My Senator Feingold to introduce censure resolutions against Bush. Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) announced today that he will “introduce two censure resolutions condemning the President, Vice President and other administration officials for misconduct relating to the war in Iraq and for their repeated assaults on the rule of law.” In March 2006, Feingold introduced a censure resolution against Bush over the NSA wiretapping program. In a statement released today, Feingold said:

At my town hall meetings, online, and everywhere I go, I hear the American people demanding that the President and his administration be held accountable for their misconduct, both with regard to the disastrous war in Iraq and their flagrant abuse of the rule of law. Censure is a relatively modest response, but one that puts Congress on record condemning their actions, both for the American people today and for future generations.

Read the full statement. Feingold discusses his censure resolution on Meet the Press. Watch it:

The gutless Harry Reid, leader of the Dems in the Senate, is brushing it off as unimportant. How about dropping him a note and politely telling him he's full of it:

Tommy Thompson and his drug pals smear SiCKO Currently atop the Drudge Report is a gigantic ad by “Health Care America,” which states, “In America you wait in line to see a movie. In government-run healthcare systems, you wait to see a doctor.” The ad is part of the industry-led smear campaign against Michael Moore’s movie SiCKO. The group is “financed in part by pharmaceutical and hospital companies.” Its Advisory Board includes current hapless presidential candidate, my former governor and President Bush’s former HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson. In June, the organization “staged a conference call that drew nearly 20 reporters from around the country,” with the purpose of discussing “what Michael Moore left out of his movie.”

Additionally, the PR firm MultiVu is distributing a “fake news video” smearing SiCKO. The firm receives funding from Health Care America. These industry-funded organizations attacking Moore argue that the United States has the best health care system in the world. But in reality, the United States is behind in preventing asthma-related deaths, vaccinating children against polio, and providing flu shots to seniors. Americans also, on average, die at a younger age compared to the average age of death of comparable nations. Yet health spending “per capita in the United States is much higher than in other countries — at least 24% higher than in the next highest spending countries, and over 90% higher than in many other countries that we would consider global competitors.”

"If by stunt they mean an incredible display of valor, then yes, last night was an awesome stunt. Last night, the brave men and women -- well, mosty men -- of the 110th stood up and said, 'We are mad as hell, and we are not going to sleep as much as we would normally sleep tonight.'" --Daily Show correspodnent Aasif Mandvi, on the Senate's all-nighter being dismissed as a stunt

Killing the straw man The Weekly Standard's Stephen Hayes on the declassified National Intelligence Estimate:

"I think one of the things we saw this week, and this, this speaks directly to what the vice president told me, is with this -- the release of this NIE we saw a shift in thinking. I think for a long time administration critics had begun to make the argument that really this al-Qaeda threat is overblown, that they misled us into the war in Iraq, they're misleading us about the seriousness of the threat from al-Qaeda. And I think what the NIE does, even though in some ways it's, it's very critical of the administration, is it strengthens the basic case that the administration has been making that al-Qaeda remains a serious threat."

I have no idea what Hayes is talking about. Or, more precisely, Hayes has no idea what he's talking about.

Where are these mysterious White House "critics" who've been arguing that the al Qaeda threat is "overblown"? Seriously, name some prominent Bush detractors who have argued this, in Hayes' words, "for a long time." I'm relatively clued into Democratic talking points and I can't recall any Democrat or left-leaning political figure ever making this argument in any forum, in any context. Hayes appears to have simply made it up in the hopes of making the NIE appear more favorable for his White House allies.

Which segues to the other problem: the NIE doesn't strengthen the Bush's gang's "basic case" at all. The White House has said, repeatedly, that thanks to the president's leadership, we've destroyed al Qaeda's leadership and have the terrorist network on the run. The NIE, in stark contrast, shows the opposite and vindicates what White House critics have been arguing for years. While the president's policies have been failing in Iraq, al Qaeda is rebuilding, recruiting, and refilling its coffers -- in large part because of the president's failed policies in Iraq. And yet there was Hayes, on national television, making an argument that was clearly false, predicated on straw men and imaginary progress. The mind reels.

"The Republicans were saying, 'Pulling out the troops in 120 days would lead to chaos in Iraq.' And I'm thinking, 'Well hell, chaos would be an improvement.'" --David Letterman

On Rudy, race and bullsh*t TPM posted a clip on Friday of Rudy Giuliani screaming "bulls#$t" at a police union rally in 1992. Surprisingly, several leading conservative blogs complained bitterly, questioning the significance of the video. At first blush, the clip appears to reinforce concerns about Giuliani's temperament, but even more important was the context in which the comments were made. As Greg Sargent explained, a lengthy piece in the New York Times today helps clarify exactly why Giuliani's outburst matters.

