Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The issues driving Bush no longer are those driving America

Josh Marshall has a really significant post tonight. He makes the point that Bush and America have failed in Iraq. Iraq is gone. Down the tubes.

But the key is that America can survive the failure in Iraq. But Bush will not. Bush's legacy is toast. But he still has two years as the President to try to salvage his legacy. Unfortunately, he cannot salvage his legacy by recognizing the failure in Iraq.

Bush's only chance to save his legacy is to escalate the war by going after Iran militarily. This is ephemeral. It will not work. But there is no other option for the Bush administration to try. If he gives up and starts to try to make peace in the Middle East, everything the Bush administration has attempted since 9/11 will be proven to have failed.

But at this time, it is in America's best (and only) interest to recognize the failure and the idiocy of the war in Iraq and to shut it down as soon as possible so that it does not expand to other nations in the Middle East. This is critical for America, but it means that Bush's legacy is the pits.

This is the source of the strange reaction of Dick Cheney in his interview with Wolf Blitzer. It is obvious that in the interview, Dick Cheney is literally out of it. He cannot accept the truth of the situation that he, more than anyone else, has led America into.

At this point, if I were an MSM pundit, I would suggest a way out of this empass. Other than removing Cheney and Bush, I do not see any way to do it. But I know no legal way to remove the President and the Vice President before January 2009 without the concurrence of the Republican members of Congress.

The Republican members of Congress do not yet recognize the disastor we are facing, so we are frankly in a world of shit. Barring a miracle, plan on an expanded war in the Middle East before January of 2008. Here is Josh Marshall's analogy for the situation:
Think of it like this. He's a death row prisoner concocting a thousand-to-one plan to break out of prison. For him, those are good odds. The rest of us are doing three months for disorderly conduct. And he's trying to rope us into his harebrained scheme. Like I said, his interests are very different from ours.

Speak up. We're on the edge of the abyss.
You are looking down at a great drop. Bush and Cheney say you have to jump. Will you jump with Bush and Cheney? Why? It is their problem, not America's.

News for those of us without cable - no Jon Stewart.

Since I don't get cable, I suffer for lack of news. Except on U-tube, I have NEVER SEEN JON STEWART!

So where do I get reliable news? We all know that there is none on the major channels -- but wait! Stay up. There is still Jay Leno!

So tonight he gives us the news from England. For the first time, in England a cat has been diagnosed with depression. The cat was put on Prozac.

While I'm sure this is real news, How did they know? How can you tell a cat has depression? They sleep all day? Then can't sleep at night? They get irritible if you move their cat bowl? How could you tell a cat was depressed? Perhaps the cat realized that some of us do not consider them to be Gods anymore?

Oh, wait. How could they tell we no longer consider them Gods? We don't stroke them when they jump into our lap and demand it? We don't buy them catnip mice, and perhaps we force them to go chase real mice? I don't believe it. Any cat who purrs can get his head scratched or back stroked upon with a short, demanding purr. Any cat who poos in the middle of my bed can get his litter changed upon demand. They ALL know this. They learn it as kittens.

The news, then, must be that someone has learned how to diagnose depression in cats. Don't tell me how to tell. My cat already has total control in this household. Even the dogs agree.

Bush tried to bury reporters at Caterpillar Plant.

We all know that Bush has a nasty sense of humor. Once again he proves it. Newsweek reports his efforts to crush reporters under a D-10 Caterpillar.

Was Bush just kidding around? Probably, but with the guy who has started a war no one needed and is now trying to increase it rather than stop it, and the guy who played the guitar while New Orleans drowned, can we be sure that he wasn't serious? There's also the fact that even if he was kidding, I don't trust him to know how to run a D-10.

See an example of the D-10 Caterpillar.

Breaking News! CBS local TV says Molly Ivins has just died.

This just came as a break on the DFW Channel 11 CBS News. She was recently hospitalized with a recurrance of breast cancer.

Damn! The world has just lost a great deal of color and fun.

John Moritz of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram has a very good obituary. It has some of the important facts, but I sure wish he had been able to use some of the colorful vocabulary that Molly was famous for.

Want a list of Mercenary firms in Iraq? Ask the Dept of State.

This is an interesting list posted on the Department of State's Website. It is entitled "Security Companies Doing Business in Iraq".

I count 28 of them, and Blackwater USA is NOT listed.

Guide to the Wednesday (Jan 31) Libby Trial Live-blog

This is an index to the Firedoglake Libby Trial Liveblogging. I am trying to make it as easy as possible to go read the details of the trial as recorded by Marcy Wheeler (EmptyWheel) of Firedog lake. Do not refresh any more than necessary, as Firedoglake's server is being hit very frequently. That's why it is so slow to load or sometimes comes back reporting "Unable to Connect."

As before the links are in time sequence with the oldest at the bottom and the newest at the top. The numbered links are the actual (paraphrased, not verbatum) live-blogged trial reports by EmptyWheel.

To see all my posts indexing the Liveblog of the Libby trial from Firedoglake, click on the Label "Liveblog" (below.)

This is a partial listing so far. I will add new links as they come available today.
Matt Cooper See Biography.

Judy Miller See Biography.


Who is close to the President? Plan of West Wing.

Dan Froomkin provides a floor plan of the West Wing of the White House, and an explanation of what the various locations mean as symbols of power. When you see someone from the White House on TV, this will give you a graphic view of how much real power they have.

It's interesting to see who has the corner offices. On the first floor, west side you have Josh Bolton (CoS) with a corner office then Dick Cheney with a middle office, and the other corner belongs to Steve Hadley the National Security Advisor. And Rove is central to all three of those guys. He is real close to the President, but has no windows.

The second floor is less interesting.

[H/T to Steve Clemons.]

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Guide to the Tuesday (Jan 30) Libby Trial Live-blog

This is an index to the Firedoglake Libby Trial Liveblogging. I am trying to make it as easy as possible to go read the details of the trial as recorded by Marcy Wheeler (EmptyWheel) of Firedog lake.

As before the links are in time sequence with the oldest at the bottom and the newest at the top. The numbered links are the actual (paraphrased, not verbatum) live-blogged trial reports by EmptyWheel.

To see all my posts indexing the Liveblog of the Libby trial from Firedoglake, click on the Label "Liveblog" (below.)Addington, David S. See Biography. David Addington is the principle theorist of the so-called Unitary Executive in which he theorized that the President as Commander-in-Chief during wartime cannot be restricted by other branches of government. [This according to Marcy Wheeler.]

Miller, Judy See Biography.


Monday, January 29, 2007

Guide to the Monday (Jan 29) Libby Trial Live-blog

Again, the links are in time sequence with the oldest at the bottom and the newest at the top. The numbered links are the actual (paraphrased, not verbatum) live-blogged trial reports by Marcy Wheeler (EmptyWheel.)

To see all my posts indexing the Liveblog of the Libby trial from Firedoglake, click on the Label "Liveblog" (below.)

Bartlett, Dan Counselor to President Bush, see bio.

William (Bill) Jeffress the Defense Lawyer cross examining Cathie Martin.

Cathie Martin Cheney's press secretary during the period when Novak was told the classified information that Valerie Plame was a CIA agent and published it.

Walton, Reggie B., Federal Judge. See Biography.

Addington, David S. See Biography. David Addington is the principle theorist of the so-called Unitary Executive in which he theorized that the President as Commander-in-Chief during wartime cannot be restricted by other branches of government. [This according to Marcy Wheeler.]

Ted Wells is an attorney for "Scooter" Libby.


Emptywheel - What happened May-July 2003 re: Plame?

Emptywheel has posted what she thinks happened in the Office of the Vice President and the White House in May through July of 2003. Here is my summary of her post.
This is going to be really quick--but there's a lot of confusion about where there are smoking guns and where there are not. So I'm going to lay out what I think went on in May-July 2003. It's speculative, but this is the picture we're beginning to see.
First was the little noticed Nicholas D. Kristof article in May.

Then – also May - Post reporter Walter Pincus looked at CIA. Mark Grossman at Dept of State pointed to Wilson, then Robert Grenier at CIA added the name “Plame.”

Grenier told Libby about Plame, and Harlow (CIA Public Info Officer) informed Cathie Martin (Press Relations officer in OVP) about Plame. At this time it appears that Cheney went to find out what Valerie Plame did at CIA. Cheney appears to have learned she worked in the Counter Proliferation Department (which is covert.) If Fitz can prove this, Cheney is in trouble.

June 12th Pincus reported that Dick Cheney was twisting arms at the CIA to get the Intelligence he wanted. Libby and Cheney may have thought that Plame and Wilson were responsible for that leak also. This belief would have further led Cheney to believe he was at bureaucratic war with the CIA.
That's when--it seems very very likely--Cheney ordered Libby to launder Plame's identity through Judy Miller in a very secret leak on July 8. Heck--was Libby's hush hush conversation to Ari on July 7 a set-up so that when people went looking they'd find the info that was about to be leaked to Judy?

At the same time, Hadley was panicking because (I'm increasingly convinced) he and Libby actually had seen the report from Wilson's trip--and had used it to defend their Niger case. So while Libby and Cheney were going after Plame's ID (and the NIE), Hadley was kicking the communicators out of the room to figure out how to bury the news that they had, in fact, seen Wilson's report. But that's a second hush hush theme to the week.

There are still some big outstanding questions.
  • What role did Rove play?
  • When and where did Libby and Novak speak?
  • Was it before Novak's article?
  • Did Libby leak Plame's covert ID, after having been given "presidential authorization" to do so?
  • What were the later conversations with Judy about?
Anyway, this is what she wrote this morning. I appreciate her summary, as I tend to get lost in the details.

The reports of a big battle near Karbala are confused.

It is being reported that there was a major battle near Karbala, a major Shiite holy city south of Baghdad to which many pilgrims are traveling right now. Reports say that the battle was started by Iraqi army units who attacked a large group of insurgents who were dug in within an olive grove near the city. At some point, when the Iraqi army realized how many insurgents they were facing they called in assistance from US attack helicopters and tanks.

