Paul Krugman: "All The President's Enablers"

Like Krugman, I couldn't care less if Bush is "certain" and "confident" we'll defeat Iraqi insurgents and al Qaeda because Bush was just as confident about the ease of the Iraq war, how fast he would find Osama bin Laden, and how the world would love our War on Terror, areas in which he failed light years beyond miserably. Read the rest here:

In a coordinated public relations offensive, the White House is using reliably friendly pundits — amazingly, they still exist — to put out the word that President Bush is as upbeat and confident as ever. It might even be true.

What I don’t understand is why we’re supposed to consider Mr. Bush’s continuing confidence a good thing.

Remember, Mr. Bush was confident six years ago when he promised to bring in Osama, dead or alive. He was confident four years ago, when he told the insurgents to bring it on. He was confident two years ago, when he told Brownie that he was doing a heckuva job.

Now Iraq is a bloody quagmire, Afghanistan is deteriorating and the Bush administration’s own National Intelligence Estimate admits, in effect, that thanks to Mr. Bush’s poor leadership America is losing the struggle with Al Qaeda. Yet Mr. Bush remains confident.

Sorry, but that’s not reassuring; it’s terrifying. It doesn’t demonstrate Mr. Bush’s strength of character; it shows that he has lost touch with reality.

Actually, it’s not clear that he ever was in touch with reality. I wrote about the Bush administration’s “infallibility complex,” its inability to admit mistakes or face up to real problems it didn’t want to deal with, in June 2002. Around the same time Ron Suskind, the investigative journalist, had a conversation with a senior Bush adviser who mocked the “reality-based community,” asserting that “when we act, we create our own reality.”

People who worried that the administration was living in a fantasy world used to be dismissed as victims of “Bush derangement syndrome,” liberals driven mad by Mr. Bush’s success. Now, however, it’s a syndrome that has spread even to former loyal Bushies.

Yet while Mr. Bush no longer has many true believers, he still has plenty of enablers — people who understand the folly of his actions, but refuse to do anything to stop him.
Pottersville delivers the rest (say "hi" to JurassicPork for me).

Nicholas D. Kristof: "Cheney's Long-Lost Twin"

That there can be even one Cheney has cost many meals and countless times worshipping the porcelain goddess" after reading about the Bushies' latest atrocities; the idea, as Kristoff proposes in this Times OpEd column, he may have a twin is beyond frightening (read it all here):

Could Dick Cheney and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad be twins separated at birth?

The U.S. vice president and Iranian president, each the No. 2 in his country, certainly seem to be working together to create conflict between the two nations. Theirs may be the oddest and perhaps most dangerous partnership in the world today.

Both men are hawks who defy the international community, scorn the U.N. and are unpopular at home because of incompetence and recklessness — and each finds justification in the extremism of the other.

“Iranians refer to their new political radicals as ‘neoconservatives,’ with multiple layers of deliberate irony,” notes Gary Sick, an Iran specialist at Columbia University, adding: “The hotheads around President Ahmadinejad’s office and the U.S. foreign policy radicals who cluster around Vice President Cheney’s office, listen to each other, cite each others’ statements and goad each other to new excesses on either side.”

So one of the perils in the final 18 months of the Bush administration is that Mr. Cheney and Mr. Ahmadinejad will escalate provocations, ending up with airstrikes by the U.S. against Iranian nuclear sites.

Already we’re seeing a series of leaks about Iran that echo leaks in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. The reports say that Iran is turning a blind eye to Al Qaeda, is using Hezbollah to wage a proxy war against U.S. forces in Iraq, is transferring bomb-making skills to Iraq insurgents and is handing out armor-piercing bullets to fighters in Iran and Afghanistan so as to kill more Americans.

Yet the jingoists aren’t all in our government: These leaks may well all be accurate, for Mr. Ahmadinejad is a perfect match for Mr. Cheney in his hawkishness and contempt for the international community.

It’s worrying that Iran has just recalled its most able diplomat — Javad Zarif, ambassador to the U.N. — and sent him out to pasture as an academic. Hard-liners always hated Mr. Zarif; goons from a mysterious Iranian security agency detained me on my last trip to Tehran and accused me of being a C.I.A. or Mossad spy, apparently because they were trying to get dirt to use against Mr. Zarif (who had given me my visa).

[...]A recent opinion poll in Iran found that 70 percent of Iranians want to normalize relations with the U.S., and 61 percent oppose the current Iranian system of government. Any visitor to Iran knows that it is — at a people-to-people level — the most pro-American Muslim country in the region, and the regime is as out of touch and moribund as the shah’s was in the late 1970s.

The ayatollahs’ only hope is that we will rescue them with a military strike, which would cement them in place for many years to come. But look out, because that’s what may happen if bilateral relations are driven by those jingoistic twins, Mr. Cheney and Mr. Ahmadinejad.
JP at Pottersville offers more.

