On President Ford I think it's fair to say that Ford will be remembered as a modest, decent man thrust into leadership under the most difficult of conditions.

Mr. Ford, who was the only person to lead the country without having been elected as president or vice president, occupied the White House for just 896 days -- starting from a hastily arranged ceremony on Aug. 9, 1974, and ending after his defeat by Jimmy Carter in the 1976 election. But they were pivotal days of national introspection, involving America's first definitive failure in a war and the first resignation of a president.

After a decade of division over Vietnam and two years of trauma over the Watergate scandals, Jerry Ford, as he called himself, radiated a soothing familiarity. He might have been the nice guy down the street suddenly put in charge of the nation, and if he seemed a bit predictable, he was also safe, reliable and reassuring. He placed no intolerable intellectual or psychological burdens on a weary land, and he lived out a modest philosophy. "The harder you work, the luckier you are," he said once in summarizing his career. "I worked like hell."



I suspect today will include plenty of debate about whether Ford was wrong to pardon Nixon, speculation about whether there was some kind of "deal" that may have elevated Ford in exchange for a promise to issue that pardon, and consideration of Ford's controversial decision to back the 1975 Helsinki Accords, but I think it's also noteworthy that Ford was the last moderate Republican president.

As the GOP shifted further and further to the right over the last generation, Ford, who was not considered a particularly progressive Republican in the 1970s, looked less and less conservative. Indeed, the former president and his wife both acknowledged in the 1990s that they were pro-choice, and more recently, expressed their support for gay marriage.

Upon joining the Advisory Board of the Republican Unity Coalition, a group of moderate Republicans hoping to drag the party to the left by more than a few degrees, Ford said, "I have always believed in an inclusive policy in welcoming gays and others into the party."

I suspect that these positions will tarnish his memory in the eyes of some of today's Republican leaders and activists, but that's a shame. The GOP would be wise to honor Ford's tolerant, inclusive approach.

For the record: I think his pardon of Nixon was a crime --RK As we all know, because everybody on the TV will keep repeating it, Gerald Ford's pardon of Richard Nixon was perhaps the wisest and awesomest thing anyone has ever done in the history of presidenting. Never mind that it wasn't popular at the time. Never mind that it set an awful precedent which led to the pardoning of the Iran Contra figures and transformed corrupt Nixonites into distinguished elder statesmen and Bush administration officials (he gave us Cheney and Rumsfeld). We are told again and again that what they nation needed was "to heal." That "the turmoil" needed to be over. That it was necessary to move on. But these are the Wise Old Men talking, not of the country but of their beloved Washington. The turmoil was in their city, not in the country. While they speak as if they know what's best for us, in truth they simply know what's best for them.

Proving -- again -- he's a complete ass Bill Bennett: Ford cowardly for embargoing anti-Iraq war views until after his death. Ford showed more courage in a day than Bennett has in his entire life.

What liberal media? MSNBC helpfully reminds viewers that John Edwards is battling poverty even though he's very, very rich. What real journalism looks like Kudos to the AP for actually talking to soldiers in Iraq to get a rough gauge of their opinions on escalating the war. We were recently treated to multiple news reports about Gates meeting with troops who supported escalation without any exploration of whether that opinion was in any way representative or if instead they had been hand-picked for their views for propaganda purposes. It seems more likely it was the latter, so great job all who reported unskeptically! What liberal media? Part II Really, just kill me. The Washington press gang has never come to terms with the fact that Whitewater was a fake scandal from beginning to end, from the fraudulent reporting by Jeff Gerth to the panty sniffing of the Starr Report. It's really depressing. Ask not for whom the revolving door turns Former Interior Sec. Norton Now Adviser For Shell "Gale Norton is back providing oversight of energy development issues on public lands in the American West, this time as a key legal advisor for a major global oil company. Months after she resigned her cabinet post as President Bush's Interior Secretary—and then seemed to disappear from public view—the Coloradan apparently has accepted an offer to serve as counsel for Royal Dutch Shell PLC." (NewWest) Gotta Wait For the Decider To Decide According to the White House, no one is allowed to comment on hypothetical plans for Iraq until the Decider has Decided. We are ruled by children. Protecting the guilty Gov't Watchdogs Undermined By Bosses "The inspectors general entrusted to unearth waste, fraud and abuse in federal agencies are increasingly under attack, as top government officials they scrutinize try to erode the watchdogs' independence and authority." (AP) Big Pharma fails Too Little Bang For The Buck In Drug Research? "Whenever critics complain about the high cost of prescription drugs, the pharmaceutical industry's standard defense is that companies have to plow so much money into researching innovative new medicines. But a recently released report from the Government Accountability Office casts doubt on that rationale. Yes the industry is spending heavily on R&D, the GAO found, but it turns out big pharma isn't actually generating such a good return on their investments. The congressional watchdog agency's 48-page study came up with disturbing numbers. From 1993-2004, spending by U.S. drug companies on research and development jumped 147%, from $16 billion to nearly $40 billion annually. But the number of applications the pharmaceutical firms submitted to the Food and Drug Administration for potentially groundbreaking new drugs during that 10-year period increased only a meager 7%. And since 1995, the applications for these innovative drugs have been dropping each year. 'The productivity of research and development investments has declined,' the GAO concluded." (Time) Wingnuts grasping at straws Despite a civil war and mounting body counts on all sides, the National Review folks can still find good news coming out of Iraq. Too bad it's over a year old and of questionable provenance. Truthiness report: Right-wing blogs have more fun posting questionable e-mails from the Iraq war. This is the leader of the free world? Bushism of the Day The truth of that matter is, if you listen carefully, Saddam would still be in power if he were the president of the United States, and the world would be a lot better off. –George W. Bush St. Louis, MO 10/08/2004 Second presidential debate Write your own spy script Contractor's Handguns Missing From Homeland Security Vault "The Department of Homeland Security said yesterday that it is investigating how four handguns recently went missing from its headquarters in Northwest Washington. Jarrod Agen, a department spokesman, said the guns belonged to Paragon Systems of Chantilly, which provides security for the department's facility on Nebraska Avenue NW. "'DHS is investigating the report,' Agen said. 'Paragon guns do not belong to DHS nor are they under the control of DHS.'" (WaPo) Ford ripped his friends Woodward's latest in WaPo ...

