Wednesday, August 29, 2007

When The Bush Family Met The Bin Ladens

The decades long relationship between the Saudi royal family and the Bush dynasty is the story of American oil in the second half of the 20th century. But it's also the story of American war, and Islamic terror.

This short, but eye-opening documentary reveals how the Bin Laden family - friends and business partners of the Saudi royals - met and went into quiet business with the Bush family in Texas in the 1970s, and examines how that relationship extended through the Afghanistan War of the 1980s, when Osama Bin Laden became one of the key recruiters of the mujahadeen - the insurgent army funded, trained and backed by the CIA and then US vice president George HW Bush to fight the Soviets.

The Afghan mujahadeen, of course, became Al Qaeda, with Osama Bin Laden at its head, if only as chief ideologue. But the intertwining business and world-shaping personal relationship between the Bushes, the Saudi royals and the Bin Ladens continued right through the 1990s, and continued on after 9/11.

By then Osama Bin Laden is supposed to have become the ultimate 'wayward son'.

But it is interesting to see how, through defence contracting investment firm the Carlyle Group, the Bushes, the Saudis and the Bin Ladens continued to profit from the appalling horror and terror Osama unleashed across the world.

It may be controversial, but it is still a fact : Osama Bin Laden's reign of terror has been very good for business, be that be the business of oil or the sales of the machinery of war. Both of which the Bushes, Bin Ladens and the Saudi royals still continue to profit from.

As former CIA agent, Robert Baer, once said : "It's just business."

And business has never been so good.

You wish it was all just a bunch of conspiracy theories.

Bush Took CIA Off Bin Laden Family Trail

Osama Bin Laden Met With CIA Agent Two Months Before 9/11

Terror 'Made Fortune For Bin Laden'

Two Dozen Bin Ladens Evacuated From United States During Flight Bans After 9/11

The Dark Heart Of The American Dream - Bush Snr Met With Osama Bin Laden's Brother On The Morning Of 9/11 Only A Few Miles From The World Trade Centre
Bush's Team Texas Moves Closer To Extinction

Another story examining the Bush inner circle that followed him from Texas to the White House in 2001, and who have headed back home again, after quitting, with varying levels of controversy and even shame attached to their names :
The already thinning cadre of advisers who followed George W. Bush from Austin to Washington is unraveling even further, with Alberto Gonzales and Karl Rove heading toward the door.

Although Texans are still dotted throughout the administration, most of the influential Lone Star transplants who've worked at Bush's side since his days as Texas governor either have left town or removed themselves from day-to-day influence at the White House.

Gonzales quit last Friday, and Karl Rove officially finishes up his duties at the end of this week.

They join a parade of other departed Bush insiders from Texas, including White House adviser Dan Bartlett, former Press Secretary Scott McClellan, former Federal Emergency Management Agency director Joe Allbaugh and White House lawyer Harriet Miers, who Bush briefly nominated to the Supreme Court before a conservative backlash forced him to withdraw the nomination.

The longevity of many Texas transplants — particularly those who remained at Bush's side deep into his second term — in many ways reflects the mutual loyalty that bonded the former Texas governor and those who joined him at the outset of his political career in the mid-1990s.

Rove, Hughes and Allbaugh, who was Bush's chief of staff in the state capital, formed what was known as the "iron triangle" during the Austin era. Gonzales not only was Bush's legal adviser but also his appointee as Texas secretary of state and a state Supreme Court justice. McClellan, who comes from an Austin political family, was a press aide during Bush's first run for president, in 2000. members of the Bush team shared the president's conservative visions, liked and admired him personally and, as Gonzales noted in his resignation statement Monday, credited him with their personal ascents.

In turn, Bush knew that he could count on his fellow Texans to be tight-lipped and loyal, traits that enhanced the administration's reputation as one of the most leak-proof and internally disciplined in years.

After arriving in Washington in January 2001, Bush became even more dependent on a home-state inner circle that long ago had grown familiar with his style and beliefs.

The steady parade of Texas departures means that Bush, burdened by low approval ratings because of the Iraq war and other issues, largely will be dependent on an evolving new team as he moves into his final year and a half in office.

11 Key Bushites Have Quit Since March

McClatchy's has compiled a list of 11 key players in the Bush administration who have quit since March this year. We haven't done a full search of each and every US presidency, yet, but this would appear to be absolutely unpredented - to lose so many key staff, from such high positions within the administration, within such a short space of time :

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales - Resigned Monday, effective Sept. 17.

Kyle Sampson, Gonzales' chief of staff - Resigned in March.

Monica Goodling, Gonzales' counselor - Resigned in April.

Michael Battle, head of the Executive Office of U.S. Attorneys - Resigned in March.

Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty - Resigned in May, effective late this summer.

Michael Elston, McNulty's chief of staff - Resigned June 15.

Tim Griffin, interim U.S. attorney for Arkansas - Resigned effective June 1.

Bradley Schlozman, former acting civil rights chief and U.S. attorney for Kansas City - Resigned from a Justice Department post in mid-August.

Wan Kim, chief, Civil Rights Division - Resigned Aug. 24

Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove, White House's top political adviser - Resigned effective at the end of this week.

Sara Taylor, political director -- Resigned in May.

And not forgetting Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who quit last year, on the eve of the mid-term elections.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Bush Bids Goodbye To Gonzales

The End Of The 'Texas Posse' In Washington

The "Resoundingly Awful" Gonzales Legacy

The Last Supper : Gonzales and his wife dines with the Bush's on Sunday, when and the president discussed his resignation

Now ex-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was the last of the original team that President Bush brought with him to the White House from Texas back in 2001, once near joyously referred to in Republican circles as 'The Texas Posse'. The last of posse has been run out of town.

Bush is clearly very sad to see Gonzales go, but even die-hard Bushians knew his time was up, and that the muck was piling up above the attorney general's eyes.

Gonzales had zero credibility left in Washington, and within the Justice Department. He lied repeatedly during Senate hearings and everybody knows it. Including Gonzales. But in his time in Washington, lying under oath was almost the least of his crimes.

Apparently Bush had a pet nickname for Gonzales, as he does for many people. Bush used to call his attorney general 'Fredo' :

Fredo, of course, was the hapless Corleone brother of Mario Puzo's Mafia novel. Forever getting in trouble and, more importantly, getting Michael in trouble. Screwing things up. Trying too hard, like lining up hookers for a strictly-business trip Michael made to Vegas. In the end, betraying his family to Hyman Roth, and finally getting iced by his own brother, the Godfather.

We don't yet know whether Bush iced Gonzales...

Here's some of what President Bush had to say today about the departure of Gonzales :
Al Gonzales is a man of integrity, decency and principle, and I have reluctantly accepted his resignation with great appreciation for the service that he has provided for our country.

As attorney general and before that as White House counsel, Al Gonzales has played a critical role in shaping our policies in the war on terror and has worked tirelessly to make this country safer.

The Patriot Act, the Military Commissions Act and other important laws bear his imprint.
Then Bush winds off into a long reciting of Gonzales resume. Not a good sign when a friend of more than 13 years has to run through your CV to fill time. More from Bush :
When I became governor of Texas in 1995, I recruited him from one of Texas' prestigious law firms to be my general counsel. He went on to become Texas' 100th secretary of state and to serve on our state's supreme court.

In the long course of our work together this trusted adviser became a close friend.

After months of unfair treatment, that has created a harmful distraction at the Justice Department, Judge Gonzales decided to resign his position and I accept his decision.

It's sad that we live in a time when a talented and honorable person like Alberto Gonzales is impeding from doing important work because his good name was dragged through the mud for political reasons.

Bush is saying that nasty Congress was trying to politicise the Justice Department, a Bush-reality chain that his backers will be hitting the media hard with in the next couple of days - Gonzales just wanted to do his job, it was Congress who threw the mud and cranked up the politics.

Thinks Progress reminds its readers that it was Gonzales, not the Congress, who ended up politicizing the Justice Department and causing so much damage and ill will through the nation's judiciary :

– It was Alberto Gonzales, not Congress, who fired attorneys for political reasons.

– It was Alberto Gonzales, not Congress, who gave the White House political team unprecedented power to intercede in the affairs of the Justice Department.

– It was Alberto Gonzales, not Congress, who allowed his department to illegally hire attorneys based in part on their loyalty to the Republican Party and the Bush administration.

– It was Alberto Gonzales, not Congress, who dissembled and misled about the administration’s spying activities.

– It was Alberto Gonzales, not Congress, who lied in stating that all Bush appointees would be Senate-confirmed.

