Wednesday, May 28, 2008

McClellan Memoir

Former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan writes in a surprisingly scathing memoir to be published next week that President Bush “veered terribly off course,” was not “open and forthright on Iraq,” and took a “permanent campaign approach” to governing at the expense of candor and competence.

Among the most explosive revelations in the 341-page book, titled “What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception” (Public Affairs, $27.95):

• McClellan charges that Bush relied on “propaganda” to sell the war.
[well, how would he know?]
• He says the White House press corps was too easy on the administration during the run-up to the war.

• He admits that some of his own assertions from the briefing room podium turned out to be “badly misguided.”

• The longtime Bush loyalist also suggests that two top aides held a secret West Wing meeting to get their story straight about the CIA leak case at a time when federal prosecutors were after them — and McClellan was continuing to defend them despite mounting evidence they had not given him all the facts.

• McClellan asserts that the aides — Karl Rove, the president’s senior adviser, and I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, the vice president’s chief of staff — “had at best misled” him about their role in the disclosure of former CIA operative Valerie Plame’s identity.

A few reporters were offered advance copies of the book, with the restriction that their stories not appear until Sunday, the day before the official publication date. Politico declined and purchased “What Happened” at a Washington bookstore.

The eagerly awaited book, while recounting many fond memories of Bush and describing him as “authentic” and “sincere,” is harsher than reporters and White House officials had expected.

McClellan was one of the president’s earliest and most loyal political aides, and most of his friends had expected him to take a few swipes at his former colleague in order to sell books but also to paint a largely affectionate portrait.

Instead, McClellan’s tone is often harsh. He writes, for example, that after Hurricane Katrina, the White House “spent most of the first week in a state of denial,” and he blames Rove for suggesting the photo of the president comfortably observing the disaster during an Air Force One flyover. McClellan says he and counselor to the president Dan Bartlett had opposed the idea and thought it had been scrapped.

But he writes that he later was told that “Karl was convinced we needed to do it — and the president agreed.”

“One of the worst disasters in our nation’s history became one of the biggest disasters in Bush’s presidency. Katrina and the botched federal response to it would largely come to define Bush’s second term,” he writes. “And the perception of this catastrophe was made worse by previous decisions President Bush had made, including, first and foremost, the failure to be open and forthright on Iraq and rushing to war with inadequate planning and preparation for its aftermath.”

McClellan, who turned 40 in February, was press secretary from July 2003 to April 2006. An Austin native from a political family, he began working as a gubernatorial spokesman for then-Gov. Bush in early 1999, was traveling press secretary for the Bush-Cheney 2000 campaign and was chief deputy to Press Secretary Ari Fleischer at the beginning of Bush’s first term.

“I still like and admire President Bush,” McClellan writes. “But he and his advisers confused the propaganda campaign with the high level of candor and honesty so fundamentally needed to build and then sustain public support during a time of war. … In this regard, he was terribly ill-served by his top advisers, especially those involved directly in national security.”

more ...

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& David Corn 5.27.2008

& emptywheel 5.27.2008

& Rachel Maddow & Keith Olbermann c/o C&L 5.27.2008

& Glenn Greenwald 5.28.2008

& Andrew Sullivan 5.28.2008

& Hardball c/o C&L 5.28.2008

& BarbinMD DailyKos 5.28.2008 (cf. Military Analysts)

& Arianna Huffington 5.28.2008

& Mike Turk (former GWB eCampaign manager) twitter 5.28.2008
  • "Feeling for Scott McLellan. Nice getting savaged for saying what everyone knows to be true anyway."

  • see also Sam Stein HuffPo 5.29.2008
& Steve Clemons TPM Café 5.29.2008

& emptywheel (GWB "leaker-in-chief" connections) 5.29.2008

& flashback 5.27.2004: D-Squared Digest

& Dave Winer 5.29.2008

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c/o TPM (6:53)

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John Dean:

more ...

