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Updated: 1 hour 27 min ago

26 percent:

Fri, 2007-07-06 13:00

Bush’s approval rating in a new Newsweek poll. (Via Atrios.) Newsweek includes this helpful comparison chart:

Giuliani Unaware That America Gradually Withdrew From Vietnam

Fri, 2007-07-06 12:12

Today, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani delivered a speech to the Jewish Community Relations Council in New York:

[I]f we flee Iraq, if we do what the Democrats want us to do — which is to not only flee Iraq, not only retreat in Iraq, but give them a timetable of our retreat.

Have you ever heard of that in a history of war? Have you ever heard of an army being required to give a printed schedule of its release to the enemy? It makes no sense, does it? Whether you’re for the war or against it, you would never have an army retreat on a six- month, one-year, 18-month schedule explaining, We’ll reduce the forces by 20,000, then by 30,000, then by 50,000. Gee, you can then figure out when the forces are depleted enough so you can really do damage to them.

Giuliani needs to brush up on his history. A publicly-announced gradual reduction of forces is exactly what the United States did in the Vietnam War. On May 14, 1969, President Richard Nixon laid out an “eight-point peace plan” calling for the gradual withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Vietnam:

Over a period of 12 months, by agreed-upon stages, the major positions of all U.S., allied, and other non-South Vietnamese forces would be withdrawn. At the end of this 12-month period, the remaining U.S., allied, and other non-South Vietnamese forces would move into designated base areas and would not engage in combat operations.

Some highlights of Nixon giving the enemy a “timetable of our retreat”:

June 8, 1969: Nixon announces the redeployment of 25,000 troops, which would begin in the “next 30 days” and be completed by the end of August.

Sept. 16, 1969: Nixon announces a new “troop ceiling,” meaning that a minimum of 60,000 troops would be withdrawn by December.

Dec. 15, 1969: Nixon calls for a “reduction in our troop ceiling of 50,000 more U.S. troops by April 15 next year.”

April 20, 1970: Nixon calls for the withdrawal of 150,000 troops “to be completed during the spring of next year.”

Oct. 12, 1970: Nixon announces the reduction of the troop ceiling by another 40,000 troops between “now and Christmas.”

Nov. 12, 1971: Nixon announced to the nation, “Over the next 2 months we will withdraw 45,000 Americans.”

Jan. 13, 1972: Nixon stated, “I am announcing today the withdrawal of an additional 70,000 [troops] from Vietnam over the next 3 months.”

Apr. 26, 1972: Nixon announces that “over the next 2 months 20,000 more Americans will be brought home from Vietnam.”

Whether it’s blowing off Iraq Study Group meetings, showing ignorance about the root causes of 9/11, attacking Clinton for 9/11, or fear-mongering about sensible redeployment from Iraq, Giuliani talks big and thinks small.

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Hagel: Libby commutation is ‘unfortunate.’

Fri, 2007-07-06 12:00

In an interview with Action Three News in Omaha, Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) said today that he felt the commutation of Scooter Libby’s prison sentence was “unfortunate.” Contacted by ThinkProgress, his office refused to give more details about Hagel’s views, saying that it would “refer you back to the Senator’s own words.”

Kristol Offers Neoconservative Prescription For America’s Woes: ‘Be Happy!’

Fri, 2007-07-06 11:10

In Time Magazine yesterday, Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol wrote a rosy piece on why Americans should get over their “adolescent moodiness” and embrace the “heartening developments” of the past six years.

In the op-ed, Kristol came to the conclusion that “no other people in human history have ever had it quite so good” as Americans. But in reaching that false conclusion, Kristol severely distorts and even lies about major developments:

Claim #1: There have been “very limited terrorist successes in Europe or even in the Middle East.” Between 2005 and 2006, international terrorist attacks increased 29 percent, reported U.S. intelligence. Forty-five percent of the attacks took place in Iraq. Between 2004 and 2005, international terrorist attacks tripled to nearly 10,000, in part due to the war in Iraq.

