"This week, all the Republican candidates will be coming to California to debate each other at the Reagan Library. The winner will then be selected by Exxon-Mobil." ---Jay Leno

"The Republican presidential debate was held tonight in California, and 10 candidates took part. Political experts say that the 10 Republican candidates represented all races, creeds, and colors of rich white men." ---Conan O'Brien

"Four years ago, the president stood on the deck of an aircraft carrier and announced 'Mission Accomplished.' Two years later, the president appointed one of the main architects of that mission, Paul Wolfowitz, to head the World Bank. Because when someone has been completely wrong about everything, ya gotta put him where he can't do any harm...like in charge of the world's poor." ---Jon Stewart

"Former CIA director George Tenet has a new book where he says there was no serious debate within the administration about going into Iraq. It'll hit the stores on Monday, under the title: No Sh*t." ---Bill Maher

Danger Will Robinson! Bush hits 28%. Clearly a perilous situation for the Democrats. Bwhahahahah A nice weekend twofer. An illustration of Mr. Giuliani's cowardice -- can't handle being criticized -- and some boneheaded AP media coverage to boot. Memo to neocon media and pundits: The public wants Dems to be confrontational with Bush and the GOP. Gun lovin'' liberals I'm not the only one -- The New York Times found a whole bunch of distinguished law professors. Money malpractice. Riddle me this: what do you get if you're a senior official in the Veteran's Administration and you deliberately create a misleading budget that leaves your agency a billion dollars in the hole? Of course! You get a nice chunk of nearly $4 million in bonuses:

"Hundreds of thousands of our veterans remain homeless every day and hundreds of thousands more veterans wait six months or more for VA disability claim decisions," said Paul Sullivan, executive director of Veterans for Common Sense. "The lavish amounts of VA bonus cash would be better spent on a robust plan to cut VA red tape."

Responded one VA muckety muck: "But...but...the in-ground pool's almost finished!"

Analogies we wish we'd thought of. So we're watching the documentary Al Franken: God Spoke (now out on DVD and damn funny), and they show a clip of Jon Stewart taking a turn in the guest chair on Al's Air America show. If this doesn’t sum up the world we blog in, I don’t know what does:

"If you've ever seen six year-olds play soccer, that's the mainstream media. You know there's a ball in there somewhere, and as soon as it pops out, they're all going to run to it down to the other side of the field but no one's got a game plan."

That explains why next year's White House Correspondent's Dinner will be held at Chuck E. Cheez.

Neocon media CNN botches another one. Careful who your friends are Monica Goodling's lawyer hits back at the Justice Department, saying that the announcement yesterday that she's under investigation "smacks of retribution and intimidation." As you know, the Justice Department is now investigating whether former DOJ employee Monica Goodling broke the law by screening DOJ job applicants for party affiliation. Let's not forget that two weeks ago TPMmuckraker's Paul Kiel ran an article on Bradley Schlozman in which a former DOJ employee said on the record that Schlozman had asked him a potential job applicants party affiliation before deciding whether to grant him an interview. That sounds like pretty much exactly the same thing. Schlozman, remember, is a former top official at the DOJ's Civil Rights Division who served as the Patriot Act-appointed US Attorney from Kansas City until last month when he returned to Main Justice to work at the Executive Office of US Attorneys. Investigating Schlozman won't shortcircuit a congressional grant of immunity to compel testimony (little inside Purge coverage humor there) but maybe he should be investigated too? Corruption watch Alberto Gonzales and others at the Justice Department keep claiming that the department has pursued public corruption investigations regardless of the subject's political affiliation. Now we'll see if that's borne out by the numbers. Who won the GOP Reagan-off? I don't know how meaningful this is, but here's the (Calfornia only) SurveyUSA poll of who won the debate. Apparently it was Giuliani, though the results look to me like they mostly just track how popular the candidates were before the debate even took place. But there it is anyway. Raw data for political junkies. Ol' Tommy Thompson didn't imipress anyone. I'm shocked! Shocked, I tell you, shocked! (insert evil snicker) Thompson apologizes for gay remark. Former governor Tommy Thompson (R-WI) apologized for saying, during the debate, that private employers should be allowed to fire employees simply because they are gay. Thompson claimed he “misinterpreted” the question — “If a private employer finds homosexuality immoral, should he be allowed to fire a gay worker?" And he thinks he should be president of the United States of America? God help us. (Maybe Thompson’s still under the weather. Last month, he blamed his statement that Jews have a “tradition” of “earning money” on “fatigue and a persistent cold.”) Here's the new antiwar ad that Oliver Stone directed for MoveOn as a response to Bush's veto of the Iraq withdrawal bill. Number of folding chairs put out for the "Bible Reading Marathon" at the Capitol yesterday: 600

