Newsflash: The guys who sold the country on the Iraq War aren't crazy about the Baker-Hamilton report.

The Listener-in-Chief:

The challenge for Bush's team was to make the president appear as though he were taking the release of the [ISG] report seriously, without necessarily embracing its conclusions. In the days following the report's release, Bush the Decider transformed himself into Bush the Listener. Usually prickly with war critics—on the rare occasions he spoke to them at all—the president now invited them in from the cold and kept quiet.....The results of that effort will be unveiled next week, when Bush is expected to announce what he calls "The New Way Forward," his latest plan to salvage the mission in Iraq.

The New Way Forward? How very Mao.

What a strange and sad little man Bush in desperate search for someone who will tell him what he wants to hear on Iraq. Bush met with some Democratic leaders on Friday to review the recommendations of the ISG report and discuss the way forward in Iraq. However, they report back that he wasn't too interested in talking about this:

Instead, Bush began his talk by comparing himself to President Harry S Truman, who launched the Truman Doctrine to fight communism, got bogged down in the Korean War and left office unpopular. Bush said that "in years to come they realized he was right and then his doctrine became the standard for America," recalled Senate Majority Whip-elect Richard Durbin, D-Ill. "He's trying to position himself in history and to justify those who continue to stand by him, saying sometimes if you're right you're unpopular, and be prepared for criticism." Durbin said he challenged Bush's analogy, reminding him that Truman had the NATO alliance behind him and negotiated with his enemies at the United Nations. Durbin said that's what the Iraq Study Group is recommending that Bush do now — work more with allies and negotiate with adversaries on Iraq. Bush, Durbin said, "reacted very strongly. He got very animated in his response" and emphasized that he is "the commander in chief."

We still have two more years left of this guy. Jeebus.

Deepwater corruption What happens when you combine "fast track" procurement, minimal oversight, pork-based contracting, and a comprehensive lack of responsibility for results? Well, you get the Bush administration, of course. More specifically, you get the Coast Guard's disastrous Deepwater program. Nadezhda runs through the grim details.

Wealth matters, work does not Good news! Wages for ordinary workers are finally going up after six years of stagnation:

With energy prices now sharply lower than a few months ago and the improving job market forcing employers to offer higher raises, the buying power of American workers is now rising at the fastest rate since the economic boom of the late 1990s. The average hourly wage for workers below management level — everyone from school bus drivers to stockbrokers — rose 2.8 percent from October 2005 to October of this year, after being adjusted for inflation, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Only a year ago, it was falling by 1.5 percent.

Boy, I sure hope the Fed doesn't do anything to put the kibosh on this. Workers could use a break. But I'm sure Ben Bernanke, realizes that — what? He said what? Oh, this:

Wages have risen so swiftly that some economists worry that they could push inflation up on their own, by forcing companies to raise prices. Last week, the Federal Reserve chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, warned that the central bank might have to raise interest rates again. “One factor that we are watching carefully is labor costs,” he said.

Ah yes. "Labor costs." We can't have those rising, can we? Not only does it get the workers all uppity, but it drains corporate treasuries and puts a crimp in CEO pay increases. That would be a disaster.

Killing is such a casual thing for these scumbags In a new documentary, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) — who was “recently tapped to become the top Republican on the House International Relations Committee” — talks casually on video “about how proud she is to represent Cuban ‘freedom fighters’ living in exile in Miami and on the island.” She then says, “I welcome the opportunity of having anyone assassinate Fidel Castro and any leader who is oppressing the people.” Last year, right-wing evangelist Pat Robertson was widely criticized for calling for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. The White House called Robertson’s remarks “inappropriate,” and former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole (R-KS) labeled them “stupid” and “ludicrous.” Robertson later apologized. “Is it right to call for assassination? No,” he said. Ros-Lehtinen, “who has never hid her loathing for Castro, says the clip was spliced together,” the Miami Herald reports. “A spokesman for Ros-Lehtinen said she’s never called for anyone’s assassination, but Ros-Lehtinen said she can’t rule out that she ever mentioned Castro and a potential assassination. ‘If someone were to do it, I wouldn’t be crying,’ she said.”

HOLY CRAP: Christianists force conversion on the powerless using your tax dollars and now the SCOTUS is set to weigh inChimpy's remarks at the National Christmas tree lighting ceremony indicate he's staying the course in the War on Christmas…Rev. Moon's personal United Nations?

