Bush & Co.

Why Is Anybody Listening To Dick Cheney On Foreign Policy?

First of all, Dick Cheney was the architect of the Iraq invasion after 9/11, which even conservatives agree (including all the GOP candidates) was a huge mistake.  Cheney says we had faulty intelligence and that Saddam was a bad guy, both of which are/were true.  But as this blog has attested, it was easy to see that the intelligence in Iraq was faulty, if not actually manipulated by Cheney and his cronies.  When it comes to the Middle East, the man is simply wrong, at best — a liar at worst.

Which is why it is odd that he bothers to go out an public and opine about the Iran nuclear deal.  But he does.  And he is so… evil…  that even Chris Wallace at Fox News — at Fox Newscatches him behaving badly:

Wallace pointed out that Cheney had eight years to deal with Iran’s nuclear program and failed to do it.

“You and President Bush, the Bush-Cheney administration, dealt with Iran for eight years, and I think it was fair to say that there was never any real, serious military threat,” Wallace noted. “Iran went from zero known centrifuges in operation to more than 5,000.”

“So in fairness, didn’t you leave — the Bush-Cheney administration — leave President Obama with a mess?” the Fox News host asked.

“I don’t think of it that way,” Cheney replied. “There was military action that had an impact on the Iranians, it was when we took down Saddam Hussein. There was a period of time when they stopped their program because they were scared that what we did to Saddam, we were going to do to them next.”

“But the centrifuges went from zero to 5,000,” Wallace pressed.

“Well, they may have well have gone but that happened on Obama’s watch, not on our watch,” Cheney wrongly insisted.

“No, no, no,” Wallace fired back. “By 2009, they were at 5,000.”

“Right,” Cheney grumbled. “But I think we did a lot to deal with the arms control problem in the Middle East.”

Is it dementia?  Or some sort of severe cognitive dissonance that is causing him to double down on the Bush Administration’s persistent foreign policy failures?   As John Cole says, Cheney “has since passed that stage and now his only argument is ‘things were better when we were in charge.’ That’s it. That’s all he’s got.”  Indeed.

We should remember that the Iran was encouraged to continue to develop its nuclear weaponization because of the Bush-Cheney invasion of Iraq. As one of the three countries in the so-called axis of evil, they saw what happened to Iraq — a country that stopped pursuing WMD and destroyed most of theirs to make us happy.  And they saw what didn’t happen to the nuclear armed North Korea – a country that continues to develop WMD unabated for the most part.  And Iran decided it wanted to be more like North Korea.  Yet, another by-product of the Iraq war.  This is what happens when you destabilize a region: you throw the cards up in the air and they might not come down in a way that is an improvement.

danzcolorplus6471-668x501But Cheney’s going to talk anyway.

Maybe it has something to do with Colin Powell speaking in favor of the Iran Nuclear Agreement last week.

You know who should not be speaking at all on the agreement?  Trump:

Donald Trump says the Iran nuclear deal would force the United States to defend Iran if it were attacked by Israel.

False on the Truth-O-Meter:

“One of the clauses in the nuclear deal reached between world powers and Iran last week guarantees that the world powers will assist Iran in thwarting attempts to undermine its nuclear program,” Israel Hayom, a newsletter, said July 20.

But experts told PolitiFact Florida in late July that such interpretations are, at best, exaggerated. The aim of the provision, they said, is to protect nuclear materials from theft (say, if terrorists tried to steal Iranian assets) or from sabotage (with the intent of causing a hazardous-materials threat to health).

For years, in both Republican and Democratic administrations, the United States has pushed countries around the world to improve security for their nuclear material and facilities, said Matthew Bunn, a professor at Harvard and an expert on nuclear theft and terrorism. This agreement furthers that goal, he said.

“It has nothing to do with helping Iran protect its nuclear facilities from a military attack” of the kind that Israel or Egypt might carry out, Bunn said. “It’s about protecting against thieves and terrorists who might want to steal nuclear material or sabotage a nuclear facility.”

Of course it is false.  All you have to do is apply common sense.

P.S.  For what it is worth, the deal is going to pass Congress by a veto-proof majority….

All summer long, the question in the congressional debate over the Iran deal has been whether opponents could muster a veto-proof majority to block the agreement from taking effect.

Now it looks like President Obama might not have to use his veto pen at all.

Within minutes of each other Tuesday, three more Senate Democrats—Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Gary Peters of Michigan, and Ron Wyden of Oregon—all came out in favor of the nuclear deal, bringing the total number of supporters in the Senate to 41. That means Democrats have enough votes to filibuster a resolution of disapproval and block it from coming to a final vote.

UPDATE: The White House just came out with this video….

Yes a thousand times.

The Stewart- Miller Interview

People wonder if The Daily Show will be as funny when Jon Stewart moves on.  Maybe,  Maybe not.  But comedy aside, I wonder if the new host will have the same journalistic chops as Stewart.

Judith Miller is making her rounds with a new memoir titled “The Story: A Reporter’s Journey.” She reportedly got a $1.2 million dollar advance for the book — and even the New York Times isn’t buying it.  Jon Stewart called it: “The ‘Eat Pray Love’ of getting us into the Iraq war.”

The book is an effort that seems to be, in large part, motored by the disgraced New York Times journalist’s desire to amend the narrative of her life — and, of U.S. history — the public has latched onto for the last decade. Stewart has been one of Miller’s loudest critics, claiming on several occasions that she had a major role in pushing the U.S. into the Iraq war. Naturally, she hit up “The Daily Show” Wednesday night in an attempt to silence a voice which has cemented her unfavorable narrative in place over the years.

Stewart would have none of it.  This was not going to be a typical come-on-the-show-and-plug-your-book interview.  He had read the book and he was prepared.  He gave a master class in adversarial journalism; something Miller was obviously incapable of in the run-up to the war. Several things are notable about the interview that was so contentious you could feel the studio audience holding their collective breath because comedic schtick was being set aside and the type on interviewing that should happen on “Meet The Press” was happening in real time.

“I believe that you helped the administration take us to, like, the most devastating mistake in foreign policy that we’ve made in, like, 100 years… but you seem lovely,” Stewart told Miller, kicking off a combative and entertaining verbal sparring match.

The embattled reporter repeated her typical lines of defense—that the intelligence sources she used were not Dick Cheney or George Bush and “had really never been wrong before,” and that they’d steered her right “on al Qaeda before 9/11” and on a story about the Soviet Union hiding a “huge cache of biological weapons.”

She even, on two occasions, passed some of the blame for the Iraq War narrative onto Bill and Hillary Clinton, saying, “It was Bill Clinton who was worried about Iraq. Long before George Bush bombed Iraq, Bill Clinton did—1998-2000 missions for WMD. What I think changed was that, after 9/11, the risk that America was willing to tolerate just plummeted,” Miller said, also adding that Bush administration officials had “persuaded a lot of Democrats—Hillary Clinton.”

“Well, it turns out idiocy is bipartisan,” cracked Stewart.

Stewart did not let Miller off easy, claiming that Miller partook in a “concerted effort” to lead us into a war with Iraq.

“I think it was a concerted effort to take us into war in Iraq. You had to shift, with energy, the focus of America from Afghanistan and al Qaeda to Iraq. That took effort,” Stewart said. “Somebody pointed the light at Iraq, and that somebody is the White House, and the Defense Department, and Rumsfeld. He said right after 9/11, ‘Find me a pretext to go to war with Iraq.’ That’s from the 9/11 papers and the study.”

All this led to a very heated exchange between Stewart and Miller:

MILLER: “Jon, were we not supposed to report what it was that had the intelligence community so nervous about Saddam?”

STEWART: “No. You should have reported it, though, in the context of this administration was very clearly pushing a narrative, and by losing sight of that context, by not reporting—”

MILLER: “I think we did.”

STEWART: “I wholeheartedly disagree with you.”

MILLER: “That’s what makes journalism.”

STEWART: “It’s actually not what makes journalism…”

After several back-and-forths between the satirist and a deflecting Miller, Stewart closed the interview on a somber note, hardly looking at her and  — you’ve heard the expression ‘his contempt was palpable’? — whoa, nelly.

“Alright. We’re obviously never going to see eye-to-eye on it. I appreciate you coming on the program,” Stewart said while looking down at his desk.” These discussions always make me incredibly sad because  they point to institutional failure at the highest levels and no one will take responsibility for them.”

Watch it:

Senile Old Man Talks Crazy Shit On CNN

Dick Cheney:

TAPPER: But do you think the decisions that you made, your administration really has nothing to do with what's going on in Iraq right now? 

CHENEY: I think, when we left office, we had, in Iraq, a very stable situation.

January 18, 2009 — two days before Obama took office:

Baghdad

– A roadside bomb detonated in front of the deputy Sahwa leader's house in Furat neighborhood in western Baghdad on Saturday night. Five people were injured including the Sahwa leader who had a serious injury.

– Three mortar shells hit Jamia’a neighborhood on Saturday night. One shell fell near an army check point. Two soldiers were wounded.

– A roadside bomb targeted an American patrol in Ameen neighborhood in eastern Baghdad around 11 a.m. Three people were wounded, Iraqi police said. The MNF-I response as the following “ Soldier died of wounds suffered following an improvised explosive device in eastern Baghdad Jan.18 at approximately 11 a.m”.

– A roadside bomb targeted a police patrol in Meshtal neighborhood in eastern Baghdad around 8 p.m. Two policemen were wounded.

– A roadside bomb targeted a trailer carrying blast walls in Jordan intersection in Yarmouk neighborhood in western Baghdad around 8:15 p.m. Two people were wounded.

– A roadside bomb detonated in front of Ibtisam restaurant in Palestine street in eastern Baghdad around 8:30 p.m. Eight people were wounded.

Mosul

– A roadside bomb detonated in Dorat al Swais neighborhood in Mosul around 4 p.m. Two people were wounded including one policeman.