Maximum number of chairs that were occupied during the event: 37 A Reagan we never knew (and didn't exist) Weird moments in Republican self-deception:

Giuliani said the only thing worse than an American-led military offensive against Iran would be Iran having nuclear weapons, which he called "the worst nightmare'' of the Cold War. The way to stop Iran, he said, was resolute American leadership facing down the Iranian president.

"He has to look at an American president, and he has to see Ronald Reagan,'' Giuliani said.

Is that the version of Ronald Reagan who sold the Iranians weapons, or it is the version that sought to check Iranian power by sending Don Rumsfeld to Baghdad to assure Saddam Hussein that the United States didn't really mind if he used poison gas to attack the Kurdish civilian population?

Nothing new under GOP sun Joe Klein had the best observation I've seen on the GOP debate: "Listening to the Republicans, you'd never guess that this was a country 70% of the public thinks is heading in the wrong direction." Exactly so. This was the standout quality. You had all these candidates engaging in a kind of "how many angels fit on the head of a pin" conversation about tax reform (flat tax! fair tax! consumption tax! repeal the 16th amendment!) that was almost totally disconnected from anyone trying to claim that their policies were going to address some kind of anxiety people have. The one candidate who did it -- John McCain proposing a $3,000 refundable health care tax credit -- said it in an utterly affectless manner and the policy proposal is both pretty dumb and clearly inadequate to the scope of the country's health care issues. On national security, the candidates didn't convey any real sense that American policy has been running into any kind of problems.

Learning to love the poor again Hot Pew Center data released a couple of days ago shows that the pendulum has swung decisively back from its mid-nineties skepticism about the welfare state and the social safety net. Older Americans, white Americans, and poor Americans all showed large increases in their level of interest in big government, meaning that for the next couple of cycles we may not be finding ourselves wondering what's the matter with Kansas (except that Kansas is actually has a high median income, a low poverty rate, etc., and will probably stay firmly Republican).

You're either with us or.... Those who support Bush's catastrophic war in Iraq and oppose the recently vetoed war funding bill received a glowing endorsement from an unexpected source this weekend: Ayman al-Zawahri, Al Qaeda's second in command:

This bill reflects American failure and frustration," Zawahri said. "But this bill will deprive us of the opportunity to destroy the American forces which we have caught in a historic trap."

"We ask Allah that they only get out after losing 200,000 to 300,000 killed, so that we give the blood spillers in Washington and Europe an unforgettable lesson to motivate them to review their entire doctrinal and moral system," Zawahri said on the video, posted on Web sites used by Islamists.

The neocons want us to stay in Iraq, Al Qaeda wants us to stay, most conservatives want us to stay. But the majority of the American people agree with the Democrats, progressives, independents, and want out. It's pretty simple: You're either with us or you're with the terrorists.

Wall of the Fallen Another failure to plan:

In a grim sign of the times, the "Wall of the Fallen," set up by House Republican leaders in June, is almost full. The mounting death toll from Iraq has forced U.S. House staffers to study how to reconfigure the display in the lobby of the Rayburn Building - the largest office building for members of Congress - to squeeze in more names....New names are added to the display every few months, but none have been added since November.... In the current format, there is space for about 130 more names, but 506 Americans have died since mid-November.

