The GOP 2016 presidential candidates will again be split into two sessions for tonight's debates on CNN, but the pool is getting smaller, as Rick Perry suspended his campaign, bowing out before being in the second-tier debates for a second time, and former Virgina governor Jim Gilmore, with a hair above 0% nationally, will participate ... via Twitter*. But the biggest news on the main stage is the inclusion of Carly Fiorina, thanks to her rise in the few polls since the Fox debate (previously). [more inside]
Tonight (Thurs., Aug. 6, 2015) is the first official** televised debate for Republican presidential candidates, to be held in two separate events on Fox. First, there's the happy hour debate at 5 PM EST, with the seven candidates who didn't make the final cut*. At 9 PM EST, the Prime Time debate takes place with the top 10 candidates. You can watch online, if you have cable authentication, but you can also participate through Facebook, who are co-presenting the debates. Otherwise, wait until after the show for clips to start surfacing, or you can follow live-blogging a-plenty (NPR | New York Times | The State | Reason), and you can add your two bits with the Fox News Election HQ 2016 App. [more inside]
As we approach the final 500 days to the 2016 US presidential election, and with a smorgasbord of POTUS wannabes, John Ellis Bush has revealed, through the medium of the Twitter, his campaign logo. A day before the bid of "Veto Corleone" is launched in Florida, and a day after Hillary Clinton formally launched her campaign through a rally and smalltown networking, Jeb is the betting favorite to be the Republican candidate, with strong showings for Marco Rubio and Scott Walker. He's also raised a bit of money; however, this hasn't been spent on a completely new logo (also here and here and here and possibly here). Parodies are also starting, as are enhancements. Despite this, Hillary remains the clear favorite to be the next POTUS, with George Clooney a 150/1 outsider at several bookmakers).
Worried about social-network data mining? Facebook hires Ted Ullyot, former right-hand man to former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, as its general counsel. Tapping Ullyot, who worked on the infamous torture memo and other illustrious projects, is a sign that the burgeoning Scrabble platform "is a little more grown-up," says Facebook public-policy VP Elliot Schrage.
Cross another item off of President Bush's to-do list before he leaves the White House: hobbling the Endangered Species Act and allowing federal agencies to gauge the environmental impact of their projects for themselves. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne said the changes were needed to ensure that the ESA would not be used as a "back door" to regulate greenhouse gases.
“You could almost see their dicks getting hard as they got new ideas." A Vanity Fair reporter investigates the chain of command that tossed out the Geneva Conventions and instituted coercive interrogation techniques -- some might call them torture or even war crimes -- in Bush's Global War on Terror. UC Berkeley law professor John Yoo's now-obsolete 81-page memo to the Pentagon in 2003 [available as PDFs here and here] was crucial, offering a broad range of legal justifications and deniability for disregarding international law in the name of "self-defense." Others say that Yoo was just making "a clear point about the limits of Congress to intrude on the executive branch in its exercise of duties as Commander in Chief." [previously here and here.]
... Karl Rove, a handful of the party's most tech-savvy computer gurus and the former Republican Ohio Secretary of State, created, owned and operated the vote-counting system...
Network Hosting Attorney Scandal E-Mails Also Hosted Ohio's 2004 Election Results --...more than ample documentation to show that on Election Night 2004, Ohio's "official" Secretary of State website -- which gave the world the presidential election results -- was redirected from an Ohio government server to a group of servers that contain scores of Republican web sites, including the secret White House e-mail accounts that have emerged in the scandal surrounding Attorney General Alberto Gonzales's firing of eight federal prosecutors. ...
Politics/PlameFilter: In opening arguments today in the Plame investigation perjury case against Vice President Cheney's former Chief of Staff I. Lewis Libby, the prosecutor portrayed Libby as an agent of a Cheney-driven media offensive. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the day came from Libby's attorney, who portrayed his client as a White House-chosen scapegoat for Karl Rove's misdeeds. A conservative reporter saw in Libby's emerging defense a "dramatic split inside the Bush White House." An MSNBC host asked whether this hullabaloo could lead to Cheney's resignation. Background on the case. Liveblogging of today's arguments from an anti-administration perspective.
