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Updated: 1 hour 35 min ago

Americans’ ratings of Vice President Dick Cheney

Wed, 2007-07-18 10:14

“are now at their lowest point to date, according to the latest Gallup Poll, with only 30% approving of the way Cheney is handling his job as vice president and the same low percentage viewing the vice president favorably.”

Reid Pulls Defense Authorization Bill Off The Floor, Vows To Return To Iraq Redeployment Legislation

Wed, 2007-07-18 09:16

After forcing conservatives to stand all-night and filibuster the Levin-Reed Iraq redeployment bill, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has pulled the entire Defense Authorization bill from consideration on the Senate floor.

Following this morning’s vote against ending debate, Reid argued that the Defense Authorization legislation should not be considered until the Senate is prepared to offer a future course for Iraq.

Reid explained:

“Because Republicans continue to block votes on important amendments to the Defense Authorization bill, we can make no further progress on Iraq and this bill at this time.

For these reasons, I have temporarily laid aside the Defense Authorization bill and have entered a motion to reconsider.

But let me be clear to my Republican colleagues — I emphasize the word “temporarily”. We will do everything in our power to change course in Iraq. We will do everything in our power to complete consideration of a Defense Authorization bill. We must do both.

And just to remind my Republican colleagues — even if this bill had passed yesterday, its provisions would not take effect until October.

So we will come back to this bill as soon as it is clear we can make real progress. To that end, I have asked the Democratic Whip and Democratic Manager of the bill to sit down with their counterparts to work on a process to address all outstanding issues related to this bill so the Senate can return to it as soon as possible.

In his Senate floor speech, Reid blasted “a handful of dedicated obstructionists.” Watch it:

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Reid’s maneuver leaves opens the possibility that the Levin-Reed amendment will be re-introduced and voted on in the near future.

Breaking: Cloture on Levin-Reed amendment fails.

Wed, 2007-07-18 08:28

By a 52-47 vote, the Senate has failed to garner the necessary 60 votes needed to end debate and proceed with the Levin-Reed amendment to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq.

UPDATE: Bob Geiger and Greg Sargent have more.

UPDATE II: Roll call vote is here. Republican Sens. Olympia Snowe (ME), Susan Collins (ME), Chuck Hagel (NE), and Gordon Smith (OR) voted to kill the filibuster.

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26 percent:

Wed, 2007-07-18 08:03

Number of Americans who believe the country is “on the right track.” The new Reuters poll also finds that 66 percent of those surveyed “said the direction of economic policy was fair or poor, and 76 percent said U.S. foreign policy was headed in a fair or poor direction.” Bush’s approval rating is at just 34 percent.

UPDATE: A new Gallup Poll shows that the 26th quarter of Bush’s presidency, ending tomorrow, is “the worst he has had,” with string of sub-40 percent quarterly averages now exceeding the run that former President Nixon had leading up to to his resignation.

Gonzales finally gives Fitzgerald ‘a good evalution.’

Wed, 2007-07-18 06:59

The Washington Post’s Al Kamen reports:

In the Justice Department’s Great Hall (the very room where giant, blue drapes covered the underdressed statuary during John Ashcroft’s tenure as attorney general), an array of prosecutors, securities regulators and FBI honchos gathered yesterday to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the President’s Corporate Fraud Task Force.

“Good job,” Gonzales said, extending his hand to Fitzgerald. Must have been thinking of Fitzgerald’s office’s successful prosecution last week of media mogul Conrad Black for fraud, obstruction, etc. Fitzgerald, taken aback, didn’t say much in response, our colleague Carrie Johnson reports.

Loop Fans may recall that a former Gonzales aide had placed Fitzgerald’s name on a list of prosecutors who had “not distinguished themselves” in March 2005, just after Fitzgerald had indicted former GOP Illinois governor George Ryan and as he was investigating the leak of the identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame.

UPDATE: Kamen adds that President Bush did not recognize Gonzales’ at yesterday’s White House Tee Ball game. “I see Alphonso Jackson and Dirk Kempthorne of my Cabinet, who have joined us. I’m proud you all are here,” said Bush. Gonzales was sitting directly behind Jackson and Kempthorne.

ThinkFast: July 18, 2007

Wed, 2007-07-18 06:06

A confidential list shows that Vice President Cheney’s energy task force met almost exclusively with energy industry groups and corporations. By the time the task force began its few meetings with environmental groups, “the initial draft of the task force was substantially complete and President Bush had been briefed on its progress.”

With evidence showing that abstinence programs have “no impacts on rates of sexual abstinence,” such education is increasingly being rejected nationwide. “Eleven state health departments rejected abstinence education this year, while legislatures in Colorado, Iowa and Washington passed laws that could kill, or at least wound, its presence in public schools.”