Apparently a member of the, "no one could have anticipated" club, Republican Rep. Vernon Ehlers said that he recently realized:

Boy, we could have a problem. More space is needed.

More space. Yes, that's the problem.

Time to vote Wolfowitz off the island Like Mark Kleiman, I haven't commented on the Paul Wolfowitz/World Bank affair because I wasn't sure what to think about it. I may not like Wolfowitz much, but it still seemed plausible that he had acted properly in a difficult situation and was now being railroaded by Bank employees who don't like him any more than I do.

But Wolfowitz has always maintained that the pay and promotions he arranged for his companion, Shaha Riza, were entirely above board and that he kept the Bank's ethics committee fully informed of his actions at all times. On Friday he admitted that this wasn't quite true:

Roberto Daniño, the bank's chief legal adviser at the time, testified that Mr Wolfowitz "incorrectly" awarded pay and promotions that "far exceeded, and were granted in addition to, those recommended by the ethics committee". He said none of these additional "benefits were disclosed to or approved by the board, the ethics committee or the general counsel".....Mr Wolfowitz's aides claimed in recent weeks that all arrangements concerning Ms Riza were made at the direction of the board and with the knowledge of the ethics committee. As grounds for such claims, Mr Wolfowitz yesterday pointed to a letter from the ethics committee acknowledging that it had reviewed an anonymous e-mail from a member of staff who was angry about Ms Riza's pay.

So it appears that, to Wolfowitz, "keeping the ethics committee informed" actually means "someone else found out about the arrangements and blew the whistle in an anonymous email." Sounds like it's time for Wolfowitz to resign. Steve Clemons has more juicy gossip.

Hillary's falling faster than Brady Quinn Wow. In the past four months Hillary Clinton's net approval rating has dropped from +18% to -7%. That's nearly 1% of the population per week jumping ship from the approval column to the disapproval column.

Strain on soldiers worse in Iraq than WWII. The authors of a new Army study say “the strains placed on troops in Iraq are in some ways more severe than those borne by the combat forces of World War II. ‘A considerable number of Soldiers and Marines are conducting combat operations everyday of the week, 10-12 hours per day seven days a week for months on end,’ wrote Col. Carl Castro and Maj. Dennis McGurk, both psychologists. ‘At no time in our military history have Soldiers or Marines been required to serve on the front line in any war for a period of 6-7 months.’”

Poverty: WWJD? (Bush ain't askin') Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne heralds the Center for American Progress’s anti-poverty report issued last week. “The report deserves more attention than it has gotten,” he writes, “not because it breaks new ground but precisely because it brings together some of the most pragmatic ideas on poverty reduction.” Read highlights or the entire report.

Mitt doesn't get it I didn't see this part of the GOP debate, but Spencer Ackerman notes Romney's answer to a question about how important it is to capture Osama bin Laden:

I don't want to buy into the Democratic pitch, that this is all about one person, Osama bin Laden. Because after we get him, there's going to be another and another. This is about Shi'a and Sunni. This is about Hezbollah and Hamas and al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood. This is the worldwide jihadist effort to try and cause the collapse of all moderate Islamic governments and replace them with a caliphate.

Unfortunately, almost nobody seems to really care about this stuff, but as Spencer points out, this is completely wrong and demonstrates that Romney doesn't have a clue what we're up against. Yes, there's a violent jihadist movement, but it doesn't include the Muslim Brotherhood, which is Islamist but not terrorist. It's not about "Hezbollah and Hamas and al Qaeda," which have completely different goals. Spencer:

Mitt Romney's War: the total conflation of all Islamist movements. Not only is the Muslim Brotherhood not a jihadist organization, but its very lack of jihadiness is what spawned Ayman Zawahiri's Egyptian Islamic Jihad. Suffice it to say that there is no caliphate on heaven or earth that will simultaneously satisfy Hezbollah, al-Qaeda, Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, which goes a long way toward explaining why there is no concerted "worldwide jihadist effort" by these groups to establish one.

