Miss me yet? A mysterious billboard has cropped up on I-35 in Wyoming. Nobody knows who paid for it, and the media has picked up the story. [more inside]
From Juan Cole: Informed Comment "Top Ten Worst Things about the Bush Decade; Or, the Rise of the New Oligarchs".
For your perusal: The New FBI Operations Manual. "Agents may begin such assessments against a target without a particular factual justification. The basis for such an inquiry “cannot be arbitrary or groundless speculation,” the manual says, but the standard is “difficult to define.”
- "Matt Latimer worked as one of Dubya’s speechwriters during the president’s final twenty-two months in office. He was there to help sell the surge to a skeptical public. He was there as we pretended that the fundamentals of the economy were strong. And he was there to see a president who failed to grasp his own $700 billion bailout package—even as he was pitching it to the American public on live TV."
Demanding that you alone be held accountable and no one else be scapegoated would itself be an act of honor. It would draw a line between the past and the future in the same way that Lincoln’s defense of his brief suspensions of habeas corpus conceded Congress’s sole right to remove this core constitutional provision, but defended his action as a necessary emergency measure because a mass rebellion “had subverted the whole of the laws.” You do not deserve to go down in history as the president who brought torture into the American system and refused to take responsibility for it..An Open Letter to George W Bush
Big Newsfilter: US Attorney General Holder appoints a prosecutor to investigate abusive CIA interrogations in the War on Terror. [more inside]
US News reports that in a new tell-all book, Tom Ridge admits manipulating terror threat levels for political motives. In the forthcoming book, Ridge reportedly acknowledges for the first time that he was pushed to raise the security alert on the eve of President Bush's re-election, something he "saw as politically motivated and worth resigning over." But as The Atlantic points out, Ridge apparently gave in to the White House demands anyway, resigning only after the election. Huffington Post also provides additional discussion on this developing story.
A conservative blogger talks about what the Republicans are really (should really be) mad about - Bush's terrible economic and fiscal legacy.
Newsweek has "four knowledgable sources" who claim attorney general Eric Holder is considering appointing a special prosecutor to investigate Bush administration interrogation practices. (h/t Glenn Greenwald).
Bill Maher's criticism of Obama? Be more like Bush. ...And just like Lindsey [Lohan], we see your name in the paper a lot, but we're kind of wondering when you're actually going to do something. Follow up of his statements with Keith Olbermann. ...But where's the beef? And it's easy to make speeches; what's hard to do is stand up against corporations. Corporations and their incredible strength are what have ruined this country so far, and this president -- we thought -- might be the one to stand up to them. I'm losing hope. I still have audacity, but my hope is fading.
“This confrontation is willed by God, who wants to use this conflict to erase his people’s enemies before a New Age begins”. Chirac is said to have been stupefied and disturbed by Bush’s invocation of Biblical prophesy to justify the war in Iraq and “wondered how someone could be so superficial and fanatical in their beliefs” according to Jean-Claude Maurice in his book Si vous le répétez, je démentirai... published by Plon [more inside]
"An internal Justice Department inquiry into the conduct of Bush administration lawyers who wrote secret memorandums authorizing brutal interrogations has concluded that the authors committed serious lapses of judgment but should not be criminally prosecuted... The report by the Office of Professional Responsibility, an internal ethics unit within the Justice Department, is also likely to ask that state bar associations consider possible disciplinary action, including reprimands or even disbarment, for some of the lawyers involved in writing the legal opinions..." Meanwhile, "former Bush administration officials are launching a behind-the-scenes lobbying campaign to urge Justice Department leaders to soften" the report.
Recently, Fmr. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was asked some pointed torture questions by two Stanford students after an informal reception in a dorm building (transcript). Did she unwittingly confess to a role in a criminal conspiracy? Signs point to yes. [more inside]
Nationalize. Reorganize. Decentralize. anewwayforward.org wants you to organize a protest on April 11th to express your frustration and disapproval with how our elected officials have handled the economic crisis.
Iraqi shoe-thrower sentenced to three years in jail. Can an internet campaign for his release be far behind?
Endangered Species Act Protections Restored by President Obama. Previous regulation made it easier to start projects without consulting scientists.
