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‘Polls Are Closed,’ They Lied

‘Polls Are Closed,’ They Lied →

C. Boyden Gray and Elise Passamani, writing at The American Conservative, argue that the major TV networks fed misinformation to voters in the Florida panhandle, during the 2000 election between George Bush and Al Gore.

The northwesternmost part of Florida is the Panhandle, which stretches along the Gulf of Mexico to Alabama. Often called the “Redneck Riviera,” it is the most Republican part of Florida, regularly giving Republicans big margins in state and national elections. The nine Panhandle counties that are farthest west—Bay, Calhoun, Escambia, Holmes, Jackson, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Walton, and Washington—are in the Central Time Zone, and one additional county, Gulf, is split between Central and Eastern Time. According to the Miami Herald, “It is only a few miles to the Alabama border from anywhere in the western Panhandle, but more than five hundred miles and a cultural light-year to Miami.”

On Election Night, between 6:30 and 7:50 p.m. Eastern, anchors on all the major networks and cable channels reported over and over again that the polls in all of Florida closed at 7 p.m. Eastern. Not once did anyone on ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox News Channel, NBC, or MSNBC inform the audience that Florida has two time zones and two poll closing times. During that hour and 20 minutes, 13 journalists asserted a total of 39 times that there was only one poll-closing time throughout the entire state of Florida.

​They argue that this misinformation caused hundreds of thousands of Florida votes to stay home, rather than voting after work, and that this voter suppression made the Florida vote look like a dead heat rather than a clear Bush lead.

The stark effect of this widespread misreporting can be seen in the sworn, notarized testimony of a pair of poll workers who were on duty as inspectors that day in Precinct Eight, Escambia County. According to the 2004 Almanac of American Politics, “Pensacola’s Escambia County, where about half the district’s people live, is the state’s westernmost county.” The first poll worker attested that:

We had the usual rush in the early morning, at noon and right after work. There was a significant drop in voters after 6:00. The last 40 minutes was almost empty. The poll workers were wondering if there had been a national disaster they didn’t know about. It was my observation that this decline in voters between 6:00 and 7:00 was very different when compared to previous elections. The last 30 minutes was particularly empty. There is usually a line after the poll closes. In this election there was no one.

The second poll worker corroborated the testimony of the first, stating, “The expected rush at the end of the day didn’t happen. We were all very surprised. It was a normal day until 6:00 pm. Between 6:00-7:00 pm voter turnout was very different from past elections. There was practically no one the last 40 minutes.” Since the final hour of voting in any election is typically characterized by an after-work rush, one can only imagine how many people would have voted in that last, deserted 40 minutes, but for the misinformation dispensed by the network and cable news anchors.

It is possible, though, to make a rough estimate. The Florida Department of State provides the 2000 election results by county in an online archive. If you add up the total votes from all 10 Panhandle counties in the Central Time Zone, you find that the total number of votes cast was 357,808; Bush received about 66 percent and Gore received about 31 percent. The polls were open for 12 hours, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. If you divide the day into 12 hours of voting at an equal rate, with 357,808 representing the votes cast in the first 11 hours, an additional 12th hour would have yielded a further 32,528 votes. Assuming the partisan split remained the same, Bush would have received over 21,600 additional votes, and Gore more than 10,100. This would have added over 11,000 votes to Bush’s statewide margin in Florida. (The same calculation done excluding Gulf County, which is on both Central and Eastern Time, also adds more than 11,000 votes to Bush’s statewide margin.)

It stands to reason that the pattern of voting in the Panhandle in the final hour would have remained the same. While this additional group of votes would not have been large enough to have precluded an automatic machine recount immediately after the initial statewide tally, it would have raised Bush’s lead to five digits, and it would have ended the conversation about who actually won the state very early on.

​I think they have a point about the overall swing in the vote count and the margin in the election. I think they're overstepping their evidence when they argue that the news anchors deliberately lied, in an effort to boost Al Gore and harm George Bush.

I'm quite willing to believe that the anchors were idiots who couldn't manage to remember that Florida straddles two time zones. I'm much more skeptical about a deliberate coordinated series of lies, in an attempt to swing the results of the election.

John Yoo on the Manning verdict

Last weekend, Bush torture lawyer John Yoo wrote about his disgust with the Manning verdict.

Bradley Manning caused one of the most harmful leaks in American history. He released into the public eye the identities of foreigners helping the U.S. in war zones, the means and methods of U.S. military operations, and our sensitive diplomatic communications with other nations. Lives — American and foreign — no doubt were lost because of the leaks. If anyone can think of a more harmful blow to U.S. intelligence in our history, let’s hear it. 