Unfortunately, like I said, nobody seems to care. Romney sounds like he's being tough on the bad guys, and he managed to mention a whole bunch of Middle Eastern-ish stuff without mispronouncing any of it, which probably gets him points for being on the ball. But gibberish is gibberish, no matter how good your haircut is.

Mitt reeeeeally doesn't get it Former governor Mitt Romney (R-MA) delivered the commencement address today at Pat Robertson’s Regent University, praising the televangelist who has repeatedly spouted hateful and bigoted remarks. From the excerpts of Romney’s speech released this morning: “This university, its students, its alumni and the faculty serve as an example of Dr. Robertson’s dedication to strengthening and then nurturing the pillars of this community and our country: education, fellowship, and advancement.”

Some examples of how Robertson “strengthens” and “nurtures” education and advancement in our country:

Robertson on the vote in Dover, PA in support of evolution science:

I’d like to say to the good citizens of Dover: if there is a disaster in your area, don’t turn to God, you just rejected Him from your city.

Robertson on September 11:

Two days after the terrorist attacks, Mr. Robertson held a conversation with Jerry Falwell on Mr. Robertson’s TV show “The 700 Club.” Mr. Falwell laid blame for the attack at the feet of “the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians,” not to mention the A.C.L.U. and People for the American Way. “Well, I totally concur,” said Mr. Robertson.

Robertson on Islam:

I believe it’s motivated by demonic power. It is satanic and it’s time we recognize what we’re dealing with. … [T]he goal of Islam, ladies and gentlemen, whether you like it or not, is world domination.

Robertson on former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s stroke:

Robertson suggested that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s recent stroke was the result of Sharon’s policy, which he claimed is “dividing God’s land.”

Robertson on assassinating Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez:

I don’t know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we’re trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it.

Robertson on the federal judiciary being a greater threat than al Qaeda:

Q: You’ve said that Liberals are engaged in an all-out assault on Christianity…and that the out-of-control judiciary, and this was in your last book “Courting Disaster” is the most serious threat America has faced in nearly 400 years of history, more serious than al Qaeda, more serious than Nazi Germany and Japan, more serious than the Civil War?

Pat Robertson: George, I really believe that.

The world's dirtiest joke Did you ever see The Aristocrats, or at least hear the joke? Hear it -- or rather, read it -- again, from a fresh perspective, at Driftglass. You'll be glad you did (if you don't kill yourself at the end, that is). To illustrate why we need guaranteed health care, California Nurses Shum gives us Blue Cross Abuses "Hole-in-Heart" Baby... to illustrate how insurance companies drop the insured when they are seriously ill, despite million-dollar fines for the practice. Biskupic may not be the monster he appears to be This morning former Deputy Attorney General James Comey basically said that whatever might look suspicious in the context of the larger US Attorney scandal, he thinks Milwaukee US Attorney Steven Biskupic is absolutely a straight shooter and would never bring a prosecution or hold up a prosecution for political reasons. Now, we've written a good bit about Biskupic. He's the one who didn't find the Democratic 'vote fraud' conspiracy Republican operatives wanted him to find. And that apparently landed him on the DOJ US Attorney firing list. But then he got pulled off the list. That's made people take a second look at his prosecution of a bureaucrat in Wisconsin's Democratic governor's administration. That conviction got overturned by an appeals court last month. And not just overturned, but judged "beyond thin" and "preposterous" and sent back for a directed acquital. That raised the question: Did Biskupic get in trouble with the failure to pursue bogus 'vote fraud' cases and then save his job by bringing a bogus corruption case?