"Then my photography started to shift; everything had to be very clean and Republican, straight and perfect... Everything is staged and controlled... It's the complete opposite of war photography."
War photographer Christopher Morris's new exhibit and book: "My America".
War photographer Christopher Morris's new exhibit and book: "My America".
Keith Olbermann's Edward R. Murrow* moment: A Textbook Definition of Cowardice. MSNBC's host excoriates Bush, FOX News host Chris Wallace, and the media for its response to former president Clinton's "tantrum" [still being discussed here]. Note: Don't just read the transcript. Watch the video, because Olbermann's use of visuals adds greatly to the power of his presentation. No matter which side of the red/blue-state divide you're on, students of politics and media will be reviewing this clip for years to come as a little cultural watershed -- if only a consummate example of "Democrat" angerTM.
"I'm not here for the Iraqis. I'm here for George Bush." How the reconstruction of Iraq was bungled by inexperienced staffers and officials who passed the GOP's loyalty test -- including their views on Roe v. Wade. A WashPost excerpt from Rajiv Chandrasekaran's new exposé Imperial Life in the Emerald City. (Corruption in Iraq previously discussed here.)
Keep Bush away from the press. Joe Scarborough (in the news lately for asking rude questions about the President's intelligence) opines that "If George Bush has lost his ability to give a commanding presser, then stage manage him differently. Play to his strengths... Show him only in settings where he is in control." Curiously, while Bush's press conferences have become unsetllingly less coherent in recent days -- even for him -- the so-called liberal media and even the blogosphere have barely mentioned it (perhaps in the spirit of preserving the dignity of the office, like FDR's wheelchair?) Example: watch this video -- what happens at 1:34 or so, right before the President abruptly terminates the questioning? Will Bush in his twilight years, as Foxborough advises, become like Ronald Reagan, protected from public humiliation by his faithful staff?
The practical future of the country formerly known as Iraq. [NewsFilter, but a significant acknowledgement of something long-in-coming.]
Mexico's election: now being recounted, but some are saying it was stolen with our help. Many countries in Latin and South America have been moving to the left lately, following in the footsteps of Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia and Chile. Argentina actually caught us messing with things during their election, too. Exit polls in Mexico (as in Florida 2000 and Ohio 2004) showed a lead for the more leftist (relatively) candidate, and for those who scoff at using exit polls as evidence--in 2004, US Republican Senator Richard Lugar, in Kiev, cited the divergence of exit polls and official polls as solid evidence of “blatant fraud” in the vote count in Ukraine. As a result, the Bush Administration refused to recognize the Ukraine government’s official vote tally. So, honest election, or what?
Majority Leader Boehner’s Confidential Strategy Memo For Thursday’s Iraq Debate On Thursday, the House of Representatives will hold a debate on the Iraq war. Media reports say Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) “hopes to match the serious, dignified tone of deliberation that preceded the Gulf war, in 1991.” ThinkProgress has obtained a “Confidential Messaging Memo” from Boehner instructing his caucus to conduct a very different kind of deliberation. Here’s a quick summary:
There's a move afoot to censure Jimmy Carter instead of, say, anyone actually responsible for making the world a more dangerous place. I call "attacking the messenger by proxy," or at least, some serious Rove-ian misdirection.
NewsFilter: Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the chapel, teh gay menace strikes again. The GOP-dominated Senate Judiciary Committee backs the Constitutional amendment to prohibit states from recognizing same-sex marriages. In a fractious hearing, Republican chairman Arlen Specter shouted "Good riddance!" when Senator Russ Feingold (D-Wisconsin) walked out. Laura Bush recently advised her party's candidates not to campaign on this issue and to handle it with "great sensitivity." Maybe next time.
