Monday, August 13, 2007

Karl Rove Should Stay

From my "Captial Games" column at

The White House confirmed on Monday morning that George W. Bush's master strategist will be leaving Bush's side at the end of August. "I just think it's time," Rove told The Wall Street Journal 's Paul Gigot. His reason for bailing on Bush: "There's always something that can keep you here, as much as I'd like to be here, I've got to do this for the sake of my family." At a White House ceremony, Bush issued a brief farewell to Rove, saying little about the man who made Bush president and whom Bush reportedly nicknamed "Turd Blossom" (for Rove's ability to grow flowers in dung). Rove, visibly holding back tears, praised Bush for his "integrity, character and decency." He vowed to be a "fierce and committed advocate [for Bush] on the outside." Neither said anything explicitly about the Iraq war.

Certainly, a White House aide who has engaged in the sort of political and policy chicanery that Rove has perpetuated ought to lose the right to collect a paycheck from U.S. taxpayers. Take your pick: the Iraq war, Hurricane Katrina, the U.S. attorney scandal, the Valerie Plame leak, inaction on global warming, injecting politics into federal agencies to a new degree, suppressing government science, the stem cell veto, tax cuts for the wealthy, politicizing the war on terror. But leaving is too good for Rove. He was Bush's partner in the Iraq war, yet he (like other Bush aides, including, most recently, Dan Bartlett) are abandoning ship before the fight is done. Rove has argued that the Iraq war is essential for the survival of the United States (that is, for all of our families). So how can he walk away with the war not won?

In June 2006, Rove gave a speech to New Hampshire Republicans and blasted Democrats for advocating "cutting and running" in Iraq. He said of the Democrats, "They may be with you for the first shots. But they're not be with you for the tough battles." But isn't Rove now doing the same on a personal scale? He is departing the White House when the going in Iraq is as tough as it ever was.

In an earlier 2006 speech, Rove exclaimed, "America is at war....To retreat before victory has been won would be a reckless act." He was, of course, talking about a military retreat. But look at it this way: Rove helped Bush start a war, and now hundreds of thousands of American GIs (and millions of Iraqi civilians) have no choice but to live with the consequences of that decision. Why should Rove--and not they--be allowed to say, Sorry, now I have to bug out to spend more time with my family ? How nice for the Roves that he can walk away from the war.

When Bush campaigned for president in 2000, he and Rove dubbed their campaign plane Accountability One . The point: we're the responsible ones. But a fundamental principle of accountability is that you clean up the messes you create. Rove is not doing that. He will cash in. Maybe with speeches. Perhaps with a book or some private sector spot. Instead, he ought to volunteer for service with one of the few functioning provincial reconstruction teams in Iraq. Or perhaps he could conduct seminars on basic electoral skills for tribal leaders in southeastern Afghanistan. (Lesson No. 2: How To Demonize Your Enemy.) If overseas travel would place too much of a burden on his family, he could help clean up a neighborhood in New Orleans.

In The Great Gatsby , F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote of Tom and Daisy, "They were careless people...they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back to their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made." Rove is certainly more careful than Fitzgerald's characters--careful when it comes to politics and doing whatever is necessary to win. But with Bush, he recklessly steered this country into a debacle in Iraq that has caused the death of thousands of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians and that has ruined the United States' reputation abroad. Bush, Rove, Dick Cheney and the rest did so with little understanding and with insufficient planning, and they sold the war to the public with bad information and blatant misrepresentations. (Rove was part of the White House Iraq Group that devised the prewar messaging.) Rove deserves not reward but punishment. A fitting sentence would be for Rove to stay to the bitter end so he can sweep up the turds he is now leaving behind.

Posted by David Corn at August 13, 2007 12:03 PM


capt said...

Mr. David Corn,

Right you are, Rove should stay.

I have a sinking feeling that the real reason for leaving the WH is because the crud KKkarl is planning on pulling this election cycle is SO obvious and SO illegal the criminal enterprise operating our WH can't begin to cover it up.

(perish the thought)



capt said...