& Jon Stewart 6.2.2008
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
McClellan's Audio Book
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

& Frank Rich McCain's McClellan Problem NYT 6.1.2008

& McClellan to Testify before House Judiciary Committee 6.9.2008

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Neobama Fukuyama

yahoo news c/o Ben Smith, Politico

Francis Fukuyama, neocon-inspiration-turned-apostate, backs Obama in an interview:

ELEANOR HALL: So which president do you think would be the best placed to handle these challenges? Would it be President McCain, President Obama or a President Clinton?

FRANCIS FUKUYAMA: Well, it is a little bit difficult. In my own thinking, since I have to vote in this next election, I personally actually don't want to see a Republican reelected because I have a general view of the way democratic processes should work and if your party is responsible for a big policy failure, you shouldn't be rewarded by being re-elected.

I think of all the Republicans, McCain in many ways is the most attractive but he is still is too, you know, he comes from the school that places too much reliance on hard military power as a means of spreading American influence.

I think in many ways, Hillary Clinton represents both the good and the bad things of the 1990s and there is something in the style of the Clintons that never really appealed to me and so I think of all the three, Obama probably has the greatest promise of delivering a different kind of politics.
ELEANOR HALL: That is a big shift for you, isn't it? To go from a registered Republican voter to an Obama supporter.

FRANCIS FUKUYAMA: Yeah, but I think a number of people are doing that this year because I think the world is different at this juncture and we need a different foreign policy and there is this larger question about in American politics, I do think that we are at the end of a long generational cycle that began with Reagan's election back in 1980 and I think unless you have a degree of competition and alternation in power, certain ideas and habits are going to get too entrenched.

ELEANOR HALL: Barack Obama talks a lot about sort of big change and what sort of revolution do you expect him to deliver in the United States if he does become president?

FRANCIS FUKUYAMA: That is an interesting question because I think that one of our problems in the United States is that the existing polarisation has gotten very debilitating, where you cannot talk about certain issues like raising taxes or starting a program in investing in infrastructure without this being cast in this old ideological debate. So I think that he probably has got a better chance at trying to forge a different kind of rhetoric. Different ways of thinking about that.

ELEANOR HALL: Do you expect to see a real shift in America? In 10 years' time will it be a very different place if Barack Obama is elected?

FRANCIS FUKUYAMA: I think the shift will happen regardless of who is elected. I think that the politics of the country is going to be different. I think in tone and certainly in terms of the international perception of the United States, if you elected someone like Obama, it is really going to be really quite something I think to witness and I think that is why a lot of people would like to see him as president because it symbolises the ability of the United States really in some way to renew itself in a very unexpected way.

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flashback: 2.28.2006

& Fukuyama on t-bus

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Checks & Balances

Opening a New Front

Tom Allen (D) is running against Sen. Susan Collins (R) in Maine. Until the Democrats took over the senate, Collins was the chair of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee -- the analog of the Waxman committee in the House, the body's main investigative committee. And now Allen is charging that Collins' failure to hold any oversight hearings on contracting fraud and abuse in Iraq led to massive waste and even the loss of lives.

Here's a story on it from the Portland Press Herald and a video segment on it from a local news station ...

--Josh Marshall

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& Checks & Balances the geebus 11.9.2006

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Blank Slate Brigade


Arthur Neville Chamberlain (18 March 1869 – 9 November 1940) was a British Conservative politician and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1937 to 1940.

Chamberlain's legacy is marked by his policy regarding the appeasement of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany with his signing of the Munich Agreement in 1938, conceding part of Czechoslovakia to Hitler.

(See also Senator Borah.)

So the latest Bush Administration talking point is an attempt to equate appeasement (making concessions to enemies) -- with the willingness to meet and confer (i.e., talking to enemies).


Right-Wing Radio yakker crashes and burns like the Hindenburg while trying to talk about appeasement ...