– A suicide bomber targeted the former major general Hassan Zaidan, whose son Falah is a parliament member of the national dialogue blog at the Haj Ali village in Qaiyara (south of Mosul) around 6 p.m. Zaidan was killed in that incident.

Basra

– A magnetic bomb planted under a car belongs to an employee of the Basra prisons near a petrol station in western Basra city. The employee was wounded.

January 19, 2009 – the day before Obama took office and last day of Bush-Cheney

Baghdad

– A roadside bomb targeted a civilian car in Zafaraniyah neighborhood in eastern Baghdad near Siaada Gas factory and few yards from an army check point around 7 a.m. The driver was killed and seven other people, including a soldier, were wounded. The driver of the car was a captain from the Ministry of Interior, police said.

– Two roadside bombs targeted a police patrol in Amil neighborhood in western Baghdad around 2 p.m. Five people were wounded including two policemen.

Mosul

– A roadside bomb detonated in downtown Mosul around 11 a.m. Four people were wounded.

– A roadside bomb targeted an army patrol in the Bakir neighborhood in Mosul around 5 p.m. Two Iraqi soldiers were wounded.

In January alone, 372 Iraqi civilians were killed in violence. By the end of the year, an estimated total of 5,175 people were killed in Iraq.

That's what "very stable" means.

12 Years Ago Today

12 years ago today was the infamous August 6 PDB (or Presidential Daily Briefing) which said, in really big letters:

BIN LADEN DETERMINED TO STRIKE IN U.S.

After listening to the briefer who told him this on Bush's ranch, Bush reportedly replied, "All right. You've covered your ass, now."

We know what happened a month later.

Which led to a war against Afghanistan.

Which allowed Skippy McNumbnuts to fight a war in Iraq.

Which meant that the nation's surplus became a huge deficit.

Which contributed to the bad state we are in now economically.

Just saying.

Pundit Quote Of The Week

WaPo columnist, Jennifer Rubin:

It took less than 4 1/2 years of the Obama presidency for President George W. Bush to mount his comeback. While doing absolutely nothing on his own behalf (he’s been the most silent ex-president in my lifetime), his approval is up to 47 percent according to The Post/ABC poll. That’s up 14 points from his final poll in office.

Well, sure.  Even my approval of George Bush goes up when he is silent and does nothing.

Ten Years Later And I Get To Say “I Told You So”

Ten years ago today, President Skippy McNumbskull announced that we were going to war with Iraq.

They said Iraq had WMDs.

I said the administration had no evidence of WMDs in Iraq.  I said the UN inspectors who were, you know, there, hadn't found any evidence of WMDs, or even the precursors necessary to create WMDs.

They said we would be greeted in Iraq as liberators.  I said that removal of Saddam would simply unleash ethnic strife in the country, causing a civil war between the competing Shiite and Sunni and Kurds.

They said the war would pay for itself.  I said it would cost us dearly.  To date, that conflict has claimed the lives of nearly 8,000 U.S. service members and contractors and more than  130,000 Iraqi citizens, and is projected to cost the U.S. Treasury more than two trillion dollars.  And that's only the tragedies that can be quantified.

I (among many others) was right; they were wrong.

I'm not psychic, and I have no skills or experience in political science or Middle Eastern studies.  Why was I right?

The Iraq War was the first historical example of what would dominate the right wing for the next decade (including today): epistemic closure.  That's where you believe in something so much that your belief becomes the evidence, the facts, the truth.  I was right because I could see the evidence.  I could read about the ethnic strife.  I could read the UN inspectors reports saying "No WMD".  None of this seemed to matter to the Bush Administration (who flat out lied), or the cowed media cheerleaders.  (CNN would like you to think they were duped by the Bush administration — uh, no.  You were lazy, CNN).

The Iraq War was a failure.  We managed to kill Saddam Hussein at a cost too high.  We diverted attention and resources from the war in Afghanistan, and allowed bin Laden to slip away and keep an actual threat — al Qaeda — alive for decades to come.  We left the region in ruins.  And it sent the national debt skyhigh — so skyhigh that now we have to cut important programs and the social safety net here.  

Well played, Skippy.  But I told you so.

For a full timeline of the mess-ups, see Think Progress here.

RELATED: The New Republic's John Judis writes about what it was like to oppose the Iraq War back then.  Interesting part:

There were, of course, people who opposed invading Iraq—Illinois State Senator Barack Obama among them—but within political Washington, it was difficult to find like-minded foes. When The New Republic’s editor-in-chief and editor proclaimed the need for a “muscular” foreign policy, I was usually the only vocal dissenter, and the only people who agreed with me were the women on staff: Michelle Cottle, Laura Obolensky and Sarah Wildman. Both of the major national dailies—The Washington Post and The New York Times (featuring Judith Miller’s reporting)—were beating the drums for war. Except for Jessica Mathews at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Washington’s thinktank honchos were also lined up behind the war.

In December of 2002, I was invited by the Ethics and Public Policy Center to a ritzy conference at an ocean front resort in Key West. The subject was to be Political Islam, and many of the best-known political journalists from Washington and New York were there. The conversation invariably got around to Iraq, and I found myself one of the few attendees who outright opposed an invasion. Two of the speakers at the event—Christopher Hitchens, who was then writing for Slate, and Jeffrey Goldberg, who was then writing for The New Yorker—generously offered to school me on the errors of my way.

I found fellow dissenters to the war in two curious places: the CIA and the military intelligentsia. That fall, I got an invitation to participate in a seminar at the Central Intelligence Agency on what the world would be like in fifteen or twenty years. I went out of curiosity—I don’t like this kind of speculation—but as it turned out, much of the discussion was about the pending invasion of Iraq. Except for me and the chairman, who was a thinktank person, the participants were professors of international relations. And almost all of them were opposed to invading Iraq. 

 

Dick Cheney Really Was As Scary As We All Thought He Was

He's got a new book coming out, and apparently, it's going to make you glad that President Bush had a level head at times.  An example:

Former Vice President Dick Cheney says in a new memoir that he urged President George W. Bush to bomb a suspected Syrian nuclear reactor site in June 2007. But, he wrote, Mr. Bush opted for a diplomatic approach after other advisers — still stinging over “the bad intelligence we had received about Iraq’s stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction” — expressed misgivings. 

“I again made the case for U.S. military action against the reactor,” Mr. Cheney wrote about a meeting on the issue. “But I was a lone voice. After I finished, the president asked, ‘Does anyone here agree with the vice president?’ Not a single hand went up around the room.” 

Mr. Bush chose to try diplomatic pressure to force the Syrians to abandon the secret program, but the Israelis bombed the site in September 2007. Mr. Cheney’s account of the discussion appears in his autobiography, “In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir,” which is to be published by Simon & Schuster next week. A copy was obtained by The New York Times. 

Mr. Cheney’s book — which is often pugnacious in tone and in which he expresses little regret about many of the most controversial decisions of the Bush administration — casts him as something of an outlier among top advisers who increasingly took what he saw as a misguided course on national security issues. While he praises Mr. Bush as “an outstanding leader,” Mr. Cheney, who made guarding the secrecy of internal deliberations a hallmark of his time in office, divulges a number of conflicts with others in the inner circle.

 

Darth Vader indeed.

UPDATE:  The Drudge Report adds:

  • In a chapter entitled, SETBACK, Cheney is blunt about failures in Bush Administration foreign policy, especially in the second term. He criticizes 'concessions delivered' to North Korea 'in the naive hope that despots would respond in kind,' and says the president was badly served by his State Department, including through advice that was 'utterly misleading.' 
  • Cheney excoriates Colin Powell for standing by silently, knowing that his deputy Richard Armitage was responsible for leaking Valerie Plame's identity to the press. 
  • Says that it's not Guantanamo Bay that hurts America's image abroad but rather critics like Barack Obama who 'peddle falsehoods about it.' 
  • Says that Attorney General John Ashcroft approved the controversial Terrorist Surveillance Program that tracked terrorist communications no less than 20 times before his deputy, James Comey, objected. In a briefing delivered by Cheney and NSA Director Mike Hayden, Democratic congressional leaders Pelosi, Daschle, Harman and Rockefeller unanimously agreed the program should continue and that the administration should not seek any further authorization from Congress. 'The view around the table was unanimous… They feared, as did we, that going to the whole Congress would compromise its secrecy.' When it did leak in the NEW YORK TIMES, Cheney writes that the NEW YORK TIMES clearly violated the law by printing information about classified communications intelligence programs. 
  • Unrepentant on Iraq. Even in hindsight, Cheney asserts it was the right decision, even taking into account mistakes on intelligence. Says those Democrats, like John Kerry, who supported the war and then flipped for political expedience and accused the president of 'peddling untruths' are guilty of just that themselves. 

Really?!?

Former President Bush says the worst moment of his presidency was when Kanye West implied that he was a "racist".

You might have thought the "worst moment" would be, say, having to watch the bodies of dead U.S. soldiers come back from overseas.

Or 9/11 maybe.

But nope: it's when Kanye called him a bad name.

Shooting A Guy In The Face Means Never Having To Say “I’m Sorry”

The Washington Post caught up with Harry Whittington, the guy that VP Dick Cheney shot in the face with 300 pellets of buckshot at close range five years ago, and uncovers this little tidbit at the end:

[D]id Cheney ever say in private what he didn't say in public? Did he ever apologize?

Whittington, who has been talking about his life and career for hours, suddenly draws silent.

"I'm not going to go into that," he says sharply after a short pause.

Harry Whittington is too gracious to say it out loud, but he doesn't dispute the notion, either.

Nearly five years on, he's still waiting for Dick Cheney to say he's sorry.

Prick.

Bush: The Worst President In Modern History

Every eight years, a couple hundred president scholars are asked to rank the presidents on various scales, including communication, honesty, intelligence, foreign policy achievements, economic achievements, etc.