Michael Tomasky vents with enthusiasm on the 'Gonzales legacy' :
...Gonzales' legacy is so resoundingly awful that one can't imagine which of his failures and transgressions his eventual obituary writers and future historians will highlight. Lying to Congress, which is the clear implication made in testimony by his former aide Monica Goodling? Potential witness tampering, another charge Goodling made implicitly under oath? Helping Bush cover up his old drunk driving conviction?

Wait, there's more! Helping Bush, then governor of Texas, set a modern record for one governor in ordering 150 executions, reviewing in his capacity as Bush's counsel more than fifty clemency applications and never recommending clemency once? Later, declaring the Geneva Conventions "quaint"?

And of course, there's overseeing the firings of nine US attorneys because they would not participate in overtly political prosecutions.

Alert to his bosses' desire for untrammelled executive power, he freed them from September 10-era international conventions and approved the use of torture.

And, awake to Karl Rove's aspiration that the GOP consolidate its hold on certain states that would be crucial to a Republican majority in the electoral college in 2008, he allowed his department to try to install political-hack prosecutors to help clear Democrats out of the way.

It is known that Gonzales once pined for a seat on the Supreme Court. Bush did not advance Gonzales' name either time he had the opportunity to do so, and now of course, if Bush were to get another shot at nominating a Supreme Court justice, he couldn't possibly put Gonzales forward.

Is Gonzales bitter about this? He said in his farewell press conference that he'd lived the American dream and was grateful to Bush. But does he privately feel that for years, he's done nothing but Bush's - and Rove's, and with regard to torture, Dick Cheney's - dirty work, and now this is the thanks he gets?

Gonzales' sorry legacy is already written in stone, a tenure of service that was a tragedy for America...

Now Bush Loses Gonzales

The Bush Texas 'dream team' who followed him to Washington is now in ruins, and thread bare. Today, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, one of President Bush's closest friends, and most trusted colleagues, has announced his resignation.

It's been a remarkable journey from Texas to the White House, for Bush and for Gonzales, but as will the president's departure, Gonzales evacuation from Washington is lashed by outrage, disgust, disappointment and controversy.

In the pages of America's history books, where even Attorney General's are lucky to score a few paragraphs to sum up their achievements, Gonzales is likely to most remembered for torture memos and the stream of spying-on-Americans scandals, with his role in the establishing of rules of detention, and interrogation, for Guantanamo Bay as a grim footnote.

It's hard to know where the cheers will be sounding the loudest in America tonight. In the halls of the Justice Department? The FBI? The CIA? The ACLU? The backrooms of the Supreme Court?

Of course, those who cheer the loudest may be chilled the most if the rumour that Michael Chertoff is to replace Gonzales becomes a reality.

As they say, be careful what you wish for...

From the New York Times :

Mr. Gonzales, who had rebuffed calls for his resignation for months, submitted his to President Bush by telephone on Friday, a senior administration official said.

Mr. Bush repeatedly stood by Mr. Gonzales, an old friend and colleague from Texas, even as Mr. Gonzales faced increasing scrutiny for his leadership of the Justice Department, over issues including his role in the dismissals of nine United States attorneys late last year and whether he testified truthfully about the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs.

Earlier this month, at a news conference, Mr. Bush dismissed accusations that Mr. Gonzales had stonewalled or misled a congressional inquiry. “We’re watching a political exercise,” Mr. Bush said. “I mean, this is a man who has testified, he’s sent thousands of papers up there. There’s no proof of wrong.”

Mr. Gonzales’s resignation is the latest in a series of high-level departures that has reshaped the end of Mr. Bush’s second term. Karl Rove, another of Mr. Bush’s close circle of aides from Texas, stepped down two weeks ago.

A senior administration official said today that Gonzales, who was in Washington, had called the president in Crawford, Tex., on Friday to offer his resignation. The president rebuffed the offer, but said the two should talk face to face on Sunday.

Gonzales and his wife flew to Texas, and over lunch on Sunday the president accepted the resignation with regret, the official said.

On Saturday night, Gonzales was contacted by his press spokesman to ask how the department should respond to inquiries from reporters about rumors of his resignation, and Gonzales told the spokesman to deny the reports.

Gonzales stonewalls reality right to the end.

From Alberto Gonzales resignation statement :

Thirteen years ago I entered public service to make a positive difference in the lives of others. And during this time I have traveled a remarkable journey, from my home state of Texas to Washington, D.C...

Yesterday I met with President Bush and informed him of my decision to conclude my government service as attorney general of the United States effective as of September 17th, 2007.

It is through their continued work that our country and our communities remain safe, that the rights and civil liberties of our citizens are protected, and the hopes and dreams of all of our children are secured.

I often remind our fellow citizens that we live in the greatest country in the world and that I have lived the American dream. Even my worst days as attorney general have been better than my father's best days.

The condemnation of Alberto Gonzales, as he leaves the post of Attorney General in absolute disgrace, continues to flow thick and fast :

"Alberto Gonzales was never the right man for this job. He lacked independence, he lacked judgment, and he lacked the spine to say no to Karl Rove. This resignation is not the end of the story. Congress must get to the bottom of this mess and follow the facts where they lead, into the White House." — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

"It has been a long and difficult struggle but at last, the attorney general has done the right thing and stepped down." _Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.

"Long overdue. The president must nominate an attorney general who is a lawyer for the American people, not a political arm of the White House." — New Mexico governor and Democratic presidential candidate Bill Richardson.

"It's about time ... Gonzales now joins a long list of Republican officials resigning under a cloud of scandal, but these resignations cannot purge the Bush administration of its problems. The true problem rests with the Bush White House itself, which continues to put what's best for the Republican Party ahead of what's best for America." — Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean
The killer quote comes from Senator Ted Kennedy :
"He has exhibited a lack of candor with Congress and the American people and a disdain for the rule of law and our constitutional system. I strongly urge President Bush to nominate a new attorney general who will respect our laws and restore the integrity of the office." — Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass.

A summary of the lows and lows of Gonzales big torture-friendly adventure in Wash. DC :

After arriving in Washington with President Bush in 2001, Alberto Gonzales stood out for his unflappable nature and intense loyalty to the president. With what some called his willingness to interpret the law to fit his boss's priorities and his long political ties with Bush, Gonzales was among the president's closest confidants.

It is for good reason that Bush sometimes referred to Gonzales as " mi abogado" and kept him close by. In 1996, he helped then-Gov. Bush avoid jury duty where he might have been forced to reveal a 20-year-old charge of driving while intoxicated, which later surfaced anyway. Dozens of Gonzales memos to Bush supported the governor's desire to implement the death penalty in Texas.

And as White House counsel and later as attorney general, Gonzales endorsed the creation of the controversial legal framework that guided the administration's war on terror, strongly backed by the Vice President and legal conservatives but opposed by many scholars and partly overturned by the courts.

"He had very much a one-to-one relationship with the president," said David Frum, a former Bush speechwriter. "That is where he started and that is where he finished."

Liberals...were skeptical of Gonzales for his role in crafting legal memos that some human rights advocates say allowed the torture of terrorism suspects and created the atmosphere for abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. was Gonzales, as White House counsel and later as Attorney General, whose name appeared at the bottom of some of the most controversial classified documents justifying harsh CIA and Defense Department treatment of U.S. detainees suspected of involvement in terrorism.

Two months after the 2001 terrorist attacks Gonzales and Addington jointly drafted an order authorizing those captured on the battlefield in the counter-terror fight to be tried by military tribunals instead of civilian courts. Under the Pentagon's initial tribunal rules, conviction would come from a two-thirds vote, appeals would be extremely limited, and all facts and legal issues would be adjudicated by the military.

The Supreme Court said last June that the tribunals were neither authorized by Congress nor required by military necessity, and it blocked them from proceeding. The court also repudiated a second Gonzales legal claim, made in a Jan. 2002 memo embraced by Bush, that the president had the authority to exempt detainees captured in Afghanistan from the human rights protections mandated by the Geneva Conventions.

Gonzales had sought to justify his position by claiming the counter-terror effort made the convention's strict limitations on detainee treatment "obsolete," a viewpoint that outraged then-Secretary of State Colin Powell, then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Richard B. Myers and other senior military officials. A Defense Department panel would later conclude that Bush's decision to accept Gonzales's advice played a key role in the establishment of abusive interrogation practices at for the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

When the Supreme Court ruled this position illegal last June, it affirmed that the Geneva Conventions must be applied to detainees held by the United States anywhere.