The Obama Justice Department has released nine legal memos from the Bush administration that assert broad extra-Constitutional powers for the president. The memos assert that both the First and Fourth Amendments may be subordinated to the needs of wartime. [more inside]
The first female White House chef, a naturalized Philippina named Cristeta Comerford, was appointed by George W. Bush - who told Philippine President Gloria Arroyo, "I am reminded of the great talent of our Philippine Americans when I eat dinner at the White House." Despite the urging of American food icon Alice Waters, President Obama has left Comerford in charge of the White House kitchens - though he's keeping quiet about it. But on the basis of the wines served at Obama's Inauguration Day lunch, oenophiles are still hoping for change. (more First Food posts here and here )
In 2007, Dubya wrote an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal. Obama has followed suit with an op-ed article in the Washington Post. Both sites mention that The writer "is the president of the United States." Have we entered a new era of the bully pulpit?
Leaving office, President Bush claimed "that he took 'a deliberate and comprehensive approach' to preventing terrorism that combined military action overseas with strong defensive measures at home."
[As early as 2002] "We knew that the mortgage-brokerage industry was corrupt... Where we would have gotten a sense of what was really going on was the point where the mortgage was sold knowing that it was a piece of dung and it would be turned into a security. But the agents with the expertise had been diverted to counterterrorism."
[. . . . FBI Director Robert] "Mueller actually circumvented the Justice Department and the OMB to get resources. But he was shut down" by the [Bush A]dministration. [. . . . Testifying in October 2004, ] Chris Swecker, then assistant director of the criminal investigation division said ... "The potential impact of mortgage fraud on financial institutions in the stock market is clear. If fraudulent practices become systemic within the mortgage industry and mortgage fraud is allowed to become unrestrained, it will ultimately place financial institutions at risk and have adverse effects on the stock market."
"George Bush was not a conservative, but rather a curious hybrid of reactionary and progressive." "The Obama presidency is not a revolution, but instead a restoration. The "values upon which our success depends", Obama reassures America, "these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout history". He asks for a "return to these truths". Nothing new is needed, neither fresh ideas about the human condition's betterment nor utopias; merely a return to and vindication of the past."
William Kristol's last column. President Bush's last photographs (scroll down to the end of the article or search for "three versions").
Wired: Obama Sides With Bush in Spy Case. "The Obama administration fell in line with the Bush administration Thursday when it urged a federal judge to set aside a ruling in a closely watched spy case weighing whether a U.S. president may bypass Congress and establish a program of eavesdropping on Americans without warrants."
Russell Tice, former NSA security analyst, just came on the Keith Olbermann show revealing that the NSA's domestic surveillance programs were not only far greater in scope than formerly thought, but also were specifically targeted at journalists.
After the Obama party, the Bush team continues to spin. "Whether Barack Obama is standing on the Capitol steps to be sworn in a second time depends on whether he succeeds in replicating Bush's achievement." "If Obama weakens any of the defenses Bush put in place and terrorists strike our country again, Americans will hold Obama responsible -- and the Democratic Party could find itself unelectable for a generation."
Ensuring that at least someone gets his legacy right, Ex-President Bush has on his final day in office commissioned a series of Official Legacy Booklets with such unlikely titles as 100 Things Americans May Not Know About the Bush Administration Record. These weighty tomes inform us, for example, that "the Afghan economy has doubled since 2001"-- an accomplishment perhaps assisted by the arrival of American forces spending some $3 billion per month there. [more inside]
Margot & the Nuclear So and So's (page auto-starts music, loads slowly) bid farewell to President Bush in music video form.
Special 3-page edition of Harper’s Index: A retrospective of the Bush era.
To celebrate the Inauguration, Ben and Jerry's has issued a new ice cream flavor, Yes, PeCan, with profits donated to the Common Cause Education Fund. There's a Reddit thread for suggestions for flavors commemorating Bush/Cheney. [more inside]
Bringing Justice to the War on Terrorism. 3 views on how the incoming administration should deal with the legal legacy of Bush Administration policies like torture, surveillance, and extraordinary rendition. Charles Fried makes the case against criminal prosecutions, Dahlia Lithwick makes the case for investigations followed by prosecutions, and Jack Balkin argues for truth commissions. [Via]
Dear President Bush, Thanks for the memories. You will be missed. Thanks for making people care. And don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out. Wishing you all the best, A Citizen.