The 2010 assessment is out — you can read the PDF here – but the "headline" results are:

  • In overall rankings, Obama comes in at 15th
  • In overall rankings, Bush 44 dropped from 23rd (in 2002) to 39th today
  • Bush 44 also ranked next to last in communication ability and intelligence (Andrew Johnson was ranked last in both categories)

Here's the top ten's over the life of the survey:

Top5

…and the 2010 top two and the bottom two for each category:

Top2bottom2
Clinton, for what it's worth, ranked 13th this year — one ahead of "Bloody Bloody" (Andrew Jackson) and two ahead of Obama. 

Then and Now

February, 2004:

Elizabeth Blackburn, an outspoken advocate of human embryonic stem cell research and therapeutic cloning is fired by the Bush administration from the President's Council on Bioethics because of her dissenting views.

This week:

Elizabeth Blackburn wins the Nobel Prize for Medicine for her pioneering work on cancer and aging.

Another Quote Of The Day

“In 2007 I finally made it to the Bush White House as a presidential speechwriter. But it was not at all what I envisioned. It was less like Aaron Sorkin’s The West Wing and more like The Office.”

This comes from Matt Latimer, who worked as one of Bush’s speechwriters during the president’s final twenty-two months in office.  He’s got a book coming out, the thrust of which is that the Bush White House was just as dysfunctional and, well, stupid as we all imagined it was.

Here’s a significant excerpt about how Bush dealt with his $700 billion bailout proposal toward the end of his presidency, in the wake of the economic recession and Wall Street’s implosion:

We were faced with a dilemma: Should Bush still go out and address the nation, or should he cancel? And if he did go out, what should he say? Ed, typically, told us to write two drafts for the address to the nation—one outlining the proposal as originally announced and another that only discussed the “principles” the legislation needed to incorporate to win the administration’s support. Chris and I looked at each other warily. Two versions of a major prime-time address that may or may not be given hours from now? Sure, no problem. Ultimately, Ed decided to go with the second speech. But he clearly didn’t share his plan with the president. When the president came into the Family Theater to rehearse the speech in front of a teleprompter, he didn’t like the idea of just talking about principles. It sounded like the administration was backing away from its own plan (which it was).

“We can’t even defend our own proposal?” the president asked. “Why did we propose it, then?” This was not bold decision making. There were about a dozen people gathered in the theater to watch him rehearse, and all of us remained silent as the president looked at us for an answer.

The president walked over to sip some water from one of the bottles on the table near his lectern. “This speech is weak,” he said. He looked at me and Chris. “Frankly, I’m surprised, to be honest with you.”

There was more silence.

“Too late to cancel the speech?” the president asked into the air. He was joking…I think. Finally, Ed (who hadn’t exactly rushed to jump into the line of fire) explained that we had to make this change to the address because the proposal the president liked might not end up being the one he had to agree to. “Then why the hell did I support it if I didn’t believe it would pass?” he snapped. There was yet another uncomfortable silence.

Finally, the president directed us to try to put elements of his proposal back into the text. He wanted to explain what he was seeking and to defend it. He especially wanted Americans to know that his plan would likely see a return on the taxpayers’ investment. Under his proposal, he said, the federal government would buy troubled mortgages on the cheap and then resell them at a higher price when the market for them stabilized.

“We’re buying low and selling high,” he kept saying.

The problem was that his proposal didn’t work like that. One of the president’s staff members anxiously pulled a few of us aside. “The president is misunderstanding this proposal,” he warned. “He has the wrong idea in his head.” As it turned out, the plan wasn’t to buy low and sell high. In some cases, in fact, Secretary Paulson wanted to pay more than the securities were likely worth in order to put more money into the markets as soon as possible. This was not how the president’s proposal had been advertised to the public or the Congress. It wasn’t that the president didn’t understand what his administration wanted to do. It was that the treasury secretary didn’t seem to know, changed his mind, had misled the president, or some combination of the three.

As Chris and I were in our office in the EEOB trying to put in the latest of the president’s edits, there was a steady flow of people coming into the room. The economic team came in. Ed Gillespie, the president’s top communications adviser, came in. Tony Fratto, the deputy press secretary, was there. At one point there were twelve people crowded around our computer, trying to explain how the proposal worked. The economic advisers were disagreeing with each other.

There was total confusion. It was 5:30 p.m. The speech was in three and a half hours.

After finally getting the speech draft turned around and sent back to the teleprompter technicians, we trudged back to the Family Theater, where the president rehearsed. In the theater, the president was clearly confused about how the government would buy these securities. He repeated his belief that the government was going to “buy low and sell high,” and he still didn’t understand why we hadn’t put that into the speech like he’d asked us to. When it was explained to him that his concept of the bailout proposal wasn’t correct, the president was momentarily speechless. He threw up his hands in frustration.

“Why did I sign on to this proposal if I don’t understand what it does?” he asked.

Not the best and the brightest.

Here’s some more about the mindset of the Bush White House.  It’s telling that the only person (apart from the author) who seemed to have a grasp of reality about Sarah Palin was, incredibly, George Bush himself.

The instantaneous reaction to Palin at the White House, however, was almost frenzied. I think what was really going on was that everyone secretly hated themselves for supporting McCain, so they latched onto Palin with over-the-top enthusiasm. Even the normally levelheaded Raul Yanes, the president’s staff secretary, was overtaken by Palin mania. He’d been slightly annoyed with me for not jumping on the McCain bandwagon and for saying aloud that I thought McCain would lose. Now, of course, I had to be enthusiastic about the ticket. “You still think we’re going to lose?” he asked me laughingly.

“Yep,” I replied.

Raul looked incredulous. “Well, you obviously don’t believe in facts!”

I was about to be engulfed by a tidal wave of Palin euphoria when someone—someone I didn’t expect—planted my feet back on the ground. After Palin’s selection was announced, the same people who demanded I acknowledge the brilliance of McCain’s choice expected the president to join them in their high-fiving tizzy. It was clear, though, that the president, ever the skilled politician, had concerns about the choice of Palin, which he called “interesting.” That was the equivalent of calling a fireworks display “satisfactory.”

“I’m trying to remember if I’ve met her before. I’m sure I must have.” His eyes twinkled, then he asked, “What is she, the governor of Guam?”

Everyone in the room seemed to look at him in horror, their mouths agape. When Ed told him that conservatives were greeting the choice enthusiastically, he replied, “Look, I’m a team player, I’m on board.” He thought about it for a minute. “She’s interesting,” he said again. “You know, just wait a few days until the bloom is off the rose.” Then he made a very smart assessment.

“This woman is being put into a position she is not even remotely prepared for,” he said. “She hasn’t spent one day on the national level. Neither has her family. Let’s wait and see how she looks five days out.” It was a rare dose of reality in a White House that liked to believe every decision was great, every Republican was a genius, and McCain was the hope of the world because, well, because he chose to be a member of our party.

The Chris Wallace-Dick Cheney Interview

"Tell me, Mr. Cheney.  Are you and everyone in the Bush Administration totally awesome, or just somewhat awesome?"

That's the kind of interview it was.  Or, as Sully quips, it was not unlike a teenage girl interfiewing the Jonas Brothers.

I'm talking, of course, about the hour-long interview of Dick Cheney by Chris Wallace on (where else?) Fox News this past weekend.  It was an impressive array of softball pitches.

Of course, that's all the Mr. Macho could handle.  Yeah, I said it.  Cheney is a pussy if he can't face a real interviewer.

Cheney's responses were nonsense and lies, but one of the most amusing moments was when he explained how the Obama White House was supposed to seek out the former vice president for advice on national security matters.

"I guess the other thing that offends the hell out of me, frankly, Chris, is we had a track record now of eight years of defending the nation against any further mass casualty attacks from Al Qaeda. The approach of the Obama administration should be to come to those people who were involved in that policy and say, 'How did you do it? What were the keys to keeping this country safe over that period of time?'"

Steve Benen has the best reponse:

I seem to recall the Bush/Cheney era a little differently. Cheney thinks it was a sterling success when it came to national security and counter-terrorism. Perhaps there's something to this. After all, except for the catastrophic events of 9/11, and the anthrax attacks against Americans, and terrorist attacks against U.S. allies, and the terrorist attacks against U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Bush's inability to capture those responsible for 9/11, and waging an unnecessary war that inspired more terrorists, and the success terrorists had in exploiting Bush's international unpopularity, the Bush/Cheney record on counter-terrorism was awesome.

After the previous administration established a record like that, President Obama didn't ask Cheney for tips? The nerve.

And Benen didn't even mention all those WMDs in Iraq.  Benen adds:

I am curious about something, though. Terrorists first attacked the World Trade Center in 1993, early on in President Clinton's first year in office. Six people were killed, hundreds more were injured. The Clinton administration caught those responsible, subjected them to the U.S. criminal justice system, and foreign terrorists did not strike again on U.S. soil during Clinton's terms in office.

So, at any point in 2001, did the Bush White House turn to Bill Clinton and Al Gore and ask, "How did you do it? What were the keys to keeping this country safe over that period of time?" I think we can probably guess the answer.

What struck me about the interview was this little exchange:

WALLACE: Do you think what they did, now that you’ve heard about it, do you think what they did was wrong?

CHENEY: Chris, my sort of overwhelming view is that the enhanced interrogation techniques were absolutely essential in saving thousands of American lives, in preventing further attacks against the United States, in giving us the intelligence we needed to go find al Qaeda, to find their camps, to find out how they were being financed. … It was good policy. It was properly carried out. it worked very, very well.

WALLACE: So even these cases where they went beyond the specific legal authorization, you’re okay with it.

CHENEY: I am.

Cue all the teabagging protesters worrying about the death of the Constitution.

Hey, where are they?  Guys?  Guys?

