28 February 2006

Surveying the land from under the sand

"At least 60 people were killed in Baghdad on Tuesday in the latest in a series of deadly attacks following the bombing of a major Shi'ite mosque last week.

Asked what Washington would do if civil war broke out in Iraq, Bush told ABC News: 'I don't buy your premise that there's going to be a civil war.'"

So much for the ebbing sectarian strife.

60+ today.

1,300 since last week.

Scores of mosques attacked, tit for tat. Car bombs, angry mobs, people being--literally--executed by the busload...and El Presidente doesn't "buy the premise" of a civil war. Well, he didn't bother planning for his war, so why start now, right?

It's almost impressive, in a way, to see how wildly he swings between apocalyptic fear-mongering and willful obliviousness, growing further and further detached from reality with every pass. Those who disagree with him are providing aid and comfort for our enemies, but those who recognize the seeds of civil war in Iraq are just alarmists reading tea leaves.

That sort of worldview--such as it is--is testament to the man's colossal ego and sense of personal infallibility. Nothing is a problem unless he deems it as such. You need only look at his approach to contentious issues such as the PATRIOT Act, illegal wiretaps and, now, the UAE port sale and disintegrating situation in Iraq. None of the additional time these topics has received has been about review and mutual compromise, it's about giving him a chance to explain why he's been right all along. When he speaks publicly, every speech he gives drips with condescention: the smirking, monosyllabic, lean-over-the-podium-to-break-it-down-for-the-ignorant-masses style that's become his trademark. Rather than demand better, his so-called "base" obligingly (and stupidly) lives down to his perceptions, mistaking patronizing for "folksy" or "down-to-earth," and flocking to it, accordingly.

They got the president they deserved, all right...and unfortunately, dragged us all along for the ride.

25 February 2006


Is this winning?
Pentagon: Iraqi troops downgraded

No Iraqi battalion capable of fighting without U.S. support

Friday, February 24, 2006; Posted: 8:29 p.m. EST (01:29 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The only Iraqi battalion capable of fighting without U.S. support has been downgraded to a level requiring them to fight with American troops backing them up, the Pentagon said Friday.

The battalion, made up of 700 to 800 Iraqi Army soldiers, has repeatedly been offered by the U.S. as an example of the growing independence of the Iraqi military.

The competence of the Iraqi military has been cited as a key factor in when U.S. troops will be able to return home.

"As we see more of these Iraqi forces in the lead, we will be able to continue with our stated strategy that says as Iraqi forces stand up, we will stand down," President Bush said last month.

The battalion, according to the Pentagon, was downgraded from "level one" to "level two" after a recent quarterly assessment of its capabilities.
Just wondering...

How much is it worth to look good?

If you're the preznit, about $5 million. From the NYT story:
On Tuesday, Bush plans to visit the Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo., to talk about speeding the development of biofuels

The lab, with a looming $28 million budget shortfall, had announced it was cutting its staff by 32 people, including eight researchers. But in advance of Bush's visit, Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman over the weekend directed the transfer of $5 million to the private contractor that runs the lab, so the jobs can be saved.

The department ''has been informed that the NREL lab director will use these funds to immediately restore all of the jobs that were cut earlier this month due to budget shortfalls,'' the department said in a statement Monday.

Nice save.

Wonder what staffer, where, noticed that one of El Presidente's irresponsibly short-sighted budget cuts was stalled on the tracks of his latest empty photo op? We can probably just wait to see who gets appointed to the next vacancy atop a cabinet-level agency. In all likelihood, they're one and the same.

The pannicked urgency of the damage control efforts must've been something to behold. WE can't overcome bureaucracy while New Orleans drowns, but now, in a couple days--over the weekend, nonetheless--proposals are made and executed, red tape dissolves, and the vault doors swing wide.

All to keep Forrest from falling off the shrimp boat when the cameras are rolling.

