Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Bush describes how to win in Iraq

Well, Bush gave a speech today that tells how we are winning and will win in Iraq. It is all going well, so right after the election in December, he plans on lowering the number of troops in Iraq. Great! We are winning and can get out and turn it over to the Iraqis!

Except... well, it isn't that clear. Everything Bush promised is something he has no choice except to do. We don't have the troops to keep the current levels there, so we have to reduce them. And... well, here it is. These are the limitations on our presence in Iraq.

The plan for withdrawal is already in place. We currently have about 150,000 troops in anticipation of the elections in December, and that is some from the previous contingent held over while the new guys coming in are arriving early.

Approximately 40% of the troops in Iraq are National Guard, most on second tours. By law, those troops cannot be activated for more than two years out of five. That means they are effectively used up unless Congress changes the law. They are already claiming it has been a backdoor draft. No chance of a change in that law.

That means a legal requirement to pull out 60,000 of the 150,000 troops. The new maximum will be about 90,000. That's the drawdown.

Certifications for capable Iraqi troops to replace them will be issued, no matter what the actual status of their training and equipment. Those certifications cannot be effectively questioned. Only the trainers really know.

The troops that are coming out will be primarily combat troops. There are several reasons for this. First, National Guard troops are overwhelmingly combat troops. Second, the Iraqi troops do not have competent support troops behind them. Third, removing the American combat troops will lower the casualty rate. Support troops can be withdrawn in Iraq to the hardened bases from which they can support the Iraqi troops with less danger.

This will be the pattern of the withdrawal. It has nothing to do with Bush administration decisions. It is all forced on them.

Most of this will happen next Summer so that the failures and increased civil war that results does not have a chance to become obvious to the American public prior to the November 2006 election.

This is all obvious. Bush is reacting to his limitations, and will try to make it look good for the election next year. If Bush can get past the election in 2006, it is unlikely that he will be impeached or forced out of office in his last two years of office.

The experience of Reagan is a precedent for that. The increasingly senile Reagan was not forced out in his last two year's because it was too near the end of his term and the machinations required to remove him would upset the American public too much, especially since he was the first Republican President elected after Nixon was forced to resign.

More about the growing civil war in Iraq

The LA Times offers a look at the Shia death squads that are killing Sunnis. Interior Ministry police officers asociated with militia organtizations appear to be retaliating against Sunnis. The Sunnis have long targetted Shiite civilians. Investigation is on-going to see if any of the participating police officers were trained by American forces.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Republican corruption is logical outcome of the K-Street Project

The widespread political corruption in politics is NOT just "the normal result of money in politics." That's the current talking point from the Republican party. This corruption which just caught Randy "Duke" Cunningham, cost him his seat in Congress and may cost him ten years in prison is the direct result of Tom DeLay's K-Street Project.

So what is the K-Street Project? Go read Emptywheel at "The Next Hurrah" for a refresher course.

Emptywheel also refers back to an important article by Nicholas Confessore.

Bush admin not sure how to handle Col. Wilkerson

Former State Department Chief of Staff Col. Lawrence Wilkerson has the Bush administration very much off balance with his insider criticism of the White House decision processes. Read the article at Steve Clemons' Washington Note.

How did the U.S. get into the detainee abuse problem?

The detainee abuse and torture problem came out of Vice President Cheney's office. They believe that "the president of the United States is all-powerful" and the Geneva Conventions irrelevant." This is what former Powell chief of staff Lawrence Wilkerson says. He also says that President Bush was "too aloof, too distant from the details of postwar planning. Underlings exploited Bush's detachment and made poor decisions>"

This fits with the idea that Bush enjoys electoral politics and getting elected, but has no interest in policy or actual governance.

The following is from Steve Clemons:
Wilkerson blamed Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and likeminded aides. He said Cheney must have sincerely believed that Iraq could be a spawning ground for new terror assaults, because "otherwise I have to declare him a moron, an idiot or a nefarious bastard."

On the question of detainees picked up in Afghanistan and other fronts in the war on terror, Wilkerson said Bush heard two sides of an impassioned argument within his administration. Abuse of prisoners, and even the deaths of some who had been interrogated in Afghanistan and elsewhere, have bruised the U.S. image abroad and undermined support for the Iraq war.

Cheney's office, Rumsfeld aides and others argued "that the president of the United States is all-powerful, that as commander in chief the president of the United States can do anything he damn well pleases," Wilkerson said.

On the other side were Powell, others at the State Department and top military brass, and occasionally Condoleezza Rice, who was then national security adviser, Wilkerson said.

Powell raised frequent and loud objections, his former aide said, once yelling into a telephone at Rumsfeld: "Donald, don't you understand what you are doing to our image?"

Wilkerson said Bush tried to work out a compromise in 2001 and 2002 that recognized that the war on terrorism was different from past wars and required greater flexibility in handling prisoners who don't belong to an enemy state or follow the rules themselves.

Bush's stated policy, which was heatedly criticized by civil liberties and legal groups at the time, was defensible, Wilkerson said. But it was undermined almost immediately in practice, he said.

In the field, the United States followed the policies of hardliners who wanted essentially unchecked ability to detain and harshly interrogate prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere, Wilkerson said.
Essentially, Bush with his attitude of disinterest in policy and his resultant inability to control his subordinates stated his policy which was promptly ignored by Cheney's hardliners.

Delegation doesn't mean giving orders and then ignoring what the subordinates actually do. It means giving assignments and checking on the results and how they were achieved. That is MBA 101. Apparently G. W. Bush missed that class.

Howard Dean is doing a great job as DNC Chairman

I frankly did not think Howard Dean would be as good a Democratic National Committee Chairman as Martin Frost would have been. I have been very pleasantly surprised by Dean.

Dean is key to the organization of the National Democratic Party, and of National fundraising. He is also key to the relationship of the national Democratic strategy to State party organizations. But Dean is NOT the national Democratic Spokesperson.

Right now Reid, Pelosi, Kerry and Gore are the closest we have to a National Democratic Spokesperson. After the November 2006 election, I see that role shifting to whoever the leading candidates for the Presidential nomination, with Reid and Pelosi as close seconds. Dean will almost be in that group, but not quite.

This is beneficial to us right now because it means the Republicans don't have a single target to "Swiftboat." As long as the media can't work up a media narrative that there are two opposing groups here, we are in good shape. Such a narrative needs to be avoided. A little conflict is OK, it will get media attention, but the conflicting parties need to kiss and make up publicly upon resolution of the conflict - and the conflict must be resolved, and be seen by Democrats to be resolved fairly.

It can't be imposed from a grand imperial leader as the Republicans do. We are Democrats, not subordinated Republican automatons reacting to the the all-knowing leader and reading the talking points of the day.

This goes back to the essential need for an organizational system that is both perceived as fair and that resolves conflict within the party. That is Dean's job.

As I say, the 2006 election is the trial run of the new Democratic Party, which at it's critical organizational core, Dean is responsible for creating.

I think he understands this. But what do I know, from here in Boondocks, Texas?

Monday, November 28, 2005

The Bush White House is no longer in touch with reality

Sy Hersh is reporting on how George Bush is making decisions regarding the war in Iraq. It is entirely faith-based and is impervious to facts and disagreement. The following is the transcript of Wolf Blitzer interviewing Seymour M. "Sy" Hersh as reported in the Booman Tribune:

HERSH: Suffice to say this, that this president in private, at Camp David with his friends, the people that I'm sure call him George, is very serene about the war. He's upbeat. He thinks that he's going to be judged, maybe not in five years or ten years, maybe in 20 years. He's committed to the course. He believes in democracy.

HERSH: He believes that he's doing the right thing, and he's not going to stop until he gets -- either until he's out of office, or he falls apart, or he wins.

BLITZER: But this has become, your suggesting, a religious thing for him?

HERSH: Some people think it is. Other people think he's absolutely committed, as I say, to the idea of democracy. He's been sold on this notion.

He's a utopian, you could say, in a world where maybe he doesn't have all the facts and all the information he needs and isn't able to change.

I'll tell you, the people that talk to me now are essentially frightened because they're not sure how you get to this guy. [snip]

And if you're a general and you have a disagreement with this war, you cannot get that message into the White House. And that gets people unnerved.