Hillary's got work to do Here's an excerpt from a short Mother Jones interview with incoming Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown:

MJ: Any interest in being Vice President?

SB: No. But anybody that runs for the president will have to go through Ohio, literally and figuratively. The Democrats need to nominate somebody that will be an economic populist, that will stand up for the middle class, that doesn't just want to increase the minimum wage but somebody that will work to put the government on the side of working families. And that means different trade policy, standing up to the drug industry, taking on the oil industry. It means showing that the Democratic Party is a progressive, populist party.

That sounded very much like a gauntlet being thrown down in front of....Hillary Clinton? Is she listening?

The reviews are in: the House ethics report on Foleygate was seriously lame.

Only the good die young Matt Yglesias comments on conservative apologetics for the murderous thug Augusto Pinochet:

See here and here on LGF for the contemporary right's continuing praise of Pinochet. I think this is the context in which you have to understand American conservatism's generally blasé attitude toward the Bush administration's more modest ventures into the fields of arbitrary detention, corruption, and torture. Years of apologizing for the deployment of such tactics by America's proxies abroad naturally desensitizes the political culture to the re-importation of these methods to the center.

Tony Snow's delusional world Snow gives a partisan answer about the ISG that borders on the surreal. Video-WMP Video-QT

KURTZ: But they also state the policy is not working.

SNOW: No, what they said is that you need a new policy.

If the ISG said you need a new policy—then that means Bush's policy hasn't been working…Geez… CNN provides the transcript via Reliable Sources. (Read the rest of this story…)

Corruption watch Top Air Force Lawyer Had Been Disbarred "A top Air Force lawyer who served at the White House and in a senior position in Iraq turns out to have been practicing law for 23 years without a license. Col. Michael D. Murphy was most recently commander of the Air Force Legal Operations Agency at Bolling Air Force Base in the District. He was the general counsel for the White House Military Office from December 2001 to January 2003, and from August 2003 to January 2005. In between those tours, he was the legal adviser to the reconstruction effort in Iraq, an Air Force spokesman said." (WaPo)

So, how'd that Republican Revolution go?

"It's a mixed bag," said former House speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), the architect of the 1994 revolution. "In a three-year period, we changed things fairly dramatically. We, candidly, then failed."

Translation: things went great while I was in charge, and then failed utterly after I was kicked out for egregious ethical violations. Vote for me for president.

Attaboy Newt! Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that the Baker-Hamilton report, which was supposed to provide political cover for the Republican Party so that they didn't go into yet another election with Iraq dragging them down to defeat, may have had exactly the opposite effect:

A document that many in Washington had hoped would pave the way for a bipartisan compromise on Iraq instead drew sharp condemnation from the right, with hawks saying it was a wasted effort that advocated a shameful American retreat.....The divisions could make it more difficult for Republicans to coalesce on national security policy and avoid a bitter intraparty fight going into the 2008 campaign.

That's sad, isn't it? And yet so richly deserved.

In a farewell speech on U.S. soil today, retiring U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan “plans to deliver a tough critique of President Bush’s policies,” accusing the administration of “dominating other nations through force, committing what he termed human rights abuses and taking military action without broad international support.”

Spinning out the door Outgoing Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld made a surprise trip to Iraq yesterday “to thank US troops for their service.” On “all of his 14 previous trips to Iraq…Rumsfeld has taken reporters who cover him regularly at the Pentagon.” But on this trip, Fox News host Sean Hannity was the only member of the media allowed to accompany Rumsfeld.

This from the faith-based war folks Administration officials say their preliminary review of the Iraq Study Group report “has concluded that many of its key proposals are impractical or unrealistic, and a small group inside the National Security Council is now racing to come up with alternatives to the panel’s ideas.”

The war on science Some new and alarming examples of the ongoing War on Science being waged by the Bush Administration.

Saving Grandma from Big Pharma 85 percent: Number of Americans who support “allowing the government to negotiate prescription drug prices for the Medicare program, suggesting there will be considerable political pressure on the next Congress to do so.” The Kaiser Family Foundation poll found “substantial majorities of Democrats (92%), Independents (85%), and Republicans (74%)” support such negotiations.

Oh grow up Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), “a Republican whose once-steady rise in politics ended with a resounding defeat” in November to Bob Casey, “refused to be photographed with Mr. Casey [after their meeting Friday], and brushed past reporters in his closing days in the Capitol.”

