Saturday, June 30, 2007

Bush's New Vision For Iraq : Like Israel, With Less Car Bombings

Bush Reconfigures 'War On Terror' To Be 'War Against Unacceptable Level Of Terror'

Bush told Iraqis, and US, that they better get used to scenes like this in a free and democratic Iraq.

If you want to define success in Iraq, says Bush, think of Israel. But with less car bombings. And less suicide attacks. And less beheadings. And less massacres, and IED attacks, and executions by the double dozen. Not no terror at all, just some terror. You know, like Israel.

I'll just hazard a guess here, but isn't Israel exactly what most Iraqis don't want their newly 'liberated' country to become?

Cue furious and Zionist Conspiracy headlines from the Arab and Muslim media across the planet.

Meanwhile, back in Washington, Bush is finding that even die-hard Republican backers of the war from day one are now publicly stating that American troops should begin coming home, within months, not years. Or decades.

From the Associated Press :
President Bush held up Israel as a model for defining success in Iraq, saying Thursday the U.S. goal there is not to eliminate attacks but to enable a democracy that can function despite violence.

With his Iraq policy under increasing criticism from the public and lawmakers in both parties, Bush went to the U.S. Naval War College to declare progress and plead for patience. At the same time, his top national security went to Capitol Hill to hear out Republican critics.

Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana, the senior Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, said this week U.S. troops should start leaving now because Bush's strategy will not have time to work.

The White House thought it had until an expected September assessment by military commanders before facing a showdown on the unpopular war.

But a majority of senators now believes troops should start coming home in the next few months. House Republicans want to revive the independent Iraq Study Group to get new options.

Here's some of Bush's most recent comments on Iraq, and his whole 'Think Israel, With Less Bombings' definition of success.

The president laid out in some of his plainest terms yet how to determine when the U.S. presence in Iraq has achieved its goals. This, Bush said, is "the rise of a government that can protect its people, deliver basic services for all its citizens and function as a democracy even amid violence."

"Our success in Iraq must not be measured by the enemy's ability to get a car bombing in the evening news," he said. "No matter how good the security, terrorists will always be able to explode a bomb on a crowded street."

So much for a safe and secure Iraq for all Iraqis. You're free, what's a few car bombings, in the mornings, and afternoons when you've got democracy?

(Bush) suggested Israel, the frequent target of terrorist attacks and a country in a decades-long, intractable and often violent dispute with Palestinians, as a standard to strive for.

"In places like Israel, terrorists have taken innocent human life for years in suicide attacks," Bush said. "The difference is that Israel is a functioning democracy and it's not prevented from carrying out its responsibilities. And that's a good indicator of success that we're looking for in Iraq."

It was likely to be controversial _ and possibly even explosive _ for Bush to set out Israel as a model for a Muslim Middle Eastern nation.

Aside from Israel's security problems, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is such a sensitive issue in the Muslim world that it has become a rallying cry for many and major recruiting tool for Islamic extremist groups such as al-Qaida.

Wasn't the whole idea of the 'War on Terror' to actually STOP TERRORISM?

Bush is now arguing that Iraqis must accept a certain level of car bombings and suicide attacks as part of their lives for however long into the future.

Should make for some extremely deadly future elections.

Iraq : Another American Massacre, 17 Slaughtered
Bush To God : Please Kill Fidel Castro, Soon

President Bush was asked for his thoughts about Cuban dictator Fidel Castro the other day. He responded that God will take care of him. As in kill him off, in time.

When Castro appeared to be on the brink of death earlier this, the US State Department and the NeoCon media were positively drooling over his imminent demise. However Castro has made, somewhat, of a miraculous recovery, and is set to outlast President Bush. If Castro survives, and remains in power in January, 2009, he will have seen off 10 American presidents.
Castro, who has long accused U.S. leaders of wanting him dead, in an editorial published on Monday accused Bush of "authorizing and ordering" an attempt on his life, but provided no evidence to back up the claim.

Bush said of the Cuban dictator, and God :

"One day the good Lord will take Fidel Castro away...."

Asked whether Bush was wishing Castro dead, White House National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe said: "The president was commenting on an inevitable event."

Castro has long been a thorn in the side of U.S. presidents, defying them and outlasting them in office.

Documents released by the CIA this week showed that the spy agency worked with three American mobsters in a botched attempt to assassinate Castro in the early 1960s.

The Imminent Death Of Fidel Castro : A Reason For the US To Invade Yet Another Country?

Friday, June 29, 2007

Immigration Bill Dead - A "Stake Through The Heart"

Bush Suffers Major Policy Defeat

How humiliating is it to be President Bush?

Very. Very, very.

And so it's over. The Senate votes are in and the Bush-pushed Immigration bill, that would have given unofficial amnesty to more than 12 million illegal immigrants, plus his plans to resurrect it by a positive vote on further debate in the Senate, have all been defeated.

The early talk is there is no hope of it being resurrected any time soon, and the 'amnesty' plan is unlikely to see the light of day on Capitol Hill again until well after the next president sets up shop in the West Wing.

From Raw Story :
The bill had represented one of President George W. Bush's last, best hopes for a signature second-term domestic achievement, and its failure will come as another painful blow to a White House besieged with political woes.
Bush is not just a lame duck president now, he is Peking - roasted and toasted.

From the Associated Press :
The Senate drove a stake Thursday through President Bush's plan to legalize millions of unlawful immigrants...

After the stinging political setback, Bush sounded resigned to defeat.

"Legal immigration is one of the top concerns of the American people, and Congress' failure to act on it is a disappointment," he said after an appearance in Newport, R.I. "A lot of us worked hard to see if we couldn't find common ground. It didn't work."

The bill's Senate supporters fell 14 votes short of the 60 needed to limit debate and clear the way for final passage of the legislation, which critics assailed as offering amnesty to illegal immigrants. The vote was 46 to 53 in favor of limiting the debate.

Some senators in both parties said the issue is so volatile that Congress is unlikely to revisit it this fall or next year, when the presidential election will increasingly dominate American politics.

Bush appeared glum as he spoke. His negotiators had expressed optimism the vote would go their way - or, at least be closer.

"Congress really needs to prove to the American people that it can come together on hard issues," Bush said. He turned attention to other his other goals in Congress this year, including energy, health care and balanced-budget initiatives.

Last year a similar immigration effort collapsed in Congress, and the House has not bothered with an immigration bill this year, awaiting Senate action.

It was a victory for Republican conservatives who strongly criticized the bill's provisions that would have established pathways to lawful status for many of the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants. They were aided by talk radio and TV hosts who repeatedly attacked the bill and urged listeners to flood Congress with calls, faxes and e-mails.

Bush, making a last-ditch bid to salvage the bill, called senators early Thursday morning to urge their support. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez approached senators as they entered and left the chamber shortly before the vote.

But conservatives from Bush's own party led the opposition. They repeatedly said the government must secure the borders before allowing millions of illegal aliens a path to legal status.

Update : American democracy in action. So many Americans called their senators on Capitol Hill in opposition to further debate on the immigration bill, that the volume of calls crashed the entire phone system, according to a Senator speaking on the floor. Wow. Here's how USA Today reported the news :
We're having trouble confirming this report because we keep getting a busy signal when we call the switchboard and other offices at the Capitol.

Michelle Malkin, Queen Of The Conservatives, Declares Victory

Amnesty : The Plan To Destroy The USA

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Bush Co. Defies Congress Over Release Of Documents For Probe Into Federal Prosecutors Scandal

'War' between the White House and Congress is breaking out over a number of scandals where Bush Co. has decided it can do whatever it wants, and not have to explain its actions, or motives.