“The board of Dow Jones said late Tuesday it was ready to sign off” on Rupert Murdoch’s proposal to buy the company for $5 billion. “However, the key remains with the Bancroft family, whose three dozen members have been deeply divided over whether to sell to Murdoch.”

The National Intelligence Estimate released yesterday warned that Hezbollah could be “more likely to consider attacking the homeland” if it sees the United States as a threat to the group or to Iran. Slate’s Fred Kaplan says that “this amounts to a direct warning to the White House: Don’t attack Iran.”

Resentment toward American forces remains “fierce” as “Iraqis endure their fifth blazing summer without sufficient power.” The LA Times writes, “If anything is seen as symbolic of the United States’ failure to deliver on its promise that life would be better without Saddam Hussein, it is the lack of reliable electricity.” (more…)

Live-Blogging The Senate Iraq Filibuster

Tue, 2007-07-17 18:25

[ThinkProgress is at the Capitol building, live-blogging the all-night conservative filibuster of Iraq withdrawal legislation.]

12:27 AM: 1,000 people gathered outside the Capitol tonight for a rally and candlelight vigil. Watch a highlight video of speeches from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Iraq war veteran Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-PA), Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Sens. Carl Levin (D-MI) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), and Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Patty Murray (D-WA):

12:10 AM: Sen. Joseph Lieberman’s (I-CT) metaphor bites:

Some have said that [Levin/Reed] is the only amendment with teeth. It does have teeth but I think we’ve got to ask: who’s it bite? I think it bites our hope for success in Iraq. It bites our troops as they proceed day in and day out courageously, compassionately, effectively. It bites our hope for keeping al Qaeda and Iran out of controlling Iraq. This amendment mandates a retreat.

Watch it:

11:17 PM: Just in: 57 House members and 25 senators — fully a quarter of the Senate — attended the candlelight vigil and rally outside the Capitol tonight. We’ll have a highlight video soon. Speaker Pelosi’s speech is HERE.

10:49 PM: Take action. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) urges you to make a call to wavering senators. See his personal “all-nighter” call sheet.

10:25 PM: Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA):

And finally, improving the image of the United States and repairing the damage done to our credibility around the world. Does anyone believe truly that this war has gained us respect in the council of world nations? Does anyone believe that? Because if they do, they’re smoking something. Because it hasn’t. There has never been a time when America has less credibility abroad than today.

10:06 PM: Huffington Post is staying up tonight too. There’s a live chat tonight tomorrow with Tom Matzzie from Americans Against Escalation.

9:49 PM: More from the Iraq rally outside the Capitol: Sen. Patrick Leahy addresses the crowd, “Thank you, you’re a lot nicer to me than Dick Cheney.”

9:41 PM: Americans Against Escalation In Iraq,, and others are holding a candlelight vigil and rally right now across the street from the Capitol:

A report from the rally:

Shortly after 9pm, Senate leadership took the stage. Reid spoke first, followed by Speaker Pelosi. She asked the crowd, “Are we united in speaking out against Republican obstructionism?” The crowd responded with a roar!

Pelosi was followed by Sen. Durbin — then Rep. John Lewis and then Schumer, then Pat Murphy, then Patty Murray — who led the crowd in a “Wake up” call chant.

From the Senate, we have in attendance the following: Reid, Reed, Durbin, Levin, Schumer, Pelosi, Leahy, Klobuchar, McCaskill, Murray, Akaka, Casey, Lautenberg, and Harkin.

During the middle of the program, the House emptied out and flooded the rally.

9:32 PM: For the past few hours, Democratic Senators have taken the floor to call for an up-or-down vote on the Levin-Reed Iraq redeployment bill. Providing political cover for the Bush administration, one Republican Senator after another has stood and voiced objection to moving forward on the legislation. Some examples:


PRESIDING OFFICER: Is there objection?

HUTCHISON: I object.


SEN. JOHN WARNER (R-VA): Mr. President, I object.

PRESIDING OFFICER: Is there objection?


Watch the obstructionism in action:

9:25 PM: After some technical difficulties, we’re off. Bob Geiger has been covering the action thus far, with a “desperate buzzphrase count” from war supporters. From Sen. Kit Bond’s (R-MO) speech:

* “Retreat and defeat” 3
* “Cut and run” 2
* “Run and leave” (See “Cut and run”) 1
* “Embarrass the president” 1

‘I’m pleased to say that I am not an expert in prostitution law,’

Tue, 2007-07-17 17:57

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) responding to whether she believed Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) had admitted to committing a crime by acknowledging having used an escort service.

