Monday, October 31, 2005

Wow

ABC News: Time Reporter Says He Learned Agent's Identity From Rove

Yeah, we knew that part. But the website also says this:

Time magazine reporter Matt Cooper also said today in an interview with "Good Morning America," that the vice president's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, confirmed to him that Ambassador Joseph Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, was a covert CIA operative.


I had not heard that. I wonder if he told Fitz that. I'm not sure which part of the mens rea for the Intelligence Identities Protection Act is still open to question.

Bush knew

My next OpEd is a diatribe against the Washington press. Here, prior to completion, is the money quote:
Perhaps the most repugnant thing to come out of Fitzgerald’s investigation is this: smart and experienced senior White House officials were willing to bet their lives and careers by banking their entire criminal enterprise on their certainty that journalists would protect them by strenuously resisting the efforts of the special prosecutor to pull their toothless gums from the teat of easy access. That is what journalism has become.
But in working on that piece, and thinking about that thesis, a light bulb just came on. Look at this oft-replayed quote from Bush back in 2003:


Q Mr. President, how confident are you the investigation will find the leaker in the CIA case?
...
Randy, you tell me, how many sources have you had that's leaked information that you've exposed or have been exposed? Probably none. I mean this town is a -- is a town full of people who like to leak information. And I don't know if we're going to find out the senior administration official. Now, this is a large administration, and there's a lot of senior officials. I don't have any idea. I'd like to. I want to know the truth. That's why I've instructed this staff of mine to cooperate fully with the investigators -- full disclosure, everything we know the investigators will find out. I have no idea whether we'll find out who the leaker is -- partially because, in all due respect to your profession, you do a very good job of protecting the leakers.
It won't be good enough to get a conviction all by itself, of course. But it is good enough for me. It tells me that Rove and/or Cheney sat down with our moron in chief and explained the strategy to him -- slowly, using small words, but enough times that it sank in. The strategy pleased him because it used the press corpse's venality to the Administration's benefit. And Bush, through a combination of hubris and cranial density, could not help but lay out the game plan to the very enablers of his scheme.

How elegant. How sickening.

So mark my words. Bush knew about the cover-up of the leak no later October of 2003.

Victor Davis Wingnut undone

Blogger Nitpicker delivers a superb, detailed, dead-on dismantling of Wingnut theoretican VDH. I've gone after him myself, but Nitpicker does it with Vic's own words.

Nicely done.

Battering Casey

Billmon graciously takes the initiative to outline NARAL's ad campaign against Scalito here. I can't wait to see Linc Chafee's reactions to the campaign here in Providence. That is, if NARAL bothers running ads in Rhode Island.

Poker with Sun Tzu

Prolific commenter "Anonymous" counters my downbeat assessment of the prospects of further inPlamation by arguing, in effect, that (a) if Scooter doesn't flip, Fitz will charge treason, and (b) Shrub wouldn't dare pardon him for that.

I hope Anonymous is right, but I am still skeptical that his (her? Anonymous is one of those nonspecific names like Pat or Chris) view is correct.

So let's take another look at this. Assume you are Fitz. Assume you believe that Very Bad Things happened, but you need Scooter to roll to really make your bones. Assume that you are a big time poker player. Now let's work through two scenarios:

1. I've got bupkus: Assume that, based on what you actually have in hand, you don't think you can make a case against anyone but Libby, and can't tag Libby for more than the perjury/obstruction charges. Remember Sun Tzu's advice: appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak. So the logical bluff is to put out a bomb-proof limited indictment, and signal via the additional facts that seem to imply more shoes may drop, that you have not yet begun to fight. But if nobody buys the bluff, you're done.

2. You're all toast: Now assume that you really have the nuts of Libby and Rove and who knows who else in a vise. Your biggest danger is that the White House ends the game too soon by painting you as a partisan witch-hunter and then issuing smothering, investigation-ending pardons. How do you snooker them into letting the game go on? Sun Tzu again provides the answer: appear weak (which in Bushworld means honorable and principled). The really savvy play is to start out by indicting the designated fall guy alone, and on the counts that minimally implicate others. You can then reasonably expect that part of the White House firewall strategy will be to sing your praises for the limited nature of the indictments -- which is exactly what has happened so far. Why is that important? Because when you drop the next payload of indictments, it will be a helluva lot harder for the smear machine to double back and Swift boat you and for Bush to issue pardons.

So which is it? What makes this maddening for the rest of us is that the right way to play Fitz's hand is the same in both cases, which means we have no way to reverse engineer from the cards he is showing.

Yoo hoo, Mr. Isakoff?

Milbank and Leonnig in today's WaPo:

Rove's attorney provided Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald with a last-minute flurry of material and evidence supporting Rove's contention that he simply forgot his conversation about Wilson's wife with Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper -- rather than lied about it, according to people close to Rove. The sources said it gave Fitzgerald "pause" about his earlier intentions to charge Rove with false statements to the FBI, and he agreed to continue investigating.

But two legal sources intimately familiar with Fitzgerald's tactics in this inquiry said they believe Rove remains in significant danger. They described Fitzgerald as being relentlessly thorough but also conservative throughout this prosecution -- and his willingness to consider Rove's eleventh-hour pleading of a memory lapse is merely a sign of Fitzgerald's caution.

The two legal sources point to what they consider Fitzgerald's careful decision not to charge Libby with the leak of a covert agent's identity, given that the prosecutor had amassed considerable evidence that Libby gave classified information, which he knew from his job should not be made public, to reporters. Another prosecutor might have stretched to make a leak charge, on the theory that a jury would believe, based on other actions, that Libby acted with bad intentions.

Another warning sign for Rove was in the phrasing of Friday's indictment of Libby. Fitzgerald referred to Rove in those charging papers as a senior White House official and dubbed him "Official A." In prosecutorial parlance, this kind of awkward pseudonym is often used for individuals who have not been indicted in a case but still face a significant chance of being charged. No other official in the investigation carries such an identifier.


Hey Mikey, maybe you can give Dana and Carol a call to find out more about this journalisming stuff. Sure, it's hard work, but it isn't that hard.

Right on cue

Bush to nominate Alito to Supreme Court

President Bush will today nominate Samuel Alito, a long-serving appeals judge with impeccable conservative credentials, to the Supreme Court, according to reports.

Judge Alito, 55, is an experienced court practitioner who has sat on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit since 1990, since being nominated by President Bush's father. But his right wing views may mean that he too experiences a rough ride on the way to the Supreme Court.

...
Conservatives are expected to welcome the nomination of Mr Alito, a former District Attorney from New Jersey, whose decisions have earned him the nickname of "Scalito", in honour of the famously trenchant and conservative Supreme Court Justice, Antonin Scalia.

Mr Alito was the original favourite to replace Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who is to retire. There was surprise when President Bush announced that instead he was choosing to name Ms Miers, on October 8.

He has been dubbed the "darling of the conservative movement" for some of his opinions, most notably his lone opposition to a decision in 1991 in which his court struck down a Pennsylvania law that required women to inform their husbands before seeking an abortion.

...
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said yesterday that Mr Alito’s nomination would "create a lot of problems."

Mr Bush will be desperate for Mr Alito's nomination to proceed smoothly. His approval rating is at its lowest level since 2000 and his administration was damaged further last week by the embarrassing withdrawal of Ms Miers and the indictment of Lewis Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's top adviser, on perjury charges.


If nothing else, you have to give President Antimidas credit for being pathologically rigid consistent. With his approval numbers down the shitter, the architect and overseer of a corrupt, treasonous administration, a failed, bogus war in Iraq and economic policies geared solely toward filling the pockets of his cronies with the middle class's cash, pulls out the only trick in his bag: start another fight.

Don't let the MSM and the right wing echo chamber frame the opposition to his nomination as nothing more than a bunch of cranky liberals throwing a tantrum. Alito's name should never be mentioned without also mentioning his radical vote in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Remember--a majority of Americans support a woman's right to choose. This is a radical, activist judge who does not recognize a fundamental right to privacy.

And take comfort in the knowledge that Patrick Fitzgerald surely does not give a rat's ass about Chimpy's misdirection play. Even if he can't take down Turd Blossom quickly, his pit bull approach to putting Scooter in stripes promises to keep Plamegate front and center for months to come.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

WTF?