20 February 2006

Your government at work

(Belated; Blogger was pitching a fit this weekend)

As the Bushistas turn backflips to prevent anyone from getting getting close enough to evaluate the domestic espionage program that's legal in El Presidente's mind, a District judge ordered the Justice Dept. to honor the pesky Freedom of Information Act requests of citizens trying to do the oversight duty that their representatives have seen fit to abdicate. Seems someone with a sense of humor at the JD came upon this novel foot-dragging tactic:
"Routine FOIA requests are to be handled within 20 days while expedited requests have no set time limit under the law, prompting the Justice Department to take the position that the amount of time for expedited requests could be longer than that for the routine 20-day handling."

"Congress could not have intended to create the absurd situation" enabling the government to unilaterally exceed the standard 20-day period, Kennedy wrote.

Unfortunately, these days, we're saddled with a banana Republican Congress that goes out of its way to create absurd situations.

15 February 2006

Abu Redux

SYDNEY (Reuters) - An Australian television station broadcast on Wednesday what it said were previously unpublished images of abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison, fuelling more Arab anger against the United States...Some of the newly broadcast pictures suggest further abuse such as killing, torture and sexual humiliation, Dateline said...The images were swiftly re-broadcast by Arab satellite television stations and several news organisations, including American ABC News television, showed them on their Web sites. They stirred up more anger among Arabs, already incensed by the publication on Sunday of images of British soldiers apparently beating Iraqi youths and by cartoons satirising the Prophet Mohammad printed in European papers this month.

"This is truly American ugliness that no other country in the world can compete with," journalist Saleh al-Humaidi told Reuters in Yemen.

"The Americans ought to apologise to mankind for their government's lie to the world that it is fighting for freedom and that it came to Iraq to save it from Saddam Hussein's oppression," he said.

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said the abuses at Abu Ghraib had already been fully investigated.

"The department believes that the release of all of these images will further inflame and cause unnecessary violence in the world," Whitman said.

"...In Abu Ghraib specifically, there have been more than 25 individuals -- officer and enlisted -- that have been held accountable for criminal acts and other failures."
Wonder if the boys at the Pentagon still think it was a good idea to stonewall and delay release of the rest of these Abu Graib photos? I mean, since their half-assed cover-up managed to keep the original media attention to a murmur, and all...

This should've been over almost two years ago. At least the "shocking revelation" portion, anyway. The government saw the effects, and could've gotten this out of the way all at once.

They chose not to, electing, instead, to keep this shoe waiting to drop. The people that would use this as an excuse for violence are despicable opportunists. That said, any so-called "inflaming" going on right now can be traced directly back to the decision-makers that buried this stuff, not the media. They made the call then, they need to own it now.

Hope it was worth it.

Congress prepares to pass King George his scepter

From the WaPo:
Congress appeared ready to launch an investigation into the Bush administration's warrantless domestic surveillance program last week, but an all-out White House lobbying campaign has dramatically slowed the effort and may kill it, key Republican and Democratic sources said yesterday...Lawmakers cite senators such as Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine) to illustrate the administration's success in cooling congressional zeal for an investigation. On Dec. 20, she was among two Republicans and two Democrats who signed a letter expressing "our profound concern about recent revelations that the United States Government may have engaged in domestic electronic surveillance without appropriate legal authority." The letter urged the Senate's intelligence and judiciary committees to "jointly undertake an inquiry into the facts and law surrounding these allegations."

In an interview yesterday, Snowe said, "I'm not sure it's going to be essential or necessary" to conduct an inquiry "if we can address the legislative standpoint" that would provide oversight of the surveillance program. "We're learning a lot and we're going to learn more," she said.
From "profound concern," to doubting whether or not an inquiry is even needed. I wonder what she learned "a lot" of, that got her to the point where simply asking the questions is an unnecessary exercise? Surely, the fact that Karl Rove is making the rounds, giving "peptalks" to the Senators, reminding them of the consequences to their positions wouldn't have anything to do with it. And the fact that Snowe's running a re-election campaign for 2006 must also be one of those remarkable coincidences.

It has to be rough, setting out on the campaign trail without a spine.