I've heard other people refer to the Manning leak as one of the most harmful in American history. But I don't think I've ever seen anyone offer any proof for that assertion. John Yoo needs to do something to prove that it was the most harmful leak in American history. Where's the evidence?

Manning published data that supposedly contained the names and identities of various American (and allied) agents who were working undercover. The data also allegedly contained the names of various Iraqis and Afghanis who were helping us, against the terrorists and the Taliban. I've seen people allege that our enemies would use that data to punish our friends.

It seems like it would be pretty easy to quantify how deadly this leak was, if it was deadly. Which agents and allies, named in the leaked documents, have since been killed, terrorized, or harmed by our enemies? Whose lives were lost because of Manning's leak? If this was a deadly leak, wouldn't that be dramatic proof? Wouldn't something have come out in a Congressional hearing, Department of Defense or Homeland Security press release, or presidential interview? Wouldn't the Administration and its allies constantly trumpet how harmful Manning's leak was?

Unless I've completely missed it, no one has done anything of the sort. I'm not convinced that Manning's leak was the most harmful in American history. And I'm not inclined to take the bald-faced word of a lawyer who thinks that the Constitution places no restraints on the President's powers to order people tortured.

‘Trickle down’ & the 2008 meltdown

‘Trickle down’ & the 2008 meltdown →

Jonah Goldberg, talking about the President's incessant Bush blaming, on the 2008 financial mess.

The question of what caused the crisis is obviously still controversial, but a consensus seems to be forming around the following narrative: The federal government, out of an abundance of concern for the plight of the poor and middle class, made it too easy to buy a home. Congress, on a bipartisan basis, set unrealistic affordable-housing goals for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

President Clinton used those goals to expand access to mortgages to low-income borrowers. Then President George W. Bush, with the approval of Congress, expanded the practice, until way too many low-income or otherwise underqualified Americans owned mortgages they couldn’t afford.

A mixture of greed, idealism, cynicism and stupidity led to the practice of bundling those iffy mortgages into financial instruments that Wall Street didn’t know how to handle and regulators didn’t know how to regulate. As Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) put it in 2003, he wanted to “roll the dice a bit” on regulating subprime mortgages.

When the Washington-abetted housing boom went bust, regulators demanded immediate markdowns of mortgage-backed securities, which required financial institutions to sell them, creating a fire-sale atmosphere that fueled the panic even more.

Dubya and Me

Dubya and Me →

Walt Harrington's reflections on how George W. Bush grew over the years that Harrington knew him. As many people have pointed out, President Bush was far smarter than people thought. (That doesn't mean that he was always right, just that he wasn't an idiot.)

And he began to talk—and talk and talk for what must have been nearly three hours. I’ve never told anyone the specifics of what he said that night, not even my wife or closest friends. I did not make notes later and have only my memory. In the journalism world, off the record is off the record. But I have repeatedly described the hours as “amazing,” “remarkable,” “stunning.”

President Bush—and he was, no doubt, by then a real president—talked expansively about Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, China, Korea, Russia. He talked about his reelection strategies, Iran’s nuclear ambitions, WMD and how he still believed they would be found, Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, Vladimir Putin. He talked about his aides and how tough their lives were, the long hours and stress and time away from their families, about how difficult it was for his daughters. He said that compared with everyone around a president, the president had the easiest job. He was the same confident, brash man I had met years ago, but I no longer sensed any hint of the old anger or the need for self-aggrandizement.

As he talked, I even thought about an old Saturday Night Live skit in which an amiable, bumbling President Ronald Reagan, played by Phil Hartman, goes behind closed doors to suddenly become a masterful operator in total charge at the White House. The transformation in Bush was that stunning to me.

On the other hand, I still dislike President Bush's assumption that everyone else should bow and scrape before powerful men.

As it turned out, I did see George W. soon again after the encounter on his father’s Cigarette boat. After my story ran in The Washington Post Magazine, the vice president invited my family over to lunch and horseshoes at his official residence, on the grounds of the U. S. Naval Observatory. The vice president had actually called twice to invite us over, but on both occasions, our schedules hadn’t meshed. After the second invite, George W. called my house.

“Walt, my dad is vice president of the United States,” I remember him saying with a touch of irritation. “When he calls and invites you to lunch, you come to lunch.”