BLITZER: Here's what you write. You write, "Current and former military and intelligence officials have told me that the president remains convinced that it is his personal mission to bring democracy to Iraq, and that he is impervious to political pressure, even from fellow Republicans. They also say that he disparages any information that conflicts with his view of how the war is proceeding."

Those are incredibly strong words, that the president basically doesn't want to hear alternative analysis of what is going on.

HERSH: You know, Wolf, there is people I've been talking to -- I've been a critic of the war very early in the New Yorker, and there were people talking to me in the last few months that have talked to me for four years that are suddenly saying something much more alarming.

They're beginning to talk about some of the things the president said to him about his feelings about manifest destiny, about a higher calling that he was talking about three, four years ago.

I don't want to sound like I'm off the wall here. But the issue is, is this president going to be capable of responding to reality? Is he going to be able -- is he going to be capable if he going to get a bad assessment, is he going to accept it as a bad assessment or is he simply going to see it as something else that is just a little bit in the way as he marches on in his crusade that may not be judged for 10 or 20 years.

He talks about being judged in 20 years to his friends. And so it's a little alarming because that means that my and my colleagues in the press corps, we can't get to him maybe with our views. You and you can't get to him maybe with your interviews.

How do you get to a guy to convince him that perhaps he's not going the right way?

Jack Murtha certainly didn't do it. As I wrote, they were enraged at Murtha in the White House.

And so we have an election coming up -- Yes. I've had people talk to me about maybe Congress is going to have to cut off the budget for this war if it gets to that point. I don't think they're ready to do it now.

But I'm talking about sort of a crisis of management. That you have a management that's seen by some of the people closely involved as not being able to function in terms of getting information it doesn't want to receive.
Essentially Sy Hersh is saying the U.S. is in a train that is going full speed on the wrong track, and the Engineer is blind drunk, has the door to the cab locked so no one else can get in to stop him, and he is speeding the train up to get to a utopian destination only he can see.

What services can a Congressman exchange for campaign contributions?

Mark Schmitt at TPM Cafe offers a description of some of the services that House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas, Rep. Bob Ney (R., Ohio), Rep. John Doolittle (R., Calif.) and Sen. Conrad Burns (R., Mont.) may have exchanged for campaign contributions, and an explanation of why it is hard to determine that they are selling their services.
As far as I can tell, in the whole web of corruption involving Abramoff, Scanlon, the tribes, David Safavian, etc, there's not one actual congressional vote or formally introduced piece of legislation to be found.

Instead, Ney and his colleagues operated by various methods that traditional approaches would never find, but which are plainly misuses of official power. They would try to slip provisions helping Abramoff's clients into the conference reports on legislation at the last minute, such as the provision helping the Tigua into the Help America Vote Act in 2002. It's often impossible to find the fingerprints on such provisions and they may well go unnoticed until after the bill has been signed. Or, they would use letters directed to subcabinet officials such as Interior Dept official Steven Griles. Although Griles seems to have been a cooperative ideological ally, even dispassionate civil servants jump at letters from members of Congress, even those that say no more than, "please look into this." And such letters are rarely public unless the member of Congress chooses to release them. As far as I know, a freedom of information act request to an agency asking for "all correspondence from Congressman X" is the only way to get them.

And then there is the most remarkable tactic of all, something like hiding in plain sight: Ney's insertion of statements into the Congressional Record attacking the then-owner of the SunCruz gambling boat company when Abramoff and his partners were trying to buy it. No one doing a traditional analysis of congressional power would pay a moment's notice to statements inserted in the Congressional Record, especially those not read on the floor. The Congressional Record is like a giant group blog, albeit of far less consequence. And yet, for someone relatively new to the U.S., as SunCruz owner Gus Boulis apparently was, the idea that the U.S. Congress seems to have officially condemned your business practices would probably be a hugely intimidating factor.
These are three ways a Congressman or Senator can sell the services of his office and normally not be caught. It is still selling the power of government for their personal gain.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

The scam that got Sun Cruz Lines for Abramoff and Kidan

The sale of Sun Cruz Lines to Abramoff and Kidan was a result of the fact that Gus Boulis was not a U.S. citizen when he bought it. He was in negotiations with the Justice Department when Ohio Re. Bob Ney placed a statement in the Congressional record calling him a "Bad Apple." New was rewarded by Abramoff and Kidan by a $10,000 contribution in Ney's name to the National Republican Congressional Committee. This is from the article:
Washington prosecutors say the Republican lawmaker and others received "things of value" - golf trips, meals, campaign contributions - from lobbyists and their clients, mainly Indian tribes. South Florida prosecutors say Ney unduly influenced the $147.5 million SunCruz sale by using his congressional power to handicap Boulis in return for campaign donations from Abramoff, Kidan and others involved in the gambling cruise purchase.

Although Ney did not receive the $10,000 directly, investigators believe that SunCruz's donation in his name to the National Republican Congressional Committee amounts to an improper gift because the then-obscure Ohio congressman stood to gain in stature with the GOP congressional leadership, including House Republican leader Tom DeLay of Texas.

Ney, through a spokesman, denied any wrongdoing.

"We don't have any further comment on any aspect of the investigation other than to reiterate that Congressman Ney is cooperating fully with the Justice Department," Ney's spokesman, Brian Walsh, said Friday via e-mail.

SunCruz's contribution to the National Republican Congressional Committee in November 2000 was made seven months after Ney had condemned the company's founder, Boulis, in the Congressional Record just as he was trying to sell his fleet of ships to resolve a legal dispute with the Justice Department.

He was forced to sell because he was not a U.S. citizen when he acquired his fleet.

Just six days after the donation, Ney praised the new SunCruz co-owner Kidan in the same Congressional Record as a businessman with a "renowned reputation for honesty and integrity."
Scanlon was Abramoff's partner at this time and very likely will be able to testify as to what New was asked to do and what he received in return.

As a somewhat separate matter, Abramoff and Kidan are accused of forging a document that showed they were putting in some $37,000,000 towards the sale of the Sun Cruz Lines, which induced several banks to lend enough money to complete the sale. It is this fraud for which Abramoff has been indicted in Florida.

Who paid the killers of Gus Boulis?

Go read Talking Points Memo. Names that pop up include Abramoff, Kidan, Boulis, and House Rep. Bob Ney.

The story is far from complete right now.

How will Bush spin the withdrawal from Iraq?

The U.S, withdrawal will inevitably lead to a greater civil war than is currently the case. But it won't be reported as such until after the November 2006 election. Not with the reporters being targeted by insurgents and any imbedded reporters leaving with their units. What will happen between now and the November election? We will be pulling out as fast as possible, and there will be no significant reporting of the increased civil war.

Condi Rice has already stated that the Iraqi army is improving and that very soon the U.S. can start pulling out some battalions. That is a strong indication that there is very soon going to be a steady draw down from 150,000 troops in December to somewhere about 90,000 late next Summer.

The withdrawal of 60,000 out of the current 150,000 will be based first on the fact that 12,000 of the 150,000 currently there are the result of early deployment and delayed withdrawal because of the elections in December. The rest of the 60,000 will be because the Iraqi Army is allegedly becoming capable of handling the combat duties and replacing the American troops.

Mind you, the fact is and will be that the Iraqi Army is no better than when they recently stated only one battalion is capable of independent operations. They will be heavily supported by U.S. military all next year until the election. That fact will not appear in the news reports that state the Iraqis are taking over the combat duties from the Americans. But that will apear to meet the requirement Bush set to replace American troops with independent Iraqi troops.

Bush's metric is that as the Iraqi Army can handle the job, the U.S. Army will withdraw. Everything will be pushed and squeezed so that it looks like the Iraqis are carrying the load, but the U.S. troops will be right there to bail them out. That will be spun to say the Iraqis are doing it all themselves.

The image here will be of a successful Bush completing the job, not of Bush folding, cutting and running.

When Iraq collapses into civil war after the November 2006 election it will be spun as a result of the Democrats forcing us to pull too many troops out too soon and (if the Democrats gain control of one of the houses of Congress) it will be spun as the result of the Democrats not allowing the government to live up to the agreements to support the Iraqis.