Dim bulb Congress If Jeff Stein isn't careful, no one is ever going to talk to him again. He's breaking some serious beltway conventions here. On the other hand, if you were to ask a bunch of congress critters whether, say, Italy was fascist or communist during World War II, I wonder how many would beg off with jokes about not paying attention during high school history? How many would stare at the ceiling in chagrin if Stein asked them whether the IRA was Catholic or Protestant? How many would throw him out of their offices if he asked whether Wahhabis were good guys or bad? Of course, the last one is a trick question. Best to stick to questions about how many people in their districts have been employed by earmarked pork.

Finally! Someone says what I've been saying Republican Gordon Smith ripped Bush over Iraq on the floor of the Senate Thursday:

Sen. Smith: And I, for one, am at the end of my rope when it comes for supporting a policy that has our soldiers patrolling the same streets in the same way being blown up by the same bombs day after day. That is absurd. It may even be criminal"

On THIS WEEK, Smith dug a bit deeper to clarify his remarks:Video-WMP Video-QT

SMITH: I said it — you can use any adjective you want, George, but I have long believed, in a military context, when you do the same thing over and over again without a clear strategy for victory at the expense of your young people in arms, that is dereliction, that is deeply immoral.

Transcript via ABC: (Read the rest of this story…)

Your so-called liberal media This week's Meet the Press roundtable:

Neoconservative and former Bush adminsitration official Ken Adelman.
Neoconservative Eliot Cohen.
Former Bush administration official Richard Haass.
Tom Ricks, reporter, the hyper cpnservative Washington Post.

If We Can’t Have More, Then You Shouldn’t Either! I'm beginning to believe that the right wing is populated with a bunch of "adults" who haven't matured beyond a five year old mentality. This kind of petulant behavior I expect from children, not from people concerned about this horrifying health epidemic that is effectively wiping out whole populations in Africa. People for the American Way:

The Boston Globe reports that the Senate is considering upping the US contribution to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria to $700 million next year - and the Right is not pleased.

According to the Global Fund's most recent fact sheet, more than 500,000 people around the world who are infected with HIV/AIDS are receiving Antiretroviral therapy, while millions more are receiving help fighting Tuberculosis and Malaria.

The Global Fund is raising and spending billions to fight these diseases, but some on the right are now demanding that the Bush administration cut off US support because religious organizations that believe abstinence is the only way to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS aren't getting enough money

[..]Some on the right, such as Focus on the Family, have been complaining recently that it is unfair to accuse them of not caring about anything other than their own narrow social agenda - but such complaints ring hollow when they try to cut off funding for global HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment simply because their right-wing approach isn't getting a big enough slice of the pie.

Read full article here

Remembering what we'd rather forget Wounded Knee Massacre of 1890: 116th Anniversary is the final installment of this excellent historical series. Readers who haven't read the whole can find links to the previous diaries in this conclusion. It's a tool of the trade The Disease of Willful Ignorance examines the countless instances of ignoring facts displayed by Bush, his supporters and his enablers on the pundit circuit. Speaking of Accountability High Temple of Elite Punditry is truly an accountability-free zone. Look, on every defining issue I can think of over the past decade or so the consensus view of elite pundits and the master narrative perpetuated by them has been utterly and completely wrong. Whitewater, the Lewinsky scandal, impeachment, the 2000 election, the 2000 post-election, the 2004 "mandate," Iraq, ... and those are just the big ones. And they just keep on writing. One Thing We Could Do Which we aren't, because it'll make the boy king look bad.
WASHINGTON -- Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who have fled their homeland are likely to seek refugee status in the United States, humanitarian groups said, putting intense pressure on the Bush administration to reexamine a policy that authorizes only 500 Iraqis to be resettled here next year.

The official US policy has been that the refugee situation is temporary and that most of the estimated 1.5 million who have fled to Jordan, Syria, and elsewhere will eventually return to Iraq. But US and international officials now acknowledge that the instability in Iraq has made it too dangerous for many refugees, especially Iraqi Christians, to return any time soon.

Ellen Sauerbrey, assistant secretary of state for refugees and migration, said that while the Bush administration does not think resettlement is needed for most refugees, its policy could rapidly change.

"It is quite possible that we will in time decide that because of vulnerabilities of certain populations that resettlement is the right option," Sauerbrey said. While acknowledging that the administration originally set a quota of no more than 500 Iraqi refugees, she said the president has the legal authority to admit 20,000 additional refugees....
Arthur E. "Gene" Dewey, who was President Bush's assistant secretary of state for refugee affairs until last year, said that "for political reasons the administration will discourage" the resettlement of Iraqi refugees in the United States "because of the psychological message it would send, that it is a losing cause."

