Bush / GOP

Senator Hagel: "This is a ping pong game with American lives"

Watch Hagel speak out against escalation...

Does Karl Rove Have a Gambling Problem?

This is one of my favorite Rove stories, and apparently he's at it again, as Grover Norquist describes below.



Earlier this month Rove showed up at a weekly meeting of influential D.C. conservatives, surprising attendees with his bubbly demeanor after weeks of rumors that he might be headed out.

"I think some people had given him up for dead, but he was good old Karl, upbeat and enthusiastic," says GOP activist Grover Norquist, who hosts the weekly sit-down. At the meeting Rove previewed Bush's final two years in office, saying Social Security reform was likely off the table and that Iraq and the economy would be the biggest issues for 2008. Rove offered a $5 bet to anyone in the room that Bush would not raise taxes during his final years in office. According to Norquist, two attendees took the bet.

It may have been smart to take the bet, but if history is a guide, it's foolish to expect to be paid. 

For the want of two letters

Those two letters are 'i' and 'c' and the President left them out of a key moment in the State of the Union Address last night.  Instead of saying the "Democratic Party," he strayed from the prepared text  - not to mention the teleprompter - in order to refer to the "Democrat majority." 

Don't miss this New Yorker article to find out why the President included this lingual jab in the SOTU and what conservative lunminaries of the past (Joe McCarthy for one) inspired him.

Taking Responsibility at the SOTU

Last night, the President was a little more realistic about some of the country’s domestic issues than about Iraq, but not more forthcoming and honest.

So, he spoke of cutting the budget deficit in half without acknowledging that it was a deficit he created.  He talked about eliminating the deficit entirely in another five years – long after he’s gone -- again without acknowledging that federal spending has grown faster under his watch (and under of Republican congresses) than anytime since LBJ.

He talked about creating 7 million jobs under his watch, without acknowledging that the first 3 million replaced the 3 million jobs lost in the early years of his presidency.

He mentioned climate change for the first time, without acknowledging that he spent five years denying it was a problem and pulled the United States out of the global talks on the issue.  And by the way, his grand response would cut CO2 emissions in 2017 by perhaps 2 percent – far too little to have any effect on climate change.

He proposed an interesting direction in health insurance – recovering revenues from the tax deductions for “Cadillac plans” and using them to help support coverage for the uninsured – but again, without acknowledging that the number of uninsured has risen sharply on his watch. He also didn’t mention that his new tax deduction would take the place of the current untaxed treatment of employer-provided health coverage.   

He talked about his administration diplomatic efforts, without acknowledging its role in allowing multilateral trade talks to collapse.

And on the great economic challenge facing Americans – globalization -- he said … nothing. 

If our country is to be governed honestly or wisely in the next two years, it certainly seems like the leadership will have to come not from this President, but from innovative Democrats and perhaps a few dissident Republicans.

Iraq's Government: Bush's version and reality

Last night the President gushed about the Iraqi political system:

And in 2005, the Iraqi people held three national elections — choosing a transitional government, adopting the most progressive, democratic constitution in the Arab world and then electing a government under that constitution.

 A few paragraphs later he implored Iraqi leaders to step up: "now is the time for their government to act."

Perhaps the President should spend a little less time repeating his "elections solve everything" mantra, and a little more time looking at the underlying reasons that he has to keep begging, bribing and cajoling the Iraqi Government to play its part.   The NYT today looks at the shockingly bad attendance levels of Iraqi legislators and how that is damaging Iraq's fragile democracy.

Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, the speaker of Parliament, read a roll call of the 275 elected members with a goal of shaming the no-shows.

Ayad Allawi, the former prime minister? Absent, living in Amman and London. Adnan Pachachi, the octogenarian statesman? Also gone, in Abu Dhabi.

Others who failed to appear Monday included Saleh Mutlak, a senior Sunni legislator; several Shiites and Kurds; and Ayad al-Samaraei, chairman of the finance committee, whose absence led Mr. Mashhadani to ask: “When will he be back? After we approve the budget?”