Gonzales also was closely associated with a controversial loosening, in Aug. 2002, of the U.S. definition of what constitutes prohibited torture. The underlying legal opinion was written for the CIA by the Justice Department, but it was briefed twice to Gonzales at the White House before its final adoption. Those sessions included detailed descriptions of the suffering that detainees would experience during CIA interrogations that incorporated such methods as simulated drowning.

Under the new definition, only physically punishing acts "of an extreme nature" were considered prosecutable, and those using torture with express presidential authority or without the intent to commit harm could be considered immune from prosecution. These conclusions were later cited approvingly in a Defense Department memo authorizing "exceptional interrogations" at the military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where FBI agents claimed that abuses were occurring.

As the attorney general, Gonzales continued to serve as a reliable advocate for White House policies. He publicly questioned the reliability of FBI accounts of abusive interrogations at Guantanamo; he also defended the practice of "extraordinary rendition," the process under which the United States sometimes transfers detainees in the war on terrorism to nations where they may undergo harsh interrogation, trial or imprisonment.

Gonzales did what he was brought to Washington to do. Take the legal fall for the most extreme of Bush-Cheney policies, whether it be firing attorney generals who didn't submit to the Bush White House, or the sexual torture and rape interrogation tactics used in Abu Ghraib.

Gonzales final major of subservience to his masters was to absorb most of the blows from Congress over the Bush-Cheney dream being allowed to spy on any and all of their own citizens, regardless of whether they have any connection to possible terrorists or not.

Like we said above, history will not be kind to Alberto Gonzales.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Hitchens : Let Me Count The Ways I Dislike Bush

Writer Christopher Hitchens continues his one man war on trying to rebuild his credibility after wholeheartedly supporting the brutal, nation-smashing Iraq War, and backing President Bush ,throughout most of 2002 and 2003.

Christopher Hitchens was one of the most foul and odious of all the major mainstream media commentators who ceaselessly raged against any and all who thought invading and occupying Iraq might be, you know, a really bad idea.

In this piece for the UK Guardian's Comment Is Free, Hitchens now rages against President Bush, and his recent highly controversial attempt to draw comparisons between what happened to the Vietnamese after the pullout of American forces in the early 1970s, and what are the likely scenarios for Iraq, and the Middle East, if the US were to withdraw in the next year or two.

Hitchens uses Bush as a ram rod to try and clear the minds of readers of the reality that he was all for the war, before it went bad. But it's President Bush's alleged religious beliefs that truly infuriate Hitchens the most :
How do I dislike President George Bush? Let me count the ways. Most of them have to do with his contented assumption that 'faith' is, in and of itself, a virtue. This self-satisfied mentality helps explain almost everything, from the smug expression on his face to the way in which, as governor of Texas, he signed all those death warrants without losing a second's composure.

It explains the way in which he embraced ex-KGB goon Vladimir Putin, citing as the basis of a beautiful relationship the fact that Putin was wearing a crucifix. (Has Putin been seen wearing that crucifix before or since? Did his advisers tell him that the President of the United States was that easy a pushover?)

It also explains the unforgivable intervention that Bush made into the private life of the Schiavo family: leaving his Texas ranch to try and keep 'alive' a woman whose autopsy showed that her brain had melted to below flatline a long time before. Here is a man who believes the 'jury' is still 'out' on whether we evolved as a species, who regards stem cell research as something profane, who affects the odd belief that Islam is 'a religion of peace'.

Hitchens is utterly envicerated by more than 100 commenters following his CIF piece, who rip apart his facetious arguments sentence by sentence. Hitchens has fooled nobody, it seems, not even himself with his fact-challenged, weak, hollow attempt to wall himself off from the tragic legacy of President Bush's adventures in Iraq.

And then of course there is this chunk of mea-culpa from Hitchens :

I always agreed with him on one secular question, that the regime of Saddam Hussein was long overdue for removal.
Bush didn't publicly claim that the Iraq War was worthwhile because it led to the fall of the Saddam Hussein regime until months after the war began. The key thrust for the war in the first place, all through 2002 and early 2003, when Hitchens was one of its most prominent supporters, was to disarm Saddam Hussein of non-existent WMDs. And Hitchens knows it.

As do most of the commenters on CIF.

Hitchens has fooled no-one, but, perhaps, himself.

Friday, August 24, 2007

We Will Not Leave Iraq, Hints Bush, Not While I'm President

Historians Outraged By Bush's Repackaging Of Vietnam War History In Speech Defying Pullout Calls

Bush : Iraq Is Like Vietnam...Kinda

While the media, historians and bloggers churn yesterday's Bush speech where he claimed pulling out of Iraq would result in the kind of instability and mass slaughter that followed the American withdrawal from the Vietnam War, one key fact seems to have been missed by most.

And it's probably the most important detail of the entire speech, and controversy.

Bush all but stated out loud that there will be no pullout of American forces from Iraq. At least, not while he's still president.

Regardless of what this report or that study says, Bush will esist Congress, the American people, his fellow Republicans and fading members of the Coalition of the Willing. Any and all. The US will not be leaving Iraq. Not this year. Not next year.

As far as President Bush is concerned, the day he empties the drawers of his West Wing desk, Americans will still be fighting and dying in Iraq.

The New York Times has a solid piece on the Bush speech and the reaction from historians over Bush's distortions about the fallout from America's withdrawal from Vietnam in the early '70s :

President Bush delivered a rousing defense of his Iraq policy on Wednesday, telling a group of veterans that “a free Iraq” is within reach and warning that if Americans succumb to “the allure of retreat,” they will witness death and suffering of the sort not seen since the Vietnam War.

“Then as now, people argued that the real problem was America’s presence and that if we would just withdraw, the killing would end,” Mr. Bush declared in a 45-minute speech before a Veterans of Foreign Wars convention here. He added, “The world would learn just how costly these misimpressions would be.”

In urging Americans to stay the course in Iraq, Mr. Bush is challenging the historical memory that the pullout from Vietnam had few negative repercussions for the United States and its allies.

The speech was the beginning of an intense White House initiative to shape the debate on Capitol Hill in September, when the president’s troop buildup will undergo a re-evaluation. It came amid rising concerns in Washington over the performance of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki of Iraq, who has made little progress toward bridging the sectarian divide in his country.

Military audiences are generally safe for Mr. Bush and Wednesday’s crowd came through with repeated applause. But the views expressed by the former soldiers in interviews here were hardly uniform. One, Charles Muckleston, a 77-year-old former Army sergeant from Manchester, N.J., who fought in Korea, said he did not bother to go to the hall to hear Mr. Bush. “It didn’t seem worthwhile,” he said. But Todd Struwe, 44, who served on the Korean Peninsula, said Mr. Bush’s address was “the best one we’ve heard so far from all of the candidates.”

In the speech, Mr. Bush sought to paint the conflict in Iraq in the broader context of American involvement in Asia. In one fell swoop, the president likened the Iraq war to earlier conflicts in Japan and Korea — which produced democratic allies of the United States — as well as to the war in Vietnam, asserting that the American pullout there 32 years ago led to tens of thousands of deaths in that country and Cambodia. “The question now before us,” he said, referring to Japan and Korea, “comes down to this: Will today’s generation of Americans resist the deceptive allure of retreat and do in the Middle East what veterans in this room did in Asia?”

And, in a passage that set off a bitter debate even before the speech’s end, Mr. Bush suggested a quick pullout from Iraq could bring the kind of carnage that drenched Southeast Asia three decades ago.

"One unmistakable legacy of Vietnam is that the price of America's withdrawal was paid by millions of innocent citizens whose agonies would add to our vocabulary new terms like 'boat people', 're-education camps' and 'killing fields'."

“In Cambodia, the Khmer Rouge began a murderous rule in which hundreds of thousands of Cambodians died by starvation and torture and execution,” Mr. Bush said. “In Vietnam, former allies of the United States, and government workers and intellectuals and businessmen were sent off to prison camps, where tens of thousands perished. Hundreds of thousands more fled the country on rickety boats, many of them going to their graves in the South China Sea.”

With his comments Mr. Bush was doing something few major politicians of either party have done in a generation: rearguing a conflict that ended more than three decades ago but has remained an emotional touch point.

A number of historians are unhappy with what they see as President Bush's distortion of the facts on what happened in South East Asia after the United States withdrew its troops from Vietnam, and the root causes of those tragic events :
Historian Robert Dallek, who has written about the comparisons of Iraq to Vietnam, accused Bush of twisting history. "It just boggles my mind, the distortions I feel are perpetrated here by the president," he said in a telephone interview.
"We were in Vietnam for 10 years. We dropped more bombs on Vietnam than we did in all of World War II in every theater. We lost 58,700 American lives, the second-greatest loss of lives in a foreign conflict. And we couldn't work our will," he said.