Rollback. Media critic Jay Rosen rises above the McClellan/"shake-up" foofaraw to put several pieces of the puzzle together and show how the Bush administration has significantly altered the long-standing relationship of the press to the White House. (More from Rosen here.) Another piece that fits: Donald Rumsfeld's bold, frequent, and rarely-challenged assertions that the American press is being expertly "manipulated" by Al Qaeda "media committees" in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Whooops! While making a required filing to the state ethics commission, Ohio Secretary of State and gubernatorial candidate Kenneth Blackwell finds Diebold shares in his stock portfolio that he now claims to have bought "accidentally." Yes, that Diebold -- the e-voting company whose chairman promised to "deliver the vote" to George Bush. And yes, that Blackwell, whose state helped deliver the White House to the GOP. Blackwell insists that the humble amount of Diebold stock was in one of those "blind trust" type of arrangements that worked out so rewardingly for Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. [newsfilter via RawStory.]
Former GOP senior strategist Kevin Phillips wrote the political Bible of the New Right, The Emerging Republican Majority. He coined the term "Sun Belt." He voted for Reagan twice and still considers himself a staunch Republican. But now Phillips, the author of a new book called American Theocracy, is warning that the party of George Bush and Karl Rove ("W brand Republicans," in the phrase of GOP pollster Jan van Lohuizen) has become "God's own party" -- the champion of a convergence of "petroleum-defined national security; a crusading, simplistic Christianity; and a reckless credit-feeding financial complex." Phillips also cautions that the W-brand party's "sense of how to win elections comes out of a CIA manual, not out of the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution." [Phillips was also discussed here.]
Intrigues at the White House: Andrew Card, Bush's longtime chief of staff -- the guy who briefly interrupted the President's reading of The Pet Goat one rough morning in 2001 and took heat for the Katrina and Dubai debacles -- is out, replaced by budget director "Yosh" Bolten, the one-time founder of a club called "Bikers for Bush." Meanwhile, is Rove rolling over for Patrick Fitzgerald, and if so, what's the angle?
"Don't worry Mr. President, we have Kansas surrounded." Warrantless searches: they're not just for wiretaps anymore. U.S. News and World Report probes the Bush administration's covert drive to conduct physical searches of American homes without court approval.
"Resolved that the United States Senate does hereby censure George W. Bush, president of the United States, and does condemn his unlawful authorization of wiretaps of Americans." Invoking "high crimes and misdemeanors," Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold introduces a motion to censure [PDF link] President Bush for his controversial, legally dubious NSA wiretapping program. Feingold declares: "The President must be held accountable for authorizing a program that clearly violates the law." Republican leader Frist retorts: "It's a crazy political move" that sends a "terrible" signal to Iran. Democratic bloggers say: Call your senator. [More legal fallout from the NSA program recently discussed here.]
Newsfilter: Secret arrests, secret renditions, secret interrogations in secret jails, and now, secret rulings from US federal judges. More fallout from the Bush administration's NSA domestic-spying program [recently discussed here].
'The committee is, to put it bluntly, basically under the control of the White House," said Jay Rockefeller, vice-president of the Senate Intelligence Committee, after the committee quashed a broad inquiry into the legality of the NSA spying on Americans -- despite an increasing number of legal scholars coming forward and declaring that the program is "blatantly illegal," in the words of Yale Law School dean Harold Koh. Meanwhile, the GOP proposes giving spying on Americans the "force of law" while subjecting it to "rigorous oversight."
Notice: henceforth, the Minister of War shall address the people only through the Ministry of Truth. The story-behind-the-story of the Vice President's hunting mishap is the denigration of the MSMTM as the traditional proxy of the public interest, says NYU journalism professor and media critic Jay Rosen. "It strikes me that the Corpus Christi Caller-Times is just as valid a news outlet as The New York Times is," Cheney told cherry-picked Fox "News" correspondent Brit Hume yesterday. GOP spokesperson Mary Matalin underlined the point by saying that Cheney considered holding a news conference, but that "would have meant a lot of grandstanding" by reporters; Donald Rumsfeld often goes even farther, claiming that terrorist organizations manipulate the American press directly through "media committees." Judging by the administration's contempt for the Fourth Estate, says Rosen, "The public visibility of the presidency itself is under revision. More of it lies in shadow all the time. Non-communication has become the standard procedure, not a breakdown in practice but the essence of it." Even arch-conservative pundits like George Will are starting to get nervous about the lack of check and balances under the current regime. There's no doubt that the White House press corps seems angrier these days -- but are they missing the bigger stories by focusing their wrath on Scott McClellan's birdshot spin?
