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Updated: 1 hour 29 min ago

Souter nearly resigned after Bush v. Gore decision.

Tue, 2007-09-04 07:48

According to a new book on the Supreme Court by Jeffrey Toobin, Justice David Souter nearly resigned in the wake of Bush v. Gore because he was so distraught over the decision that effectively ended the Florida recount and installed Bush as president:

Toobin writes that while the other justices tried to put the case behind them, “David Souter alone was shattered,” at times weeping when he thought of the case. “For many months, it was not at all clear whether he would remain as a justice,” Toobin continues. “That the Court met in a city he loathed made the decision even harder. At the urging of a handful of close friends, he decided to stay on, but his attitude toward the Court was never the same.”

Karl Rove’s next move.

Tue, 2007-09-04 07:25

U.S. News reports:

President Bush’s behind-the-curtain adviser, Karl Rove, is expected to reprise that role for the prez in Texas, we hear. Now retired from the White House, Rove is planning to take charge of the Bush library and museum, including the design, fundraising, and planning for what insiders are calling a copy of the conservative Hoover Institution at Stanford University. But he won’t be the front man, say friends, instead focusing on putting the president’s stamp on the facility that is expected to be aligned with Dallas’s Southern Methodist University. Rove has long played a key role on the library project, and with his resignation and the selection of New York’s Robert A. M. Stern Architects to draw the massive facility, the timing is good to speed up the effort, say Bushies.

Petraeus’s office responds to misleading bios of lawmakers.

Tue, 2007-09-04 06:47

Last week, ThinkProgress highlighted bios of Reps. Jim Moran (D-VA) and Ellen Tauscher (D-CA) that the Strategic Effects (STRATEFF) office of MNF-I created and distributed to U.S. troops in Iraq.The Washington Monthly’s Kevin Drum has received a response from Gen. David Petraeus’s spokesman regarding the bios:

First, the sheets of paper were open-source bio’s that were put together based on the members’ web sites and the Congressional Quarterly. Second, these bio’s were provided to those that were going to meet with the members, just as the members recieve bio’s of the key individuals they are going to meet with at their request. Third, the bio’s are only there to assist those that they are meeting with to know how in-depth and the members background knowledge based on topic area that they will be discussing.

For example, if a member is not part of the HASC or SASC, more explanations may be required on the military programs/operations than with those that are members of those committees that are more likely to be familiar with the terms of reference. As such if there is a member dealing in appropriations, those that they are meeting with will know from which direction they may approach issues and can be better prepared to respond. This is the simple thing of knowing your audience, nothing more, and to suggest otherwise is completely false.

But as ThinkProgress pointed out last week, the bios either ignored or completely misrepresented the lawmakers’ records, falsely claiming, for example, that Moran “[v]oted NO on legislation requiring the withdrawal of U S troops from Iraq within 120 days of the bill’s enactment.”

ThinkFast: September 4, 2007

Tue, 2007-09-04 06:01

Bush’s arrival in Sydney was marked by protests. “An established anti-war group called the Stop Bush Coalition called a small ‘unwelcoming ceremony’ in Sydney to kick off a series of protests culminating in a march by up to 20,000 people on Saturday.” Authorities have locked down the city in the biggest security operation in Australian history.

President Bush’s success rating in the Democratic-controlled House has fallen this year to a half-century low, and he prevailed on only 14 percent of the 76 roll call votes on which he took a clear position. The previous low for any president was in 1995, when Bill Clinton won just 26 percent of the time during the first year after Republicans took control of the House.”

An exchange of letters from 2003, released yesterday by former Iraq envoy Paul Bremer, reveal that Bush was told in advance of a plan to “dissolve Saddam’s military and intelligence structures.” The letters contradict claims by Bush “that American policy had been ‘to keep the army intact’ but that it ‘didn’t happen.’”

“A warm summer has produced a record melt of the polar ice cap, leaving the Northwest Passage clear enough for a sailboat to pass and prompting nations of the far north to assert claims over the Arctic Ocean seabed.” “This melt is unprecedented, and it’s speeding up,” said Trudy Wohlleben, senior ice forecaster with the Canadian Ice Service.