Since we first reported on this issue, I've spoken to a number of people familiar with Biskupic and his record. This is a standard stage in reporting in a case like this. And the results of such conversations are usually very revealing. Often -- particularly in the US Attorney Purge case -- a few such conversations quickly reveal patterns of questionable conduct about the person in question. The smoke rapidly reveals fire. Not in this case though. Having raised the questions about Biskupic noted above, I feel compelled to note that in subsequent conversations with others who I believe come with as much credibility as Comey has -- which is a great deal -- I've been told pretty much the equivalent of what Comey said today. These people don't necessarily know the specifics of the case in question. But they know Biskupic. And they vouch for the guy's character and reputation. They say they know him and he just would never do something like that.

That doesn't mean Biskupic couldn't have gamed the system to save his job. Sometimes people don't know someone as well as they think. What we know about the Gonzales DOJ inevitably casts a shadow of suspicion over the timing of events I noted above. Indeed, it's certainly possible that the corruption prosecution did get Biskupic off the list even though he didn't know he was any jeopardy and the prosecution was brought in good faith. But given what I've heard and given the highly circumstantial nature of the case, I'm inclined to believe, until I hear more evidence to the contrary, that Biskupic himself has clean hands in all this. If I see evidence to the contrary, I'll tell you. If you have some, let me know. But that's where my thinking is right now. And I thought you should know.

Attorneygate update More from the hearing this morning with former deputy attorney general James Comey. Comey served to provide a stark contrast with the current leadership in the department.

Comey shoots down Justice Department talking point on Carol Lam's firing.

Here's Comey responding to Kyle Sampson's emphasis on "loyalty" in U.S. attorneys.

Here he is describing how he'd fired two U.S. attorneys while he'd been there -- what that process was and the reasons why.

Here, just for chuckles, is the ranking Republican on the committee, Rep. Chris Cannon (R-UT), claiming that the Justice Department had a "thoughtful, competent process" for firing the eight U.S. attorneys.

And here is an email from Comey to one of the fired U.S. attorneys explaining why he felt compelled to speak out about the firings. "I will not sit by and watch good people smeared."

One debate watcher scores Tommy Thompson: Nothing much to say other than that he sounds like a heavy breather. Icky. Neocon media. What's the craziest thing in the new Time? Is it Nelson Mandela (the most significant/inspirational figure alive on earth, perhaps) on ... Oprah Winfrey? Or William Kristol (the wrongest person alive on Earth, about Iraq at least) on ... why the next president will have to listen to guys like William Kristol about Iraq?

We note also for the record that Kinsley also is in the magazine, but on a totally non-political topic, and so Time's columnist count this week is, once again, right-wing Bush-loving Iraq hawks 1, the view represented by approximately 70 percent of Americans 0.

And by the way -- and this is a comment more on the entire main stream media (MSM) rather than Time per se -- look how many "business" leaders are among the celebrated 100. I counted 15. How many labor leaders? (Clue: if you're counting only Americans, the number is the same as pundits representing the views of 70 percent of the country. If you throw in South Africa, you get a total of one.)

Listen to the soldier GOP congressional wanker John Shimkus drew the ire of plenty when he compared the Iraq war to a Major League (yes, baseball) feud. The folks back home are none too pleased. But the best response comes from VoteVets' Jon Soltz:

John Shimkus needs to go back and relearn what he was taught, and speak those things on the House floor, no matter what pressure he gets from the White House or the neocon machine. War is serious. People die and are injured. And, always -- ALWAYS -- you do not send forces into battle when you don't absolutely have to, and you never keep them there when there's no military mission to achieve.

Molly Ivins Moment:

"Sunday-morning chatter announced in horror: ‘People may think the rich can buy their way out of the justice system.’ No shit. Been going to Texas prisons for a long time. Seen nobody rich on Death Row yet. . . . Wake me when impending egalitarianism is a problem. In the meantime, oligarchy is eating our ass, our dreams, our country, our heritage, our democracy, our justice, and our tax code."