Maureen Dowd: "Hey, W! Bin Laden (Still) Determined To Strike In U.S."

Maureen lays it on the line, most ably (find the rest here at Pottersville):

Oh, as it turns out, they’re not on the run.

And, oh yeah, they can fight us here even if we fight them there.

And oh, one more thing, after spending hundreds of billions and losing all those lives in Iraq and Afghanistan, we’re more vulnerable to terrorists than ever.

And, um, you know that Dead-or-Alive stuff? We may be the ones who end up dead.

Squirming White House officials had to confront the fact yesterday that everything President Bush has been spouting the last six years about Al Qaeda being on the run, disrupted and weakened was just guff.

Last year, W. called his “personal friend” Gen. Pervez Musharraf “a strong defender of freedom.” Unfortunately, it turned out to be Al Qaeda’s freedom. The White House is pinning the blame on Pervez.

While the administration lavishes billions on Pakistan, including $750 million in a risible attempt to win “hearts and minds” in tribal areas where Al Qaeda leaders are hiding and training, President Musharraf has helped create a quiet mountain retreat, a veritable terrorism spa, for Osama and Ayman al-Zawahiri to refresh themselves and get back in shape.

The administration’s most thorough intelligence assessment since 9/11 is stark and dark. Two pages add up to one message: The Bushies blew it. Al Qaeda has exploded into a worldwide state of mind. Because of what’s going on with Iraq and Iran, Hezbollah may now “be more likely to consider” attacking us. Al Qaeda will try to “put operatives here” — (some news reports say a cell from Pakistan already is en route or has arrived) — and “acquire and employ chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear material in attacks.”

(Democrats on cots are ineffectual, but Al Qaeda in caves gets the job done?)

After 9/11, W. stopped mentioning Osama’s name, calling him “just a person who’s now been marginalized,” and adding “I just don’t spend that much time on him.”

This week, as counterterrorism officials gathered at the White House to frantically brainstorm on covert and overt plans to capture Osama, the president may have regretted his perverse attempt to demote America’s most determined enemy.

W. began to mention Osama and Al Qaeda more recently, but only to assert: “The same folks that are bombing innocent people in Iraq were the ones who attacked us in America on September the 11th.” His conflation is contradicted by the fact that Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, as the Sunni terrorist group in Iraq is known, did not exist before 9/11.

Fran Townsend, the president’s homeland security adviser, did her best to put a gloss on the dross but failed. She had to admit that the hands-off approach used by Mr. Musharraf with the tribal leaders in North Waziristan, which always looked like a nutty way to give Al Qaeda room to regroup, was a nutty way to give Al Qaeda room to regroup.

[...]W. swaggers about with his cowboy boots and gunslinger stance. But when talking about Waziristan last February, he explained that it was hard to round up the Taliban and Al Qaeda leaders there because: “This is wild country; this is wilder than the Wild West.”

Yes, they shoot with real bullets up there, and they fly into buildings with real planes.

If W. were a real cowboy, instead of somebody who just plays one on TV, he would have cleaned up Dodge by now.
The rest is here.

Torture And The Laws Bush Won't Even Pretend to Follow

At the same time he stands by his unmitigated nerve to cry foul against Russia in 2001 for its human rights abuses (talk about the skanky pot calling the Putey-Put kettle black), Bush wants everyone to notice he's "making illegal" what was already illegal to do but which he practices with all the fervor of a Republican Christian moralist paying a dominatrix for kinky sex (can you say William "Morals Czar" Bennett, anyone?).

Thus, may we assume (oh, yeaaaaahhhhh!) that President Bush signed a new law designed to "stop" torture in interrogations used against detainees and so-called terror suspects using invisible ink, with his fingers crossed behind his hand, AND with a signing statement that says, "this law applies only to Democrats and others not named Bush & Cheney"?

Meanwhile, the CIA is now allowed to return to interrogating whoever the hell they want, after many appropriate (and too many unasked) questions arose about how they conducted them.

With Bush, The Damned Lies Keep Coming After HE Refused to Give Troops a Pay Raise

The words Bush and lies go together as surely as hot fudge sauce and vanilla ice cream, Halliburton and stealing/overbilling, Cheney and nasty secrets, government and crime, not to mention Republican "Christian moralists and kinky prostitutes. So why should this surprise us? Well, except that Bush and his GOP loyalists have refused for 4+ years to properly equip our troops and that just a few weeks ago, they insisted soldiers did NOT need a pay raise and would block any measure to give them one:

President Bush, ratcheting up a fight with Congress over Iraq, accused Democrats on Friday of conducting a political debate on the war while delaying action on money to upgrade equipment and give troops a pay raise.

"It is time to rise above partisanship, stand behind our troops in the field, and give them everything they need to succeed," Bush said in the Rose Garden after meeting with veterans and military families.