...Mr. Giuliani took a fateful step that would for years prompt questions about his racial sensitivities. In September 1992, he spoke to a rally of police officers protesting Mr. Dinkins's proposal for a civilian board to review police misconduct.

It was a rowdy, often threatening, crowd. Hundreds of white off-duty officers drank heavily, and a few waved signs like "Dump the Washroom Attendant," a reference to Mr. Dinkins. A block away from City Hall, Mr. Giuliani gave a fiery address, twice calling Mr. Dinkins's proposal "bullshit." The crowd cheered. Mr. Giuliani was jubilant.

"If you're acculturated to like cops, you don't necessarily see 10,000 white guys who don't vote in the city, don't write political checks and love you for the wrong reason," an aide said. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he is working with the Giuliani presidential campaign.

Mr. Dinkins has not forgotten that sea of angry cops. "Rudy was out there inciting white cops to riot," Mr. Dinkins said in a recent interview.

A year later, Giuliani asked aides to identify potential pitfalls for his mayoral campaign. The "vulnerability study" cited Giuliani's "shrieking performance," and noted that he had inexplicably failed to denounce those who levied racist attacks on Dinkins. That's why the video clip is important, not because of a candidate's profanity, which is hardly a disqualifier in a presidential race, but because Giuliani's speech appears to have been an attempt to stoke racist animus against an African-American mayor. As the campaign progresses, expect the speech to gain more notoriety. It was an ugly moment for a presidential hopeful who argues routinely that he can bring people together.

It's called poor leadership Steve Thomma of McClatchy writes, “When pressing a tough sale, Bush is a lousy salesman.” “He’s never really sold the country or Congress something it didn’t already want. And when he’s tried to sell something the people or the politicians didn’t want, he’s fallen flat.” Thomma cites Bush’s sales pitches on reforming immigration, privatizing Social Security, and staying in Iraq. Welcome to your worst nightmare The Washington Post reports on an executive order issued by President Bush last week entitled, “Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq.” In the extreme, it could be interpreted as targeting the financial assets of any American who undermines the administration’s Iraq policy. Maybe because there is no plan? Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, was denied access to the White House plan for operating the government after a terrorist attack. “I just can’t believe they’re going to deny a member of Congress the right of reviewing how they plan to conduct the government of the United States after a significant terrorist attack,” he said. "So why did this all-night session happen? Because while Democrats have a majority in the Senate, they don't have the 60-vote supermajority needed to bring bills like this to a vote, thus forcing the Democrats to stay up all night to prevent the Republicans from staging an all-night, vote-blocking filibuster. You can see why we're fighting so hard to export this type of government to Iraq" --Jon Stewart The good fight “After a rare bipartisan agreement in the Senate to expand insurance coverage for low-income children, House Democrats have drafted an even broader plan that also calls for major changes in Medicare and promises to intensify the battle with the White House over health care.” Don't try to tell me the Rs and Ds are the same! “Under a Senate bill to be introduced today, computer programmers, call-center staffers and other service-sector workers who make up the vast majority of the nation’s workforce would for the first time be eligible for a generous package of income, health and retraining benefits currently reserved for manufacturing workers who lose their jobs to international trade.” National Intel Director: Bush Admin. Manipulated Iraq Intel ‘Because They Didn’t Like The Answers’ In Stephen Hayes’s upcoming biography on Dick Cheney, he writes that the current Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell appears to side with “those who believe that the administration manipulated intelligence on Iraq for political purposes before the 2003 invasion.”

McConnell reportedly said he had “serious reservations” when asked by President Bush to become the DNI because of the Pentagon’s manipulation of intelligence in the lead up to the Iraq war. Today, Meet the Press host Tim Russert previewed the relevant portion of the book:

McConnell was honored to be asked [to be DNI], but he had serious reservations. He had been unimpressed with many aspects of the Bush administration and its conduct of the war on terror, particularly what he felt was a politicized use of intelligence in the lead-up to the Iraq war.... “My sense of it is their political faith and convictions influenced how they took information and interpreted [it], how they picked up and interpreted outside events. … I’ve read much more about the current set of players and they did set up a whole new interpretation because they didn’t like the answers. They’ve gotten results that in my view now have been disastrous,” [McConnell said].

McConnell decried the “secondary unit” established within the Pentagon to “reinterpret information” prior to the war. An internal Pentagon investigation released in February revealed that former Undersecretary of Defense Doug Feith utilized the Counter-Terrorism Evaluation Group within the Pentagon to create and promote false links between Iraq and al Qaeda.