---April, 2001

Saint Ronnie I note that tonight's Republican debate at the Ronald Reagan library has provoked an even greater gusher than usual of Reagan nostalgia among GOP hopefuls. A few days ago, for example, Tom Bevan wrote that the search for a new Reagan is "hanging especially heavy over the current presidential race."

No surprise there. After all, what choice do they have? Bush Jr. is radioactive; Bush Sr. was an apostate; Ford was an accident; Nixon was a crook; Eisenhower was practically a socialist by modern Republican standards; and Hoover was....

Well, let's not even go there. The less said about Hoover the better. But the bottom line is that aside from Reagan, there's literally no Republican president in the past 70 years that Republicans really feel comfortable with. The unpopular ones (Hoover, Nixon, Bush Sr., Bush Jr.) are toxic and the popular ones (Eisenhower, Ford) are far too moderate for today's crew. So Reagan worship is in full swing because, really, they don't have any other choice, do they?

Neocon media I think one of the most telling moments in Bill Moyers' Iraq/media show was this one.

WALTER ISAACSON: We'd put it on the air and by nature of a 24 hour TV network, it was replaying over and over again. So, you would get phone calls. You would get advertisers. You would get the Administration.

BILL MOYERS: You said pressure from advertisers?

WALTER ISAACSON: Not direct pressure from advertisers, but big people in corporations were calling up and saying, 'You're being anti-American here.'

So, "big people in corporations" get to call up CNN and tell them what they should be doing with their news coverage.

Attorneygate update II I think you could conclude Deputy AG Paul McNulty doesn't want to be standing on the tracks for this freight train (from McClatchy) ...

According to a congressional aide, McNulty said he attended a White House meeting with Karl Rove, President Bush's top political adviser, and other officials on March 5, the day before McNulty's deputy William Moschella was to testify to Congress about the firings.

White House officials told the Justice Department group that they needed to agree on clear reasons why each prosecutor was fired and explain them to Congress, McNulty said, according to the aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the transcript of McNulty's interview hasn't been made public.

McNulty said that White House officials never revealed during the meeting that they'd been discussing plans to replace some prosecutors with Gonzales aides, the congressional aide said.

McNulty recalled feeling disturbed and concerned when he found out days later that the White House had been involved, the congressional aide said. McNulty considered the extent of White House coordination to be "extremely problematic."

Remind me. Why do you need to 'agree on clear reasons why each prosecutor was fired' if the reasons were actually clear when you did the firing and if the reasons can be stated publicly? Think about it. Why do Rove and the other heavies from the White House need to tell these guys how important it is to get their stories straight? If I fire someone, I know why I fired them. I don't need to get my story straight unless the real reason can't be stated and I need to come up with a defensible and plausible alternative explanation.

But look what McNulty told Carol Lam when she called him to ask why she was being fired.

From Lam's written responses to questions from congressional staff investigators ...

He responded that he wanted some time to think about how to answer that question because he didn’t want to give me an answer “that would lead” me down the wrong route. He added that he knew I had personally taken on a long trial and he had great respect for me. Mr. McNulty never responded to my question.

I do not think it is too much to infer from McNulty's response that he was either unaware of the 'immigration enforcement' storyline for Lam's firing or was unwilling to say it to her face. (For my part, I strongly suspect it was the former.) And if Lam is faithfully portraying the tenor of the conversation it sounds very much like McNulty knew the answer to the question was not a good one.

This is the key to remember. On its own this might all be a tempest in a teapot. Why was she fired? Maybe someone didn't like her attitude or her haircut or whatever. But it's not on its own. Lam was in the midst of an historic public corruption investigation targetting White House allies on Capitol Hill, White House appointees at the CIA and -- though it's seldom been discussed publicly and the evidence remains murky -- I suspect, appointees at the Department of Defense.

The mere fact that DOJ officials can apparently point to no discussions, thought process or paper trail of any deliberations about how Lam's firing would affect these cases speaks volumes. And when you look at the whole picture you see that everything about Lam's firing comes down to corruption cases stemming out of the Cunningham investigation.