Former president Gerald R. Ford said in an embargoed interview in July 2004 that the Iraq war was not justified. "I don't think I would have gone to war," he said a little more than a year after President Bush had launched the invasion advocated and carried out by prominent veterans of Ford's own administration.

In a four-hour conversation at his house in Beaver Creek, Colo., Ford "very strongly" disagreed with the current president's justifications for invading Iraq and said he would have pushed alternatives, such as sanctions, much more vigorously. In the tape-recorded interview, Ford was critical not only of Bush but also of Vice President Cheney -- Ford's White House chief of staff -- and then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, who served as Ford's chief of staff and then his Pentagon chief.

"Rumsfeld and Cheney and the president made a big mistake in justifying going into the war in Iraq. They put the emphasis on weapons of mass destruction," Ford said. "And now, I've never publicly said I thought they made a mistake, but I felt very strongly it was an error in how they should justify what they were going to do."

In a conversation that veered between the current realities of a war in the Middle East and the old complexities of the war in Vietnam whose bitter end he presided over as president, Ford took issue with the notion of the United States entering a conflict in service of the idea of spreading democracy.

The interview was embargoed until after Ford's death.

The GOP's $3 Billion Propaganda Organ by Robert Parry consortiumnews.com Excerpt: The American Right achieved its political dominance in Washington over the past quarter century with the help of more than $3 billion spent by Korean cult leader Sun Myung Moon on a daily propaganda organ, the Washington Times, according to a 21-year veteran of the newspaper. Former Times writer George Archibald, confirmed claims by some former Moon insiders that the cult leader has continued to pour in $100 million a year or more to keep the newspaper afloat. Archibald put the price tag for the newspaper’s first 24 years at “more than $3 billion of cash.”

More 9/11 manipulation on the way Rudy starts recruiting 9/11 relatives for his Presidential campaign.

Stealing your tax dollars $1,562,500 per detainee. Pentagon Moving Forward on Gitmo Courthouse "Although the Pentagon estimates that no more than 80 of the 400 or so terrorism detainees here will ever be tried, it is moving forward with plans for a $125-million legal complex. Air Force Col. Morris Davis, chief prosecutor of the suspected Al Qaeda and Taliban supporters, says he expects to file charges against 10 to 20 prisoners soon after new trial rules are presented to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates next month. The Supreme Court in June found the Bush administration's military tribunal system unconstitutional, and Congress passed the Military Commission Act in September to replace it. But less than 20% of the prisoners held here are expected to face charges under the new commissions. 'At the end of the day, I think the total will be about 75, give or take a few,' Davis says. Much of the legal work is done in Washington or in other U.S.-based offices of the military's judicial network — not at Guantanamo Bay. Still, Davis says, there is just one courtroom here, in a converted air terminal that also houses legal staff and a high-security lockup. The new compound would have three courtrooms, restaurants, parking and accommodations for at least 800 people." (LATimes)

More global warming damage “The Bush administration has decided to propose listing the polar bear as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, putting the U.S. government on record as saying that global warming could drive one of the world’s most recognizable animals out of existence.”

More trouble in Africa “Ethiopian troops fought their way closer to the Somali capital of Mogadishu” yesterday, “pushing back militias loyal to the Islamic Courts movement” that controls most of Somalia. “U.N. officials warned of a humanitarian crisis in Somalia, while fears remained high that Ethiopia’s aggressive military campaign could have disastrous consequences not only for Somalia but across the Horn of Africa.”