Specifically, then-Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz “asked Feith’s analysts to ignore the intelligence community’s belief that the militant Islamist al-Qaida and Saddam’s secular dictatorship were unlikely allies.” Subsequently, Feith “disseminated alternative intelligence assessments on the Iraq and al-Qaida relationship…to senior decision-makers.”

McConnell stated, “The way you do intelligence is all sources considered. You have to factor one issue against the other and balance it.” Four years later, this administration is still reinterpreting intelligence.

Ignoring the Internets President Bush, March 2004:

This country needs a national goal for broadband technology, for the spread of broadband technology. We ought to have a universal, affordable access for broadband technology by the year 2007.

Yeah, cheap universal broadband would be great. So whatever happened to that? Robert McChesney and John Podesta told the story last year in the Monthly:

[Bush and FCC chairman Kevin Martin] have made no progress toward these goals; in fact, they have rewarded their corporate cronies for maintaining high prices, low speeds and lackluster innovation. Federal policies have not merely failed to correct our broadband problems, they have made them worse. Instead of encouraging competition, the FCC has allowed DSL providers and cable companies to shut out competitors by denying access to their lines. And whereas the Japanese government encourages individual towns to set up their own "Community Internet," Washington has done nothing. Fourteen states in the United States now have laws on the books restricting cities and towns from building their own high-speed Internet networks. No wonder America is falling behind its Asian competitors.

Huh. Imagine that. The incumbent captains of industry didn't like the idea of cheap broadband so the White House decided not to do anything about it. Shocking, isn't it?

"Tonight, down in Washington, DC, Congress is working around the clock to try and solve the problem in Iraq. And I was thinking, 'Gee, maybe they should have done that before we went in.'" --David Letterman

Neocon media at play On the Chris Matthews Show , NBC White House correspondent David Gregory said that Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) will need to have “her ‘Sister Souljah’ moment” and distance herself from the “hatred over Iraq” on “the left.”

“The left” needs to “think about how they’re going to engage the war on terror in a very serious and tough way,” said Gregory. Gregory is echoing the conventional, but deeply flawed, thinking that it is only the “angry left” who want to change course and redeploy from Iraq. In fact, 68 percent of Americans support withdrawal from Iraq within a year. Gregory suggests that progressives have not been thinking seriously about how to transition responsibly out of Iraq. In fact, the Center for American Progress introduced such a plan in 2005, and has recently adapted the plan to respond to the deteriorating situation in Iraq. Once again, Gregory is demonstrating his fundamental misunderstanding of the current political dynamics in America by describing left-leaning positions as out of touch when they are actually held by the majority of mainstream Americans.

Repug liar (is that redundant?) Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO) now claims that “we had the wrong plan for three years” in Iraq, and the current escalation is working. Glenn Greenwald writes, “That being the case, one would expect that Kit Bond spent the last three years protesting our war strategy, lamenting our lack of progress, and demanding that we change course. Needless to say, he did exactly the opposite.” Bond spent the last three years claiming the U.S. was winning in Iraq.

GOP = Great Obstructionist Party This year, “Senate Republicans are threatening filibusters to block more legislation than ever before.” The pattern of obstructionism is demolishing previous records:

Nearly 1 in 6 roll-call votes in the Senate this year have been cloture votes. If this pace of blocking legislation continues, this 110th Congress will be on track to roughly triple the previous record number of cloture votes — 58 each in the two Congresses from 1999-2002, according to the Senate Historical Office.

McClatchy provides this shocking statistical analysis:


More neocon media at play On Fox News Sunday, Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol attacked the Democratic presidential candidates for their decision to attend the YearlyKos blogger convention. He held it up as evidence that the presidential candidates have “gone left.”

“Every Democratic presidential nominee is going to the DailyKos convention,” said Kristol. “That’s the left-wing blogger who was not respectable three or four years ago. The Howard Dean kind of sponsor. Now the whole party is going to pay court to him and to left wing blogs.” Watch it:

The YearlyKos convention is independent of the blog DailyKos. So the candidates are not going to simply “pay court” to the head of DailyKos, Markos Moulitsas Zuniga. Approximately 1,500 “people from all walks of life who belong to the Netroots community” are expected at the convention this year.

Moreover, as NPR’s Juan Williams points out, what Kristol describes “as left is now center.” “The majority of the American people, 70 percent, want us out of Iraq,” noted Williams. “In fact, if you asked Iraqis, 60 some percent of Iraqis say we’re doing more harm than good in Iraq.” In a survey conducted by Pew Internet and American Life after the 2006 mid-term election, “online political activists” were said to “mirror the general population of those who are civically active.” Like the progressive blogosphere, a solid majority of Americans believe President Bush should not have commuted the sentence of his former aide, Scooter Libby. The attendees of the YearlyKos convention haven’t “gone left.” Kristol just doesn’t understand how radically right wing he is.