2007 is second warmest year on record.

Tue, 2007-07-17 16:50

The National Climatic Data Center released data today showing that global temperatures in the January-June period in 2007 have been “the second warmest on record for the January-June year-to-date period.” The NCDC report also revealed that it has been “the second driest January-June and driest April-June on record in the Southeast.”

ABC goes ‘Inside the Surge.’

Tue, 2007-07-17 16:15

Last night, ABC’s Nightline aired a segment capturing a rare view from the ground of the fighting that mires U.S. troops in Baghdad. Through the lens of an embedded reporter, ABC followed several U.S. soldiers for two weeks in May, watching them encounter roadside explosions that kill their fellow soldiers and embark on often futile hunts to root out “insurgents.” Watch the segment:

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Approaching his fifteenth month in Iraq, one soldier made a personal challenge to President Bush: “I challenge the President or whoever has us here for 15 months to ride alongside me. I’ll do another 15 months if he comes out here and rides along with me every day for 15 months. I’ll do 15 more months. They don’t even have to pay me extra.”

Taylor called back to Capitol Hill.

Tue, 2007-07-17 15:40

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), the Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has asked Sara Taylor, the former White House political director, “to return to Capitol Hill for a deposition next week.” Waxman wants to speak with her about “politicizing government programs” that he says are “historically nonpartisan,” such as the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

VA Secretary Resigns After Record Of Neglecting Veterans

Tue, 2007-07-17 14:50

Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary, Jim Nicholson, has resigned. In a lengthy press release, the his department praises Nicholson for his “leadership” in “transform[ing] the VA health care system to meet the unique medical requirements of the returning combatants from Iraq and Afghanistan.”

In reality, however, Nicholson’s tenure put the health care of both current and future veterans at risk. Some highlights:

- In February 2005, Nicholson kicked off his tenure by calling praising a VA budget proposal that cut “health care staffing, reduced funding for nursing home care and [included] staffing cuts for the Board of Veterans Appeals.” He said it demonstrated of the Bush administration’s “ongoing commitment to provide the very best health care and benefits to those veterans who count on VA the most.” [LINK]

- In May of 2006, Nicholson waited two weeks to notify the Justice Department and FBI of the “largest loss of personal data in U.S. government history.” He then waited another full week before notifying the 26.5 million effected veterans of the theft. [LINK]

- In April of 2006, Nicholson rejected four separate bills “pending before Congress to reduce the 600,000-case backlog of veterans’ benefits claims.” [LINK]

- In May of 2007, the AP revealed that Nicholson awarded “$3.8 million in bonuses to top executives in fiscal 2006″ — many as much as $33,000 — despite the department suffering from a $1.3 billion shortfall. [LINK, LINK]

Nicholson — whose previous posts include chairman of the Republican National Committee and U.S. ambassador to the Vatican — was uniquely unprepared to deal with the challenges of caring for the health our nation’s veterans.

In March 2007, for example, he cynically defended what he called “‘anecdotal’ exceptions” of veterans falling through the cracks. “When you are treating so many people there is always going to be a linen towel left somewhere,” he said.

As Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) said today, “The next VA Secretary must have a record of being a strong and independent voice for veterans — not someone being rewarded for political loyalty.”

Ryan Powers

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Miers’s second subpoena rejection.

Tue, 2007-07-17 14:29

In a letter sent to House Judiciary Committee chairman John Conyers (D-MI), George Manning, the attorney for former White House Counsel Harriet Miers, said that because of President Bush’s claim of executive privilege, “Ms. Miers will not appear before the Committee or otherwise produce documents or provide testimony as set forth in the Committee’s subpoena.” The Committee has previously warned that if Miers does not comply with the subpoena, she may face contempt of Congress.

U.S. has more military musicians than diplomats.

Tue, 2007-07-17 14:17

David Kilcullen, a senior adviser to Gen. David Petraeus notes in new paper:

At present, the U.S. defense budget accounts for approximately half of total global defense spending, while the U.S. armed forces employ about 1.68 million uniformed members. By comparison, the State Department employs about 6,000 foreign service officers, while the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has about 2,000. In other words, the Department of Defense is about 210 times larger than USAID and State combined–there are substantially more people employed as musicians in Defense bands than in the entire foreign service.

ThinkProgress live-blogging the filibuster.

Tue, 2007-07-17 13:46

ThinkProgress will be publishing live from the Senate throughout the night, with video, exclusive interviews, and much more. Set up a cot, grab some coffee, and join us.

Fox: condoms don’t prevent pregnancy.