Terror Politics

I've largely refrained from posting about the Bush White House ever since Obama became president, but sometimes my self-imposed ban is hard to maintain.

Now that Bush is out of office, we're finding that the actual illegalities are just as bad, if not worse, than imagined.  The firings of the U.S. attorneys, for example, were politically motivated and were orchestrated from within the White House.  And today, we learned that Blackwater was contracted by the CIA to conduct overseas assassination, something which clearly violates U.S law.  And later this week, we're going to learn more about our torture practices.

And also today, we learn this about Tom Ridge, the very first head of the post-9/11 Department of Homeland Security [The source? Ridge himself, in a new book]:

  • He was never invited to sit in on National Security Council meetings;
  • He was "blindsided" by the FBI in morning Oval Office meetings because the agency withheld critical information from him;
  • He found his urgings to block Michael Brown from being named head of FEMA ignored; and
  • He was pushed to raise the security alert on the eve of President Bush's re-election, something he saw as politically motivated and worth resigning over.

For some reason, this last one gets to me.  It's a clear admission of GOP's use of scare tactics to influence politics, in this case, a national election.  We still see that tactic used effectively today.

Also, reflect on the meaning of that last item — it was more important to the Bush Administration to win re-election than to have an accurate Terrorist Alert Level.

That's patriotism?

UPDATE:  It should be noted that the request to heighten the terrorism allert level came from Ashcroft and Rumsfeld, while the DHS's security experts and Ridge argued against.  It should also be that Ridge won.  He now writes:

"I believe our strong interventions had pulled the 'go-up' advocates back from the brink… But I consider the episode to be not only a dramatic moment in Washington's recent history, but another illustration of the intersection of politics, fear, credibility and security."

Cheney Calls Former President Bush A Wuss

Well, in so many words.

Cheney's outspokenness since leaving office has not been reserved exclusively for President Obama or Democrats. He's now going after his own former boss as well.  The Washington Post reports:

In his first few months after leaving office, former vice president Richard B. Cheney threw himself into public combat against the "far left" agenda of the new commander in chief. More private reflections, as his memoir takes shape in slashing longhand on legal pads, have opened a second front against Cheney's White House partner of eight years, George W. Bush.

Cheney's disappointment with the former president surfaced recently in one of the informal conversations he is holding to discuss the book with authors, diplomats, policy experts and past colleagues. By habit, he listens more than he talks, but Cheney broke form when asked about his regrets.

"In the second term, he felt Bush was moving away from him," said a participant in the recent gathering, describing Cheney's reply. "He said Bush was shackled by the public reaction and the criticism he took. Bush was more malleable to that. The implication was that Bush had gone soft on him, or rather Bush had hardened against Cheney's advice. He'd showed an independence that Cheney didn't see coming. It was clear that Cheney's doctrine was cast-iron strength at all times — never apologize, never explain — and Bush moved toward the conciliatory."

The two men maintain respectful ties, speaking on the telephone now and then, though aides to both said they were never quite friends. But there is a sting in Cheney's critique, because he views concessions to public sentiment as moral weakness. After years of praising Bush as a man of resolve, Cheney now intimates that the former president turned out to be more like an ordinary politician in the end.

Cheney comes from an old-school Nixonian Republican party (he, in fact, served in the Nixon White House).  Bush came from, well, partying at Yale Business School.  It's nice to know that a little of Bush Sr. came to rest with Junior.

And Cheney?  Dude's scary.  One wonders what this country would be like if he was in the top seat during the last decade.

Removing Three Bush-Era Policies In One Day

(1)  Stem Cell Research — Executive Order of March 9, 2009:

Sec. 1: . . . For the past 8 years, the authority of the Department of Health and Human Services, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to fund and conduct human embryonic stem cell research has been limited by Presidential actions. The purpose of this order is to remove these limitations on scientific inquiry, to expand NIH support for the exploration of human stem cell research, and in so doing to enhance the contribution of America's scientists to important new discoveries and new therapies for the benefit of humankind.

Sec. 2. Research. The Secretary of Health and Human Services (Secretary), through the Director of NIH, may support and conduct responsible, scientifically worthy human stem cell research, including human embryonic stem cell research, to the extent permitted by law.

Sec. 3. Guidance. Within 120 days from the date of this order, the Secretary, through the Director of NIH, shall review existing NIH guidance and other widely recognized guidelines on human stem cell research, including provisions establishing appropriate safeguards, and issue new NIH guidance on such research that is consistent with this order.

(2)  Signing statements

In a memo to senior government officials, Obama said they must check with Attorney General Eric Holder before relying on any of Bush's signing statements for guidance. Bush often issued a statement when signing a bill into law, and critics said the statements at times showed government officials how to circumvent the law if Bush disagreed with it on constitutional grounds.

(3)  Restoring scientific integrity:

By this memorandum, I assign to the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (Director) the responsibility for ensuring the highest level of integrity in all aspects of the executive branch's involvement with scientific and technological processes.  The Director shall confer, as appropriate, with the heads of executive departments and agencies, including the Office of Management and Budget and offices and agencies within the Executive Office of the President (collectively, the "agencies"), and recommend a plan to achieve that goal throughout the executive branch.

Each of these events is worthy of its own thoughtful post (in fact, I've written about these subjects many times before, complaining about the Bush policies).  But there's really nothing to say, except to note the speed with which these Bush-era policies are being undone.

I will comment, however, on Republican Eric Cantor.  He recently said on CNN that Obama's stem cell reversal order is a distraction from dealing with the economy:

"Why are we going and distracting ourselves from the economy? This is job No. 1. Let's focus on what needs to be done."

First of all, Obama signed an executive order.  Didn't really take a lot of time.  Obama, I'm sure, can do that and focus on the economy.

Secondly, reversing the policy on stem cell research will create jobs (not to mention, oh, curing diseases).

Thirdly, Cantor is no position to talk about Obama's supposed failure to focus on "Job. No 1".  Here are some bills that Cantor has co-sponsored in the past two months:

– H. Res. 204: Congratulating the American Dental Association for its 150th year of working to improve the public’s oral health and promoting dentistry.

– H. Res. 18: A bill honoring the life, achievements and contributions of Paul Newman.

– H.R. 997: To declare English as the official language of the United States.

– H.R. 836: To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to reduce the tax on beer to its pre-1991 level, and for other purposes.

The Bush Legal Memos

As much as possible, I've resisted Bush-bashing since he was ushered out of office.  He's gone, let's go forward I figure.

But certain legal memos of the Bush Administration, released yesterday, really are truly frightening.  Michael Isikoff from Newsweek gives an example:

In perhaps the most surprising assertion, the Oct. 23, 2001, memo suggested the president could even suspend press freedoms if he concluded it was necessary to wage the war on terror. "First Amendment speech and press rights may also be subordinated to the overriding need to wage war successfully," Yoo wrote in the memo entitled "Authority for Use of Military Force to Combat Terrorist Activity Within the United States."

This claim was viewed as so extreme that it was essentially (and secretly) revoked—but not until October of last year, seven years after the memo was written and with barely three and a half months left in the Bush administration.

That's right.  In a time of war, the president could (or so it was argued) legally suspend First Amendment rights.

1amendmemo

The PDF of that particular memo is here.  It also explains that Fourth Amendment rights (searches and seizures) can be avoided too.

The memo looks and reads like it was written by an articulate and educated person.  There are cites to cases, etc.  The problem however is that it is, well, bullshit.

Can you imagine — in this country — that the president should be able to prohibit speech, close down news venues, etc. simply because he needs to "wage war successfully"?  Yes, certain speech can be limited at any time (shouting "fire" in a crowded theater, or "speech" which reveals troop movements, etc.).  But the startling thing about the memos is that it wrests power from the courts to decide when and how that should be applied, and gives it exclusively to the Chief Executive.  That's a power grab of monumental significance.

That same memo also makes a hatchet job of the Posse Comitatus Act, the law which forbids the military from engaging in domestic law enforcement.  How does Yoo get around the Posse Comitatus Act?  By saying it overcome by the military’s national security function.  Essentially, he simply asserts that the PCA can be ignored in the interests of national security, and the President solely gets to decide when that would be.

Look, there are two kinds of lawyers: advocates and advisors.  Advocates are given a position and try to find cases and law which support that position.  Trial lawyers are advocates for their client (whether it be the state, a company, an accused, or whoever).

But legal advisors to the President are just that: advisors.  Their job is to present the true nature of the law — not how the law can be argued to support a particular position.  John Yoo and others in the Bush Justice Department were essentially arguing that the presence of a war allows the Commander-in-Chief to ignore the Constitution.  Literally, that is what they said.  Never mind the obvious fact that the presidential oath requires the President to protect, defend and preserve the Constitution.

It's simply astounding.  Yoo and others have committed legal malpractice by rendering advice so clearly refuted by the vast majority of the law.  These are not merely differences of opinion about that law — these are, as WaPo notes, "legal errors".

Ex-President Bush Goes Back To School

Pershing Elementary School in Preston Hollow, Texas:

The Bushes [George and Laura] were scheduled to visit three classes, but they ended up popping in on any room with an audience.

Ducking in one room, Bush asked, "Hey kids, do you know who I am?"

Gasps all around, and then someone blurted, "George Washington!"

O.K.  That didn't go well.  But a little later…

…..at an ESL [English as a Second Language] class, Bush tried introducing himself in Spanish. Only it was a little too West Texas for the Spanish speakers. He tried again. Blank looks. Even held up three fingers. You know, a 'W." Still nothing.

Finally, Pershing's innovative, energetic principal, Margie Hernandez, stepped in with a Spanish introduction.

Ohhhhhhh.

The kids laughed at the confusion. The former president laughed. The principal laughed, out of relief, mostly.

Awwwwkward.

Once he finished his tour, he addressed a school assembly, where he related his favorite question of the morning:

"Why did you come here?"

Hmmmm.

