Not a good day for blogging
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GREGORY: Let me ask you about your leadership. In the most recent survey, your disapproval rating is now one point lower than Richard Nixon's before he resigned the presidency. ... [W]hy do you think that is?
BUSH: Because we're at war, and war unsettles people.
GREGORY: But they're just not unsettled, sir. They disapprove of the job you're doing.
BUSH: That's unsettled.
At the Senate intelligence committee hearing Thursday on Gen. Michael V. Hayden's nomination to head the CIA, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) asked the nominee a simple question: Is "waterboarding" an acceptable interrogation technique? Gen. Hayden responded: "Let me defer that to closed session, and I would be happy to discuss it in some detail." That was the wrong answer. The right one would have been simple: No.
It seems to me pointless to impeach Bush. In the first place, the Republicans so trivialized impeachment into partisan piffle, it would look like little more than payback. In the second place, I believe Dick Cheney is seriously off the rails; apparently deeply paranoid -- let's not put him in charge.
The minimum we should expect of Bush in return for dropping impeachment (or not) is that he cease breaking the law.
After a emotional debate fraught with symbolism, the Senate yesterday voted to make English the "national language" of the United States, declaring that no one has a right to federal communications or services in a language other than English except for those already guaranteed by law.
The measure, approved 63 to 34, directs the government to "preserve and enhance" the role of English, without altering current laws that require some government documents and services be provided in other languages. Opponents, however, said it could negate executive orders, regulations, civil service guidances and other multilingual ordinances not officially sanctioned by acts of Congress.
Here's a bright idea. Instead of wasting time on "symbolic" measures, why doesn't Congress do something about the millions of illiterate Americans who can't read or speak English (and no, Rep. Tancredo, I'm not talking about Mexican immigrants.)
"George Bush's favorite Democrat," they call him. "Republican Lite," they sneer. But liberals are no longer just venting on Internet blogs and talk radio programs about their centrist nemesis: Senator Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut.Submit To Propeller
General Hayden flatly defended as legal the secret domestic eavesdropping program he ran until last year as director of the National Security Agency, and that argument was directly challenged by only a handful of Democratic senators.
[F]or the most part, Democrats as well as Republicans praised his experience and said he was a good choice to lead an agency
General Hayden could not explain coherently why he testified in 2002 that he had no authority to listen to Americans' phone calls without a warrant, when the president had already given him that authority.
General Hayden's appearance also made it clear that the one warrantless spying operation Mr. Bush has acknowledged — listening to calls between the United States and other countries — is not the only one. And he testified that he did not, as Mr. Bush has said, design the N.S.A. operation, which violates the 28-year-old legal requirement for a warrant for any domestic wiretapping.
The hearing drove home again that the spying is being conducted outside the constitutional system of checks and balances.
Bush Turns to Big Military Contractors for Border Control
. . . The high-tech plan being bid now has many skeptics, who say they have heard a similar refrain from the government before.
"We've been presented with expensive proposals for elaborate border technology that eventually have proven to be ineffective and wasteful," Representative Harold Rogers, Republican of Kentucky, said at a hearing on the Secure Border Initiative program last month. "How is the S.B.I. not just another three-letter acronym for failure?"
President Bush, among others, said he was convinced that the government could get it right this time.
[A]n announcement concerning the indictment of Rove will be made on Friday, May 19 generally following the same scenario from October 28, 2005 -- the posting of the indictment on the Special Prosecutor's web site followed by a press conference at Main Justice.
[P]art of the reason for Fitzgerald's visit to Patton and Boggs was to inform Rove attorney Luskin that he has moved into the category of a "subject" of the special prosecutor's investigation as a result of a conversation with Time reporter Viveca Novak, in which Novak told Luskin that Rove was a source for Time's Matt Cooper. The special prosecutor, who has prosecuted one defense attorney in the Hollinger case, is reportedly investigating whether Luskin, as an officer of the court, may have violated laws on obstruction of justice.
but wait, it gets better...
- In the last few months, speculators selling off dollars are not just buying other currencies like the euro or yen, but they are also buying commodities like gold and oil, forcing up their prices further.
- The higher price of imported goods could lead to a hike in domestic inflation, and it could take several years before consumers switch back to buying more US goods.
- High inflation, combined with the stronger-than-expected growth of the US economy, could force the US central bank, the Federal Reserve, to keep raising interest rates.
- But the fears of inflation are also likely to affect the interest rates on long-term bonds, which determine mortgage rates.
