Browsing the archives for the Bush Administration category.


Michael Kelly Is Still Dead

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Bush Administration, Iraq War, News Media

Michael Kelly, a prominent cheerleader for Bush’s War, died just over ten years ago. He was in Iraq to cover his glorious little war when his Humvee overturned and plunged into water. Kelly drowned.

Kelly was the worst kind of smugly infuriating propagandist, leading the pre-Iraq War assault on reality and reason. A lot of my early blogging amounting to griping about Kelly. And then he was gone. And I haven’t even thought of him for years.

See Tom Socca, A Stupid Death in a Stupid War: Remembering Michael Kelly

The premise of Kelly’s argument for invasion was that escalating the war, carrying it to Baghdad on the ground, would settle the problems “easily and quickly.” Like his fellow poets, Sullivan and Christopher Hitchens, he presented his romantic vision as clear-eyed advice. Evil must be opposed. Good would triumph. Anyone who disagreed was benighted, mistaken, immoral. …

… Perhaps, like Sullivan, he would have changed his position on Iraq, had he lived to see our military might losing control, the easy liberation collapsing into hell, Saddam’s torture prisons reopening with American torturers. What might he have written, if he’d had the chance to engage with the terrible truths of this past decade? What might a hundred thousand other people have done, if they’d lived too?

And we’ve never properly mourned, have we?

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Our Greatest Living (Your Noun Here)

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Bush Administration, Wingnuts Being Wingnuts

This would be brilliant snark, but it’s the Free Beacon. They’re serious. See also “The Artist Formerly Known as Dubya.”

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Party Tonight!

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Bush Administration, disasters, natural and unnatural, Hurricanes, Mittens, Obama Administration, Wingnuts Being Wingnuts

The virtual debate party begins here tonight at 8:30 eastern time, for the pre-debate warmup. BYOB. I’m taking suggestions for drinking games.

There are a number of articles out now that claim debates make no difference to elections, but Nate Silver’s analysis says that they often help the challenger. However, it could be argued that the post-debate spin was what made the difference, not the debate itself. For example, the numbers show that the Clinton-Dole debates in 1996 helped Dole just a little, and there’s no way. Dole was awful. I was embarrassed for him.

On the other hand, Nate’s numbers say that if the election were held today, Mitt’s chance of winning would be 2.7 percent. heh.

I’m not too worried about the spin. Why? Because righties are so out to lunch they couldn’t spin a dreidel on a turntable on a carousel. Right now they think they have a BOMBSHELL video of President Obama in 2007 telling an audience of black ministers that the federal government did not do enough to rebuild New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

Seriously. That’s their idea of a controversy. I guess we’re supposed to remember that Brownie did a heck of a job.

Righties say Obama’s remarks were racist because he ties the not-rebuilding of New Orleans to racial discrimination. Um, yeah, that was pretty obvious. Although I suppose it could be argued that it wasn’t so much racist as an attempt to finesse Katrina for political gain by making a Democratic governor look bad. And that the federal dollars eventually offered to New Orleans mostly went into the pockets of contractors with ties to the Republican Party and were not spent on, you know, rebuilding. And that was just good old-fashioned corruption. But it’s still not likely the Bushies would have played games like that if the neighborhoods that were destroyed were mostly white. I think anyone but a white racist can see that.

See also “Breaking: Obama Is Black” and “Right-wing Racial Panic.”

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Today (and Yesterday) in Politics

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Bush Administration, Middle East, Obama Administration

Noot suspended his campaign today, officially, and it turns out he’s about $4 million in debt to campaign employees and vendors, who fear they will never be paid.

Newt is throwing his support to Mittens. Naturally, the Obama campaign was ready with a video:

I like the part about Bain Capital leaving companies with enormous debt. Et tu, Noot?

The big news today is that the Republicans for the most part have scaled back their yapping on how the evil Obama was making national security a political issue. Like no one has ever done that before.

Well, I said for the most part. The New York Post was downright snippy about it. They sure had a different tone back in 2003, when President Bush made a secret trip to Baghdad. Yeah, that was the “preznit gif me turkee” trip.

Even better, check out the Post’s coveraage of the capture of Saddam Hussein. Here’s a headline: “Dramatic Call: How Bush Got the First Word.” Bush got credit just for being woken up for a message. And there’s nothing political about “Tyrant’s Capture Throws Democrats Into Disarray.