The White House has refused to play ball by handing over key documents that the Democrat-controlled House and Senate Judiciary Committees claim will shed further light into how Bush Co. came to decide to fire a number of federal prosecutors it believed held views and opinions that were not in line with how they wanted to run the courts.

The White House clearly intends to go down to the mat with the Democrats over this matter, and seem quite happy to let it go into the federal courts to be sorted out.

As with so many of the White House-related scandals now filling the pages of American newspapers, and swamping the news talk shows, it all comes down to how Bush Co. views the "separations of power" that are supposed to hold it in check, and accountable to the American people.

But the Democrats just don't get it. Bush Co. doesn't care. They will do what they want, when they want, and how they want. And if the Democrats, and a growing number of dissenting Republicans don't like, then to hell with them.

From Raw Story :
The White House, under attack from Congress for allegedly firing federal prosecutors based on political affiliation, asserted executive privilege Thursday and said they could not turn over documents that could shed light on the prosecutors' firings.

In a letter to the chairmen of the the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, President George W. Bush's attorney asserted that White House would not turn over subpoenaed documents for former presidential counsel Harriet Miers and former political director Sara Taylor.

"With respect, it is with much regret that we are forced down this unfortunate path which we sought to avoid by finding grounds for mutual accommodation," White House counsel Fred Fielding wrote. "We had hoped this matter could conclude with your committees receiving information in lieu of having to invoke executive privilege. Instead, we are at this conclusion."

Thursday was the deadline for surrendering the documents which had been subpoenaed by Congress June 13. The White House also asserted that Miers and Taylor would not testify next month, as directed.

If neither side will budge, "the stalemate could end up with House and Senate contempt citations and a battle in federal court over separation of powers," according to the Associated Press.

Michael Moore Wishes Bush Well

The evisceration of President Bush by film-maker Michael Moore, in his 2003 smash hit documentary, Fahrenheit 9/11, was so hardcore, even people who didn't like the president were left shocked by the depth and breadth of Moore's claims of criminal negligence by the Bush White in the months leading up to the September 11 attacks, and the storm of lies and distortions that led up to the War On Iraq.

Of course, watching Fahrenheit 9/11 today you realise that Moore 100% right about White House foreknowledge of the 9/11 attacks and the way Bush Co. made the case for war, knowing there was little, if any, truth behind most of their claims for why America had to attack Iraq.

It just took a few years for most of the rest of America to see that Moore was telling the truth about the president, and the Cheney-controlled White House.

Moore claims he holds no hard feelings towards President Bush, and why would he? Fahrenheit 9/11 made Moore an extremely wealthy man and sealed his reputation as one of the world's most powerful, and controversial, documentary makers.

Moore's new film, Sicko, is another devastating portrait of Bush's America, this time focusing on a failing health care system that leaves people bankrupt paying for life-saving operations, and sees 9/11 Ground Zero workers forced to go to Cuba to get the specialised help they need to deal with their life-threatening, 9/11 dust induced, lung problems.

When asked about Bush recently, during promotional work for Sicko, Moore said :

"I would wish him well, and ask him to please bring the troops (in Iraq) home."

And yes, that was the longest introduction to a one-line quote we've written so far.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Bush's Secretive White House Refused Investigation Over Leaks In 2005

Classified information has been leaking from the Bush White House almost since the day he first sat down behind the desk inside the West Wing. Usually, the leaked info has been used to disparage or destroy the perceived enemies of the White House, and Vice President Dick Cheney in particular.

Back in 2003, a federal watchdog agency had plans to go inside the executive offices of the West Wing to gather evidence of who was leaking classified information, and why.

As this story from the LA Times details, Bush administration officials not only refused to allow the investigation to go forward, but leaks about the attempts to stop investigations of the leaks came from "security officers" inside the White House, clearly upset about the violations of the law they were either directly witnessing, or being told about by others close to those involved :
The report of the White House's refusal to be inspected comes amid criticism from congressional Democrats of how President Bush signed an executive order requiring federal agencies to submit to independent oversight of their handling of classified information, but did not enforce it for his office or that of Vice President Dick Cheney.

The blocked inspection was described in an April 23 letter to former White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card from Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Los Angeles), who provided a copy of the letter to the Los Angeles Times on Monday.

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino told reporters Monday that the president considered his office and that of the vice president exempt from his directive. The 2003 executive order addressed a system of safeguards for government agencies aimed at ensuring that classified national security information is properly handled so it doesn't fall into the wrong hands, that improper leaks of such information are investigated promptly, and that government secrets are properly declassified at the appropriate time.

The Information Security Oversight Office, an agency within the federal National Archives and Records Administration, is in charge of the effort, with broad authorities that include inspections of government agencies to make sure that they are in compliance.

The president's and vice president's offices handle some of the most highly classified national security information.

Waxman said the White House in 2005 denied a similar effort by the oversight agency to inspect the executive offices where the president's top advisors work, known as the West Wing. Waxman said investigators from the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform were told of the incident by White House security officers.

It was not clear what prompted the inspection. The oversight agency has not commented on it.

Waxman said the executive order gave the agency "governmentwide authority to conduct on-site inspections of all executive branch offices and agencies to ensure that security programs are effective."

But, he told Card, "the security officers reported that after an initial meeting, a senior White House official intervened and instructed the White House Security Office to block any inspection of the West Wing. The security officers expressed shock that the Information Security Oversight Office was not permitted to conduct an inspection."

Waxman, the chairman of the powerful House oversight committee, told Card that his staff investigators also found numerous problems with the way the White House handled classified information. That investigation was prompted by a March hearing in which the committee examined the leak by White House officials of the identity of now-retired CIA officer Valerie Plame.

At the March hearing, White House Chief Security Officer James Knodell testified that the White House Security Office never conducted an internal investigation to identify the source of the leaks, did not initiate corrective actions to prevent future breaches, and never considered administrative sanctions or reprimands for officials involved.

Waxman said the failure of the White House to take such steps appeared to be a violation of the executive order Bush signed, which establishes minimum requirements for safeguarding classified information and responding to breaches.
Republican Senators Losing Patience With Bush Over Iraq War

GOP Dissent Spreads, Fractures Widen

Republican Senator Richard G. Lugar is by no means the first GOPer to break ranks and announce that he has lost faith in the president's ability to win the Iraq War, but he is expected to be the first of a new wave of dissent on the Hill.

Lugar is no low-ranking rebel, hoping for a moment in the national media spotlight by bagging his boss. He has been one of the most die-hard supporters of Bush, particularly when it came to Iraq and the 'War on Terror'. And Lugar also happens to be the ranking Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee.

Lugar's fears that the US is losing the Iraq War, and is indelibly damaging the international reputation and standing of the United States, is reportedly a common belief amongst the majority of GOPers, even though few have said as much, so far.

But Lugar's decision to announce, broadly and boldly, to the national media that he has lost faith in the president, and the Iraq War, is expected to spark a flow of fellow GOPer dissent and direct criticism of Bush and his war-fighting policies. In fact, that flow-on effect is already taking hold in Washington.

The message to Bush from the GOP is clear enough : You've been given plenty of time, and that time is running out. Change course now. Before it really is too late.

From the New York Times :

“In my judgment, the costs and risks of continuing down the current path outweigh the potential benefits that might be achieved,” Mr. Lugar said Monday during a 50-minute speech on the Senate floor, which was delivered after nearly everyone in the Capitol had retired for the evening. “Persisting indefinitely with the surge strategy will delay policy adjustments that have a better chance of protecting our vital interests over the long term.”

In an interview with reporters on Tuesday, Mr. Lugar said President Bush had limited time to change the course of the war because of the 2008 presidential campaign.

“We’re heading into a very partisan era,” he said. “The president has the opportunity now to bring about a bipartisan foreign policy. I don’t think he’ll have that option very long.”