Isikoff confuses with Karl Rove: Last-Minute Evidence
Special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald's decision not to indict deputy White House chief of staff Karl Rove in the CIA leak case followed a flurry of last-minute negotiations between the prosecutor and Rove's defense lawyer, Robert Luskin. On Tuesday afternoon, Fitzgerald and the chief FBI agent on the case, Jack Eckenrode, visited the offices of the D.C. law firm where Luskin works to meet with the defense lawyer. Two sources close to Rove who asked not to be identified because the probe is ongoing said Luskin presented evidence that gave the prosecutor "pause." One small item was a July 11, 2003, e-mail Rove sent to former press aide Adam Levine saying Levine could come up to his office to discuss a personnel issue. The e-mail was at 11:17 a.m., minutes after Rove had gotten off the phone with Matt Cooper—the same conversation (in which White House critic Joe Wilson's wife's work for the CIA was discussed) that Rove originally failed to disclose to the grand jury. Levine, with whom Rove often discussed his talks with reporters, did immediately go up to see Rove. But as Levine told the FBI last week, Rove never said anything about Cooper. The Levine talk was arguably helpful to one of Luskin's arguments: that, as a senior White House official, Rove dealt with a wide range of matters and might not remember every conversation he has had with journalists.


Huh?

I can certainly understand the abstract argument that evidence that a guy tends to forget things supports an argument that he forgot something. But how does the fact that Rove declined to tell one of lackeys about the breach he committed only minutes before support a claim of amnesia? Isn't it at least equally supportive of an inference of knowledge of the impropriety of his actions?

Oh, and how far has the bar been lowered if avoiding indictment is considered a victory on the current White House scale?

I plead nolo comprende.

Update: This time Lady Jane agrees.

Grown-up Conservatives: What's going on here?

From The American Conservative:

Who was behind the Niger uranium documents?

From the beginning, there has been little doubt in the intelligence community that the outing of CIA officer Valerie Plame was part of a bigger story. That she was exposed in an attempt to discredit her husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson, is clear, but the drive to demonize Wilson cannot reasonably be attributed only to revenge. Rather, her identification likely grew out of an attempt to cover up the forging of documents alleging that Iraq attempted to buy yellowcake uranium from Niger.

What took place and why will not be known with any certainty until the details of the Fitzgerald investigation are revealed. (As we go to press, Fitzgerald has made no public statement.) But recent revelations in the Italian press, most notably in the pages of La Repubblica, along with information already on the public record, suggest a plausible scenario for the evolution of Plamegate.
...
It would have been extremely convenient for the administration, struggling to explain why Iraq was a threat, to be able to produce information from an unimpeachable “foreign intelligence source” to confirm the Iraqi worst-case.

The question remains: who forged the documents? The available evidence suggests that two candidates had access and motive: SISMI and the Pentagon’s Office of Special Plans.

...

The possible forgery of the information by Defense Department employees would explain the viciousness of the attack on Valerie Plame and her husband. Wilson, when he denounced the forgeries in the New York Times in July 2003, turned an issue in which there was little public interest into something much bigger. The investigation continues, but the campaign against this lone detractor suggests that the administration was concerned about something far weightier than his critical op-ed.


A good overview of the forged docs-Plamegate links, worth a read. It is becoming apparent that while the relationship would be largely (but not wholly) tactical, progressives need to connect with the grown-ups in the GOP who are equally as repulsed by the authoritarian megalomaniacs who are driving the country off a cliff. I, for one, long for the day when we can resume having debates with paleocons and moderates that are based in facts and coherent philosophies rather than magical thinking.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

OMG

Random meandering led me to a blog called the Witlist, which seems well written and damned funny in spots -- witness this:
Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald declined to announce a deadline for the removal of a team investigating the leak of a CIA agent's identity, declaring that such a move would only encourage the insurgents currently occupying the nation's capital.
...
If the prosecutor were to bring new charges, he would have to impanel a second grand jury. Fitzgerald refused to comment on whether a new jury had been selected. However, he said his team has made excellent progress in training Congressional Democrats to defend their own territory.

"As they stand up, we will stand down," he said.


But then I scrolled down and found another post that I was sure had to be a spoof, but isn't: the Watergate/Traitorgate story I didn't know is that a bit player in Watergate, and a protege of Donald Segretti, was a then-greenhorn Karl Rove. Really.

Family Values

Republican mavericks battle over Senate seat in Rhode Island

Sen. Lincoln Chafee has been a headache to fellow Republicans over the years. He voted against President Bush in the 2004 election and opposed tax cuts and the war in Iraq.

But more than a year before the 2006 election, Republicans have pumped nearly $200,000 into television ads to protect Chafee from a more conservative challenger within his own party.

Until now, Cranston Mayor Stephen Laffey has been a boon to Republicans in overwhelmingly Democratic Rhode Island. He became one of the most popular politicians in the state after taking on unions and other public officials. The state party courted him to run for lieutenant governor.

Instead, he set his sights on the Senate, frustrating his party, which is convinced the moderate Chafee is its best bet to defeat a Democrat in the general election.

...

Chafee is a reluctant campaigner who says fundraising is the hardest part of his job. Laffey enlists his wife and five children to position themselves on street corners in the morning to reach people as they drive to work.

Gaming it out

Best case scenario: Libby flips. Fitz charges Rove. Fitz charges Cheney. Fitz names Bush as unindicted co-conspirator.

Worst case scenario: Libby pleades guilty to all charges, refuses to talk about anything. Fitz throws the book at him. Libby receives presidential pardon. Fitz goes home, Libby goes home, everybody else goes on with business as usual.

If I had to bet, I'd put my money on the worst case. Precisely because a trial would be so toxic to the Administration, I think they will try to keep it from happening. (The normal way a trial is avoided -- a plea bargain -- would happen here only if Libby flips, and the White House doesn't want that, either.) The only way I see for them to pre-empt a trial is to ask Smithers to take the fall and promise him there will be mattresses there to soften the blow. And don't forget, it is exactly how Daddy skated on Iran-Contra.

If it goes down that way, it will be the Architect's greatest masterpiece. And cause for rejection of the beatification of St. Patrick Fitzgerald.

Update: RedHedd @ Firedoglake differs, but a bunch of commenters to this post agree with me. And to build on what someone there pointed out, nobody in Congress who voted for this clusterfuck of a war is going to be too keen on focusing the country on what a cockup the whole thing was. Too much blood on too many hands.

Funny

Via the General, or one of his commenters:

Holy hand grenades, General. I found a bug in Google. Type "failure" in its main search field then click "I'm Feeling Lucky"



Check it while you can.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Deep thoughts from Sully

Well, one of his readers, actually. But Sully agrees. I won't go that far, but I do hope he's right, which I don't say every day.

Shorter Plame defense

from The Cunning Realist:
All along, the line from the administration and its apologists has gone something like this: No one in the administration was involved, ok some might have been involved but no crime was committed, even if a crime technically was committed it wasn't intentional, even if it was intentional it wasn't serious, even if it was serious there was no real harm done. Fitzgerald addressed the last claim today. What will the apologists try to foist on us next, and how much of their remaining credibility will they surrender?

drip....drip....drip.... (part 2)

Was today all there is?

Drip.

Fitz refuses to say. Rove's greek chorus was madly spinning last night, telling all who would listen that Rove was not out of danger. Fitz made it clear that he COULD take another bite.

Drip.

Shrub says he wants to get back to doing his "job," but there are possible felons and certain witnesses still walking into 1600 every day. None of them can be sleeping very well.

Drip.

And the questions. As we all chew through the new data, there will be growing pressure on Bush to answer some uncomfortable questions: Why didn't you fire Libby and Rove before? Why don't you fire Rove now? Why didn't you investigate? What did you know and when did you know it?

Drip.

And then there is the prospect of Dick Cheney under oath in a public court room.

Drip.


Drip.

Time for your medications Mr. Ledeen...

...and after that, a nice reading lesson:

A STRAIN [Michael Ledeen]
I think the indictment stinks. You have to parse it very carefully to figure out whether Libby is accused of lying to the grand jury or the FBI, or to journalists. Go look. I finally concluded that it says that Libby lied to the grand jury (and elsewhere the FBI) when he testified that he told (Cooper, Miller or Russert) things that in fact he did not tell (Cooper, Miller or Russert).

If that is right, it means that this poor man may well have been indicted because his memory of those conversations differs from the journalists'. And Fitzgerald chose/wanted? to believe the journalists' memories. Pfui. To this non-lawyer, that's not good enough to shake up the staff of the vice president of the United States.

Isn't perjury a knowing lie? Why should Fitzgerald assume, even if he thinks he KNOWS that the journalists' memories are all reliable, that Libby didn't misremember the conversations?

Footnote: that's why lawyers tell clients not to say anything unless they have a very clear recollection of something. They can't prosecute you for having Halfheimer's disease...

Then, I entirely agree with those who have said that Fitzgerald has introduced an entirely different rationale into this process. He was supposed to determine if anyone had outed a covert operative. In this indictment, and in his press conference, he just said that her identity was classified, and so he wants to prosecute people for improper use of classified information. I expect the defense will have fun with that one. Is it criminal to say that so and so works at CIA? If so, a lot of normal people and even some journalists should be prosecuted forthwith.

I'm not impressed at all. I think he's straining, I think he's forcing this issue, I think it's unreasonable.


And i think you sound pretty nervous.

Next

So what happens now?