What unites hardliners like Michelle Malkin, Ann Coulter, and Rush Limbaugh -- their uncompromisingly conservative take on politics? In a provocative blog post titled Do Bush followers have a political ideology?, Glenn Greenwald persuasively argues otherwise. He believes that the conservative movement -- traditionally against big government, excessive spending, and federal intrusion into the private lives of Americans -- has been hijacked by something much more dangerous: an authoritarian cult of personality, or as Greenwald puts it, "a form of highly emotional mass theater masquerading as political debate."
"It has become clear that official intelligence was not relied on in making even the most significant national security decisions, that intelligence was misused publicly to justify decisions already made, that damaging ill will developed between [Bush] policymakers and intelligence officers, and that the intelligence community's own work was politicized," writes former CIA official Paul Pillar, coordinator of U.S. intelligence on the Middle East until 2005, in an article soon to appear in Foreign Affairs, hardly a radical rag. More confirmation that Seymour Hersh was right about the administration "cherry-picking" intelligence to justify a foregone conclusion to go to war in Iraq.
Evidence of a slippery slope continued: Newsweek reports that White House counsel Steve Bradbury believes President Bush can order killings on US soil as part of the Terrorist-Surveillance ProgramTM. Meanwhile, while Attorney General Gonzales "lashes out" at the media and insists that the TSPTM is "not a dragnet that sucks in all conversation and uses computer searches to pick out calls of interest," the Washington Post reports it's precisely that -- "computer-controlled systems collect and sift basic information about hundreds of thousands of faxes, e-mails and telephone calls into and out of the United States before selecting the ones for scrutiny by human eyes and ears" -- and has led to very few leads. (See also discussion of Arlen Specter and the legality of the TSPTM here.)
Then: Q - Mr. Secretary, on Iraq, how much money do you think the Department of Defense would need to pay for a war with Iraq? Rumsfeld - Well, the Office of Management and Budget, has come up come up with a number that's something under $50 billion for the cost. How much of that would be the U.S. burden, and how much would be other countries, is an open question. And now: The estimated cost to US taxpayers of the Iraq war to date is $250 billion and rising, or $100,000 per minute. Total cost of the Bush doctrine of spreading "democracy" since September 11th -- half a trillion dollars, or nearly the cost of the 13 years of the Vietnam War, adjusted for inflation. What else could we have done with that kind of money? Also see here.
Special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald says emails relevant to the Valerie Plame leak investigation have gone missing from the White House. "In an adundance of caution," Fitzgerald wrote [PDF] to "Scooter" Libby's lawyers on January 23, "we advise you that we have learned that not all email of the Office of the Vice President and the Executive Office of President for certain time periods in 2003 was preserved through the normal archiving process on the White House computer system." Might this help explain why Alberto Gonzales -- now the Attorney General, and lately so busy mustering arguments to assert that Bush's NSA domestic-spying program is "legal" -- waited 12 hours before instructing White House staff to preserve documents relevant to the leak investigation after telling Andrew Card about it? Shades of the late, great yoga instructor, Rose Mary Woods. [More on Plame here.]
Bush administration tries to silence NASA's chief climate expert James Hansen from granting interviews about global warming. Meanwhile, a new study by Australian researchers confirms that global sea levels are rising, and may make island nations like Tuvalu and the Maldives uninhabitable by the end of the century. [via RawStory]
Shades of Stalin's pre-Photoshop erasing of Trotsky from history: Joanne Amos admits to Talking Points Memo's Josh Marshall that her GOP-friendly company, Reflections Photography, scrubbed images of President Bush with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff from both their online archive and CD record of official events. [Photos previously discussed here.]
The (Broken) Triangle: Progressive Bloggers in the Wilderness. The Huffington Post's Peter Daou, whose dour forecast of how Bush and lazy media would spin away the NSA scandal proved prescient, on why "netroots activists" can't get traction: "It's slow-motion-car-wreck painful, and most certainly NOT where the left's triangle should be a half decade into the new millennium, as the Bush-propping machine hums and whirrs, poll numbers rise and fall, Iraq bleeds, scandal dissolves into scandal, terror speech blends into terror speech. The landscape is there for everyone to see, to analyze. Enough time has elapsed to make the system transparent. It is dismaying for netroots activists to see the same mistakes repeated..."