Jon Stewart Gets the Last Word:

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Romney = Bush III

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Bush Administration, Obama Administration

Let’s see, where was I … oh, yes, politics. I wrote last week — “I’m saying Romney is George W. Bush without the Texas accent, people. You elect him, you’ll get tax cuts for the rich up the wazoo, huge cuts in benefit programs, and a return to foreign policy by the Marlboro Man.”

Well, now we have a confession, at least on the domestic side of the agenda. Pat Garofalo writes for Media Matters

During an interview last week on The Fernando Espuelas Show, Alexandra Franceschi, Specialty Media Press Secretary of the Republican National Committee, said that the Republican party’s economic platform in 2012 is going to be the same as it was during the Bush years, “just updated”:

ESPUELAS: What do you mean by economic security? Regardless of who the ultimate nominee is, what’s the general idea that the RNC, or the Republican party in general, has in terms of this message?

FRANCESCHI: Well, it’s a message of being able to attain the American dream. It’s less government spending, which a Tarrance Group poll, came out last week actually, shows that the majority of Hispanics believe that less government spending is the way out of this deficit crisis. It’s lowering taxes so small businesses can grow and they can employ more people, because we understand that the private sector is the engine of the economy. It’s not the government. [...]

ESPUELAS: Now, how different is that concept from what were the policies of the Bush administration? And the reason I ask that is because there’s some analysis now that is being published talking about the Bush years being the slowest period of job creation since those statistics were created. Is this a different program or is this that program just updated?

FRANCESCHI: I think it’s that program, just updated.

Of course, the RNC has its fingers crossed voters won’t remember that Bush’s policies are what screwed the economy. Paul Krugman writes,

Just how stupid does Mitt Romney think we are? If you’ve been following his campaign from the beginning, that’s a question you have probably asked many times.

But the question was raised with particular force last week, when Mr. Romney tried to make a closed drywall factory in Ohio a symbol of the Obama administration’s economic failure. It was a symbol, all right — but not in the way he intended.

First of all, many reporters quickly noted a point that Mr. Romney somehow failed to mention: George W. Bush, not Barack Obama, was president when the factory in question was closed. Does the Romney campaign expect Americans to blame President Obama for his predecessor’s policy failure?

Yes, it does.

Of course, I suspect a lot of voters need reminding by this point.

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National Guard-Gate Revisited

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Bush Administration, Obama Administration

A Texas Monthly article by Joe Hagan revisits the controversy over the gaps in George W. Bush’s National Guard service and the damage done to Dan Rather by the 60 Minutes story about it.

(Note: It’s a long story, and if you want to read it you’d better print it out now, because I understand that it will go behind a firewall in a couple of days. )

It’s still mostly a story about missing documentation. It does establish that the head of the Texas Air National Guard, Brigadier General James Rose, did make spaces in the Guard for both G.W. Bush and the son of Democratic Senator Lloyd Bentsen. It also establishes that Bush was allowed to drop out of flying in 1972. Ten other pilots were allowed to drop out that same year, but the rest of them were much older and had had more than two decades of experience. Bush had been flying for two years.

As the story says, this wasn’t exactly illegal. It just shows that the Texas National Guard was a “loosely regulated fiefdom,” and Gen. Rose could dispense favors as he wished.

There is still no evidence that Bush reported for duty in Alabama when he said he did. The existing records say he blew off two drills for certain. The article also says that for part of the time he was being paid for his duty in Alabama he actually was in Houston. More than that is kind of a blank. By all appearances he was allowed to skip out of the rest of his Guard duty. He says otherwise, but any documentation that might have cleared that up is mysteriously missing from his military record. Which is pretty much what we all knew back in 2004 when the 60 Minutes segment ran.

Of particular interest to me was this:

But the man officially credited with inspiring a fusillade of blog attacks was Harry MacDougald, known on message boards as Buckhead, a GOP lawyer in Atlanta who missed the segment but downloaded the Killian documents from the CBS website later that night. He specifically claimed that the memos used proportional spacing and superscripts that didn’t exist on typewriters of the early seventies. …

… In any case, MacDougald’s arguments about the documents turned out to be inaccurate. He acknowledged as much in an interview with me in 2008. And in a speech given that same year, Mike Missal, a lawyer for the firm that CBS hired to investigate its own report, said, “It’s ironic that the blogs were actually wrong. . . . We actually did find typewriters that did have the superscript, did have proportional spacing. And on the fonts, given that these are copies, it’s really hard to say, but there were some typewriters that looked like they could have some similar fonts there. So the initial concerns didn’t seem as though they would hold up.”