Libby is looking at up to 30 (realistically, 10) years hard time. That is a big price to pay for a 55-year old used to the good life. He's been a loyal Smithers to Cheney's Mr. Burns, but that loyalty is now being tested. What can the White House offer him to convince him to take the dive? Not much that I can think of -- a promise to give him a confirmed bottom as a cellmate? And their communications with Libby will be closely watched.

Fitz, on the other hand, can offer a great deal -- I have no idea if he can offer a free pass, but he can certainly make Libby's life materially better. And those conversations are very much favored under the law.

Let the reading of tea leaves continue. What do y'all think?

Update: Ms. Hamsher thinks "Let's Make a Deal" is indeed the order of the day.

Frog marching time

When it's frog marching time in the White House,
When it's frog marching time in the White House,
When it's frog marching time in the White House,
Then it's frog marching time in the White House.

drip.......drip.......drip......

"Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. That's relativity."
-- Albert Einstein

And staring at the unopened presents on Fitzmas morning while waiting for the adults to wake up seems like an eternity.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Has a nice ring to it


(thks, esoder)

But (a) I doubt Fitz is interested and (b) last I checked, sainthood requires proof of at least one miracle. I'll review his aplication this time tomorrow.

But tomorrow is a holiday...

BoBo Brooks just said on the News Hour that he thinks Shrub will nominate a replacement nominee for the Supremes tomorrow.

Why the hurry, guys? Something happening tomorow you want to de-emphasize?

Fitzmas Eve is here!

In my family, it was (materialistic) sacrilege to open gifts before Christmas morn. But since everyone has been so good and patient waiting for the big day, let's just have a peek at one the night before:

Former Republican Party Fundraiser Thomas W. Noe Indicted For Illegal Campaign Contributions

A federal grand jury in Toledo, Ohio has indicted Thomas W. Noe, a former Republican party fundraiser, for allegedly making illegal campaign contributions using conduit contributors, Assistant Attorney General Alice S. Fisher of the Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Gregory A. White of the Northern District of Ohio announced today.

The three-count indictment returned today alleges that beginning in October 2003, Noe made contributions to President George W. Bush's 2004 re-election campaign over and above the limits established by the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA). He did so, according to the indictment, in order to fulfill his pledge to raise $50,000 for a Bush-Cheney fundraiser held in Columbus, Ohio on Oct. 30, 2003. The indictment alleges that Noe disguised his contributions by recruiting and providing money to friends and associates who made campaign contributions in their own names. The indictment also alleges that Noe wrote several checks in amounts slightly less than the maximum allowable amount so as to avoid suspicion. Altogether, Noe allegedly contributed $45,400 of his own money through 24 conduits.
...

If convicted, Noe faces a maximum sentence on each count of five years in prison. The conspiracy and false statement counts carry a maximum fine of $250,000, and the FECA count carries a mandatory fine of between $136,200 and $454,000.


There. Now, sleep tight!

Anybody got a hammer?

Don't Break the Ice Game

Cheney, Libby Blocked Papers To Senate Intelligence Panel

Vice President Cheney and his chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, overruling advice from some White House political staffers and lawyers, decided to withhold crucial documents from the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2004 when the panel was investigating the use of pre-war intelligence that erroneously concluded Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, according to Bush administration and congressional sources.
...

The new information that Cheney and Libby blocked information to the Senate Intelligence Committee further underscores the central role played by the vice president's office in trying to blunt criticism that the Bush administration exaggerated intelligence data to make the case to go to war.

...

Had the withheld information been turned over, according to administration and congressional sources, it likely would have shifted a portion of the blame away from the intelligence agencies to the Bush administration as to who was responsible for the erroneous information being presented to the American public, Congress, and the international community.

In April 2004, the Intelligence Committee released a report that concluded that "much of the information provided or cleared by the Central Intelligence Agency for inclusion in Secretary Powell's [United Nation's] speech was overstated, misleading, or incorrect."

...

An administration spokesperson said that the White House was justified in turning down the document demand from the Senate, saying that the papers reflected "deliberative discussions" among "executive branch principals" and were thus covered under longstanding precedent and executive privilege rules. Throughout the president's five years in office, the Bush administration has been consistently adamant about not turning internal documents over to Congress and other outside bodies.

At the same time, however, administration officials said in interviews that they cannot recall another instance in which Cheney and Libby played such direct personal roles in denying foreign policy papers to a congressional committee, and that in doing so they overruled White House staff and lawyers who advised that the materials should be turned over to the Senate panel.



Tap, tap, tap...

OK, DO let the door hit you in the ass


From the New York Observer via Next Hurrah, Miller Negotiating Terms of Potential Departure:

Reporter Judith Miller and The New York Times are in negotiations over the terms under which she would possibly agree to leave the paper.

According to a source familiar with the discussions, there are three issues on the table. The first is how much severance Miller would receive, the second concerns whether she will be given space on the Op-Ed page to answer critics and the third is whether the Times and Miller will issue a joint statement defining the terms of her departure.

Miller declined to comment. Miller’s attorney, Robert Bennett, and Times lawyer George Freeman, did not return calls for comment.

Multiple sources sympathetic to Miller’s case said they did not anticipate Miller leaving until her conditions were met.

“The sense I have is that it’s not a question of dismissing her. If she won’t go, she won’t go,” said one source.

On Monday, the Observer reported that Miller had met with publisher Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr. Today, The Wall Street Journal reported that the meeting had touched on severance.

Miller's potential departure is complicated by the fact that she is protected by the Newspaper Guild’s contract with the paper. The contract limits the paper’s ability to fire employees at will.

A source with knowledge of the proceedings said Miller has not ruled out legal action if her proposed conditions are not met.

“She will not leave under these circumstances, not in a defamatory atmosphere,” the source said.
Couple of things. If Miller is not an at will employee, she can only be fired for cause. So, Pinch, in case you don't have anyone there suggesting these things, here are a couple of causes you might want to take a look at:

- Incompetence
- Insubordination
- Incompetence
- Theft of company property (aka conversion)
- Oh, and did I mention incompetence?

Judy Miller, enabled by the Pinch she had firmly between cheek and gum, has already hijacked the newspaper of record and made it into a neocon mob propaganda rag. Are you really going to ransom off what is left of your reputation to the very buffoon who decimated it?

Yes, I believe you will. And I'd wager the reason has precisely nothing to do with Judy's reputation. What this elaborate dance is really about is the dirt she has on you, isn't it, Pinch? I just cannot imagine another reason you have let her fuck up for the last two decades on your nickel.

So I'm betting you'll pay, and auction off your soapbox to buy her silence on your personal matters.

Do us all a favor, Pinch. Fire Judy, and then resign. Then the both of you can take your soiled linens to the Jerry Springer show, where I am sure they will be appreciated. And give us back our goddamned newspaper.

So, Dr. Bookmaker...

Believe it: White Sox are finally champs

Let me know if you are having trouble covering any of that 15-1 White Sox action. I might be able to arrange to have some friends of mine extend a very reasonable kneecap-secured loan to help you out.

The only sports prediction I can remember making in this space was about the self-destruction last year of the L.A. Kobes. It was one of those rare occasions when bile and logic aligned. (I was right, of course, but we'll leave that aspect out of the discussion.)

I think we should both stick to politics, in which it is a lot harder most of the time to be proven wrong.

DeLay Acknowledges Failure to Report Money

OK, now DeLay's story is working its way past troubling and around the backside into funny.
Rep. Tom DeLay has notified House officials that he failed to disclose all contributions to his legal defense fund as required by congressional rules.

The fund is currently paying DeLay's legal bills in a campaign finance investigation in Texas, where DeLay has been indicted, and in a federal investigation of Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff. The lobbyist arranged foreign travel for DeLay and had his clients pay some of the cost.

DeLay, R-Texas, has denied wrongdoing in both cases.

DeLay wrote House officials that he started an audit and it found that $20,850 contributed in 2000 and 2001 to the defense fund was not reported anywhere.

An additional $17,300 was included in the defense fund's quarterly report but not in DeLay's 2000 annual financial disclosure report — a separate requirement. Other donations were understated as totaling $2,800 when the figure should have been $4,450.


Two things of note here. First is the fact that his malfeasance is so hardwired that even his legal defense fund is illegal. Second, he was salting away a legal defense fund five years ago? As best I can tell the TRMPAC troubles date from no earlier than 2002.

None of my friends have earmarked legal defense funds. Then again, none of my friends are Congresspersons. Is this SOP for all who sit in Congress? All Republicans? Or just all the Republicans who know they are so dirty that they are eventually going to get caught?

Un-QuagMiered

Under withering attack from conservatives, President Bush ended his push to put loyalist Harriet Miers on the Supreme Court Thursday and promised a quick replacement. Democrats accused him of bowing to the "radical right wing of the Republican Party."