Sparring Partners


The commentariat, from David Brooks, of the Times, to the Nation’s David Corn, scored this exchange as a stumble for Obama, a palpable hit for Clinton. Over the next few days, things got huffier. Obama’s remarks were “irresponsible and, frankly, naïve,” Clinton said. Obama, aiming at Clinton’s greatest vulnerability with the Democratic base, shot back, “I think what is irresponsible and naïve is to have authorized a war without asking how we were going to get out.” A day later, he swung a left hook: “I don’t want Bush-Cheney lite.” Clinton’s parry: “This is getting kind of silly. I’ve been called a lot of things in my life, but I’ve never been called George Bush or Dick Cheney. . . . I don’t want to see the power and prestige of the United States President put at risk by rushing into meetings with the likes of Chávez, and Castro, and Ahmadinejad.”

It was left to another Clinton, former President Bill, to try to calm things down a bit. “I don’t want to get in the middle of that whole spat Hillary and Senator Obama had, but there’s more than one way to practice diplomacy,” he told a gathering of the Democratic Leadership Council. The point, he added, is that they had “a vigorous agreement on the big question, which is ‘Should we have more diplomacy?’ The answer is yes. Then you can parse their answers to the specific questions and decide who you think is right.”

Very well, then, let’s parse. Obama didn’t commit to meeting with the quintet of villains; he expressed a willingness to do so, which is not the same thing. What he advocated was “send[ing] a signal that we need to talk to Iran and Syria,” a signal Clinton has been sending, too. “Without precondition” does not mean without preparation. Nor is it inconsistent with waiting until one has a better idea of the probable outcome. It simply means being ready to sit down and negotiate even if no concessions have been made in advance. On the other hand, although Clinton voted to authorize force against Iraq, it’s crystal clear that she would not have gone to war there had she been President. And “Bush-Cheney lite”? Them’s fightin’ words, and most unfair ones.

In truth, each candidate is exaggerating, even distorting, what the other is saying. Their squabble is mutually advantageous to the extent that it advances their respective (to use the buzzword of the moment) “narratives.” Hers: the steady, experienced, disciplined, battle-tested veteran, aggressive and cautious in equal measure. His: the inspiring new face, unfettered by past mistakes and unafraid to defy “the conventional wisdom” and “Washington.” She’s showing she can deliver a punch; he’s showing his jaw’s not made of glass. She’s pointing to his gaffe (and it was a gaffe, if only because it opened him to attack); he’s proving that by holding his ground he can turn a sow’s ear into, if not a silk purse, at least a nylon backpack.

Clinton—Bill, that is—is right. Substantively, there’s much less disagreement here than meets the eye. The same is true of the subsidiary spats that followed. When Obama, in a speech on terrorism at the Wilson Center in Washington, said, “If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets [in Pakistan] and President Musharraf won’t act, we will,” he came under attack not only from Hillary Clinton but also from Senators Joseph Biden and Christopher Dodd. It turned out, though, that their objection was not to what he said—which they agree with—but to the undiplomatic indiscretion of saying it out loud. Similarly, when Obama said he would not use nuclear weapons to attack terrorists, Senator Clinton tut-tutted him, saying, “I don’t believe that any President should make any blanket statements with respect to the use or non-use of nuclear weapons. But I think we’ll leave it at that, because I don’t know the circumstances in which he was responding.” Yet no one imagines that President Hillary Clinton would order a nuclear attack on a terrorist training camp in the wilds of Waziristan, even if bin Laden himself were in residence.

The circumstances, by the way, were these: A Capitol Hill reporter for the Associated Press, spotting Obama emerging from a breakfast with constituents, asked him a question. He answered, “I think it would be a profound mistake for us to use nuclear weapons in any circumstance”—he paused—“involving civilians.” He paused again. “Let me scratch that,” he added. “There’s been no discussion of nuclear weapons. That’s not on the table.”

Let me scratch that, indeed. The sentence you are reading has been tweaked a half-dozen times. But in an age of omnipresent microphones, instant transcripts, cell-phone videos, and merciless cable-TV hosts, politicians have no such luxury. When they open their mouths, the first draft is the final. Off the cuff is engraved in granite. Between the two parties there are twenty-nine more debates and forums scheduled, all before the first primary. Start parsing.


capt said...

An Iraq Documentary Based on Facts, Not Michael Moore-Style Cheekiness

Want to know what caused post-war Iraq to melt down the way it has, without reading any of the innumerable 700-page books that tell the same story? See the new documentary “No End in Sight,” entering wide release this week. Directed by Charles Ferguson, it tells the story both convincingly and very briskly – without the condescending sneer that’s become synonymous with Bush-era political films.