The battle reportedly started Saturday and lasted into early Sunday, resulting in about 250 casualities among the insurgents and about 25 casulties among the Iraqis.

Juan Cole tries to sort out the various confusing reports:
It seems most likely that this was Shiite on Shiite violence, with millenarian cultists making an attempt to march on Najaf during the chaos of the ritual season of Muharram. But who knows? It is also possible that the orthodox Shiites in control of Najaf hate the heretic millenarians and the threat of the latter was exaggerated. Darned if I know. The reports of the Army of Heaven being so well armed make no sense if it was a ragtag millenarian band. But those reports could be exaggerations, too.

It seems most likely that the Mahdawiya is the sect of Sheikh Mahmud al-Hasani al-Sarkhi and that al-Basri was the founder of the sect. That would be a way of reconciling al-Zaman with al-Hayat.

The dangers of Shiite on Shiite violence in Iraq are substantial, as this episode demonstrated. Ironically, given Bush's mantra about Iran, the trouble makers here are a sect that absolutely hates Iran.
It seems highly likely to me that these first reports are more propaganda than truth at the moment. Later reports may clarify what actually happened.

Addendum 6:20PM CST
The discussion of the actions of the Iraqi Army at Kurballa assumes that since the Iraqi's were repelled after the first attack on the militant sect, they did not perform well. The fact is that they apparently were unaware of the size, training, equipment and level of organization when they first attacked.

There is nothing unusual about this kind of situation. A well-trainined and organized force meeting such resistance has preplanned reserves to call on. The Iraqis in this case did. First there was an Iraqi strike brigade, and then they called on aerial support from the U.S. Army and Air Force. After that, even more was needed so they called in U.S. Army tanks and artillery.

Nothing in the reports that have been received so far suggests that the Iraqi forces failed to fight or were untrained. This pattern of calling in reserves to provide greater and greater force to apply to the enemy is exactly what the U.S. Army would have done in the same circumstances.

That's not to say that there were no failures. Reports from Karballah have been conflicting and unreliable, so we may hear something solid later. My point is that nothing we have heard so far suggests that the enemy (insurgents? an Islamic Mellenial sect? No one is sure yet.) was too tough for the Iraqi forces. What we have heard so far is the way the Iraqi Army should have functioned in combat.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

The world's largest mercenary army - Blackwater

Most of us who have followed the military action and politics in Iraq have heard of the private contractor "Blackwater." The four men killed in Fallujah whose bodies were strung up on the bridge were Blackwater contract employees. This led to the first abortive attack on Fallujah by the U.S. Marines (apparently ordered by G. W. Bush in a fit of pigue at the deaths of the Blackwater guys) and then when the failure of that attack became celebrated by insurgents as an American defeat, the later attack that effectively levelled the town.

Apparently there is a great deal more to the Blackwater story, a tale involving Cheney's efforts to outsource military activities that go way beyond what he took advantage of at Halliburton. Let the reporter Jeremy Scahill describe what Blackwater really is. If nothing else, it will show why my list of recommended books on the right side of this screen includes books on politics, war, terrorism and right-wing fundamentalist Xtianity. Here is a quick summary from Scahill:
JEREMY SCAHILL: Blackwater is a company that began in 1996 as a private military training facility in -- it was built near the Great Dismal Swamp of North Carolina. And visionary executives, all of them former Navy Seals or other Elite Special Forces people, envisioned it as a project that would take advantage of the anticipated government outsourcing.

Well, here we are a decade later, and it’s the most powerful mercenary firm in the world. It has 20,000 soldiers on the ready, the world’s largest private military base, a fleet of twenty aircraft, including helicopter gunships. It’s become nothing short of the Praetorian Guard for the Bush administration's so-called global war on terror. And it’s headed by a very rightwing Christian activist, ex-Navy Seal named Erik Prince, whose family was one of the major bankrollers of the Republican Revolution of the 1990s. He, himself, is a significant funder of President Bush and his allies.

And what they’ve done is they have built a very frightening empire near the Great Dismal Swamp in North Carolina. They’ve got about 2,300 men actively deployed around the world. They provide the security for the US diplomats in Iraq. They’ve guarded everyone, from Paul Bremer and John Negroponte to the current US ambassador, Zalmay Khalilzad. They’re training troops in Afghanistan. They have been active in the Caspian Sea, where they set up a Special Forces base miles from the Iranian border. They really are the frontline in what the Bush administration viewed as a necessary revolution in military affairs. In fact, they represent the life's work of Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld.

AMY GOODMAN: What do you mean, the “life's work”?

JEREMY SCAHILL: Well, Dick Cheney, when he was Defense Secretary under George H.W. Bush during the Gulf War, one of the last things he did before leaving office was to create an unprecedented lucrative market for the firm that he would go on to head, Halliburton. He commissioned [a] Halliburton [division] to do a study on how to privatize the military bureaucracy. That effectively created the groundwork for the absolute war profiteer bonanza that we’ve seen unfold in the aftermath of 9/11. I mean, Clinton was totally on board with all of this, but it has exploded since 9/11. And so, Cheney, after he left office, when the first Bush was the president, went on to work at the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute, which really led the push for privatization of the government, not just the military.
A 20,000 man army is the size of an American division, but Blackwater is unlikely to have support troops like Artillery, Engineers, and such.

The book below (available February 28, 2007) is published by Avalon Publishing Group. The following is their description it.
From Our Editors

In company handouts, Blackwater USA claims to run the largest privately owned firearms training facility in the country, but according to award-winning journalist Jeremy Scahill, that's just the tip of the iceberg. Although it's only ten years old, this North Carolina-based private military contractor has already been called "George Bush's favorite mercenary company," "the world's most secretive and powerful mercenary firm," and "the fastest-growing private army on the planet." Founded by a far-right, super-rich ex-Navy SEAL, this quasi-military group operates clandestinely in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. Scahill's detailed, 288-page Blackwater represents the fullest disclosure yet of this very shadowy organization.

From the Publisher

Meet BLACKWATER USA, the world's most secretive and powerful mercenary firm. Based in the wilderness of North Carolina, it is the fastest-growing private army on the planet with forces capable of carrying out regime change throughout the world. Blackwater protects the top US officials in Iraq and yet we know almost nothing about the firm's quasi-military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and inside the US. Blackwater was founded by an extreme right-wing fundamentalist Christian mega-millionaire ex- Navy Seal named Erik Prince, the scion of a wealthy conservative family that bankrolls far-right-wing causes.

Blackwater is the dark story of the rise of a powerful mercenary army, ranging from the blood-soaked streets of Fallujah to rooftop firefights in Najaf to the hurricane-ravaged US gulf to Washington DC, where Blackwater executives are hailed as new heroes in the war on terror. This is an extraordinary exposé by one of America's most exciting young radical journalists.

Blackwater: The Rise of the Most Powerful Mercenary Firm in the World
Blackwater: The Rise of the Most Powerful Mercenary Firm in the World

Saturday, January 27, 2007

More on the US Attorney purge

McClatchy provides more on the story of the US Attorney firings by Attorney General Gonzales. McClatchy has identified at least nine such appointments.
The newly appointed U.S. attorneys all have impressive legal credentials, but most of them have few, if any, ties to the communities they've been appointed to serve, and some have had little experience as prosecutors.

The nine recent appointees identified by McClatchy Newspapers held high-level White House or Justice Department jobs, and most of them were handpicked by Gonzales under a little-noticed provision of the Patriot Act that became law in March.

With Congress now controlled by the Democrats, critics fear that in some cases Gonzales is trying to skirt the need for Senate confirmation by giving new U.S. attorneys interim appointments for indefinite terms. Some legal scholars contend that the administration pushed for the change in the Patriot Act as part of its ongoing attempt to expand the power of the executive branch, a charge that administration officials deny.

Being named a U.S. attorney "has become a prize for doing the bidding of the White House or administration," said Laurie Levenson, a former federal prosecutor who's now a professor at the Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. "In the past, there had been a great deal of delegation to the local offices. Now, you have a consolidation of power in Washington."
According to TPM the US Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas has just been sued by an alleged crack cocaine dealer who contends that his appointment without Senate confirmation is unConstitutional, so we'll soon see about the legality of the Patriot Act provision that Attorney General Gonzales is using. It shoud be interesting.

[H/T to TPM Muckraker and to TPM.]

Friday, January 26, 2007

Fitzgerald gambled giving immunity to Ari

This is very interesting.

Fitzgerald Reveals Gamble in CIA Leak

By MATT APUZZO, The Associated Press
Jan 26, 2007 12:55 AM (16 hrs ago)
Current rank: # 2 of 18,294 articles
WASHINGTON - Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald took a gamble three years ago that White House press secretary Ari Fleischer might break open his leak investigation.

As Fitzgerald's inquiry was heating up into who revealed CIA operative Valerie Plame's name to reporters, Fleischer stepped forward with an offer: Give me immunity from prosecution and I'll give you information that might help your case.

What prosecutors didn't know was that Fleischer was one of the leakers. And without immunity, he refused to talk. Not even a hint.

Prosecutors normally insist on an informal account of what a witness will say before agreeing to immunity. It's known in legal circles as a proffer, and Fitzgerald said Thursday that he never got one from Fleischer, who was chief White House spokesman for the first 2 1/2 years of President Bush's first term.

"I didn't want to give him immunity. I did so reluctantly," Fitzgerald said in court. "I was buying a pig in a poke."

Once the deal was struck in February 2004, Fleischer revealed that he had discussed Plame with reporters in July 2003, days before leaving his job at the White House.

Fleischer, who made a brief appearance at the courthouse on Thursday, is expected to testify early next week that he learned that the wife of Bush administration critic Joseph Wilson worked for the CIA from I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, a former top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney.

[H/T to Atrios.]

Great News! Jane Hamsher's back from her surgery!

Jane Hamsher, who was blogging away with great aplomb at Firedoglake, was informed by her physician that her breast cancer had recurred and she required immediate surgery. So she did.

Now, in an incredibly short time, she has gotten out of the hospital and returned to her keyboard. This is great news. As good as the bloggers at Firedoglake are, there is a massive hole when Jane is not blogging.