At least Snowe gives lipservice to oversight. Her mewling attempt to hide her pathetically transparent reversal still puts her several steps above her fellow re-election seeker, Mike DeWine (R-OH). He stopped fellating the administration only long enough to write it a blank check:
He said he is drafting legislation that would "specifically authorize this program" by excluding it from the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which established a secret court to consider government requests for wiretap warrants in anti-terrorist investigations.

The administration would be required to brief regularly a small, bipartisan panel drawn from the House and Senate intelligence committees, DeWine said, and the surveillance program would require congressional reauthorization after five years to remain in place.
Spoken like a loyal Bushista. Nothing like "authorizing" something by codifying your decision to ignore the law. Only in El Presidente's "America" could a "we talk, you listen," briefing and an accountability moment that doesn't even occur every presidential term be called "oversight" with a straight face.

CPAC: The Temple of Bush

Perhaps the most telling aspect of CPAC is how it shows the GOP treating their own. Bob Barr, former Georgia rep was one of the featured speakers.

"Are we losing our lodestar, which is the Bill of Rights?" Barr beseeched the several hundred conservatives at the Omni Shoreham in Woodley Park. "Are we in danger of putting allegiance to party ahead of allegiance to principle?"

Barr answered in the affirmative. "Do we truly remain a society that believes that . . . every president must abide by the law of this country?" he posed. "I, as a conservative, say yes. I hope you as conservatives say yes."

But nobody said anything in the deathly quiet audience. Barr merited only polite applause when he finished, and one man, Richard Sorcinelli, booed him loudly. "I can't believe I'm in a conservative hall listening to him say [Bush] is off course trying to defend the United States," Sorcinelli fumed.

Sound familiar? It recalls the scorn heaped upon George Voinovich last year, when the Ohio senator found himself roundly vilified by so-called "republicans" as a coward and a traitor to his party for failing to support John Bolton's appointment to the United Nations. Nearly universally, the conservative and republican principles that have long been trumpeted by the GOP have been supplanted by unwavering allegiance to George Bush. (See Glenn Greenwald's must read piece and the follow-up over at Unclaimed Territory).
Small government.
Responsible spending.
Limited power.
All gone, apparently dismissed, along with any other belief/right/protection they find inconvenient. Perhaps all those things are "pre 9/11," too.
You hear it in conversations and see it in letters to the editor. It flows, unfiltered, online, from the shameful apologism of blogs like Powerlie to the venomous hostility of the posters at Little Green Fascists and Policy is right (and even legal) simply because El Presidente says it is. Critics are wrong (and, more often than not, "liberal") on no other basis than that they disagreed, in the first place. No other explanation or rebuttal is necessary. Conservative = Bush. Republican = Bush. Anything short of unwavering allegiance puts you on the other side and thus, completely unworthy of consideration.

14 February 2006

CPAC: The gift that keeps on giving

And what Republican gathering would be complete without this classic from the "demonize a minority" section of the playbook:
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) spoke after Mehlman, and he promised that on June 5 he will bring to the floor a constitutional amendment to bar same-sex marriage, and pledged a May vote on eliminating the estate tax, items high on the conservative agenda.

Frist said the amendment is needed to protect the majority of Americans, whom he said oppose same-sex marriage, from "the whims of a few activist judges" who seek to "override the commonsense of the American people." He added, "When America's values are under attack, we need to act."
As soon as more than one "republican division" story is seen in the same news cycle, here comes Bill Frist rushing in to rally the base together to combat the Pink Peril. Apparently, punting on the racial epithet question wasn't enough to earn him his hate-monger merit badge, this week. Not while America needs protecting from the menace of more formalized, committed relationships, anyway. The mission to keeping civilly unionized homosexuals from running, door-to-door, dissolving straight marriages with their magic "irreconcilable difference dust" can only be addressed at the Constitutional level. The fact that pandering to ignorant prejudices = red state red meat is just a coincidental by-product, I'm sure.

And to get the two-fer, combining gay bashing with further tax cut largesse for the wealthiest Americans? Well, in case you didn't know it was an election year, you do now.

