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The daily view from the oasis

Decemeber 2, 2005 PERMALINK
The Future's Not Bright, Forget The Shades
(posted Dec. 2 1 AM ET)

On the downside, for Republicans in Washington:

1. There’s talk that Jack Abramoff will help prosecutors nail the congresspeople that he bribed.

2. The Pentagon propaganda scandal is exploding, destroying what little credibility we had in Iraq.

3. PlameGate is heating up again, add the possibility of a Rove indictment still looms.

4. People close to the White House and the Bush family continue to spread gossip of acrimony within the Administration.

5. Dems are finding their backbone on the Alito nomination.

On the upside. for Republicans in Washington:

1. Speaker Dennis Hastert decided it’s the Capitol Christmas Tree, not the Capitol Holiday Tree. Christmas is saved!

The only way to emerge out from under the weight of so much scandal is to get a win.

The most likely victory Republican can hope for is an Alito confirmation, which makes the crystallizing Dem opposition particularly problematic for Republicans.

Besides, the victory Bush needs more than anything is in Iraq.

At least, the perception of progress, a string of positive developments to restore some confidence in the war.

(And planting fake stories of positive developments don't count.)

Bush’s problem is that there's another election coming up this month.

Why is that a problem?

Every election comes with Bush-fueled hype that so-called advancements in the political process will improve conditions on the ground.

This will be the third election of the year, this one to elect a permanent government, with winners getting four-year terms (so it would seem, no more elections until 2009.)

The last two failed to turn the Iraqi public against the insurgency, and so the bursts of positive US media coverage surrounding them were for naught.

Even if the US public gets optimistic again after this election (a big if), without a direct decrease in violence, they will be let down again, and pessimism and cynicism will increase again.

And after this election is over, what other symbolic moments are in the queue for Bush to point to?

He’ll be out of hollow symbolic victories. He’ll need some real ones.

And if real victories against the insurgency were so easy to come by, Bush wouldn’t be in the position he is right now.

More speeches promising progress will just waste his time and ours.

Furthermore, the longer Bush goes without showing any progress, the more compelling the Feingold-Murtha-Pelosi argument becomes – that the occupation is the source of the problem, not the solution.

Decemeber 1, 2005 PERMALINK
Alito: Anti-Abortion Visionary, Anti-Equality Veteran
(posted Dec. 1 1:45 AM ET)

We already knew Alito’s judicial philosophy rejects constitutional protection for reproductive freedom, as he stated it plainly in his job application to the Reagan Justice Dept.

But the Reagan-era memo that surfaced yesterday puts his role in the campaign to overturn Roe in a brighter light.

Knight-Ridder’s summation is on the mark:

...as a young lawyer in the Reagan administration [Alito] recommended a bold, but stealthy legal strategy to neutralize and eventually overturn Roe v. Wade...

...Alito wrote that while "no one" seriously believed the Supreme Court was about to eliminate abortion rights, two pending cases on abortion restrictions offered the Reagan administration a chance to chip away at Roe v. Wade.

He suggested having the government intervene in the cases to support the restrictions, while avoiding a "frontal attack" on Roe v. Wade itself...

... [Alito’s memo is] a very early articulation of the multi-pronged strategy employed by anti-abortion activists for the past two decades...

So not only does Alito believe Roe is unconstitutional, he was a strategic visionary for the anti-abortion movement.

Once again, the right-wing activists who desperately wanted a grand debate on judicial philosophy are scrambling to deny reality.

Instead of proudly touting his anti-Roe history, they’re trying to spin it as just a lawyer working for his client, the Reagan Administration.

Perhaps that could fly, if we didn’t already know that Alito got hired by the Reagan Administration after pledging his unequivocal opposition to Roe in his job application.

Another nugget from yesterday (one more likely to be overlooked) was this paragraph from his completed Senate Judiciary Cmte questionnaire, in which he described the various organizations he’s been involved in, including:

Concerned Alumni of Princeton: This was a group of Princeton alumni. A document I recently reviewed reflects that I was a member of the group in the 1980s. Apart from that document, I have no recollection of being a member, of attending meetings, or otherwise participating in the activities of the group. The group has no current officers from whom more information may be obtained.