This entry was tagged. George Bush History

The Role that Bush-Era Tax and Spending Policies Play in the Deficit

The Role that Bush-Era Tax and Spending Policies Play in the Deficit →

The Tax Foundation crunches the numbers to see if it’s true that “the economic downturn, President Bush's tax cuts and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq explain virtually the entire deficit over the next ten years.”

1) Tax revenues have fluctuated largely with the economy, dropping precipitously in the aftermath of the 2008 recession, but are projected to remain close to historical norms with or without expiration of the Bush tax cuts in 2012.

2) Entitlement spending has roughly doubled in the last 40 years as a percentage of GDP and is projected to remain there through 2021, pushing total spending well above any historical precedent. Thus, the CBO projects deficits as far as the eye can see.

Should we blame Bush (or rather, all that happened during his presidency) for this? In a sense, yes, but not for the reason the CBPP would have us believe; the role of Bush-era policies in the projected deficits is mainly on the spending side of the equation, not the tax side.

We have a spending problem, not a revenue problem.

Palin Satirizes Obama

Ken Pierce points to this satire of President Obama as an example of why he likes Sarah Palin.

I agree. There are many things not to like about Governor Palin. Her sense of humor isn't one of them. He also points out a great example of President Bush's humor.

Any advice for parents of teens? "Look them in the eye and say, 'I love you and there's nothing you can do to make me stop loving you. (pause) So, stop trying!'"

As I was reading President Bush's memoir, I was reminded that I do like his sense of humor and his personality. It was just his policies that I mostly disliked.

Review: Decision Points

Cover of "Decision Points" by President George W. BushDecision Points by George W. Bush

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

When I read political memoirs, I'm typically looking for one of two things: a much better understanding of the politician or a much better understanding of the decisions that were made and the day-to-day, nitty-gritty detail of events that led into the decisions. Sadly, with this book from "43", I got neither.

President Bush had an active presidency and was often juggling many simultaneous crises. I was hoping for a look at what life was like in his White House. How crazy does a typical day look when you're juggling a Social Security reform bill, a war in Iraq, and a belligerent North Korean state all at once? Sadly, I never found out. By organizing the point around different topics and focusing on one decision point at a time, he stripped events from their context, rendering them sterile and unmoored from the emotions of each year of his presidency.

I was also greatly disappointed by the lack of detail surrounding each decision point. Many of the descriptions boiled down to a very simple formula. "An event happened. I had a gut feeling but knew I needed to consult with some trusted advisors. My advisors confirmed my gut instinct and I implemented the plan. Ultimately, I was disappointed in the outcome and I know realize that I should have changed my tactics (but not the overall plan). Today, America is better off and I'm glad I made the attempt, even if it didn't turn out quite the way I'd hoped it would."

I wish I could say that I exaggerate and that there is a higher level of detail in the book. I can't. The Harriet Miers debacle, for instance, only takes about a page to relate. I've watched the West Wing. I know that a huge amount of work goes into the selection of a Supreme Court Justice. Going into the book, I wanted to know a lot more about the process that led to picking Ms. Miers as a nominee. This book did nothing to satisfy my curiosity.

People who already love President George W. Bush will probably love this book. Those of us who read it hoping to find a reason to reevaluate his presidency will have to go away disappointed.

Why are voters angry about President Obama's spending?

President George W. Bush was the biggest spending U.S. President since President Lyndon Baines Johnson. He "he presided over an 83-percent increase in overall federal spending, which includes defense, domestic, entitlements, and interest. Even without TARP and Fannie/Freddie, spending was up a huge 70 percent under Bush over eight years. By contrast, total spending under eight years of President Clinton increased just 32 percent."

Voters were justifiably angry about this massive increase in government largesse. In reaction, they threw out the sitting political party and vote en-masse for the candidate who promised a return to responsibility, a turn away from reckless credit card fiscal policies and a return to fiscal discipline. Voters wanted government spending reined in and they were determined to get it. Both the 2006 Congressional elections and the 2008 Presidential election were about spending, to some degree.

So why are voters now so angry at President Barack Obama? Surely they don't blame him for the high levels of government spending? Well, why shouldn't they? Since taking office in January, 2009, he's proposed massive amounts of new spending: a stimulus bill, a cap and trade energy bill, a massive expansion of healthcare, a "cash for clunkers" stimulus, a housing stimulus, and more. For voters weary of out of control spending, the Obama administration's first year has looked remarkably like a left turn into an all-you-can-eat spending buffet.