President Bush made outrageous claims today in Israel, saying that Democrats were appeasers to Iran as you know since it’s the hot topic of the day. [On Hardball], right wing talker Kevin James tried to call Obama "Neville Chamberlain"; but as is usually the case with these talk show conservative hosts, he knew nothing about the historical facts revolving around Chamberlain and what happened as Hitler took power and started a war with Europe. I guess just repeating RW talking points doesn’t work sometimes.

Chris: You are BS’ing me… You don’t know what you’re talking about.

Rough transcript:

Chris Matthews: I want to do a little history check on you—what did Neville Chamberlain do wrong in 1939? What did he do wrong?

Kevin James: It all goes back to appeasement. It’s the key term.

Chris: No, what did he do, tell me what he did?

Kevin: It’s the key term.

Chris: You have to answer this question. What did he do?

Kevin: It’s the same thing, it puts it all…

Chris: Well tell me what he did?

Kevin: It’s appeasement.

Chris: What did Chamberlain do wrong..

Kevin: His actions, his actions enabled, energized, legitimized

Chris: What did Chamberlain do?

Kevin: It’s the exact same thing.

Chris: No stop, Kevin. I’m not going to continue with this interview unless you answer what that thing is. What did Chamberlain do in ‘39, tell me? 38′?

Kevin: Chris, it’s the exact same thing alright?

Chris: What did he do? What did he do!

(Read the rest of this story…)

see also Glic Daily Kos 5.15.2008

& Chris Matthews with Rachel Maddow 5.16.2008

& Dan Drezner 5.22.2008

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Flashback May 27, 2006

GOP Heavy Hitters Pressuring White House to Talk With Iran

by Laura Rozen

Los Angeles Times ($)


Amid concern that the U.S. is drifting toward eventual confrontation with Iran, a growing number of influential statesmen, Republican senators and foreign policy experts are stepping up pressure on the Bush administration to consider doing what no U.S. administration has done in 27 years: talk directly with Iran.

The public campaign parallels private efforts by GOP insiders, foreign policy specialists and U.S. allies abroad to influence the thinking of key administration officials, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Elliott Abrams, who oversees Iran policy at the National Security Council. Both have met recently with foreign diplomats and outside experts and have discussed U.S. diplomacy with Iran.

"I think the U.S. should have a very clear and transparent stance that it will not negotiate with Iran unless Iran should fulfill some prerequisites or preconditions," said dissident Mohsen Sazegara, who lives in Connecticut. "These conditions can be freedom of speech in Iran ... free elections, free labor syndicates and some other conditions."

... fulltext

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& John McCain in 2006 c/o TPM 5.16.2008

& James Rubin WaPo 5.16.2008

& Sen. McCain c/o TPM 5.16.2008

& the geebus 5.27.2006

& Secretary Gates 5.14.2008 [cf.]

& HuffPo 5.15.2008

& CNN 5.15.2008

& 5.15.2008

& Andrew Sullivan 5.15.2008

& MSNBC 5.16.2008

& Barack Obama 5.16.2008
"They're trying to fool you, trying to scare you, and they're not telling you the truth because they can't win a foreign policy debate on the merits," said Obama.

& Mark Green HuffPo 5.16.2008
  • Mr. Green was the 'split-screen bystander' during the Hardball incident depicted above
& Andrew Sullivan 5.17.2008

& OldScout DailyKos 5.15.2008

& Jim Baker in October 2006 (see also)

& Bob Wright 5.21.2008
How to talk to Ahmadinejad (if you must)

Data Mining: Mapping The Blogosphere

Data Mining: Mapping The Blogosphere

via Daily Dish

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


Hillary Clinton's West Virgina Speech...