There you are. We can't accept refugees from Iraq because it might contradict the elaborate fantasy world the Bush has created for himself. These people have broken brains and souls.

What happens when you get so involved in a disaster of your own creation that you ignore the genocide down the street? Nothing good.

For the past three years, Arab militiamen have helped Sudan's government quell a rebellion in Darfur by slaughtering the region's mostly black African population and leaving behind a trail of rape, murder, and destruction. The result: more than 200,000 dead and 2 million displaced in what the United Nations calls the world's worst humanitarian emergency.

At the very least, however, the violence in western Sudan was mostly confined to its borders.

No more.

If you let a bully push around the smaller kids with no penalty, that bully grows bolder. If you don't stop a serial killer, that killer only kills more frequently. And if you don't stop a force that has discovered they can prey on unarmed civilians with impunity year, after year, after year - you have the recipe an ever spreading tragedy.

The crisis in Darfur has exploded in recent weeks, and now threatens to drag fragile neighboring countries into a regional war.

Both Chad and the Central African Republic (CAR) have become engulfed in fighting that involves a toxic mix of rebel groups, government forces, armed militias, and civilians.

"It's not a steady deterioration," Jan Egeland, the outgoing UN humanitarian chief, told reporters last week. "It's a free fall, and it includes Darfur, eastern Chad, and northern Central African Republic."

What does "freefall" mean? In this case it means a daily march of atrocities, thousands dead, and hundreds of thousands forced from their homes. This month.

And while we fret over the possibility that Iraq might become another base for terrorists, we ignore countries in Africa where terrorists have already found refuge. Chad, one of the countries being overrun buy both refugees and chaos spreading out from Darfur, has already been named one of the world's "top ten failed states." Only ten years ago, Chad seemed to be edging away from a history of unrest and invasion. But a decade after the first multi-party elections, the country is once again crumbling under the combined weight of insurgency and the disaster in Darfur. Rebel groups operating in Chad have even captured some of the Darfur refugee camps and driven out humanitarian groups.

Here's a young democracy, with an economy based on oil, trying to hold out against forces from both inside and out. That sounds a lot like Iraq. But no one is rushing in troops to help Chad.

Next door, the Central African Republic is in the hands of leaders who took power in a coup backed by the Libyan military. There have been reports that thousands of refugees have been killed in the CAR, or driven north into Chad. By any measure, the CAR has teetered between despotic rule and anarchy since winning independence. Tipping the country into complete dissolution is not exactly a remote possibility.

Somalia already exists as a free-fire zone. Now Chad and the CAR threaten to be thrown into a similar state of anarchy. But no one is giving speeches about how we have to save these countries from collapsing or face new terrorist bases operating on the funds of oil fields in Chad or the CAR.

Why not? Maybe because it's Africa. Chaos in African has opened up the mineral wealth of a continent to a world that's come to understand that it's much cheaper to fund chaos and corruption than it is to pay taxes and fair market prices.

As long as western corporations (and western governments) think that misery in Africa means bargains in the supply chain, they'll tut-tut over the problems. But they won't act.

Dem Corruption watch There's been a lot of talk over the weekend about what the Congress and the Democrats should do about Rep. Bill Jefferson (D-LA) now that he's been elected to another term in Congress, despite apparently strong evidence that he's a crook.

I think the answer to this question is much simpler than people let on: nothing.

I think this is an issue of standards that apply at different stages of the process and who has standing to do what.

The Dems yanked Jefferson's plum spot on the Ways and Means Committee back in June. That was the right thing to do then and I certainly expect they won't undo it now. That's the big privilege they give him as a member of the Democratic caucus. And they took it away.

But now Jefferson's constituents have reelected him with full knowledge of the apparent evidence against him. I wish they hadn't. But they did. And the election wasn't even close.

At this point, I don't think you can sanction Jefferson or his constituents any further before there's even been an indictment. I think Jefferson's crooked. I'm embarrassed he was reelected. But as clear as the evidence looks, the Feds still haven't seen fit to indict him. And none of it has been scrutinized in court.

Again, as I said, different standards apply at different stages and before different judges. Caucus rights are a privilege. A party doesn't need a jury verdict to act. They can go by the evidence they see in front of them and they can err on the side of heightened scrutiny. To go further though, to talk about preventing the guy from taking his seat in Congress, requires more. At least an indictment and I'd say a conviction too.

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