But don't believe me. Believe the Congressional Budget Office and the Washington Post, who put together this informative little graphic.

The Bush Deficits vs the Obama Deficits

Note the $400 billion line, that President Bush's deficits barely managed to creep over. Note that President Obama's deficits aren't projected to get anywhere near this low a level over the next 10 years.

With all of the voter anger about President Bush's deficit spending, why shouldn't the voters be angry about President Obama's much higher levels of spending? Voters don't need to have a short-term memory to be first angry about President Bush's spending and then angry about President Obama's spending. They just need wide open eyes. Apparently, it's President Obama and Congressional Democrats that have the short memory.

Deficit Spending

Red State updates an old MoveOn.org ad, questioning who will pay for the President's massive amount of deficit spending. Remember when the Democrats were against deficit spending? Boy do I miss those days.

Now, Social Security is projected to go into deficit as early as fiscal 2010. And the President's budget has increased the national debt by $6.5 trillion. That's pretty impressive for only four months of work. What will the debt look like by 2012?

Obama's Prompted Presidency

I don't know about you, but I think there's something creepy about the way Obama carries his teleprompters with him where ever he goes.

President Barack Obama doesn't go anywhere without his TelePrompter.

The textbook-sized panes of glass holding the president's prepared remarks follow him wherever he speaks.

Resting on top of a tall, narrow pole, they flank his podium during speeches in the White House's stately parlors. They stood next to him on the floor of a manufacturing plant in Indiana as he pitched his economic stimulus plan. They traveled to the Department of Transportation this week and were in the Capitol Rotunda last month when he paid tribute to Abraham Lincoln in six-minute prepared remarks.

Obama's reliance on the teleprompter is unusual -- not only because he is famous for his oratory, but because no other president has used one so consistently and at so many events, large and small.

Democrats howled about suspicions that President Bush might be wearing a wire during debates with Senator Kerry. They claimed that he was programmed by his staff and couldn't speak unless he was being fed the words to say. President Obama seems unable to make a speech -- large or small -- unless a machine gives him the words to say. The rumors about President Bush were only rumors. (And thin ones at that.) The facts about President Obama speak for themselves. And they're not saying complimentary things.

Tax Breaks for the Rich

Barack Obama and the Democrats have been hammering the Bush tax cuts ever since they were signed into law. Over the last 6 years we've heard an endless litany of complaints about the tax cuts. Most complaints center around the claim that Bush cut taxes for the wealthy, gave away huge amounts of money to the rich, and left the rest of the country to rot.

How well is that claim holding up? Not so well [Warning: PDF.].

Congressional Budget Office (CBO) data show that the total effective federal tax rate of the middle fifth of households declined after 2001 to its lowest levels since at least 1979, Congressman Jim Saxton, ranking member of the Joint Economic Committee, said today. Under the 2001 and 2003 tax relief legislation, the income tax as a share of income for the middle fifth also has fallen to its lowest levels in decades.

Huh. Boy, I'm sure glad that we'll finally be rid of President Bush's failed economic policies.

Dana Perino: A Review

Dana Perino

Above: That is not Tony Snow. Not Depicted: Fan blowing her hair.

Below: Who cares? Not Depicted: Fan blowing their hair.

SnowBush

So, by now you've undoubtedly noticed (yeah, like fun you have) that radio and television veteran Tony Snow is no longer supplying the U.S. with its daily news from the White House. Mr. Snow vacated the position of White House Press Secretary on September 14th, citing his current level of pay as the reason; he informs us $168,000 per year is too small a stipend on which to raise his family (I'm actually not making this up). Let's all just give thanks real quick Mr. Snow was President Bush's Press Secretary, rather than his Chairman of the Federal Reserve.

Leaving all that aside, however, I'm going to miss Mr. Snow. When the personality first took over the position of White House spokesperson, he was a breath of the freshest air, replacing former Press Secretary Scott McClellan's absolutely abominable performances with a friendly and unflappable show. McClellan seemed incapable or too scared of thinking outside of his pre-written script. He'd often repeat its wordage several times over the course of one interview to a plethora of very different questions, as though it were a magical chant that would eventually make all the bad reporters with their mean questions just - go - away. In short, the man was a dull robot.

Not so Mr. Snow: As a major player in news broadcasting, he had no problem dealing with his former brothers and sisters of the press - and what's more, he could keep his sense of humor as he did it.

From the 24th of '06:

MR. SNOW: [Saddam Hussein] willingly accepted the feeding tube today. It will be in, at a minimum, until Thursday. It has to be in for reasons that I don’t understand for 72 hours.