The short result? We have destroyed our military ground forces in Iraq and have to get them out ASAP. We really have no choice, and will be paying for this adventure for at least a decade. The resulting failure and civil war in Iraq is going to be blamed on the Democrats.

Is oil really the reason we are in Iraq?

To some extent, yes. But the problem is not the Multinational corporations. The problem is American strategic considerations, both economic and international power politics.

The problem is Peak Oil and the competition with China (and possibly Japan) for imported oil. The second largest pool of oil in the world under Kuwait has just started to decline in the amount of oil it can pump. There are questions whether Saudi Arabia can increase production any more. In any case, they can't put out much more for certain. Iran has the second most total reserves in the world after Saudi Arabia and we are not exactly on the best of terms with them. We all know how the rapid Chinese economic development is sharply increasing their demand for oil and is expected to continue increasing it for the foreseeable future.

Supply is stagnate, demand is increasing and the two biggest demanding nations are the U.S. and China. China is going around the world locking up production contracts, and we know they recently tried to buy an American oil company with proven reserves in the Eastern hemisphere.

That really puts Iraq (with the next largest known reserves) in the crosshairs for both the U.S. and China.

This may be a large part of the (unstated) reasons we invaded Iraq when we did. Now put this together tje fact that the U.S. has to pull 60,000 troops out of Iraq in the next year because the National Guard providing 40% of the troops cannot by law be deployed for more than two years out of five. (That leaves 90,000) Put that together with the fact that the largest weakness of the Iraqis is lack of combat support, combat service support, Signal and Engineers. These are all long term developments that the Iraqis cannot at this time duplicate.

The bases we are building will be relatively secure for such American troops, allowing us to support the primarily infantry the Iraqis are training with our Transportation, Signal, Engineer, close air support, satellite Intel, and resupply and repair.

For the Shiites to go up against the Sunni insurgents, they will need the edge given by those support elements we supply. The Sunnis are primarily the previous Iraqi military with extensive prior combat experience, and more recently as insurgents They have operated on a pure meritocracy. Those who were successful are alive and those who failed died. The cream rise to the top under those circumstance. Politics aren't important. The Shiite military has not had such pressures on them and is not yet sufficiently trained and organized for combat to have weeded out the incompetent.

Yeah, I think that control of the Iraqi oil and keeping it from China, the Bush admin refusal to admit the whole thing was a fool's errand in the first place, and the requirements of the Shiite troops for American combat and combat service support will keep about 50,000 to 90,000 American troops in Iraq for the foreseeable future.

The multinational corporations will get profits from this, but the whole thing is not primarily for them. The key is the strategic need for oil by us and by China. This has both economic and international power elements.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Scanlon begins to talk in Abramoff investigation

Michael Scanlon, who was just convicted of one count of one count of bribery as part of a plea agreement has begun talking to the investigators. The extent of the Abramoff investigation is becoming more clear.

From the Wall Street Journal:
Prosecutors in the department's public integrity and fraud divisions -- separate units that report to the assistant attorney general for the criminal division -- are looking into Mr. Abramoff's interactions with former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas, Rep. Bob Ney (R., Ohio), Rep. John Doolittle (R., Calif.) and Sen. Conrad Burns (R., Mont.), according to several people close to the investigation.[...]

Prosecutors also are investigating at least 17 current and former congressional aides, about half of whom later took lobbying jobs with Mr. Abramoff, say lawyers and others involved in the case. Five of the former aides worked for Mr. DeLay, including Tony Rudy, Ed Buckham and Susan Hirschmann. The three were top aides to Mr. DeLay and are now Washington lobbyists.[...]

Mr. Scanlon pleaded guilty to a single bribery charge, admitting that he and Mr. Abramoff "engaged in a course of conduct through which one or both of them offered and provided things of value to public officials in exchange for a series of official acts," according to his plea agreement.

Mr. Scanlon said that beginning in January 2000 he and Mr. Abramoff offered Mr. Ney, a close ally of the House Republican leadership, meals, sports tickets, political contributions and a golfing trip to Scotland in exchange for a series of "official acts" that helped Mr. Abramoff and his clients.

The plea agreement, which refers to Mr. Abramoff as "Lobbyist A" and Mr. Ney as "Representative #1," states that the congressman put two statements in the House's official record in 2000 supporting one of Mr. Abramoff's business ventures. In June 2002, the lawmaker attempted to help Mr. Abramoff by trying to approve legislation that would have helped one of Mr. Abramoff's Indian-tribe clients win a license to operate a casino, according to the plea. That effort failed, and Mr. Ney says that he was duped by Mr. Abramoff.[...]

Mr. Abramoff hasn't been accused of any wrongdoing by the Justice Department. Earlier this year, he was indicted in Florida on fraud charges for his role in purchasing a fleet of casino boats that later went into bankruptcy proceedings. Mr. Abramoff was accused of falsifying financial information in order to secure the financing needed for the purchase. As part of his plea deal, Mr. Scanlon also agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in the Florida case, the Associated Press reported.
It was this purchase of the Sun Cruz casino boats that connects Abramoff to the mob-style killing of Gus Boulis shortly after Boulis sold Sun Cruz to Abramoff and his partner Adam Kidan. Three mob-connected men have been arrested in Boulis' killing. This is the story from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel:
Boulis was ambushed as he drove his BMW in the 1900 block of Miami Road in Fort Lauderdale. A car darted in front of him and the driver slammed on the brakes, forcing him to stop. That's when a black Mustang pulled up beside him and someone inside fired several shots through the driver's window. The two cars then sped away.[...]

In court records publicly released Wednesday, Moscatiello incriminated his two co-defendants in the Boulis murder case, saying they both told him they carried out the hit on the business tycoon.[...]

Moscatiello, 67, said Fiorillo also told him that Ferrari ordered the hit after getting a call from New York businessman Adam Kidan, according to court filings. Kidan had been fighting with Boulis for control of SunCruz Casino[...]

Court records show that when Kidan ran SunCruz, the company paid $145,000 to Moscatiello's daughter and one of Moscatiello's companies, and an additional $95,000 to a company run by Ferrari. Kidan has said he hired the Moscatiellos for food and beverage consulting and Ferrari's company to guard his vessels.

Kidan has not been charged in Boulis' killing. Beyond Fiorillo's third-hand account of what Kidan allegedly said, the court documents reviewed Wednesday by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel made no direct link between Kidan and the slaying.
It isn't clear why Boulis was murdered, nor is there any indication that the murder is related to the Congressional investigations. However, it does show the types of people that Abramoff and Kidan have been involved with.

This is a continuing story. It will probably get a lot more interesting as it continues to be explored.

Bush administration prepares to withdraw from Iraq

In spite of last week's bluster and bombast, the LA Times reports that the Bush administration is preparing to withdraw from Iraq beginning in the Spring.

Condi Rice says the training of Iraqi troops is progressing so that they can replace the American troops. This indicates that the U.S. troops can be removed from Iraq since the key was when Iraqi troops could replace them. This is actually just a fig leaf to cover necessity. The real problem is that the U.S. troops can no longer sustain the mission there and will have to be removed.

The actual state of Iraqi troops is probably no better than it was early in the Fall, when it was announced that there was only a single battalion capable of replacing the U.S. troops.

The only thing that remains is the schedule for withdrawal of troops, determining what U.S. support units will remain to support the Iraqis, and to determine how the Bush Administration is going to blame this retreat on the Democrats.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Are the big oil firms preparing to grab Iraqi oil fields?

This is only one report, but AP usually is reliable. If this is true that Kuwait's largest oil field (the second largest in the world) has passed its peak production, then there may well be a good reason for American oil firms to have pushed the Iraq Invasion.

The two largest economies in the world importing foreign oil are the U.S. and China, and China's demand is increasing rapidly. China is working world-wide to lock up production contracts, and the Middle East is the largest available pool of oil, so for the U.S. to get control of it before China does could seem like a worthwhile reason to invade Iraq.

Anyway, here is the report.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

John Rendon - Bush's master of propaganda

In October 2001, John Rendon was given a secret $16,000,000 contract to target Iraq and other enemies with propaganda. Rendon was closely allied with Ahmed Chalabi, having helped to install him as head of the Iraqi National Congress after which he served as the media advisor to the IND. He had ten years earlier gotten a contract with the CIA to help "create the conditions for the removal of Hussein from power" and had made millions on government contracts after that.