Guide to theThursday Libby Trial Live-blog

I'm running a little late on this, but here it is. Again, the links are in time sequence with the oldest at the bottom and the newest at the top. The numbered links are the actual (paraphrased, not verbatum) live-blogged trial reports by Marcy Wheeler (EmptyWheel.)

To see all my posts indexing the Liveblog of the Libby trial from Firedoglake, click on the Label "Liveblog" (below.)

Cathie Martin Cheney's press secretary during the period when Novak was told the classified information that Valerie Plame was a CIA agent and published it. Martin had replaced Mary Matelin when she left the job.

Addendum 7:22 PM same day.
Jeralyn Merrit of TalkLeft provides a discussion of what she considered the key things that she noticed in the Thursday Libby Trial proceedings.

If you haven't read her blog, you should. She is a defense attorney who writes quite well, and almost invariably offers interesting subjects. In the case of the Libby trial, she provides expert insights into what Fitzgerald seems to be doing. This article is an excellent set of insights into what went on in the Trial on Thursday. Don't miss it.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Ohio election workers rigged 2004 recount, convicted

From the AP via the Houston Chronicle:
CLEVELAND — Two election workers were convicted Wednesday of rigging a recount of the 2004 presidential election to avoid a more thorough review in Ohio's most populous county.

Jacqueline Maiden, elections coordinator of the Cuyahoga County Elections Board, and ballot manager Kathleen Dreamer each were convicted of a felony count of negligent misconduct of an elections employee. They also were convicted of one misdemeanor count each of failure of elections employees to perform their duty.
So suspicions of the count/recount in Ohio in 2004 are founded in reality.

Why is the Bush admin expandingUS troops in Iraq?

Here is another explanation from Andrew Sullivant [via TPM
Ayad Allawi: I’m not a military strategist, but looking at it on the surface, I think 20,000 additional troops to complement the 130,000 already there doesn’t seem to be a great boost in the troop numbers. So I don’t think it’s purely a military gesture, and I don’t think it will have a very significant effect on the military equation.

But it’s part of a multi-pronged strategy that basically will ratchet up the pressure on the Iraqi government, propose an alternative to it, and at the same time escalate the costs that Iran may have to bear if it continues to confront or challenge the United States in Iraq.

National Interest: So in your view, the troop increase is in part intended to ratchet up the pressure on Iran, could you elaborate on that?

AA: Well I think it’s clear—the role that Iran has in the Iraqi crisis. It is extremely important and significant, particularly its effect on the Shi‘a Islamist political parties.

And as much as the United States, or the Bush Administration, has objected to possibility of negotiations with Iran, the only alternative course that they have is to confront it, and to challenge it, and to raise the cost of its apparent intervention in the Iraqi crisis.

This of course creates a serious problem for the Iraqi government itself, which is to an extent anchored around the Islamist parties of the United Iraqi Alliance. On the surface it appears to be a contradiction. I mean how can the United States expect that by confronting Iran and Iraq, it is going to get the support of the UIA, which is to some extent dependent on Iranian support—ongoing support—politically and otherwise?

So it’s a way of trying to break this conundrum. Now I don’t think it’s likely to succeed because the only thing that can happen out of this strategy is basically the breakup of the United Iraqi Alliance. You are going to get possibly a new governing majority in parliament, but that would not necessarily reduce the violence or the instability inside the country.
So go look at the original of this quote at :
I don’t think it’s purely a military gesture, and I don’t think it will have a very significant effect on the military equation.

But it’s part of a multi-pronged strategy that basically will ratchet up the pressure on the Iraqi government, propose an alternative to it, and at the same time escalate the costs that Iran may have to bear if it continues to confront or challenge the United States in Iraq.

NIo: So in your view, the troop increase is in part intended to ratchet up the pressure on Iran, could you elaborate on that?

AA: Well I think it’s clear—the role that Iran has in the Iraqi crisis. It is extremely important and significant, particularly its effect on the Shi‘a Islamist political parties.

And as much as the United States, or the Bush Administration, has objected to possibility of negotiations with Iran, the only alternative course that they have is to confront it, and to challenge it, and to raise the cost of its apparent intervention in the Iraqi crisis.

This of course creates a serious problem for the Iraqi government itself, which is to an extent anchored around the Islamist parties of the United Iraqi Alliance. On the surface it appears to be a contradiction. I mean how can the United States expect that by confronting Iran and Iraq, it is going to get the support of the UIA, which is to some extent dependent on Iranian support—ongoing support—politically and otherwise?

So it’s a way of trying to break this conundrum. Now I don’t think it’s likely to succeed because the only thing that can happen out of this strategy is basically the breakup of the United Iraqi Alliance. You are going to get possibly a new governing majority in parliament, but that would not necessarily reduce the violence or the instability inside the country.
Is this workable?

I dunnot. I'm no middle east expert.

But if it comes from the Bush/Cheney administration, their record of success in the Middle East is so extremely bad that I seriously doubt it. Given that they do not get advice from experts and don't listent to disagreements, I give it about a zero chance of working. Their decision process is guaranteed to fail

It is really that simple. We can't ever trust them to get it correct.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Wednesday's Libby Trial live-blog

This is the second day of the Libby trial, and Marcie Wheeler (Emptywheel) continues to live-blog the activities. Once again I am providing links the reports on FireDogLake, as I did yesterday. Again, the last blog is shown first in the list below. Numbered items are actual trial reporting. The rest are summaries or discussions.

To see all my posts indexing the Liveblog of the Libby trial from Firedoglake, click on the Label "Liveblog" (below.)

This is a different view. Mark Grossman is the former number three at the Department of State. Since INR is the Intelligence arm of the Departmemt of State, this is why he was familiar with the INR [Intellignece and Research] report that he testified about. See Item #1 above.

Robert Grenier was a Deputy Director at the CIA during this time frame, working under John McLaughlin. See Items #2 and #3 above.

William (Bill)Jeffress the Defense Lawyer cross examining Robert Grenier. See Items #2 and #3 above.

Ted Wells is an attorney for "Scooter" Libby.

Craig Schmall is a CIA manager in the Directorate of Intelligence. He was the morning intelligence briefer for Libby from Summer 2002 until Fall 2003, then became Cheney's morning intelligence briefer until May 2004, see item #4.

Patrick Fitzgerald The special prosecutor did the direct examination of Schmall. See item #4.

John Cline did the Cross examination of Schmall for the Defense. See item #4.

Cross Examination the opportunity for the attorney for one party to ask questions in court of a witness who has testified in a trial on behalf of the opposing party. The questions on cross-examination are limited to the subjects covered in the direct examination of the witness, but the attorney may ask leading questions, in which he or she is allowed to suggest answers or put words in the witness's mouth.

Direct examination The initial questioning of a party or witness by the side that called him or her to testify. The major purpose of direct examination is to explain your version of events to the judge or jury and to undercut your adversary's version. Good direct examination seeks to prove all facts necessary to satisfy the prosecution's legal claims or causes of action.

David Corn provides an excellant summation for the day.
There were no bombshells today. It was hours of tough legal slogging. Fitzgerald is trying to create a chronology using witnesses who have--as most witnesses do--imperfect memories. Put enough of them together--and he's not done yet--and he could have a case. Libby's lawyers are doing what all defense attorneys do: raise doubts about the memories and motives of the prosecution witnesses. They landed a few blows. But Fitzgerald has more witnesses coming. After Schmall, the next scheduled witness is Cathie Martin, who was a spokesperson for Cheney. She was, in a way, a witness to the Grenier-Libby conversation and also spoke with Libby and Cheney several times about the Wilson affair. She was involved in the damage-control operation mounted in response to Joseph Wilson's revelations. Might she have a better memory than the initial witnesses?
More tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Here is Jim Webb's Democratic response to the State of the Union speech.

Jim Webb didn't defeat George Allen by pure luck or by Allen's incompetence. He did it by being a real wordsmith who has understood the mood of the country. The Democrats were right to have him present the response to Bush's State of the Union speech.

Go to Crooks and Liars and watch Webb's speech. If you are a Democrat you won't regret it. If you are a die-hard Republican you'll wonder where the Republicans who can give a speech like this one all went.

Bush wants bipartisanship - begins by insulting members of the Democratic Party

I notice that the first thing Bush did was start out by speaking of the "Democrat" Party.

That is a calculated Republican insult to Democrats, one used extensively by "Tailgunner" Joe McCarthy. Yes, that is the famous Republican liar from the 50's who accused everyone he could find of being a Communist until finally the Senate censured him. Soon after that he dies of alcoholism.

I'm sure Bush is proud of his behavior. I have little doubt that Joe McCarthy was proud of HIS performance, too.

Ari Fleisher is the immunized witness.

Jerilyn Merrit of Talkleft has pointed out that Ari Fleisher is a very dangerous witness for Libby. She has also pointed out that he is the only witness to whom Fitzgerald has given immunity. Why? What does he have to say that is so important?
Check out Fitz's affidavit from August, 2004 submitted in the Judith Miller subpoena suit, which was unsealed by the Court in February, 2006. You can read the unredacted portions in the Court's opinion here or in my prior summary with lengthy quotes.