"What is Bush suggesting? That we didn't fight hard enough, stay long enough? That's nonsense. It's a distortion," he continued. "We've been in Iraq longer than we fought in World War II. It's a disaster, and this is a political attempt to lay the blame for the disaster on his opponents. But the disaster is the consequence of going in, not getting out."

This from Vietnam War historian Stanley Karnow :

(he said) Bush is reaching for historical analogies that don't track. "Vietnam was not a bunch of sectarian groups fighting each other," as in Iraq, Karnow said. In Cambodia, the Khmer Rouge toppled a U.S.-backed government.

"Does he think we should have stayed in Vietnam?" Karnow asked.

And more here :

“It is undoubtedly true that America’s failure in Vietnam led to catastrophic consequences in the region, especially in Cambodia,” said David C. Hendrickson, a specialist on the history of American foreign policy at Colorado College in Colorado Springs.

“But there are a couple of further points that need weighing,” he added. “One is that the Khmer Rouge would never have come to power in the absence of the war in Vietnam — this dark force arose out of the circumstances of the war, was in a deep sense created by the war. The same thing has happened in the Middle East today. Foreign occupation of Iraq has created far more terrorists than it has deterred.”

The record of death and dislocation after the American withdrawal from Vietnam ranks high among the tragedies of the last century, with an estimated 1.7 million Cambodians, about one-fifth of the population, dying under the rule of Pol Pot, and an estimated 1.5 million Vietnamese and other Indochinese becoming refugees. Estimates of the number of Vietnamese who were sent to prison camps after the war have ranged widely, from 50,000 to more than 400,000, and some accounts have said that tens of thousands perished,


Mr. Bush also sought to inspire renewed support for his Iraq strategy by recalling the years of national sacrifice during World War II, and the commitment required to rebuild two of history’s most aggressive and lawless adversaries, Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, into reliable and responsible allies.

But historians note that Germany and Japan were homogenous nation-states with clear national identities and no internal feuding among factions or sects, in stark contrast to Iraq today.

The comparison of Iraq to Germany and Japan “is fanciful,” said Steven Simon, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. He noted that the American and allied militaries had eliminated the governments of Japan and Germany, and any lingering opposition, and assembled occupation forces that were, proportionally, more than three times as large as the current American presence of more than 160,000 troops in Iraq.

“That’s the kind of troop level you need to control the situation,” Mr. Simon said. “The occupation of Germany and Japan lasted for years — and not a single American solider was killed by insurgents.”

The Democrats are uniformly unhappy with the Vietnam comparisons, claiming Bush was being a hypocrite, considering Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice had previously ruled all comparisons between the Vietnam War and what was happening in Iraq were irrelevant :

Invoking the tragedy of Vietnam to defend the failed policy in Iraq is as irresponsible as it is ignorant of the realities of both of those wars,” said Sen. John Kerry (Mass.), the 2004 Democratic presidential candidate.

Democrats were also quick to point out that the White House had in the past rejected comparisons between the wars in Iraq and Vietnam. Among others, they point to a statement from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who said during a visit to Vietnam in 2006 that “historical parallels of that kind are, I think, not very helpful, and I don’t think they happen to be right” when asked to compare the conflicts.

“If anything, an examination of history and the situation on the ground shows us the importance of creating a new direction in Iraq,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.). “We must initiate a strategic redeployment from Iraq so that we may focus our resources on the greatest danger — the war on terror — rather than keep our military mired in Iraq's sectarian war.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said that Bush, “instead of providing the country with a history lesson ... should be reevaluating his flawed strategies that have led to one of the worst foreign policy blunders in our nation’s history.”

The Bush Speech To Veterans Of Foreign Wars In Full

Chickenhawk Bush Has The Gall To Lecture Americans On Vietnam

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Bush Laughs Off "Conspiracy Theories" About North American Union As "Comical"

But Doesn't Completely Deny The Charges

President Bush has dismissed claims that the United States, Canada and Mexico are in the process of secretely merging into a EU style North American Union, with open borders, a trans-national superhighway and a shared currency.

He laughed at questions from journalists about the supposed NAU, called them "conspiracy theories" but did not completely rule out the idea of an official merger of the three countries.

From the Washington Times :
President Bush and the leaders of Canada and Mexico yesterday ridiculed the notion that their countries are conspiring to create a regional supergovernment similar to the European Union.

"I'm amused by the difference between what actually takes place in the meetings and by what some are trying to say takes place," said Mr. Bush, responding to concerns raised by conservative and liberal groups and some U.S. lawmakers.

"It's quite comical actually, to realize the difference between reality and what some people on TV are talking about."

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper joked that a superhighway rumored to be in the works linking the three countries could also be "interplanetary."

The two leaders and Mexican President Felipe Calderon spoke at a press conference here in a countryside resort, halfway between Ottawa and Montreal, to cap two days of meetings.

Mr. Bush said it is important for the U.S. to work with Canada and Mexico on facilitating trade while securing their borders, under the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP), a series of negotiations started in 2005.

Mr. Bush said the charges of a plot to form a North American Union were "political scare tactics."

"You lay out a conspiracy and then force some people to try to prove it doesn't exist. That's just the way some people operate," Mr. Bush said.

Mr. Harper said the trade talks were far more mundane than many realize, citing a morning meeting with business leaders at which one CEO complained that "the rules for jelly bean contents are different in Canada and the United States."

Mr. Calderon said there were "myths" about the SPP, and joked, "I'll be happy with one foot in Mexicali and one in Tijuana."

The rumors of an EU-style plot, which started out on obscure Web sites and talk radio, have since been picked up by CNN anchor Lou Dobbs and have now gained traction among some of the House Republicans who successfully derailed Mr. Bush's immigration-reform plan.

A group of 21 Republican congressmen and one Democrat — Rep. Nancy Boyda of Kansas — sent Mr. Bush a letter earlier this month expressing "serious and growing concerns" about the SPP.

White House officials say the SPP is meant to build on the North American Free Trade Agreement, which they say has generated $884 billion in trade among the United States, Mexico and Canada over the past 12 years, while boosting the security of cross-border trade.

But the idea of a plot has gained currency, and the recent fight over immigration policy has only made things worse by aggravating fears about cross-border cooperation with Mexico.

Bush's comments will do little to shake off the allegations that secret plotting is afoot, particularly when some websites have built entire audiences around the nefarious plotting to form the North American Union, building a ten lane wide superhighway from Mexico to Canada, and replace the American Dollar with a new currency, the 'Amero'.

As some sites have already pointed out, Bush laughed off the allegations, but he didn't say "No. We are not forming a North American Union."

His failure to rule it completely, comprehensively, will likely only encourage the spread and veracity of the claims.

Leading Conservatives Denounce Bush On 'North American Union'

Controversy Follows Three Country Accord Into Canada

Bush Seeks Common Ground With Mexico, Canada Leaders

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Bush Snr To Reagan : "Find The Kid A Job"

UPDATE : The quote below is a hoax. Snopes has more.

According to Global Research, the following is a direct quote from the published diaries of Ronald Reagan :
May 17, 1986.
'A moment I've been dreading. George brought his ne're-do-well son around this morning and asked me to find the kid a job. Not the political one who lives in Florida. The one who hangs around here all the time looking shiftless. This so-called kid is already almost 40 and has never had a real job. Maybe I'll call Kinsley over at The New Republic and see if they'll hire him as a contributing editor or something. That looks like easy work."

George W. Bush as a contributing editor at the New Republic? Well, that turned out to be true, in a way.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Bush As The Embarrassing Uncle The Republicans Wish Would Go Away

That President Bush is a damaging figurehead for any wannabe Republican presidential candidate is a repeating theme of American mainstream media commentary, though it was originally raised in the blogstream two years ago. This theme is important because it underlies the most prominent failings of the Bush presidency, and the singular mission of chief adviser, Karl Rove - to recreate American politics so that conservatives, and the hard right, rule for decades to come, remaking America, and the larger world, in their own image, and converting the masses to their own belief system.

Gary Younge, writing at Comment Is Free, has more on this :

Bush's problem is not that he has failed on our terms - humanism, equality, peace and democracy - but that he has failed on his own.