And look what Lam was told by McNulty's nominal deputy (see this post for McNulty's apparent power at DOJ) Michael Elston when she asked for a brief reprieve to deal with these highly sensitive cases. He made clear she was to be gone in "weeks, not months" and that the order for her firing was "coming from the very highest levels of the government."

Those, again, are Lam's words from her written responses to congressional interrogatories. If they're accurate, what do you think 'very highest levels of the government' means? And if this is all about disagreements over immigration enforcement policy, why the rush?

The US Attorney Purge story is many things. But the focal point has always been the Lam firing. And White House orders notwithstanding, the cover stories have just never cut it.

Also, check out this article in Newsweek where Isikoff shares more details of the March 5th meeting with Rove and those DOJ officials.

Republican pity party With the implications of last November's elections finally sinking in, and with the 2008 elections looming, Republicans are getting nervous:

Republicans in Congress are increasingly worried that their stalwart support of President Bush's Iraq war policy may cost them dearly in next year's elections. [...] A question increasingly asked in the Capitol is: how big a price might the party pay if the war continues to claim U.S. casualties without quelling the anti-American insurgency?

Yes, that's the question that's keeping Republicans up at night. Not the 3363 U.S. troops that have been killed during the four years they rubber stamped Bush's disastrous Iraq policy. Not the more than 20,000 wounded. Not the unknown tens (hundreds?) of thousands of dead Iraqis. The only price they're concerned about is the political price they might pay. And for the record, since their latest support of George Bush's war, 13 more U.S. troops have died.

Jabberwonky I'm not in favor of a bill making English the national language. Still, every now and then, I'd like to think that my president, my congress, and my press have at least a passing familiarity with... you know, those word things. Clearly, that's not the case. Because anyone able to understand syntax more complex than that of Go, Dog, Go (or perhaps, The Pet Goat) would certainly point out that what the president of the United States is producing -- and the major Republican candidates are parroting -- is pure and utter nonsense.

I'm not talking about lies. Forget whether or not they're lying. I'm not talking about Bush's tendency toward malapropisms. Let him tongule his tang all he wants. I'm talking about a president gone completely brillig, and a press and congress too slithy to call him on it.

The first stanza of this nonsense poem looks like this.

"It makes no sense to tell the enemy when you plan to start withdrawing," Bush said. "All the terrorists would have to do is mark their calendars and gather their strength and begin plotting how to overthrow the government and take control of the country of Iraq."

If idiocy had gravity, that paragraph would collapse into a black hole. Let's take it sentence by sentence:

  1. "It makes no sense to tell the enemy when you plan to start withdrawing." Here's a news flash -- there is no such thing as surprise withdrawal. You can't sneak 160,000 soldiers out of Iraq in the trunk of a Volvo. One day, America will leave Iraq, and when we do, we will catch no one - no one -- by surprise. Does anyone really think al Qaeda will be looking at empty blockhouses for weeks saying to themselves, "why don't those infidels come out to play?" When we start to leave, it will be broadcast on every station around the world for months in advance and there is not one damn thing anyone can do about that. Whenever any Republican advances the "we can't let them know when we're leaving line," they should follow it with an agonized scream, because stupidity that powerful ought to hurt.
  1. "All the terrorists would have to do is mark their calendars and gather their strength and begin plotting how to overthrow the government and take control of the country of Iraq." So, knowing when we're going to depart, the terrorists would... settle down and plot while we went on about our business? Has no one noticed that this is exactly what we wanted to happen? If giving a timeline would make the terrorists sit down and check off the days like Ralphie waiting for his Red Ryder, then why not give a deadline on day one? Heck, make it an announcement "Hey, bad guys, we're going to leave in a year. In the meantime, why don't you park it some place while the government gets its act together, we repair a few power plants, get the water running, and get people used to peace."