So what?

Consider this from the Rolling Stone Article:
Rendon is one of the most influential of the private contractors in Washington who are increasingly taking over jobs long reserved for highly trained CIA employees. In recent years, spies-for-hire have begun to replace regional desk officers, who control clandestine operations around the world; watch officers at the agency's twenty-four-hour crisis center; analysts, who sift through reams of intelligence data; and even counterintelligence officers in the field, who oversee meetings between agents and their recruited spies. According to one senior administration official involved in intelligence-budget decisions, half of the CIA's work is now performed by private contractors -- people completely unaccountable to Congress. Another senior budget official acknowledges privately that lawmakers have no idea how many rent-a-spies the CIA currently employs -- or how much unchecked power they enjoy.
Just one example. It is against the law for a government agency to present propaganda to the U.S. people. Has Rendon obeyed this law? If not, what can he be charged with? He is not a government employee.

Go read the whole Rolling Stone Article. You will not regret the time.

What does the public thnk about the Iraq War?

Ruy Teixeira discusses the results of several polls on Iraq and the Bush administration. The result is a bleak view for the Bush Presidency.

A (Newsweek) Poll reports Bush's handling of Iraq at exactly 30 percent. There is no reason to think this rating will not get lower.

The latest Gallup poll reports that of 491 respondents, 54 percent agree that "In view of the developments since we first sent our troops to Iraq, do you think the United States made a mistake in sending troops to Iraq, or not?" Since August this response has averaged 53.7 with extremes at 49 and 59.

The same poll offered these choices:
  • withdraw immediately (19%)
  • withdraw in 12 months (33%)
  • withdraw, take as many years as necessary (38%)
  • send more troops. (7%)
  • no opinion (3%)

That's 52 percent who want to withdraw immediately or in 12 months.

Teixeira also reports what John Mueller said in his article “The Iraq Syndrome” in the latest issue of Foreign Affairs.

The most striking thing about the comparison among the three wars [Korea, Vietnam and Iraq] is how much more quickly support has eroded in the case of Iraq. By early 2005, when combat deaths were around 1,500, the percentage of respondents who considered the Iraq war a mistake -- over half -- was about the same as the percentage who considered the war in Vietnam a mistake at the time of the 1968 Tet offensive, when nearly 20,000 soldiers had already died.

This lower tolerance for casualties is largely due to the fact that the American public places far less value on the stakes in Iraq than it did on those in Korea and Vietnam. The main threats Iraq was thought to present to the United States when troops went in -- weapons of mass destruction and support for international terrorism -- have been, to say the least, discounted. With those justifications gone, the Iraq war is left as something of a humanitarian venture, and, as Francis Fukuyama has put it, a request to spend "several hundred billion dollars and several thousand American lives in order to bring democracy to ... Iraq" would "have been laughed out of court."....

Growing opposition to the war effort....has little to do with whether or not there is an active antiwar movement at home. There has not been much of one in the case of the Iraq war, nor was there one during the war in Korea. Nonetheless, support for those ventures eroded as it did during the Vietnam War, when antiwar protest was frequent and visible.....

Moreover, support for the war declines whether or not war opponents are able to come up with specific policy alternatives. Dwight Eisenhower never seemed to have much of a plan for getting out of the Korean War -- although he did say that, if elected, he would visit the place -- but discontent with the war still worked well for him in the 1952 election; Richard Nixon's proposals for fixing the Vietnam mess were distinctly unspecific, although he did from time to time mutter that he had a "secret plan." Wars hurt the war-initiating political party not because the opposition comes up with a coherent clashing vision -- George McGovern tried that, with little success, against Nixon in 1972 -- but because discontent over the war translates into vague distrust of the capacities of the people running the country.
So support for the Iraq War as it is currently being fought has stabalized at "Not worth it, time to figure a way out within a year." and history suggests that the opponents during an expenisive overseas war do not have to propose a plan to get the advantage of such popular dislike for the war. Unless I am wrong, I seem to recall that the Republicans took the House in 1952.

Who lost Iraq?

That is the question Americans need to focus on now - because Iraq is a lost cause for America.

Of course, it was a fool's errand in the first place. The idea behind the invasion was to remove Saddam and allow the Iraqi's to establish a democratic government in his place. There was no consideration that Iraq might have been a nation only because a dictator such as Saddam or Tito in Yugoslavia was holding it together by force.

In such a case, removing the dictator has two possible outcomes. Either a new dictator heeds to appear, or the "nation" will devolve into its component parts. The decision regarding which of the two results will usually be made by civil war until the dictator appears, the components negotiate a peace or an outside force intervenes to force a peace.

That third choice was for the U.S. invaders to impose a peace on Iraq using U.S.-controlled military forces. They could then establish the kind of government we wanted them to choose. That is what the U.S. did in Italy, Germany and Japan after WW II. The USSR performed a similar function in the Eastern Bloc. But the U.S. did not have enough troops to do that in either Iraq or Afghanistan. They also had no allies who would provide the number of additional troops needed, and they (stupidly) disbanded the Iraqi Army as soon as the CPA took over under Jerry Bremer.

Saddam was a really nasty tyrant, but his military had already been demonstrated to be markedly inferior to that of the U.S. So Bush and Cheney wanted him replaced, and knew they could remove him. But the first function of any government is to provide peace and stability to its country.

The Republicans simply assumed that in the absence of the dictator the free and intelligent individuals of the state of Iraq would gather and form a democracy.

Bad assumption. Iraq is a tribal nation in which only 40.4% of the people age 15 and over can read and write. The absence of literacy in over half of the people in the nation means a sharp distrust of government systems unless each individual knows that the administrators are of their tribe.

So the Bush administration has removed the head of state, Saddam, and disbanded his government and his army. But they do not have enough troops in country to stop the civil war that is to be expected, and the troops that are there provide a reason for Iraqis to support the insurgency against the occupiers.

Unless we can get more troops, we are going to pull out and leave the civil war to expand. Training Iraqi forces is actually training the militias who will fight that civil war.

A positive outcome for the U.S, in Iraq is very unlikely. Who lost Iraq? Bush and Rumsfeld who undertook a jop that neither understood and that the U.S. had neither the troops nor the stomach for.

Afghanistan is already gone. See this article for a description of the disaster there.

Monday, November 21, 2005

A searchable list of Bush admin lies about Iraq

This --> is a link to a searchable list of 237 "misleading statements" (polite for "Lies.") about Iraq that have been made by Bush, Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld and Powell.

Click through, choose which speaker you want to check on or leave it blank and get all 237, five at a time.

My source for the link is Seeing the Forest.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Repubs to abandon Iraq soon, blame Democrats

Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa. made his demand that the House pass a deadline to withdraw from Iraq, which the Republicans modified to an idiotically simplitic and totally unreasonable bill to withdraw immediately in an effort to put the Democrats on record as demanding an immediate pullout from Iraq. Why?

Here is the difference between Murtha's proposal and the one the Republicans demanded a vote on.

Dave Johnson explains.
Note how he describes the building of a narrative.

As I have written before, the war in Iraq is going very badly and the Republicans do not want to be left as the responsible parties when the elections come around next November. So Bush will pull many or most of the troops out of Iraq beginning next Spring or Summer and will have done it by early October 2006. (I have been consistently writing this since last January.) But removing the troops is an admission of failure, right?

So the Republicans are trying to blame the Democrats for undercutting the mission in Iraq. This is going to be the Republican message in the Fall of 2006 leading to the election.

The Republican Party controls the House, the Senate and the Presidency. The Republican Party decided to go to war in Iraq with no real justification. The war is going badly because of the Republican administration incompetence. So they want out before they take a hit in the November 2006 election. They are working hard now to blame the Democrats for their failure.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Are the conservative Republican House leaders losing control of the Party?

The weakness of President Bush has permitted the moderate House Republicans to vote their constituencies, if not their conscience, and the Republican leaders are left looking weak.

A large part of this is the ability of Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer to keep control of the Democrats so that the Republicans can't "cherry-pick" a few votes from across the isle to cover for moderate Republicans they are losing. Michael Crowley provides the story.