The White House said Miers had withdrawn her name because of a bipartisan effort in Congress to gain access to internal documents related to her role as counsel to the president. But politics played a larger role: Bush's conservative backers had doubts about her ideological purity, and Democrats had little incentive to help the nominee or the embattled GOP president.

The withdrawal stunned Washington on a day when the capital was awaiting potential bad news for the administration on another front — the possible indictments of senior White House aides in the CIA leak case. Earlier in the week, the U.S. military death toll in Iraq hit 2,000


The interesting thing to me here is how the story is covered -- here's what Bush says,but here are the real reasons; and we weren't expecting this bad news, we were expecting this other bad news.

Next we will get a foam-at-the-mouth son (or daughter) of Robert Bork, and the battle will be joined. The Democrats' keep-the-powder-dry strategy worked well, but now I think they are going to need every ounce of that powder.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Small men

Athenae:

But they never were our leaders. They told us to be afraid, and they turned us on each other, and they gave away our money to their friends and killed our sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, husbands and wives. They sniped and they snarled, but they never did lead us. They never brought us an inch above ourselves, or a milimeter closer together.

For all their blithering about restoring honor and dignity, for all the lofty words that come from their speechwriters' offices, they are small men, and their vision only extends to power, not poetry. They don't understand what service to your country means; look at their service records. They don't understand what respect that should entail; look what they did to Max Cleland, to John Kerry. They don't understand anything except how to step hardest on somebody's fingers on their way up the stairs.



Read it all. You go, girl. Er, ma'am.

"Please, sir... I want some more..."

Traitorgate. Plamegate. Niger forgeries.

Sure, I run through all the blogs listed on the roll every few hours, but it just isn't enough.

So, fellow seekers, where else do you look? What other blogs are feeding your Plame habit?

Sunk costs

The Cunning Realist, as a self-confessed conservative, has special gravitas on this absurd Bush argument: that we dishonor past sacrifices unless we sacrifice some more.
Yesterday, President Bush said the following: "And the best way to honor the sacrifice of our fallen troops is to complete the mission and lay the foundation of peace by spreading freedom."

And this today from Andrew Sullivan, who's been a great read recently on other issues: "For the sake of the 2,000 who have already died; and the countless, innocent civilian Iraqis who have borne an even greater burden, let's do all we can to make this work."

This is a lazy and deceptively appealing line of reasoning that must be rejected. It is not only specious, it's dangerous---because anything less than the establishment of a utopian paradise on earth will necessarily fall short for those espousing it. This is the main reason Vietnam became such a quagmire; year after year, a succession of political and military leaders kicked the withdrawal can down the road by citing the "sacrifice that has already been made." Breaking news: in Iraq, there will always be another election. There will always be another "crucial milestone." And there will always be another "terrorist."


It sounds cold and heartless in this context, but it is the theory of sunk costs. It is being ignored only because the people making the decisions are not the ones being sunk.

Oh, and it does my heart good to see another conservative smacking down the stupid half of Sully's brain. (Conservatives usually attack the part of Sully I agree with.)

Sneers and Stripes Forever

Perhaps not what John Phillips Sousa had in mind, but a bit 'o Photoshopping helps pass the time 'till Fitzmas.

Dissonance

The good news is that moribund relics like the WaPo are waking up. Witness today's editorial, Vice President for Torture:
Vice President Cheney is aggressively pursuing an initiative that may be unprecedented for an elected official of the executive branch: He is proposing that Congress legally authorize human rights abuses by Americans. "Cruel, inhuman and degrading" treatment of prisoners is banned by an international treaty negotiated by the Reagan administration and ratified by the United States. The State Department annually issues a report criticizing other governments for violating it. Now Mr. Cheney is asking Congress to approve legal language that would allow the CIA to commit such abuses against foreign prisoners it is holding abroad. In other words, this vice president has become an open advocate of torture.

Well and good. But I understood the world in which the MSM just plain ignored the blood on our Administration's hands, and even handed them the soap. What I don't understand is how one can acknowledge such horrors and yet give them the same tsk-tsk weight given to Ted Stevens' Alsaskan bridges to nowhere.

These are war crimes we are talking about. This is the de facto head of state advocating war crimes. Treating this story as politics as usual evidences a pervasive moral rot almost incomprehensible in scale.

I understand denial, however disgusting and dysfunctional. And I'm down with outrage. What I don't understand is bland acknowledgement.

But of course

Over at The Cornered, Jonah Pantload hopes out loud this morning that Wilson gets some Fitzmas indictments along with Scoots and Turdie. Although this is so lame that even his cobloggers can't back his play (are you listening, Ruppert?), he does get some sympathy from Stephen Spruiell, who comments

Hi Jonah, Sorry. I had that wishful thinking too. But the Senate Select Intelligence Committee report reveals that: "DO officials told Committee staff that they promised the former ambassador that they would keep his relationship with CIA confidential, but did not ask the former ambassador to do the same and did not ask him to sign a confidentiality or non-disclosure agreement" (p. 41). So Wilson was never obligated to keep his trip a secret, although if leaking his wife's name is a crime he should be indicted for ensuring it would happen when he wrote his op-ed. Oh, and if lying to reporters was a crime he'd be sharing a cell with Bubba already.

Blame the victim. A tried and true approach for the law-n-order crowd.

CNN.com - Poll: Few doubt wrongdoing in CIA leak

Now this is interesting.

Only one in 10 Americans said they believe Bush administration officials did nothing illegal or unethical in connection with the leaking of a CIA operative's identity, according to a national poll released Tuesday.

Thirty-nine percent said some administration officials acted illegally in the matter, in which the identity of Valerie Plame, a CIA operative, was revealed.

The same percentage of respondents in the CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll said administration officials acted unethically, but did nothing illegal.

The poll was split nearly evenly on what respondents thought of Bush officials' ethical standards -- 51 percent saying they were excellent or good and 48 percent saying they were not good or poor.

The figures represent a marked shift from a 2002 survey in which nearly three-quarters said the standards were excellent or good and only 23 percent said they were fair or poor.
This actually surprises me -- I thought the whole Plame outing was still an inside the Beltway thing, and that middle America didn't know or care yet. The good news is that the "move along -- nothing to see here" MSM spin has not kept the story fromo creeping into Joe Sixpack's consciousness.

The bad news: it seems to me that the actual handing out of indictments will not have as dramatic an effect on the numbers as I expected. Perhaps it is analagous to the efficient market hypothesis way of looking at the stock market -- folks have already factored Plamegate into their view of Bush. Think about that: nearly forty percent of our fellow citizens know about it and still support him. Church of Bush and all.

The other interesting thing in the article was this:

With the grand jury investigating the leak set to expire Friday, FBI agents interviewed a Washington neighbor of Plame for a second time.

The agents asked Marc Lefkowitz on Monday night whether he knew about Plame's CIA work before her identity was leaked in the media, and Lefkowitz told agents he did not, according to his wife, Elise Lefkowitz.

Lefkowitz said agents first questioned whether the couple was aware of Plame's CIA work in an interview several months ago.

If Fitz is only persuing perjury/obstruction, I don't think Plame's covert status is going to be terribly relevant. So this line of questioing suggests to me that Fitz is still at least considering bigger game.

Update: others agree.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

And ye shall receive

Dialogue, duologue, diatribe

Sorry esoder -- was working on responding to the request for an email address. It will be displayed on the template shortly.

No "pimp my ride" pix, folks -- cute idea, but 'round here you are just going to have to lie about something else.

Instead -- who can (without resort to Google) identify that lyric?

And nota bene: I googled to make sure I remembered it right and went to a site that pumped an assload of malware into my computer -- be careful out there.

See Jane slam

In which Firedoglake's Ms. Hamsher makes a compelling pyschological case for Junior's active, Nixonic involvement every step of the way in the getting of Joe Wilson -- on Oedipal grounds, no less.

Slam Jane, slam.

Community (and lack thereof)

When I look at our web stats, I am struck by the fact that we actually have a small but loyal base of folks who come here pretty frequently. Yet we get very few comments.

I'd like this blog to be a bit more interactive. Most of the other blogs I frequent seem to have rather lively conversations going on. Why not here? Please share your thoughts -- about the blog, why people aren't posting, what we can do to make this a better blog, whatever.

Kid + Tiger = comic strip genius

At a time when merchandising and hype often count for more than substance, Calvin and Hobbes achieved its popularity solely through the printed page. Watterson refused to license his characters for films, T-shirts, stuffed toys or other products. (The car window stickers of Calvin urinating on something or praying are all bootleg.) Watterson wouldn't sell original strips, sign books, make appearances or give interviews -- behavior that seemed eccentric, if not downright un-American, in a culture obsessed with publicity.

...

Six-year-old Calvin never worked at being adorable, the way the kids in Rose Is Rose or the Family Circus do. Watterson knew that childhood is enjoyable only in retrospect, when its bullies and terrors have conveniently faded from memory. Kids, including Calvin, know they're small and powerless and have to depend on self-proclaimed authority figures.