It's not just that Libby allegedly told Fleischer at lunch on July 7 before Fleischer left for Africa with President Bush that Joseph Wilson's wife worked in the Counterproliferation area of the CIA and that she was involved in the decision to send Wilson to Niger. It's that Fleisher told Fitz and the grand jury that Libby told him the information was "hush-hush" and "on the qt."
For example, then-White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer recalls that over lunch on July 7, the day before Libby's meeting with Miller, Libby told him, "[T]he Vice-President did not send Ambassador Wilson to Niger . . . the CIA sent Ambassador Wilson to Niger. . . . [H]e was sent by his wife. . . . [S]he works in . . . the Counterproliferation area of the CIA." (II-545-47.) Describing the lunch as "kind of weird" (II-590-91), and noting that Libby typically "operated in a very closed-lip fashion" (II-592), Fleischer recalled that Libby "added something along the lines of, you know, this is hush-hush, nobody knows about this. This is on the q.t." (II-546-47.) Though Libby remembers the lunch meeting, and even says he thanked Fleischer for making a statement about the Niger issue, he denies discussing Wilson's wife. (I-108-09, 156, 226-27.)
Libby is denying he discussed Valerie Wilson with Fleischer at lunch on July 7. He either has to destroy Fleischer's credibility at trial--or else convince the jury that Fleischer was mistaken. He stated as much in his Third Motion to Compel, filed March 17:
On cross-examination at trial, the defense will be entitled to question Mr. Fleischer on issues such as: (1) when and how he learned about Ms. Wilson's identity; (2) the nature of his conversations with reporters; and (3) any efforts he undertook to criticize Mr. Wilson. If the press reports are correct, and Mr. Fleischer disclosed information concerning Ms. Wilson to reporters, he himself may have been a subject of Mr. Fitzgerald's investigation. Mr. Fleischer may thus have a motive to shade his testimony. Such possible bias will be vigorously explored on cross-examination."
The date and the information Ari Fleisher gives (July 7 - prior to publishing Robert Novak's column.) rather clearly shows that Libby knew of Valerie Plame Wilson's CIA status before it was published by Novak. He also was pointing out how secret and sensitive the information was. Did he then forget when a few months later he spoke to the Grand Jury? That's really stretching credulity.

I wonder if Libby plans to testify in his own behalf?

Bush's 2007 State of the Union speech tonight at 8:00 PM CST

But so is a new Veronica Mars.

Someone take good notes. I'm gonna watch Veronica Mars, then switch to PBS for the discussion.

Bet I'm not the only one.

Bush's stemcell policy delay's cures

Here is the testimoney given the Senate:
The National Institutes of Health official overseeing the implementation of President Bush's embryonic stem cell policy yesterday suggested that the controversial program is delaying cures, an unusually blunt assessment for an executive branch official.
So what kinds of people with prevent sick people from getting the care they need (i.e. Michaal J. Fox?) Politicians who pander to luddite so-called Christians, that's what kind.

Most people in America who attend church are not the extremists of the type who practice a heresy of Christianity in which they have quit worshiping christ and replace Christ with worship of the Bible.

[H/T to Darksyde at dKos.]

The Libby trial has started with a bang!

This is what we (and Joe and Valerie Wilson) have been waiting for about two years. The legal preliminaries are over, the jury has been seated, and Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has presented his theory of the case in his opening statement. "Scooter" Libby and his boss, VICE-PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY are in real trouble. MSNBC has just posted this:
Fitzgerald said Cheney told his chief of staff, “Scooter” Libby, in 2003 that the wife of Iraq critic and former ambassador Joseph Wilson worked for the CIA, and that Libby spread that information to reporters. When that information got out, it triggered a federal investigation.

“But when the FBI and grand jury asked about what the defendant did,” Fitzgerald said, “he made up a story.”

Fitzgerald also alleged that Libby in September 2003 “wiped out” a Cheney note just before Libby's first FBI interview when he said he learned about Wilson and his wife, CIA operative Valerie Plame, from reporters, not the vice president.
[This is obstruction of justice.]

It was not clear if Fitzgerald meant that an attempt was made to destroy the note or that Libby had forgotten about it. In any case, the note was recovered and is part of the evidence.
[This is documentary evidence of both the perjury and the obstruction of justice.]

Libby is charged with perjury and obstruction. He
[Libby] told investigators he was surprised to learn the identity of Wilson’s wife from NBC News reporter Tim Russert. [This is the lie told to the Grand Jury which led to the perjury charge.]

But Fitzgerald told jurors that was clearly a lie because Libby had already been discussing the matter inside and outside of the White House. “You can’t learn something on Thursday that you’re giving out on Monday,” Fitzgerald said.

Libby says he didn’t lie but was simply bogged down by national security issues and couldn’t remember details of what he told reporters about Plame.
The Defense appears to have accepted these events as fact. So the Defense strategy is going to have to explain why Libby did these things and yet somehow was not lying when he spoke to the Grand Jury. Notice that Libby is not accused to the initial leak of Valerie Plame's identity as a CIA agent to the news media. The media has reported that this was done by Richard Armitage speaking to Robert Novak, the ultra conservative columnist, and was probably accidental on the part of Armitage. [Does he still have a security clearance?]

But this was not publicized at the time Libby first went before the Grand Jury. So what did the Defense opening statement describe as the defense against the charges of perjury and obstruction of justice? More follows:
In their opening statements, Libby's attorneys said Bush administration officials tried to blame him for the leak to cover up for presidential adviser Karl Rove’s own disclosures.

Attorney Theodore Wells said Libby went to Cheney in 2003 and complained that the White House was subtly blaming him for leaking Plame’s identity to columnist Robert Novak.

“They’re trying to set me up. They want me to be the sacrificial lamb,” Wells said, recalling the alleged conversation between Libby and Cheney. “I will not be sacrificed so Karl Rove can be protected.”
[So one problem is that there is in-fighting between Bush's staff and Cheney's staff, and Libby considered that Bush's staff would rather he be sacrificed than Karl Rove. Libby is concerned that he will be the scapegoat for the Plame leak. I'm not sure how that becomes exculpatory evidence for Libby, but I am sure we will hear.]

Libby plans to testify and tell jurors he had many other issues on his mind at the time, such as terrorist threats and emerging nuclear programs overseas. Attorneys say they expect Cheney to testify for the defense.
This is the famed "Hey, I was really, really busy and I just flat forgot where I heard that Plame worked for the CIA." If Libby and his lawyers can establish this, then the Jury may be asked to determine that Fitzgerald has not proven Libby's guilt beyond any legal doubt. They have presented a reasonable reason for Libby to have told the Grand Jury what he did and yet not intended to lie.

To head this off, Fitzgerald's has indicated that he will demonstrate that Libby had reason to lie to the Grand Jury.
In court last week, Fitzgerald briefly touched on his explanation.

He said Libby feared political embarrassment and worried he might lose his job for discussing classified information with reporters. Bush originally threatened to fire anyone who disclosed such information so, even though Libby wasn’t Novak’s source, Fitzgerald said Libby had a reason to lie.
So that's where the trial stands as of about an hour ago.

For those who are addicted to the Libby trial, Empty Wheel of firedoglake is there and live-blogging. Here are her posts for today as of now, latest is first:
Firedoglake is very busy, so it is timing out. All I can say is keep trying or wait until tonight.

link to wrap-up added Jan 24.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

The Charles Murray "Bell Curve" debunked (again)

Ezra Klein debunks the Charles Murray "Bell Curve" book. Murray is the guy who says that the key to intelligence is genetic, and that as a result intelligence is race-based and unchangeable. The article is a good explanation of both the rare positive reviews and the many and varied explations of why Murray's assertaions are not true, are not science, and why the "Bell Curve" and Charles Murray should be totally ignored. Go read it.

Thanks to Atrios who also provides a really good debunking of Murray's tome.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Drug (DCA) may cure most cancers - Drug Co's don't want it.

Dichloroacetate (DCA) has been used for years to treat some rare metabolic disorders, and has been found to be relatively safe. Now it may be a magic solution to cure all kinds of cancer. So what's the problem? Why aren't all the drug companies panting to test and sell it? Well, there seems to be this minor problem with the economic system.

This is from Truthseeker:
Evangelos Michelakis of the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, and his colleagues tested DCA on human cells cultured outside the body and found that it killed lung, breast and brain cancer cells, but not healthy cells. Tumours in rats deliberately infected with human cancer also shrank drastically when they were fed DCA-laced water for several weeks.

DCA attacks a unique feature of cancer cells: the fact that they make their energy throughout the main body of the cell, rather than in distinct organelles called mitochondria. This process, called glycolysis, is inefficient and uses up vast amounts of sugar.

Until now it had been assumed that cancer cells used glycolysis because their mitochondria were irreparably damaged. However, Michelakis’s experiments prove this is not the case, because DCA reawakened the mitochondria in cancer cells. The cells then withered and died (Cancer Cell, DOI: 10.1016/j.ccr.2006.10.020).

Michelakis suggests that the switch to glycolysis as an energy source occurs when cells in the middle of an abnormal but benign lump don’t get enough oxygen for their mitochondria to work properly (see diagram). In order to survive, they switch off their mitochondria and start producing energy through glycolysis.

Crucially, though, mitochondria do another job in cells: they activate apoptosis, the process by which abnormal cells self-destruct. When cells switch mitochondria off, they become “immortal”, outliving other cells in the tumour and so becoming dominant. Once reawakened by DCA, mitochondria reactivate apoptosis and order the abnormal cells to die.

“The results are intriguing because they point to a critical role that mitochondria play:
they impart a unique trait to cancer cells that can be exploited for cancer therapy,” says Dario Altieri, director of the University of Massachusetts Cancer Center in Worcester.
Wonderful, isn't it? There's just one problem. DCA is out of patent. It sells as a generic drug now. The drug companies are not going to waste the money that would be required for human testing because there is no possibility of getting the money back from sales. There is no monopoly possible on the drug. Private enterprise in the Free Market isn't going to touch it. Looks like a Socialist program is going to be required.

Does this mean the right-wingers won't touch the testing because it requires government funding??

The Fairness Doctrine discussed - Congress, not FCC

It appears that one thing electing a Democratic Congress has done is recover discussion of the "Fairness Doctrine". This was the broadcast doctrine that said people who used the public airwaves to try to push an agenda and convince people that some subject needed action had to provide a fair and balanced discussion of the subject.

No, children, not FOX News "Fair and Balanced." REAL "Fairness Doctrine" in which a broadcaster who presented a discussion of a contreversial subject had to give equal time to the other significant sides of the issue. This was the doctrine until the Reagan admininstration killed it in 1987.

Just the simple act of discussing a return to the enforced "Fairness Doctrine" on the public airwaves has the right-wingers shreiking and pulling out their hair.

Taylor Marsh has a discussion of the reaction with many samples. Go read and enjoy.

And always remember that a day and subject that has the right-wing-nuts shreiking is always better than one that leaves them silent. Always.