This more than spin. These are deliberately misleading half-truths and distortions.

To call the right-wing anti-coeducation CAP simply “a group of Princeton alumni” is a laughable attempt to avoid copping to its disgusting history.

And to say there are “no current officers from whom more information may be obtained” is flat disingenuous, because as The Daily Princetonian and New York Times can tell you, there are certainly former officers to chat with, including Alito’s friend Andrew Napolitano.

(Granted, Napolitano is a liar for denying CAP opposed coeducation, so it’s not really worth obtaining more information from him.)

Normally, a person’s decades-old association with an organization would be irrelevant to a nomination debate. Views can change. It’s the person’s judicial record that’s most relevant.

But in this case, his CAP membership shows that the hostility to equality that he has displayed on the bench is also decades-old.

He joined a group that opposed admitting women to Princeton in the 70s.

He opposed federal enforcement of “one person, one vote” principles in the 1980s.

He sought to protect corporations from race and sex discrimination claims while on the bench in the 1990s.

Furthermore, the fact that he refuses to share the facts about CAP is additional evidence that you can’t take him at his word, on top of his past lies to the Senate regarding how he’d handle conflicts of interest.

We must do all we can to get this info in the hands of the voters, and we must also tell the Senate Dems there is absolutely no excuse for not filibustering this guy.

November 30, 2005 PERMALINK
Conservatives Agree: Bush Misleads
(posted Nov. 30 1 AM ET)

Democrats often criticize Dubya for misleading the public and twisting the facts.

Conservative apologists often respond by calling Dems irresponsible, dishonest, reprehensible, shrill and blinded by Bush hatred.

Which is what made the conservative reaction to Dubya’s Monday immigration address so interesting.

All of a sudden, conservatives (at least, those conservatives from the nativist wing of the GOP and not the corporatist wing) opened their eyes to the standard Bushian propaganda practices.

From yesterday’s Moonie-owned W. Times:

Ending the catch-and-release policy for illegal aliens, as President Bush called for yesterday, will take years and far more than the current number of detention beds -- something Mr. Bush himself underfunded in his most recent budget to Congress...

... critics of Mr. Bush's immigration policy said he hasn't put any muscle behind the initiatives he touted.

"Why now? We've had five years," said Steven A. Camarota, research director for the Center for Immigration Studies. "Why has it taken so long to get to an issue like this? And when he addresses it, he talks about things he himself doesn't support. He talks in vague generalities."

Mr. Bush said his administration has boosted U.S. Border Patrol agents and detention beds,..

...But Mr. Bush's budget submission in February called for just 210 more agents and fewer than 2,000 new detention beds -- each amount less than a quarter of the totals that Congress and Mr. Bush agreed to just two months earlier.

"He can't claim credit for increasing the number of Border Patrol agents," said T.J. Bonner, president of the National Border Patrol Council. "This administration resisted it at every bend in the road and then finally went along with it when Congress passed it."

Critics said Mr. Bush also wrongly took credit for expanding the "Basic Pilot Program," which lets companies voluntarily check a work applicant's documents for validity.

Congress passed a bill expanding the program ... although Mr. Bush signed the measure, lobbyists who tracked the issue said he put no legislative muscle behind it.

The National Review editors also chimed in:

Bush touted "an innovative approach" that returns Mexican illegals closer to their hometowns so they will be less likely to sneak in again.

But the Border Patrol started doing it more than 50 years ago...

..."Technology can help an individual agent have broader reach and more effectiveness," the president said, citing the surveillance value of UAVs.

What he didn't mention was that the government was shamed into using these drones by ordinary citizens frustrated with federal inaction who, more than two years ago, built their own drones and posted the aerial images on the Internet.

And Monday night, CNN’s Lou Dobbs, who has dedicated his show to supporting an immigration crackdown, had this exchange with reporter Casey Wian:

DOBBS: It was a remarkable, it seems to me, at least, a remarkable performance that lacked straightforwardness, directness and specificity.