Claim #2: “We’ve had 5 1/2 years of robust economic growth.” Today, the top one percent of earners have a greater share of national income than at any time since 1920. Wage growth has slowed to a crawl, and “overall pace of job creation, which has slowed compared to prior years, is barely enough to keep pace with population growth.”

Claim #3: “The balance sheet is uncertain” in Iraq. Since January, violence “has increased in most provinces” and U.S. and Iraqi forces “have been unable to diminish rising sectarian violence contributing to the volatile security situation,” says a recent Pentagon report.

Kristol’s policy prescriptions have failed time and time again. In 2003, he claimed there was a “pop psychology” that “the Shia can’t get along with the Sunni. … There’s almost no evidence of that at all.” He advocated escalation, provided “optimistic” depictions of violence in Iraq, and supported the war so the U.S. can bomb Iraq and Syria.

Poll: 54 percent favor Cheney impeachment.

Fri, 2007-07-06 09:46

According to a recent poll taken by the American Research Group, “54% of American adults want the US House of Representatives to begin impeachment proceedings against Vice President Dick Cheney, including 76% of Democrats, 17% of Republicans, and 51% of Independents. The same poll found 46% of voters in favor of the same thing for President George W. Bush, including 69% of Democrats, 13% of Republicans, and 50% of independents.”

UPDATE: More from

Snow Falsely Claims ‘There Was Not Much Investigation’ Of Clinton’s Pardons

Fri, 2007-07-06 09:09

Yesterday, White House spokesman Tony Snow was asked if the USA Today op-ed he wrote was an attempt to justify the President’s extraordinary clemency order with a “Clinton did it too” argument:

REPORTER: Tony, why do you … in your op-ed today you brought up the Clinton pardons, as well. Do two wrongs make a right? Is that the idea, like if Clinton did wrong …

SNOW: Well, this is … no, this is not a wrong, but I think what is interesting is perhaps it was just because he was on his way out, but while there was a small flurry, there was not much investigation of it.

Snow’s contention that “there was not much investigation” of Clinton’s pardons is an apparent attempt to preclude any congressional inquiry into Bush’s actions, particularly whether it was appropriate to extend clemency to an aide who has “knowledge that could incriminate his bosses in the White House.” The House Judiciary Committee has a hearing set for July 11 on the issue.

Furthermore, Snow is dishonestly distorting the facts when he says there “was not much investigation” of Clinton’s pardons. In fact, there was substantial investigation:

01/20/01: On his final morning in the White House, President Clinton grants 140 presidential pardons and 36 commutations.

2/08/01: The House Government Reform Committee, headed by Dan Burton, launches hearings into Clinton’s last-minute pardons.

2/14/01: Pardon hearings begin in the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is chaired by Republican Orrin Hatch.

2/15/01: Manhattan U.S. attorney Mary Jo White, in conjunction with the FBI, launches a criminal investigation into all the Clinton pardons.

2/23/01: Manhattan U.S. attorney Mary Jo White announces her office is investigating commutations Clinton granted to four Hasidic men from upstate New York.

2/27/01: Clinton waives his claim to executive privilege, saying three of his former aides are free to testify before the House Government Reform Committee.

3/01/01: Former aides John Podesta, Beth Nolan and Bruce Lindsey testify for an entire day before the House Government Reform Committee.

3/11/01: Pledging continued investigations into the pardons, Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott says Congress must not “walk away” from the work of pursuing Clinton.

3/13/01: Attorney General John Ashcroft asks White to expand her current investigation into some of President Clinton’s pardons to include all 177 of the last-minute clemencies and commutations.

In total, the investigations into Clinton’s issuances of executive clemency took over a year to conclude. The House Government Reform Committee didn’t release its final report until March 2002, well over a year after President Clinton left office. The Justice Department didn’t close its investigation, in which it concluded “it wasn’t appropriate to bring charges against anybody,” until June 2002.