It's a year from the mid-term elections. The weakness of the Republican Party and the failure of the Iraq War is going to leave the Republican Party in real problems. When having such problems the Republicans have invariably resorted to really nasty politics. Expect dirty tricks, nasty attacks of which the Swift Boat-type attacks will be only part, and efforts to steal elections next year.

If you want to see what kind of year 2006 is going to be, go look at This Diary by Tom Kertes at Booman Tribune. He presents the Rovian Rules for politics.

Knight-Ridder offers four more Bush-Cheney assertions

Knight-Ridder offers four new assertions that are currently being made by Cheney and Bush about the War in Iraq. Each assertion is provided with context that indicates why it is misleading and in one case flat false. The assertions are listed below. Go read K-R's responses here.

ASSERTION: In a Veterans Day speech last Friday, Bush said that Iraq war "critics are fully aware that a bipartisan Senate investigation found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence community's judgments related to Iraq's weapons programs."

ASSERTION: In his speech, Bush noted that "more than a hundred Democrats in the House and the Senate - who had access to the same intelligence - voted to support removing Saddam Hussein from power."

ASSERTION: In his Veterans Day address, Bush said that "intelligence agencies around the world agreed with our assessment of Saddam Hussein."

ASSERTION: Stephen Hadley, the president's national security adviser, told reporters last Thursday that the Clinton administration and Congress perceived Saddam as a threat based on some of the same intelligence used by the Bush administration.

"Congress, in 1998 authorized, in fact, the use of force based on that intelligence," Hadley said.

And Rumsfeld, in briefing reporters Tuesday, seemed to link President Clinton's signing of the act to his decision to order four days of U.S. bombing of suspected weapons sites and military facilities in Baghdad and other parts of Iraq.

In one case the assertion is simply untrue. In every other, Bush/Cheney provides a sliver of truth in a highly misleading interpretation. The effort is to provide their core supporters with something to say, even if (as is true of all of these assertions) the statement is clearly false to anyone who has followed the issues.

Bush-Cheney are simply trying to keep a vocal minority supporting them. This is not a debate. This is an effort to frustrate any search for the truth and demand accountability. Go read my earlier comment here for an explanation of what they are attemmpting to achieve.

This article is a beautiful example of the same techniques used to mislead the nation into war. It worked for them in 2002, so they are continuing to use the same techniques to avoid the blame for what they did.

28 statments by Cheny to mislead us into the Iraq War.

This is a list of 28 quotes Vice President Cheney has repeatedly made that are at best misleading. Each is quoted with an explanation of how it is wrong or misleading. Click here for the list.

How does a politician survive a sustained attack?

This is what George W. Bush does according to Josh Marshall.
We've noted before that in scandals or political nominations the decisive issue is not the number of opponents, the intensity of their opposition or even the quality of their arguments. The decisive issue is most often whether the scandalee or the nominee has some committed base of support, even if it only amounts to a distinct minority.
Josh is discussing the current White House attack back against its critics, but I wanted to point out the technique being used.

Bush isn't talking to those of us who know he has failed as President. He is talking to his committed base and giving them something to argue back with. They may be a minority of the voters, but they can prevent him from being removed as President. They set up a roadblock against the attacks, and allow time to recover and comeback.

It is my opinion that the media does not like to do the same story over and over. If he can outlast the media, then he has a chance to survive. Let's watch to see what happens to his polls.

Balanced Budget economists terrified of American finances

How bad are American finances?

To hear Walker, the nation's top auditor, tell it, the United States can be likened to Rome before the fall of the empire. Its financial condition is "worse than advertised," he says. It has a "broken business model." It faces deficits in its budget, its balance of payments, its savings — and its leadership.

Walker's not the only one saying it. As Congress and the White House struggle to trim up to $50 billion from the federal budget over five years — just 3% of the $1.6 trillion in deficits projected for that period — budget experts say the nation soon could face its worst fiscal crisis since at least 1983, when Social Security bordered on bankruptcy.

Without major spending cuts, tax increases or both, the national debt will grow more than $3 trillion through 2010, to $11.2 trillion — nearly $38,000 for every man, woman and child. The interest alone would cost $561 billion in 2010, the same as the Pentagon.
Like so many disasters in which Bush has ignored warnings and led the nation into, this set of disasters in predictable, inevitable, and could mostly have been headed off under a responsible administration.

The trouble is, even if Bush listens and recognizes the problems, the solutions he will propose will be nothing more than political wedge issue aimed at winning the next election and unacceptable to most of America. George W. Bush is the worst President ever to damage America!

Go read the whole thing at USA Today.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Campaign funding - Democrats moving to small donors

Tom DeLay and the Republicans have operated the "K-Street Project" in order to obtain the lion's share of corporate donations and to cut the Democrats out of access to them. Howard Dean has come in as Chairman of the Democratic National Committee and sharply increased the number of donations from small donors who give less than $250. MyDD has a report on this that ends:

So, Democrats are shut out of K Street, and the money that comes with it, as part of a systematic effort by the Republican Party to soak up as much corporate and lobbying money as possible. In response, Democrats find that they can raise even more money than they did in the past by turning to small, individual donors. Then, K Street and big donors get upset with Democrats for not paying attention to them anymore. Sounds like karmic comeuppance to big donors and lobbyists to me. If lobbyists and big donors really wanted the same amount of access to Democrats and Republicans, then they wouldn't have abandoned Dems and given in to the Republican K Street project in the first place. It is as though big donors and lobbyists broke up with Dems, then Dems went out and found someone who was better for them anyway, and now the lobbyists and big donors want Dems back. Well, I say hard cheese to lobbyists to big donors. They had their chance. They blew it. They can ram it.

Is it any wonder why Democrats are doing so well among Independents these days? You have one party, Republicans, trying to suck up as much as possible to the rich, to large corporations, and to lobbyists. You have another party, Democrats, trying instead to appeal to small donors and build a nationwide grassroots movement independent of powerful, wealthy interests. You tell me who is going to appeal more to people who feel shut out of the system. You tell me which is a better way for American politics to operate. Democrats should broadcast these developments as far and as wide as they can. Amidst the Republican culture of corruption, this is good government at work. This will appeal to what I once deemed the "non-ideological reformers" as much as any issue or platform position ever could. We need to get the word out. Democrats are taking their party back.

Does Bush believe in anything except retaining power?

Bush was given a golden opportunity to use 9/11 to unify America behind him, work to reduce terrorism, and build a stronger America. Instead he used it to win the 2002 midterm elections for the Republican Party. Today he uses the War in Iraq as a club to hit anyone who questions his handling of Iraq, the Middle East, and the War on Terror. Any criticism of Bush automatically is translated into not supporting the troops.

Kevin Drum has a really insightful post on this subject. This from Kevin:
After a calculated display of bipartisan mourning for public consumption, the Bush administration thereafter refused to consult with or even take notice of the existence of an opposition party. Republican consultants advised their clients to use the war as a wedge issue in reelection campaigns and the Republican leadership declared rhetorical war on mild-mannered Tom Daschle. Andy Card talked about marketing plans for the Iraq invasion. The White House cynically proposed a union-busting plan for the Department of Homeland Security designed solely to arouse Democratic opposition. The President told cheering audiences that Senate Democrats didn't care about the security of the country and campaigned tirelessly even against congressmen who had supported him. In Georgia, Max Cleland was likened to Osama bin Laden.

And it worked: Republicans won the election. And Democrats finally woke up and realized that George Bush was more interested in using the war as a partisan club than he was in actually fighting terrorists.

And that's not all. Unlike his father, Bush deliberately timed the vote on the war declaration for maximum impact on the 2002 midterms; he delayed progress on the UN declaration in order to maintain that as hot button for his base; and the Downing Street Memos make clear that the timing of "spikes of activity" against Iraq were related to the midterm elections as well.

The rest of the world sees this too and asks the obvious question: If Bush himself treats the war on terrorism as just another partisan club, like tort reform or tax cuts, why should anyone else take it any more seriously? It's a hard question to answer.
When you time the initiation of a war of choice to use it to win the next election, which is priority? The war or the election? The answer is obvious. It is the election.