- The rising mortgage rates, while they may eventually dampen the housing boom, will also give a further boost to inflationary pressures.
- The sharp falls in non-US stock markets, especially in Asia, are a response to this fear, with electronics and car companies like Toyota and Sony especially vulnerable.
meanwhile, in yet another move calculated to make the super-rich ever-so-obscenely richer, bush approves $70B in tax cuts...
- As the value of the dollar falls, [Asian exporters'] reserves of the currency also reduce in value, as do the yields on the US Treasury bonds held by many of their central banks.
- The Asian governments and investors may be tempted to sell many of their dollar holdings in order to protect themselves - but this would have the effect of weakening the dollar further. And it would force the Fed to raise interest rates even more to protect the dollar.
President George W Bush has signed into law a $70bn ... tax cut which he says will boost the US economy.
By [Wednesday's] close, New York's Dow Jones Industrial Average index was 1.9%, or 214 points lower at 11,206.Submit To Propeller
President Bush's CIA director-nominee, Gen. Michael Hayden, to face what undoubtedly will be the toughest public questioning of his 37-year government career at a Senate confirmation hearing.
To help smooth Hayden's path, the administration reversed course after five months and decided this week to provide more information to Congress about the ultra-secret NSA's activities. That includes full briefings for the House and Senate Intelligence Committees.
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- A poll published Friday in Excelsior newspaper found 50 percent of respondents feared the government was on the brink of losing control.
- In April, suspected drug lords posted the heads of two police officers on a wall outside a government building where four drug traffickers died in a Jan. 27 shootout with officers in the Pacific resort of Acapulco.
- [A] radical group of townspeople kidnapped and beat six policemen in a dispute over unlicensed flower vendors. Police responded with rage the next day. Television crews captured officers repeatedly beating unarmed protesters, and several detained women alleged officers raped them.
- The clash followed another bloody battle between steelworkers and police trying to break up an illegal strike at a plant in Lazaro Cardenas last month. Unions later threatened to shut down the country.
- George Grayson, a Mexico expert at the College of William & Mary, said the violence reflects Fox's lack of leadership. "The state has become much weaker under his watch," Grayson said.
- Gerardo Aranda, a tourism guide in Mexico City, said [...] "No one really knows now what could happen next. All the candidates are bad. ... There is so much anger toward the government, everyone is against everything."
Fitzgerald is not obliged to make an announcement at any point; he does so at his own discretion, and not if it compromises his case. So we're all stuck waiting here. Grab some coffee.
In 2002 few could have imagined him falling in approval ratings to the level of Carter, who had the misfortune to be president during the Islamic Revolution in Iran, the taking of US hostages, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, gasoline shortages and high fuel prices, a stagnant economy, high unemployment, and double-digit inflation! Indeed, Bush's disapproval rating is now higher than Carter's!it's a good thing bush doesn't pay attention to any polls but those conducted by the rnc... just ask karl, without whom bush would be unable to utter an articulate thought (not that he can anyway)... speaketh karl...Bush's Handling of the Issues
Americans who disapprove of Bush's performance overwhelmingly cite Iraq as the main reason. His rating for handling the war has hit a new low. Sixty-two percent say the war was not worth fighting, a new high. And 59 percent call the war a mistake — about as many as said that about Vietnam in the early 1970s.
- Terrorism - Approve: 53% Disapprove: 43%
- Privacy Rights - Approve 52 Disapprove: 45
- Taxes - Approve: 42 Disapprove: 54
- Ethics - Approve: 39 Disapprove: 54
- Economy - Approve: 38 Disapprove: 60
- Immigration - Approve: 34 Disapprove:56
- Overall job - Approve: 33 Disapprove:65
- Iraq - Approve: 32 Disapprove: 66
- Deficit - Approve: 27 Disapprove: 67
- Gas Prices - Approve: 20 Disapprove: 76
But the polls I believe are the polls that get run through the RNC. And I look at those polls all the time. The American people like this president. His personal approval ratings are in the 60s. Job approval is lower. And what that says to me is that people like him, they respect him, he’s somebody they feel a connection with, but they’re just sour right now on the war. And that’s the way it’s going to be.
Insane immigration policies, a new $70 billion tax cut for the rich, and increasing ineptitude in Iraq all indicate that this administration has lost its marbles.
I hate to raise such an ugly possibility, but have you considered lunacy as an explanation? Craziness would make a certain amount of sense.