It’s hard to see how over a year of multiple inquires could be characterized as “not much investigation,” but then again, Tony Snow has never appeared too concerned with getting his facts right when it comes to defending his boss.

UPDATE: Jeralyn has more on the congressional hearings into Clinton’s pardons here.

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Surprise DC Live Earth concert.

Fri, 2007-07-06 08:37

ABC News reports that Al Gore will begin tomorrow’s series of Live Earth concerts in Washington, DC, at a surprise concert at the National Museum of the American Indian. Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) had tried to block the event from happening in DC, claiming it was a “partisan” event. (For more on Live Earth and the Bush administration’s global warming manipulation, check out today’s Progress Report.)

Military killed ‘key al Qaeda leader’ twice.

Fri, 2007-07-06 08:15

“The U.S. command in Baghdad this week ballyhooed the killing of a key al Qaeda leader but later admitted that the military had declared him dead a year ago. A military spokesman acknowledged the mistake after it was called to his attention by The Examiner. He said public affairs officers will be more careful in announcing significant kills.”

Court dismisses suit challenging Bush’s wiretapping.

Fri, 2007-07-06 08:06

AP reports:

A federal appeals court on Friday ordered the dismissal of a lawsuit challenging President Bush’s domestic spying program, saying the plaintiffs had no standing to sue.

The 2-1 ruling by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel was not on the legality of the surveillance program. But it vacated an order by a lower court in Detroit last Augist that the post-911 warrantless surveillance aimed at uncovering terrorist activity was unconstitutional, violating rights to privacy and free speech and the separation of powers.

UPDATE: Scholars and Rogues has more.

UPDATE II: Reaction from Senate Judiciary chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT):

The Court’s decision is a disappointing one that was not made on the merits of the case, yet closed the courthouse doors to resolving it. I hope the Bush Administration will finally provide the information requested by Congress regarding the constitutional and legal questions about this program so that those of us who represent the American people can get to the bottom of what happened and why. There is a dark cloud over the White House’s warrantless wiretapping program, and a full response to the outstanding subpoena from the Senate Judiciary Committee by this Administration would be a good start to clearing the air and moving forward in ways that allow us to better protect against terrorists while honoring the rule of law and the liberties of law-abiding Americans.

Washington Talk Radio Station Drops Bill O’Reilly

Fri, 2007-07-06 07:22

Washington DC FM talk radio station 106.7 WJFK yesterday announced it was dropping Bill O’Reilly’s nationally syndicated show, and replacing it with a sports-talk program. The Washington Post reports today that O’Reilly’s cancellation is a “case in point” of how poorly conservative radio programs have fared in DC:

With the exception of Rush Limbaugh, conservative talk-radio hosts have struggled for years to find a wide audience on the local dial. While Limbaugh’s afternoon program remains popular on WMAL (630 AM), not many other conservatives’ programs have.

Yet despite their underwhelming performance, numerous right-wing radio hosts have been given repeated opportunities to succeed in DC. “Such radio stars of the right as Laura Ingraham, Glenn Beck and Michael Savage at times have literally had no ratings in Washington, as measured by Arbitron.”

In its diagnosis of conservative talk’s failures in the DC region, the Post points to a host of factors including the weak signals of some stations, weak programming, and the unique culture of the area that is resistant to political talk radio. One factor that went unmentioned, however, is the impact media consolidation has had on the local market.

In the Center for American Progress’s recent report on the “structural imbalance of political talk radio,” it noted that Washington DC had 65 percent conservative content and only 35 percent progressive. In this region, the market is dominated by only five owners:

Ownership # of stations Station ID Bonneville International 5 WFED, WGYS, WTOP, WTWP-AM, WTWP-FM CBS Radio 1 WJFK ABC, Inc. 1 WMAL Radio One, Inc. (Urban Talk) 1 WOL Clear Channel 2 WTNT, WWRC

This pattern of ownership homogeneity is reflected in radio markets throughout the nation. CAP’s report calls for increasing the ownership diversity in the talk radio market, allowing more local participation in determining the content communities want to listen to.