It was a joke barbed with outrage. Parliament in recent months has been at a standstill. Nearly every session since November has been adjourned because as few as 65 members made it to work, even as they and the absentees earned salaries and benefits worth about $120,000.

Part of the problem is security, but Iraqi officials also said they feared that members were losing confidence in the institution and in the country’s fragile democracy. As chaos has deepened, Parliament’s relevance has gradually receded.

Scooter Libby's Lawyer Goes After Karl Rove

From the AP:

Attorney Theodore Wells, in the opening statements of I. Lewis Libby's perjury trial, said Libby went to Vice President Dick Cheney in 2003 and complained that the White House was subtly blaming him for leaking Valerie 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 conversation between Libby and Cheney. "I will not be sacrificed so Karl Rove can be protected.''

Firedoglake is liveblogging the trial

Nobody loves you, when you're down and out...

President Bush woke up today to 28% approval ratings - somewhere Richard Nixon is giving a sigh of relief.  Now, news that new DC Mayor Adrian Fenty is snubbing the President's invitation and sitting with Speaker Pelosi, not the first lady.

Republicans: "Abandon ship!"

From the Post tonight:

"Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.), the former chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, yesterday endorsed a new resolution opposing President Bush's buildup of troops in Baghdad, as even some of the most loyal Republicans scrambled to register their concerns and distance themselves from an unpopular policy.

The resolution, unveiled the day before the president's State of the Union address, is expected to garner the support of many Senate Republicans -- especially those facing reelection next year. The measure appeals to many rank-and-file Republicans because it allows them to voice their differences with the administration without embracing the highly critical language of another bipartisan resolution co-sponsored by Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), one of the sharpest critics of the administration's Iraq policy.

By last night, Warner had already met with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), and the two camps were negotiating a single resolution likely to be approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday...."

Bush's Poll Numbers Drop to (Latest) New Low

Flippant title aside, these numbers from the Washington Post are shocking. 

  • Respondents trust Congressional Democrats to handle the war better than President Bush by a 2-1 margin, 60% to 33%
  • 65% of Americans oppose the McCain-Bush escalation plan, up from 61% when the President announced the plan January 10th
  • Only two Presidents have had lower approval ratings (President Bush's is 33%) Truman right after firing General MacArthur and Nixon in the middle of the Watergate scandal

Read the whole poll here and the Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll that backs up the Post's numbers.

Cleaning up the staggering criminality and corruption of the Bush era

Coming back to one of my favorite subjects, Talking Points Memo has a good recap of renewed efforts to put Republican and conservative criminals in jail.

While I applaud the new, tough ethics bills passed by Congress, those efforts don't really touch on the criminal activities of the Republicans and conservatives these past few years.  Even though many of these folks are no longer in positions of power, it is critical that the new Congress support those pursuing any thread of evidence that laws may have been broken.  Investigations into people like the king of earmarks, Rep.  Jerry Lewis, must be completed, and the career prosecutors looking into what I think will be seen as the most systemic corruption of our government in our history be given both the political cover and resources to finish their jobs.  Otherwise, our new Congressional leaders will in essence be complicit in letting bad guys get away, an unacceptable outcome on many levels. 

As ethics reform goes to conference it is essential that measures be taken to give the career prosecutors in the Office of Public Integrity at Justice and in other US Attorney offices more money, and to create a greater public understanding of the importance and political difficulty of what they are being asked to do so that it will be harder for this difficult process to be interfered with.  Our new leaders of Congress have to be militant in protecting this process against what will be any attempt by what's left of conservative power, the Administration, to prevent the wheels of justice from turning.  This week Senator Leahy was reported to be offering an amendment to extend the statue of limitations of Congressional crimes from 5 yo 8 years, and to offer the Office of Public Integrity more money.  These are good and sound ideas, and must be part of any final bill.   

Accordingly, the recent firing of the various US Attorneys by the Administration, including the one who successfully prosecuted Duke Cunningham (who received the longest jail sentence of any convicted Member of Congress in history) must be understood as the first serious effort by Bushies to undermine this process.  As Talking Points reports, actions are being taken to address this new White House effort, but from first glance I'm not sure how sufficient they are to the moment at hand. 

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