US releases 9/11 Pentagon video
Pentagon crash site
11 September 2001
The US justice department has released the first video of the plane crashing into the Pentagon on 11 September 2001.
Salon's Kim Zetter asks intelligence historian Matthew Aid about the latest reports on the National Security Agency's wiretap program.
The fact that the federal government has my phone records scares the living daylights out of me. They won't learn much from them other than I like ordering pizza on Friday night and I don't call my mother as often as I should. But it should scare the living daylights out of everybody, even if you're willing to permit the government certain leeways to conduct the war on terrorism.
We should be terrified that Congress has not been doing its job and because all of the checks and balances put in place to prevent this have been deliberately obviated. In order to get this done, the NSA and White House went around all of the checks and balances. I'm convinced that 20 years from now we, as historians, will be looking back at this as one of the darkest eras in American history. And we're just beginning to sort of peel back the first layers of the onion. We're hoping against hope that it's not as bad as I suspect it will be, but reality sets in every time a new article is published and the first thing the Bush administration tries to do is quash the story.
The newest system being added to the NSA infrastructure, by the way, is called Project Trailblazer, which was initiated in 2002 and which was supposed to go online about now but is fantastically over budget and way behind schedule. Trailblazer is designed to copy the new forms of telecommunications -- fiber optic cable traffic, cellphone communication, BlackBerry and Internet e-mail traffic.
Masked men attacked police stations, banks and bars with machineguns. Gangs set almost 50 buses on fire. And inmates at dozens of prisons took guards hostage in an unprecedented four-day wave of violence around South America’s largest city and elsewhere in southern Brazil. The death toll had passed the mark of 80 by yesterday.
Twenty-one new killings were reported on Sunday night and Monday morning, the state government of Sao Paulo said, putting the death toll at 81 in the spree set off by a gang’s fury at prison transfers: 39 police officers and prison guards, 38 suspected gang members and four civilians caught in 181 attacks since Friday.
The violence was triggered by an attempt to isolate PCC leaders, who control many of Sao Paulo’s teeming, notoriously corrupt prisons, by transferring eight of them last week to a high-security facility in a remote part of Sao Paulo state. Gang leaders reportedly used cell phones to order the attacks.
The pharmaceutical industry has a dream: at least one disease (and more than one prescription drug) for every American.Submit To Propeller
The European Commission is expected to tell Bulgaria and Romania they can join the EU next year as planned, but only if they fulfil 10 more conditions.
Bulgaria in particular will have to show tangible results in the fight against corruption and organised crime.
A draft report obtained by the BBC also warns that both countries could face serious membership restrictions and cuts to EU funds even after they join.
The report will be presented to the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
For Bulgaria and Romania, the answer from the European Commission will be a conditional yes.
President Bush's speech from the Oval Office last night was not a blueprint for comprehensive immigration reform. It was a victory for the fear-stricken fringe of the debate.
These are the people who say illegal border crossings must be stopped immediately, with military boots in the desert sand. Never mind the overwhelming burdens of Iraq and Afghanistan, the absence of a coherent and balanced immigration policy, and the broad public support for a comprehensive solution. America must send its overtaxed troops to the border right now, they say, so a swarm of ruthless, visa-less workers cannot bury our way of life under a relentless onslaught of hard work.
Rather than standing up for truth, Mr. Bush swiveled last night in the direction of those who see immigration, with delusional clarity, as entirely a problem of barricades and bad guys.
"Karl's focus is sharper than ever and his spirit is high," said Dan Bartlett, White House counselor, downplaying any claims that Rove is distracted. "He packs more work into one day than most of us get done in a week."Submit To Propeller
Rove was asked about his legal problems Monday after a speech on the economy at a conservative think tank, the American Enterprise Institute. He ducked. "Nice try," Rove told the questioner.
The International Monetary Fund is in behind-the-scenes talks with the US, China and other major powers to arrange a series of top-level meetings about tackling imbalances in the global economy, as the dollar sell-off reverberates through financial markets.
'We are in meltdown mode,' said David Brown, chief European economist at Bear Stearns. 'It's all being whipped up into a bit of a selling frenzy. The dollar has a massive portfolio of negatives against it: it's the long-term problems of the trade deficit, and the government's budget deficit.'
Brown added that the dollar's woes were likely to be exacerbated by central banks shifting their reserves towards other currencies, including the euro.
