Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps? (Washington Post Chalabi Suck-Up Edition)
Powell in the Oval Office

If I Had Infinite Hours in the Day: 20051218

If I had infinite hours in the day:

http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2005_12_18_digbysblog_archive.html#113523196773309374 Digby writes: "Richard Morion pollster for the Washington Post actually had the temerity to write this drivel yesterday in an online chat: 'Naperville, Ill.: Why haven't you polled on public support for the impeachment of George W. Bush? Richard Morin: This question makes me mad... Seattle, Wash.: How come ABC News/Post poll has not yet polled on impeachment?Richard Morin: Getting madder... Haymarket, Va.: With all the recent scandals and illegal/unconstitutional actions of the President, why hasn't ABC News / Washington Post polled whether the President should be impeached? Richard Morin: Madder still.... [W]e do not ask about impeachment because it is not a serious option or a topic of considered discussion....' Jane points to this Media Matters report: 'A January 1998 Post poll conducted just days after the first revelations of Clinton's relationship with Monica Lewinsky asked the following questions: "If this affair did happen and if Clinton did not resign, is this something for which Clinton should be impeached, or not?"... Morin was the Post's polling director at the time.'... The Washington Post ate it up with a spoon, sending out their pollster post-haste to take the public's temperature on [Lewinsky].... Today, the same pollster gets mad when people bring up the idea of impeachment in the context of a hugely unpopular president lying about national security.... Media Matters asks: 'Please explain WHY a question asking if President Bush should be impeached if he lied to the country about war is "biased". Please also explain how this is consistent with polls the Post ran -- under your direction, I might add -- in 1998 asking whether then-President Clinton should be impeached if he had an affair with Monica Lewinsky. Do you now believe those questions you asked -- and reported on -- throughout 1998 were "biased"?... Why does The Post think it is appropriate to raise the spectre of impeachment when there is a Democratic president, but not when there is a Republican in office?...'"

http://www.slate.com/id/2132983/ Dahlia Lithwick: "Why won't the Bush administration obey the law?.... It now appears, however, that while the American people thought they were bargaining in good faith with their president, he was nodding and smiling and taking what he wanted in secret. At the start of this "war," Congress thought it was authorizing the use of force in Afghanistan. But now we've learned that in so doing it also gave the president limitless powers to break the law. Congress thought it was passing the Patriot Act. But it was actually giving the government broad and seemingly open-ended new surveillance authority. We believed the executive branch to be bound by the rule of law--by the Constitution and the Geneva Conventions and the ancient writ of habeas corpus. But the president was redefining torture, disregarding international conventions, and granting himself broad discretion to name and imprison enemy combatants for years on end. Americans believed they were bargaining in good faith with their government over the original deal struck in 1978 when Congress enacted the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. FISA was supposed to represent a compromise between security and civil liberties, by making it illegal to spy on Americans without judicial oversight but setting the bar for such oversight quite low. Even as amended by the Patriot Act--which further lowered the standards for a FISA warrant--the statute still purported to adhere to the fundamental bargain: Americans would not be spied upon by their government without basic constitutional checks in place..."

http://www.correntewire.com/this_just_in_or_was_that_yesterday_or_last_week_or "Seriously, when I first read this AP report on Dr. Frist.... These guys have slipped the bonds of normal corruption so completely.... 'WASHINGTON - Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's AIDS charity paid nearly a half-million dollars in consulting fees to members of his political inner circle...'"

http://www.wonkette.com/politics/top/also-two-wrongs-are-the-new-right-144770.php "Also, Two Wrongs are the New Right - Wonkette: In the wake of revelations that the Bush administration conducted a campaign of illegal wiretaps pursuant to matters that are widely claimed to be vital to the national interest yet simultaneously devoid of any evidence that the legal avenues available to the President were insufficient to the pursuit thereof, it's possible to imagine that dull-witted, tranked-up press corps failing to ask any number of questions. Like: Why, Mr. President, are you so angry about the Patriot Act filibuster when you seem jolly well disposed to conferring whatever powers you like upon yourself? Like: What part of "You have seventy-two hours to seek a warrant after the initiation of a wiretap" don't you understand? Like: Why can't you and the idea of separation of powers just hug it out, bitch? Nevertheless, some hopeful and naive part of us still wonders why no one is questioning one of the central planks in the Administration's defense of their actions, namely: "Hey, it's totally okay that we are wiretapping American citizens without legal authority because we totally briefed some Democrats that we were going to be doing it." That's an extraordinarily bizarre justification! Since when does briefing members of the opposition party have boo-boo-poopy to do with something being legal or not? You'd think that the Bush administration could more fully harness their crazy-ass "let's brief the Democrats" power by gathering the gang of four and telling them you were going to save the taxpayers some scratch by knocking over a few jewelry stores. We wish we could avail ourselves of this executive privilege, unfortunately, down here in the real world where we common folk live, the po-po have a name for what Bush suggests gives him legal cover: criminal conspiracy."

http://rjwaldmann.blogspot.com/2005/12/compromise-reached-at-www.html "Compromise Reached at http://www.washingtonpost.com.... As per the request of the Print Post, Froomkin's column is clearly marked opinion. This distinguishes it from the "[news] analysis" by Peter Baker. This makes it easy for non-cognoscenti to learn the difference between analysis (which is ok for reporters) and opinion (which is not). For example, in opinion you can write that the president is lying, but in analysis you have to write that "most everywhere in Washington outside 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue" thinks the President was lying.... I guess one might imagine [that there might be] someone who wasn't sure that Mr Baker counts himself among "most everyone." As punishment for being liberal and being thought to be a Post White House reporter by [Republican operative] Patrick Ruffini and a liberal to be named later, Froomkin gets moved from the lower left hand corner of the web page where to see his name you have to scroll (or buy a huge monitor) up to front and center..."