"Vacation from Reality"

Disturbing, disturbing, disturbing...

from TPM

Reminds me of this (a lot!):

And of this:

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& Kos 5.24.2008

& Kos 5.28.2008 (stop the BS)

Information Age & The Wall Street Journal


Online tools under the rubric Web 2.0 are changing how information flows, with social networks letting people communicate directly with one another. This is reversing the top-down, one-way approach to communications that began with Gutenberg, challenging everything from how bosses try to manage to how consumers make or break products with instant mass feedback.

The institution that has most resisted new ways of doing things is the biggest one of all: government. This is about to change, with public-sector bureaucracies the new target for Web innovators. These include Don Tapscott, the business-strategy consultant who, with his New Paradigm consulting colleague Anthony Williams, in 2006 popularized Web 2.0 with the bestselling Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything.

Mr. Tapscott's next research project is called "Government 2.0: Wikinomics, Government & Democracy." Its participants include the Office of Management and Budget. The goal is to use Web-based collaboration to "reinvent government."

more ...

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& Obama 2.0 5.25.2008

Friday, May 09, 2008

Kaus gets Altered

Jonathan Alter articulates a good deal of what I would like to say to Mickey Kaus and like-minded people ...


& Mickey & Bob 5.15.2008 (1:38)

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Leverage & Amplify

re Campaign Finance Reform / Change Congress Movement

(Duration 4:18)

FEC Story

As you may know, there's been a nominations standoff which has left the FEC essentially shuttered through this election cycle. Most of the controversy has centered around voter suppression guru (he's for it) Hans Von Spakovsky, a medium level player in the US Attorneys firing scandal. Now President Bush has submitted a new slate of nominees, purportedly to resolve the conflict.

But as you can see in today's Must Read, Spakovsky actually remains on the list. And the big change is the removal of David Mason.

Who's that? Mason is the Republican Chair of the FEC who has refused to allow [pdf] John McCain to break the rules by pulling out of the public financing system after using it to leverage enough money to win the Republican nomination.

--Josh Marshall

* * * * *

& Ben Smith 5.7.2008

& Bob Bauer 5.7.2008

& DailyKos 5.8.2008

& Spakovsky withdraws tpm 5.16.2008

& Matt Keener DailyKos 5.16.2008

Monday, May 05, 2008

Gas Tax

TPM / Veracifier

& DailyKos 5.4.2008

& May 2006 GOP Gas Tax Pander WaPo 5.5.2006
"ridiculed by consumers and scorned by fellow Republicans in and out of Congress"

& Bill Clinton 3.29.2000
Q. Mr. President, in light of the fact that OPEC has decided to increase production, do you see it as a mistake for the Senate to proceed with a bill that would suspend the gas tax? And if it reached your desk, would you veto it?

A. Well, I don't expect it to reach my desk because there seems to be bipartisan opposition to it in the House, including among the leadership. But the problem I have with it, apart from what it might do to the Highway Trust Fund and the spending obligations that have already been incurred by the acts of Congress, the budgets, is that I'm not sure that the savings would be passed along to the consumers in addition to that. So I think there are a lot of questions about it. But I don't expect it to pass.

& Terry McAuliffe & Tim Russert 5.5.2008

& Daily Intel 5.7.2008

& Jonathan Alter 5.9.2008

& Bill Moyers olbermann 5.12.2008

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Obama on the Trail

Jefferson-Jackson speech highlights
North Carolina (5:25)

Noblesville, Indiana (3:36)

Friday, May 02, 2008

Enforce Logical Consistency

The question of doubt and uncertainty is what is necessary to begin; for if you already know the answer there is no need to gather any evidence about it. Well, being uncertain, the next thing is to look for evidence, and the scientific method is to begin with trials.

But another way and a very important one that should not be neglected and that is very vital is to
put together ideas to try to enforce a logical consistency among the various things that you know
It is a very valuable thing to try to connect this, what you know, with that, that you know, and try to find out if they are consistent. And the more activity in the direction of trying to put together the ideas of different directions, the better it is.

-- Richard Feynman, The Pleasure of Finding Things Out p. 104

& marvin minsky 9.3.2006