If the actions of the President are geared entirely to maintain his power and power for his party, and most of the American population gets no benefit from his administrartion (e.g. the failed government reaction to Katrina - Rita) why should any American be expected to support Bush and the Republican Party? They aren't working for America. They are working for themselves.

Anytime Bush or any Republican states that what some critic says threatens America or weakens the troops, you know it is because they feel personally threatened by the question and want to both change the subject and intimidate the questioner.

The Republican Party and Bush are not America. They do not represent America. They represent only themselves and are working only to enrich themselves as fast as possible. It is today's Republicans who are not Americans.

A list of W H officials who leaked Valerie Plame/Wilson's CIA status

Kevin Drum lists the White House officials who "leaked" Valerie Plame/Wilson's status as a CIA officer to members of the Press before Bob Novak published his column announcing she was a CIA "operative."

It is difficult to look at the pattern and conclude anything other than that this was a planned and coordinated release of information.

New info on Bush's mental condition.

Kevin Drum points to an article by Insight on the News, a Washington Times outlet that provides another inside look at Bush's behavior.
"Bush has become isolated and feels betrayed by key members of his staff. "The sources said Mr. Bush maintains daily contact with only four people: first lady Laura Bush, his mother, Barbara Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Undersecretary of State Karen Hughes. The sources also say that Mr. Bush has stopped talking with his father, except on family occasions."
Click through and read Kevin Drum's brief summary of previous published reports on Bush's mental health.

This presents the possibility of the application of using the 25th Amendment to the Constitution. From FindLaw:
Section 4. Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.

Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principle officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty-eight hours for that purpose if not in session. If the Congress within twenty-one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session within twenty-one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two-thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office.
It is unlikely that Cheney would apply the procedure in Section 4, but thye Fitzgerald investigation is getting close to Cheney, and he may well not be Vice President much longer.

The possibility of this occurring makes the choice of a new Vice President to replace Cheney more important than any Senate confirmation of a Presidential nomination that we have seen before.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

So why DID Bush invade Iraq?

E. J. Dionne writes today:
there has been an entertaining chorus of claims that the charge is false but that everybody else did it -- other countries' intelligence services, assorted politicians in this country (especially Democrats). Lacking a defense, Bush's operatives have sought to construct a Potemkin universe of intelligence dupes.

In this blizzard of disinformation, though, the unique nature of Bush and his top advisers is conveniently overlooked. Everyone else in the world with the possible exception of Tony Blair recognizes the corollary to the now-accepted wisdom that Iraq possessed no unconventional weapons and posed no threat to the United States worthy of adjectives like grave, imminent, or even serious.

The corollary would be that knowing then what is known now, an essentially unilateral invasion of Iraq under conditions of haste and waste in March of 2003 would have been ill-advised in the extreme. Virtually alone in the world, Bush has proclaimed for months that he would have invaded Iraq even if he had known it posed no threat.
With all the reasons initially given by the Bush administration shown to be just so much hype to induce America to invade Iraq, and Bush essentially saying he knew that and would have invaded Iraq anyway, the question remains -- WHY?

Maybe someday he will write a memoir and explain his reasons. I won't suggest that he will or even can explain his rationale, of course. It will probably be something a third-grader could easily read.

The Dalai Lama speaks about science and Buddhism

Mark A. R. Kleiman offers a fascinating statement from his Holiness the Dalai Lama regarding how Buddhism reacts to the discoveries of science. This is the key paragraph:
If science proves some belief of Buddhism wrong, then Buddhism will have to change. In my view, science and Buddhism share a search for the truth and for understanding reality. By learning from science about aspects of reality where its understanding may be more advanced, I believe that Buddhism enriches its own worldview.
The Catholic Church, of course, takes the same attitude - after two to three hundred years, with much backsliding as the current Pope is demonstrating.

Conservatives are trying to change America into a much worse place.

This is a diary from My Left Wing which states a truely important truth of modern America. The author tells us how he became a middle-class tax paying American. Hint: He didn't inherit it, and he didn't win the lottery.
Was it my fault we were on welfare? No. Was it my fault that I received free lunch at school? No, not at all. But those in power in Washington want to make it the fault of every poor child in America. It’s the age of personal responsibility, you know. Pull yourself up by your bootstraps, you know. Well let me tell you, I didn’t have any bootstraps to pull myself up by even if I could have taken ‘personal responsibility’.

These days it is more important to those in Congress and in the Bush administration to give tax cuts to the wealthy while paying for it by throwing children out of school lunch programs, denying medical treatment for those too poor to afford it, and reducing yet again the amount of money available for education through the student loan program. And I won’t even go into the short-funding of the public schools which further reduces educational opportunities.
Capable children are born to families of all classes. Those children are the future of America.

How do we see them growing up into capable adults?

Monday, November 14, 2005

How possible were the results of Ohio's '05 election?

From Brad Friedman, Huffington Post: The Post Dispatch has a highly reliable poll system that normally predicts election resulots within a percentage point, but in the '05 Ohio election thay were unreasonably off from the reported election results.
Issues 2 through 5 put forward by -- a bi-partisan coalition pushing these four initiatives for Electoral Reform in the Buckeye State largely in response to their shameful '04 Election performance led by the extremely partisan Secretary of State (and Bush/Cheney '04 Co-Chair) J. Kenneth Blackwell.

On those four issues, which Blackwell and the Christian Right were against, the final results were impossibly different -- and we mean impossibly! -- from both the Dispatch's final polling before the election and all reasoned common-sense. Take a look:

ISSUE 1 ($2 Billion State Bond initiative)
PRE-POLLING: 53% Yes, 27% No, 20% Undecided
FINAL RESULT: 54% Yes, 45% No

ISSUE 2 (Allow easier absentee balloting)
PRE-POLLING: 59% Yes, 33% No, 9% Undecided
FINAL RESULT: 36% Yes, 63% No

ISSUE 3 (Revise campaign contribution limits)
PRE-POLLING: 61% Yes, 25% No, 14% Undecided
FINAL RESULT: 33% Yes, 66% No

ISSUE 4 (Ind. Comm. to draw Congressional Districts)
PRE-POLLING: 31% Yes, 45% No, 25% Undecided
FINAL RESULT: 30% Yes, 69% No

ISSUE 5 (Ind. Board instead of Sec. of State to oversee elections)
PRE-POLLING: 41% Yes, 43% No, 16% Undecided
FINAL RESULT: 29% Yes, 70% No

Now, you tell us...What could possibly explain such unheard of differences between the Dispatch's poll and the final results?

Now, we'll tell you...This was the year that Ohio, under the encouragement and mandates of Blackwell, rolled out new Electronic Touch-Screen Voting Machines in 44 of its 88 counties...41 of them employeeing the same Diebold Touch-Screen Machines that California's Republican Sec. of State decertified in this state when 20% of them failed this summer in the largest test of its kind ever held.

Those would be the very same Electronic Voting Machines which a recent GAO Report (still unmentioned by a single wire-service or mainstream American newspaper) confirmed to be easily hackable.
This is unreasonable. The computer system should be eliminated, and the results supposedly reported from this election cancelled.

What happens when every school child IN THE WORLD gets a $100 laptop computer?

It's closer than you think. The Wall Street Journal has an interesting article on the program to provide exactly that.

Alito wrote that Constitution did not protect abortion

I distrust the Washington Times instinctively, but this is interesting. They report that in 1985 Alito stated the following:
...his statements against abortion and affirmative action might cause him headaches from Democrats and liberals as he prepares for confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee, scheduled for January.

"It has been an honor and source of personal satisfaction for me to serve in the office of the Solicitor General during President Reagan's administration and to help to advance legal positions in which I personally believe very strongly," he wrote.

"I am particularly proud of my contributions in recent cases in which the government has argued in the Supreme Court that racial and ethnic quotas should not be allowed and that the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion."
More evidence that he is a conservative idelogue, not a trained rational attorney who follows law and precedent. He rather clearly is not a person a modern America wants on the Supreme Court.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Bush exhibits "Dry Drunk Syndrome"

If you want to understant George W. Bush, you need to understand that he is an alcoholic who has quit drinking, but has not had any therapy for the underlying pathology from which he is suffering. Here is a description of the "Dry Drunk Syndrome."
What is the dry drunk syndrome?