Just before leaving for its August recess, the House of Representatives approved a little-noticed amendment to its energy bill “that would allow members of Congress to lease only environmentally friendly cars.” The House energy bill would require all federal agencies to buy only low greenhouse-gas emitting vehicles for their fleets. (more…)

Undercutting Bush’s claims of success in Anbar.

Mon, 2007-09-03 15:30

Today, President Bush held the Anbar province up as an example of his escalation’s success and justification for why the troop buildup should not be cut short:

In Anbar you’re seeing firsthand the dramatic differences that can come when the Iraqis are more secure. … You see Sunnis who once fought side by side with al-Qaida against coalition troops now fighting side by side with coalition troops against al-Qaida.

But as the AP points out, “In truth, the progress in Anbar was initiated by the Iraqis themselves, a point Gates himself made, saying the Sunni tribes decided to fight and retake control from al-Qaida many months before Bush decided to send an extra 4,000 Marines to Anbar as part of his troop buildup.”

UPDATE: “Though Mr. Bush never left the confines of the air base on his six-hour visit, he declared: ‘I have come here today to see with our own eyes the remarkable changes that are taking place in Anbar Province.’”

Bush’s surge escalated ethnic cleansing.

Mon, 2007-09-03 12:02

Shiites have cleared the western half of Baghdad of thousands of Sunnis, who once dominated the area. “The surge of U.S. troops — meant in part to halt the sectarian cleansing of the Iraqi capital — has hardly stemmed the problem.” Rafiq Tschannen, chief of the Iraq mission for the International Organization for Migration, “says that the fighting that accompanied the influx of U.S. troops actually ‘has increased the IDPs to some extent.’”

Bush: a ‘lot of hot air’ on global warming.

Mon, 2007-09-03 10:40

At a fundraiser on Monday, President Bush claimed, “Do you realize that the United States is the only major industrialized nation that cut greenhouse gases last year?” But as the Washington Post notes, this statement isn’t actually true:

Kristen A. Hellmer, the spokeswoman for the White House Council on Environmental Quality, acknowledged afterward that the White House was unable to substantiate the claim.

“While it’s very likely to be the case that we are the only industrialized nation that cut absolute emissions, there is not directly comparable data because not all other nations take such a measurement,” she said by e-mail. “We are making sure the president is aware of that.”

Mexican President chides U.S.’s ‘humiliating treatment.’

Mon, 2007-09-03 07:40

Mexico’s President Felipe Calderón criticized the “insensitivity” of the Bush administration toward foreign workers who have strengthened the U.S. economy, and expressed “categorical rejection to the construction of a wall on our common border.” The Arizona Republic reports:

Mexico’s president drew a standing ovation from legislators as he chided Americans for new border fences and their “humiliating treatment” of illegal immigrants during his State of the Union speech on Sunday.

But President Felipe Calderón leveled criticism at his own country as well, warning that Mexico is headed for a crisis if it does not create more jobs, improve education, crack down on tax evaders and find an alternative to its dwindling oil reserves.

Bush’s hope for successor: ’stay longer’ in Iraq.

Mon, 2007-09-03 06:31

In Robert Draper’s book on the Bush presidency, “Dead Certain,” Bush says the goal of his Iraq strategy is to play it out until “October-November.” That is when he hopes the Iraq troop increase will finally show enough results to help him achieve the central goal of his remaining time in office: “To get us in a position where the presidential candidates will be comfortable about sustaining a presence,” and, he said later, “stay longer.”

UPDATE: Some other highlights from the Draper book:

– Karl Rove told Bush he should not tap Cheney for Vice President
– Bush hopes to make a lot of cash delivering speeches after his presidency is over… while running a “fantastic Freedom Institute
– Bush “can’t remember” one of the biggest mistakes in post-war Iraq: disbanding the Iraqi army
– The White House staff, including Dan Bartlett and Karl Rove, were “constantly at war” with one another
– Bush cries a lot

UPDATE II: Carpetbagger highlights a few other interesting portions from Draper’s book.

Bush makes surprise visit to Iraq.