"It is genuinely incredible. The U.S. Treasury is empty, we are losing that stupid,
fraudulent chickencrap War in Iraq, and every country in the world except a handful
of Corrupt Brits despises us. We are losers, and that is the one unforgivable sin in
America...Beyond that, we have lost the respect of the world and lost two disastrous
wars in three years. Afghanistan is lost, Iraq is a permanent war Zone, our national
Economy is crashing all around us, the Pentagon's "war strategy" has failed miserably,
nobody has any money to spend, and our once-mighty U.S. America is paralyzed by
Mutinies in Iraq and even Fort Bragg...The American nation is in the worst condition
I can remember in my lifetime, and our prospects for the immediate future are even worse.
I am surprised and embarrassed to be a part of the first American generation to leave the
country in far worse shape than it was when we first came into it. Our highway system is
crumbling, our police are dishonest, our children are poor, our vaunted Social Security,
once the envy of the world, has been looted and neglected and destroyed by the same
gang of ignorant greed-crazed bastards who brought us Vietnam, Afghanistan, the
disastrous Gaza Strip and ignominious defeat all over the world. The Stock Market
will never come back, our Armies will never again be No. 1, and our children will
drink filthy water for the rest of our lives...Big Darkness Come Soon."
-- Lynne Cheney, ...no, ... it was the late Hunter S. Thompson, Link

Update: Disappearing Info List Still Growing TPM.com readers keep finding examples, so we keep growing our list of information products "disappeared" by the Bush administration which appear to have contradicted its policy preferences. We're up to 28. You can see the complete list here. The latest:

* For more than a year, the Interior Department refused to release a 2005 study showing a government subsidy for oil companies was not effective.

* The White House Office of National Drug Policy paid for a 5-year, $43 million study which concluded their anti-drug ad campaigns did not work -- but it refused to release those findings to Congress. (Thanks to skeptic)

* In 2006, the Federal Communications Commission ordered destroyed all copies of an unreleased 2004 draft report concluding that media consolidation hurt local TV news coverage, which runs counter to the administration's pro-consolidation stance. (Thanks to Jim Tobias)

* After Bush assumed power in 2001, the Department of Labor removed from its Web site "Don't Work in the Dark -- Know Your Rights," a publication informing women of their workplace rights. (via the National Council for Research on Women)

* The Department of Labor also removed from its Web site roughly two dozen fact sheets on women's workplace issues such as women in management, earning differences between men and women, child care concerns, and minority women in the workplace. (via the National Council for Research on Women)

* In February 2004, the appointed head of the Office of Special Counsel -- created to protect government employees' rights -- ordered removed from a government Web site information on the rights of gay men, lesbians and bisexuals in the public workplace. (via the National Council for Research on Women)

A new low. It is traditional at alicublog, when we treat a piece of writing by Jonah Goldberg, to close with the phrase, "This is the stupidest thing ever written, and will remain so until Goldberg writes something else." But his latest essay will be hard even for Goldberg to top.

The theme is religious certainty. Here is the intellectual highlight:

The rot, not surprisingly, has reached Hollywood. For example, in Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith, George Lucas caved to the fashionable anti-absolutism that comes with Bush hatred by having a young Obi-Wan Kenobi proclaim, “Only a Sith lord deals in absolutes!” Translation: Only evil people see the world as black-and-white. This signaled that Lucas’s descent into hackery was complete, since it was Lucas himself who originally explained that the entire universe is divided into light and dark sides.

I don't even know what to say to this. I tried out three jokes here, and they were pretty good jokes, but they just seemed so... puny compared to the breathtaking scale of this idiocy. That the editor of a major magazine would present such dorm-room sci-fi drivel without a blink of embarrassment! Somewhere the shades of Addison and Steele are tearing one another's hair out and screaming God-a-mercy.

And how about this:

Whenever I hear people say such things, I like to ask them, “Are you sure about that?” When they say yes, which they always do, I follow up by asking, “No, no: Are you really, really certain that certainty is bad?” At some point even the irony-deficient get the joke.

Next week, Goldberg discourses on the use of "why are you hitting yourself?" as a rhetorical tool.

Goldberg would not roll so often into such ripe patches of intellectual manure if he were not so addicted to willful misunderstandings. Liberals worry about the influence on our governance of religious dogmatists, and Goldberg absurdly interprets this as an anathema on "certainty." Then he makes a great show of revealing that "they aren’t offended by conviction per se, but by convictions they do not hold." In other words, if you like Rosa Parks but don't like Osama Bin Laden, you're a liberal hypocrite for whom "'Closed-minded' has come to mean 'people who disagree with me.'" Plus Hitler was a vegetarian. Psych!

I do advise you follow the link and find your own favorite bits. But I call dibs on "As Chesterton teaches, a dogmatic conviction can also be morally praiseworthy and socially valuable." And, as Shakespeare said, white wine goes with fish, and an open box of baking soda will help keep your fridge smelling sweet. The Argument from Authority itself must feel unclean after such a use.

Submitted by RKing on