...the Bush agenda was always more far-reaching than anything that can be accounted for by mere polls, war, or the loss of human life. The ultimate aim of his presidency was to realign American politics to cement a conservative electoral majority for a generation. The cornerstone of his domestic agenda was to build on the Republicans' traditional base of evangelists, southerners, white men and the wealthy, by winning over Catholics, married white women and a sizable minority of Latinos with a mixture of policies and pronouncements on immigration, homophobia, abortion and social security.

Bush did not create the partisan split in America; he inherited it, just as Al Gore would have if he had won the supreme court case in 2000. But while the split was broad (the difference was less than 5% in 13 states from New Mexico to New Hampshire), it was Bush who made it deep and rancorous.

For unlike Thatcher or Reagan he sought to achieve his ends not by exploiting division in order to forge a new, more rightwing consensus but rather to exploit new divisions in order to crush a growing consensus. The majority of the country was, for example, pro-choice and in favour of granting equal rights to gay couples in almost all areas. So the Bush administration chose to leverage gay marriage and late-term abortion - two issues that could act as a wedge - to rally his base. Crude in execution and majoritarian in impulse, it sought not to win over new converts but simply to mobilise dormant constituencies. His legacy will be rightwing policies - but not a more rightwing political culture.

That his agenda should have failed so completely should come as no surprise. The project was always, at root, a faith-based initiative. Following the Republican congressional victory in 2002 Rove was asked to comment on the fact that the nation seemed evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats. "Something else is going on out there," he said. "Something else more fundamental ... But we will only know it retrospectively. In two years, or four years or six years, [we may] look back and say the dam began to break in 2002."

With no discernible material basis on which to build, this new majority at home and new world order abroad had to be fashioned from whole cloth. A Bush aide once ridiculed a New York Times reporter for belonging to "the reality-based community", which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality". "That's not the way the world really works any more," he said. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality - judiciously, as you will - we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors ... and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."

So here we are studying. The coalition crumbled. In 2006 Catholics backed the Democrats; white women broke even. According to a Wall Street Journal poll, Americans would prefer the next president to be a Democrat by 52% to 31%. Meanwhile, the presumptive standard bearer for this new majority is treated like a pariah. As the Republican hopeful Mitt Romney pressed flesh in a restaurant in Manchester, New Hampshire, a few weeks ago, Muriel Allard said: "We need someone like him. They don't care about us over there." At a town hall meeting a couple of hours away in Keene, another Republican contender, John McCain, was asked last month if it wasn't time to put a "warrior in chief" in the White House rather than these "draft dodgers". Bush's name never came up. "Friends who were obnoxious in their praise for him just don't mention him any more," says Rick Holmes from Derry. "He's like the embarrassing uncle you just don't want to talk about."

A sense of doom among Republicans is palpable. A growing number of Republican congressmen - most recently the former house speaker Dennis Hastert - have announced they are to retire, or are considering it. "Democrats will win the White House [and] hold their majority in the house and in the Senate in 2008," the retiring congressman Ray Lahood told the New York Times.

There is even talk that Republicans might not invite Bush to their convention. "If they're smart, no," the Republican pollster Tony Fabrizio told Newsweek. "Especially if things don't change in Iraq, we'll have the problem the Democrats had in 1968 with Lyndon Johnson and Vietnam. The question becomes: where do we hide the president?"

They don't have to hide the president. The Republicans can just keep doing what they've been doing through their televised debates so far : pretend he doesn't exist.
Call Him A War Pig, Ignorant, The Worst President In History...

But Don't You Dare Call President Bush A Fashion Victim

The article in the Texas Statesman didn't seem that big a deal. An interesting, short comment piece about the changing styles of Bush's presidential dress, at home on his ranch in Crawford, Texas :

Bush has two distinct looks when he's in Texas: the ranch-hand man and the crisp appearance of a ranch owner. In recent months, with his sliding popularity, he's opted to look more like "Walker, Texas Ranger" than a sweaty, tough ranch hand.

"As he loses popularity, his image is more and more critical," said Sara Canaday, an Austin-based communication and image consultant. "He's being advised wisely. He'd better step it up. He wants to have this sort of bravado image when he's on that ranch."

If that's the case, it's unlikely we'll see Bush with his 2002 Crawford photo-op accessories: aviator sunglasses, grungy, sweaty T-shirt, cowboy hat, light-colored jeans and Ford F-250.

The summer season at Crawford likely will mean Bush in sports jackets, slacks and the big belt buckle with the presidential seal he likes or the one from Rewards that he received as a gift. And of course, there likely will be those short-sleeved button-down shirts Bush favors.

Mr. President to line up work for life after the White House. Here's a thought: Follow the lead of Mikhail Gorbachev, the former Soviet leader who is the new face of luxe brand Louis Vuitton.

In his Western duds, Bush easily could model for Ralph Lauren. But if his popularity is still low through the end of his presidency, he could always try Wrangler
Critical, sure, but actually kind of helpful to the president. The writer appears to be trying to give President Bush some helpful fashion advice, and possibly having a bit of a laugh at the same time.

So no big deal, right?


Bush read the story, and he wasn't happy :
Last week, Marques Harper of the Austin American- Statesman wrote a short piece about the president's sartorial style on his Texas ranch, where Bush is spending a two-week vacation.

Harper received a phone call....from White House deputy press secretary Dana Perino, who, Harper told friends, said the president read the article and was unhappy about the way he was portrayed.

"I was surprised," said the style writer, who declined to repeat the off-the-record conversation with Perino when we called.

"It was a piece that looked at his ranch wear at Crawford over the years," Harper told us yesterday. "It was a fun piece. Here in Austin, I got e-mails saying, 'That was the dumbest story I ever read.' "

No laughing matter for the president, who apparently was offended that anyone would think he just dresses like a real rancher.
As a fairly consistent Bush watcher, I can't recall any other news story in the past three years where word has got out that the president was so annoyed by what he read about himself he clearly gave permission for an aide to confront the journalist about what they had written, and perhaps more importantly, the conclusions they had reached.

The New Hitler, war pig, dictator, ignorant fool, The Worst President In History, instigator of the worst foreign policy decision in five decades, appalling statesman, unfaithful husband. Bush has been called all of these things, and much worse, on radio, on cable TV and in countless newspaper columns, and he hasn't been riled.

But call him a Fashion Victim?


Well, clearly there is a line that no writer is allowed to cross.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

America Needs To Get Busy Nuking

Why Not Make George W. Bush King Of The World?

President Is "A Victim Of Democracy"

It's one thing when conspiracy theorists are ranting about President Bush becoming a dictator, and wanting to nuke other nations into submission and declaring Martial Law across the United States.

It's another thing when NeoCon enablers, and associates of key Republicans and the vice president himself start spouting off about Bush doing all of the above, and then stating clear reasons why it's all good, and no-one should panic when it happens. Bush should nuke Iraq and Iran and install himself as a permanent president of the United States. Or as it's more commonly known, become a dictator.

Why? President Bush, you see, is a "victim of democracy". Read it and weep, lovers of democracy :

While democratic government is better than dictatorships and theocracies, it has its pitfalls.

(Family Security Matters) Contributing Editor Philip Atkinson describes some of the difficulties facing President Bush today.

Conquering the Drawbacks of Democracy

By Philip Atkinson

President George W. Bush is the 43rd President of the United States. He was sworn in for a second term on January 20, 2005 after being chosen by the majority of citizens in America to be president.

Yet in 2007 he is generally despised, with many citizens of Western civilization expressing contempt for his person and his policies, sentiments which now abound on the Internet. This rage at President Bush is an inevitable result of the system of government demanded by the people, which is Democracy.

The inadequacy of Democracy, rule by the majority, is undeniable – for it demands adopting ideas because they are popular, rather than because they are wise. This means that any man chosen to act as an agent of the people is placed in an invidious position: if he commits folly because it is popular, then he will be held responsible for the inevitable result.

If he refuses to commit folly, then he will be detested by most citizens because he is frustrating their demands.

When faced with the possible threat that the Iraqis might be amassing terrible weapons that could be used to slay millions of citizens of Western Civilization, President Bush took the only action prudence demanded and the electorate allowed: he conquered Iraq with an army.

This dangerous and expensive act did destroy the Iraqi regime, but left an American army without any clear purpose in a hostile country and subject to attack. If the Army merely returns to its home, then the threat it ended would simply return.

The wisest course would have been for President Bush to use his nuclear weapons to slaughter Iraqis until they complied with his demands, or until they were all dead. Then there would be little risk or expense and no American army would be left exposed.

But if he did this, his cowardly electorate would have instantly ended his term of office, if not his freedom or his life.