Firedoglake needs contributions

Go check out the request for donations by Christy Smith at Firedoglake and kick in some if you can. Let me also point out that when Christy says they have other things to concern them and that Jane Hamshire has been trying to pay some of the expenses personally during the current low spot, Jane had surgery for breast cancerlast Wednesday morning, and this is her third and most serious bout with breast cancer.

Remember also that Firedoglake is the single best source of information for all things related to the Fitzpatrick investigation into the leak of Valerie Plame's CIA status to the press and has press credentials to the current trial of Scooter Libby. They really have been busy reporting and writing stuff. We need to remove some of the financial pressure if we can.

So go on over to FireDogLake and kick in some cash. Dontations requested in the upper right corner of the blog.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

EmptyWheel grades Libby trial press coverage

EmptyWheel has promised to evaluate the written press coverage of the Libby trial which started this week. Her first effort here is itself excellent journalism. She lays out the the standards she plans to use, and then shows some of the early writting with her evaluation.

The first Excellant reports she listes is an AP piece written by Matt Apuzzo and published in Sky Valley Journalhere. It is several vignettes of key players in the trial. Go read the rest at FiredogLake. Emptywheel has written the book (literally) on the Plame Leak Case. The book is The Anatomy of Deceit by Marcy Wheeler. It is to be released January 28th.
Anatomy of Deceit: How the Bush Administration Used the Media to Sell the War and Smear a Critic
Anatomy of Deceit: How the Bush Administration Used the Media to Sell the War and Smear a Critic

Don't forget, the site for all things related to the Plame Leak investigation and trial is Firedoglake.

Time defends US Attorney purge

Time Magazines blog poo Poos the issue raised by TPM that the White House is purging the U.S. Attorneys around the nation they consider likely to run investigations against corrupt Republicans. Their entire post basicly downplays the issue, then ends with:
It is also true that all of the USA's who have resigned, whether forced out or not, were appointed by Bush. In other words, if this is a massacre, it's auto-genocide.

The provision allowing the AG to appoint interim U.S. attorneys for unlimited duration won't survive for long. Feinstein has already submitted a bill overturning it. The President hasn't got the political capital to fight many battles, and this one isn't worth it.
So as far as Jay Carney is concerned, the purge of the US Attorneys is not a big deal.

Notice that the blog is run by Joe Klein, Ana Marie Cox, Jay Carney, and Karen Tumulty. Of these, the only one worth a second look is Karen Tumulty. Carney I am not familiar with, but read the post. It is essentially a short essay saying "Trust the Bush administration." And if you trust the Bush Administration, you probably love the war in Iraq. No failures, and on the road to victory in the future. Right?

It's funny that the Attorney General Gonzales doesn't want to give any information on the subject to the Senate.

EmptyWheel at the Next Hurrah does a better job of castigating Carney than I have done. Carney really does not seem to understand that the Bush Administration can appoint a US Attorney and not realize that the Attorney might take his oath to uphold the rule of law seriously, so they might want to later remove him.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

My response to Bush's "surge" speech

Last Friday I promised to comment on specific portions of Bush’s “Surge in Iraq” speech. Sorry it took so long, but here it is. This is my response to text of the surge speech given January 10, 2007, with sections underlined and noted by numbers from 1 to 15.

1. Bush says “the consequences of failure are clear”, and gives a set of dangers that might occur. Those are the very threats, which have occurred because of his preemptive invasion in 2003, and his effort to “surge” is so small and localized primarily in Baghdad, there is no real way it can prevent these threats from growing larger. The fact is that our presence in Iraq is the major cause of the dangers Bush suggests. If we left Iraq but retained the right to take out terrorist training camps we would be in much better shape than will result from increasing the combat forces and combat by U.S. troops in Baghdad.
2. How does increasing the combat in Baghdad using non-Arabic speaking American troops provide a solution to the security problem there?
a. The main result of our heavy firepower and unwillingness to lose many troops in a war of attrition will be the destruction of a lot of Baghdad.
b. The second problem is that the most dangerous combatants in Baghdad are the Sadr militia. But Sadr is also the main political support for Maliki. This plan is not one that Maliki has bought onto.
c. The third problem is that the Shiite members of the Iraqi Army are very likely to simply not aggressively press the battle against the Sadr militia. The only Iraqi troops likely to be effective in Baghdad are those who are Kurds. Kurdish troops against the Shia militia will clearly increase the sectarian strife in Iraq.
3. Because of the factors mentioned in 2 (above) there will continue to be too few effective troops to clear and hold neighborhoods of terrorists and insurgents.
4. Bush’s statement # 4 means that our troops tend to be militarily less effective in combat operations because the Iraqi government has placed too many restrictions on their actions. But the restrictions represent political limitations that are essentially more important than any military “successes” the US forces might achieve. The problem in Iraq will require political solutions, as everyone with any gravitas has stated and Bush himself as stated even as he ignores what that means. Again, see #2 (above.)
5. This is not a plan that has been welcomed by the Maliki government. Maliki has specifically stated that more U.S. troops are not needed.
6. See #’s 5 and 2 (above.) Also, Bush has always said that he was not sending extra troops to Iraq because the U.S. Commanders had not asked for them. This has not changed. Gen. Casey and his commander Gen. Abizaid have not asked for more troops. So Bush removed them prematurely and has appointed a new troop Commander and Centcom Commander who will agree with Bush to ask for more troops.
7. What makes Bush think that there will be any change in the actions of Iraqi troops left in cleared areas to prevent the return of insurgents and terrorists? If the Iraqi troops are from the same sect as those living in the cleared area, they are unlikely to work actively to keep out insurgents and terrorists. If they are of a different sect, they locals will not support them and the insurgents will still be able to return. If there are Americans there to try to control the Iraqi army, the current problems of the locals not working with them remain, the inability of American troops to speak Arabic remains, and the Iraqi troops are unlikely to be willing to act against the locals in behalf of the Americans. This argument from Bush is simply an example that he and his speechwriters do not yet understand the problem.
8. Bush claims that Maliki has agreed not to interfere with the actions of U.S. and Iraqi forces.
a. There is no indication that Maliki has actually agreed to this.
b. There is also no indication that the Iraqi army will act on this supposed agreement. There is a limit to the tolerance that followers give to the orders by their leaders, and history and social science research suggest that this commitment is beyond the limit sectarian members of the Iraqi Army will give to their own leaders.
9. While Bush has spoken one of his few relatively few truths when he stated “Most of Iraq’s Sunni and Shia want to live together in peace” but the relatively few who do not are fully capable of continuing the violence. The small so-called surge will not stop them. Also, most of the Sunni and Shia who want peace will still support (if only passively) the violence of the insurgents which are aimed at getting the “occupying American troops” out of Iraq. This is not going to change until we begin to prove by our actions that we are leaving.
10. Bush stated “The Iraqi government plans to take responsibility for security in all of Iraq’s provinces by November” [presumably that’s November 2007.] There is no indication that the Iraqi government is sufficiently unified and capable of making this promise effective. Also this really appears to be another “milestone” which the Bush administration as the occupier of Iraq intends to enforce on the Iraqis. This should be supported by some type of independent reports which appear that this is possible and being pursued. Don't expect it.
11 (a) This is somewhat true, but Bush presented the interventions of Iran and Syria as the main reason why his efforts in Iraq have failed. Untrue. The efforts in Iraq have failed because the people determining strategy IN IRAQ do not have a clue about what people in Iraq really believe or want. In his speech Bush is looking for enemies, an opposition which he can blame for his own (and Cheney’s and Rumsfeld’s) failures. Bush’s failure to understand the actual relationship of Iran and Syria to the problems Bush is having in Iraq also leads to his utterly inadequate ideas on how to deal with those two nations. See 11. (b) below.
11. (b) Bush’s entire plan for dealing with Iran and Syria is to threaten or attack them using military forces. There is no intention to attempt discussions or diplomacy with either nation, in spite of Iran’s earlier effort to work towards better relations with the U.S. by cooperating a great deal on terrorists and Taliban members coming into Iran from Afghanistan (Also another example here), and in spite of Syria’s negotiations with Israel from September 2004 through July 2006 which led to a set of understandings that would lead directly to a peace treaty with Israel and the return of the Golan Heights to Syria along with joint use of the territory by both Syrians and Israelis. The understandings even include leaving control of the waters of the Jordan River to the Israelis. Both Iran and Syria can be talked with and with diplomacy can make reasonable agreements. It is Bush and Cheney who cannot be talked to.
12. /This item is essentially a promise to conduct diplomacy with Turkey and others in the area. See 11. (b) above. Bush and Cheney have a truly rotten history of negotiating, and clearly have no ability to do it.
13. If the disagreements between the U.S. with Europe and the Muslim Middle East are the decisive ideological struggle of our time, then we don’t have a whole lot to be concerned about. Whatever it is, it is certainly a lot more than a military conflict. In fact, it is first an internal conflict among the Muslims as their conservative fundamentalist fight the majority of Muslims who are looking for a more modern life. (The modernists will win. The Conservative fundamentalists have nothing to offer people who are willing to learn new things.) The involvement of the West is a left-over from the European Imperialism which in it’s last gasp after WW I expanded to control the detritus of the defunct Ottoman Empire, the spill-over of the internal Muslim conflict between the conservative fundamentalists and the modernists and the disruptions caused by the Western instigated Globalism. What part of this is amenable to military conquest as a solution? Nothing at all. Oh, and Bush’s Black-and-White discussion of “those who believe in freedom and moderation” and on the other side “extremists who kill the innocent, and have declared their intention to destroy (our) way of life.” Is completely unrelated to reality. The second half, the destructive extremists, in fact describes the Bush administration as well as it does al Qaeda. Bush and Cheney are so afraid to the perceived threats that they do not realize that they are also similar threats to others. In both the West and the Middle East, the extremists are the last (but very dangerous) gasps of the losing side. The Modernists will win ultimately. The only real question is how high the casualty rate will be as the extremists lose.
14. Bush says that the victory of the United States will bring democracy, human liberties, and the rule of law to Iraq and the Middle East. The problem is that any society that is under attack by an outside nation (such as the United States) will abandon all those things in order to defeat the aggressor. None of those things can be delivered by the barrel of the gun, or worse, by bombs and artillery.
15. So Bush is going to establish a bipartisan working group (bipartisan because it is Republican and includes the Independent who abandoned the Democratic Party, Joe Lieberman? Crap!) to advise on how to win the war on terror. Please notice that the members of the working group have to agree with Bush and Cheney before they are accepted into the groups. A better recipe for the group-think that got the U.S. into the mess that is the result of the unnecessary preemptive attack on Iraq. Bush and Cheney cannot stand to be disagreed with. It does not matter what the factual basis of the disagreement is. The facts are lost because Bush and Cheney cannot deal with the disagreement. Nothing in this speech changes that.