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2005_12/007832.php Kevin Drum: "TAKING TERRORISM SERIOUSLY.... Part 1 of a multi-zillion word story about the trials and tribulations of the Department of Homeland Security is running in the Washington Post today, and a lot of it is pretty much what you'd expect: a huge new agency trying desperately to deal with turf wars, lack of leadership, and budget issues. But they also had to deal with political cronyism, as Tom Ridge and Christine Todd Whitman discovered: 'One stark example was the White House's blockade of a Ridge-supported plan to secure large chemical plants. After Sept. 11, Whitman had worked with Ridge on a modest effort to require high-risk plants -- especially the 123 factories where a toxic release could endanger at least 1 million people -- to enhance security. But industry groups warned Bush political adviser Karl Rove that giving new regulatory power to the Environmental Protection Agency would be a disaster.... In an interagency meeting shortly before DHS's birth, White House budget official Philip J. Perry, who also happens to be Cheney's son-in-law, declared the Ridge-Whitman plan dead. "Tom and I would just throw our hands up in frustration over that issue,' Whitman recalled. This is the most infuriating aspect of George Bush's approach to terrorism: that he treats it as a partisan weapon instead of a genuinely serious business. Chemical plants really are a prime target for terrorists, but Dick Cheney doesn't want to annoy his corporate pals, so EPA's plans to address it get shelved. WMD counterproliferation really is important, but it's not very sexy and doesn't serve any partisan ends since Democrats support it too. So it's ignored and underfunded. Detention of enemy combatants when the enemy is an amorphous group like al-Qaeda is a genuinely vexing issue that deserves a serious bipartisan airing, but the Justice Department treats it like a child's game, inviting barely concealed rage from a conservative judge who thought this was supposed to be life-and-death stuff."

http://www.tpmcafe.com/story/2005/12/22/10947/084 Matthew Yglesias writes: "The Bush administration has taken to likening revelations of its illegal activities to the time The Washington Times allegedly messed up surveillance of Osama bin Laden by reporting that he was using a satellite phone to communicate with the outside world. That was certainly the story the Clinton administration always told, and Daniel Benjamin -- Clinton NSC veteran and TPMCafer -- repeats the story while disputing the analogy. Glenn Kessler, writing in today's Washington Post, says the whole thing is an urban legend. Apparently Time reported that bin Laden used a satellite phone in 1996, citing Taliban sources, and Peter Bergen reported that bin Laden used a satellite phone on CNN in 1997 citing... Osama bin Laden as his source. The Times article, meanwhile, didn't say that the US government was tracking bin Laden through the phone, it just said he used a satellite phone, which several media outlets had previously reported. And whether or not it had been previously reported, presumably this is something bin Laden would have already known anyway. So... what's going on?

http://www.journalstar.com/articles/2005/12/22/local/doc43a9ca5a569aa635906430.txt "Sen. Chuck Hagel said Wednesday that Americans can be protected against terrorism without violating the law or ignoring civil rights.... 'We are a nation of laws. You cannot avoid or dismiss a law.' At issue, Hagel said, is whether the decision to order such surveillance violates a 1978 law requiring approval by a secret U.S. foreign intelligence surveillance court.... Asked about Vice President Dick Cheney's warning that Bush’s critics could pay a heavy political price, Hagel said: 'My oath is to the Constitution, not to a vice president, a president or a political party.' Hagel said he's determined to 'do what I think is right for the people I represent and the country I serve.'..."

http://abuaardvark.typepad.com/abuaardvark/2005/12/rubin_v_packer_1.html Abu Aardvark: "Michael Rubin's review of George Packer's Assassin's Gate is a thing of such rare beauty that one hardly dares look at it directly for fear of spoiling it. Shorter George Packer: 'the neo-conservatives told us magical stories of fairies and unicorns who would shower us with hugs and puppies, which we really wanted to believe but in retrospect probably shouldn't have. Doh!' Shorter Michael Rubin: 'Packer dishonestly fails to tell us about the fairies and unicorns we found in Iraq, or how they showered us with hugs and puppies.' Coming soon - Rubin's expose about how the State Department, egged on by Juan Cole and John Kerry, mercilessly murdered all the fairies and unicorns just before they could shower us with hugs and puppies. Also, his detailed analytical account of Ahmed Chalabi's triumphant sweep through this December's Parliamentary elections, which only he accurately predicted - with a detailed dissection of the literally thousands of Iraqi National Congress votes that he'd just like to see so-called Iraq experts explain away!"