Mon, 2007-09-03 05:53

“President Bush made a surprise visit to Iraq on Monday, using the war zone as a backdrop to argue his case that the buildup of U.S. troops is helping stabilizing the nation.” On his way to the APEC summit in Australia, Bush made a detour to Iraq, landing at an air base in a remote part of Anbar province. Accompanied by security aides Condoleezza Rice, Robert Gates, and Stephen Hadley, Bush’s visit came just hours after British forces completed their pullout from Basra. “Residents of Basra cheered the withdrawal.”

UPDATE: “The president stopped at a small building where a Marine Cobra pilot briefed him about the positives and negatives of current troop rotations. He told the president that troops were not getting enough time at home and did not have enough time for training. ‘Morale?’ asked Bush. ‘How’s morale?’ ‘Very high sir,’ the pilot, Capt. Lee Hemming, said.” ”There are some people who might try to deride this trip as a photo opportunity,” White House deputy press secretary Dana Perino said. ”We wholeheartedly disagree.”

Blitzer Dismantles Rep. Boustany’s Assertions Of Progress In Iraq

Sun, 2007-09-02 15:31

Appearing on CNN’s Late Edition this morning, Rep. Charles Boustany (R-LA), who recently returned from Iraq, asserted “some major improvements” are being witnessed in Iraq. Echoing claims made by Gen. David Petraeus, Boustany said “sectarian deaths are down.”

Host Wolf Blitzer corrected Boustany’s assertion, citing Iraqi health ministry statistics that report Iraqi civilian deaths have been climbing. The LA Times reports:

Bombings, sectarian slayings and other violence related to the war killed at least 1,773 Iraqi civilians in August, the second month in a row that civilian deaths have risen, according to government figures obtained Friday. In July, the civilian death toll was 1,753, and in June it was 1,227.

Blitzer emphasized, “In terms of Iraqi dead people, those numbers are high and getting worse despite the increased military troop levels of the United States — the so-called surge — having been in effect over the past couple of months.”

Confronted with factual evidence proving his claims incorrect, Boustany attempted to pivot to anecdotal evidence of what he saw on the ground. “I want to point out that just two or three months ago, I would have never thought that four members of Congress would be able to walk through the streets of Fallujah,” he said. But Blitzer quickly noted “you had a lot of security with you,” forcing Boustany to acknowledge he walked with “a platoon of Marines.”

Watch it:

Transcript: (more…)

Couric Admits Her Rosy Report From Iraq Is Based On ‘What The U.S. Military Wants Me To See’

Sun, 2007-09-02 09:23

CBS News anchor Katie Couric is currently reporting from Iraq. Today she spoke to Bob Schieffer on CBS’s Face the Nation and largely reiterated Gen. Petraeus’s talking points on Iraq.

She said that Petraeus believes there “really is a trend” of success on the security situation in Iraq and believes President Bush’s escalation “needs to continue.” She also recounted “signs of life that seem to be normal” at a market she visited, but then conceded that the positive aspects of her report are based on “what the U.S. military wants” her to see:

Well, I was surprised, you know, after I went to eastern Baghdad, I was taken to the Allawi market, which is near Haifa, which was the scene of that very bloody gun battle back in January. And, you know, this market seems to be thriving. And there were a lot of people out and about. A lot of family-owned businesses and vegetable stalls.

And so, you do see signs of life that seem to be normal. Of course, that’s what the U.S. military wants me to see, so you have to keep that in mind as well. But I think there are definitely areas where the situation is improving.

Watch it:

Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-CA), who recently returned from Iraq and spoke with ThinkProgress, also admitted that it’s “very, very easy to be influenced, from their [the military’s] point of view, that things are better.” “I will tell you that when you get in the Green Zone, there is a physiological phenomenon I think called Green Zone fog,” said Tauscher. “It’s death by powerpoint. … It’s always that their argument is winning.”

Nonpartisan government reports dispute the Bush administration’s rosy claims of success. A leaked draft of an upcoming Government Accountability Office (GAO) analysis contradicts “the Bush administration’s conclusion in July that sectarian violence was decreasing as a result” of the surge. It concludes, “The average number of daily attacks against civilians remained about the same over the last six months; 25 in February versus 26 in July.”

Digg It!