13 February 2006

A GOP Primer: The (so-called) Conservative Political Action Conference

It's not often a topic as broad as "what's wrong with the GOP," can be brought into perfect, crystal-clear focus by one event. Last week's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) stripped away years of lies, spin artistry, and media-perpetuated myths to reveal the decayed reality behind the Republican's public facade. Not surprisingly, hatred was at the core of it all.

The GOoPers let their resident buffoon, Ann Coulter, get the crowd going with her customary venomous court jester routine, referring to Muslims--all in good fun, of course,--as "ragheads," snickering over the thought of killing Bill Clinton, and only warning conservative jurists of a terrorist threat to the Supreme Court.

High comedy, wouldn't you say? I can only assume she left the notecards for her immigration bit with all the "wetback" zingers, back stage.

Of course, the same audience that applauded and yukked it up over racial slurs was the very same group the Vice President of the United States was pandering to just two nights later. Maybe it's just me, but it seems that the Vice President's time would be reserved for valued supporters. If that's the case, it's a pretty interesting indicator of whom the GOP is valuing these days. If Deferment Dick's presence left any doubt as to who's being courted, the Rev. Frist erased it when he was asked for his opinion on Coulter's night at the Improv:

"I wasn't there, so I better not comment."

Think about that one for a second. The Senate majority leader wouldn't comment one way or the other on referring to Muslims as "ragheads." Apparently, in the distinguished gentleman from Tenessee's mind, either the appropriate reaction to racist comments isn't an obvious one, or he's concerned about the reaction to his weighing in on the matter.

Not sure which is worse.

Cheney's Got a Gun

Cheney's got a gun
Cheney's got a gun
It was all in good fun
Lost his huntin' buddy  in the sun
What did Whittington do?
After Cheney's last sip of brew?

They say when Cheney wasn't arrested
It was because he had no blame
The man, he had it comin'
Knew that Cheney got a gun
And didn't try to keep out of range

Cheney's got a gun
Cheney's got a gun
Quail season's just begun.
Everybody is on the run
Tell me now it's untrue
What did Whittington do?

He turned his back to look for birdies,
The man has got to be insane
In the brush that he was under,
Dick's white lightning-fueled blunder
Had him rolling on the ground in pain

Run away, Run away from the Chene,
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

Run away, Run away from the Chene,
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

Cheney's got a gun
Cheney's got a gun
Huntin' day was almost done
Everybody is on the run
What did Whittington do?
It's Cheney's last turkey shoot

He likes doing it easy
And "hunting" things straight from a cage
He said 'cause nobody believed me
I do not suffer E.D.
Whit'll never be the same

Run away, run away from the Chene
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Run away, run away, run, run away
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

Cheney's got a gun
Cheney's got a gun

09 February 2006

"Brownie" putting El Presidente on notice?

After loyally stonewalling Congress for Dear Leader, Mike Brown 's tune appears to have changed not that the "president's prerogative" might not keep him out of the slam. From CNN:

In a February 6 letter to White House counsel Harriet Miers, (Michael) Brown's lawyer wrote that Brown continues to respect Bush and his "presidential prerogative" to get candid and confidential advice from top aides.

The letter from Andrew W. Lester also says Brown no longer can rely on being included in that protection because he is a private citizen. "Unless there is specific direction otherwise from the president, including an assurance the president will provide a legal defense to Mr. Brown if he refuses to testify as to these matters, Mr. Brown will testify if asked about particular communications," the lawyer wrote.
Looks like either the preznit s

hows some of that famous generosity toward dedicated toadies, or Brown throws him under the bus, exposing a disaster of incompetance with Executive fingerprints all over it.
Heckuva job, Brownie, heckuva job.

The Republican Culture of Corruption? Just a Lefty myth, of course.