Sweet home Alabama. Riiiiight. Fans of the "All Muck is Local" feature on TPM Muckraker will definitely want to check out the latest installment, which spotlights Simon Speights, mayor of Lipscomb, Alabama.

[Speights] got the job back in 2005 when his predecessor resigned and the City Council voted him in. But Speights isn’t exactly eligible to be mayor.

Speights pleaded guilty to burglary in 1994, and while his voting rights have since been restored, his right to run for political office has not. Records show Speights occasionally uses the surname Speight, which might account for no one realizing the mayor’s criminal record. Oh, and he’s driving a stolen car (no one knows how he got it). And he’s collecting more than twice his authorized salary (no one knows how that happened). Last week, the local district attorney demanded that a judge remove the mayor from office.

As it turns out, Speights' would-be replacement is the mayor pro tempore -- who has faced a variety of criminal charges, including stalking, extortion, bribing and impersonating an officer. It's quite a story.

One way Repugs are so repulsive It's one thing for a Romney supporter to make a sign with homemade writing that reads, "NO TO OBAMA OSAMA AND CHELSEA'S MOMA" (sic). It's slightly worse for Romney to be photographed with it. And it's slightly worse still for Romney to then hold up the sign himself. Is it any wonder, then, that the Romney campaign is struggling to explain all of this?

For Rudy, all roads lead to 9/11 Rudy Giuliani delivered a speech in Iowa recently on "Restoring Fiscal Discipline and Cutting Wasteful Washington Spending." Just two minutes and 14 seconds into it, the former mayor said, "I will continue to keep America on offense in the terrorist war against us, because I think that's the overriding issue of our day."

Giuliani was also asked recently about his position on taxes. After a few soundbites, he said, "[Democratic presidential candidates] never mentioned the word 'Islamic terrorist' during the debate.... Maybe they think they're going to be insulting somebody if they say it. I'm trying to figure out who would be insulted -- other than Islamic terrorists."

And this week, also in Iowa, Giuliani was asked about increasing federal support for HIV treatments. He responded:

"My general experience has been that the federal government works best when it helps and assists and encourages and sets guidelines... on a state-by-state, locality-by-locality basis. It's no different from the way I look at homeland security. Maybe having been mayor of the city, I know that your first defense against terrorist attack is that local police station, or that local firehouse."

I'm generally not in the habit of offering advice to Republican presidential hopefuls, but I have an idea for the Giuliani campaign. As a way to save time at future appearances, perhaps one of his aides could give Giuliani a placard with the word "terrorism" on one side, and "9/11" on the other. That way, whenever anyone asks him a question about anything, he can simply point to the sign, instead of having to go to the trouble of coming up with an excuse to end up at the same point anyway.

The war of ideas Jon Chait takes the chance to revisit the subject of conservatives perpetually proclaiming themselves to be winning the war of ideas:

These days, of course, the Republican Party has been routed and conservatives are beset by panic and gloom. You'd think this would, at minimum, give us a small respite from boasts about the right's victory in the War of Ideas. But no. They're still at it. The new line, put forward by the likes of Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby and Hoover Institution fellow Peter Berkowitz, is that conservatives are more intellectually serious because they're having deep debates over first principles, while liberals enforce stultifying conformity. As Jacoby puts it, "[T]he right churns with serious disputes over policy and principle, while the left marches mostly in lockstep." Berkowitz bemoans "the absence on the left of debate or dissent," which he attributes in part to liberals being "blinded by rage at the Bush administration." [...]

Third, it's certainly true that conservatives today are more divided than liberals about whether the Iraq war has been a fiasco. I simply disagree about what this fact tells us. Conservatives see their split on this proposition as evidence of intellectual acuity. I see it as evidence that roughly half of all conservatives are barking mad. On last year's National Review cruise, as Johann Hari reported in these pages, Norman Podhoretz called the war "an amazing success" and insisted that "it couldn't have gone better." To believe this, you have to believe it was worth 3,500 American military deaths, many times that number wounded, tens or hundreds of thousands of Iraqi deaths, and hundreds of billions of dollars to convert a brutal secular Sunni thugocracy into what may be, in a best-case scenario, a somewhat less brutal, but far more theocratic, Shia thugocracy. Maybe it's the blind Bush hatred talking, but I'm not terribly embarrassed that liberals are united in rejecting this notion.

See also Chait's longer essay on the subject of ideas which combines this sort of quality mockery with more of a positive case about how the political system actually operates.

Submitted by RKing on