[REPORTER]: I don’t know the specifics, but how does one willingly accept a feeding tube?

MR. SNOW: I guess, you say, do you want a feeding tube? And he says, yes. And they say, okay, we’re going to give you one. This apparently was a consensual feeding tubing.

I wrote over a year ago on this site that "I can’t believe it; reading a press briefing transcript is no longer headache-inducing. Even if the next president is a Democrat, he/she should keep this guy." It's too bad his extreme poverty has led him from us.

That said, onto the much-begged question: how well's his replacement stack up?

Well, she's certainly easier to look at; in fact, judging from any picture you'll see of her, and taking into account her fiery temper, Dana Perino has a real shot of knocking out Ann Coulter as premiere Republican sex symbol*.

She's no stranger to the press office, either; she's been Tony Snow's deputy for a while now, so she's definitely up to snuff on how everything works.

But in front of the cameras?

I've already mentioned Ms. Perino's temper. She definitely gets flustered more easily than Snow ever did, and when she's been given a particularly tough stance by the President to defend, that's no help. Reading a transcript of one of her question-and-answer sessions with reporters, you'll be struck by how glad you are that you didn't watch it on television - because it really is that painful. The press pool and the situation in general practically begin out of hand and only deteriorate as the briefing goes on, until finally Helen, apparently altogether forgetting that she's there to interview Perino, starts passionately editorializing on U.S. torture tactics - at which point what is, again, supposed to be a "Q&A;" session totally devolves into outright argument.

Q How do we know that it's over now? How do we know -- there's testimony, there's still testimony, there's secrecy. Do you think that alleged terrorist is not going to know he might be tortured by the U.S.? Our whole methods are so abominable, horrific. And I think we're really a shame.

MS. PERINO: What about the people who cut off the heads of American soldiers and put them on the video --

Q That's horrible. We're not --

MS. PERINO: Yes, really bad. We don't torture. We get the terrorists here and we interrogate them.

Q The Iraqis had nothing to do with 9/11, which you keep bringing up...

Occasionally she allows her panic to result in her saying absolutely baffling things, too.

"Q Well, could you ask [the president his opinion on the bill]? I mean --

MS. PERINO: No, I'm not -- I'll see. If I see him I'll ask him.

You'll ask him "if you see him"? Um, Dana - you're his spokesperson.

On the plus side, Ms. Perino's willingness to fight back against a room full of Democrat reporters shows she has enough confidence and knowledge to speak off-script. That's impressive. And her mean streak isn't wholly unappreciated, either. It's rather endearing when she mutters that it's fine by her "if MoveOn.org and the unions, which seems like a match made in heaven, want to get together and waste another two weeks and lots of money to try to pressure votes, when any reasonable person can look at this and realize that in the House they are not going to get those votes to override the President's veto..."

Dana Perino clearly has personality, then, and more importantly, she obviously believes in what she's doing (something Mr. Snow actually didn't have going for him, having freely admitted at his tenure's start that he and the president didn't see eye to eye on all issues). Still, one must remember: there's a difference between calling the White House's press corps on when it crosses the line and establishing a regularly hostile environment, which is the last thing the president needs right now. Perhaps Ms. Perino errs too far in that very direction and bites off heads more often than she should.

Come to think of it, I notice a worrying propensity for her to interrupt reporters before they even finish their questions. If a reporter is jumping on a soap box or taking too long, asking them to hurry it up is obviously within the press secretary's mandate, but many reporters don't seem to manage to get a full sentence out before she starts answering.

Q Dana, do you know if the President has talked to Senator Domenici since Domenici made the --

MS. PERINO: Yes, I believe that Senator Domenici spoke to the President day before yesterday..

She needs to rein in her eagerness.

All told, I'll give her 2 stars out of 4 - serviceable. Perino's no horror like Mr. McClellan but nowhere near a star like Tony Snow. She hasn't yet found her footing on the stage, consequently appears awkward, not in control, grasping - which some might argue to be an accurate representation of the administration at present, but which is certainly not at any rate a helpful one.

Of course, as President Clinton's first press secretary George Stephanopoulos said during his first press briefing: "[This job's] OK... It's, uh... kinda hard."

That it is. One could go further and say the position of White House Press Secretary, like the position of POTUS itself, has the maddening ability to make some of our country's most capable men and women look like totally incompetent morons.