WASHINGTON - Indicted Rep. Tom DeLay, forced to step down as the No. 2 Republican in the House, scored a soft landing Wednesday as GOP leaders rewarded him with a coveted seat on the Appropriations Committee...DeLay was able to rejoin the powerful Appropriations panel — he was a member until becoming majority leader in 2003 — because of a vacancy created after the resignation of Randy "Duke" Cunningham, R-Calif. Cunningham pleaded guilty in November to charges relating to accepting $2.4 million in bribes for government business and other favors.
"Republicans in Congress just can't seem to resist standing by their man," said Bill Burton, spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee."

Really, what else can you say?

08 February 2006

No one knows 'class' like the GOPer Hood-and-Sheet brigade

Well, it's been a long day, trying to keep food down while listening to Righty Whitey, in all his various forms, bloviate indignantly over the unmitigated gall shown by Coretta Scott King's eulogizers when they chose to address issues of equality and social justice at her funeral. Apparently, these days, discussion of such matters constitutes "Bush Bashing." Though, it seems to me (as has been frequently observed), if those topics cannot be addressed without appearing critical of the president, that says far more about administration policy than anything else.

Within moments of the attendees giving Rev. Joseph Lowery a lengthy standing ovation for his comments on the Iraq War and domestic programs for the impoverished, the Wingnuts nearly had a hemorrhage as they furiously lectured on what is, and isn't, appropriate at a funeral. Instantly, they became the ultimate authorities on what constitutes "class."

"They had no class..."

"It was a classless display..."

"President Bush is the only one who showed any class..."

Nevermind that Rev. King, himself, famously took the opportunity to address larger issues at a funeral, and Mrs. King repeatedly used the platform offered by other occasions to do the same thing, Tuesday's service was an affront to common decency. And the backlash was as venomous as it was groundless. Where there weren't broad generalizations about "the Libruls," there was a seething animosity towards the civil rights movement, in general. Courtesy the pigs who wallow at
As to the movement: "If the truth be told, it was an extortion scam to enrich themselves. Mrs. King carried on this tradition. Anytime you wanted to use anything that was MLK, Jr. you had to pay Mrs. King...praise (her) for the loss of a husband and who had to raise her children by herself, but don't latch on to a myth and try to make it true."

And the service, itself: "I don't know the makeup of the King funeral attendees but you can bet a large portion were high profile Dems with an even higher concentration of race hustling poverty pimps."
Extortion scams and race hustling poverty pimps. Talk about class. I'm a little surprised they managed to discuss the Rev. Lowry's address without using the word "uppity."

07 February 2006

Working for consensus, Generalissimo Bush-style

Maybe it's just me, but if I was looking at a situation where even people I considered allies were taking me to task over something I did, I would do everything in my power to fully explain myself in the hopes of regaining their confidence.

For the sake of argument, let's say that, as president, I, oh, I don't know...ordered that American citizens be subject to warrantless surveillance in a heretofore plainly illegal abuse of power. One based on the flimsiest of legal interpretations that would be generously described as "wishful thinking." I'd probably send a platoon of lawyers to all the relevant parties, ready to cite chapter and verse on every possible precedent for my actions. But that's just me. This is El Presidente's "America," where the only answer is to send in your hatchet man to rough some people up. From The Moonie Times' Insight on the News:
Rove counting heads on the Senate Judiciary Committee

The White House has been twisting arms to ensure that no Republican member votes against President Bush in the Senate Judiciary Committee�s investigation of the administration's unauthorized wiretapping.

Congressional sources said Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove has threatened to blacklist any Republican who votes against the president. The sources said the blacklist would mean a halt in any White House political or financial support of senators running for re-election in November.

"It's hardball all the way," a senior GOP congressional aide said.

The sources said the administration has been alarmed over the damage that could result from the Senate hearings, which began on Monday, Feb. 6. They said the defection of even a handful of Republican committee members could result in a determination that the president violated the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Such a determination could lead to impeachment proceedings.

Over the last few weeks, Mr. Rove has been calling in virtually every Republican on the Senate committee as well as the leadership in Congress. The sources said Mr. Rove's message has been that a vote against Mr. Bush would destroy GOP prospects in congressional elections.

"He's [Rove] lining them up one by one," another congressional source said.