On last thing. Look at the speech and see how often Bush uses the term “Freedom.” Yet he is actively eliminating our privacy with uncontrolled wiretaps on anyone, using signing statements to avoid the clear guidance of law as passed by the legislature, and using the War on Terror as an excuse to remove the rights of habeas Corpus from anyone they wish merely by declaring them Enemy Combatants. American freedom requires that the President is controlled by law just like every other American citizen, even during wartime. American freedom includes the right of habeas corpus and the rights of privacy unless there is a clear indication that a law is being violated and a court agrees that wire taps and other technical spying methods are applicable – in advance of the use of those techniques. Bush has no real clue regarding what freedom really is. He is hung up on the work itself. “Freedom” is nothing more than a Public Relations mantra that he uses to sound good. But the only freedom Bush thinks Americans need is the “freedom” to agree with his pronouncements.

Bush has to go as soon as he can be removed. America will already take more than a generation to recover from his incompetence and idiocy. (Iraq will probably take two generations or more.)

Well, It's January so the winnowing of Presidential candidates has started.

The Diane Rheem Show today has started out with a discussion among reporters about the various candidates for the Presidential nominations. Of course, the nominations won't actually start until 2008, and this is January 2007.

This is because of
  • the frontloading of the nominations which will presumably determine both the Republican and the Democratic candidates by March or April of 2008,
  • the large number of candidates because there is no clear anointed successor to Bush, or
  • Bush and the Iraq war are such a political disaster that people are already lined up to find a replacement.
Or it could be a combination of those three plus something I am not yet aware of.

Welcome to Political Junkie Heaven! Twenty-one months of Presidential campaigning!

How has WH been able to purge US Attorney's?

Last year the White House removed Arkansas US Attorney Bud Cummins without any reason given. This year the White House has removed the US Attorney in San Diego and another for the State of Colorado. From TPM Muckraker:
Section 502 of the PATRIOT Act reauthorization, which was first drafted in July of 2005 and finally signed in March of 2006, changed the law regarding the appointment of U.S. Attorneys. Whereas before the relevant federal district court would have appointed a replacement within 120 days after the Attorney General picked one, now that pick stood without challenge.
So what did the change in the Law do? Here is what one commenter posted as the language removed from the law:
Best I can figure here's the original Title 28, Section 546, and the italics represent the language that the PATRIOT Act removed:

(a) Except as provided in subsection (b), the Attorney General
may appoint a United States attorney for the district in which the
office of United States attorney is vacant.

(b) The Attorney General shall not appoint as United States attorney a person to whose appointment by the President to that office the Senate refused to give advice and consent.

(c) A person appointed as United States attorney under this
section may serve until the earlier of -

(1) the qualification of a United States attorney for such district appointed by the President under section 541 of this title; or

(2) the expiration of 120 days after appointment by the Attorney General under this section.

(d) If an appointment expires under subsection (c)(2), the district court for such district may appoint a United States attorney to serve until the vacancy is filled. The order of appointment by the court shall be filed with the clerk of the
[Note: any italics were lost in the original comment.]
Since the italics he wanted to put in didn't work, the commenter Stealth then posted the new language. Here it is:
Okay, italics didn't work. Here's the new version:

(a) Except as provided in subsection (b), the Attorney General may appoint a United States attorney for the district in which the office of United States attorney is vacant.

(b) The Attorney General shall not appoint as United States attorney a person to whose appointment by the President to that office the Senate refused to give advice and consent.

(c) A person appointed as United States attorney under this section may serve until the qualification of a United States attorney for such district appointed by the President under section 541 of this title.

As near as I can tell, the new language allows the Attorney General to appoint a replacement US Attorney but he is no longer really temporary. The previous 120 day limitation on how long he or she serves is now gone. The only limit now is that the President can terminate the service of the temporary by appointing a new US Attorney and getting him confirmed by the Senate. This removal the time limit also removes the power of the Federal District Judge to appoint the U.S. Attorney when the time limit that used to be there expires. In other words, this is more centralization of power to the White House, focused on the ability to shut down federal investigations of corrupt Republican officials.

The problem this solves for the Republicans is that the U.S. Attorneys were investigating crooked Republicans. Lamm US Attorney in San Diego was instrumental in sending "Duke" Cunningham to prison and was investigating Rep. Jerry Lewis (CA - R). Since a Federal Judge cannot himself initiate an investigation of corruption, this has to be done by the US Attorney. This is a "protect crooked Republicans" move.

I wonder how long it will be until the Unitary Executive President asserts that the XXII Amendment to the Constitution [Limits President to two terms.] does not apply to a wartime President. The choices are just before the 2008 election, or right after and before the new President is sworn in.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The imperial presidency - deja-vu all over again

Want to see what the Constitutional crisis that is building between the President and Congress? Digby presents the history from Nixon by way of Cheney to the Bush White House. We will see this working out in the next year or so, and since it is a matter of principle to Dick Cheney, it is extremely likely to lead to impeachment of Bush and Cheney both.

Two years of Peace talks between Syria, Israel

Haaretz today reports that the Syrians and Israelis held secret talks from Septmenber 2004 until July 2006 to come up with a set of understandings that would be the basis of a Peace Treaty between the two nations. Haaretz describes the main understandings agreed upon.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

What will the Defense do in opening in the Libby trial?

I was going to quite and go to bed, but this is too good to not blog. Looseheadprop dips into the book Opening Statements and tells us what to expect from the Defense in the Libby trial which starts Monday.

If you are, like me, a Lawyer junkie who still watches reruns of Perry Mason, this is an excellent blog to read.

What happens when the middle class is destroyed?

Howie Klein gives us a description of Buenos Aires today. Argentina used to be proud of having the largest middle class of any nation in Latin America. But it was taken over by Generals who acted much like American right-wingers. The worked hard to make the rich more wealthy and to put the poor into ghettos in undesirable locations. When the voters became very angry at them, they then started a war against Great Britian to take back the Malvinas which the British call the Falklands. The war was lost, the Generals were kicked out of office, but things did not get a lot better economically. The economy used the prescriptions of the IMF and the World Bank and pushed towards free enterprise solutions that were attractive to international funding. The result was further reduction of the middle class, even before the Argentinian economy collapsed in the international financial collapse set off by the Southeast Asian countries in the late 90's.

This led to even more IMF and World Bank prescriptions, which led to an economy with a few very wealthy people living in gated communities and a lot of poor people with no reliable sources of income.

With that as background go read Howie Klein's post at Firedoglake.

Don't miss the references to the ranch in Paraguay that belongs to President Bush and officially does not exist.

Friday, January 12, 2007

The Doomsday Clock is back - and Bush is on angel dust

It seems that it took a large green dinosaur to remind me why I feel that we are getting back very close to Doomsday. I was born in WW II, before Stalingrad or Midway, and grew up during the 50's. I was at a school that got one of the first Salk polio vaccines - something dripped onto a sugar cube. I remember wondering if when the first H-bomb was tested it would start a nuclear chain reaction of the atmosphere and blow the world away. This came from a comic book I read at that time. My parents were unconcerned. I didn't know then that my Aunt Dorothy was the Naval administrative officer in charge of all administration on the Bikini H-Bomb test. [She was later removed from active duty and transferred to the Reserves in about 1958 because Congress under Eisenhower passed a law stating that no woman in the navy could remain on active duty if she was a Lt. Commander or higher. She was a Lt. Commander.]

I remember also the Doomsday clock, created in 1947, and set initially at 7 minutes to midnight. Midnight was the time of global catastrophe from nuclear war. It was set at two minutes to midnight in 1953 following U.S. and Soviet hydrogen bomb tests. Well, it's back in the news again, set at 7 minutes to midnight.

With that build up, go read Trex's emotional description of current events. He starts with a vignette from an Emergency Medical Technician he knows, and goes on to the Doomsday clock. Go Read it here.

Bush's speech causes major reaction

Bush gave his speech on Iraq Wednesday evening. The media reported on it Wednesday, not too kindly. Then everyting seems to have broken loose by Thursday. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee came down hard on Condi Rice Thursday - Democrats and Republicans both. Today going through the news on-line all the stories are negative, both MSM and blogosphere. Here is from Eric Alterman yesterday:
The Bush/Cheney war in Iraq has proven to be even more catastrophic than those who had the good sense to oppose it could have predicted. It has killed Americans and Iraqis, destroyed a functioning, albeit unfree nation, increased the threat of terrorism, destabilized the region, empowered our enemies--particularly Iran and Syria--inspired hatred of the United States across the globe and will ultimately cost American taxpayers upwards of a trillion dollars. It is, almost certainly, as Al Gore has noted, "the worst strategic mistake in the entire history of the United States."

The problem the war creates for the punditocracy and the rest of the political establishment is twofold. First, the leaders they backed have not only been wildly incompetent but also impervious to reality. Offered a face-saving exit by the Baker Commission, Bush, Cheney & Co. prefer instead to double down on disaster. Second, there is the problem of the pundits' individual reputations. If William Kristol, Charles Krauthammer, Lawrence Kaplan and David Brooks et al. are so smart, why were they so wrong about something so crucial? And why, given their sorry records, do they and their editors still think anybody ought to keep listening to them? At the very least, those they misled are entitled to an explanation.
His first paragraph says what we are all sure of now. But his second takes the punditocracy to task for their idiocy, and he names names.

It's about time.