Still, the visit was a success… in that he didn't read from My Pet Goat, and America wasn't attacked.  So, you know, small blessings….

Other Than That, Mrs. Lincoln….

Prof. David Kopel, at Volokh Conspiracy:

The poll also asked for an assessment of President Bush. The Left was unanimous in rating him "Terrible." Nobody on the Right rated him as "Great," and only 29% gave him "Good." The winning plurality was "Fair," with 41%.

I voted "Good," since I graded on a curve, and thought him much better than Bill Clinton or George H.W. Bush. My rationale: "No successful terrorist attacks since 9/11."

(Emphasis added)

Snarky commentor:

My rating of Captain E. Smith, RMS Titanic:

"Good. No iceberg strikes since 4/12."

Bush’s Farewell Address To The Nation

You ever have a high school teacher who was intimidating, if only becuase you knew that he or she had some control over your grades, and therefore, your future?

Then, did you ever come across that high school teacher long after you had left high school, and he/she seemed a little pathetic because of their powerlessness and inconsequentiality?

That's what it felt like for me, listening to Bush last night.

I listened to him try to pat himself on the back.  Sad, almost.

Wanting credit for making the "tough decisions", George?  That's kind of like expecting to get passing grades for perfect attendance.  Showing up and being "the decider" really isn't going to put you in the history books.  It's the actual decisions you make, and how you make them, that matters.  Making decisions based on questionable evidence, and evidence you know to be questionable, is not praiseworthy.  It's flawed.

Similarly, he said this:

"Like all who have held this office before me, I have experienced setbacks. There are things I would do differently if given the chance. Yet I've always acted with the best interests of our country in mind. I have followed my conscience and done what I thought was right."

Well…..duh.  Of course you did what you thought was right.  Nobody suspected otherwise.  Even I, a harsh critic, never suspected that you intentionally woke each morning determined to do what you thought was wrong for the country.

But the point is, your policies were wrong for the country.  And it appears that you will never become so enlightened as to live with that.  Unfortunately, we all will.

Now please go, se we can start missing you.

P.S.  George Bush, making a "tough decision"….

UPDATE AGAIN:  Talk about setting your bar low.  Conservative blog Redstate, in a post entitled: "Will Left Accept That They Were Wrong About Bush?" actually says this:

We stand here watching Bush kindly say his goodbyes and we see George W. Bush stepping down like every American president before him (well, except the ones that died in office, of course). Even Darth Cheney is packing up for his last ride into the sunset.

***

So, will each of these half sentient, dillweeds fess up that they were wrong? Will they turn to their fellow dillweed, whack-jonse friends and say: “Ya know, I have to hand it to Bush. He was an alright guy for following the Constitution and going home to Texas like he’s supposed ta.”

Can we expect the braindead HuffyPosters, the drug addled DailyKossacks, or the human wreckage that are the denizens of DemmocraticUnderground.com to apologize for their wild-eyed, foolishness?

Will they? Huh, huh?

(Emphasis mine). 

Uh…… so we're supposed to give credit to Bush, and admit that we were "wrong" about him…. because he's leaving office when he's constitutionally mandated to?

One More For The Road

I got some of Bush's last press conference yesterday, and found it a little bizarre.  He seemed to acknowledge a few mistakes (the "Mission Accomplished" banner), but he mostly phrased them as "disappointments" (abu Gharib).

What he said about Katrina shows just how out-of-touch he still is, even in retropect:

"I've thought long and hard about Katrina," Bush said. "Could I have done something differently, like land Air Force One either in New Orleans or Baton Rouge?"

But that action would have pulled law enforcement away from helping in the crisis to handle his visit, he said.

I don't think Air Force One landing in New Orleans or Baton Rouge was what people were criticizing about Bush's handling of Katrina.  It was his failure to be on top of the situation anywhere, especially before, when it was bearing down, and afterward, when the levees broke.  The American people weren't looking for a PR appearance; they wanted someone to whip emergency response into shape — something which could have been down from anywhere.  It's odd — and telling — that he doesn't understand this criticism… still.

And other mistakes and disappointments, he simply has a blind eye to.  He does not agree, for example, with the premise that America's standing has been damaged abroad, citing China and India.  He may be right about China and India, but of course they love us.  They're getting all our jobs.  And as for moral standing — after the debacles of the Middle East — I doubt even China and India really hold us in high esteem.

RELATED:  You can write — and read — goodbye letters to Bush here.

Who Is This Guy?

A look at George Bush in 2000.  And get your anti-ironic tablets, because what he says here is 100% right.  Unfortunately, it has nothing to do with what he did as President.

The First Draft Of The Bush Presidency

This Vanity Fair "oral history" is excellent.  It goes through key moments of the Bush Administration, and the story is not told through narrative, but rather, through the comments of Bush insiders.

Here, for example, are some insider comments about the time when the Bush Administration confronted (well, failed to confront) Katrina:

Dan Bartlett, White House communications director and later counselor to the president: Politically, it was the final nail in the coffin.

Matthew Dowd, Bush’s pollster and chief strategist for the 2004 presidential campaign: Katrina to me was the tipping point. The president broke his bond with the public. Once that bond was broken, he no longer had the capacity to talk to the American public. State of the Union addresses? It didn’t matter. Legislative initiatives? It didn’t matter. P.R.? It didn’t matter. Travel? It didn’t matter. I knew when Katrina—I was like, man, you know, this is it, man. We’re done.

Gillespie Working Hard On Bush’s Legacy

There's much to dispute with Ed Gillespie's article "Myths & Facts About The Real Bush Record", a deceptively written article which, while heavy on facts and numbers, also obfuscates many more important facts. 

For example, Gillespie points out that, under the Bush Administration, we had 52 consecutive months of job growth.  What he ignores are the statistics that, under the Bush Administration, much of that "job growth" is attributable to elimination of better jobs.  For example, if you fire someone making $20/hr with benefits and replace them with two temps earning no benefits making $8 or even $7/hr then according to the government jobs were "added".  Also, many of the jobs created are second jobs, and crappy ones at that. Someone laid off from a $30/hr manufacturing job with healthcare, who is then forced to work two burger-flipping jobs, represents "job growth."

It's also relatively easy to have economic prosperity when you triple the size of the national debt.  Listen, if my credit card had no limits, and I used it like a man with 6 months to live, I would appear to be "prosperous" too.  But it's not real wealth.  It's debt.

Gillespie also attempts to shoot down the notion that only the rich benefited from Bush's policies, pointing out that Bush policies got many people off of welfare.  That may be, but still:

Bestinequalitygraph_figure1_version3    

The chart shows average inflation-adjusted incomes of the poorest 20%, middle 60%, and top 1% of households since the 1970s. The incomes include government transfers and subtract taxes. For the bulk of American households, incomes have increased moderately or minimally. For those at the top, by contrast, they have soared.

So there is kind of an Enron-like numbers game going on within Gillespie's article.

But Gillespie ends with the worst "fact" ever touted in favor of the Bush Administration's legacy:

And one last fact: Our homeland has not suffered another terrorist attack since September 11, 2001. That, too, is part of the real Bush record.

Wrong.  Flat out wrong.

First of all, we had an anthrax attack that killed seven people shortly after 9/11.  Here.  On the "homeland".  What — that doesn't count?

And more importantly, this whole notion that the Bush Administration began on 9/12/01 is silly.  It's kind of like saying that presiedntial security was successful during the Lincoln administration, as evidenced by the fact that Lincoln wasn't shot again by someone following the event at Ford's Theatre on April 14, 1865.

The fact is that when you take the entirety of the Bush Administration, his record on preventing domestic terrorism is the worst of all the other previous administrations combined.

Nice spin though, Ed.

Questions That I Have For The Secret Service

From 236.com:

1. Shouldn’t you have jumped in front of that shoe?
2. Shouldn’t you have jumped in front of that second shoe?
3. Second shoe = the one thrown after being removed from foot after first shoe was thrown.
4. Let’s say people had three feet. Would you have allowed a third shoe to fly unimpeded?
5. While the shoe was in the air, were you like, “Oh, its just a shoe.”
6. Same question about the second shoe.
7. Do you think this is funny, “Throw a shoe at me once, shame on–you. Throw a shoe–you throw a shoe, you can’t throw a shoe again.”
8. Is there not “protection training” for lunatics launching objects?
9. Let’s say there isn’t training for that–but do they tell you that if someone does throw (or shoot) something to be on the alert in case they want to repeat this behavior?
10. Where were you?

BONUS QUESTION: Do you think the Iraqis want us there? (Hint: their journalists are throwing their shoes at Bush)

The Bush Legacy Project

WSJ columnist Peggy Noonan is among the few and bold — those dedicated to creating a positive legacy for President Bush.

She certainly gives the yeoman's effort today in her WSJ op-ed, but her headline belies the difficulty she faces in coming up with something positive to say about the Bush legacy: "At Least Bush Kept Us Safe".

She talks about a Christmas party she recently attended:

Back to the Christmas gathering. There was no grousing about John McCain, and considerable grousing about the Bush administration, but it was almost always followed by one sentence, and this is more or less what it was: "But he kept us safe." In the seven years since 9/11, there were no further attacks on American soil.

Well, I guess that all depends on what you are talking about when you say "attacks", doesn't it?

Did two more planes fly into the WTC since 9/11?  Was there another plane crashing into the Pentagon since 9/11?  No.  So in that sense, he "kept us safe".

On the other hand, I think many wouldn't be so forthcoming with praise for Bush's efforts to keep us safe.  This former New Orleans resident, for example.

And while they may have their lives, I'm sure the 533,000 Americans who discovered the wonderful world of unemployment last month don't exactly feel "safe" when it comes to providing for their families or their future.

Not to mention the assualt on our civil liberties and privacy.

Not to mention the decline in our world standing.

But, I guess if you had as much egg nog as Peggy Noonan apparently had, you too might think Bush "kept us safe".  But I wouldn't drive afterwards.