Ferguson’s film follows the first year after the invasion and the massive bungling that followed, with one authority after another – Democrat and Republican, military and civilian – testifying about the Bush administration making one blunder after another, mostly because they failed to listen to those on the ground.

“No End in Sight” helps get across just how Iraq turned into what is likely an unsalvageable disaster, a fact that is by now completely obvious to anyone who is honest, or at least to anyone not on the editorial staff of the Weekly Standard.

We’re taken through the first few months of the occupation, as the Americans stand by while ancient artifacts are looted, violence begins cresting and civil authority begins breaking down. Then, in what was ultimately the war’s most disastrous decision, Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) Chairman Paul Bremer disbands the Iraqi army, leading almost directly to the creation of the Sunni insurgency.

Other disastrous decisions include the staffing of CPA with GOP political hacks, including (in one anecdote) the 20-something daughter of a Bush contributor being put in charge of directing car traffic in Baghdad, and a series of instances in which the people on the ground in Iraq were overruled by people in Washington who had never been to Iraq, knew nothing about the Middle East or post-war construction and did not speak a word of Arabic.

A litany of books making all the same points have been released in the last few years, including Thomas Ricks’s “Fiasco,” David Corn and Michael Isikoff’s “Hubris” and James Fallows’s “Blind Into Baghdad.” Anyone who has read them will know the story by now. Still, it’s refreshing to actually see the people involved tell the stories of what went wrong – especially people who were actually there. You can see the frustration in the eyes of a man like Col. Paul Hughes, who clearly wanted to do right by the Iraqis and was prevented from doing so by clueless bureaucrats.

There’s another thing that’s refreshing about “No End in Sight”. It’s missing the cheekiness, the preaching-to-the-choir certainty, the preening, the shallow attempts at humor and the ethically questionable editing choices that audiences have come to expect from political documentaries, thanks to the foul influence of Michael Moore and his numerous imitators.

While Ferguson is interested in telling the story of how the Bushies bungled the occupation, what he’s not interested in doing is making larger pronouncements about every American political disaster of the past century, or of tying the Iraq war either to some deficiency in the American character, or to mysterious, sinister ulterior motives. Contrast this with Moore, who laughably alleged in "Fahrenheit 9/11" that the U.S. really invaded Afghanistan not because of Bin Laden, but over a pipeline – one that was never actually built.

The success of Moore’s last few films have led to a series of documentaries seemingly aimed at getting urban liberal audiences to have their exact political opinions spewed directly back at them, so that they can see a treatment of complex political issues without being challenged in any way whatsoever.

This rampant self-congratulation has even started to spill over into action-adventure features. The almost universally-praised "The Bourne Ultimatum" continued the trend that every major Hollywood action-adventure movie has to "commentate on current events" by including both 1) a torture scene and 2) a cackling bureaucrat villain obviously modeled on Dick Cheney.

While “No End in Sight” will certainly serve to reinforce – correctly – most of the viewpoints of its viewers, the audience I saw it with laughed derisively at Cheney and Rumsfeld every time they appeared on screen. It doesn’t make cheap shots, and not a single moment of it is argued dishonestly or in bad faith.

“Can’t America do better than this?” asks a soldier who served in Iraq, in the film’s closing moments. That’s a question that infuses the heart of “No End in Sight”, and it’s one that Moore, a man more invested in showing just how much better every other country is – would never even think to ask.


capt said...

Cowardly Democrats give in to president on NSA wiretapping

Use it or lose it. That's the first lesson of political power - which Democrats still haven't learned. As they proved by their vote on the National Security Agency wiretap legislation, when push comes to shove, Democrats would rather fold than fight.

A quick recap: In December 2005, The New York Times first reported that, shortly after Sept. 11, President Bush ordered the NSA to monitor international phone calls without first getting a warrant from the court, as required by the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA. As if that weren't bad enough, we soon learned that many domestic calls were also included in the NSA sweep; that only a handful of members of Congress had been informed of the program (and sworn to secrecy); and that then-Attorney General John Ashcroft had refused to sanction the White House order because he believed it was against the law.

As soon as the news broke, Democrats began to raise hell. They demanded an investigation. They grilled Mr. Ashcroft and then-White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales. They even threatened to impeach President Bush. How dare he purposely evade the law? Why refuse to get a warrant from what is, in effect, a rubber-stamp court? Surely, cried Democrats, Congress would not tolerate an outlaw administration.