Transcript: (more…)

$50 billion:

Sun, 2007-09-02 08:59

Amount Iraq’s oil and electricity sectors still need, even after the $6 billion the United States has poured into them over the past four years. Even with this funding, the GAO estimates that “it could take until 2015 for Iraq to produce 6 million barrels of oil a day and have enough electricity to meet demand.”

Wallace Brings Up Moyers Dispute, Refuses To Acknowledge His Own Inaccurate Reporting

Sun, 2007-09-02 07:43

For the last several weeks, Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace has attacked PBS’s Bill Moyers for criticizing Karl Rove for cynically invoking Christianity for political purposes while telling others that he is an agnostic. Moyers called Rove “a skeptic, a secular manipulator.”

On Aug. 19, Rove appeared on Wallace’s show and responded Moyers. “I’m a Christian. I go to church. I’m an Episcopalian,” responded Rove. “You know, Mr. Moyers ought to do a little bit better research before he does another drive-by slander.”

Then on Aug. 26, Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace personally criticized Moyers, stating that he needs to learn “reporting 101“:

If you want to find out about someone’s religious beliefs, a good first step might be to ask him. … Of course, you never called Rove. That’s reporting 101, but it would have gotten in the way of a tasty story line about a non-believer flimflamming the Christian right. I guess, Bill, reporting is easier when you don’t worry about the facts.

Yet as ThinkProgress pointed out yesterday, Moyers’s show did contact Rove — repeatedly — and never received a response. Rick Byrne, Director of Communications for Bill Moyers Journal wrote on Thursday:

For the record, Bill Moyers did ask Karl Rove to come on BILL MOYERS JOURNAL, by fax and by mail. These requests were made before Chris Wallace responded on-air on Fox News Sunday to Bill Moyers’ letter, and we still haven’t heard from Karl Rove.

Nevertheless, this morning on Fox News Sunday, Wallace once again brought up the Moyers dispute, but did not correct his false allegation. He read viewer mail — two supporting Wallace, one supporting Moyers — yet never acknowledged that the Bill Moyers Journal did attempt to contact Rove. Watch it:

Write to Wallace at [email protected] and ask him to publicly correct the record and admit his error. (Be polite.)

Transcript: (more…)

Bush’s plan to help homeowners ‘less than it appears.’

Sat, 2007-09-01 14:48

On Friday, President Bush unveiled his “plan to help homeowners,” who are facing foreclosures in the housing slump. But McClatchy reports that most of what Bush announced simply duplicates what Congress is already doing:

The plan was announced days before Congress returns from its August recess with housing issues high on its agenda. The proposals, however, duplicate efforts already under way by Congress and other federal agencies, would help at most 21 percent of the homeowners facing foreclosures and would do little to help areas in which inflated real estate prices are a problem.

Bush called on Democrats to approve a modernization of the Federal Housing Administration, which passed the House of Representatives last year with bipartisan support but was quashed by Senate Republicans.

He promised to require greater disclosure from lenders, a move on which federal bank regulators already have provided guidance. He promised to get tough with unscrupulous mortgage brokers, but they’re largely regulated on the state level. And during a briefing Friday, a senior administration official acknowledged that the plan would do little to help states with high real estate prices, such as California.

Buyer beware: Bush admin neglecting consumer safety.

Sat, 2007-09-01 13:08

With recent recalls of toys, jewelry, and other products made in China, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has come under intense public scrutiny lately. The New York Times notes that the agency “has hardly been a priority of the Bush administration“:

Under the Bush administration, which promised to ease what it viewed as costly rules that placed unnecessary burdens on businesses, industry-friendly officials have been installed at federal agencies that oversee the nation’s workplaces, food suppliers, environment and consumer goods. […]

The commission’s shrinking budget is just $62 million this year, even though the agency regulates an industry that sells $1.4 trillion annually. The Food and Drug Administration, which has a $2 billion budget, spends nearly twice as much monitoring the safety of animal feed and drugs than the Consumer Product Safety Commission spends to ensure the safety of products as diverse as toy, tools and televisions used every day by millions of Americans.

Rove: Bush Will Be Remembered As A ‘Far-Sighted Leader’

Sat, 2007-09-01 11:24

Yesterday, outgoing White House adviser Karl Rove penned a piece in the National Review devoted to extolling President Bush’s greatness and predicting that “history will provide a more clear-eyed verdict on this president’s leadership than the anger of current critics would suggest.”