...

Calvin preferred the fantasy world he shared with his tiger companion Hobbes, a world so vivid and intense that reality paled in comparison. The instant he became bored, Calvin could become Spaceman Spiff, Stupendous Man or private eye Tracer Bullet. He played Calvinball, where the only permanent rule was, "You can't play it the same way twice." He could also change his "duplicator" (a large cardboard box) into an "ethicator" that would create a "physical manifestation of Calvin's good side" who would do all his schoolwork and chores. (Hobbes, often the voice of common sense, commented, "The ethicator must've done some deep digging to unearth him!")

...

Many comic strips go on long after the original artist dies and they cease to be funny: Dennis the Menace and Blondie ossified decades ago. Like a speeded-up flower in a nature film, Calvin and Hobbes appeared, blossomed and ended in little more than 10 years, from Nov. 18, 1985, to Dec. 31, 1995. In the final panel, the two friends rode their sled into a forest covered with freshly fallen snow -- and left a void in the comics page that remains unfilled 10 years later.


Developmentally speaking, Junior Bloor is squarely in Calvinland at the moment, and he affirms Bill Watterson's appreciation of the six-year-old mind several times a week (A la Calvin, Junior even fired me as "dad" one night). I miss the strip every single day, but applaud Watterson's decision to walk away when he did. I dunno if the "Watterson as recluse" meme in the media has any validity, or if he simply prefers his privacy. I suspect it's hard for some folks to appreciate the fact that creative genius doesn't necessarily have to involve a marketing bonanza.

Rosa Parks, 1913-2005

Can you think of a more compelling demonstration of the latent power in the ordinary act of asserting one's dignity? I can't.

Thank you, Mrs. Parks.

Scowcroft

The much-anticipated New Yorker piece on Brent Scowcroft isn't up on line, but my hard copy arrived in the mail this morning. Brent takes a diplomatic axe to the assministration, but my favorite passages are Poppy's backhanded shots at Junior:

When, in an e-mail, I asked George H. W. Bush about Scowcroft's most useful qualities as a national security adviser, he replied that Scowcroft "was very good about making sure that we did not simply consider the 'best case,' but instead considered what it would mean if things went our way, and also if they did not."
and

[Scowcroft] has a great propensity for friendship. By that I mean someone I can depend on to tell me what I need to know and not just what I want to hear...

The Guessers

Persuasive guessing has been at the core of leadership for so long, for all of human experience so far, that it is wholly unsurprising that most of the leaders of this planet, in spite of all the information that is suddenly ours, want the guessing to go on. It is now their turn to guess and guess and be listened to. Some of the loudest, most proudly ignorant guessing in the world is going on in Washington today. Our leaders are sick of all the solid information that has been dumped on humanity by research and scholarship and investigative reporting. They think that the whole country is sick of it, and they could be right. It isn't the gold standard that they want to put us back on. They want something even more basic. They want to put us back on the snake-oil standard.

Vonnegut, A Man Without A Country. Don't hesitate to pay retail if need be.

2000

1999

As U.S. military deaths in Iraq approached 2,000 on Tuesday, the chief spokesman for the American-led multinational force called on reporters covering the conflict not to look at the event as a milestone.

U.S. Army Lt. Col. Steve Boylan, director of the force's combined press center, described the number as an "artificial mark on the wall."

"I ask that when you report on the events, take a moment to think about the effects on the families and those serving in Iraq," Boylan said in an e-mail. "The 2,000 service members killed in Iraq supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom is not a milestone. It is an artificial mark on the wall set by individuals or groups with specific agendas and ulterior motives."

The U.S. military on Tuesday announced the deaths of two Marines killed in fighting with insurgents last week in Baghdad. Their deaths raised to 1,999 the number of members of the U.S. military killed since the war started in March 2003, according to an AP count.


Bastards.

Punchin' Judy


This picture reminds me of a snippet of pretentious art rock from my younger days:

The face that launched a thousand ships
Is sinking fast,
that happens you know,
The water gets below.

Genesis, Ripples, from "A Trick of the Tail," 1976

Anyways.

Editor & Publisher has put Miller's response to the NYT Public Editor Byron Calame's Sunday smackdown up on its website here.

What is perhaps most important about this (from Miller's standpoint, at least) is that she has clearly lost her big soapbox. The fact that the only way she can hit back is through Inside Baseball trade mags like E&P tells us that her excommunication from the Times is fait accompli even if Pinch can't bring himself to pull the trigger.

... Now on to the specifics. In scratching back at her (former) enablers, Judy makes three arguments. First:

You chose to believe Jill Abramson when she asserted that I had never asked her to pursue the tip I had gotten about Joe Wilson’s trip to Niger and his wife’s employment at the C.I.A. Now I ask you: Why would I – the supposedly pushiest, most competitive reporter on the planet -- not have pushed to pursue a tantalizing tip like this? Soon after my breakfast meeting with Libby in July, I did so. I remember asking the editor to let me explore whether what my source had said was true, or whether it was a potential smear of a whistleblower.

In other words, Saint Judy, patron saint of the First Church of the Chalabi Hobby,
expects us to believe that (a) she is telling the truth while her editor is lying, and (b) that she was willing to seriously entertain the possibility that she would turn on her neocon buddies. Suuuure. Perhaps you could point us to a few of your previous examples of such searing exposes tearing Scooter et al new ones. No? Thought so. (Oh, and "the supposedly pushiest..."? Some of the goodest writing I ever seen.)

Judy dearest, your credibility is a bit suspect. You have already asked us to believe that you "forgot" how the name "Valerie Flame" ended up in your notebook, and and that you don't remember who your original source was on the story you claim to have brought to your editor. So credibility here goes hand in hand with the concession that you are one sorry-ass reporter. You might want to let this one drop.

Judy continues:

My second journalistic sin in your eyes was agreeing to Libby’s request to be considered a “former Hill staffer” in his discussion about Wilson. As you acknowledged, I agreed to that attribution only to hear the information. As I also stressed, Scooter Libby has never been identified in any of my stories as anything other than a “senior Administration official.”
Oh, now I get it. You told Scooter-pie you were willing to tank your nano-scale integrity in order to help him mislead hoi polloi -- but "only to hear the information." So what does that mean, exactly? Does it mean that despite promising him his requested attribution, you would have run with "Senior Administration official" -- that is, that you were willing to lie to him to get your story? How do we square that with your claim that you went to jail for him? How does telling us you lied to a source help rehabilitate you? Or does it mean you never intended to use the information, which proves your previous argument false?

And finally:
The third “troubling” ethical issue you raised – my access to secret information during my embed in Iraq – had been fully clarified by the time you published.

"Clarified?" I must have missed something here. You strongly implied that you had a security clearance in your mea non culpa swan song in the Times. Does the fact that the DOD disavowed any knowledge of you having such a clearance -- that is, marking you as a grandiose serial fibber -- count as clarification?

The normal metaphorical tool of the reporter is a pen. Judy's is the shovel -- both before and after her release from jail, it was her instrument of shit stacking. Now she has found a second use -- digging herself into a hole.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Never again

My outrage at the horror I first mentioned here is now up at The Raw Story.

Fate of Iraqi charter in balance

via BBC NEWS:
Two Sunni-dominated provinces in Iraq have rejected the country's draft constitution, according to partial results given by election officials.
Electoral rules mean the document will fail if three out of the 18 provinces vote "No" by two-thirds or more.

Salahuddin and Anbar both heavily voted against but Diyala, also Sunni, has backed the charter.

Now all eyes are on the largely Sunni province of Nineveh where the result is due to be announced within two days.


Paradoxically, my guess is that Iraq will actually be better off and violence will be reduced if the constitution is voted down.

Privilege

President Bush said Monday that he will not release any records of his conversations with Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers that could threaten the confidentiality of the advice that presidents get from their lawyers.

"It's a red line I'm not willing to cross," Bush said.

Both Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee are demanding more documents on Miers, including from her work at Bush's counsel.

"People can learn about Harriet Miers through hearings, but we are not going to destroy this business about people being able to walk into the Oval Office to say, Mr. President, this is my advice," Bush said after a meeting with his Cabinet.



Ok, Mr. Preznit, we'll walk this past you real s-l-o-w. If you want to preserve the confidentiality of the discussions you have with your counsel, we'll back you up on that, withhin normal limits. (For example, the privilege should not extend to communications "made for the purpose of getting advice for the commission of a fraud or crime". But I can't imagine that you would need to worry about that.)

And if you want to get Harriet Miers onto the Supreme Court -- well, I'm still a bit skeptical, but I'll support your demand that she be given a fair hearing. That's your privilege.

But here's the thing. You can't have both. Vetting nominees to the Supreme Court is an essential, Constitutionally mandated process. The Senate needs to see her work product in order to do their job -- especially since in Harriet's case they have nothing else to go on.