[Day of week above corrected from Tuesday to Wednesday.]

America is in trouble

Has the White House sent secret orders to the military to begin combat operations in Iran and/or Syria? Discourse considers the possibility raised by Steve Clemmons and compares the possibilities to the last weeks of the Nixon Presidency.

See earlier post Has Bush begun secret war with Iran, Syria?.

David Brock asks Disney to stop promoting torture, murder on right-wing radio

Did you know that the Disney Corporation owns one of the most virulent right-wing radio stations in the U.S.? David Brock (Media Matters) has written the top managers of Disney Corp to
"...ABC/Disney to stop airing the violent hate speech and racist fearmongering of extreme right-wing radio talk show hosts Melanie Morgan and Brian Sussman on KSFO radio in San Francisco. Morgan, Sussman, and their associates have no right to advocate torture and murder on airwaves that are owned by the American people and licensed to ABC/Disney.

We wonder why ABC/Disney and its sponsors would want to continue to be associated with such extremist views."
Read the full letter with examples of the hate speach urging murder and torture aired on KSFO radio.

Disney knows what they are doing. They are supporting extremist right-wing views.

The escalation in Iraq - "Least bad option"

According to the NY Times (found in Raw Story) the White House sat around discussion options in Iraq, eliminating the worst ones, and ended up with the escalation of troops that Bush announced Tuesday as "The least bad option."

It's a shame they didn't put that much effort into considering options a few years ago when it might have been useful. It's also interesting that this is the same option that the National Security Council Chief Hadley proposed in a memo last November.

New Mexico legislature may push for Bush's impeachment

David Swanson (Bio)writes in OpEd News that the legislature of New Mexico is making preparations to submit a request to the National House of Representatives to begin impeachment actions against Bush.
There is a decent chance that within the next month or two the New Mexico State Legislature will ask the U.S. House of Representatives to begin impeachment proceedings against President Bush and Vice President Cheney. And there is the definite possibility that a Congress Member from New Mexico will take up the matter when it gets to Washington. The Jefferson Manual, rules used by the U.S. House, allows for impeachment to be begun in this manner. It only takes one state legislature. No governor is needed. One Congress Member, from the same state or any other, is needed to essentially acknowledge receipt of the state's petition. Then impeachment begins.

Last year the state legislatures of California, Minnesota, Illinois, and Vermont introduced but did not pass resolutions to send impeachment to the U.S. House. The State Senator who introduced the bill in Minnesota is now a member of Congress, Keith Ellison.
I don't know who David Sanderson is, but his bio suggests that he is a Democratic activist who has worked for Dennis Kucinich. He might have the contacts to know what he has written, so it is worth while to look at this and see if any further evidence supports the facts asserted here.

Has Bush begun secret war with Iran, Syria?

Steve Clemons reports that his sources say Bush may have already sent a "secret Executive Order to the Secretary of Defense and to the Director of the CIA to launch military operations against Syria and Iran.

"The President may have started a new secret, informal war against Syria and Iran without the consent of Congress or any broad discussion with the country."

Does this explain the recent U.S. Army attack on an Iranian Consulate in Arbil, Iraq, and may be connected to the hints provided by Bush's big speech the other night.

Bush is desperate not to lose in Iraq. Is he so desperate that he will start a war with Iran and Syria in order to provide scapegoats for the idiocy of his preemptive attack on Iraq, which has already failed? He and Cheney are certainly frightened enough, have sufficient grandiosity and foolish enough to do just that. There is no question that they have totally lost any element of control in Iraq.

Steve Clemons has excellent connections. Go read his essay.

Constitutional crisis coming

Booman at Booman Tribune has two posts which very clearly show the Constitutional crisis which is looming on the horizon. See here (1) (Bush in a Vice.) and here (2) (Rice's Catastrophic Appearance.)

The first article describes the problem that Bush has with all his Middle East allies - including Israel. They do now want him to pull out of Iraq and let the Shiite militias take over. [When did you last hear of Israel agreeing with the Arab nations around her? Ever?]

The second article clearly describes the reaction of the 23 person Senate Foreign Relations Committee to the testimony of the Secretary of State, Condi Rice. To quote the Chairman, Joe Biden:
"Madame Secretary I think something very profound happened here today. There are 23 members of this committee, and all of them, with one or two notable exceptions, displayed outright hostility, from skepticism, to deep skepticism, to outright hostility to the President's plan. And I think, if the President cannot win over the Senate, that he will proceed at extreme personal poitical risk."
Bush's plan is dead in the water if he can't get Congressional support, and he doesn't have it. But America's Middle East allies want the U.S. to do something other than just leave.

Bush is in a real box, one of his own making. He has been flailing around trying to get out, especially since the vote of "No Confidence" he received November 7th. The biggest concern is that he may try to get out of his box by attacking Iran and/or Syria. This would be on the old theory that if you are losing on the current playing field, expand the playing field and hope for better luck. This is where a person with empathy for others would consider the costs of his actions to other people. Unfortunately, both Bush and Cheney have shown no evidence of a scintilla of empathy for either American troops or the people in Iraq, Iran or Syria.

It really looks like a Constitutional Crisis coming up. And soon.

[Cudos to Booman for such a clear explanation of the problem. Best I have seen.]

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Here's Bush's speech.

From dKos I freely steal the text of tonight's Presidential speech.

Good evening. Tonight in Iraq, the Armed Forces of the United States are engaged in a struggle that will determine the direction of the global war on terror -- and our safety here at home. The new strategy I outline tonight will change America's course in Iraq, and help us succeed in the fight against terror.

When I addressed you just over a year ago, nearly 12 million Iraqis had cast their ballots for a unified and democratic nation. The elections of 2005 were a stunning achievement. We thought that these elections would bring the Iraqis together, and that as we trained Iraqi security forces we could accomplish our mission with fewer American troops.

But in 2006, the opposite happened. The violence in Iraq -- particularly in Baghdad -- overwhelmed the political gains the Iraqis had made. Al Qaeda terrorists and Sunni insurgents recognized the mortal danger that Iraq's elections posed for their cause, and they responded with outrageous acts of murder aimed at innocent Iraqis. They blew up one of the holiest shrines in Shia Islam -- the Golden Mosque of Samarra -- in a calculated effort to provoke Iraq's Shia population to retaliate. Their strategy worked. Radical Shia elements, some supported by Iran, formed death squads. And the result was a vicious cycle of sectarian violence that continues today.

The situation in Iraq is unacceptable to the American people -- and it is unacceptable to me. Our troops in Iraq have fought bravely. They have done everything we have asked them to do. Where mistakes have been made, the responsibility rests with me.

It is clear that we need to change our strategy in Iraq. So my national security team, military commanders, and diplomats conducted a comprehensive review. We consulted members of Congress from both parties, our allies abroad, and distinguished outside experts. We benefitted from the thoughtful recommendations of the Iraq Study Group, a bipartisan panel led by former Secretary of State James Baker and former Congressman Lee Hamilton. In our discussions, we all agreed that there is no magic formula for success in Iraq. And one message came through loud and clear: Failure in Iraq would be a disaster for the United States.

(1)The consequences of failure are clear: Radical Islamic extremists would grow in strength and gain new recruits. They would be in a better position to topple moderate governments, create chaos in the region, and use oil revenues to fund their ambitions. Iran would be emboldened in its pursuit of nuclear weapons. Our enemies would have a safe haven from which to plan and launch attacks on the American people. On September the 11th, 2001, we saw what a refuge for extremists on the other side of the world could bring to the streets of our own cities. For the safety of our people, America must succeed in Iraq.

(2)The most urgent priority for success in Iraq is security, especially in Baghdad. Eighty percent of Iraq's sectarian violence occurs within 30 miles of the capital. This violence is splitting Baghdad into sectarian enclaves, and shaking the confidence of all Iraqis. Only Iraqis can end the sectarian violence and secure their people. And their government has put forward an aggressive plan to do it.

Our past efforts to secure Baghdad failed for two principal reasons: (3)There were not enough Iraqi and American troops to secure neighborhoods that had been cleared of terrorists and insurgents. (4)And there were too many restrictions on the troops we did have. Our military commanders reviewed the new Iraqi plan to ensure that it addressed these mistakes. They report that it does. They also report that this plan can work.

Now let me explain the main elements of this effort: (5)The Iraqi government will appoint a military commander and two deputy commanders for their capital. The Iraqi government will deploy Iraqi Army and National Police brigades across Baghdad's nine districts. When these forces are fully deployed, there will be 18 Iraqi Army and National Police brigades committed to this effort, along with local police. These Iraqi forces will operate from local police stations -- conducting patrols and setting up checkpoints, and going door-to-door to gain the trust of Baghdad residents.

This is a strong commitment. But for it to succeed, our commanders say the Iraqis will need our help. So (6)America will change our strategy to help the Iraqis carry out their campaign to put down sectarian violence and bring security to the people of Baghdad. This will require increasing American force levels. So I've committed more than 20,000 additional American troops to Iraq. The vast majority of them -- five brigades --
[that is approximately 17,500 troops at 3,500 per brigade.] will be deployed to Baghdad. These troops will work alongside Iraqi units and be embedded in their formations. Our troops will have a well-defined mission: to help Iraqis clear and secure neighborhoods, to help them protect the local population, and to help ensure that the Iraqi forces left behind are capable of providing the security that Baghdad needs.

Many listening tonight will ask why this effort will succeed when previous operations to secure Baghdad did not. Well, here are the differences: In earlier operations, Iraqi and American forces cleared many neighborhoods of terrorists and insurgents, but when our forces moved on to other targets, the killers returned. (7)This time, we'll have the force levels we need to hold the areas that have been cleared. In earlier operations, political and sectarian interference prevented Iraqi and American forces from going into neighborhoods that are home to those fueling the sectarian violence. (8)This time, Iraqi and American forces will have a green light to enter those neighborhoods -- and Prime Minister Maliki has pledged that political or sectarian interference will not be tolerated.