His remarks reverberated through Capitol Hill on Tuesday, picking up support from other Republican senators, even as the White House, which was not alerted about Mr. Lugar’s speech in advance, tried to minimize their significance.

At his daily televised briefing, Tony Snow, Mr. Bush’s press secretary, dismissed the idea that the White House might worry that Mr. Lugar’s statement would encourage fellow Republicans to join him in breaking with the president.

For months, Mr. Lugar has kept his skepticism about the president’s Iraq policy largely to himself, seldom offering anything beyond a hopeful wait-and-see statement. A soft-spoken cardinal of foreign policy, Mr. Lugar is known to his colleagues as anything but a bitter partisan, which made his remarks all the more stinging.

Senator George V. Voinovich, an Ohio Republican who also serves on the Foreign Relations Committee, echoed Mr. Lugar’s message in a letter to the president on Tuesday, a critique whose timing was coordinated to follow on the heels of Mr. Lugar’s.

“I am also concerned that we are running out of time,” Mr. Voinovich wrote in the letter.

Other Republicans also said their patience was waning.

“The one real disappointment is that the Iraqi government has not stepped up and fulfilled what we think is the role that they need to play,” said Senator Richard M. Burr, Republican of North Carolina. “If that doesn’t happen quickly, I’m sure more of us will come to the conclusion that Senator Lugar has.”

The White House and the Pentagon have implored lawmakers for patience until they receive an update in September from Gen. David H. Petraeus, the American commander in Iraq.

Mr. Lugar said he thought it was too late to begin devising an exit strategy. The United States is becoming diplomatically paralyzed in the Middle East and around the world, he said, and by September the presidential campaign would inflame the partisanship battle.

“The administration and Congress must suspend what has become almost knee-jerk political combat over Iraq,” Mr. Lugar said. “Those who offer constructive criticism of the surge strategy are not defeatists, any more than those who warn against a precipitous withdrawal are militarists.”

By the end of the day on Tuesday, the White House also had a letter to contend with from Mr. Voinovich, who called on the administration to develop a comprehensive military withdrawal plan from Iraq.

“My heart has been heavy for a long time,” he said in an interview. “We’re talking $620 billion. We’re talking over 3,500 people killed. I have a picture of one of our marines that’s on my desk so I don’t forget, O.K.?”

Mainstream Media Wakes Up To Dictatorial Bush-Cheney Tag Team

By Darryl Mason

The so-called 'conspiracy' and alternative news sites have been cataloguing for more than four years that President Bush, through a series of signing statements, and fine-tuning of authoritarian fine print, has been removing both himself and Vice President, Dick Cheney, from the circles of accountability that Congress, and the American people, usually demand and expect from those who occupy office space in the White House.

Slowly, almost reluctantly, the mainstream American media has finally gotten around to examining just WTF Bush and Cheney are really up.

Of course, it's too late now for any huge media or public outrage to change the way the president and vice-president, do their business, and hide their secrets, and avoid being held accountable.

But then, isn't that always the way with the mainstream American media of today? We learn the truth, we learn the facts behind the lies and spin, but only when it's too late, when the damage has already been done, when there is no going back. The WMD fiasco that led to the Iraq War being the prime, but not only, example of this 'Too Late' revelatory news hitting the front pages.

Maybe before the 2004 election all this expose stuff about the secret presidency of Bush, and the ultra-secret vice-presidency of Dick Cheney, would have made a difference. But back then, nearly all the talk of Bush and Cheney rewriting the rules to give themselves the defacto powers of a dictatorship was confined to 'wacko' web sites.

Yes, learning it all back then, when it was first happening, perhaps then all these exposes and investigative stories might have changed the course of current American history. For the better.

But not now, of course. Bush and Cheney can do virtually anything they want between tomorrow and late January, 2009, and the media, Congress and the American people can do nothing to stop them, short of staging a military coup, or pouring five million protesters into Washington and driving the Bush regime from the West Wing.

Still, it's nice to see the New York Times, and the excellent (but late) investigation of Cheneystan from the Washington Post, finally telling the American people just how extreme the Bush administration has become when it comes to keeping their secrets, spying on Americans, lying for war and torture, and changing the rules of all the games so they will never have to pay for their crimes.

Here's a few chunks from the lead editorial of the New York Times, a few days ago, venting superbly. I read an almost identical editorial in mid-2004, but that was on a 'wacko' 'conspiracy' site :

President Bush has turned the executive branch into a two-way mirror. They get to see everything Americans do: our telephone calls, e-mail, and all manner of personal information. And we get to see nothing about what they do.

Everyone knows this administration has disdained openness and accountability since its first days. That is about the only thing it does not hide. But recent weeks have produced disturbing disclosures about just how far Mr. Bush’s team is willing to go to keep lawmakers and the public in the dark.

That applies to big issues — like the C.I.A.’s secret prisons — and to things that would seem too small-bore to order up a cover-up.

Vice President Dick Cheney sets the gold standard, placing himself not just above Congress and the courts but above Mr. Bush himself. For the last four years, he has been defying a presidential order requiring executive branch agencies to account for the classified information they handle. When the agency that enforces this rule tried to do its job, Mr. Cheney proposed abolishing the agency.

Since the 9/11 attacks, Mr. Bush has tried to excuse his administration’s obsession with secrecy by saying that dangerous times require greater discretion. He rammed the Patriot Act through Congress with a promise that national security agencies would make sure the new powers were not abused.

Governments have to keep secrets. But this administration has grossly abused that trust, routinely using claims of national security to hide policies that are immoral and almost certainly illegal, to avoid embarrassment, and to pursue Mr. Bush’s dreams of an imperial presidency.
That blood-chilling sound you can hear in the distance is Cheney himself, laughing long and hard and mumbling to himself : "So fucking what? What the fuck are you going to do about any of this? Come on. What are you going to do?"

Do You Want Bush & Cheney, Or Do You Want The Republic? You Can't Have Both

Bush Could Stop Cheney...But Why Would He Want To?

Robert Parry : America's Fragile Republic

Bush's America Becomes The Facsimile Of An Authoritarian State Run By The Mafia
Castro : Bush Wants To Have Me Killed...I Think

Fidel Castro, Cuba's communist leader for the past half century claimed, in a confused essay, that President Bush had authorised, and ordered, at least one attempt on his life, possibly many attempts.

Trying to kill Castro was almost a hobby for the CIA in the early 1960s, and orders for the revolutionary to be clipped came from the most senior ranks of the US government, including one direct order from then Attorney General, and brother of the president, Robert Kennedy.

Castro writes that mid-1970s US president Gerald Ford officially banned assassinations. He notes that he doesn't believe orders for a hit came from either President Jimmy Carter or President Bill Clinton.

But when it comes to President Bush, Castro is sure he tried to have him whacked.

But as far as proof goes, well, Castro is short on details, and clarity :

"I'm not the first, nor will I be the last, whom Bush has ordered to be deprived of life," Castro wrote...

"Why did I say one day in a reflection that Bush authorized or ordered my death? This phrase can seem ambiguous and imprecise...Perhaps it would be more exact, although even more confusing, to say that he authorized it and ordered it."

"....really it is a mystery to name those responsible for the hundreds of attempts on my life, all the direct and indirect forms to cause my death were used."

Perhaps Castro thinks his recent, mysterious, but extremely life-threatening illness was some kind of assassination attempt?

Did Bush Really Tell Black Musicians To "Pick Up All The Trash"?

On June 19, President Bush hosted the Congressional Picnic at the White House. Legendary New Orleans musicians Kermit Ruffins and the Barbeque Swingers came to play on the South Lawn, and during a speech the president welcomed Kermit onto the podium :

THE PRESIDENT: Kermit Ruffins and the Barbeque Swingers, right out of New Orleans, Louisiana.