"Dry drunk" traits consist of:

Exaggerated self-importance and pomposity
Grandiose behavior
A rigid, judgmental outlook
Childish behavior
Irresponsible behavior
Irrational rationalization

Clearly, George W. Bush has all these traits except exaggerated self-importance. He may be pompous, especially with regard to international dealings, but his actual importance hardly can be exaggerated. His power, in fact, is such that if he collapses into paranoia, a large part of the world will collapse with him. Unfortunately, there are some indications of paranoia in statements such as the following: "We must be prepared to stop rogue states and their terrorist clients before they are able to threaten or use weapons of mass destruction against the United States and our allies and friends." The trait of projection is evidenced here as well, projection of the fact that we are ready to attack onto another nation which may not be so inclined.

Bush's rigid, judgmental outlook comes across in virtually all his speeches. To fight evil, Bush is ready to take on the world, in almost a Biblical sense. Consider his statement with reference to Israel: "Look my job isn't to try to nuance. I think moral clarity is important ... this is evil versus good."

Bush's tendency to dichotomize reality is not on the Internet list above, but it should be, as this tendency to polarize is symptomatic of the classic addictive thinking pattern. I describe this thinking distortion in 'Addiction Treatment: A Strengths Perspective' as either/or reasoning -- "either you are with us or against us". Oddly, Bush used those very words in his dealings with other nations. All-or-nothing thinking is a related mode of thinking commonly found in newly-recovering alcoholics/addicts. Such a worldview traps people in a pattern of destructive behavior.

Obsessive thought patterns are also pronounced in persons prone to addiction. There are organic reasons for this due to brain chemistry irregularities; messages in one part of the brain become stuck there. This leads to maddening repetition of thoughts. President Bush seems unduly focused upon getting revenge on Saddam Hussein ("he tried to kill my Dad"), leading the country and the world into war, accordingly.
Bush' history suggests that this is his problem, and he statements and decisions tend to verify it.

Check out this google search on "Dry Drunk Syndrome" here.

Bush administration imploding

The events that have led to the current implosion of the Bush administration are listed in Talking Points Memo.

Friday, November 11, 2005

DeLay admitted to DA Earle that he was aware of the money movement before it happened

The Washington Post states that the proof DA Ronnie Earle has that Tom DeLay knew of and approved of the transfer of funds from corporations throught the Republican National Committee to Republican candidates for the Texas House of Representatives.

That means that DeLay knew and approved in advance of the shift of money from corporations to Texas candidates, going through the RNC to conceal that the money was from corporations. The use of corporate money to fund election activities is illegal under Texas Law, which is why the money could not be sent directly from the corporations to the candidates.

This is the classic definition of money laundering. Money from an illegal source is transferred throught intermediate organizations to conceal the illegal source.

DeLay dug his own grave.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Rev. Pat Robertson once again threatens those who disagree with him with God's wrath.

Pennsylvania voted out eight school board members who supported teaching "Intelligent Design", so Pat Rpbertson warns Pennsylvanians that any disadter that happens is God's wrath for rejecting him.

Note the ambiguity of the word "him". That is intentional. Does it mean that God was rejected, or that Pat Robertson was rejected?

Take your choice. Choose God, and you are wrong.

Pat Buchanan isn't happy with the Bush administration.

This is what he said.
"Thus, in March, 2003, Bush, in perhaps the greatest strategic blunder in U.S. history, invaded an Arab nation that had not attacked us, did not want war with us, and did not threaten us—to strip it of weapons we now know it did not have.

"Result: Shia and Kurds have been liberated from Saddam, but Iran has a new ally in southern Iraq, Osama has a new base camp in the Sunni Triangle, the Arab and Islamic world have been radicalized against the United States, and copy-cat killers of Al Qaida have been targeting our remaining allies in Europe and the Middle East: Spain, Britain, Egypt and Jordan. And, lest we forget, 2055 Americans are dead and Walter Reed is filling up."
As the Republican Party in Congress disintregates, Pat speaks for a lot of Republicans. They aren't all Tom DeLay, Roy Bliunt, "Duke" Cunningham or Bob Ney clones.

Josh Marshall describes the breakdown of Republican discipline in Congress.

If you want to understand why the moderate and the conservative Republicans in Congress have been marching in such tight lock-step, Josh Marshall's description of the breakdown of Republican discipline in congress is extremely informative. He lays out what seems to be the principle source of the discipline when he shows it failing.

He focuses on the weakness of President Bush, but I wonder if the absence of Tom DeLay and the threat of the Abramoff investigation doesn't also have a lot to do with it. In the Senate, it is clear that Frist is a weak leader. Go read Josh and see what you think.

Intelligent comments on this subject would be appreciated.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

More analysis of the dumbing down of Kansas

The Panda's Thumb provides a good analysis of what the Kansas School Board's decision meand. Especially, consider this:
"In addition, the board rewrote the definition of science, so that it is no longer limited to the search for natural explanations of phenomena."
Rewriting the definition of science seems a rather presumptuous thing for a school board to do, I think, especially when their new definition is something contrary to what working scientists and major scientific organizations say is science. As for removing the limitation to natural phenomena, what do they propose to add? Ghosts, intuition, divine revelation, telepathic communications from Venusians? It's simply insane.

The clowns of Kansas don't think so, of course.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The dumbing down of Kansas

The Associated Press reports that the state Board of Education has approved science standards for public schools Tuesday that cast doubt on the theory of evolution. This is an effort to cast doubt on the concept of Evolution by pulling in questions and doubts about exactly how evolution has worked to develop varied species. It puts the state Board of Education on record as supporting the concept of Intelligent Design.

Individual school districts will determine what is taught in their classes, but the standards set by the State Board of Education will be used to determine what is tested throughout the State. It is my understanding that those tests are used under the federal law No Child Left Behind to rank the school districts. The rankings of the districts will affect the careers of the administrators, so they will "teach to the tests."

An interesting study to conduct would be to determine the degree to which individual districts taught Intelligent Design, then to see how the students in those districts did on nation-wide standardized science tests like the science questions on the SAT. The results of such immediate tests would be a short-term substitute the long-term participation of students from those districts in real biological science.

Individuals trained in Intelligent Design have never contributed to true experimental science because they have their conclusions in mind before beginning any studies. For the same reason, Intelligent Design will have no effect other than to prevent young minds from participating in real science. The loss of science may be the gain of fundamentalist "Christian" theology. The net balance will be a bad deal.

The students of Kansas have lost a major battle.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Are you properly caring for the introverts in your life?

Introverts are misunderstood and downrated by extroverts. How should you treat an introvert?

The Atlantic Monthly has an excellent article about how introverts behave and how extroverts should treat them. Unfortunately, extroverts are usualy so busy talking to others that they aren't likely to read this article.

Yes, I am an introvert. No, I am not shy or anti-social. Go read the article.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Speaker Hastert connected to the Abramoff scandal.

The Huffington Post reports on a story from the Cleveland Plain Dealer that states that in June 2003 House Speaker Dennis Hastert sent a letter to to Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton urging asking that she act in favor of clients of Jack Abramoff. The letter was apparently written by Jack Abramoff who is a lobbyist currently being investigated for illegally selling government influence to his clients in connection with his friend, at that time Majoprity Leader Tom DeLay. Tom DeLay and current Majority Leader Roy Blunt both cosigned the letter.
The letter endorsed a view of gambling law that would block the Jena Band of Choctaw Indians from opening a casino nearby one owned by the Coushattas, an Abramoff client.

According to FEC reports, since 1999 Hastert has taken $49,000 from American Indian tribes while they were Jack Abramoff's clients. On June 3, 2003, Hasteret held a fundraiser at Signatures, a Washington restaurant owned by Abramoff. He did not pay for the space until more than two years later, when Business Week began an in-depth investigation into use of Signatures.
This is the kind of influence the Republican Congressional Leadership has been selling to finance their election campaigns.

Widespread torture tracked back to Cheney

More from Col. Lawrence Wilkerson.
Lawrence Wilkerson, who was Secretary of State Colin Powell's chief of staff during
President Bush's first term, said Thursday, "It was clear to me there that there was a visible audit trail from the vice president's office through the secretary of defense down to the commanders in the field."