On December 4, 2008, at NYC's Symphony Space, NPR's Intelligence Squared program conducted an Oxford-style debate. As their future debate schedules in Australia, England, and America show, the propositions of such debates are routinely phrased strongly to provoke debate, and this was no exception. The motion that was put forward was: "Resolved, that Bush 43 is the worst President of the last 50 years." [mp3, 23 MB, 50 min.] What lifts this above the reams of media and multimedia already spent on this issue is that, moderated by ABC's John Donvan, this premise was debated — under formal debate guidelines — by Jacob Weisberg, Sir Simon Jenkins, Bill Kristol, and ... Karl Rove. [more inside]
Farewell to All That An illuminating and depressing Oral History of the Bush White House from Vanity Fair
"...relatives and fans of the shoe-throwing journalist, who has become a national hero, have staged a sit-in in a park adjacent to the Green Zone, and their numbers are growing. Army tanks and helicopters surrounded the 400 protesters and demanded they disband, but authorities were apparently persuaded that Iraq didn't need its own Tiananmen Square massacre, so the protest continues. Indeed, al-Zeidi has become a unifying figure for an Iraq split along a deep sectarian divide, with Sunnis from Samarra reportedly joining the predominantly Shi'ite supporters of the shoe-thrower. At last report, the two groups were sitting side by side eating lamb and vegetables, with the soldiers guarding them joining in." Via [more inside]
With one month left in George W. Bush's presidency, he contemplates his legacy; how the public will view him and his place in history. Whatever your personal feelings, you must admit that Bush did have his moments.
Shoes thrown at President Bush in Iraq. As America prepares to give him the boot, President Bush was forced to do some atypical sole searching during a press conference in Iraq when an Iraqi television reporter flung both shoes at him. HuffP has MSNBC video without ads and adds: "In Iraqi culture, throwing shoes at someone is a sign of contempt. Iraqis whacked a statue of Saddam Hussein with their shoes after U.S. marines toppled it to the ground after the 2003 invasion." This is a "gross insult in the Arab world." Value added video.
NYT: "The White House has turned down a request from the family of President-elect Barack Obama to move into Blair House in early January so that his daughters can start school on Jan. 5." [more inside]
It's been a busy week for presidential libraries. The Nixon Library released 200 hours of tape (excerpts) and 90,000 pages of documents (excerpts) that detail his obsessive attempts to destroy his political enemies. The LBJ library released MP3s of dozens of phone calls, including one where he accuses Nixon of treason for stalling Vietnamese peace talks in advance of the 1968 election. Finally, the Reagan Library released 750,000 pages of documents (NYT, reg. req.) to researchers. [more inside]
America has come a long way. There is the official version of history or the peoples' version. There are artifacts and rankings. They had some quirks and were occasionally men of their time. If you prefer audio or visual references those are available as well. Common knowledge has it that one GW was our first President but the title of first is under dispute. 230 years later another GW is making a run for worst. That is also under dispute by the nations best brains. For better and worse, the story of the Presidency is the story of America.
"Yeah, I did." On November 15, Scott McClellan, former white house press secretary to President George W. Bush revealed to an audience at the Miami Book Fair that President Bush had confided in him that he had personally authorized Scooter Libby to leak the classified information in the Plame affair.
U.S. Presidents have had an uneven relationship with technology. The Clinton Presidential Library has more than 40 million White House emails on record (but only two are from the man himself). The Bush Administration, on the other hand, junked the Clinton archival process and replaced it with a comically inept alternative that has lost more than five million messages, many concerning official government business. (President Bush, for his part, gave up his longtime address -- G94b@aol.com -- just before his inauguration). Even the Reagan White House had its share of problems with the digital age. Now, as tech-savvy Barack Obama prepares to implement his technology plans, does he have a shot at dragging the Oval Office into the 21st century? Or will he have to surrender his laptop, his email account, and his beloved Blackberry?
Dems eye midnight regulations reversal. Congressional Democrats are eyeing a little-known, Clinton-era law as a way to reverse Bush administration midnight regulations — even ones that have already taken effect. “Fortunately, [the White House] made a mistake,” said a top Senate Democratic aide. [more inside]
What killed Sgt. Gray? "He survived the war only to die at home. An exploration of his death and his combat unit's activities reveals what can happen to soldiers who feel the freedom -- or the pressure -- to do things in war they can't live with later." -- An American Radioworks documentary.
It's only 73 days before Inauguration Day 2009. Planning has been going on for a while. Beyonce wants to perform and the Boss plans to release an album on the day. Be sure to call your Congressperson to get your tickets. Make your plans right away, everybody wants to go. If you go, don't forget to say a rousing good-bye to you know who.