White House Gets Punked

Pic30196 The White House Christmas tree is adorned with ornaments painted by invited local artists from all over the country.  Laura Bush sought the assistance of various Congresspersons to select these artists. 

One artist who was invited to paint an ornament was Deborah Lawrence of Seattle.  At first, being no fan of Bush, she was appalled and intended to decline the invitation.  But then she changed her mind.

And her Christmas ornament was among those selected to go on the White House Christmas tree.

Turns out that the red-and-white ornament contains small text which pays tribute to her local Congressman… for sponsoring a bill seeking to impeach Bush.  And now that bulb is hanging on the Bush White House Christmas Tree.

Full story here.

Bush Was Warned

Remember when Bush was presented with an intelligence warning that "Bin Laden Determined to Strike U.S." and he pooh-poohed the whole thing, humoring the intelligence official by telling him, "You've covered your ass, now"?

And then how, less than two months later, bin Laden struck?

And remember when Bush proclaimed that he had no warning that the levies in New Orleans might break?

And then we later learned that he did get that warning?

Well, now we have the economic equivalent:

The Bush administration backed off proposed crackdowns on no-money-down, interest-only mortgages years before the economy collapsed, buckling to pressure from some of the same banks that have now failed. It ignored remarkably prescient warnings that foretold the financial meltdown, according to an Associated Press review of regulatory documents.

"Expect fallout, expect foreclosures, expect horror stories," California mortgage lender Paris Welch wrote to U.S. regulators in January 2006, about one year before the housing implosion cost her a job.

Bowing to aggressive lobbying — along with assurances from banks that the troubled mortgages were OK — regulators delayed action for nearly one year. By the time new rules were released late in 2006, the toughest of the proposed provisions were gone and the meltdown was under way.

Well, the Bush Administration has been remarkably consistent in totally ignoring warning signs — I'll give them that. 

That's the legacy.

Don’t Let Your Door Hit Your Ass On The Way Out

He's been teetering on the brink for, well, years, now… but Bush has never quite had the lowest approval numbers in presidential history (well, or at least for as long as they measure those things).

But no more.

A full 76% of Americans not disapprove of Bush.  That's worse than Nixon at the height of Watergate (66% disapproval), and the record loaw of Truman during his last year in office (67%).

I almost feel sorry for the guy.  What must that feel like?

The Wall Street Journal Jumped The Shark Today

Not that I was ever a fan, but at least it was somewhat respectable.

Until, of course, today’s op-ed entitled — I’m not making this up — What Bush and Batman Have in Common

Apparently, this is what Bush and Batman (at least, the latest incarnation of Batman) have in common:

1)  They are both "vilified and despised for confronting terrorists in the only terms they understand".

I haven’t seen the new Batman movie, so I can’t speak to that.  However, of the many reasons I villify and despise Bush, one of them is not because he confronts terrorists on terms they understand.

First of all, I don’t what that means – "only terms they understand".  Sounds machismo bullshit.

But more importantly, he doesn’t confront terrorists.  He left the pursuit for bin Laden to go into Iraq, where there weren’t terrorists to begin with!!!

2)  They both hav to "push the boundaries of civil rights to deal with an emergency, certain that he will re-establish those boundaries when the emergency is past".

Well, that’s a wishy-washy sentence if I ever heard one.  How does one define "emergency"?  What does "pushing the boundaries" actually mean?

***

In any event, Bush is not Batman.  Not even close.  For starters, when his nation calls, Batman shows up.  He didn’t pull daddy’s strings and spend four year avoiding service by (barely) attending the National Air Guard to avoid combat.

Need I say more?

UPDATE:  The rightwing blogosphere is all over the WSJ op-ed, praising it to high heaven, accompanied by the digital equivalent of fist-pounding-the-air. 

These are the very serious people who take the GWOT very seriously.  By comparing it to comic books and their cinematic offspring.

Bush’s Off Camera Comment

First, the video:

Bush was speaking at a July 18 fundraiser for Pete Olsen. 

The first moments form the event find him speaking almost incoherently in admitting, for once, that his friends in big business had screwed up:

"There’s no question about it. Wall Street got drunk —that’s one of the reasons I asked you to turn off the TV cameras — it got drunk and now it’s got a hangover. The question is how long will it sober up and not try to do all these fancy financial instruments."

Now, this is getting a little play on the blogosphere, and of course what is controversial is not what Bush said, but the fact that he said it.

He’s basically placing blame for the mortgage crisis on those on Wall Street who create "fancy financial instruments" which hide the value (or lack thereof) of investments.

And he’s right!

What’s telling is that he wanted the cameras OFF when he said that.  Apparently, he didn’t want to piss off his fatcat buddies.  But what does that say about presidential leadership???

Greenwald Is Good Today

He’s on a rant about the Justice Department under the Bush Adminsitration — people who seem to think they work for the President and not for the people of the United States:

The core attribute of the Justice Department is independence, not allegiance to the President as "client." The President has his own lawyers in the White House Counsel’s Office. The Attorney General is not and never was one of those lawyers. To the contrary, the Attorney General represents the people of the United States — if he has any "client," that’s who it is — and is often required to take positions and actions adverse to the President. Few things could subvert — and have subverted — the American justice system more than thinking of the President as being the "client" of the Attorney General.

This all used to be so basic. But the belief that the DOJ exists to advance the interests and wishes of the President has become a central premise of how our Government now works. The Justice Department has been transformed into but another cog in the instruments of Government that protect and serve the President. And that transformation isn’t unique to Alberto Gonzales (who, during a CNN interview while Attorney General, actually referred to Bush as "my client"), as The Washington Post‘s Dan Froomkin pointed out yesterday:

Michael Mukasey has President Bush’s back.

Mukasey succeeded toady Alberto Gonzales as attorney general last fall. But the notion that he would restore independence to that post took a big hit yesterday when he refused to turn over to a House committee key documents related to the CIA leak investigation.

This isn’t just ranting for the sake of ranting.  The people who think they work for Bush literally have no idea who they seem to actually work for or what their allegience is to, even though it’s spelled out in their oath. 

Exhibit A from last year — former White House official Sara Taylor actually went before the Senate and testified that she understood that she took an oath when she went to the White House that was "an oath to the President":

That’s quite disconcerting…

Bush’s Legacy

Yes, I too think it is time we should start naming public buildings after our illustrious president.  A good place to start:

A measure seeking to commemorate President Bush’s years in office by slapping his name on a San Francisco sewage plant has qualified for the November ballot.

The measure certified Thursday would rename the Oceanside Water Pollution Control Plant the George W. Bush Sewage Plant.

Supporters say the idea is to commemorate the mess they claim Bush has left behind by actions such as the war in Iraq.

They’re pretty funny out there in California.

President A-Hole

You know, it’s not just that he’s wrong; it’s that he’s arrogantly wrong.  Proud of it.

Read this:

President George Bush signed off with a defiant farewell over his refusal to accept global climate change targets at his last G8 summit.

As he prepared to fly out from Japan, he told his fellow leaders: "Goodbye from the world’s biggest polluter."

President Bush made the private joke in the summit’s closing session, senior sources said yesterday. His remarks were taken as a two-fingered salute from the President from Texas who is wedded to the oil industry.

Now, this is from the British journal, The Independent, so keep in mind that the "two-fingered salute" is the Brit equivalent of the "one-fingered salute" in our country.

In other words, President was snotty and snide about our country being the world’s biggest polluter, and world leaders at the G8 correctly understood his comment to be snotty and snide.

Six more months of this doofus.

UPDATE  Hilzoy weighs in

In a sane world, no diplomat would care about such things as: the shape of the table used in negotiations, whether they personally are treated with basic respect, etc. But we do not live in that world. We live in a world populated by human beings with egos. And that creates a wonderful opportunity: to get things we want not by conceding anything of real importance, but just by listening earnestly when the Minister of Whatnot wants to tell us about his grandkids, or by holding the door for His Excellency, or — who knows? — by not giving one’s rival leaders "the verbal equivalent of a kick in the nuts."

Giving up that opportunity is just dumb, if you care about whatever it is that you’re trying to get other countries to agree with.

But what’s even dumber is to make other countries so annoyed at you that they don’t agree to deals they might otherwise sign on to, just because you’ve been such a jerk. If you do that, you’re not just failing to get potential freebies; you’re giving up real successes for no reason at all. Again, imagine the counterpart from normal life. Suppose you were engaged in a complicated contract negotiation, and it turned out that your lawyer just couldn’t keep herself from telling the other negotiators what total assh*les and idiots they were. She might be right. And you might feel tempted, for a moment, to think: good for you! that’s telling them! But that moment would pass, and when it did, you’d either sit her down for a long stern talk or fire her. Because she’s endangering your prospects for success for no good reason.

Obviously, there are moments when you have to blow up, and when blowing up can be productive. But the G-8 meeting was not one of them. Moreover, when losing your temper works in negotiations, its working generally depends on its being rare, and on other people believing that it’s not calculated. When a normally self-controlled and decent person blows up, it can, under the right circumstances, be a salutory shock. But if it’s your standard operating procedure, you’re just a jerk.

When I read people saying things like "More please", or "Horray!", I think: these are people who are willing to sacrifice our success in actually getting what we want for some short-term emotional gratification (and pretty dubious emotional gratification at that.) Why they would think that it’s a good idea is completely beyond me. It’s like discovering that a car dealer can be induced to give you a free car if only you gratify her ego, and thinking not: Wow! How wonderful! but: Why the hell should I cater to her psychological needs? (To get a car without paying for it, silly!)

Except that in this case, it’s not the diplomat (or President) who would get the car; it’s all of us.

Bush Is An Embarrassment To The GOP

…which is going to make the GOP convention very… aaaawwwwkward.