MR. RUFFINS: Thank you. Thanks for having us. We're glad to be here.

THE PRESIDENT: Proud you're here. Thanks for coming. You all enjoy yourself. Make sure you pick up all the trash after it's over. God bless you, and may God bless America. Thanks for coming.
Was the president's crack some kind of joke? Maybe we're missing something here...

Like the US media. All but a few failed to even mention the president's remark, or the context.

But the president's words are right there, on the White House website.

: Ahhh, shows how misleading transcripts can be. On the video, Bush is clearly addressing the crowd, not Kermit, or his band, when he says "pick up all the trash". Kermit was already walking away.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Crocs With Socks

Who's dressing the President lately? Ned Flanders?

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Scandal Over Bush's Secret Spying On Americans Grows In Scope And Controversy

Is President Bush a dictator? No, not yet. But when it comes to spying on their fellow Americans, Bush and his inner circle often act like they are running a Communist-era police state, instead of, supposedly, the beacon of world democracy, freedom and liberty.

The following story recaps the extraordinary scene that took place in a hospital room in early 2004, when it became clear that Bush could not legally spy on American citizens, and how his 'fixers' tried to sort out the mess, before they were exposed :

The events of September 11, 2001, gave Bush the excuse to procure absurd legal advice that, as commander-in-chief in a war on a high-order abstraction, terrorism, he has the power to do what he liked with the lives of millions at home and abroad.

He soon signed a secret executive order instructing the National Security Agency's 30,000 operatives to spy without a warrant on US citizens. Whatever certain lawyers or judges might say, this was plainly unlawful under the Fourth Amendment (1791) to the US constitution.

Bush periodically renewed the order and the former attorney-general John Ashcroft had to certify it was legal, but James Comey supervised a re-evaluation soon after he became deputy attorney-general in December 2003.

A week before the next renewal, due on March 11, 2004, Comey, Ashcroft and the FBI director, Robert Mueller, agreed that the spying was illegal, but Ashcroft was shortly in intensive care with gall-bladder pancreatitis. His wife, Janet, banned all visitors and telephone calls.

Comey, now the acting attorney-general, told the White House on March 9 that he would not certify that the spying was legal.

Not long before 8pm on March 10, 2004, Bush telephoned Janet Ashcroft at the hospital to say his legal adviser, Alberto ("Seedy") Gonzales, and Bush's chief-of-staff, Andrew Card, were on their way to see Ashcroft.

Janet Ashcroft got a warning to Comey, who was being driven home by his FBI security detail. He understood that Bush was making "an end run" round him to get Ashcroft to sign. Speeding to the hospital with the siren on and the lights flashing, Comey told two of his lawyers to go there. Mueller said he would join the resistance.


Comey sat in an armchair to the left of Ashcroft's bed. His officers, Jack Goldsmith and Patrick Philbin, stood behind him. Janet Ashcroft held her husband's arm. "And," Comey said, "we waited."

Minutes later, Gonzales, carrying an envelope, and Card arrived. Ignoring the phalanx, Seedy told Ashcroft he was there "to seek his approval" for the renewal.

Comey said: "Attorney-General Ashcroft then stunned me. He lifted his head off the pillow and in very strong terms expressed his view of the matter, rich in both substance and fact … and then laid his head back down on the pillow, seemed spent, and said to them, 'But that doesn't matter, because I'm not the attorney-general … There is the attorney-general', and he pointed to me."

Gonzales and Card turned and left, but Card soon after called Comey and "demanded that I come to the White House immediately". Comey said he "would not meet with him without a witness present".

Bush alone renewed the order on March 11, but the following day Comey and then Mueller told him that they and other Justice Department officers, probably including Ashcroft, were ready to resign on the issue.

Bush understood what that portended. In October 1973, he was 27 and a drunk but he was involved in Republican politics and he knew that impeachment bills followed president Richard Nixon's Saturday night massacre of Justice Department lawyers. Bush told Mueller to tell Comey to put the spying on a proper legal footing.

That should have been the end of it. But it's not. Bush and Vice President Cheney have never given up on their desire to spy at will on the American people, and they fight on still to break the key amendment of the US Constitution that guarantees citizens their right to privacy.

However, the US Congress is now forcing Bush Co. to come clean on their spying programs :

President George W Bush faced new pressure to explain the legal basis for his warrantless domestic spying programme when a Senate panel authorised subpoenas to obtain administration documents.

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the subpoenas in a 13-3 vote following 18 months of futile efforts to obtain documents related to Bush's contested legal justification for the programme, which was implemented after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Three Republicans joined 10 Democrats in voting to authorize the subpoenas, which may be issued within days unless the White House suddenly provides the materials voluntarily.

"We have been in the dark too long," said Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat. "The stonewalling is unacceptable and must end."

Bush could challenge the subpoenas, citing a right of executive privilege that his predecessors have invoked with mixed success to keep certain materials private and prevent aides from testifying.

In January, the administration abandoned the programme and agreed to get approval of the FISA court for its electronic surveillance. But Bush and Democrats still are at odds over revisions he wants in the FISA law.

...when Gonzales, now attorney general, appeared before the panel on Feb. 6, he was asked if senior department officials had voiced reservations about the programme.

"I do not believe that these DoJ (department) officials. . . had concerns about this programme," Leahy quoted Gonzales as saying. Leahy added, "The committee and the American people deserve better."

Bush Co. Asks Judge To Toss Out States Domestic Spying Lawsuits

June 28 Deadline : Bush Co. Told To Testify, Hand Over Documents, Or Face Contempt
Claim : Bush, Olmert Finalise Plans For Attack On Iran

This story isn't too far off the mark when it comes to what President Bush is planning for Iran.

Of course, we don't know whether or not Bush will launch a war on Iran, or if he will back air strikes by Israel, but Bush's own words show that more war is on his mind. His own comments show that he has few regrets about bombing active nuclear energy plants, which will expel untold radiation once they've been hit, and, if Chenobyl's meltdown is anything to go by, will spread deadly poison through the air and into the food supply of tens of millions of people.

It should be noted that both China and Russia have warned the United States, and Israel, that there will be "consequences" if Iran is attacked in any way. Russia and China have both signed energy development deals worth more than $100 billion in the past year, and will move to protect their investments, and in China's case, their future energy supplies.

A War On Iran will be the catalyst for not only a much wider and far more deadly and destructive Middle East war, it will trigger a truly global conflict. Once the bombing of Iran's nuclear energy facilities begins, the only debate left will be whether to call it World War 2 Or World War 4.

From Press Esc :

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert visited Washington yesterday and met with US President George W. Bush to finalise plans for a joint US-Israel strike on Iran's nuclear facilities.

President Bush hinted that actions against Iran will form the core of their discussion.

"I'm sure that we will find some time, also, to discuss other measures, such as the danger of Iran and the threats that come from the President of Iran, who talks time and again about the liquidation of the state of Israel, something that is totally intolerable and unacceptable," he said. "And we have to continue the measures taken in order to stop the Iranian efforts to establish unconventional weapons."

Talking to reporters at a joint press conference Bush once again re-iterated his position on military strikes against Iran by saying "I will tell you this, that my position hasn't changed, and that is all options are on the table."

"And I fully understand the concerns of any Israeli when they hear the voice of the man in Iran saying, on the one hand, we want to acquire the technologies and know-how to build a -- enrich uranium, which could then be converted into a nuclear weapon, and on the other hand, we want to destroy Israel," he added. "Look, if I were an Israeli citizen I would view that as a serious threat to my security. And as a strong ally of Israel, I view that as a serious threat to its security -- not only the security of Israel, but the security of the Middle East."

