countries by using force,” it sounds as if the Iraqi Parliament has ratified the agreement stipulating that our forces will be gone by 2011 here (of course, since we didn’t “conquer them by using force,” such a date should be arbitrary, since we could leave whenever we want, right?).

    (In a little more than two months, we’ll be governed by grownups again, people; just keeping hanging onto that – as the saying goes, tell me lies that are slight shades of the truth; don’t tell me lies that insult my intelligence.)

    And speaking of a “more cooperative Russia,” it should be noted that President Medvedev has called upon President-Elect Obama to pursue better relations here.

    Actually, this and other comments by Fried are surprising, since he has a pretty good record in foreign service, though he is decidedly a hawk (which will be obvious the more I dig into this “interview”).

    Also, here’s another gem from Fried…

    An Obama presidency will be greeted in Europe with enthusiasm, but as some Europeans have put it to me, “We realize that we won’t have the excuse of George Bush.” Obama made it clear during his trip to Europe that he wants to work with Europe, but any American president is going to think globally, and Obama, from what I know of his team, is a freedom Democrat. He believes in a values-based foreign policy. He’s going to want Europe to stand up and do more. . . . And Europeans will have a problem, in that they will embrace him, and they will not be able to say: “Well, this is the Bush administration. We have to resist.”
    Uh, do I detect just a bit of sour grapes here?

    Before Assistant Secretary of State Fried starts blaming Europeans for things they have yet to do, let’s keep the following in mind from Der Spiegel here...

    President Bush, who may well be the worst president in the history of the United States (a view held by historian Sean Wilentz of Princeton University, for example), has brought the country's reputation to an all-time low worldwide. In the eyes of much of the world, the America of George W. Bush is no longer a beacon of democracy. Instead, it stands for contempt for international law (because of the US's unilateral war in Iraq), torture at Abu Ghraib, bending the law in Guantanamo and selfish environmental policies that do more harm than good to the world's climate.


    Statistics support the dramatic decline in the US's reputation. Less than half of the populations of all Western European countries, 30 percent of Germans and only 8 percent of Turkish citizens have a positive view of the United States. This negative assessment apparently has nothing or very little to do with the often-cited anti-Americanism to which conservatives like to attribute the US's image loss. When George W. Bush began his first term in January 2001, 78 percent of Germans still had a positive view of the United States. This general fondness for Americans remains high today.
    And that to me is nothing short of a miracle, but there you are.

    Also, here is another item to note from the “interview”…

    I think the first thing the next president will have to do is understand that Afghanistan is now part of a regional problem. Maybe four or five years ago it was about Afghanistan, but now it’s about Afghanistan and Pakistan, and you can’t deal with one without dealing with the other.

    So the question is with all of this capability there, why do we have the sense that we’re backsliding? The top of my list is the drugs and narcotics, which are, without question, the economic engine that fuels the resurgent Taliban, and the crime and corruption in the country. . . . We couldn’t even talk about that in 2006 when I was there. That was not a topic that anybody wanted to talk about, including the U.S.
    And why the hell not, anyway? Particularly considering the fact that at about that time (as noted here), the Afghan drug gangs were fortifying themselves more than the Taliban itself.

    (By the way, that observation was made by General James L. Jones, who was named as a special envoy for Middle East security by Rice last year. And I do not mean to criticize him here; actually, I give him credit for admitting yet another idiotic blunder by his superiors.)

    And so what of Our Gal Condi anyway, as long as I’m devoting all of this time to her minions?

    Well, as the Times tells us straight from Condi herself…

    …I think the structure is there, I think the Annapolis structure is a very powerful structure . . . On the Palestinian-Israeli issue, we will leave this in a much, much better place, agreement or no.
    Well, as this tells us (and to me, the headline says it all)…

    After months of publicly insisting that an agreement still could be sealed by the year-end deadline set by the two sides and Bush last November in Annapolis, Md., U.S. officials said Thursday for the first time it would have to wait.

    "We do not think it is likely it will happen before the end of the year," White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said in Washington after Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice acknowledged as much at the start of a Mideast trip.
    And when it comes to the "department of the obvious," rest assured that Perino would never confirm that water was actually wet until she was just about to drown (and I don't wish ill on her, just speaking figuratively - I mean, she still won't admit we're in a recesssion, people).

    And as the AP story tells us, many of the foreign policy players of the incoming Obama administration worked for President Clinton also, so my guess is that they’ll scrap the “framework,” “structure,” or whatever it’s being called this week by Bushco and start over anyway, especially with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert leaving anyway under a cloud of scandal.

    There are more choice items in this whole piece, and I’ll get to them later.

    Update 11/18/08: Nice to see that Condi is keeping herself busy here (would it be too snarky of me to wonder how soon Griffey Jr. will end up hurt performing his duties and try to go on the disabled list?).

    Some Rhee-ly Tough Times For D.C. Schools

    Parade Magazine yesterday featured an interview with Washington, D.C. schools chancellor Michelle Rhee here, and among other things, we learned that, in her second year on the job, Rhee “closed 23 schools and fired 36 principals,” and apparently, one was her own children's principal at the Oyster-Adams Bilingual Elementary School.

    Oh, and this WaPo story tells us that she fired about 98 employees in March, including anywhere from 40 to 55 in the school district’s information technology department (the numbers aren’t exactly firm because, as the story tells us, she decided not to provide a list of the fired employees to the D.C. council).

    I am certainly not an expert on educational issues, nor am I familiar much with D.C. politics, but when I see someone come on board and give that many people the “ax,” it tends to get my attention.