I mean, the last thing the McCain people want is to have their boy up on stage, in front of the whole nation, being embraced by their party’s leader, who just happens to be the most unpopular President in the history of polling.

The solution?  "Give the president a first-night speech, and then get him out of town before McCain arrives."

Yeah, I’m sure nobody will notice or comment on that.

“I Cant Heeeeear You”

The White House is full of children.

In 2007, the Supreme Court ruled that the EPA must determine whether greenhouse gases represent a danger to health or the environment.  The EPA, under Bush Administration influence, had been dragging its heels on the issue, saying that it was not part of its duties.  The Supreme Court said, "Oh, yes it is".

So the EPA made its determination.  They studied the issue and concluded that greenhouse gases are pollutants that must be controlled.  They sent — by email — their findings to the White House, who would then have to, you know, do something about it.

But those clever people at the White House had a plan.  Knowing what the email contained, they decided not to open the EPA’s email.  That was back in December (although we’re only finding out about it now).

Following that clever ruse, the White House set out to pressure the EPA to water down their original conclusion:

This week, more than six months later, the E.P.A. is set to respond to that order by releasing a watered-down version of the original proposal that offers no conclusion. Instead, the document reviews the legal and economic issues presented by declaring greenhouse gases a pollutant.

Over the past five days, the officials said, the White House successfully put pressure on the E.P.A. to eliminate large sections of the original analysis that supported regulation, including a finding that tough regulation of motor vehicle emissions could produce $500 billion to $2 trillion in economic benefits over the next 32 years. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter.

Both documents, as prepared by the E.P.A., “showed that the Clean Air Act can work for certain sectors of the economy, to reduce greenhouse gases,” one of the senior E.P.A. officials said. “That’s not what the administration wants to show. They want to show that the Clean Air Act can’t work.”

The EPA, by the way, is supposed to be an independent agency.  From its website:

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was established in the executive branch as an independent agency pursuant to Reorganization Plan #3 of 1970, effective December 2, 1970.

That means political branches can’t mess with it.  But this is the Bush White House.  *Sigh*

Here’s What Happened

The folks over at McClatchy newspapers are trumpeting their own horn about their reportage in the run-up to the Iraq War.  And well they should.  Unlike the rest of the media, they actually questioned the Bush Administration’s "intelligence" and justification for an Iraq War. To them (and other astute political observers), Scott McLellan’s book is nothing new.

But the "crimes" of the Bush Adminsitration turns out to be quite the laundry list:

OK, Scott, What Happened?

Here’s what happened, based entirely on our own reporting and publicly available documents:

* The Bush administration was gunning for Iraq within days of the 9/11 attacks, dispatching a former CIA director, on a flight authorized by Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, to find evidence for a bizarre theory that Saddam Hussein was responsible for the first World Trade Center attack in 1993. (Note: See also Richard Clarke and former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill on this point).

* Bush decided by February 2002, at the latest, that he was going to remove Saddam by hook or by crook. (Yes, we reported that at the time).

* White House officials, led by Dick Cheney, began making the case for war in August 2002, in speeches and reports that  not only were wrong, but also went well beyond what the available intelligence said at that time, and contained outright fantasies and falsehoods. Indeed, some of that material was never vetted with the intelligence agencies before it was peddled to the public.

* Dissenters, or even those who voiced worry about where the policy was going, were ignored, excluded or punished. (Note: See Gen. Eric Shinseki,  Paul O’Neill, Joseph Wilson and all of the State Department ‘s Arab specialists and much of its intelligence bureau).

* The Bush administration didn’t even want to produce the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction programs that’s justly received so much criticism since.  The White House thought it was unneeded. It  actually was demanded by Congress and slapped together in a matter of weeks before the congressional votes to authorize war on Iraq.

* The October 2002 NIE was flawed, no doubt. But it contained dissents questioning the extent of Saddam’s WMD programs, dissents that were buried in the report. Doubts and dissents were then stripped from the publicly released, unclassified version of the NIE.

* The core of the administration’s case for war was not just that Saddam was developing WMDs, but also that, unchecked, he might give them to terrorists to attack the United States. Remember smoking guns and mushroom clouds? Inconveniently, the CIA had determined just the opposite: Saddam would attack the United States only if he concluded a U.S. attack on him was unavoidable. He’d give WMD to Islamist terrorists only "as a last chance to exact revenge."

* The Bush administration relied heavily on an Iraqi exile, Ahmed Chalabi, who had been found to be untrustworthy by the State Department and the CIA. Chalabi and his Iraqi National Congress were given millions, and produced "defectors" whose tales of WMD sites and terrorist training were false, fanciful and bogus. But the information was fed directly to senior officials and included in official White House documents.

* The same INC-supplied "intelligence" used in the White House propaganda effort (you got that bit right, Scott) also was fed to dozens of U.S. and foreign news organizations.

* It all culminated in a speech by Secretary of State Colin Powell to the U.N. Security Council in February 2003 making the case against Saddam. Virtually every major allegation Powell made turned out later to be wrong. It would have been even worse had not Powell and his team thrown out even more shaky "intelligence" that Cheney’s office repeatedly tried to stuff into the speech.

* The Bush administration tried to link Saddam to al Qaida and, by implication, to the 9/11 attacks. Officials repeatedly pushed the CIA for information on such links, and a seperate intel shop was set up under Defense Under Secretary Douglas Feith to find "proof" of such ties. Neither the CIA nor anyone else ever found anything resembling an operational relationship between Saddam and al Qaida.

* An exhaustive review of Saddam Hussein’s regime’s own documents, released in March 2008, found no operational relationship between Saddam and al Qaida.

* The Bush administration failed to plan for the rebuilding of postwar Iraq, as we were perhaps the first to report. The White House ignored stacks of intelligence reports, some now available in partially unclassified form, warning before the war about the possibilities for insurgency, ethnic warfare, social chaos and the like.

We could go on, but the rest, as they say, is history.

That’s what happened.

And that’s what history will record.

The McClellan Book

You know, it doesn’t say anything that many of us didn’t already know.  It’s just nice to see someone on the inside of the Bush Administration admit that these things went on:

WASHINGTON (CNN) — The incidents that first left then-White House press secretary Scott McClellan "dismayed and disillusioned" about Washington involved the surreptitious release of classified information, McClellan said Thursday.

The first of the "defining moments," McClellan told NBC’s "Today" show, was when CIA operative Valerie Plame’s name was leaked to the media.

The second, he said, was when he learned that President Bush had secretly declassified a report on Iraq so Vice President Dick Cheney and Cheney aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby could disclose it to reporters.

"We had been out there talking about how seriously the president took the leaking of classified information, and here we were learning that the president had authorized the very same that we were criticizing," McClellan said, the day after his controversial memoir hit bookstore shelves.

***

As White House spokesman, McClellan defended Bush’s policies during much of the Iraq war, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the scandal that followed the leak of Plame’s identity.

But he now says the administration was mired in propaganda and political spin and played loose with the truth at times.

In March 2007, Libby was found guilty of perjury, obstruction of justice and making false statements for lying about what he said to reporters about Plame. Bush later commuted Libby’s 2½-year sentence prison sentence, but left in place Libby’s fine and probation.

McClellan told "Today" on Thursday, "I had been assured — and [then-senior adviser] Karl Rove and ‘Scooter’ Libby both — I asked them point-blank, ‘Were you involved in this in any way?’ And both assured me in unequivocal terms, ‘No, we were not involved.’ "

"And Rove even told the president, and the president and VP directed me to go out and exonerate ‘Scooter’ Libby on this, and that’s when I went to ‘Scooter’ and asked him the question," McClellan said.

***

McClellan also discussed how, he said, Bush decided to go to war against Iraq soon after the 2001 terrorist attacks on the U.S. The president ordered aides to make arrangements for it, McClellan told "Today."

"I think very early on, a few months after September 11, he made a decision that we’re going to confront Saddam Hussein, and if Hussein doesn’t come fully clean, then we’re going to go to war. There was really no flexibility in his approach," McClellan said. "Then it was put on the advisers: How do we go about implementing this? How do we go about doing this?"

So, there you have it.  From someone on the inside.  They lied.  They leaked.  They manipulated.

Also:

In hindsight, McClellan views the war as a mistake by a president swept up by his own propaganda and a grand plan of seeding democracy in the Middle East by overturning Saddam Hussein‘s regime.

McClellan says Bush and his aides became so wrapped up in trying to shape the story to their political advantage that they ignored facts that didn’t fit the picture. He blames it on a "permanent campaign culture" that pervades Washington.

Over 4,000 U.S. soldiers dead.  Because the Bush Administration was obsessed with a second term and engaged in groupthink.

What is "groupthink"?  It plagued the Johnson administration, too.  It is a term coined by social psychologist Irving Janis.  In order to make groupthink testable, Irving Janis devised eight symptoms that are indicative of groupthink.  They are:

1. Illusions of invulnerability creating excessive optimism and encouraging risk taking.
2. Rationalising warnings that might challenge the group’s assumptions.
3. Unquestioned belief in the morality of the group, causing members to ignore the consequences of their actions.
4. Stereotyping those who are opposed to the group as weak, evil, disfigured, impotent, or stupid.
5. Direct pressure to conform placed on any member who questions the group, couched in terms of “disloyalty”.
6. Self censorship of ideas that deviate from the apparent group consensus.
7. Illusions of unanimity among group members, silence is viewed as agreement.
8. Mindguards — self-appointed members who shield the group from dissenting information.

So, future presidents, what have we learned?

The wingnut blogosphere is blaming the messenger as they always do, attacking McClellan as a liberal, a liar, a charlatan trying to sell books, and claiming they never liked him anyway.

The White House is perhaps even more spittle-flecked than the bloggers, calling McClellan "disgruntled" and even a traitor.

And so it shall always be.