But at least Ms. Perino knows it. From her first solo press briefing on September 17:

Q On a personal note, what are your goals, your aspirations as Press Secretary?

MS. PERINO: Just to get through this.

*Which you wouldn't think would be that difficult. For my money, I never got what Conservatives saw in Ms. Coulter anyway. She's decently pretty, sure, but a skeleton, which doesn't exactly scream "Va voom!", y'know? Now, your correspondents here at Minorthoughts.com could show you "Va voom!", but the women in our lives have informed us quite bluntly they'd better never appear on here.

The seat of power

President Bush

Courtesy of The Jerusalem Post's Blog Central:

"Yale’s chapter of Delta Kappa Epsilon, another fraternity, garnered infamy in 1967 for branding new pledges with hot coat-hangers... The Yale Daily News reported the incident, quoting one DKE brother who called the branding ‘insignificant’."

That brother lived on, of course, to be our 43rd president, Mr. George W. Bush, Class of '68. Which raises the following fascinating possibilities:

1: When President Bush claims the US does not treat terrorists inhumanely, and human rights activists claims the US does, is it possible this is all simply a misunderstanding, and what most of us wimps would call "torture", President Bush just thinks of as good old-fashioned hazing? Is the liberal media withholding photos of Iraqis chugging beer by executive order?

And:

2: Does our commander-in-chief have a question mark on his bum?

President Bush has cannily refused to comment, possibly in an attempt to increase interest in his forthcoming presidential library. Only conjecture is therefore currently possible, and even too much of that probably wouldn't be healthy. But comfortingly, it can be safely said that the truth will eventually come out, as while men of power in America may opt to take their secrets to the grave, we know our representatives in the media are perfectly willing to follow them there.

Alan Greenspan: "Blood for oil's OK by me."

In a recent entry (Sunday's "Alan Greenspan's life is for sale. We don't know where.") I noted that Mr. Greenspan's autobiography The Age of Turbulence, now on sale, has received rather odd publicity: some newspapers are running whole articles about the book's declaration that the U.S. is mainly in Iraq due to oil-related reasons, but somehow failing to -... er, well, mention the name of the book in said articles (one again, that's The Age of Turbulence, Folks!).

I suggested that this was because Democrat-filled newsrooms are in a bit of a pickle: on the one hand, Alan Greenspan - the (Perceived) Bush-Lover and Elder Statesman of Finance - dissing Mr. Bush is too tempting a tale for them to resist reporting. On the other hand, Alan Greenspan's opinions are not the kind to which they'd prefer drawing a lot of attention.

How little did I know.

Mr. Greenspan has since clarified his book's comments to the world, and in a surprising twist, yes, Mr. Greenspan says, he (rightly) rips Mr. Bush to pieces concerning a lot of the president's fiscal policies - but, his tome's analysis of Desert Storm II as primarily oil-driven wasn't one of the negative bits. Actually, Mr. Greenspan thinks insuring the world's continued access to Iraqi oil is a dandy reason to have invaded.

Got that? Mr. Greenspan is not - repeat, not! - accusing President Bush of invading Iraq in order to secure access to Iraq's oil. He is just saying that nobody in power is willing to admit that securing access to that oil is a great benefit of the invasion, much less that killing Hussein for such reason alone probably would've been perfectly justifiable.

I mean, why not, right? He wasn't the elected leader of a people or anything; he was the man with his boot on an entire people's neck. And the homicidal nutcase was in control of one of the world's largest oil reserves. If anyone's whack-worthy in our national interest, why not him?

Now I disagree with that viewpoint, but it's certainly more interesting than what every news story about his book has entirely (and suspiciously) focused on: the news that one more creditable guy technically disagrees with President Bush.

What a bunch of dishonest people these journalists are. At least I can justify the glaring errors in my news stories; I'm just an amateur blogger.

So if he subscribes, you'll lay off of him?

Now here's a bit of rather uppity salesmanship:

English newspaper The Guardian is currently running an electronic ad (as I write this, you'll find it here) in which it chastises President George W. Bush... for not buying its daily editions.

"US Presidents have always come to us for an overview of world affairs," the advertisement declares solemnly as framed pictures of former presidents of our U.S. of A. scroll by. "...Except one."

The scrolling image comes to rest on an empty frame, marked, of course, with the name of our current president.

"Try our four-week subscription," ends the ad. "(Go on George, it is free!)"

Maybe President Bush gets his daily dose of egomania-flavored yellow journalism from The Times.