Meanwhile, Iran has formally complained to the United Nations about the planned strike by US and Israel.

"I wish to inform you that, emboldened by the absence of any action by the Security Council, various Israeli officials have unabatedly continued to publicly and contemptuously make unlawful and dangerous threats of resorting to force against the Islamic Republic of Iran," Iran's UN ambassador Javad Zarif wrote in a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, dated June 11.

Jerusalem Post : Israeli Air Force Prepares For Air Strikes On Iran

Iran Protests To The UN About Israel's Threats Of Military Action

Iran Is A "Benevolant Nation" Says Ahmadinejad

Russia Supports Iran's "Atomic Rights"

Russia Sees No Threat From Iran, Aims To Continue Nuclear Cooperation
Republicans Don't Just Avoid Bush, They Actively Snub Him

Politico has a solid report detailing how Republicans are not just avoiding speaking about the president during debates and TV interviews, and doing their best not to be seen in public with him, they are actively snubbing him, fearful of association-fallout. If that's not enough, they are now seeing the spectre of Bush rapidly becoming one of, if not, the most unpopular American presidents in history as an opportunity.

Bush's backing of the Senator Edward Kennedy endorsed immigration bill, with its infamous "shamnesty" deal, would appear to be the final straw for nearly all die-hard Republicans :

Recent polls have shown Bush's popularity -- which has long been in the tank with independents -- suffering significant erosion even among GOP base voters, largely due to a backlash over the president's stance on immigration.

The decline, according to some Republican strategists, has flashed a green light for lawmakers on Capitol Hill and presidential candidates to put distance between themselves and an unpopular president -- a politically essential maneuver for the 2008 general election that remained risky as long as Bush retained the sympathies of Republican stalwarts.

Now that those sympathies have somewhat cooled, the effects are visible: Republican House members upset about immigration policy have spoken of Bush in disparaging terms. And presidential contenders like Rudy Giuliani are striking change-the-course themes in their rhetoric, even while continuing to back Bush over the Iraq war.

The change, say GOP operatives, is the absence of fear about being perceived as something less than an ardent Bush backer. "What's the penalty now, Karl being mad at you?" Republican pollster Tony Fabrizio asked with a laugh, referring to Bush political adviser Karl Rove. "Who cares? Even his former chief strategist (Matthew Dowd) walked away from him and pissed all over him."

Two polls last week recorded a dip in Bush's standing with Republicans. In a Quinnipiac University poll, Bush's support among GOP voters fell to 61 percent, from 74 percent earlier this year. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found the same thing, with Bush GOP support dropping from 75 percent in April to 62 percent now.

...some Republicans have lost patience with holding their tongues. The issue of immigration "is symbolic for a lot of Republicans of the crap that (Republicans) have had to swallow," said Fabrizio, who was a strategist for 1996 GOP nominee Bob Dole. He cited the No Child Left Behind education measure and an expensive Medicare prescription drug benefit.

Senior aides to McCain, Romney and Giuliani all sounded familiar tones in explaining how they would deal with the Bush burden. It's what Democratic politicians from Republican-leaning states would say about Bill Clinton in the 1990s and what Republican politicians from Democratic-leaning states say now about Bush: We'll agree with him where we agree him and disagree with him where we disagree with him. It's hardly a ringing endorsement, but even such tepid comments may not be sufficient to escape the Bush drag in 2008.

Go Here To Read The Whole Story From Politico
Bush Now Less Popular Than Jimmy Carter

President Bush is now clocking up the lowest approval ratings of his entire presidency. With only 26% of Americans approving of the job he is doing, Bush is now less popular than Jimmy Carter at the height of the Iran hostage crisis.

But the dissatisfaction Americans are feeling towards their politicians is even worse when it comes to the US Congress.

According to a new Gallup poll, a shockingly low 14% of Americans think the Congress is doing the job they were elected to do. Considering that getting American troops out of Iraq was one of, if not, the key election issues last year, and knowing that American troops will remain in Iraq for years to come, it probably comes as little surprise to see so many Americans showing such vast disapproval of their lawmakers.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Bush Did Not Throw People Off Rooftops

Considering the extraordinary events in Palestine in recent weeks, you might think that the ousting of Fatah from Gaza by Hamas would prove President Bush's "efforts" to bring peace and constitute the two state solution have been nothing short of a disaster.

The White House automatic talking machine clears the air :
Asked today whether the Bush administration "feels any responsibility" for the split among Palestinians, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow said that what reporters "really need to be thinking about" is that "the president of the United States did not bind people's hands behind their back and throw them from rooftops. The president of the United States did not masquerade around with masks pulled over the face and slay people who disagreed with Hamas."
Well, that's good to hear.

But what about the whole two state solution thing?

Monday, June 18, 2007

From Palestine To Pakistan, Bush's 'War On Terror' Confronts And Creates Violence, Death And Destruction

Jim Lobe, of Inter Press Service, rounds up the global state of conflict, for which most of the world is looking to the United States to eventually, comprehensively, solve. If only because President Bush has repeatedly stated that the storm of crises now raging are all part of the global 'War on Terror' that Bush himself launched while the imploded ruins of the Twin Towers were still burning in New York City :

Four years after the emergence of the first signs of a serious insurgency in Iraq, US President George W. Bush finds himself beset with major crises stretching from Palestine to Pakistan.

With US-backed Fatah forces routed by Hamas in Gaza this week, Bush's five-year-old vision of a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict now looks more remote than ever, while a new Pentagon report in Iraq suggests that his four-month-old "surge" strategy is failing in its primary objective of reducing the violence there.

Meanwhile, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, to whom Washington has provided virtually unconditional support since al-Qaeda's 9/11 attack, faces a growing popular revolt, while much of the country's tribal border regions have come under the control of forces allied with Afghanistan's Taliban.

And Iran, which senior US officials this week accused of arming the Taliban, as well as Shi'ite militias in Iraq, has continued to defy Washington's demands that it halt its nuclear enrichment program, while Tehran's regional allies, Syria and Lebanon's Hezbollah, not to mention Hamas itself, appear to have successfully withstood intensified US-led efforts to isolate them.

This week's events in Gaza, in fact, are also likely to have dealt a heavy blow to US hopes of forging an anti-Iranian coalition consisting of Israel and the "Arab Quartet" led by Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Indeed, Saudi King Abdullah appeared to have grown disillusioned with Bush even before the US-backed dissolution by Palestine Authority President and Fatah chief Mahmoud Abbas of the government of national unity whose birth was personally midwifed by Abdullah himself last March.

"There's a strongly held view among our Arab friends that we don't know what we're doing," observed ret. Amb. Daniel Kurtzer, Washington's chief envoy to Israel during Bush's first term and now a professor at Princeton University, earlier this week before Hamas' takeover of Gaza.

Al-Qaeda, which continues to enjoy the protection of its allies in Pakistan and has made the US military occupation in Iraq its primary recruiting ground, has also benefited enormously from the backlash against Washington's policies throughout the region, according to most experts here.

"al-Qaeda today is a global operation – with a well-oiled propaganda machine based in Pakistan, a secondary but independent base in Iraq, and an expanding reach in Europe," wrote Bruce Riedel, a former high-level Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) analyst, in Foreign Affairs magazine last month.

In the article, entitled "al-Qaeda Strikes Back," Reidel, the senior director for Near East Affairs in the White House from 1997 to 2002, predicted that the group would likely set up new operations in northern Lebanon and Gaza and eventually try to provoke "all-out war" between the US and Iran as part of a "grand strategy" aimed at "bleeding" Washington in much the same way that US-backed mujahadin and their Arab allies bled the Soviets in Afghanistan during the 1980s.