WIAN: It seems as if he was trying to repackage the issue rather than getting to the root of the problem.

This is not to say that Dems and liberals should be siding with the nativists over the corporatists on the immigration issue.

(LiberalOasis earlier laid out an immigration strategy that rejects both the corporatist and nativist wings of the GOP.)

This is to say that we have additional ammo to counter the apologists who refuse to admit Bush misled the public about the war.

In particular, Dubya’s “major” Iraq speech later today will likely continue the effort to misrepresent how well the training of Iraqi soldiers is going.

So when conservative pundits seek to regurgitate the spin, we should helpfully note how conservatives just opened their eyes to Bush’s pattern of half-truths and distortions when it affected their own pet issue.

And in turn, it’s indisputable that you simply can’t trust the word of George Bush on anything.

November 28, 2005 PERMALINK
The Sunday Talkshow Breakdown
A weekly feature of LiberalOasis
(posted Nov. 28 1:30 AM ET)

On NBC's Meet The Press, the W. Post’s Eugene Robinson summed the Beltway conventional wisdom of where Bush’s Iraq policy is headed:

I think what's happening in Washington now is arrival at a kind of common consensus expectation... that some sort of gradual or even more precipitous withdrawal of U.S. troops will begin to happen in 2006.

This followed Secretary of State Condi Rice’s comments to CNN last Tuesday:

I suspect that the American forces are not going to be needed in the numbers that they are there for all that much longer because Iraqis are continuing to make progress.

As well as Saturday’s LA Times story, “U.S. Starts Laying Groundwork for Significant Troop Pullout From Iraq,” which reported:

A former top Pentagon official who served during Bush's first term said he believed there was a "growing consensus" on withdrawing about 40,000 troops before next year's congressional election.

But elsewhere on the Sunday shows, we saw some pushback against that CW.

On ABC’s This Week, a increasingly sharp Sen. Russ Feingold punctured the drawdown balloons being floated by the Administration, by pointing out that partial withdrawals do not automatically become full withdrawals:

...If that’s all it is -- that we’re going to bring out 20,000 now, or 40,000 here -- they may decide to send them back in.

What we need is a plan, what we need is a vision, with a flexible timetable. Not ... bring a few troops out now, or send a few more troops back in later, but how does this whole thing come together.

And on CNN’s Late Edition, Seymour Hersh (who has a new New Yorker article) reported that a partial ground troop withdrawal may well be coupled with increased bombing from US air forces:

...what I was writing about in The New Yorker this week is our plan is to pull out American troops ... I think the president probably will next year.

But the war is not going to slow down.

We're going to increase the pace of air operations. There's going to be more bombing in direct support of Iraqi units...

...the idea is, you increase the pace of the bombing. And that will make an inadequate Iraqi unit be able to stand up a little bit, certainly against the insurgency. That's the thinking.

The CW that Bush would order a real drawdown – one that would put us on a path to full withdrawal – fails to understand the true motive of the war.

If you think that the Bushies are actually interested in exporting democracy to Iraq, then you might think they'd be open to cutting their losses once it became obvious the mission was going to fall short.

Whereas, if you realize that the Bushies could care less about democracy, but simply believe in exerting unilateral influence over resource-rich regions of world, then it becomes clearer that they have no interest in turning back from the mission of imposing a “friendly” government on Iraq.

Especially since that mission is making progress.

A “head fake” withdrawal, in theory, would do nothing to change the political dynamics in Iraq, but if the US media treats it like a real withdrawal, it could temporarily decrease domestic political pressure – preventing opposition from reaching a critical mass.

On ABC’s This Week, Feingold touched upon the larger game that is afoot, in the course of explaining his proposal for a 12/31/06 target date for full ground troop withdrawal:

We should have a public timetable to show the Iraqi people, the American people and the world that we’re not trying to have a permanent occupation of Iraq.

However, while Feingold is correctly rejecting permanent occupation, he is still flinching from calling out Bush and the Republican Party on supporting permanent occupation, and making a clearer distinction between the parties on foreign policy goals.