… which is what I said at the time, and was mercilessly skewered for it. But, dammit, I had typed and typed and typed on those typewriters in the early 1970s, and there was nothing on those memos that couldn’t have come out of one of the better 1970s-era electric typewriters — proportional type, precise centering, superscripts, etc.

If course, since the memos Dan Rather and his staff had were photocopies, there is no way to prove they were authentic, which was why it was stupid on Rather’s part to use them as proof of anything. There was plenty of “story” without them, but with them the bogus type font issue ate up all the oxygen and became the story.

The Right basically was allowed to establish that the memos were phony mostly by screaming and stamping their feet real, real loud, and without the originals they couldn’t be proved wrong.

Hagan also says that at the time of the 60 Minutes broadcast the Associated Press had been pressing the Pentagon for some other documents that they believed would reveal the truth about the “lost year.” The AP actually asked CBS to wait on their story so as not to spook their sources. But CBS didn’t wait, and once the story became radioactive the AP dropped its investigation also.

By now any original documents that might show us something have been destroyed or rotted in a landfill somewhere, so unless Dubya himself confesses we’ll never know the whole story. Damn shame.

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This Wacky World

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blogging, Bush Administration, Obama Administration, Wingnuts Being Wingnuts

It’s a good news/bad news sort of day. For example, the Connecticut Senate voted to abolish the death penalty. Score one for civilization. On the other hand, the Arizona Senate is considering a bill that would eliminate programs that promote energy efficiency. Why? Because “clean energy programs in Arizona are a plot by the United Nations to create a single world government in order to control people’s lives.”

Maybe we could just sell Arizona to some other country. I’m thinking China would take it if Mexico won’t.

Coca-Cola announced it is withdrawing support from ALEC in the face of a threatened progressive boycott. I’m starting to think that if we’d had social media 30 years ago the right-wing coup would never have gotten off the ground.

On the other hand, Krugman sees ALEC influence in New Jersey.

John Cole has a long and thoughtful post about why he switched from being a wingnut to being a sane person. As he explains why he used to support the Bush Administration, key part to me is “I believed it. I identified with it. It was part of who I was for years. It was my deference to authoritarianism after years in the military. It was tribalism.”

This is why reason doesn’t work on wingnuts. They are a tribe, and wingnuttiness is part of their tribal, and hence personal, identity. Any disagreement with the tribe, any attempt to show that everything they stand for is nonsense and lies, is an existential threat that must be stamped out by any means necessary.

So no matter how patiently one might try to show them that whatever they believe is irrational and a pack of lies, they will simply retreat further into la-la land and retort with whatever non sequiturs and ad hominems they find handy.

Cole says that what finally got to him was the sheer meanness of the Right.

And while Republicans may very well have been crazy for decades, the outright ugliness, I think, has escalated beyond measure. The hideous treatment of Graeme Frost was the final straw, I guess. It was just the last, final, “WTF IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE?” moment. You see the same thing from the same folks as they viciously attack Trayvon Martin for his horrible sin of being gunned down in cold blood.

Something like that seems to have happened to Charles Johnson back in 2009, which in many ways was a more remarkable conversion. I don’t remember that Balloon Juice was ever as hard, screaming, foaming-at-the-mouth Right as Little Green Footballs used to be. It’s like Johnson woke up from a bad dream.

Speaking of bad dreams — Item One

A top adviser to former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice warned the Bush administration that its use of “cruel, inhuman or degrading” interrogation techniques like waterboarding were “a felony war crime.”

What’s more, newly obtained documents reveal that State Department counselor Philip Zelikow told the Bush team in 2006 that using the controversial interrogation techniques were “prohibited” under U.S. law — “even if there is a compelling state interest asserted to justify them.”

Item two — Curveball goes public

Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, who openly admitted to fabricating intelligence about the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, is breaking his silence with appearances in a BBC documentary that began airing this past Sunday and will conclude next Sunday.