...President Bush cannot do what is necessary for the survival of Americans. He cannot use the nation's powerful weapons. All he can do is try and discover a result that will be popular with Americans.

As there appears to be no sensible result of the invasion of Iraq that will be popular with his countrymen other than retreat, President Bush is reviled; he has become another victim of Democracy.

By elevating popular fancy over truth, Democracy is clearly an enemy of not just truth, but duty and justice, which makes it the worst form of government. President Bush must overcome not just the situation in Iraq, but democratic government.

However, President Bush has a valuable historical example that he could choose to follow. When the ancient Roman general Julius Caesar was struggling to conquer ancient Gaul, he not only had to defeat the Gauls, but he also had to defeat his political enemies in Rome who would destroy him the moment his tenure as consul (president) ended.

Caesar pacified Gaul by mass slaughter; he then used his successful army to crush all political opposition at home and establish himself as permanent ruler of ancient Rome. This brilliant action not only ended the personal threat to Caesar, but ended the civil chaos that was threatening anarchy in ancient Rome – thus marking the start of the ancient Roman Empire that gave peace and prosperity to the known world.

If President Bush copied Julius Caesar by ordering his army to empty Iraq of Arabs and repopulate the country with Americans, he would achieve immediate results: popularity with his military; enrichment of America by converting an Arabian Iraq into an American Iraq (therefore turning it from a liability to an asset); and boost American prestiege while terrifying American enemies.

He could then follow Caesar's example and use his newfound popularity with the military to wield military power to become the first permanent president of America, and end the civil chaos caused by the continually squabbling Congress and the out-of-control Supreme Court.

President Bush can fail in his duty to himself, his country, and his God, by becoming “ex-president” Bush or he can become “President-for-Life” Bush: the conqueror of Iraq, who brings sense to the Congress and sanity to the Supreme Court. Then who would be able to stop Bush from emulating Augustus Caesar and becoming ruler of the world? For only an America united under one ruler has the power to save humanity from the threat of a new Dark Age wrought by terrorists armed with nuclear weapons.

I first read this after someone e-mailed me a copy. I thought it was a joke. But it's not. It's real. This column was published on the Family Security Matters website a few days ago.

To no great surprise, this column caused plenty of outrage and was removed, even though it was written by a contributing editor.

The full column can still be read here, where it has been cached.

These people are fucking nuts. Excuse the language, but that's the only description that fits such despicable bile. I can honestly say I haven't read a more vicious statement of democracy-hatred in years. And it comes from a group with close ties to Vice President Dick Cheney, and a whole fleet of prominent NeoCons.

Just unbelievable.

Paul Joseph Watson provides some necessary background on Family Security Matters, and their mission in America :

The Family Security Matters organization masquerades as an independent "think tank" yet was highly influential in President Bush's re-election in 2004 and has links to top Neo-Con ideologues.

The outfit poses as an advocacy group for a new breed of goose-stepping brownshirts - so-called "security moms," who are noted for their blind obedience to neo-conservatism as a result of believing every ounce of fearmongering that emanates from the Bush administration on the inevitability of mass casualty terror attacks.

"In late 2004, Media Matters for America discovered that the phone number listed on FSM's website actually belonged to the Center for Security Policy (CSP), a rabidly hardline foreign policy outfit run by former Reagan administration figure Frank Gaffney..."

The Center for Security Policy is an umbrella organization that includes the National Security Advisory Council, whose members hold senior positions within the Bush administration itself. Former and current members include Dick Cheney, Richard Perle, Elliott Abrams and the organization has also given awards to Donald Rumsfeld.

The FSM foundation itself also has ties to the Anti-Defamation League, the International Women's Forum, numerous nationwide television and print media outlets, and includes on its board of advisors Neo-Con radio host Laura Ingraham and former director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, James Woolsey.

Representatives of FSM also routinely appear as guests on Fox News and their website is a cesspool of anti-American fervor - acting as a cheerleader for the invasion of Iran, the warrantless wiretapping program (opponents of which are labeled "traitors") and lauds the Patriot Act as "An irreplaceable tool utilized by our Secret Service to keep us safe."

To summarise, a contributing editor to Family Security Matters suggests a good plan would be to nuke anyone who wants to fuck with America, or its allies, make Bush 'President For Life' and install a dictatorship, ruling through martial law.

So who exactly are the extremists in the 'War on Terror?'

Bush is a victim of democracy because he is held to account by the American people, and Congress?

I knew the NeoCons were insipid loons, but I never really thought they believed in such extremism.

I look forward to Family Security Matters column being denounced as anti-American, and anti-democratic, all over Fox News and Michelle Malkin's website.

How could they not tear this absurdity to shreds?

Unless, of course, they believe in it, too.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Abandoning President Bush

Karl Rove was the latest, but not the last, of President Bush's inner circle of key staff, advisers and senior members of his administration to quit the White House in the past two years.

White House press secretary Tony Snow has announced he will be leaving soon, and hinted that many more will follow, despite there only being some 15 months left before the President himself leaves the West Wing.

Think Progress has compiled a list of the key Bush administration officials who have resigned :

- White House Senior Political Adviser Karl Rove

- White House Counselor Dan Bartlett

- White House Budget Director Rob Portman

- White House Counsel Harriet Miers

- White House Political Director Sara Taylor

- White House Director of Strategic Initiatives Pete Wehner

- White House Deputy National Security Adviser J.D. Crouch

- Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty

- Acting Associate Attorney General William Mercer

- Justice Department White House liaison Monica Goodling

- Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld

- Army Secretary Francis Harvey

- Joint Chief of Staffs Chairman Peter Pace

- Secretary of Veterans Affairs Jim Nicholson

- U.N. Ambassador John Bolton

- USAID Director Randall Tobias

While some, like Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, clearly had no choice but to quit, due to overwhelming public and Washington disgust at his incompetency, many others would appear to have left, or are in the process of getting out, due to a rising fear that association with the one of the worst presidents in American history will cripple future job prospects. So much for all that loyalty to the president we use to hear about.

According to this Associated Press report, Bush will spend the next 15 months ruling by decree of his controversial use of executive orders and veto power :

“Bush has decided he might get more done in his final months by going it alone."

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Bush's Lasting Legacy Will Be Lethal

Executions To Become Faster, Easier

When George W. Bush was governor of Texas, he sent more than 150 people to their deaths. He and current attorney general, Alberto Gonzales, would sit down and review each case for a casual 15 to 30 minutes before Bush signed the order that meant another American was going to be executed for crimes they may, or may not, have committed.

In the late 1990s, Bush was asked by a talk show host what he though the last words might have been of a woman who was controversially put to death under a cloud of doubt about her guilt. Bush grinned, and in a mocking, female voice cackled, "Please don't kill me!"

The studio audience was left stunned and silent.

Today, Alberto Gonzales isn't happy with all the ways that condemned men and women can continue their fight for justice long after they've been sentenced. He wants to speed up the whole process, and with the backing of President Bush, the most lethal-injecting governor in modern American history, it's likely the stripping away of rights for repeated appeals will become reality within the next 6 to 12 months.

The United States ranks only below China, Iran, the Sudan, Iraq and Pakistan in the grim table of nations who execute the most citizens per year.

From the UK Independent :

The Bush administration is preparing to speed up the executions of criminals who are on death row across the United States, in effect, cutting out several layers of appeals in the federal courts so that prisoners can be "fast-tracked" to their deaths.

With less than 18 months to go to secure a presidential legacy, President Bush has turned to an issue he has specialised in since approving a record number of executions while Governor of Texas.

The US Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales - Mr Bush's top legal adviser during the spree of executions in Texas in the 1990s - is putting finishing touches to regulations, inspired by recent anti-terrorism legislation, that would allow states to turn to the Justice Department, instead of the federal courts, as a key arbiter in deciding whether prisoners live or die.

The US is already among the top six countries worldwide in terms of the numbers of its own citizens that it puts to death. Fifty-two Americans were executed last year and thousands await their fate on death row.

In some instances, prisoners would have significantly less time to file federal appeals, and the appeals courts significantly less time to respond. On the question of whether defendants received adequate representation at trial - a key issue in many cases, especially in southern states with no formal public defender system - the Attorney General would be the sole decision-maker.

Since Mr Gonzales is a prosecutor, not a judge, and since he has a track record of favouring death in almost every capital case brought before him, the regulations would, in effect, remove a crucial safety net for prisoners who feel they have been wrongly convicted.