But that was then, and this is now. Then, Republicans controlled Congress. Now, Democrats do. So what did Democrats do in the first opportunity they had to vote on the NSA spying program? They copped out.

Congress, on the last day before its members left town for August, and with the help of 16 Senate Democrats, passed emergency legislation to authorize Mr. Bush's past illegal, warrantless wiretaps. Not only that, it absolved Mr. Bush from having to seek a court warrant for any future wiretaps - as long as he first obtains permission from Alberto Gonzales. Congress rewarded Mr. Bush's lawless behavior and gave him a free pass to continue doing legally what he had been doing illegally.

Why? Democrats admit there were problems with the original FISA legislation but insist they didn't have time to fix them before leaving for the August recess. Nonsense. If so, why did they wait till the day before vacation to bring the bill up for consideration?

Clearly, any necessary corrections to FISA could have waited until September. If not - if there really were a terrorist threat that demanded immediate action (none was cited by the administration) - surely it would have been worth sacrificing a couple of days at the beach, rather than simply throwing the Fourth Amendment out the window and running out of town.

Some Democrats also explain that they went along with Mr. Bush because, otherwise, they were afraid of being branded "soft on the war on terror." What a bunch of wimps. Haven't they learned anything? Republicans will accuse Democrats of being soft on terror no matter how they vote.

There is no excuse - none - for Democrats to surrender to Mr. Bush on illegal wiretapping. Doing so was a huge, cowardly, shameful cop-out.

Adding insult to injury, Democrats now insist that because, under the new legislation, Mr. Bush's expanded spy powers expire in six months, they'll fix everything six months from now. If they didn't get it right the first time, they won't get it right the second time. Once again, Mr. Bush will plead "terror" and Democrats will cave. Our Fourth Amendment rights could be gone forever.

That is, unless the Democratic leadership and Democratic senators hear from enough outraged Americans between now and then.

Today, Democrats have the power. But if they don't start using their power to end the war in Iraq and stop Mr. Bush's outlaw presidency, they're going to lose it all.

Bill Press is host of a nationally syndicated radio show. His e-mail is:


capt said...

Matthews to CNBC's Burnett: "You're a knockout"; "It's all right getting bad news from you"

Summary: On Hardball, Chris Matthews told CNBC anchor Erin Burnett: "[Y]ou're beautiful" and "[y]ou're a knockout," before closing their interview by saying, "It's all right getting bad news from you."

On the August 10 edition of MSNBC's Hardball , during a discussion of recent financial news, host Chris Matthews told CNBC's Erin Burnett: "[Y]ou're beautiful" and "[y]ou're a knockout," before closing the interview by saying, "It's all right getting bad news from you."

Matthews began the segment by asking, "So what's going on with the stock market? Yesterday, the stocks on Wall Street suffered their biggest one-day decline since February. Should we be worried?"

But at the conclusion of the interview, Matthews asked Burnett, who anchors CNBC's Squawk on the Street and Street Signs , "Could you get a little closer to the camera?" Burnett replied, "My -- what is it?" Matthews then said, "Come on in closer. No, come in -- come in further -- come in closer. Really close."

After Burnett began to comply, Matthews stated, "Just kidding! You look great! Anyway, thanks. Erin, it's great to -- look at that look. You're great." He went on: "No, you're beautiful. I'm just kidding. I'm just kidding. You're a knockout. Anyway, thank you, Erin Burnett."

From the 5 p.m. hour of the August 10 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews :


*****end of clip*****

Good old tweety - a true professional through-and-through.


capt said...

Leahy Reacts to Rove's Resignation

Washington, D.C. - August 13, 2007

Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy has reacted to the news that President Bush's chief political strategist Karl Rove is quitting.

Karl Rove announced Monday morning he will resign at the end of the month. He said the decision was made for quote "the sake of my family."

But last month Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy subpoenaed Rove to testify about the firing of 8 U-S attorneys. The White house has refused to honor that subpoena.

Leahy in a statement said he wants to know what Mr. Rove and others at the White House are trying so desperately to hide.


Gerald said...

America's Moral Crisis

Gerald said...

From Sniper to War Resister

Gerald said...

How the Good War Went Bad

Gerald said...

Iran slams Bush for his comments

Gerald said...

Tension Grows

Gerald said...