Not that I expect many people to notice …

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The Agony of Dick

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Bush Administration, Dick Cheney

Everybody is talking about Dick the Dick’s exploding head book. I take it it’s mostly a work of fiction, since Dick’s recollection of events doesn’t seem to match anyone else’s. All kinds of people with firsthand knowledge of events are coming forward to say Dick is just making stuff up.

But IMO the single most interesting semi-revelation from the book is the degree to which Dick was the acting head of the Bush Administration during Bush’s first term — which we knew — but not the second term.

Jefferson Morley, analyzing Cheney’s self-aggrandizing account, says Cheney portrays himself making foreign policy and cabinet decisions without even consulting the President. He seems to have assumed Bush would approve of his decisions without having to ask.

But the reign of Cheney ended in 2006. Morley writes,

In November 2006, Bush fired Rumsfeld without asking for the vice president’s opinion. For the first time in five years, Bush started making key decisions on his own.

Cheney’s account turns petulant at this point. After 2006, no one in the Bush administration (besides Cheney) can do much good. The new Secretary of Defense Robert Gates mistreated two top generals. Secretary of State Condi Rice was so eager to reach an agreement with North Korea she issued a public statement that was “utterly misleading.” And President Bush had failed by acting on her recommendations, not his.

Get this –

“The process and the decision that followed seemed so out of keeping with the clearheaded ways I had seen him make decisions in the past,” he writes with surprise.

What had changed was that Cheney no longer dominated the process of presidential decision-making on foreign policy. He was merely the vice president.

Very sick.

This is from ABC News

He reserves much of his ire for former Secretary of State Colin Powell, and now Powell and his longtime aide and chief of staff, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, are attempting to set the record straight. In no uncertain terms. Cheney, Wilkerson told ABC News, “was president for all practical purposes for the first term of the Bush administration” and “fears being tried as a war criminal.”

Again, Dick was president during the first term, but not the second one. In foreign policy, Condi took his place. Not that she was much of an improvement.

BTW, you might remember that Bush asked for Rummy’s resignation not because of some failure in Iraq, but because Republicans had just been slaughtered in the 2006 midterms. Karl Rove would resign the following August. The Bush White House was in some kind of meltdown by then, it seems, and Bush appears to have changed his mind about who to trust. It’s water under the bridge now, but someday the real history of the Bush Administration will be written, and I suspect the last three years were especially surreal.

See also “Remembering Why Americans Loathe Dick Cheney.”

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Another Year, Another SOTU

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Bush Administration, Obama Administration

The State of the Union

I’ll be out this evening, but I’ll leave a post up for commenting.

Elsewhere — like anybody is surprised — from Politico:

A long-running federal investigation has found that White House political aides to President George W. Bush engaged in widespread violations of a federal law which limits partisan political activity by government employees during the 2006 midterm elections.

A 118-page report issued Monday by the little-known Office of Special Counsel cites numerous violations of the Hatch Act by the Bush-era White House Office of Political Affairs. The report concludes that federal taxpayers footed the bill for improper activities that were intended to advance Republican political candidates.

The report says that partisan political activities were not incidental to the White House staffers’ jobs; that was their job. And taxpayers paid for it, including travel. However, the article doesn’t say whether anyone will ever be indicted. I’m not holding my breath.

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That Pesky 4th Amendment

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Bush Administration, The Constitution

A U.S. District Judge just ruled that the Bush Administration illegally spied on an Islamic charity.

U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker said attorneys for the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, once based in Oregon, could pursue civil remedies for being subjected to warrantless domestic surveillance under an anti-terrorism program put into place by the Bush administration after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the U.S.

But you know what righties will say — we have to burn our freedoms to save them. Or something.

Update: More info in the New York Times

In a 45-page opinion, Judge Vaughn R. Walker ruled that the government had violated a 1978 federal statute requiring court approval for domestic surveillance when it intercepted phone calls of Al Haramain, a now-defunct Islamic charity in Oregon, and of two lawyers who were representing it in 2004. Declaring that the plaintiffs had been “subjected to unlawful surveillance,” the judge said that the government was liable to pay them damages.

The ruling delivered a blow to the Bush administration’s claims that its warrantless surveillance program, which Mr. Bush secretly authorized shortly after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, was lawful. Under the program, the National Security Agency monitored Americans’ e-mail messages and phone calls without court approval, even though the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, required warrants.

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