I've made it clear to the Prime Minister and Iraq's other leaders that America's commitment is not open-ended. If the Iraqi government does not follow through on its promises, it will lose the support of the American people

-- and it will lose the support of the Iraqi people. Now is the time to act. The Prime Minister understands this. Here is what he told his people just last week: "The Baghdad security plan will not provide a safe haven for any outlaws, regardless of [their] sectarian or political affiliation."

This new strategy will not yield an immediate end to suicide bombings, assassinations, or IED attacks. Our enemies in Iraq will make every effort to ensure that our television screens are filled with images of death and suffering. Yet over time, we can expect to see Iraqi troops chasing down murderers, fewer brazen acts of terror, and growing trust and cooperation from Baghdad's residents. When this happens, daily life will improve, Iraqis will gain confidence in their leaders, and the government will have the breathing space it needs to make progress in other critical areas. (9)Most of Iraq's Sunni and Shia want to live together in peace -- and reducing the violence in Baghdad will help make reconciliation possible.

A successful strategy for Iraq goes beyond military operations. Ordinary Iraqi citizens must see that military operations are accompanied by visible improvements in their neighborhoods and communities. So America will hold the Iraqi government to the benchmarks it has announced.

To establish its authority, (10)the Iraqi government plans to take responsibility for security in all of Iraq's provinces by November. To give every Iraqi citizen a stake in the country's economy, Iraq will pass legislation to share oil revenues among all Iraqis. To show that it is committed to delivering a better life, the Iraqi government will spend $10 billion of its own money on reconstruction and infrastructure projects that will create new jobs. To empower local leaders, Iraqis plan to hold provincial elections later this year. And to allow more Iraqis to re-enter their nation's political life, the government will reform de-Baathification laws, and establish a fair process for considering amendments to Iraq's constitution.

America will change our approach to help the Iraqi government as it works to meet these benchmarks. In keeping with the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group, we will increase the embedding of American advisers in Iraqi Army units, and partner a coalition brigade with every Iraqi Army division. We will help the Iraqis build a larger and better-equipped army, and we will accelerate the training of Iraqi forces, which remains the essential U.S. security mission in Iraq. We will give our commanders and civilians greater flexibility to spend funds for economic assistance. We will double the number of provincial reconstruction teams. These teams bring together military and civilian experts to help local Iraqi communities pursue reconciliation, strengthen the moderates, and speed the transition to Iraqi self-reliance. And Secretary Rice will soon appoint a reconstruction coordinator in Baghdad to ensure better results for economic assistance being spent in Iraq.

As we make these changes, we will continue to pursue al Qaeda and foreign fighters. Al Qaeda is still active in Iraq. Its home base is Anbar Province. Al Qaeda has helped make Anbar the most violent area of Iraq outside the capital. A captured al Qaeda document describes the terrorists' plan to infiltrate and seize control of the province. This would bring al Qaeda closer to its goals of taking down Iraq's democracy, building a radical Islamic empire, and launching new attacks on the United States at home and abroad.

Our military forces in Anbar are killing and capturing al Qaeda leaders, and they are protecting the local population. Recently, local tribal leaders have begun to show their willingness to take on al Qaeda. And as a result, our commanders believe we have an opportunity to deal a serious blow to the terrorists. So I have given orders to increase American forces in Anbar Province by 4,000 troops. These troops will work with Iraqi and tribal forces to keep up the pressure on the terrorists. America's men and women in uniform took away al Qaeda's safe haven in Afghanistan -- and we will not allow them to re-establish it in Iraq.

Succeeding in Iraq also requires defending its territorial integrity and stabilizing the region in the face of extremist challenges. (11a)This begins with addressing Iran and Syria. These two regimes are allowing terrorists and insurgents to use their territory to move in and out of Iraq. Iran is providing material support for attacks on American troops. (11b)We will disrupt the attacks on our forces. We'll interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria. And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq.

We're also taking other steps to bolster the security of Iraq and protect American interests in the Middle East. I recently ordered the deployment of an additional carrier strike group to the region. We will expand intelligence-sharing and deploy Patriot air defense systems to reassure our friends and allies. (12)We will work with the governments of Turkey and Iraq to help them resolve problems along their border. And we will work with others to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons and dominating the region.

We will use America's full diplomatic resources to rally support for Iraq from nations throughout the Middle East. Countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, and the Gulf States need to understand that an American defeat in Iraq would create a new sanctuary for extremists and a strategic threat to their survival. These nations have a stake in a successful Iraq that is at peace with its neighbors, and they must step up their support for Iraq's unity government. We endorse the Iraqi government's call to finalize an International Compact that will bring new economic assistance in exchange for greater economic reform. And on Friday, Secretary Rice will leave for the region, to build support for Iraq and continue the urgent diplomacy required to help bring peace to the Middle East.

(13)The challenge playing out across the broader Middle East is more than a military conflict. It is the decisive ideological struggle of our time. On one side are those who believe in freedom and moderation. On the other side are extremists who kill the innocent, and have declared their intention to destroy our way of life. In the long run, the most realistic way to protect the American people is to provide a hopeful alternative to the hateful ideology of the enemy, by advancing liberty across a troubled region. It is in the interests of the United States to stand with the brave men and women who are risking their lives to claim their freedom, and to help them as they work to raise up just and hopeful societies across the Middle East.

From Afghanistan to Lebanon to the Palestinian Territories, millions of ordinary people are sick of the violence, and want a future of peace and opportunity for their children. And they are looking at Iraq. They want to know: Will America withdraw and yield the future of that country to the extremists, or will we stand with the Iraqis who have made the choice for freedom?

The changes I have outlined tonight are aimed at ensuring the survival of a young democracy that is fighting for its life in a part of the world of enormous importance to American security. Let me be clear: The terrorists and insurgents in Iraq are without conscience, and they will make the year ahead bloody and violent. Even if our new strategy works exactly as planned, deadly acts of violence will continue -- and we must expect more Iraqi and American casualties. The question is whether our new strategy will bring us closer to success. I believe that it will.

Victory will not look like the ones our fathers and grandfathers achieved. There will be no surrender ceremony on the deck of a battleship. But (14)victory in Iraq will bring something new in the Arab world -- a functioning democracy that polices its territory, upholds the rule of law, respects fundamental human liberties, and answers to its people. A democratic Iraq will not be perfect. But it will be a country that fights terrorists instead of harboring them -- and it will help bring a future of peace and security for our children and our grandchildren.

This new approach comes after consultations with Congress about the different courses we could take in Iraq. Many are concerned that the Iraqis are becoming too dependent on the United States, and therefore, our policy should focus on protecting Iraq's borders and hunting down al Qaeda. Their solution is to scale back America's efforts in Baghdad -- or announce the phased withdrawal of our combat forces. We carefully considered these proposals. And we concluded that to step back now would force a collapse of the Iraqi government, tear the country apart, and result in mass killings on an unimaginable scale. Such a scenario would result in our troops being forced to stay in Iraq even longer, and confront an enemy that is even more lethal. If we increase our support at this crucial moment, and help the Iraqis break the current cycle of violence, we can hasten the day our troops begin coming home.

In the days ahead, my national security team will fully brief Congress on our new strategy. If members have improvements that can be made, we will make them. If circumstances change, we will adjust. Honorable people have different views, and they will voice their criticisms. It is fair to hold our views up to scrutiny. And all involved have a responsibility to explain how the path they propose would be more likely to succeed.

(15)Acting on the good advice of Senator Joe Lieberman (?) and other key members of Congress, we will form a new, bipartisan(??) working group that will help us come together across party lines to win the war on terror. This group will meet regularly with me and my administration; it will help strengthen our relationship with Congress. We can begin by working together to increase the size of the active Army and Marine Corps, so that America has the Armed Forces we need for the 21st century. We also need to examine ways to mobilize talented American civilians to deploy overseas, where they can help build democratic institutions in communities and nations recovering from war and tyranny.

In these dangerous times, the United States is blessed to have extraordinary and selfless men and women willing to step forward and defend us. These young Americans understand that our cause in Iraq is noble and necessary -- and that the advance of freedom is the calling of our time. They serve far from their families, who make the quiet sacrifices of lonely holidays and empty chairs at the dinner table. They have watched their comrades give their lives to ensure our liberty. We mourn the loss of every fallen American -- and we owe it to them to build a future worthy of their sacrifice.

Fellow citizens: The year ahead will demand more patience, sacrifice, and resolve. It can be tempting to think that America can put aside the burdens of freedom. Yet times of testing reveal the character of a nation. And throughout our history, Americans have always defied the pessimists and seen our faith in freedom redeemed. Now America is engaged in a new struggle that will set the course for a new century. We can, and we will, prevail.

We go forward with trust that the Author of Liberty will guide us through these trying hours. Thank you and good night.
He lays it out rather clearly for once. I wonder if he understands what he just read?

Frankly, I don't think I have ever seen Bush look as uncertain and tentative as he was tonight. He is normally a rather wooden speaker giving speeches, but this time he seemed positively petrified to me. I think it finally sank in that his war really hasn't gone well, that his Presidency is all about the war in Iraq and nothing else, and his deadline for getting it right is January 2009. This is his last chance. He has made decisions based on his intuition, and his intuition has failed him. So it looks like he is trying to ask for help.

Unfortunately, he has no skills in that kind of management. On top of that, he did have a Congress that laid down and let him roll over them until this month. Now, suddenly, he has been handed a Congress whose majority considers him thoroughly in over his head, incompetent, extremely ignornat, and a very nasty person. These are the people he has to work with because the voters had no confidence in him or the Republican Party last November.

I don't blame him for being scared. His extremely rigid "black or white", "with us or against us" thinking pattern does him a real disservice in the job of President. I don't particularly like the man, but I do pity him. He is so far in over his head that he doesn't really know which way is up. It will take a great deal of both emotional and physical strength for him to survive this next two years without committing suicide. I hope he makes it, for his sake, but I also hope he can minimize the further damage he has done to American and to Iraq in the meantime.

I have underlined and numbered several lines I wish to discuss, but it is pushing 3:00 AM and I need to sleep. I'll post this, wake up and finish it sometime tomorrow by discussing each item I numbered above. Oh, and the bold face items are mine, also. I just wanted to highlight them.