Archive for July 10th, 2007

From “Hardball with Chris Matthews” – July 9, 2007 (Chris Matthews talking with Tina Brown, author of “The Dianna Chronicles” and former editor of Vanity Fair and The New Yorker; Jill Zuckman of The Chicago Tribune; and Chris Cilizza of The Washington Post.)

…MATTHEWS: Tina, 10 years from now, when the coast is clear, I, for one, believe—I don‘t like the word impeachment being thrown around, because I think it does involve criminal behavior and I don‘t actually see that. But in terms of the salesmanship of this war and how we were talked into it, I think there is going to be an historic inquiry as to how this country took its army into Arabia against all common sense in history….

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July 7, 2007

Ewen MacAskill in Washington

The Guardian

President George Bush turned 61 yesterday but he had little to celebrate at the end of a week in which his isolation has been exposed as never before.

Laura Bush held an early family party for him on Wednesday, to which a few professional golfers were also invited, and on Thursday the president made a rare outing to watch a baseball game. But these few birthday celebrations apart, it has been a relentless week for the US president.

A backlash against his decision on Monday to commute the jail sentence of the former White House aide Lewis “Scooter” Libby was followed on Thursday by the withdrawal of support for his Iraq strategy by Pete Domenici, a Republican senator for 35 years. The loss of such a loyal senator is ominous for Mr Bush’s war plans.

More defections are expected, and Mr Bush cuts a lonely figure, holed up in the White House fretting over his legacy.

Professor Robert Dallek, author of several books about the presidency, said that while it was not unusual for a president to limp to the end of his term as a lame duck, he saw Mr Bush as a particularly pronounced case. “If you are looking at defeat, no one wants to be associated with the person responsible. This is the case with Bush. You do not see his party rally round. He has united opinion against him and it makes for a lonely, isolated position,” Prof Dallek said. “Once a president loses trust, he cannot govern effectively.”

Although he has 18 months left in office, Mr Bush’s options are limited. Last week, he lost his last chance for snatching a lasting domestic legacy when his immigration reform bill was destroyed in Congress. On foreign policy, there is little optimism of a late breakthrough on Israel-Palestine, Iran or Iraq.

The Washington Post reported this week on academics invited to the White House to discuss with him his legacy, including Sir Alistair Horne, author of a history of the Algerian revolt, which has parallels with Iraq. They, as well as former staffers and friends, spoke of his loneliness, his agonising over how history will portray him. Michael Conaway, a still loyal senator and long-time friend, said the president appeared to be worn down by the pressure and spoke of “a marked difference in his physical appearance”.

Although never a social animal, he is reluctant to drop into Washington restaurants unannounced for dinner, as the Clintons did, in part because he is fearful of the public response. This week, in particular, because of the Libby decision, he has largely avoided public contact – his July 4 speech in West Virginia was invitation-only.

The White House presented the Libby decision as a non-political compromise.

A well-connected source in Washington challenged the consensus that Mr Bush’s poll ratings, at just under 30%, could not fall much further because that figure represented bedrock Republican support. The source said commuting Mr Libby’s sentence, a popular move among Republicans, was a panic measure after an alarming erosion in support, mainly because of hostility to the immigration plan.

Mr Domenici’s withdrawal of support followed the desertion of the Republican senator Richard Lugar last week, also over Iraq. About 50% of the sitting Republican senators face re-election in November next year and their constituents have made them well aware of how unpopular the Iraq war is.

The White House yesterday expressed disappointment, saying it had hoped the senators would not go public with their frustration before September, when the army and others report back on whether Mr Bush’s “surge” strategy is working.

Steve Clemons, head of the progressive thinktank the New America Foundation, has heard the reports of Mr Bush’s decline in power and is sceptical. He cautioned: “Even though he has lost some ability to dictate events, he is still capable of deploying major influence on the big issues. We went through the same thing with [Vice-president Dick] Cheney when people thought he was down and out. I think it is a big mistake to think Bush is now powerless.”

With little positive to show from six years in office, Mr Bush has been talking up his transformation of the supreme court as his legacy. He has given it a strong rightwing bias, demonstrated by rulings on abortion, employment discrimination and rejection of death penalty appeals. That will please Republicans, at least.

But Prof Dallek remains unimpressed. Rating the worst presidents, he said: “Hoover was a disaster. Warren Harding rates very low in the pantheon of presidents and it is likely that Bush will be seen as a bottom feeder.”

From The Guardian

Say “When.”

By Ed Henry
CNN White House correspondent



WASHINGTON (CNN) — When you’re facing a stampede, you try to jump ahead of the mob and call it a parade. That’s what President Bush will be trying to do at a town hall-style meeting Tuesday in Cleveland — putting the best face on Republican defections over Iraq.


Bush is facing increasing questions and demands from within his own party.

As an increasing number of Republican senators break with the president on the war and say they want large numbers of U.S. troops to start coming home, he will essentially say, “I’m for that too!”

Senior officials expect the president to repeat what he’s said before, which is that of course he would like to get to a point where the U.S. can soon start troop withdrawals — but with major caveats. The president contends there first needs to be more progress in Iraq on two fronts, security on the ground and political reconciliation within the Iraqi government.

So this is not really a new policy or strategy, it’s more like a new-and-improved way of framing the same message of patience.

“The whole purpose of the surge is to get us to that place,” White House spokesman Tony Snow said on CNN’s “American Morning” Tuesday about reducing troop levels. “What we’re saying to those now is now that you got what you wanted, which is a ‘new way forward’, give it a chance to work.”

But the problem for the president is that many fellow Republicans are no longer willing to give it a chance to work, with moderate Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine declaring that a troop redeployment should occur by the middle of next year.

“That should occur and send a very important message to the Iraqi government that our time, you know, has evaporated, along with our patience with respect to their failures to implement the political objectives,” Snowe told “American Morning” on Tuesday.

“Our troops are making the military sacrifice and, yet, they’re not willing to make the political compromises,” she said.

In fact, the White House’s own preliminary report on progress within the Iraqi government, due on Capitol Hill by the end of the week, is expected to show Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is not meeting key benchmarks.

That’s likely to be further grist for senior Republicans, like Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana, to say the president can no longer wait until September for a drastic change in strategy.

In other words, the stampede is likely to grow.


Say “When.”

After serving in Afghanistan and three times in Iraq, an Army Reserve sergeant from Port St. Lucie (FL) recoiled at still another deployment.


Erik Botta believes he’s done right by his country.Days after 9/11, as a young Army reservist, he volunteered to go to war. He was soon in Afghanistan.

The next year, he was sent out again, this time to Iraq, part of a Special Operations team.

In the next two years, he was sent to Iraq again. And again.

He thought he was done. But now, the Army wants Sgt. Botta one more time.

The 26-year-old Port St. Lucie man has been ordered to report to Fort Jackson, S.C., on July 15 for his fifth deployment. And that has compelled Botta, a first-generation American who counts himself a quiet patriot, to do something he never thought he’d do: sue the Army.

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Michael Moore was on CNN last night with Wolf Blitzer. It was quite the “shout-down,” with Moore challenging Blitzer to apologize to the American public for lying about multiple issues – mainly, the reporting that lead us into the Iraq war.

It’s well worth 10 minutes of your time!

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China Executes ex-food and drug chief 

By Alexa Olesen, AP

BEIJING – China executed the former head of its food and drug watchdog on Tuesday for approving untested medicine in exchange for cash, the strongest signal yet from Beijing that it is serious about tackling its product safety crisis.
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