This entry was tagged. George Bush

Don't Let These People Play With Scissors! (Continuity Plans, Wingnuts, and Moonbats)

Earlier today, I received an e-mail from a friend:

National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive

I know the liberals are screaming over this ... and I understand why -- but please for the love of god explain to me why this is in ANY WAY good from your point of view. Yes yes, I know easier way to help in situations of disaster, but I can see this being overly abused, how should one branch of the gov't be able to completely over rule every other branch - it just seems ripe for abuse! My tin foil hat is buzzing.... please prove me wrong.

Glady.

A quick trip the Democratic Underground ("Because we can't function above ground") and Daily Kos ("We're nuts, so you don't have to be") revealed that liberals are certainly buzzing over the new National Continuity Policy. Apparently, they're afraid that Bush will use any "emergency" -- big or small -- to declare himself a dictator.

Let me give you a preview of the first thirty minutes of the Bush dictatorship:

10:00am: My fellow Americans, to ensure the successful functioning of the U.S. government through 2009 and beyond, I am pleased to announce that I will be continuing as President indefinitely.

10:05am: Madame Speaker, I would like to introduce a bill of impeachment against President George Walker Bush, for high crimes and misdemeanors. Wherefore he is ignoring the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution of the United Stated...

10:07am: The Bill of Impeachment passes, by a vote of 400-35.

10:12am: The Senate will now convene to hear the case of the People of the United States vs George Walker Bush, Chief Justice John Roberts...

10:20am: The Bill of Impeachment is sustained by a vote of 95-5...

10:30am: Mr. President, as Chairmain of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, it gives me great pleasure to arrest you for high crimes and misdemeanors against the Constitution of the United States.

There you have it, crisis averted. Does anyone seriously believe that men and women of the United States Armed Forces would support a President who ignored the Constitution in such a blatant manner? Or that Congress would ignore a dramatic usurpation of their rights and powers? Even the Republicans in Congress would be falling over themselves to condemn such a move.

For more on why the Kos Kids and DU nuts shouldn't be allowed to run with scissors, read on.

The Continuity of Operations Plan is designed to ensure that the American government can continue to operate in the event that the government is decapitated. We have had such a plan, in one form or another, since the end of World War II. Earlier this month, the Bush administration decided to revise the existing plan. Here's the relevant snippet from the end of the COOP:

Revocation. Presidential Decision Directive 67 of October 21, 1998 ("Enduring Constitutional Government and Continuity of Government Operations"), including all Annexes thereto, is hereby revoked.

In other words, the plan that the Clinton administration established is going to be replaced by the Bush administration's plan. The Clinton plan supplanted the Bush '41 plan, which supplanted the Reagan plan. No big deal here.

Now, for the specifics.

(e) "Enduring Constitutional Government," or "ECG," means a cooperative effort among the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the Federal Government, coordinated by the President

This is a change. Formerly, the effort was coordinated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Here's why one of the Kos Kids is worried:

So like I said, am I over reacting? Never said this was gospel. Some say yes, some so say, personally I am not a Constitutional Law lawyer, and wording in this directive just seemed oddly vague. And vague directives can lead to some pretty wild interpretations.

So can being off of your meds. Which seems to be the case here. Here's what the COOP says:

(8) The National Continuity Coordinator ... will lead the development of a National Continuity Implementation Plan (Plan), ... The Plan shall be submitted to the President for approval not later than 90 days after the date of this directive.

So, the directive is vague because it ain't the actual plan. The actual plan is still to come. This is just the outline of the project scope and requirements. Also, it's not like the Clinton plan was a model of specificity. It was just as vague. And the finished plan was never actually released to the American public either. This month's directive is just business as normal.

(b) "Catastrophic Emergency" means any incident, regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the U.S. population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government functions;

So basically, when the next 9-11 or Katrina hits, the National Essential Functions goes into effect. But what about economy? Say the other international shoe drops and they change the petro dollar to the petro euro, does that count as a catastrophic emergency? What if China calls in our debt, does that count?

No, you dope. We've had one of these things for years. It's never gone into effect for such silly reasons before, even when we had gas lines and soaring inflation.

d) "Continuity of Operations," or "COOP," means an effort within individual executive departments and agencies to ensure that Primary Mission-Essential Functions continue to be performed during a wide range of emergencies, including localized acts of nature, accidents, and technological or attack-related emergencies;

So, another Class-5 hurricane comes to town, and this time it's looking at Miami, and snarling. This directive will go into effect.