Tue, 2007-07-17 13:26

Fox has refused to air a national Trojan condom commercial because it objects “to the message that condoms can prevent pregnancy.” But according to the Food and Drug Administration, “latex condoms greatly reduce the risks of pregnancy” and are “the most effective method for reducing the risk of infection from the viruses that cause AIDS, other HIV-related illnesses, and other STDs.”

Cheney invited to testify about politicizing Interior Dept.

Tue, 2007-07-17 12:50

The House Natural Resources Committee has invited Vice President Dick Cheney to a hearing examining his “role in influencing scientific and policy decisions at the Department of the Interior.” The hearing will focus on “Cheney’s intervention in the development of a 10-year water plan for the Klamath River,” revealed in a recent Washington Post series, which resulted in the “collapse of the West Coast salmon-fishing industry.”

Blogosphere Responds To O’Reilly’s Baseless Attacks On The Netroots

Tue, 2007-07-17 12:04

Last night on The O’Reilly Factor, host Bill O’Reilly dedicated a segment to disingenuously attacking the upcoming YearlyKos convention, its namesake DailyKos, and one of the event’s sponsors, JetBlue. The Fox newsman who has encouraged terrorists to target San Francisco is now claiming that DailyKos is “one of the worst examples of hatred America has to offer.”

O’Reilly went on to compare the YearlyKos blogger convention to “a David Duke convention” while calling DailyKos “hatemongerers” like “the Ku Klux Klan” and “the Nazi Party.” Watch it:

Not only is O’Reilly’s “report” a textbook example of shoddy journalism — passing off an extreme minority of reader comments and diaries as representative of the site itself — but it also reveals his own intellectual dishonesty and ignorance.

As BooMan points out, one of the “hateful” comments O’Reilly parrots — “the Pope is a primate” — isn’t actually an insult. The prime definition of “primate,” the seemingly offending word, is actually:

pri·mate -noun
1. Ecclesiastical. an archbishop or bishop ranking first among the bishops of a province or country.

Furthermore, when Business Week Senior Writer Diane Brady notes that DailyKos is “an open forum” and anyone, even “lunatics,” can post there, O’Reilly dismisses her, saying “I have my own website. Open forum is bull. You can regulate what’s on your website.” O’Reilly doesn’t mention, however, that his website doesn’t have a public forum and the message boards are available only for a $50 annual membership fee.

Voices across the blogosphere have weighed in on the “report,” responding to different portions of O’Reilly’s disingenuous attack:

- McJoan points out that it’s not news that individuals “say stupid things on the Internet.”

- BarbinMD notes the many positive contributions DailyKos makes to the public discourse, such as the I Got The News Today series honoring fallen soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

- Noting the irony, Kos posts some of the hateful email he has received as a result of the O’Reilly segment.

- Jeffery Feldman shows how O’Reilly has hosted “hateful” voices on his show numerous times in the past.

As Cenk of the Young Turks points out, thanks to O’Reilly’s declaration that he’ll never fly on JetBlue again, passengers can fly in comfort knowing their flight won’t be interrupted by Papa Bear.

UPDATE: O’Reilly has previously said that he’d like to “go in” to the blogosphere “with a hand grenade.”

‘Mildly profane’ Bush ‘crashes’ Republican meeting on Iraq.

Tue, 2007-07-17 11:30

Fox News reports that “President Bush shocked Capitol Hill staffers and Republican leaders Monday when he crashed a meeting at the White House. … His message: the policy on Iraq isn’t changing. He is not backing down and no one on Capitol Hill should be confused into thinking he is letting up.” Watch the segment:

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Bush was described as “folksy, adamant and mildly profane” when he interrupted the meeting. “It was stunning. We couldn’t believe he came in,” said one aide in attendance. “We kept looking at each other, amazed he came in,” said another.

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Novak: Women’s ‘venom’ toward Bush is ’so vicious.’

Tue, 2007-07-17 11:00

Appearing on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show yesterday, conservative pundit Robert Novak claimed that “women, particularly,” are making our current political discourse more “vicious”:

Hugh Hewitt: “The political dialogue, public and private, becomes more rancorous. The dissenters, particularly the Negro, poor and the war protesters turn to direct action, and most uncivil disobedience. What this adds up to is nothing less than a rejection of conventional forms of political action.” It goes on. Do you see the same thing playing out again now, Robert Novak?

Novak: I hate to say it, but I think the hatred toward George W. Bush is just mad. I listen to, sometimes in the car radio, on talk shows, and the venom that comes out of the mouths of some of these women, particularly, I’m not trying to be sexist, but they’re so vicious toward him. And I don’t think that really contributes. And also, the bloggers, I don’t read the bloggers very much, but it is really, it’s really vicious.