Mr. Rove is leading the White House campaign to help the GOP in November�s congressional elections. The sources said the White House has offered to help loyalists with money and free publicity, such as appearances and photo-ops with the president.

Those deemed disloyal to Mr. Rove would appear on his blacklist. The sources said dozens of GOP members in the House and Senate are on that list.

So far, only a handful of GOP senators have questioned Mr. Rove's tactics.

Some have raised doubts about Mr. Rove's strategy of painting the Democrats, who have opposed unwarranted surveillance, as being dismissive of the threat posed by al Qaeda terrorists.

"Well, I didn't like what Mr. Rove said, because it frames terrorism and the issue of terrorism and everything that goes with it, whether it's the renewal of the Patriot Act or the NSA wiretapping, in a political context," said Sen. Chuck Hagel, Nebraska Republican.
After all, why explain when you can intimidate the principled and bribe the servile? Dear Leader will have to start strutting about in epaulettes and riding breeches for this administration to get any closer to whatever Central American junta it's styled after.

Babbling 'Berto's Big Day

For all the tough talk out of Arlen Specter, these hearings are shaping up to be a joke. Out of the gate, the GOPers on the committee close ranks to block an effort to have Gonzales give his testimony under oath. When Feingold presses on it, Snarlin' Arlen declares that, "This is really not a very good way to begin this hearing."

No shit.

What part is less good, the fact that the witness is an apparent perjurer or the fact that wanting such a man sworn in is treated as a nuisance? Not surprsingly, the "not good" continued when Gonzo was pressed on exactly what sort of harm Porter Goss and Dick Cheney were stridently--and vaguely--bleating about coming from this investigation.
Gonzales: "I think, based on my experience, it is true -- you would assume that the enemy is presuming that we are engaged in some kind of surveillance.

But if they're not reminded about it all the time in the newspapers and in stories, they sometimes forget."
They forget? Well then, I guess that means if El Presidente would only stop using terrorism and 9/11 as a club on EVERY policy initiative he has, there'd be even more careless slip-ups we could capitalize on, wouldn't there? Might just have to look into that one.

And from the stupefying to the stupid:
Gonzales: "President Washington, President Lincoln, President Wilson, President Roosevelt have all authorized electronic surveillance on a far broader scale."
Word has it that Abe even engaged in a tricky bit of psychological warfare, orchestrating a Google-bombing campaign that caused gay porn to pop up as the number one hit everytime someone searched "Jefferson Davis" or "Robert E. Lee."

04 February 2006

Operation: Lay the Groundwork, Part II

"The Iranian regime is today the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism." -- Donald Rumsfeld, 02/04/2006
Sound familiar?
"We clearly know that there were in the past and have been contacts between senior Iraqi officials and members of al Qaeda going back for actually quite a long time," Rice said. "We know too that several of the (al Qaeda) detainees, in particular some high-ranking detainees, have said that Iraq provided some training to al Qaeda in chemical weapons development." -- Condoleezza Rice, 09/25/2002

"We've learned that Iraq has trained al-Qaeda members in bomb-making and poisons and deadly gases ... Alliance with terrorists could allow the Iraqi regime to attack America without leaving any fingerprints." -- George Bush, 10/07/2002

"Evidence from intelligence sources, secret communications and statements by people now in custody reveal that Saddam Hussein aids and protects terrorists, including members of Al Qaida." -- State of the Union Address, 1/28/2003
Just two weeks ago, Rove crawled out from his hole to lay out the GOP's strategy for this year's elections: paper over the party's corruption and disregard for the law by making the war on terror the central issue. And now, all of a sudden, the rhetoric changes from Iran's "blackmailing the world," and threats to Israel, to it being the leading state sponsor of terrorism. Given the parties involved, to suggest that that shift is a coincidence is either hopelessly naive, or an insult to the listener's intelligence.

So does anyone really believe Rummy when he says, "We must continue to work together to seek a diplomatic solution to stopping the development of (Iran's) uranium enrichment program?"

Didn't think so.