Indeed, like Jason of Greek myth, Bush has sown dragon's teeth throughout the region with a predominantly military policy, particularly his decision to unilaterally invade and occupy Iraq, even as he encouraged right-wing governments in Israel to indulge their propensity for using force to resolve problems with their neighbors.

But, unlike Jason, it looks increasingly doubtful that Bush can subdue the militant forces that have sprouted from those seeds and appear to grow stronger with each passing day.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Flashback : Do Not Trust This Man As President

Here's how the UK Observer 'welcomed' President Bush into the White House on January 21, 2001 :
The Observer considers his election an affront to the democratic principle with incalculable consequences for America and the world.

Mr Bush's inaugural attempt to assert his brand of one-nation, compassionate conservatism is bluster and hogwash.

...the Bush cabinet is neither centrist nor compassionate. In home affairs, it is brutalist and reactionary - for tax cuts overtly biased towards the rich, against the protection of consumers, workers and the environment. In overseas affairs, Mr Bush has appointed Cold War warriors from his father's era who do not appreciate the nuances of a transformed international environment.

...the Republicans retained control of the political, intellectual and cultural agenda and plotted their return to power. Their success is embodied in the nomination of John Ashcroft as attorney-general. Mr Ashcroft is a southern-based, anti-abortion, anti-gun control, anti-gay religious fundamentalist peddling a reactionary brand of free market economics and American unilateralism. He epitomises the new centre of gravity in American politics.

Britain and Europe will find doing business with this administration tense, oppositional and unproductive. It would be difficult enough had Mr Bush won a mandate. Without it, we are in for a very rough ride indeed.


Saturday, June 16, 2007

Everyone Is A Bush Hater Now

Conservative Bloggers Rage Against Bush Over Immigration Bill

It's taken more than six years, but America's conservative and ultra-right bloggers have finally realised that President Bush isn't really on their side at all. At least, not when it comes to dealing harshly with the 12 to 20 million illegal immigrants, mostly from Mexico, who will soon be able to call the United States their official home, if Bush gets his second run Immigration Bill passed. And there are many signs pointing to the fact that he will.

Key conservative bloggers like Michelle Malkin have spent years howling about all the terrible ways that 'The Liberals' besmirch the president. Now it's her turn, and the turn of virtually every conservative blogger with a daily audience bigger than a few hundred, to rage against the president.

From CNN : issue in recent memory has united conservative bloggers like the debate over immigration. Their frustration has culminated in a full-scale revolt against the Bush administration and a Senate bill that activists say does little to solve the country's border security problems.

President Bush's pledge to support $4.4 billion in additional border security funds has breathed new life into the bill, but the drumbeat against the legislation shows no signs of quieting.

It's increasingly clear from Web postings and interviews with top conservative bloggers that the immigration bill has done serious damage to the president's credibility among the conservative netroots, the grassroots bloggers on the Web.

Erick Erickson, managing editor of the popular conservative blog, says he receives between 800 and 900 e-mails a day from readers, most of whom are "enraged" by the White House's immigration efforts.

"Of all the issues the president has picked to make his hill to die on, he has picked the one that has divided his base," said Erickson, who lives in Macon, Georgia. "I am shocked by the anger and outrage out there ... You've got war against the president within the Republican party."

When details of an immigration compromise were announced this spring, conservative bloggers were immediately incensed. Michelle Malkin labeled it "a White House betrayal."

Another popular blogger, Hugh Hewitt, called the bill a "fiasco" and wrote: "this push for this bill is a disaster, Mr. President."

Many bloggers said they are disappointed the president has pushed so hard for the immigration bill while letting the war and other issues conservatives care about fall by the wayside.

"The White House will go out and zealously promote Harriet Miers [the former White House counsel who Bush unsuccessfully nominated for the Supreme Court], defend [Attorney General] Alberto Gonzales, promote this bill, but will not take a firm stand on the war," said Erickson. "I know people who are boiling with rage that the president has been beating up his own side over this bill but won't take the bully pulpit to beat up Democrats over the war."

Bush did little to help his relationship with bloggers on May 29, when he told a crowd in Glynco, Georgia, that critics of the immigration bill "don't want to do what's right for America."

Kathryn Jean Lopez at the National Review asked, "Is the White House just not paying attention?"

The blog Ace of Spades HQ called Bush "incompetent" and "embarrassingly dimwitted" and urged him to retire.

Interesting. Isn't that exactly what most of the liberal, or "hate America" blogs (as Michelle Malkin likes to call them) have been saying about Bush for years? Yes, it is.

"It will be very difficult for him to recover with conservative bloggers," said Robert Bluey, director of the Center for Media & Public Policy at the Heritage Foundation. "When Bush is on to his next issue, I'm not sure if bloggers are going to be there to back him up."

Which begs the question -- is Bush a lame duck among bloggers?

Said Morrissey: "I think that they are going to continue to support him on the war on terror. As for the rest of it, they are looking for ways to reshape the party agenda going into the next election. That's a nice way of saying they are going to consider him irrelevant."

In just the past month alone, President Bush has been abandoned by key Republicans senators, key Republican donors, the middle-ground Americans and now the vast majority of influential bloggers and right-wing talk back radio hosts.

Bush already has hit record low approval ratings. Within two months, and with the passing of the slightly revised Immigration Bill, he will become the most unpopular president in American history.

Michelle Malkin On President Bush's "Shamnesty" Immigration Bill
Bush Secretly Deployed To Iraq In Major Combat Role...Apparently

But seriously, could there be few things more offensive to the military families of America than this appalling piece of utter nonsense?

From Think Progress :

In today’s White House press briefing, reporter Helen Thomas asked Tony Snow if there are “any members of the Bush family or this administration in this war.” Stunningly, Snow claimed that President Bush is actually on the “frontlines” of the war in Iraq:

Q: Are there any members of the Bush family or this administration in this war?

SNOW: Yeah, the President. The President is in the war every day.

Q: Come on, that isn’t my question –

SNOW: Well, no, if you ask any president who is a commander in chief –

Q: On the frontlines, where ever…

SNOW: The President.

The fact is that not one single member of the Bush and Cheney families are serving in Iraq, and there are but a few members of Congress, or the Washington elite, who have sons or daughters deployed into the war zones.

If they did, the Iraq War would most likely be over already, or drawing more swiftly to a close. That so many people involved with the continuation of the Iraq War have so little familial contact with the death and dismemberment that has resulted is one of the key reasons why members of Congress, and the White House, are able to speak with such distance from the reality on the ground.

President Bush is on the front lines of the Iraq War?

Yes. If the front line is thousands of miles away in Washington, behind one of the heaviest and deepest layers of security in the world.

Even the incredibly egotistical Winston Churchill would never have allowed a member of his staff to claim that he was "on the front lines" of any conflict of World War 2.

It is a sad fact that, since Snow is yet to retract his ridiculous comment, and no other member of the White House has spoken up to say that Snow was wrong, it must be accepted that Bush Co. actually believe what Snow said to be truth.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Bush-Albanian Watch Mystery

First It's There And Then It's Gone...

When President Bush visited Albania over the weekend, he was granted a "hero's welcome".

In some of the most remarkable presidential mobbing scenes you will ever see, Bush was patted, kissed, hugged, grabbed, groped and had his watch stolen by some fast-working hands.

And you can see the fast theft of his watch for yourself in this stunning video from an Albanian news channel.

Here's the freeze frame proof :

Bush with watch on left hand

Seconds later, no watch

From Raw Story :
Although President Bush was met by chilly welcomes and even riots in most countries on his recent trip to Europe, he received a "hero's welcome" in the small Balkan nation of Albania, which for many decades was ruled by an oppressive Stalinist dictatorship.