The president is daily delivering a message that directly translates to "We plan on sneaking all our troops out of town, because otherwise they'd wait for us to leave before shooting," and no one is calling him on it. Hell, nine out of ten little tin soldiers stood up at the Republican debate to repeat this message almost word for word.

What's stanza #2 of the national nonsense?

"Al Qaeda terrorists who behead captives and order suicide bombings in Iraq would not simply be satisfied to see us gone. A retreat in Iraq would mean that they would likely follow us here."

I was only sixteen when I worked for my local weekly paper, but there were these things they taught us to ask back then -- questions they called them. Who. What. When. Maybe even why and how. Has anyone out there thought of applying these things to the tune that dutifully plays every time someone winds up the crank on Bush or McCain? Who will follow us home? How will they do that? What the holy hell have you been sniffing? The insurgents in Iraq are Iraqis, they already are home. That handful of people in Iraq who really are al Qaeda, and not just people who have adopted that name because they know it pisses us off, can not hike to America. If terrorists can really hop a jet and land in America, it's because this administration is fixated on Iraq and had done next to nothing about real problems of national security. In fact, this whole second paragraph translates as "We've done nothing to stop terrorists from coming here."

There was a study today that indicated more than one-third of American soldiers have suffered some form of traumatic injury from their experiences in Iraq. They should fit right in. The idea that anyone would accept the statements above with a response other than laughter or pity, shows that national standards for sanity have been set very low.

Guns on campus. 37 years ago, National Guard troops fired on Vietnam War protestors at Ohio's Kent State University, killing four students and injuring 12. The question that may never be answered: what possessed the Guard to use live ammo when they could've pacified the crowd with a plate of hash brownies? Imagine if all the students had been packing heat, a concept that makes Republicans drool in the wake of the Virginia Tech shootings. That would've worked out swell, huh.

Is the heat on...? Today, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the third part of its Assessment Report. The first two parts of the report released earlier this year dealt with the science and impacts of climate change. This new part suggests mitigating global warming’s effects can be done at a “modest cost.”

The right-wing has repeatedly advocated against taking bold action to curtail carbon emissions by propagating fears that it would bring down our economy:

Fox News: “Al Gore’s Global Warming Movie: Could It Destroy Our Economy?”

Rush Limbaugh: “[Liberals] would have us destroy our economy and millions of jobs based on pseudoscience.”

James Inhofe: “Global warming is an alarmism. It’s a type of a hoax. The reality is that a cap on carbon is a cap on the economy.”

The report sets a target of reducing global warming gas emissions by at least 50 percent by 2050. By employing the use of energy efficient methods and by increasing use in the renewable energy area, the IPCC report says there is enormous potential for the cost-effective deployment of energy systems that would help reduce pollution while producing employment gains. According to Bill Hare, one of the lead authors of the report, the cost is manageable:

HARE: Well, over the period to 2030 it’s going to cost about, maximum, I would say about 0.1 percent loss of annual GDP growth globally. I’m not sure that would really be detected in terms of the year-to-year variations in global growth.

“It has been shown for the first time that stopping climate pollution in a very ambitious way does not cost a fortune,” said Stephan Singer of the World Wildlife Fund. “There is no excuse for any government to argue that it is going to cause their economy to collapse.”

Gee, ya think? “Deputy chief of staff Karl Rove participated in a hastily called meeting at the White House two months ago” to coach a top Justice Department official on what he should say to Congress about the prosecutorial purge. Investigators are suggesting that Rove’s attendance at the meeting shows that he may have been involved in an attempt to mislead Congress.

Rush Limbaugh on Bush’s legacy: “Long after we’re all dead and gone, when historians who are not yet born begin to write about this era, they’re going to place George Bush in the upper echelon of presidents who had a great vision for America, who looked beyond our shores, who didn’t just restrict himself to domestic policy niceties.”

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Rush may not know it, but there is already a debate going on among historians. Rolling Stone recently wrote, “Many historians are now wondering whether Bush, in fact, will be remembered as the very worst president in all of American history.”

Submitted by RKing on