There is further ammo to make that distinction, now that the Senate Republicans rejected an amendment which said “military forces should not stay in Iraq indefinitely” in favor of a vaguer one that said “should not stay in Iraq ... any longer than required.”

But neither Feingold nor any other Dem Senator on the Sunday shows yesterday made note of it.

Meanwhile, over at CNN, Hersh dismissed any notion that Bush’s is second-guessing his war. Wolf Blitzer read the following excerpt from Hersh’s latest article:

“The president is more determined than ever to stay the course,” the former defense official said. “He doesn't feel any pain. Bush is a believer in the adage, ‘People may suffer and die, but the Church advances.’”

He said that the president had become more detached, leaving more issues to Karl Rove and Vice President Cheney. “They keep him in the gray world of religious idealism, where he wants to be anyway,” the former defense official said.

QUICK HIT

Sen, Carl Levin stands up to Fox’s Chris Wallace

Sen. Levin, who has been knocking Bush lately for directly conflating Iraq and Al Qaeda, smartly refused to budge as Fox News Sunday’s Chris Wallace attacks sought to defend Bush via selective quotation.

Crooks and Liars and Think Progress have more.

The Blog Wire
Tracking the liberal blogosphere

American Prospect: "The United States has so far been hostile at worst and lukewarm at best in regard to a critical [Iraqi] peace initiative by the League of Arab States" (via Political Animal)

National Journal: "Ten days after [9/11] President Bush was told in a highly classified briefing that the U.S. intelligence community had no evidence linking the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein to the attacks and that there was scant credible evidence that Iraq had any significant collaborative ties with Al Qaeda, according to government records and current and former officials with firsthand knowledge of the matter."

Tapped: "Fox News ... is refusing to run an anti-Samuel Alito ad ... on the grounds that it's "factually incorrect." Fair is fair -- recall that the network refused to air the Swift Boat ads last year for the same reason. Oh, wait ..."

Save The Court has a new Stop Alito ad, featuring the classic Bush "Fool Me Once" moment

Head Heeb: "The paralysis of Israeli politics, however, is now a thing of the past. The next election will present clear policy and leadership alternatives for the first time since the Oslo process broke down"

Think Progress: Novak column distorts Alito strip search ruling

Eschaton: "McCain is speaking at a fundraiser for George Wallace, Jr, someone who gave a speech to the Council of Conservative Citizens four times ..."

Mark A.R. Kleiman: "Apparently Sheryl Gay Stolberg of the New York Times has decided to moonlight as Lindsey Graham's press secretary."

Balkinization: "'Former and current intelligence officers and supervisors' described for ABC News six specific 'enhanced interrogation techniques' that the CIA has approved ..."

The Grey Matter: "Looks like another case where energy interests successfully had GOP representatives slip a seemingly mundane provision into a larger spending bill with the hopes of it either going unnoticed or that politicians would simply ignore it to pass the larger bill."

Save The Court: Sign the petition to stop Alito

Daily Princetonian: "Alito wrote that he was 'a member of the Concerned Alumni of Princeton University...' ... Marsha Levy-Warren '73, who was a member of the University's first coeducational class [said,] 'They stated explicitly that they were not in favor of coeducation and that they weren't in favor of affirmative action ... Implicitly, they were opposed to any form of diversity on campus.'"

Baghdad Burning: "These torture houses have existed since the beginning of the occupation. While it is generally known that SCIRI is behind them, other religious parties are not innocent ... This is hardly news for Americans in the Green Zone."

Tikkun interviews the new leader of Israel's Labour Party, Amir Peretz

Feministing: "In response to Virginia’s laws banning same-sex marriages, a local pastor and his church’s governing council have decided to protest in a big way -- the church is no longer offering wedding services."

IndependentCourt.org releases new ad: 'The right wing has already taken over the West Wing…don’t let them take over your Supreme Court,' says the ad, which mentions Alito’s efforts as a federal judge to weaken protections against job discrimination, his dissent that would have upheld the strip search of a 10-year-old girl without a valid warrant, and his declaration that the Constitution does not protect a woman’s right to an abortion."

**************

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