President Bush has always been a death penalty enthusiast. The 152 prisoners he dispatched to their deaths in his eight years as governor of Texas set a high-water mark unmatched before or since.

At no time has Mr Bush seen any contradiction with his avowed commitment to the sanctity of life. As President he has even instituted a National Sanctity of Human Life Day, which, he has said, "serves as a reminder we must value human life in all its forms, not just those considered healthy, wanted, or convenient".

To even ask if Bush sees any contradiction you have to assume that he actually means what he says about the sanctity of human life.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Rove's Departure Signals 'The End Of The Bush Presidency'

Raw Story takes a look at a CNN interview with Wayne Slater, author of The Architect: Karl Rove and the Master Plan for Absolute Power, and declares Slater's comments were not only a political obituary for Rove, but for the Bush administration as well.

Slater doesn't hold back :

"He can be called ... someone who was extraordinarily successful in the politics of -- politics," said Slater. "He is brilliant as a political strategist, and yet at the end, we've seen this colossal failure by the Bush administration, this collapse, and he has to bear some responsibility for that as well."

"In the aftermath of 9/11," continued Slater, "Karl saw that the approach that would be most successful would be a very sharp and ruthless division of the electorate ... that effectively left the architecture of the architect's dream of an enduring majority really in doubt and, as we've seen, pretty much collapsing around him."

"This is the end of the Bush presidency," Slater concluded. "Absolutely."

Raw Story has the video of the Slater interview.

The consensus is growing that Rove's departure really is the end of the Bush presidency, and that Bush himself is now counting down the days until he can flee the White House and kick back at his Crawford ranch, hanging out with his old buddy Rove in far less pressured circumstances as they plan how to spend more than a half billion dollars on the Bush Presidential Library.

Keith Olbermann, of Countdown, interviewed Howard Fineman of Newsweek, who claims Rove was hated by many Republicans, hence the near drought of glowing tributes from the conservative side of American politics :
The silence has been deafening from Republicans. From Republican presidential contenders, from members of Congress who by the way, are out of town, another good reason for Rove to leave now. I haven’t heard a word from any Republican leader about Karl Rove because they don’t like Karl Rove. And the reason they don’ t like Karl Rove is that his soul focus has been on George Bush. This notion that Karl Rove’s aim was to build a new Republican majority, ala McKinley, is ridiculous. His only mission was to get George Bush elected. He did it twice, and didn’t really care a whole lot about the Congress, Republicans included.”

Crooks And Liars has the video of that remarkable interview.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Bush Loses His 'Brain'

Karl Rove Departs The White House, Broken And Battered

A shattered Karl Rove confirmed his departure from the White House. A decision to quit that, he said, came as a surprise, even to him

Today's resignation by White House aide/counsel/adviser Karl Rove brings to an end political working relationship between "Turd Blossom" and George W. Bush that has lasted for than 17 years, and seen Bush elected twice as governor of Texas and twice as President of the United States.

Bush and Rove appeared together in a press call on the White House Lawn, before Rove joined Bush on Air Force One for a flight back to Texas :

In an unusually emotional appearance with President Bush on the South Lawn of the White House, Mr. Rove cited a desire to “start thinking about the next chapter in our family’s life.” His decision was also forced when the White House chief of staff, Joshua B. Bolten, recently told senior aides that if they stayed past Labor Day he would expect them to stay through the remaining 17 months of Mr. Bush’s term.

Mr. Rove and Mr. Bush, who said they had known “each other as youngsters” interested in politics, first discussed his departure last summer, Mr. Rove said, his voice breaking at times. Instead he stayed on, through the midterm elections last fall, which put Democrats in control of Congress and tempered Mr. Rove’s reputation as a political genius who had ushered in an enduring Republican majority.

“It always seemed there was a better time to leave out there in the future,” Mr. Rove said, “but now is the time.”

His standing had already diminished considerably. Since the midterm elections, Mr. Bush’s political problems have mounted in Iraq, his pursuit of a new immigration policy failed in Congress and the White House has had to defend its actions in the dismissals of United States attorneys, among other issues. Mr. Rove, 56, survived an investigation into the leak of the identity of a Central Intelligence Agency operative only to face a flurry of subpoenas from Democratic-controlled committees on Capitol Hill that he has so far rebuffed, citing executive privilege.

To his critics, and there are many, Mr. Rove embodied the Bush administration’s mode of politics: aggressive, combative, secretive. Senator Patrick Leahy, the chairman of the Senate’s Judiciary Committee, said that the Congressional investigations swirling around Mr. Rove and others in the White House would continue, regardless of his resignation.

“Mr. Rove’s apparent attempts to manipulate elections and push out prosecutors citing bogus claims of voter fraud shows corruption of federal law enforcement for partisan political purposes,” Senator Leahy said in a statement.

“There is a cloud over this White House, and a gathering storm,” Mr. Leahy said.

More on the Bush-Rove press call :

“Karl Rove is moving on down the road,” President Bush told reporters, amplifying his Texan accent. “I’ll be on the road behind you in a little bit.”

“I am grateful to have been a witness to history,” Mr. Rove said in the beginning of his own remarks. “It has been the joy and honor of a lifetime.”

Both spent a chunk of their comments describing their 34-year friendship. “I would call Karl Rove a dear friend,” Mr. Bush said, remembering their political work as “youngsters.”

Mr. Rove’s voice trembled with emotion as he remembered his time in the White House, including a tribute to his boss. “I’ve seen a man of far-sighted courage that put America on a war footing to protect us against a brutal enemy in a dangerous conflict that will shape this new century.”

“”I will miss — deeply miss — my work here,” Mr. Rove said in a solemn conclusion.

As one of the most famous and influential political strategists, now, in American history, Karl Rove was praised as a genius by supporters and admirers, and damned as all but Satanic by his critics. But through it all Rove seemed to enjoy his "Evil Genius" nickname. He knew he was no genius, but he used his influence to build up his public prominence, in part to buffer the president from the harshest of criticism, for a good many years. Why blame Bush, his strategy went, when you can blame Rove?

With his reams of poll data and 'hit lists' for what appeared to be just about every suburban street and city block in the country, Rove was a number cruncher supremo, who fouled the American politicum with cheap, vicious and nasty gutter politics. Of course, that savage ability to split issues of supreme historical and national importance, like the Iraq War, like the 9/11 attacks, into rhetorical snipes of "Us Vs Them" is exactly why he was so successful, to a point, and why the media were so fascinated by him.

Rove turned American politics, and American elections, into the World Wrestling Federation, with just as many lights and smoke and lasers and roaring cheap shots and absurdly simple characterisations. Rove also made sure there were plenty of folding chairs across the back of his opponents.

His most infamous soul-sucking attack on the Democrats during a speech when he claimed they wanted to offer "therapy" to the terrorists who attacked the United States on 9/11, instead of pursuing them or engaging them in war :
"Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 in the attacks and prepared for war; liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers..."

But Rove's sometimes amateurish, college-boy dirt campaigns all came at a cost to President Bush, his legacy, to American politics, to the American people, and to Karl Rove himself.

His involvement in the multi-sourced leaking of the name of CIA agent Valerie Plame, in an effort to discredit the polarising criticism of the case for the Iraq War by her husband, Joseph Wilson, shortly after President Bush declared "Mission Accomplished", has cost Rove dearly.

For nearly all Democrats, and many Republicans, it was one dirty trick too many, and now Rove is out of the White House, he will likely face further prosecution by Democrats, all of which he will have to pay for out of the many millions he is already believed to have signed on for to write his memoirs of his time in the White House, and his 20 odd years as a friend and confidante of George W. Bush.

No doubt Rove's book will be a fascinating one, and it will provide him with a very public platform to try and level the score with his harshest critics, but Rove may well be remembered in decades to come as a man who helped divide the country, when it should have been at its most unified. He will be treated harshly by historians, because in the end, Rove was a failure. His method of divide and conquer, and pure partisanship, helped the Republicans to lose the 2006 mid-term elections, and set the scene for the coming annihilation at the 2008 presidential elections, and laid to waste the more idealistic of Bush's key White House term policies, including the all-but-forgotten restructuring of Social Security, the plan to turn 12 million illegal immigrants into sympathetic Republican voters and the disastrous first year of rebuilding New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Rove also dramatically failed to bring back American support for the Iraq War. For the past two years, it seemed, everything Rove touched turned to toxic stew.

There is huge debate across the US media and blogstream right now on whether Rove decided it was time to go, or whether it was decided for him that his time was up.