I know you have made a living ignoring the rules, sir. You've had a helluva life claiming your own special privilege. But that dog just won't hunt anymore.

So the answer is so simple, Mr. Preznit. If you want to preserve the attorney-client privilege, don't nominate your lawyer to the Supreme Court.

Thanks for listening. And say "hi" to Pat Fitzgerald for me.

Bushies feeling the boss' wrath

Facing the darkest days of his presidency, President Bush is frustrated, sometimes angry and even bitter, his associates say
....

"He's like the lion in winter," observed a political friend of Bush. "He's frustrated. He remains quite confident in the decisions he has made. But this is a guy who wanted to do big things in a second term. Given his nature, there's no way he'd be happy about the way things have gone."

...

Presidential advisers and friends say Bush is a mass of contradictions: cheerful and serene, peevish and melancholy, occasionally lapsing into what he once derided as the "blame game." They describe him as beset but unbowed, convinced that history will vindicate the major decisions of his presidency even if they damage him and his party in the 2006 and 2008 elections.

At the same time, these sources say Bush, who has a long history of keeping staffers in their place, has lashed out at aides as his political woes have mounted.

"The President is just unhappy in general and casting blame all about," said one Bush insider. "Andy [Card, the chief of staff] gets his share. Karl gets his share. Even Cheney gets his share. And the press gets a big share."

...

Bush is so dismayed that "the only person escaping blame is the President himself," said a sympathetic official, who delicately termed such self-exoneration "illogical."


...the narcissistic personality slides the meanings of events in order to place the self in a better light. What is good is labeled as being of the self (internalized) Those qualities that are undesirable are excluded from the self by denial of their existence, disavowal of related attitudes, externalization, and negation of recent self-expressions. Persons who function as accessories to the self may also be idealized by exaggeration of their attributes. Those who counter the self are depreciated; ambiguous attributions of blame and a tendency to self-righteous rage states are a conspicuous aspect of this pattern.



Illogical, perhaps, but also utterly predictable.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Timing

With indications building to suggest that Fitzmas is only a few days away, I am starting to think that it would be best for that glorious day to be postponed briefly, my own monomania to the contrary.

When the indictments come, they will blot out all other stories. And another story will need to be heard in the next few days.

The Iraq death toll for US service personnel stands as of today at 1996, which means number 2000 is only days away. (I haven't seen offical numbers for today; maybe we are already there.) Number 1999 and 2001 and 2002 and 3002 will be every bit as much the uneccessary tragedy that number 2000 will be, but the media will take greater note when the odometer rolls up a number with a lot of zeros.

We don't know what crimes Fitz will charge the Bush Administration with violating. But causing the needless deaths of 2000 American soldiers sure ought to be one of them. (So should the tens or hundreds of thousands of uncounted Iraqi deaths, of course, but Americans seem much less concerned about those.) And so if I had my druthers, that charge would be read over the airwaves before Fitzgerald lets fly. The Plame investigation is finally bringing the debate we should have had three years ago to the fore. I think this important data point ought to make it into the mix.

I'm not suggesting that Fitz will or should play politics this way. He doesn't seem to be that kind of guy, and I applaud him for it. And I'm not wishing for more or quicker deaths. I just hope things line up so that uneccessary death number 2000 does not get lost in the indictment frenzy.

An infinite supply of shoes to drop

Karl Rove's playbook says you win by attacking the other guy's strength. So what Larry Johnson reports @ the Booman Tribune is especially meaningful:

The CIA field commander for the agency's Jawbreaker team at Tora Bora, Gary Berntsen, has finally got approval to publish his book, which will hit the streets on December 27, 2005.

The CIA has sat on the book for more than a year and tried to stop its publication. Although the book is not intended as a criticism of President Bush, it will land another body blow to the beleaguered Bush Presidency.

Bernsten's key point in the book is his testimonty that he and other U.S. commanders did know that bin Laden was among the hundreds of fleeing Qaeda and Taliban members.

According to NEWSWEEK, "Berntsen says he had definitive intelligence that bin Laden was holed up at Tora Bora--intelligence operatives had tracked him--and could have been caught. He was there."

Look for General Tommy Franks image as the great commander to be further tarnished.

This book will have the unintended effect of reminding all Americans that George Bush did not finish the job of tracking down Bin Laden. Instead, he shifted key military and intelligence resources and started a war of choice in Iraq.


As best I recall, the only issue on which Shrub still polls better than colon cancer is the GWOT. Assuming he is still in office come December, this book could well change that.

Frank Rich connects the dots

Frank Rich: Karl and Scooter's Excellent Adventure

There were no weapons of mass destruction. There was no collaboration between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda on 9/11. There was scant Pentagon planning for securing the peace should bad stuff happen after America invaded. Why, exactly, did we go to war in Iraq?

"It still isn't possible to be sure - and this remains the most remarkable thing about the Iraq war," writes the New Yorker journalist George Packer, a disenchanted liberal supporter of the invasion, in his essential new book, "The Assassins' Gate: America in Iraq." Even a former Bush administration State Department official who was present at the war's creation, Richard Haass, tells Mr. Packer that he expects to go to his grave "not knowing the answer."

Maybe. But the leak investigation now reaching its climax in Washington continues to offer big clues. We don't yet know whether Lewis (Scooter) Libby or Karl Rove has committed a crime, but the more we learn about their desperate efforts to take down a bit player like Joseph Wilson, the more we learn about the real secret they wanted to protect: the "why" of the war.


The what connected to the why: this is a great summary. It is what the high school history book ought to say about the lead-up to the Iraq quagmire 50 years from now.

Essential reading on Fitzmas Eve.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

No way

The Agonist, and a few others, seriously suggest that Dubya will dump Cheney, choose his father to replace Cheney as Veep, then resign to elevate his father back into the big chair.

I'd normally ask the person floating a crazy idea to stop bogarting the glue, but I don't want any of whatever these guys are on.

I don't buy the "everything is bigger in Texas" thing, but they just don't make Oedipal complexes bigger than the one Junior Bush carries around. That is why Brent Scowcroft's smackdown is going to really smart, and why Dubya will beg evil Unka Dick for the launch codes before he lets any more adults from Team 41 back in the house. In fact, I'll be that as the adults start piping up, Dubya's reportedly estranged relationship with Cheney (who was, after all, the adult who was supposed to reign in the dauphin) deteriorates in parallel.

1996

et tu, MoDo?

via Steve Gilliard, MoDo goes where Pinch needs to take Judy: out back, with a garrotte.
Judy told The Times that she plans to write a book and intends to return to the newsroom, hoping to cover "the same thing I've always covered - threats to our country." If that were to happen, the institution most in danger would be the newspaper in your hands.
So sayeth Ms. Dowd. Interpreteth Gilliard:

Ok, after calling her a drama queen and a whore, tropism being a fancy word for women who likes powerful men and fucks them, she then goes after her bosses for not supervising her and letting her hurt the paper.

Then she suggests that Miller's jail stint had other motives.

Then, finally, calls for her to be fired.

And Gail Collins might as well have cosigned it.

Why? It ran on the op-ed page, she's her nominal boss.

This is call putting your business in the street. This is the consensus opinion of the Times staff, except for the open hatred some folks had for Miller.

Dowd didn't write one fucking word, not one, in defense of her. And her first column on this basically calls her a drama queen whore who needs to be fired. There is no question this has worked Dowd's last nerve and she, cleverly, put all this shit in the street.

I think Pinch's coffee will be ejected from his mouth when he reads this. Keller won't be much happier.

Because she's also accusing Miller of being on the pad. Not corrupt in the way people think, but having gone native with her sources, having taken sides with them and not her paper

This is the a direct challenge and an open statement saying Judy "your newsroom pass has been revoked." This couldn't appear if Miller had newsroom support.

All true. But think about how pathetic it is -- what fetid chaos the Times newsroom must now be. Ms. Fucking Miller, Pulitzer winner, walker on water, getting her de facto pink slip from a columnist. To paraphrase the Queen of Iraq, Dowd is "fucking right" about this, and has announced Miller's demise in the most public and unequivocal imaginable way.

Of course, the verdict is not universally supported. Witness the willingness of someone in power to give Ms. Fucking Miller a platform to respond to Keller's slo-mo satori. (Although, on further reflection, the point may have been to give her a shovel -- every time Judy opens her yap, she seems to dig herself in deeper.)

Nice work, Judy. You brought a wee bit of Iraq back with you, and planted it on 43rd Street.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Piling on

Evidence is mounting to support my cascade failure hypothesis. Now Steve Clemons @ The Washington Note tips us off to more megaton ordnance falling on the House of Bush: Brent Scowcroft trash talks team Junior in Monday's New Yorker.
The Bush administration is bracing for a powerful new attack by Brent Scowcroft, the respected national security adviser to the first President George Bush.