Again, nope. This is a directive to ensure that we have a working government when the existing government has been decapitated. Hurricanes attacking Miami ain't gonna cut it.

(e) "Enduring Constitutional Government," or "ECG," means a cooperative effort among the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the Federal Government, coordinated by the President, as a matter of comity with respect to the legislative and judicial branches and with proper respect for the constitutional separation of powers among the branches, to preserve the constitutional framework under which the Nation is governed and the capability of all three branches of government to execute constitutional responsibilities and provide for orderly succession, appropriate transition of leadership, and interoperability and support of the National Essential Functions during a catastrophic emergency;

The President will lead all three branches? Really? Sounds like an emperor to me. And if you don't think that this cleverly worded paragraph does not mean that, think about the latest antics of one Alberto Gonzales.

Come on, please. Coordinate means coordinate. Not rule. Somebody's gotta take the lead in coordinating and since the executive branch already has the day to day responsibility for managing the federal government, it only makes sense that they take the lead.

(6) The President shall lead the activities of the Federal Government for ensuring constitutional government. In order to advise and assist the President in that function, the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism (APHS/CT) is hereby designated as the National Continuity Coordinator. The National Continuity Coordinator, in coordination with the Assistant to the President for National

That is just a little bit disturbing. To say the least.

Why? The government is most likely to be decapitated by a suitcase nuke, detonated in Washington D.C. Given that reality, it only makes sense that the APHS/CT be the National Continuity Coordinator.

As the Washington Post points out:

The order makes explicit that the focus of federal worst-case planning involves a covert nuclear attack against the nation's capital, in contrast with Cold War assumptions that a long-range strike would be preceded by a notice of minutes or hours as missiles were fueled and launched.

"As a result of the asymmetric threat environment, adequate warning of potential emergencies that could pose a significant risk to the homeland might not be available, and therefore all continuity planning shall be based on the assumption that no such warning will be received," states the 72-paragraph order.

Not as the Democratic Underground thinks, taking out Congress. (Really guys, was the pharmacy out this week?)

I have to admit, I feel silly even responding to conspiracy theories this inane. But, you ask, I answer.

Is Bush Out of His Mind?

In case you haven't been keeping track, Dubai Ports World is in the process of buying P&O; Port. P&O; Port, a British company, currently operates six major American ports. These ports are in New Jersey, Baltimore, New Orleans, Miami, Philadelphia and New York. The problem is, Dubai Ports World is a company owned by the United Arab Emirates. While the UAE is a close American ally, they have also been tolerant towards terrorist groups. Understandably, many Americans are concerned about the safety of America's ports if Dubai Ports World takes over their management.

With that in mind, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, and House Majority Leader John Boehner have pledged to introduce legislation that would prevent Dubai Ports World from taking over the ports. This opposition led President Bush to call reporters aboard Air Force One and threaten to veto the legislation.

Why would the President do that? This statement sets up a conflict of interest within his own party. Worse, it makes the Administration look weak on national defense during an election year. Worse yet, Republicans have been making national defense the linchpin of their electoral strategies. Why put all of that at risk by allowing a Middle-East state-owned Arab company take over America's ports? Is Bush out of his mind?

Well, probably not. Like most things in life, the situation is more complex than it looks. Spook86, a former member of the U.S. intelligence community, passes along this analysis:

But it's not that simple. Cancelling the port deal could mean the end of U.S. basing rights in the UAE, strained relations with other regional partners, and the potential loss of a key defense contract, all viewed as critical in fighting the War on Terror. Collectively, those factors probably explain why the deal hasn't already been nixed, and why the Bush Administration may put up a fight--even with political allies.

Overturning the port deal could also create other problems in the Persian Gulf. Cancellation of the contract would be viewed as an insult to the UAE and its leadership; regional critics would accuse the U.S. of hypocrisy--anxious to utilize UAE bases and sell its defense hardware to the Dubai, but unwilling to let a UAE company manage operations in U.S. ports.

Finally, striking down the port deal would mean likely curtailment of the sale of U.S. F-16s to the UAE. ... In economic terms, the UAE F-16 deal means literally billions of dollars and thousands of jobs in the President's home state.

I'd advise you to go read the full analysis. This deal appears to be a lose-lose situation for the President. He can either risk political fallout at home, or he can endanger his foreign policy initiatives. Right now, he appears more than willing to preserve his foreign policy, even if it means engaging in a domestic battle with his own party.

At the moment, I'm not sure what the right course of action is. One thing I do know: this issue is far more complex than it originally appeared.