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Poll: Income gap worsening.

Fri, 2007-07-06 07:21

New poll finds that seven in 10 Americans believe that “discrepancies between income levels are too large, a sentiment voiced by nearly two-thirds of those from households earning at least $80,000 a year, the survey said. Three-fourths of people earning less than $80,000 agreed. Eight in 10 said the gap between the rich and the middle class has worsened over the last 25 years.”

Michael Moore releases secret HMO memo on SiCKO.

Fri, 2007-07-06 06:50

Capital BlueCross VP of Corporate Communications Barclay Fitzpatrick recently went to see Moore’s film SiCKO. In an internal memo, he writes, “You would have to be dead to be unaffected by Moore’s movie.” He worries that if “popular, the movie will have a negative impact on our image in this community,” and suggests “talking points” to discount the film. Read the memo HERE.

Cheney lies caught on tape.

Fri, 2007-07-06 06:24

Robert Greenwald’s Brave New Films has launched a new video laying out the evidence for the articles of impeachment against Dick Cheney. Watch it:

ThinkFast: July 6, 2007

Fri, 2007-07-06 06:00

Global warming is radically changing the face of Mount Everest, the sons of the men who first reached its summit 54 years ago said.” The sons of Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay say “their fathers would no longer recognise the world’s highest mountain,” noting the base camp is now 132 feet lower than it was 53 years ago.

Triple-digit temperatures are expected to set records in parts of the West. Forecasters predicted a high of 107 in Boise, ID, and 125 in Baker, CA. Residents in some states were warned “that outdoor activities could be dangerous except during the cooler early morning hours.”

Eighteen people died in Baghdad “after a car bomb blew up outside a photo shop here as members of a wedding party waited Thursday night for the newlyweds to get their pictures taken.”

“The bald eagle may be soaring back from near-extinction, but hundreds of other imperiled species are foundering, as the federal agency charged with protecting them has sunk into legal, bureaucratic and political turmoil.”

Nearly half of the National Hurricane Center’s employees urged the Bush administration to replace their boss. “The staff of the National Hurricane Center would like nothing more than to return its focus to its primary mission of protecting life and property from hazardous tropical weather,” they wrote, “and leave the political arena it now finds itself in.” (more…)

Krugman: ‘Sacrifice is for suckers.’

Fri, 2007-07-06 04:53

In today’s New York Times, columnist Paul Krugman writes, “The Bushies, it seems, like starting fights, but they don’t believe in paying any of the cost of those fights or bearing any of the risks. Above all, they don’t believe that they or their friends should face any personal or professional penalties for trivial sins like distorting intelligence to get America into an unnecessary war, or totally botching that war’s execution.” He continues:

The Web site Think Progress has a summary of what happened to the men behind the war after we didn’t find W.M.D., and weren’t welcomed as liberators: “The architects of war: Where are they now?” To read that summary is to be awed by the comprehensiveness and generosity of the neocon welfare system. Even Paul Wolfowitz, who managed the rare feat of messing up not one but two high-level jobs, has found refuge at the American Enterprise Institute.

Read our summary of the war architects here.

A simple question for NBC political analyst Chuck Todd.

Thu, 2007-07-05 19:05

Media Matters writes: “Before the November 2006 midterm elections, NBC News political director Chuck Todd predicted several times that if the Democrats won ‘control of Congress’ and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) became speaker of the House, then President Bush’s ‘approval rating will be over 50 percent by the Fourth of July next year.’ … Will NBC News question Todd about his inaccurate prediction?”

UPDATE: MissLaura has more.

Rio’s Live Earth concert back on.