A Republican and a former Air Force general, Scowcroft is a leading member of the bipartisan foreign policy establishment, and his critique of both of the style and the substance of the Bush White House, is slated to appear in Monday's editions of the New Yorker magazine.

The article also contains some critical comments on the handling of U.S. foreign policy by the current President Bush from his father, whose 1989-1993 presidency is hailed for deft management of the end of the Cold War, German unification, the first Gulf war and the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The new attack comes hard on the heels of the denunciation of "the cabal around Cheney's office" by Col. Larry Wilkerson, the chief of staff to former Secretary of State Colin Powell in a widely reported speech to the New American Foundation in Washington this week. Wilkerson said the national security decision-making process was effectively "broken."

Scowcroft's criticisms will be taken seriously at the highest levels of the Bush administration because he is seen as a mentor by some of its senior figures, notably Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, whose political career began when she worked under Scowcroft as an adviser on Soviet affairs.
Like I said (and after about 1000 posts I am entitled to quote myself now and again), "Silence is not bought from the living; it is merely rented." Team asshat isn't getting away with kiting rent checks any more.

Worth a "heh" AND an "indeed."

Smackdown of the liberal hawks

Lots of bloggers have cited to it, but I finally got around to reading the Yglesias/Rosenfeld piece inAmerican Prospect Online, "The Incompetence Dodge." Great stuff.

Most liberal hawks are willing to admit only that they made a mistake in trusting the president and his team to administer the invasion and occupation competently. An August 29 New York Observer article featured a litany of semi-chastened hawks articulating this sentiment. “Someone wrote that you knew who the surgeon would be, so you knew what the operation would look like,” said George Packer, New Yorker writer and author of the new book The Assassin’s Gate. “And there’s some truth to that. I was not as aware as I should have been of just how mendacious and incompetent the surgeon was going to be.” The New Republic’s Leon Wieseltier added, “I think that it is impossible, even for someone who supported the war, or especially for someone who did, not to feel very bitter about the way it has been conducted and the way it has been explained.”

The corollary of these complaints is that the invasion and occupation could have been successful had they been planned and administered by different people. This position may have its own internal logical coherence, but in the real world, it’s wrong. Though defending the competence of the Bush administration is a fool’s endeavor, administrative bungling is simply not the root source of America’s failure in Iraq. The alternative scenarios liberal hawks retrospectively envision for a successful administration of the war reflect blithe assumptions -- about the capabilities of the U.S. military and the prospects for nation building in polities wracked by civil conflict -- that would be shattered by a few minutes of Googling.

The incompetence critique is, in short, a dodge -- a way for liberal hawks to acknowledge the obviously grim reality of the war without rethinking any of the premises that led them to support it in the first place.


I'm not sure I agree with all the larger conclusions drawn elsewhere in the piece. But on the narrow issue, what they say is dead on. And the whole thing is worth a read. The fact that the opening graf looks a lot like my opening graf in this piece is just icing on the cake.

The long hack

One of the many puzzling aspects of the whole Plamegate/Traitorgate story is why the Times has let itself be ripped apart by "that woman." A dKos piece has a bunch of insight from Judy's tainted history in Establishing Cover? Judith Miller during the Iran-Contra Years

Notable facts:

  • Judy has been chummy with Pinch Sulzberger for roughly 30 years
  • Judy was John Poindexter's megaphone during Iran-Contra

All of which proves nothing. But it sure is interesting.

John Dean, wet blanket

Via the Poor Man, I see that Constitutional crisis emeritus John Dean is more than a little skeptical about the prospects of a Merry Fitzmas. I agree that we need to all calm down and temper our expectations. But Dean's specific reasoning does not persuade me.
The leak of Valerie Plame Wilson's covert identity, if it was part of a plan to discredit her husband's report on his trip to Niger, is directly related to issues of "national security." After all, the Niger uranium claim was part of the basis for the Iraq War, and Joe Wilson's claim that it was bogus, and the President ought to have known as much, is intimately related to the politics of going to war - and also to national security in the sense of responding to genuine, and only genuine, threats to the United States.

But national security is a very gray area. Was the Bush/Cheney White House operating in the best interest of the country, or did they have a private agenda (oil fields in Iraq)? Did Cheney, Karl Rove, and Scooter Libby believe they had national security reasons to discredit Wilson's claims, and act accordingly? This is an area where there is no law, and it compounds the assessment of the actions of those involved.

It is difficult to envision Patrick Fitzgerald prosecuting anyone, particularly Vice President Dick Cheney, who believed they were acting for reasons of national security. While hindsight may find their judgment was wrong, and there is no question their tactics were very heavy-handed and dangerous, I am not certain that they were acting from other than what they believed to be reasons of national security. They were selling a war they felt needed to be undertaken.

In short, I cannot imagine any of them being indicted, unless they were acting for reasons other than national security. Because national security is such a gray area of the law, come next week, I can see this entire investigation coming to a remarkable anti-climax, as Fitzgerald closes down his Washington Office and returns to Chicago.

John Dean has earned some credibility in matters of epochal constitutional crises, of course. But I think he is out to lunch here.

A full statement of his premise from an objective standpoint -- that outing a CIA operative to multiple reporters somehow enhances national security -- is self-refuting. The idea just doesn't pass the smell test. So what he must be claiming is that there is a subjective standard -- that there is a safe harbor for otherwise illegal acts are they are done because the actor believed they had a noble greater purpose.

In effect Dean is adding a purely subjective defense to all possible crimes -- a defense not contained in most of the relevant statutes. And that element would create a pretty reliable get- out-of-jail free card. If outing a CIA agent can be cleansed in this manner, what couldn't?

I'm sure Richard Nixon and the rest of his Watergate cronies believed that there were national security justifications for their actions. And we all know how that one turned out. So there are lots of reasons to keep our champagne corked for now. But Dean's isn't one of them.

and back to it

OK, I am still deeply dusturbed by the Afghanistan massacre story, but I am busy rending myself into an OpEd on the subject. We now return bluememe to its regularly scheduled programming.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Man Demands More Jail Time to Honor Hero Larry Bird

A 27-year-old man demanded extra prison time because he wanted to honor his basketball hero, Larry Bird.

A lawyer for Eric James Torpy reached a plea agreement with Oklahoma City prosecutors for a 30-year jail term on two charges of shooting with intent to kill and one count of a weapons violation, District Court Judge Ray Elliott said in a telephone interview.

Torpy then insisted on getting 33 years to match the uniform number Bird wore when he led the Boston Celtics to three National Basketball Association championships during the 1980s, Elliott said. The judge on Oct. 18 accommodated his request.

``He told his attorney that Larry Bird was his long-time hero, and that if he was going to go to prison he wanted to go down with that number,'' Elliott said.

...

``In 26 years, I've never seen an individual request more time,'' Elliott said. ``They're generally begging and pleading for less time. But he was as happy as he could be.''

A nice precedent. And I have some outstanding athletes in mind for Turd Blossom's and Scooter's sentencing recommendations:

The image “http://www.geocities.com/Colosseum/Track/5435/Gretzky/tgo12.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Kaboom

Fuck

In the poisonous post-9/11 atmosphere, liberals seeking some kind of middle ground tended to compromise by supporting the war in Afghanistan even as they opposed the invasion of Iraq. Here is a chilling refutation of our "just war" moral authority in the form of a documentary -- “Afghan Massacre: The Convoy of Death .”


The film provides eyewitness testimony that U.S. troops were complicit in the massacre of thousands of Taliban prisoners during the Afghan War.

It tells the story of thousands of prisoners who surrendered to the US military’s Afghan allies after the siege of Kunduz. According to eyewitnesses, some three thousand of the prisoners were forced into sealed containers and loaded onto trucks for transport to Sheberghan prison. Eyewitnesses say when the prisoners began shouting for air, U.S.-allied Afghan soldiers fired directly into the truck, killing many of them. The rest suffered through an appalling road trip lasting up to four days, so thirsty they clawed at the skin of their fellow prisoners as they licked perspiration and even drank blood from open wounds.

Witnesses say that when the trucks arrived and soldiers opened the containers, most of the people inside were dead. They also say US Special Forces re-directed the containers carrying the living and dead into the desert and stood by as survivors were shot and buried. Now, up to three thousand bodies lie buried in a mass grave.
This is sickening beyond words. America is now complicit in yet another echo of evil.

Tomorrow I will be angry. Today I am mute with horror.

Fitzmas Haiku

As the aspens turn
relax, behold the sight of
indictments falling


Fitzmas nog all 'round
Scooter, Turd Blossom, Big Time
Hey!--Where is Got Milk?


St. Judy insists
that she was proved fucking right
well, right wing, maybe


Cheney flips his wig
as he opens the WaPo:
"Fitz Flipping WHIGgers"


What did Junior know
and just when did he know it?
"Raise your right hand, please..."