    And I would argue that the fact that Rhee only had two years of classroom experience (despite some sterling academic credentials) before she was put in charge of the D.C. schools is certainly an issue, and I believe that has led to episodes such as this, in which a pay-for-performance plan apparently didn’t achieve the desired results, in particular at Hart Middle School, where 6th, 7th and 8th grade students were to be paid up to $100 every two weeks for good grades.

    As far as I’m concerned, no student should ever be paid for their best academic performance, ever. However, I think it’s utterly ridiculous that the NCAA, for example, doesn’t “share the wealth” with student athletes who generate their bounteous revenue (that’s a bit off-topic, though, I’ll admit).

    And this Ezra Klein post includes feedback from a grad student studying to be a math teacher; the student tells us…

    It seems like reformers keep wanting to jump in and start doing things, because education is so stagnant. Which I understand. But the place to start isn't merit pay, it is finding methods of assessing teachers that aren't totally fucking useless and irrelevant. I think if we had such assessment, people would find teachers much more amenable to merit pay and a lack of tenure.
    (Oh yeah, there’s the “F” blast in the quote there – and Rhee wants to abolish tenure and target merit pay also; I realize I didn’t make that plain earlier).

    And just for the record, the person responsible for hiring Rhee is NYC schools chancellor Joel Klein, who (according to this post) is being considered as Education Secretary for the incoming Obama Administration (which should definitely raise flags, as they say).

    As is usually the case, I’m in agreement with Ezra Klein here. It sounds as if something needs to be done in D.C. and many other places in this country, but firing people indiscriminately isn’t the answer (and remember, the vast majority of teachers, whether they’re in a union or not, are truly unsung heroes and give more of their time and talent to the education of our kids than we will ever truly know; if we weren’t so fundamentally screwed up in this country about who should be compensated best for the importance of their work, we wouldn’t even be having this discussion – and I’m sure the obligatory umbrage about teacher salaries will begin momentarily).

    Turning back to Rhee for a moment, I should note that she is a big proponent of NCLB (of course). She is apparently noncommittal on the issue of school vouchers, though, so she has that going in her favor anyway.

    But given the indiscriminate havoc she has wrought in D.C. with what appears to be almost no oversight, I think it would be terrible to reward her (or anyone responsible for putting her in her present position) with more authority than that which she appears to have abused already.

    Sunday, November 16, 2008

    Sunday Stuff

    So "Zigzag Zell" Miller escaped from his padded room to publicly endorse Saxby Chambliss, huh? This is the guy who frothed in fury over John Kerry four years ago (noted here) after previously claiming that Kerry "fought for balanced budgets" and "worked to strengthen our military, reform public education, boost the economy and protect the environment" (noted here, and let's not forget the precedent Miller set which should be used to punish Holy Joe accordingly here)...

    Update 11/17/08: By the way, Miller also referred to Kerry as "one of this nation's authentic heroes, one of this party's best-known and greatest leaders – and a good friend" (I have that saved in a Word file that I cannot link to from here, but I'll try to source it online - here's more).

    ...Sheryl Crow ("You Don't Bring Me Anything But Down," and I'd like to dedicate this to the Philadelphia Eagles football team here in these parts, seeing that they pulled off quite a feat today, managing a tie against the 1-8 Cincinnati Bungles - actually, they deserved to lose, and that would have happened if Cincy's kicker had booted the ball properly at the end; to be fair, the defense should fly home in first class, but the offense should travel back on a Greyhound bus with a slow leak in one of the tires, and that includes the offensive coaching staff, a literal description here in a couple of categories).

    Now They Tell Us

    From here...

    Learning from Bush's Mistakes? In contrast, President Bush was notoriously ham-handed in his dealings with Capitol Hill, particularly in the early years of his administration. The desire of congressional Republicans to appear supportive of a president of their party often obscured the roiling tensions under the surface as Bush squandered a deep reservoir of good will.

    He developed policies that were antithetical to many conservatives, most notably the 2001 education law known as No Child Left Behind and the 2003 Medicare prescription drug law, often ignored Congress until he needed votes at the last minute, and was ultimately viewed as a lame duck by many in his own party as soon as he was re-elected.

    "Now there is no re-election prism, " Rep. Zach Wamp, R-Tenn., said when Bush won a second term. "People are not going to have to feel that they have to vote for things that they think are unnecessary."

    It was clear from the first major domestic policy initiative of his second term -- an overhaul of Social Security -- that Bush had little political capital left in the Capitol.

    "From the Speaker on down, they pretty much ignored him," said John Feehery, a Republican consultant who was a top aide to House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, R-Ill. "They weren't going to walk the plank on it."

    Bush's influence in Congress dwindled even further with the failed appointment of White House Counsel Harriet E. Miers, a Bush loyalist, to the Supreme Court in late 2005, and was evident in the restoration of then-Mississippi Sen. Trent Lott to the Republican leadership team in 2006 after the administration had pushed him out four years earlier.

    Bush picked top-notch staff to represent him on Capitol Hill but demonstrated little interest in what congressional leaders thought and had even less personal engagement with lawmakers, according to a House Republican leadership aide.

    "I'm not sure Bush had the proper respect for Congress," the aide said, observing that the job of well-regarded congressional liaisons like Nicholas Calio and David Hobbs ended up being "to cover for the president, who didn't want to have to deal with anybody from Congress."

    The White House staff can only do so much, the aide said.

    "It all has to do with the principal," he said. "The lesson is the president has to engage."
    Fat lot of good all of these revelations do now, with His Fraudulency only taking up space for 64 more days.