Bush spoke two days after Senate Republicans thwarted a Democratic proposal to pull out troops from Iraq. Bush said that instead of approving money for the war, "the Democratic leaders chose to have a political debate on a precipitous withdrawal of our troops from Iraq."

Despite Bush's suggestion that the bill is a must-pass measure that would pay for critical war programs, the legislation is not an appropriations bill that feeds military spending accounts. Called the defense authorization bill, the legislation is a policy measure used by Congress to influence the management of major defense programs, set goals and guide the 2008 military spending bill.

Votes That Don't Count

If you think that just hoping the 2008 presidential election will bring about fair and accurate voting results - and the novelty that the person the actual majority of voters cast ballots for actually will become president, something we did not do in 2000 and 2004 which handed us the fascist regime of Bush & Cheney - you've been supplementing your diet with Konservative Koolaid. Stand up and reverse this foolish and felonious delay for verified voting reform!

And while you're at it, take a gander at this sickening development:

A federal court ruling in June that forces voters to register by party could return Mississippi to the days of racially polarized politics, as many white Democrats warn that thousands of white voters will now opt definitively for the Republican Party.

Republican-leaning voters in Mississippi have long been able to cross party lines in primaries, voting for centrist Democrats in state and local races while staying loyal to Republican candidates in national races. But political experts here say that by limiting these voters — almost all of whom are white — to Republican primaries, the ruling will push centrist Democratic candidates to the other party, simply in order to survive.

Fred Thompson And Women's Rights: Demand Abortions End While Pocketing Money To Ease Restrictions

Well, former Senator (I doubt he was ever a human being, so I won't refer to him as a former one) Fred Thompson keeps proving that he has the baldfaced lying ability quite apparently required to be a "popular" Republican presidential candidate AND president. After all, only conservative compassionate Christians - as practiced by the likes of the Bushies, James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, and Pat Robertson - can break all the commandments while insisting they're anointed by God himself.

While Fred has joined the extreme nutcase fringe of fat old white men who demand the right to tell women what to do with their own bodies, The Times reports Fascist Fred pocketed money as a lobbyist on behalf of those who want to lessen draconian restrictions on abortion counseling for those centers that accept federal funding for family planning. Only, of course, Felonious Fred "can't remember" doing so.

Apparently this Republican is going to start the classic Ronald Reagan defense strategy a little early. Perhaps Fred can hire some of those philandering GOP cocaine drug dealers to help out, just like Rudy Giuliani.


Proof Is In The Papers: How Cheney Sold American Energy to Enron, Ken Lay, And Others

If you want to feel even more sick than you do seeing your latest electric bill or the rising total as you fill up your tank with gas, check out the piece I wrote at All Things Democrat about some of the "truth" finally beginning to leak out about Dick Cheney's energy task force and the way it was bought and paid for by energy conglomerates, Ken Lay and Enron, and the lobbyists they make so rich.


The Newest Season of The Fear Factor: Bush Pulls Osama Bin Laden From Mothballs to Terrorize Us Again

He's baaaaccck; not just Bush (who must be due for his annual 6 week summer vacation which should never be confused with the approximately 22 weeks of other vacations he takes each year) but his favorite convenient bogeyman, Osama bin Forgotten; the same one Bush can never decide whether he is the worst threat EVER or "completely unimportant so we don't need to bother to even pretend to catch him anymore". Writes Dan Froomkin in the Washington Post today:

Nearly six years after President Bush pledged to capture him "dead or alive," Osama bin Laden is not only still at large, but he and his al-Qaeda organization have apparently benefited greatly from Bush's decision to invade Iraq.

That's not just me saying so. It's the inevitable conclusion from the declassified summary of a White House intelligence report released to great fanfare yesterday.

It turns out that bin Laden and his al-Qaeda leadership are safely ensconced in Pakistan. They're still trying to attack us. And the U.S. occupation of Iraq has provided them with a potent rallying cry, recruiting tool and training ground they would not have had otherwise.

The White House has time and again used the specter of al-Qaeda to cow Capitol Hill into doing its bidding. Similarly, Bush and his aides have lately gone to great lengths to conflate the multifaceted insurgency in Iraq with al-Qaeda. After all, when it's Bush vs. al-Qaeda, how many Americans will side with al-Qaeda?

The report's release shot al-Qaeda back into the headlines. But this time, the al-Qaeda stories have a potentially devastating twist for the administration: As it turns out, Bush's policies may have helped bin Laden more than they've hurt him.

Gee, really?

Actually, I suspect that bin Laden and Bush are tied together not just at the hip, and not just at the wallet. Bush needs him as much as Osama needs Bush. What scares me most, however, is that I think their interests may be far more chummy - as profitable for each other as they are devastating to the rest of us - than we can yet even begin to conceive.