He added that with the US current account deficit with the rest of the world worth 7 per cent of its GDP in 2005, the White House and the Federal Reserve would probably be happy to watch the dollar decline. 'I don't think Washington's going to be concerned,' he said.Submit To Propeller
The officials who discussed Bush's proposal would not say how many troops he wanted to use, except that it would be in the thousands but less than 10,000 — an estimate being discussed at the Pentagon.
First lady Laura Bush said polls showing her husband's approval rating at record lows reflect the difficulties the United States is facing rather than any lack of confidence in the president.
Some of President Bush's most influential conservative Christian allies are becoming openly critical of the White House and Republicans in Congress...
"I can't tell you how much anger there is at the Republican leadership," [Richard Viguerie, a conservative direct-mail pioneer] said. "I have never seen anything like it."
"There's just very, very little to show for what has happened," [Dr. James C. Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family and one of the most influential Christian conservatives] said, "and I think there's going to be some trouble down the road if they don't get on the ball."
President Bush's plan to send National Guard troops to patrol the southern border of the United States has raised the concern of his longtime ally President Vicente Fox of Mexico, who called Mr. Bush on Sunday to express his worries.
White House officials said Mr. Bush assured Mr. Fox that a permanent National Guard presence on the border was not being considered.
"The president made clear that the United States considers Mexico a friend," said Maria Tamburri, a White House spokeswoman.
Ms. Tamburri said the president told Mr. Fox, "What is being considered is not a militarization of the border, but support of border patrol capabilities, on a temporary basis, by National Guard personnel."
The common denominator of all of the Bush search plans is the refusal to involve a judge.Submit To Propeller
Of course, judges have been eliminated from the trial and sentencing portions of other Bush Administration law enforcement programs, so why am I not suprised?
A year after Bush administration claims about Iraqi "bioweapons trailers" were discredited by American experts, U.S. officials were still suppressing the findings, according to a senior member of the CIA-led inspection team.
At one point, former U.N. arms inspector Rod Barton says, a CIA officer told him it was "politically not possible" to report that the White House claims were untrue. In the end, Barton says, he felt "complicit in deceit."
Try this experiment: Call your florist and say that you'd like a dozen pesticide-free roses delivered to your mother. Explain that you also want an assurance that the woman who picked them wasn't forced to work unpaid overtime or take her children to work to help her meet her quotas.Submit To Propeller
Silence? Yeah, that's the response my florist gave, too. But my mother didn't raise a shrinking violet. I said that I would find certified flowers somewhere, and eventually I did. Mom, your roses are coming from an Internet florist that sells only organic bouquets. I don't know what the woman who picked them will do with her day off, but at least I know that she gets a day off. I wish a happy Mother's Day to both of you.
Officials say [Bush] is considering substantially increasing the presence of National Guard troops, some of whom are already deployed under state of emergency declarations in New Mexico and Arizona. Administration officials are exploring ways to allow governors to deploy troops across state lines to help seal the porous border with Mexico.
The militarization of border security would be a dramatic -- and controversial -- gesture in the ongoing political war over illegal immigration. The military has long maintained a small presence under the auspices of drug interdiction, but conservatives in Congress have been pushing for a far more visible and substantial effort.
Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald spent more than half a day Friday at the offices of Patton Boggs, the law firm representing Karl Rove.
During the course of that meeting, Fitzgerald served attorneys for former Deputy White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove with an indictment charging the embattled White House official with perjury and lying to investigators related to his role in the CIA leak case, and instructed one of the attorneys to tell Rove that he has 24 hours to get his affairs in order, high level sources with direct knowledge of the meeting said Saturday morning.
[Bush] should stop stonewalling his critics or playing for partisan advantage and work with Congress to create legal means to fight terrorism compatible with American values and democracy. It would be nice to see him begin before the next disturbing revelation; we have a feeling there are more to come.
Vice President Dick Cheney made handwritten notations on a July 2003 newspaper column ... a copy of an Op-Ed article by Joseph C. Wilson IV, a former ambassador, that was published in The New York Times on July 6, 2003.
In neat writing above the text of the column, prosecutors say, Mr. Cheney wrote: "Have they done this sort of thing before? Send an Amb. to answer a question? Do we ordinarily send people out pro bono to work for us? Or did his wife send him on a junket?"
Mr. Cheney's notations confirm that he was aware of who Ms. Wilson was, if not her name, before her name was first publicly disclosed in a July 14, 2003, column by Robert D. Novak.