However, as reported by the Times Online, one of those friendly Albanians may have been more interested in reaching out to touch the president's watch than to welcome Bush.

According to the Times, "A White House spokeswoman denied today that that the President had been robbed. ... Instead the spokeswoman said that Mr Bush had removed it himself. 'He took it off,' she said. When challenged that this did not seem to happen during the footage shown on YouTube, the spokeswoman said: 'I'm not going to change what I'm saying.'"

Crapola. The video clearly shows Bush got fleeced.

Someone got one hell of a souvenir from the presidential visit.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

I Mean What I Say, I Say What I Mean

Did I Really Say That?

Crooks & Liars provides a devastating juxtaposition of utterly contradictory Bush statements on the future of Kosovo independence blurted barely 20 hours apart :
Bush at a press conference on Saturday:

Q: And on the deadline [for Kosovo independence]?

Bush: In terms of the deadline, there needs to be one. This needs to come — this needs to happen. Now it’s time, in our judgment, to move the Ahtisaari plan. There’s been a series of delays. You might remember there was a moment when something was happening, and they said, no, we need a little more time to try to work through a U.N. Security Council resolution. And our view is that time is up.

Bush at a press conference on Sunday:

Q: Thank you, Mr. President. Yesterday you called for a deadline for U.N. action on Kosovo. When would you like that deadline set? And are you at all concerned that taking that type of a stance is going to further inflame U.S. relations with Russia? And is there any chance that you’re going to sign on to the Russian missile defense proposal?

Bush: Thanks. A couple of points on that. First of all, I don’t think I called for a deadline. I thought I said, time — I did? What exactly did I say? I said, “deadline”? Okay, yes, then I meant what I said.

At which point assembled reporters started laughing at him.

The reporters are a few steps behind most of the rest of the world. We all stopped laughing at Bush a year or two ago. Now most of us shake our heads in collective disbelief, and dismay.

Don't go holding your breath for an independent Kosovo anytime soon, dedicated Albanians.

Sounds like all those firms demands and promises made by Bush were mere propaganda designed to guarantee the president a "hero's welcome" during his seven hour Albania stopover.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Who's Happy To See Bush? Albanians

Bush Greeted As A Hero

After the scenes of rioting in Rome that marked President Bush's first official visit to see the 'new' Pope, Benedict XVI, the president must have been looking forward to his next stop, where he knew he would be greeted far more warmly.


No rioting in the streets for this visit. Albanians were happy to see the president visit, and even the BBC had to admit he "enjoyed a here's welcome" :
The Balkan country is a staunch ally in America's "war on terror", and Mr Bush met Albanian soldiers who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Mr Bush reiterated his support for the UN plan for Kosovo's independence, adding it was time to "get moving" despite opposition from Russia.

He expressed worry about the effect on Kosovans of expectations not being met.

"The question is whether there's going to be endless dialogue on a subject that we've already made up our mind on," he said, after meeting with Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha.

"We need to get moving and the end result is independence," he added.

Or a brutal clash with Russia, who has no interest in granting Kosovonians their independence. At least, not yet.

The G8 failed to reach consensus on Kosovo this week, with strong opposition from Russia to the independence blueprint laid out by UN Special Envoy Martti Ahtisaari in April.

The Albanian capital, Tirana, is celebrating Mr Bush's visit, although he is spending just seven hours in the city....The city's streets have been cleaned, US flags draped over buildings and a commemorative set of stamps issued for the occasion.

Albanian government spokesman Grid Roy said he hoped the visit would help the country's push to become a member of Nato and the European Union.

Albania, Croatia and Macedonia are Europe's newest democracies, and Bush often singles them out for praise when he talks of his "freedom agenda", and his dreams of America helping to
transform more of the world's "darkest corners" by democracy.

Bush is the first American president to ever visit Albania.

From the Associated Press :

The hills overlooking the capital boomed as military cannons fired a 21-gun salute heralding Bush's arrival. Thousands of people gathered in the downtown square on a brilliantly sunny day to see the president and first lady Laura Bush.

Huge banners proclaimed ''Proud to be Partners,'' and billboards read ''President Bush in Albania Making History.'' Red-white-and-blue paper top hats with stars on top were passed out to well-wishers in this Balkan nation. Albania has such an affinity for America that it issued three postage stamps with Bush's picture and the statue of liberty and renamed a street running in front of parliament in his honor.

Bush said he wants to encourage Albania's free society, but it also makes good political sense on the world stage for him to stop in Albania, if only for about seven hours, and be seen receiving a robust greeting in the predominantly Muslim country.

''I want to make sure the Albanian people understand that America knows that you exist and that you're making difficult choices to cement your free society,'' Bush said in a pre-trip interview. ''I'm coming as a lover of liberty to a land where people are realizing the benefits of liberty.''

''There's a certain map that has to be followed, a certain way forward, there are certain obligations that have to be met,'' Bush said. ''My only advice is: work as hard as you possibly can to achieve the different benchmarks that would cause the NATO members to accept Albania.''

Bush Takes Shots At Russia With Calls For Kosovo's Independence

President Meets Pope, And Cops An Ear Bashing On Iraq

Bush Gets Mixed Reception In Europe

Saturday, June 09, 2007

The "Accident" Prone President And The Security Protecting Him, From Terrorists And Himself

Interesting from the Times Online turns up these factoids about the security surrounding Bush at the G8 summit, and in particular the preparation of his meals, one of which may have led to the "stomach trouble" that saw Bush miss a morning of meetings, after being spotted drinking "no alcohol" beer the evening before :

60 chefs are on stand by to cook for the eight heads of state, their partners and entourages.

The hotel complex where the conference is being held has its own herds of lamb and goat, and prides itself on fresh, locally grown produce.

Security in the kitchens is tight, and the secret service is monitoring them. Summit observers have noted that the precautions taken around Mr Bush are especially stringent - in one incident, a German police officer was prevented by White House staff from so much as touching the door handle of the President's Lincoln limousine.

Fish - on the menu at Wednesday night's dinner at the start of the summit - is a speciality at the seaside resort. At lunch on Wednesday Mr Bush shared a meal of asparagus and veal schnitzel with his host, Angela Merkel.

Bush is accident-prone, or a heavy drinker who loses control on a fairly regular basis. The Times Online notes that Bush has "an unfortunate record for becoming indisposed while in public office." He sure does, and that's the nice way to put it.

The other way to put it is this way - Bush is a heavy drinker, who regularly loses control of his intake and of himself in a drunken state, which leads to accidents and injuries, not always just to himself :

In January 2002, he grazed his cheek after choking on a pretzel and fainting while watching television.

In June 2003 he fell off his Segway scooter at his family estate in Kennebunkport, Maine, and in May 2004 he fell off his mountain bike, grazing his knees, hand, chin and nose.

In another bit of summit misfortune, in July 2005 Mr Bush crashed into a police officer while riding his bike around the grounds at the Gleneagles hotel while attending the G8 summit in Britain. The US President scraped his hands and arms, and the police officer was hospitalised with an ankle injury.

I've no doubt that a few years after Bush leaves office, a book from a former close White House staffer will appear, detailing the drinking habits of the president at war. Then again, the way Bush is losing friends and allies over the Iraq War and his stand on immigration reform, such a book may appear before he has even left the White House.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Bush Back On The Sauce

Comes Down With "Stomach Complaint", Misses G8 Meetings

Why does the mainstream media continue to play along with the charade that President Bush does not hook into the booze? Clearly he does indulge, and with gusto, if some of the swaying, rambling, incoherent press conferences he's given recently are any indication.

A photographed surfaced yesterday during the G8 meetings in Germany, and it showed Bush slugging back a beer. Only hours later, Bush was too ill to join other world leaders for meetings. He did, however, meet with the new French President in his rooms.