Bush Makes Ultimate Sacrifice For The War

President Bush finally admitted today that he has been touched by the true cost of war:

For the first time, Bush revealed a personal way in which he has tried to acknowledge the sacrifice of soldiers and their families: He has given up golf.

"I don’t want some mom whose son may have recently died to see the commander in chief playing golf," he said. "I feel I owe it to the families to be in solidarity as best as I can with them. And I think playing golf during a war just sends the wrong signal."

UPDATE: Warren Street at Blue Girl, Red State says that Bush is lying about why he quit golf:

Actually, it is far more likely that Bush quit playing golf because he was suffering from knee problems throughout the latter half of 2003.

Street then links to a CBS News article published in December 2003:

Bush, 57, will have an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) test on Thursday, Dec. 18. The body-scanning device enables doctors to see internal organs in 3D.

The MRI is being performed on the advice of the President’s regular White House physician. Last summer, Bush suffered a minor muscle tear in his right calf and that injury, along with aching knees, forced him to abandon his running routine. The calf strain healed by August when he had his annual physical, but the president said in September that he suspected he had a meniscus tear.

UPDATE II: Bush actually played his last round of golf on October 13, 2003.  We started bombing in August 2003.

UPDATE III:  One might well ask why golfing during wartime sends "the wrong signal", but recreational boating and fishing with the familly at Kennebunkport is just fine….

UPDATE IV:  Rude Pundit says:

Sure, it’s easy to knock President Bush for his "If I play golf, soldiers’ families will cry" remark to Politico. That foolishness is easily disposed of with this from a year ago:


Seriously, dude, just fuckin’ golf. And don’t use the war as an excuse for your weak-ass follow-through.

Lower, Lower, Lower

CNN/Gallup:

Poll: Bush most unpopular in modern history

A new poll suggests that George W. Bush is the most unpopular president in modern American history.

A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Thursday indicates that 71 percent of the American public disapprove of how Bush his handling his job as president.

"No president has ever had a higher disapproval rating in any CNN or Gallup poll; in fact, this is the first time that any president’s disapproval rating has cracked the 70 percent mark," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

Ignominious Honor

Gallup:

President Bush has set a record he’d presumably prefer to avoid: the highest disapproval rating of any president in the 70-year history of the Gallup Poll.

In a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll taken Friday through Sunday, 28% of Americans approve of the job Bush is doing; 69% disapprove. The approval rating matches the low point of his presidency, and the disapproval sets a new high for any president since Franklin Roosevelt.

The previous record of 67% was reached by Harry Truman in January 1952, when the United States was enmeshed in the Korean War.

[…]

Views of Bush divide sharply along party lines. Among Republicans, 66% approve and 32% disapprove. Disapproval is nearly universal — 91% — among Democrats. Of independents, 23% approve, 72% disapprove of the job he’s doing.

Gonzales Can’t Get Hired

Heh:

Alberto Gonzales can’t find a job.

The former attorney general has been on the market for more than six months, but The New York Times reports that he has yet to find a full-time gig in the private sector.

"The greatest impediment to Mr. Gonzales’s being offered the kind of high-salary job being snagged these days by lesser Justice Department officials, many lawyers agree, is his performance during his last few months in office," the paper says. "In that period, he was openly criticized by lawmakers for being untruthful in his sworn testimony. His conduct is being investigated by the Office of the Inspector General of the Justice Department, which could recommend actions from exonerating him to recommending criminal charges."

Wrong Track

Picture4This is a very astounding number:

Americans are more dissatisfied with the country’s direction than at any time since the New York Times/CBS News poll began asking about the subject in the early 1990s, according to the latest poll.

In the poll, 81 percent of respondents said they believed "things have pretty seriously gotten off on the wrong track." That’s up from 69 percent a year ago and 35 percent in early 2002.

Politically, this is very bad news for the incumbent party, which means the McCain people cannot be happy.  He’s got to distance himself from Bush, something he’s shown almost no serious signs of doing.

RELATED:  Robert S. McElvaine at the History News Network writes:

HNN Poll: 61% of Historians Rate the Bush Presidency Worst.

In an informal survey of 109 professional historians
conducted over a three-week period through the History News Network, 98.2 percent assessed the presidency of Mr. Bush to be a failure while 1.8 percent classified it as a success.

Asked to rank the presidency of George W. Bush in comparison to those of the other 41 American presidents, more than 61 percent of the historians concluded that the current presidency is the worst in the nation’s history. Another 35 percent of the historians surveyed rated the Bush presidency in the 31st to 41st category, while only four of the 109 respondents ranked the current presidency as even among the top two-thirds of American administrations. …

In a similar survey of historians I conducted for HNN four years ago, Mr. Bush had fared somewhat better, with 19 percent rating his presidency a success and 81 percent classifying it as a failure. More striking is the dramatic increase in the percentage of historians who rate the Bush presidency the worst ever. In 2004, only 11.6 percent of the respondents rated Bush’s presidency last. That conclusion is now reached by nearly six times as large a fraction of historians.

War And Romance

Bush laments that his advanced age doesn’t let him participate in his own screw-ups:

"I must say, I’m a little envious," Bush said. "If I were slightly younger and not employed here, I think it would be a fantastic experience to be on the front lines of helping this young democracy succeed."

"It must be exciting for you … in some ways romantic, in some ways, you know, confronting danger. You’re really making history, and thanks," Bush said.

Of course, we all remember that Bush had an actual opportunity to put his life on the line in a war, and he chose to avoid doing so.

Bush: Now Officially The Least Popular Prez Evah

19%.  And look at the drop from last month….

Bush job approval Approve Disapprove Undecided
Feb 2008 19% 77% 4%
Jan 2008 34% 59% 7%
Dec 2007 32% 66% 2%
Nov 2007 31% 64% 5%
Oct 2007 25% 67% 8%
Sep 2007 34% 60% 6%
Aug 2007 28% 65% 7%
Jul 2007 25% 71% 4%
Jun 2007 27% 67% 6%
May 2007 31% 64% 5%
Apr 2007 33% 62% 5%
Mar 2007 32% 63% 5%
Feb 2007 39% 56% 5%

Of course, this is only one poll, but if other polls come up with the same thing, then Bush will be the first President to ever have an approval rating under 20%.  The lowest in history was President Truman, who had 22%.  Nixon had 24% at his lowest.

Two Days, Two Points Of View

President Bush, yesterday, to the Conservative Political Action Conference, criticizing Democrats:

“They tend to think Washington has the answers to our problems…”

President Bush, today, on tornado damage:

"People have got to understand here in the region that a lot of folks around America care for them. And I’m here to listen, to determine — to make sure that the federal response is compassionate and effective. I don’t want people to think something is going to happen that’s not going to happen. And therefore when we say something is going to happen to help them get their feet back on the ground, it will happen."

One wonders what would happen if Bush delivered his "Washington shouldn’t help" rhetoric to the people of the devestated tornado regions in the South.

But it always amazes me how we can elect people who are hostile to government to actually RUN the biggest government in the world.  It’s kind of like putting Ralph Nader at the head of General Motors.  And then complaining about the results.

Bathtub

Duck And Cover

Vice President Cheney Returning To South Texas On Hunting Trip:

Vice President Dick Cheney will be in South Texas this weekend for another hunting trip on the same ranch where he was involved in a hunting accident back in February of 2005. Cheney’s press office confirmed that he is heading to the Armstrong Ranch, six miles south of Sarita, in Kenedy County just off of Highway 77.

Exact details were unavailable because Cheney is heading to hunt on private property and it is a security concern. However, it is confirmed that, in fact, the V.P. will be coming to the Armstrong Ranch on Friday afternoon. His press office told KRIS-6 News that he does plan to spend a weekend hunting but it is unclear who he will be with.

This is the same place where the V.P. accidentally sprayed Austin lawyer Harry Whittington with birdshot over his face and torso while they wer both hunting quail. Whittington was halo flighted to Spohn Memorial in Corpus Christi, and that is where four Blackhawk helicopters were preforming training procedures to gear up for the V.P.’s visit.

Somehow, I don’t think Whittington will be in the hunting party this time….

Bush’s RNC Nomination Speech, 2000

Man, what a liar he turned out to be:

“America’s armed forces need better equipment, better training and better pay . . . A generation shaped by Vietnam must remember the lessons of Vietnam: When America uses force in the world, the cause must be just, the goal must be clear, and the victory must be overwhelming . . . I don’t have enemies to fight. I have no stake in the bitter arguments of the last few years. I want to change the tone of Washington to one of civility and respect . . . We’re learning to protect the natural world around us. We will continue this progress, and we will not turn back … to lead this nation to a responsibility era, that president himself must be responsible. So when I put my hand on the Bible, I will swear to uphold the laws of our land . . . I will not attack a part of this country because I want to lead the whole of it.”

So What Is The State Of The Union?

I missed the speech last night.  So what is the state of the Union?

Is it "strong"?  Yeah, I bet it is.  I bet that’s what he said.  It’s "strong".

UPDATE:  Well, looking through the text, he never actually said that.  Usually, within the first couple of sentences, the President will proclaim (not just "say", but literally proclaim) "The State of the Union is strong!" [Applause].

I guess his speechwriters saw the wisdom in not opening with a laugh line.

They did manage to weasel this in the end, though:

And so long as we continue to trust the people, our nation will prosper, our liberty will be secure, and the state of our Union will remain strong.

So, you know, it’s like he had already said the state of the Union is strong, and now he’s telling us it will "remain" that way.  Except, he never actually could say the state of the Union was strong.

State Of The Union 2008

Not much to say about Bush’s last State of the Union speech.  I only note it because my first post ever on this blog was about the State of The Union — four years and one week ago today.  That was 5,301 posts ago.

But who’s counting?

Anyway, Bush will speak tonight — supposedly to calm American’s nerves about the impending economic crisis.  Of course, when he last spoke on that subject one week ago, the Dow dropped almost 150 points immediately (like, within the hour) after he got through.