While the view of Cheney's office was put in carefully couched terms, to a soldier in the field it meant sometimes using ways that "were not in accordance with the spirit of the Geneva Conventions and the law of war," Wilkerson, a former colonel, said on National Public Radio's "Morning Edition."

"If you are a military man you know that you just don't do these sorts of things because once you give just the slightest bit of leeway there are those in the armed forces who will take advantage of that," Wilkerson said.
It has been completely clear since the Abu Ghraib pictures were published that it was the result of a failure of command control that extended back at least to the Pentagon and Donald Rumsfeld. Col. Wilkerson's description of the cabal between Cheney and Rumsfeld makes it clear that the failure came from the White House where Bush has let Cheney run wild.

As if to intentionally provide support to Col. Wilkerson's statements, the Associated Press reports that Cheney is trying to get Sen. McCain's anti-torture amendment changed to at least exempt the CIA.

How bad was the Intel given to the Public?

Editor & Publisher provides a short summary of some of the findings reporter Doug Jehl of The New York Times will report in the Sunday edition on Nov 6.

The pattern seems to be that when evidence of any quality confirms what the managers want to see proven it is grabbed onto and disseminated, while doubts are suppressed. There were doubts about the sources this E & P article describes, but the public never heard about them. The NY Times article is based on the memo of one such doubt about the validity of what a captured al Qaeda prisoner was telling our Intelligence people.

Read the article. It's short but informative.

Libby's saga may be only Act Two in a three-act play

John Dean at Findlaw predicts more indictments are to be expected fron Fitzgerald. John Dean points out that the indictment itself included a great deal more information than was necessary just to indict Libby of Purgery and Obstruction of Justice. It also suggested that Libby's Obstruction Has Blocked An Espionage Act Charge. Dean states:
"We have not charged him with [that] crime. I'm not making an allegation that he violated [the Espionage Act]. What I'm simply saying is one of the harms in obstruction is that you don't have a clear view of what should be done. And that's why people ought to walk in, go into the grand jury, you're going to take an oath, tell us the who, what, when, where and why -- straight." (Emphasis added)

In short, because Libby has lied, and apparently stuck to his lie, Fitzgerald is unable to build a case against him or anyone else under Section 793, a provision which he is willing to invoke, albeit with care.

And who is most vulnerable under the Espionage Act? Dick Cheney
John Dean's article is very much worth reading.

John Dean's prediction:
It has been reported that Libby's attorney tried to work out a plea deal. But Fitzgerald insisted on jail time, so Libby refused to make a deal. It appears that only Libby, in addition to Cheney, knows what Cheney knew, and when he knew, and why he knew, and what he did with his knowledge.

Fitzgerald has clearly thrown a stacked indictment at Libby, laying it on him as heavy as the law and propriety permits. He has taken one continuous false statement, out of several hours of interrogation, and made it into a five-count indictment. It appears he is trying to flip Libby - that is, to get him to testify against Cheney -- and not without good reason. Cheney is the big fish in this case.

Will Libby flip? Unlikely. Neither Cheney nor Libby (I believe) will be so foolish as to crack a deal. And Libby probably (and no doubt correctly) assumes that Cheney - a former boss with whom he has a close relationship -- will (at the right time and place) help Libby out, either with a pardon or financially, if necessary. Libby's goal, meanwhile, will be to stall going to trial as long as possible, so as not to hurt Republicans' showing in the 2006 elections.

So if Libby can take the heat for a time, he and his former boss (and friend) may get through this. But should Republicans lose control of the Senate (where they are blocking all oversight of this administration), I predict Cheney will resign "for health reasons."
Any prediction of a series of future events is extremely ambiguous, but this is from a guy who has the eductation and who has been there with Nixon. Take it for what it is worth.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Is Sam Alito a reasonable choice as Supreme Court Justice?

We are all reading tea leaves and trying to predict the future with these
Supreme Court appointments, but anyone nominated by Bush has at least two and a half strikes against them. However, the LA Times has published an interesting article that provides this description:
Some of Alito's former Yale Law School classmates who describe themselves as Democrats say they expect they will not always agree with his rulings if he joins the Supreme Court. But they say he is the best they could have hoped for from among Bush's potential nominees.

"Sam is very smart, and he is unquestionably conservative," said Washington lawyer Mark I. Levy, who served in the Justice Department during the Carter and Clinton administrations. "But he is open-minded and fair. And he thinks about cases as a lawyer and a judge. He is really very different from [Justice Antonin] Scalia. If he is going to be like anyone on the court now, it will be John Roberts," the new chief justice.

Joel Friedman teaches labor and employment law at Tulane University Law School, but is temporarily at the University of Pittsburgh because of Tulane's shutdown following Hurricane Katrina.

"Ideology aside, I think he is a terrific guy, a terrific choice," said Friedman, a Yale classmate of Alito's. "He is not Harriet Miers; he has unimpeachable credentials. He may disagree with me on many legal issues — I am a Democrat; I didn't vote for Bush. I would not prefer any of the people Bush has appointed up until now.

"The question is, is this guy [Alito] going to be motivated by the end and find a means to get to the end, or is he going to reach an end through thoughtful analysis of all relevant factors? In my judgment, Sam will be the latter."
The Law is inherently conservative, looking to the past for rules on how to behave. This is not the same as many modernRepublicann "Conservatives" who seem to want to make radical changes in how society operates and functions, so as to achieve in the future some form of conservative Utopia.

As long as Alito is bright,analyzes the facts of situations and applies existing law as practiced to those situations without trying to predetermine a conservative outcome and bend existing rule of law to achieve it, we will be lucky to find such a man in the pool of people Bush will consider that he can choose from.

Of course, there is the question of whether we really want five practicing Catholics on a nine-member court when many of the most contentious issues are likely to involve abortion rights. But this is another issue.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Why did Brent Scowcraft break with the Bush 43 administration?

This is a fascinating description of the differences between the Bush 41 and the Bush 43 views of how to handle Iraq, from the point of view of Brent Scowcraft, National Security Advosor to Bush 41. It provides a description of the differences in decison style of the two administrations, as well as the importance of Cheney and Rice in the two administrations. In it you will see the difference between Bush 41 who wanted all the available information and different opinions on what it meant, and Bush 43 who listens only to those he agrees with and who discourages disagreeing opinions.

It is the difference between being reality-based and being ideology-based. It is also the difference between the realists and the Wilsonians. The Wilsonians bite off more than they can chew, and the military methods they tend to apply are counter-productive. That is also clear in this presentation.

The article is by Jeffrey Goldberg in the New Yorker. If you want to see why we are now in Iraq and why the decision to Invade Iraq was wrong, read it all.

Why does the Bush White House have no policy staff?

I have discussed this before, but the Bush White House is operated entirely politically. They have no one at the top level who works on how to govern, that is, no one who is responsible for how the government actually gets done the things that the leaders have decided to accomplish. Kevin drum addresses this issue, reacting to a statement by Sen. Trent Lott.

In essence what Trent Lott says is that President Bush has Rove, a political expert, on board as a policy expert. This represents Bush's well-known disinterest in government policy. Bush is interested in winning elections, but as Katrina has demonstrated, has no interest in how government works. So he wins elections but fails to handle Hurricanes or accomplishing successful wars.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Sen Reid forces Senate Republicans to investigate administration use of Intel to cause Iraq War.

Sen. Harry Reid Tuesday used an arcane Senate rule called the "closed session" rule to require the Republican Senate leaders act on the Phase II investigation into the causes of the Iraq War which Sen. Roberts has blocked for over a year. The closed session was called to discuss investigating the manner in which the Bush administration manipulated Intelligence to cause the War in Iraq.

The result was an agreement by Sen. Frist to create a six-member bipartisan panel to issue a report on the matter by Nov. 14. The Republican leadership was caught by surprise and expressed anger at Sen. Reid's "highjacking" of the Senate.

Newsday describes what happened. TPM Cafe offers Sen. Reid's statement presented to the Senate when he asked for the closed session. Mark Schmitt at TPM Cafe has an interesting discussion of what this action means for control of the Senate. He suggest that the Minority has taken control from the Majority.

Iran: Ten interesting facts

The Independent (UK) presents ten interesting facts about Iran.