The White House liked it so much that it forwarded the piece to its press list, with the e-mail subject: “IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: The Long View.” An excerpt from Rove’s piece:

President Bush will be viewed as a far-sighted leader who confronted the key test of the 21st century.

He will be judged as a man of moral clarity who put America on wartime footing in the dangerous struggle against radical Islamic terrorism. […]

President Bush will be seen as a compassionate leader who used America’s power for good. […]

I have come to understand true leadership leans into the wind. It tackles big challenges with uncertain outcomes rather than taking on simple, sure tasks. It does what is right, regardless of what the latest poll or focus group says. History demands much of America and its leaders and I am confident it will judge the 43rd president as a man more than worthy of the great office the American people twice entrusted to him.

If Rove’s track record is any indication, this latest prediction will also likely turn out to be incorrect. In 2006, roughly a week before the midterm election, Rove predicted “a Republican Senate and Republican House” by claiming sole access to “THE math.” In Nov. 2000, he claimed the “election will not be close” and predicted Bush will “win enough states to get about 50 more Electoral College votes than he needs to win.”

Rove joins Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), who in July predicted that Bush’s “ratings among the historians will be greater than his ratings in the polls today,” and Rush Limbaugh, who said in May that historians will “place George Bush in the upper echelon of presidents who had a great vision for America.”

But historians are already debating Bush’s legacy. Rolling Stone recently wrote, “Many historians are now wondering whether Bush, in fact, will be remembered as the very worst president in all of American history.”

Craig resigns, effective Sept. 30.

Sat, 2007-09-01 09:52

AP reports:

Idaho Sen. Larry Craig resigned Saturday over a men’s room sex sting, bowing to pressure from fellow Republicans worried about a scandal dimming their election prospects.

“I apologize for what I have caused,” Craig said.

Craig’s resignation completed a stunning downfall that began Monday with the disclosure that he had pleaded guilty to a reduced charge following his arrest during a sex sting in a Minneapolis airport men’s room.

UPDATE: CNN’s Dana Bash reports that Craig continues to insist that he is innocent of the charges and will be “fighting it like hell.”

Condi accepts that Iraq is ‘a stain’ on her legacy.

Sat, 2007-09-01 08:40

In an analysis of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s efforts to “reshape her legacy,” New York Times reporter Helene Cooper notes today that Rice “is trying hard to rewrite her legacy to include something more than Iraq.” As for Iraq, Rice’s “colleagues and friends say that she has accepted that Iraq is a stain that she probably cannot remove before she leaves office.”

Moyers Responds To Wallace’s Baseless Slander: Repeated Requests To Rove Went Unanswered

Sat, 2007-09-01 07:26

On Aug. 17, PBS’s Bill Moyers criticized Karl Rove for cynically invoking Christianity for political purposes while telling others that he is an agnostic. Moyers called Rove “a skeptic, a secular manipulator.”

Two days later, Rove appeared on Fox News Sunday and took on Moyers’s criticism. “I’m a Christian. I go to church. I’m an Episcopalian,” responded Rove. “You know, Mr. Moyers ought to do a little bit better research before he does another drive-by slander.”

Then on Aug. 26, Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace criticized Moyers, stating that he needs to do “reporting 101“:

If you want to find out about someone’s religious beliefs, a good first step might be to ask him. … Of course, you never called Rove. That’s reporting 101, but it would have gotten in the way of a tasty story line about a non-believer flimflamming the Christian right. I guess, Bill, reporting is easier when you don’t worry about the facts.

Watch it:

But on Thursday, Rick Byrne, Director of Communications for Bill Moyers Journal, wrote that the show repeatedly tried to contact Rove. It never received a response:

For the record, Bill Moyers did ask Karl Rove to come on BILL MOYERS JOURNAL, by fax and by mail. These requests were made before Chris Wallace responded on-air on Fox News Sunday to Bill Moyers’ letter, and we still haven’t heard from Karl Rove.

Wallace should have spoken to Moyers and asked him if he tried to contact Rove, before baselessly accusing him of sloppy journalism. “That’s reporting 101.”