Is your name James Moore? If so, you may be a terrorist. Or at least the NSA thinks so, having added that name -- which also happens to be the name of the author of Bush's Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential -- to its mysteriously targeted and infamously mismanaged "No-Fly" list [previously discussed here.]
"I learned this week that on December 6, Bush summoned Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger and executive editor Bill Keller to the Oval Office in a futile attempt to talk them out of running the story..." President Bush really did not want journalists to reveal his NSA spying program against Americans [discussed here.] And in yesterday's rare press conference, the President said: "An open debate about law would say to the enemy, 'Here's what we're going to do.' And this is an enemy which adjusts... Any public hearings on programs will say to the enemy, 'Here's what they do. Adjust.' This is a war." Neocon guru William Kristol argues that talk of Bush being an "imperial" president" is "demagogic" and "irresponsible" since "Congress has the right and the ability to judge whether President Bush has in fact used his executive discretion soundly." What is the role of "open debate" in a war against terror that may last for decades?
[TotalitarianismFilter] Don't be asking your college librarian for a copy of that Little Red Book to do a class assignment, or your parents might get a visit from the good folks at the Department of Homeland Security. More evidence that the Bush administration cannot restrain itself when granted enhanced surveillance powers.
Bush in the Bubble. Newsweek's analysis of the man who is possibly "the most isolated president in modern history."
You know that ranger job in the National Park Service that you're gonna apply for as soon as you get through school or quit waiting tables? Fuhgeddaboutit, unless you've pledged your loyalty to the
Ba'ath party President's Management Agenda and its roster of "faith-based and community initiatives," "competitive sourcing," etcetera, and Interior Secretary Gale Norton's "4C's," which seem to have to do with communication, consultation, cooperation, conservation, and Clinton-bashing. (Oh, sorry, that's 5 C's. It's just that Norton can't seem to stop denigrating "the previous administration" -- while advocating drilling in ANWR -- for such absurd ideas as banning snowmobiles from Yellowstone.)
Ethicsgate continues: Today, the bipartisan Government Accountability Office declared that the Bush administration broke the law by paying Armstrong Williams to write favorable columns about the No Child Left Behind Act, funneling public funds to a PR firm to sift through news stories and gauge media perception of Bush policies, and financing phony TV news reports giving the President's education policies "an A-plus," creating what the GAO called "covert propaganda." [Williams et. al. previously discussed here.]
"The president was cautious the president was prudent the president did what a commander in chief should do. No matter how you try to blame it on the president the actual responsibility for it really would be for the troops that were there. Did they search carefully enough? Didn't they search carefully enough?" Rudy Giuliani blames the troops for the current missing explosives scandal. (340K wmv file). Can we finally stop talking about this hack as a viable candidate for national office?
"Liberals want to ban the bible!" Guess I missed that meeting where "liberals" decided on this.
The upcoming entertainment lineup for the GOP convention next week is mostly country music, but this article mentions that Stephen Baldwin will be there. Yep, you heard me, a Baldwin. Alec Baldwin was at the DNC last month, and now it's brother vs. brother, Baldwin vs. Baldwin. Remember when you're voting this fall that it's basically a best of the Baldwins contest. You either like Alec, or Stephen, but not both. Now choose your
poison Baldwin. [via devoter]
State of the Union scorecard. The president will deliver his State of the Union address on Monday night. Tompaine.com makes it easy to keep score at home. (via TPM)
Astroturfing gone bad. Why aren't newspaper editors fighting this? They've seen it before. Its one thing to offer a press release and another to ask visitors of the Bush-Cheney website to mail their newspapers the same form letter.
Republicans for Dean... but not in the way you might think. An interesting op-ed piece by David Brooks on why a Dean candidacy might be good news for the Bush team. (NYTimes, but no registration required.)
Tom DeLay off to derail Bush's road map to peace. Calls proposed Palestinian state a, "a sovereign state of terrorists." With even Arial Sharon supporting the Road Map will the bigger challenges come from the fundamentalist infested GOP itself? [more]
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