Bush drinks beer. Bush is too sick to even walk out of his room. Do we even need someone to draw the connection here?

The spin control from the White House, and most of the mainstream media, went into action :

President Bush is "unwell".

White House staff say they're not sure whether it's something he ate or a stomach virus.

As to suspicions that the was doing a "Boris Yeltsin" - US officials insist that was a non alcoholic beer he was seen drinking last night.

Anyway a planned meeting with France's Nicolas Sarkozy had to take place in the American president's private rooms. One can only guess that he wanted to be close to the bathroom.

Alarm bells rang when President Bush failed to turn up to a photo opportunity with Sarkozy and then failed to materialise at the G8 roundtable to discuss aid to Africa.

Non-alcoholic beer, eh? Yeah, okay. It is not remarkable to learn that Bush is drinking again, if he ever actually stopped.

What is remarkable is how many mainstream media outlets faithfully reported the White House spin as the real story.

The above image does not show someone enjoying a "near beer", as the Americans call it.

The above image shows an old booze hound getting his fix. Bush was clearly halfway hammered at a roundtable with Germany's Angela Merkel after this drinking session. Then he was "too unwell" to be seen attempting to walk to other meetings.

Why the big fantasy that Bush is still on the wagon? He wouldn't be the first key world leader in the midst of a war to be punching dragons. In fact, being an alcoholic seems to be all but compulsory for the leaders of war-making nations. The leaders of Australia, England, the US during World War I and II were all heavy drinkers, and reportedly made some of their most important, and historical, decisions pretty well maggoted.

Why should Bush be any different?

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Bush Seen As Political Poison By Republican Presidential Candidates

Blame Bush For Iraq, Not US Whine Wannabe Presidents

Another major story on the pasting President Bush took from his fellow Republicans during their most recent debate :

From the Washington Post :
If there was an unexpected loser in Tuesday's Republican presidential debate, it was President Bush and his administration's record.

The Republican candidates offered repeated criticism of their Democratic opponents, but on issue after issue, they also shredded the president's performance over the past four years. Iraq? Badly mismanaged. Katrina? Bungled. Immigration? The wrong solution. Federal spending? Out of control.

The candidates struggled even to say they would welcome the president playing a role in their administrations should they win the White House in 2008.

The debate seemed to signal open season on the president's record, highlighting the reality that the candidates see the Bush legacy as a liability rather than an asset as they look toward a general election campaign in 2008.

The candidates were careful not to make their criticism of Bush too personal, which GOP strategists believe remains out of bounds for anyone with a serious chance of winning the Republican nomination. But there was no attempt to suggest, as Bush's father did when he ran to succeed then-President Ronald Reagan in 1988, that they want to be viewed as seeking a third term of the current Bush administration.

But Andrew Kohut of the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press said support for Bush has declined sharply from its historic highs and it is not surprising that the Republican candidates have begun to distance themselves from him this early in the campaign. This is not only because of Bush's unpopularity among Democrats and independents, but also because of erosion in support among Republicans.

"I think it's unavoidable," he said, noting that Bush's approval among Republicans in the latest Pew poll had dropped to 65 percent from 77 percent in April.

"He's a Republican president who once had 90 [percent approval among Republicans]," Kohut added. "They were very loyal to Bush for a very long time. The movement downward has to do with the fact that there's some Republican disaffection going on."

If there is any issue on which the Republicans have been reluctant to break with the president, it is Iraq. The presidential candidates remain strong supporters of the current troop surge policy, despite its unpopularity with a majority of Americans.

But while tying themselves to the current policy, the Republican candidates have become increasingly critical of what happened after U.S. forces deposed former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

"I'm going to give you a little straight talk," Arizona Sen. John McCain said at the debate here on Tuesday night. "This war was very badly mismanaged for a long time. And Americans have made great sacrifices, some of which were unnecessary because of this management of the war -- mismanagement of this conflict."

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney also defended the current policy but noted: "I supported the president's decision [to invade Iraq] based on what we knew at that time. I think we were under-prepared and under-planned for what came after we knocked down Saddam Hussein."

Asked at a news conference Wednesday morning who was responsible for the lack of preparation, Romney said: "There's no question that the buck stops at the top, and I'm sure the president recognizes that and feels that."

Republican pollster Bill McInturff, who is working for McCain, told a Harvard University seminar earlier this year that Republican candidates must tread lightly in distancing themselves from the president.

"People in our party admire his consistency, his leadership and his personal dimensions, and you had better be very, very careful how you talk about the president around those things and you'd better say 'I admire and respect him, but I differ with his views and I differ with the conduct, I think a change needs to be made'," he said.

Republican Presidential Candidates Put The Boot Into Bush

President Told Not To Darken The Doorstep Of The White House

Verbally kicking ten kinds of shit out of President Bush worked so well for the Democrats during the mid-term elections, last year, that nearly all the current Republican wannabe presidents decided it was their turn to have a go.

During last night's Republican presidential candidate debate, they took turns putting the boot into Bush with venom, and enthusiasm.

Pro-war Republican media flakes used to wail from the rooftops about how progressives and liberals were always trying to "Blame Bush" for the horrors of the Iraq War. Now it's the Republicans unfurling the "Blame Bush" banner, the right wing media has gone quiet. Of course, they're all too busy right now shredding the president over his immigration reforms.

From the Associated Press :

President Bush drew sporadic, startling criticism Tuesday night from Republican White House hopefuls unhappy with his handling of the Iraq war, his diplomatic style and his approach to immigration.

"I would certainly not send him to the United Nations" to represent the United States, said Tommy Thompson, the former Wisconsin governor and one-time member of Bush's Cabinet, midway through a spirited campaign debate.

Arizona Sen. John McCain criticized the administration for its handling of the Iraq War, and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said, "I think we were underprepared and underplanned for what came after we knocked down Saddam Hussein."

Rep. Duncan Hunter (news, bio, voting record) of California said the current administration "has the slows" when it comes to building a security fence along the border with Mexico.

Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado recalled that White House aide Karl Rove had once told him "never darken the door of the White House." The congressman said he'd tell George W. Bush the same thing.

The criticism of Bush was more in keeping of the type of rhetoric that could be expected when Democratic presidential contenders debate.

Its prominence at the GOP event — while Bush was traveling overseas — was a reflection of his poor poll ratings and the need of even members of his own party to campaign on platforms of change.

Senator John McCain joined in the spate of Bush bashing regarding the Iraq War, despite admitting that he hadn't read the National Intelligence Assessment before casting a vote that helped make the war a reality.

McCain has long criticized Bush for fumbling the aftermath of Saddam's fall, and Romney has recently begun to make some of the same criticisms.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee added his voice to those criticizing the war effort. He added that the Bush administration "lost credibility" with its response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Thompson's answer was the most startling, coming from a man who had once served in the president's Cabinet as secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Bush's decision to invade Iraq caused hard feelings with longtime allies in Europe, and elsewhere around the world.

Bush's support for the pending immigration legislation is the source of Tancredo's criticism, and the issue figured prominently in the debate.

Think Progress has highlighted Tom Trancredo's remarks about Bush, which were the more hard-hitting of the debate, and includes a video that shows the audience applauded him loudly for rounding on Bush :

TANCREDO: Some time ago, in 2003 I think it was, that I got a call from Karl Rove, who told me that, because of my criticism of the president, I should never darken the doorstep of the White House.

I have been so disappointed in the president in so many ways since his — actually for the last several years, not just the immigration issue, but several other things, including the No Child Left Behind and the massive increase in government that we call prescription drug — Medicare prescription drug, that I’m afraid I would have to tell the president of the United States — I mean, as president, I would have to tell George Bush exactly the same thing Karl Rove told me.