Thu, 2007-07-05 18:09

Earlier today, Brazilian authorities “obtained a court injunction suspending the Live Earth show in Rio de Janeiro on concerns about security.” But Brazilian judge Denise Tarin has “revoked her own injunction,” meaning that the only free concert in the Live Earth series is back on. Take the Live Earth Pledge HERE.

Reagan’s NSA Chief: Withdraw funds, pull out, impeach.

Thu, 2007-07-05 17:18

Gen. William Odom, the former head of the National Security Agency under President Reagan, writes that Congress should begin cutting off funds for Iraq and must force Bush to begin a withdrawal before he leaves office:

To force him to begin a withdrawal before then, the first step should be to rally the public by providing an honest and candid definition of what “supporting the troops” really means and pointing out who is and who is not supporting our troops at war. The next step should be a flat refusal to appropriate money for to be used in Iraq for anything but withdrawal operations with a clear deadline for completion.

The final step should be to put that president on notice that if ignores this legislative action and tries to extort Congress into providing funds by keeping U.S. forces in peril, impeachment proceeding will proceed in the House of Representatives. Such presidential behavior surely would constitute the “high crime” of squandering the lives of soldiers and Marines for his own personal interest.

Giuliani Sacrifices Principles On Executive Clemency; Contradicts Past Statements

Thu, 2007-07-05 14:55

On Tuesday, former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani said President Bush’s decision to commute former Cheney aide “Scooter” Libby’s 2 1/2 year sentence for perjury and obstruction of justice was “reasonable” and “correct,” despite the fact that the president “quickly made the decision” without consulting the Justice Department or the pardon attorney.

Giuliani hasn’t always believed that such a hasty process was “reasonable” for executive clemency. In 1982, when he was an assistant attorney general in the Reagan DoJ, Giuliani said clemency entailed “a complex, yearlong procedure“:

According to Associate Attorney General Rudolph W. Giuliani, executive clemency involves a great number of people and a complex, yearlong procedure. Every request is subject to a detailed inquiry by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which conducts as many as 50 interviews to flesh out each application. That background investigation is as comprehensive as any the bureau conducts on a prospective United States Attorney, Mr. Giuliani said.

The case is next studied by the pardon attorney, who makes a judgment that Mr. Giuliani reviews. His judgment, in turn, goes to Fred Fielding, the White House counsel who re-examines the files and makes his own judgment. Then, according to Mr. Fielding, every request is presented to the President for his concurrence.

In 1982, Giuliani also said that remorse was important for bestowing clemancy. “We also look at the reason for the request and a recognition that the person knows he’s done something wrong,” said Giuliani. In fact, Giuliani even “recommended that the President deny the request of an embezzler who insisted he had committed no crime.”

In 2001, while castigating former President Bill Clinton for pardoning financier Marc Rich, Giuliani said it was important to confer with prosecutors before offering executive clemency:

The op-ed piece in The New York Times raises more questions than it answers. He’s left out the trading with Iraq. Somehow he thinks that a pardon is now intended to determine whether indictments are wrongful enough. But he doesn’t talk to the prosecutor, just the defense lawyers. [Marketplace Morning Report, 2/19/01]

Libby never admitted any guilt nor did Bush consult special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald prior to issuing his commutation. But that didn’t stop Giuliani from ignoring his previous standards and concluding that President Bush acted properly.

UPDATE: Giuliani on Larry King Live in 2001:

I think the questions the former president has created here put in doubt the pardon process, and it’s not just — you’re focusing on the Marc Rich part. He did about 50 that he didn’t run through the Justice Department.

Bush didn’t run the Libby commutation through the Justice Department either.

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Paper with heavy military readership calls for withdrawal.

Thu, 2007-07-05 14:32

The Olympian in Olympia, WA, “a McClatchy newspaper with a heavy military presence in its circulation area,” came out strongly for withdrawal from Iraq yesterday. The paper, located near Fort Lewis, “which has sent tens of thousands of troops to Iraq,” including 134 who have died there, concluded that the war “isn’t worth a single more American life.”