Military leaders say the government should demand that contractors report their movements and use of weapons. Last year, officials of the 3rd Infantry Division in Baghdad told visiting GAO auditors that lack of coordination continued to endanger the lives soldiers and contractors. Private security details continued to enter battle zones without warning, the military leaders said. In some cases, military officers complained they had no way of communicating with private security details.

capt said...

Breyer Says Last Term Was Difficult

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - The Supreme Court's most recent term was a difficult one, Justice Stephen Breyer said Saturday, because he found himself on the losing end of several key cases.

"I was in dissent quite a lot and I wasn't happy," Breyer said at the American Bar Association's annual meeting.

Breyer was one of four liberal justices who dissented in cases involving abortion rights, school integration and pay discrimination. In the school case, in which the court struck down student assignment plans in Louisville, Ky., and Seattle, his frustration bubbled over in a lengthy dissent that was twice as long as any he had written in his 13 years on the court.

Yet with the passage of some time, Breyer said the court's term underscored his faith in the rule of law.

"When I look at it objectively, I think how I wish I'd won, but I also think, not a bad system," Breyer said.

"I'm not going to be in the majority all the time. How I wish I were, but that's the system. That's called the rule of law," he said.

Earlier, addressing another ABA audience, Breyer said the major division in the world is between people committed to resolving disputes through a system of laws and those who are not.

Breyer praised the group's volunteer effort to train lawyers and judges around the world to adhere to the rule of law, despite changing political environments.

After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Breyer said: "I began to see that the true division of importance in the world is not between different countries. The important division is between those who are committed to reason, to working out things, to understanding other people, to peaceful resolution of their differences ... and those who don't think that."

He said the nine justices on the court were unanimous in that belief, even as they disagree vigorously over the issues that come before them.

At the time of the attacks, Breyer said, he was in India with Justice Sandra Day O'Connor to meet with judges and lawyers there. Even as American diplomats wanted to send the justices home immediately, they insisted on going ahead with meetings to demonstrate the strength of the U.S. system, he said.

Since 1990, the ABA has sent lawyers to emerging democracies to promote anti-corruption laws, criminal law reform and formation of an apolitical corps of judges.


capt said...

Could This Be "The Second American Revolution"?


There are people in many other countries that know what we are going through with this Right wing, war-glorifying government. Many people around the world have had their own versions of Bush and Cheney. Some worse than what we have. This is no reason to turn our backs on what we have accomplished in the years since we have become a nation. There are people that look to America to throw off the yoke of hyper-capitalism that we call the Multi-national Corporate structure that isn’t a nation at all, but like acts like one. We talk about al-Qaeda as being a stateless enemy but this enemy is far worse. They cut down rain forests, bribe their way through the wishes of the indigenous populations, they take resources from nations that can’t extract their own resources, and with their bottomless coffers they introduce technology and pay the people that own the resources pennies on the dollar. They rip through the earth and shift populations and seed revolutions that will make their bottom line grow higher. It may be that companies like DeBeers, that have wrecked havoc with the nations of Africa are thought to have been regulated, but they are not. The people of Iraq by International Mandate have never been able to drill for oil where they know exists vast pools of light sweet crude but have been thwarted in their efforts to drill in their own country by OPEC. The average Iraqi has never received the profits from their own oil. It has gone to American and Dutch and other Big oil conglomerates and the pittance that was left went to a dictator that built palaces and used it to keep the people subjugated. Now that the American government controls Iraq, we want to give them 30% of their own oil, with 70% going to the multi national oil companies.

Most Americans are seeing what is being done and they are disgusted. They see the sectarian violence that has raged in Iraq on and off for thousands of years and they blame our government. While it’s true that we did bring it to a boil with our vision towards reigning in Iraqi oil profits, the fact is that we didn’t start this violence, different Islamic factions have been fighting with each other since Islam became a religion. Like other religions, it’s good for nothing except isolating people into different groups and extolling them to kill each other. Religion is the opiate of the masses, and like other drugs, it is destructive and counter-productive. Look at the fundamentalists in our own country. There are those Christian fundamentalists that have bankrolled Bush and walked in lockstep with people whose business is war and subjugating the rest of the world. Nice bunch of “holy people” we have here.


*****end of clip*****

Tim fails to reflect the fact that in Iraq - specifically - we didn’t “bring it to a boil” Saddam had the factions under control.


capt said...

New Thread