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Conservative cannibalism

FT.com: Cheney 'cabal' hijacked foreign policy
Vice-President Dick Cheney and a handful of others had hijacked the government's foreign policy apparatus, deciding in secret to carry out policies that had left the US weaker and more isolated in the world, the top aide to former Secretary of State Colin Powell claimed on Wednesday.


In a scathing attack on the record of President George W. Bush, Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, chief of staff to Mr Powell until last January, said: “What I saw was a cabal between the vice-president of the United States, Richard Cheney, and the secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, on critical issues that made decisions that the bureaucracy did not know were being made.

The more bites the real conservatives take out of the neocon goon squad, the more blood in the water, the more emboldened others will be. And so on.

And on.

Heh.

Delphi deal foretells a very grim future

Time was that when a big company demanded pay cuts of 60 percent from more than 30,000 workers in 13 states, announced countless plant closings and put employees on notice that pensions and health benefits were about to be slashed, some sort of political outcry would erupt.

That time has passed.

If there is official outrage over the bankruptcy strategy of Delphi Corp., the largest American auto-parts manufacturer, it is imperceptible. Yes, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm has said her piece. Yes, the press has reported on the bankruptcy - laying out the usual story of an old-line manufacturer finding it so much cheaper to produce its wares overseas that it now must force down wages here at home.

A few have seen fit to mention the exquisitely embroidered golden parachutes the company seeks to provide for 21 top executives who might, after all, downsize themselves out of their jobs and so deserve a soft landing. Still, the commentary congeals predictably around the idea that this is the fault of the United Auto Workers, a union that's been successful at winning pay packages that allow members to live the middle-class life.

"Unsustainable entitlement," one commentator called the UAW contracts. "Welfare," said another, as if heading for a factory before dawn to strap on safety goggles is the moral equivalent of a day spent dawdling in front of the TV.

For those who missed the brief news flash about this monumental bankruptcy, here's the outline: Delphi, once a subsidiary of General Motors, is losing money. The parts maker complains of U.S. wages that are too high to compete with labor from Mexico, China and its other offshore locales. It is hell-bent on "addressing" its "legacy issues." That's corporate-speak for cutting pensions and health benefits for retirees.

Delphi wants to slash its American production workers' wages from about $27 an hour to $10 or $12, and expects the UAW to go along. Otherwise, the company will throw the workers on the mercy of the bankruptcy court. Delphi may well dump its pension obligations on the government. This could leave retirees with drastically reduced checks and taxpayers holding the bag.
This is really staggering. I did a little thought experiment today wondering about the implications of an abrupt 60% hack in the Bloor household income, and the results were devastating. It will unquestionably be even worse for each and every one of those families, most of whom were probably getting by on $56K without much of a cushion in very modest homes, driving non-luxe cars, sending their kids to public schools and keeping entertainment/vacation expenses pretty low. $20K? Buh-bye, Ownership Society.

There aren't any easy answers to this problem, and no sentient individual can expect any enduring solutions in the short term. But please, can the pundidiots out there who keep insisting that the race to the bottom is a myth just STFU now and deal with reality for a change?

Daily Kos: Fitzmas Carols!

Daily Kos: Fitzmas Carols!
I thought about doing this, but someone @ dKos beat me to it:

O Aspen Tree

O Aspen tree,
O Aspen tree,
Your roots are all connected.
O Aspen tree,
O Aspen tree,
But your sources aren't protected.
How shall we sell the war to them?
Just send some lies to Judy M.
O Aspen tree,
O Aspen tree,
Your roots are all connected.


I am drunk on all this Fitzmas eggnog. If Santa Prosecutor leaves coals in our stockings, the hangover willl be too horrible to contemplate.


Anti-talking points memo

Think Progress has a handy summary of right-wing myths about the leak investigation, and the corrective facts, complete with citations.

We in the reality-based community know all of this. But it is well summarized here, and these whack-job talking points are going to get a serious work-out over the coming weeks, so this is a good tool to have handy.

(Not anti-Josh Marshall, of course.)

Fitzmas fare: Yellowcake!

Niger Uranium Forgery Mystery Solved?- by Justin Raimondo

If true, this is huge:
According to a source in the Italian embassy, Patrick J. "Bulldog" Fitzgerald asked for and "has finally been given a full copy of the Italian parliamentary oversight report on the forged Niger uranium document," the former CIA officer tells me:

"Previous versions of the report were redacted and had all the names removed, though it was possible to guess who was involved. This version names Michael Ledeen as the conduit for the report and indicates that former CIA officers Duane Clarridge and Alan Wolf were the principal forgers. All three had business interests with Chalabi."

Alan Wolf died about a year and a half ago of cancer. He served as chief of the CIA's Near East Division as well as the European Division, and was also CIA chief of station in Rome after Clarridge. According to my source, "he and Clarridge and Ledeen were all very close and also close to Chalabi." The former CIA officer says Wolf "was Clarridge's Agency godfather. Significantly, both Clarridge and Wolf also spent considerable time in the Africa division, so they both had the Africa and Rome connection and both were close to Ledeen, closing the loop."

A veteran of the Iran-Contra scandal, Ledeen played an important role in the "arms for hostages" scheme by setting up meetings between the American government and the Iranian arms dealer Manucher Ghorbanifar. Not all that unexpected coming from a self-proclaimed advocate of Machiavelli's amoralism. Today, Ledeen is among the most visible and radical neoconservative ideologues whose passion for a campaign of serial "regime-change" in the Middle East is undiminished by the Iraqi debacle.


Making the Frog March the official dance of the Bush White House is a laudable goal, to be sure. But tying the Plame leak to the big picture, which exposing the yellowcake story can go a long way toward doing, is an even bigger service.

So sing it with me: All I want for Fitzmas is my two jailed thugs, my two jailed thugs, my two jailed thugs....

Rupert Murdoch Up for Auction on Ebay

Rupert Murdoch Up for Auction on Ebay
Media mogul Rupert Murdoch is offering himself as a lunch date on the Internet site eBay...

The winning bidder will be treated to lunch with four friends at the New York headquarters of Murdoch’s News Corp.

The opening bid has been set at $25,000.


$25K sounds about right to me. But it is a very personal decision. How much would they have to pay you to sit down with Murdoch for an entire hour?

Bush whacked Rove on CIA leak

From today's NY Daily News:

An angry President Bush rebuked chief political guru Karl Rove two years ago for his role in the Valerie Plame affair, sources told the Daily News.
...

As special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald nears a decision, perhaps as early as today, on whether to issue indictments in his two-year probe, Bush has already circled the wagons around Rove, whose departure would be a grievous blow to an already shell-shocked White House staff and a President in deep political trouble.

Asked if he believed indictments were forthcoming, a key Bush official said he did not know, then added: "I'm very concerned it could go very, very badly."

"Karl is fighting for his life," the official added, "but anything he did was done to help George W. Bush. The President knows that and appreciates that."

Other sources confirmed, however, that Bush was initially furious with Rove in 2003 when his deputy chief of staff conceded he had talked to the press about the Plame leak.

Bush has always known that Rove often talks with reporters anonymously and he generally approved of such contacts, one source said.

But the President felt Rove and other members of the White House damage-control team did a clumsy job in their campaign to discredit Plame's husband, Joseph Wilson, the ex-diplomat who criticized Bush's claim that Saddam Hussen tried to buy weapons-grade uranium in Niger.


You know, Pinch, it's one thing to get scooped by the Washington Post on a story that should be all yours. It's quite another thing to have sand kicked in your face by the Daily News. If you don't watch out, you're going to have to start running a comics page to get your readers back.

The new fodder unit: Karl Rove

New York Daily News: Bush whacked Rove on CIA leak

An angry President Bush rebuked chief political guru Karl Rove two years ago for his role in the Valerie Plame affair, sources told the Daily News. "He made his displeasure known to Karl," a presidential counselor told The News. "He made his life miserable about this."

Puhleeze.

This is just too convenient. I'm not entirely surprised that Pinocchio would be throwing Gepetto overboard. So the fact that this story is being leaked does not surprise me. It does bear the mark of a Rove plant, which is a bit confusing, but his minions must have learned something over the years. And asking (or making) a tainted underling fall on his sword is SOP inside a corrupt enterprise under attack.

The part I don't buy is the idea that Bush wagged a finger at Rove for his tactics. Bush has never shown any sign of ethical or legal compunctions about any of Rove's gutter tactics. And I simply refuse to believe, in the context of all the other ways in which Bush has trashed the CIA and sent thousands of people to pointless deaths, that the outing of a CIA operative was any different.

Bush is too dense to appreciate the subtleties, but I think he does understand that dirty tricks are how the Architect got him where he is. So my bet is that, if they discussed the Plame leak at all, they both had a good chuckle about it back in 2003.

And how useful do they really think this story is going to be? If Bush knew about this from the git go, at the very least he admits that his whole posture has been a sham. At worst, he admits complicity in a coverup.

Update: Josh Marshall is all over it.



see web stats