01 February 2006


Percentage of people who:

Think country is on the wrong track: 57

Want warrants for citizens under terror investigation: 53

Are extremely/quite concerned warrantless wiretaps could be misused: 56

Approve of the job George Bush is doing as president: 39

Disapprove: 54

But remember: "Tonight the state of our Union is strong – and together we will make it stronger."

Damn Lies...

Administration backs off Bush's vow to reduce Mideast oil imports

By Kevin G. Hall
Knight Ridder Newspapers

WASHINGTON - One day after President Bush vowed to reduce America's dependence on Middle East oil by cutting imports from there 75 percent by 2025, his energy secretary and national economic adviser said Wednesday that the president didn't mean it literally.

What the president meant, they said in a conference call with reporters, was that alternative fuels could displace an amount of oil imports equivalent to most of what America is expected to import from the Middle East in 2025.

But America still would import oil from the Middle East, because that's where the greatest oil supplies are.

The president's State of the Union reference to Mideast oil made headlines nationwide Wednesday because of his assertion that "America is addicted to oil" and his call to "break this addiction."

Bush vowed to fund research into better batteries for hybrid vehicles and more production of the alternative fuel ethanol, setting a lofty goal of replacing "more than 75 percent of our oil imports from the Middle East by 2025."

He pledged to "move beyond a petroleum-based economy and make our dependence on Middle Eastern oil a thing of the past."

Not exactly, though, it turns out.

"This was purely an example," Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said.
He "didn't mean it literally?" Why not just come out and say he had his fingers crossed, why don't you? How about it, traditional conservatives, where does lying in the State of the Union rank with criminal invasion of privacy and drunken sailor-like fiscal policy on your list of government "do's?"


Gonzales Is Challenged on Wiretaps

By Carol D. Leonnig
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 31, 2006; Page A07

Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.) charged yesterday that Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales misled the Senate during his confirmation hearing a year ago when he appeared to try to avoid answering a question about whether the president could authorize warrantless wiretapping of U.S. citizens.

In a letter to the attorney general yesterday, Feingold demanded to know why Gonzales dismissed the senator's question about warrantless eavesdropping as a "hypothetical situation" during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in January 2005. At the hearing, Feingold asked Gonzales where the president's authority ends and whether Gonzales believed the president could, for example, act in contravention of existing criminal laws and spy on U.S. citizens without a warrant.

Gonzales said that it was impossible to answer such a hypothetical question but that it was "not the policy or the agenda of this president" to authorize actions that conflict with existing law. He added that he would hope to alert Congress if the president ever chose to authorize warrantless surveillance, according to a transcript of the hearing.

In fact, the president did secretly authorize the National Security Agency to begin warrantless monitoring of calls and e-mails between the United States and other nations soon after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The program, publicly revealed in media reports last month, was unknown to Feingold and his staff at the time Feingold questioned Gonzales, according to a staff member. Feingold's aides developed the 2005 questions based on privacy advocates' concerns about broad interpretations of executive power.

Gonzales was White House counsel at the time the program began and has since acknowledged his role in affirming the president's authority to launch the surveillance effort. Gonzales is scheduled to testify Monday before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the program's legal rationale.

"It now appears that the Attorney General was not being straight with the Judiciary Committee and he has some explaining to do," Feingold said in a statement yesterday.

A Justice Department spokesman said yesterday the department had not yet reviewed the Feingold letter and could not comment.
Just a "by the way" on this: During his confirmation hearings, 'Berto, here, was UNDER OATH. "Not being straight," Sen. Feingold? I always thought that taking that kind of liberty with the truth was called "perjury."

The Attorney General of the United States lies to Congress...and it rates page A-7. 'Course, in the WaPo, these days, when it comes to covering administration malfeasance--instead of their customary covering it up--that's the equivalent of a 25-point, front page headline above the fold.

(Honestly, I was pleasantly surprised by their decision to simply quote Gonzales and juxtapose it with what he actually knew at the time, rather than repeatedly framing it as a "democrats say..." situation. "Steno" Sue Schmidt and Deb Howell must've been out of the office, I guess...)
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