The Next Hurrah lays out some of the reasons why Rove may have decided to pack it in now, with the claims by Rove that he simply wanted to "spend more time with my family" crushed underfoot :
"...if he had wanted to spend time with his family, he surely would have done it before his son went to college."
As has been pointed out almost everywhere this morning, in Washington saying that you are leaving a job "to spend more time with my family" is red-banner code for having been fired, or jumping before being pushed. Rumours are running rampant that Rove is bailing before a big story about him breaks, which may be the release or leaking of full transcripts of his five appearances before the Fitzgerald grand jury, or the outing of him as a bisexual.

Rove himself claims the discussion of his leaving the White House began in mid-2006. Rove says he decided to wait until "after the (Iraq troop) surge" and while the US Senate was in recess to make his announcement, and enact a quick goodbye.

One of the few glowing tributes to Rove comes, to no great surprise, from a former staffer :

Some day books will be written about what a phenomenon of nature this man is. But some day books should be written about what a really fine man he is. He was the most relentlessly upbeat person in the White House, giving counsel and encouragement to all, and showing great kindness to many of us and our families. And of course what we all learned as well as what a tremendously strong person this policy wonk and former nerd from Utah is. He withstood pressure, unfair pressure, that would have broken lesser men, and he did it with good cheer, extraordinary equanimity, and without ever becoming cynical.

Andrew Sullivan's mini-demolition of Rove is more in tune with the majority of media comment today :
The man's legacy is a conservative movement largely discredited and disunited, a president with lower consistent approval ratings than any in modern history, a generational shift to the Democrats, a resurgent al Qaeda, an endless catastrophe in Iraq, a long hard struggle in Afghanistan, a fiscal legacy that means bankrupting America within a decade, and the poisoning of American religion with politics and vice-versa. For this, he got two terms of power - which the GOP used mainly to enrich themselves, their clients and to expand government's reach and and drain on the productive sector. In the re-election, the president with a relatively strong economy, and a war in progress, managed to eke out 51 percent. Why? Because Rove preferred to divide the country and get his 51 percent, than unite it and get America's 60. In a time of grave danger and war, Rove picked party over country. Such a choice was and remains despicable.

Rove is one of the worst political strategists in recent times. He took a chance to realign the country and to unite it in a war - and threw it away in a binge of hate-filled niche campaigning, polarization and short-term expediency. His divisive politics and elevation of corrupt mediocrities to every branch of government has turned an entire generation off the conservative label. And rightly so. It will take another generation to recover from the toxins he has injected, with the president's eager approval, into the political culture and into the conservative soul.

Rove's final act of spin control was pure luck, in choosing a day when there was virtually no other major news breaking in the United States. His departure is the lead story on CNN, on Fox News (naturally) and dominates the front pages of nearly every major American newspaper. As of this post, the blogstream has seen more than 90,000 individual blogs mostly blast Rove and celebrate his departure, and the comments section of online newspapers are thickening with hundreds of comments, mostly savage, mostly relieved. The tributes, heavy on the praise, are few and far between.

Dan Froomkin, of White House Watch, on the dirt-crusted, failure clouded Rove legacy :

Karl Rove's legacy will not be what he wanted it to be.

The political guru who made President Bush what he is today had hoped to leave behind a permanent Republican ruling majority. Instead, his tenure will stand as an example of how divisiveness and partisanship are not conducive to successful governance.

After years of being lauded as a political genius, Rove nevertheless leaves his party in worse shape than he found it, with his boss profoundly discredited in the eyes of the American people.

When historians look back at Bush's squandered opportunity to unite the country and even the world behind a shared agenda after 9/11, part of the blame will go to Vice President Cheney and the decision to invade Iraq. But part will accrue to Rove for choosing to use national security as a wedge issue.

A Q & A transcript from the White House press corps peppering Rove with questions on his departure, on Air Force One, heading back to Texas, can be read here.

A few highlights :
Look, I love my job. I have fun. It is a joy to walk in the door. I have the most incredible colleagues in the world. And I know it sounds corny, but it's inspiring to walk into the Oval Office, the tone (Bush) sets, you know, the good nature he has, the focus, the vision -- it's inspiring. And I deliberately used that word today because he just -- he makes it a wonderful place to work. And my colleagues make it a magical place to work. And you have such a sense of satisfaction of serving the country and doing important work in combination with some really extraordinary people. And would I like to enjoy that right up until January 20? You bet I would; 526 more days of that would be great. But I wouldn't be doing the right thing by my family, and it really is time for me to do this.


I'm Moby Dick and we've got three or four members of Congress who are trying to cast themselves in the part of Captain Ahab -- so they're going to keep coming.

But anybody who suggests the investigations had something to do with getting me out is sort of putting Congress in the position of being the rooster that believes that by crowing loudly brings the sun to come up.

Rove explains what he claims was key strategy to winning the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections, and why Republican presidential candidates should follow his advice to win in 2008 :
" advice is for the Republicans, which I think, frankly, has become ingrained in the DNA of the Republican Party, which is that in order to win, the Republican Party needs to mobilize a vast army of volunteers to expand the electorate by emphasizing an agenda that is prospective in nature, that looks to the future and says, this is what we intend to do for America, and is bold and clear, but is focused on saying to people, we know you're not enthusiastic about politics, but if you love your country, if you care about the future, here's a message that hopefully will attract you to coming out and registering and voting. That's why President Bush in 2004 got 25 percent more votes than he got in 2000 and became the first presidential candidate since 1988 to get a majority of the popular vote. He won 81 percent of the counties in America; he increased his share of the vote in 87 percent of the counties in America. He got a record or historic number numbers among Latinos, Jews, Catholics, women -- erased the gender gap. And it was because -- not because he played to the base but because he played with a broad and bold message that was able to attract -- think about it, one-quarter more people voted for him in 2004 than voted for him in 2000, and he did that in the midst of an unpopular war..."

Rove also dealt with the now ingrained belief that the President is a dingbat, and he acted as 'Bush's Brain' :
Well, that is -- that's not me. That's an attack on the President. That is the critics of the President trying to be cute. This guy is a Yale undergraduate and history major, a Harvard MBA, and one of the best-read, most thoughtful people I know. Now, I know he likes to play sort of the Midland/West Texas -- but he is smart. And the "Bush's brain" was, interestingly enough, a construct of two journalists as a way to diminish him by suggesting that he wasn't capable of developing his philosophy or his approach or his ability to win elections; somebody had to do it for him, which is incredibly demeaning and really stupid. And I don't mind saying that the two guys that coined it are stupid in their characterization.
Rove announced his departure in an interview with the op-ed editor of the Wall Street Journal yesterday morning. The full story is here. A key quote :
"I'm a myth. There's the Mark of Rove," he says, with a bemused air. "I read about some of the things I'm supposed to have done, and I have to try not to laugh."

Some opinions and comment on the departure of Rove :

"We worked together so we could be in a position to serve this country. And so I thank my friend. I'll be on the road behind you here in a little bit."

President Bush.

"Karl Rove's resignation signals the final chapter in the Bush administration's betrayal of the identity of a covert CIA officer. ... Rove, identified by the prosecutors as one of the leakers, not only was not summarily dismissed, but has been allowed to leave on his own terms, to praise from the president."

Former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, whose wife, Valerie Plame, was the CIA officer whose name was disclosed.

"He is brilliant, he is funny and he is a passionate advocate for the president and his policies, and I know that he will continue to play that role outside of the administration. ... He was always upbeat. I don't recall ever seeing him down."

Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy Karen Hughes.

"It's a tragedy that an administration that promised to unite Americans has instead left us more divided than ever before. Without doubt the architect of that political strategy was Karl Rove, who proved the politics of division may win some elections but cannot govern America."

Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.

"Goodbye, good riddance."

Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards.

"Now is the time for the country to put the politics of division behind it."

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn.

Reading through this 2003 profile of Rove in the New Yorker, it is remarkable to see just how little he actually achieved of his long-term goals and visions for the Bush White House, the Bush legacy and the Republican Party in general.

The gulf between Rove's dreams, and his ability to turn them into reality, was vast indeed, and instead of helping to lead America into a brighter, more cohesive future, Rove went instead for the cheap and nasty shots. And then, like a true coward, he quit before the roof fell in, before the true price for his actions, the karma debt, became fully due.

The Dirty Rotten Tactics Of Karl Rove

Extensive, Enlightening New Yorker Profile On Karl Rove From 2003

Time Magazine, December 2005 : A White House Without Rove?

Karl Rove's Flawed Vision

The Rove Goes On Forever

The Dismal Legacy Of Karl Rove