Friday, March 31, 2006

A conservative is a man who believes that nothing should be done for the first time.
-Alfred E. Wiggam

President Bill "The Big Dog" Clinton will appear on Larry King Live on CNN tonight. Check local listings.

The Faux War on Christianity

The GOP's Stake In Checking The President

By Senator Russ Feingold

During the Watergate hearings
, then-Senator Howard Baker, a Republican, showed tremendous courage, and a deep sense of Congress’s duty to hold President Nixon accountable, when he asked that now-famous question: “What did the President know and when did he know it?” Baker was one of a handful of Republicans during the scandal who stood up to their party, and to the President. Today, as the President admits, even flaunts, his program to wiretap Americans on American soil without the warrants required by law, we need more courageous Republicans to stand up and check the President’s power grab.

When the President breaks the law, he must be held accountable, and that is why I have introduced a resolution to censure the President for his actions. Yet, as we face a President who thinks he is above the law, most Republicans are willing to cede enormous power to the executive branch. Their actions are not just short-sighted, they are a departure from one of the Republican Party’s defining goals: limiting government power.

Some Republicans are defending the President’s conduct as appropriate and arguing he should have free rein to continue his program, regardless of whether it is legal. Others seek to grant him expanded statutory powers so as to make his illegal conduct legal. But current law already allows a wiretap to be turned on immediately as long as the government goes to the court within 72 hours. The President has claimed an inherent authority to wiretap Americans on American soil without a warrant that he thinks allows him to break this law. So why would anyone think the President will comply with any new proposal? The constitutional system of separation of powers demands that we check a President who recklessly grabs for power and ignores the rule of law, not reward him—particularly when the law he breaks is designed to protect innocent Americans from intrusive government powers.

As many Republicans focus on defending the President, they are losing sight of what ceding these powers to the President now will mean for their own party down the road. Those expansive powers will rest with whoever sits in the Oval Office. Republicans who argue today that the President has the power to ignore a law passed by Congress are relinquishing authority not just to this Republican President, but to future presidents of any party. They are helping to render future members of their own party powerless to check an executive who claims expansive powers under the Constitution or a future Authorization for Use of Military Force resolution.


Insulating Bush

Karl Rove, President Bush's chief political adviser, cautioned other White House aides in the summer of 2003 that Bush's 2004 re-election prospects would be severely damaged if it was publicly disclosed that he had been personally warned that a key rationale for going to war had been challenged within the administration. Rove expressed his concerns shortly after an informal review of classified government records by then-Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen J. Hadley determined that Bush had been specifically advised that claims he later made in his 2003 State of the Union address -- that Iraq was procuring high-strength aluminum tubes to build a nuclear weapon -- might not be true, according to government records and interviews.

Hadley was particularly concerned that the public might learn of a classified one-page summary of a National Intelligence Estimate, specifically written for Bush in October 2002. The summary said that although "most agencies judge" that the aluminum tubes were "related to a uranium enrichment effort," the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research and the Energy Department's intelligence branch "believe that the tubes more likely are intended for conventional weapons."

Three months after receiving that assessment, the president stated without qualification in his January 28, 2003, State of the Union address: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa. Our intelligence sources tell us that he has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production."

The previously undisclosed review by Hadley was part of a damage-control effort launched after former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV alleged that Bush's claims regarding the uranium were not true. The CIA had sent Wilson to the African nation of Niger in 2002 to investigate the purported procurement efforts by Iraq; he reported that they were most likely a hoax.


The perfect answer to "patriotic" yellow ribbons. Put this on Your car. It is time the voices questioning war grow stronger than those justifying war. The intelligent car magnet that needs to be everywhere. Get it at:

Nixon Aide Urges Censure Of Bush

Nixon White House counselor John Dean asserted Friday that President Bush's domestic spying exceeds the wrongdoing that toppled his former boss from power, and a veteran Republican snapped that Democrats were trying to "score political points" with a motion to censure Mr. Bush.

"Had the Senate or House, or both, censured or somehow warned Richard Nixon, the tragedy of Watergate might have been prevented," Dean told the Senate Judiciary Committee. "Hopefully the Senate will not sit by while even more serious abuses unfold before it."

Testifying to a Senate committee on Wisconsin Democratic Sen. Russell Feingold's resolution to censure Mr. Bush, Dean said the president "needs to be told he cannot simply ignore a law with no consequences."


Not Over Yet for GOP

President Bush's historically low public approval ratings, the depressing news from Iraq, and internal GOP squabbles over issues like immigration reform still don't have leaders and their political advisers worried about losing the majority in the House or Senate in the midterm elections. Top aides and strategists say that while the Republicans could lose a handful of House and Senate seats, they should remain in the majority. "It's a bit scary, but we don't think we'll lose control," says one strategist. Another says that in House races, most members should win re-election based on local issues and projects the lawmakers can cite for which they brought home federal funding. "Those aren't national elections this year," says the Republican political adviser, adding that the Democrats so far have failed to make the midterms a national election like Republicans did in 1994. The Republican advisers also say that the GOP should maintain control of the Senate, although about half of the four troubled races could go Democratic. Of the Senate re-election bids by Pennsylvania's Rick Santorum, Montana's Conrad Burns, Missouri's Jim Talent, and Ohio's Mike DeWine, the insiders expect only Burns and Talent to win.


DeWine wants to ban gay unions

(This is the same stunt Republicans pulled in Ohio during the 2004 Presidential elections - Kenneth Blackwell put a gay marriage ban proposal on the ballot and got the backwoods base out to the polls.)

Ohio Sen. Mike DeWine said yesterday that he will take a lead role in pushing for a U.S. constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, at least in part to regain support from unhappy conservatives in his state.

The Republican said he would co-sponsor the amendment that Senate GOP leaders have scheduled for a vote in June. Although the measure has more than 20 co-sponsors, supporters concede it is unlikely the Senate will approve it by the required two-thirds majority. <

But the amendment is symbolically important to social conservatives across Ohio, many of whom were disappointed in 2004 when DeWine did not support an Ohio constitutional amendment to define marriage as solely a union of one man and one woman. That issue sparked a huge turnout of conservative voters who helped President Bush win re-election.

Although DeWine is expected to easily win the May Republican primary, he faces a stern challenge in November from Rep. Sherrod Brown, of Avon, the likely Democratic nominee for the Senate race. To prevail, DeWine will need a heavy turnout from conservatives, many of whom are unhappy with him on issues of same-sex marriage and curbing immigration.


Senate panel set to consider bid to censure Bush

Former White House counsel John Dean, who helped push President Richard Nixon from office during the Watergate scandal three decades ago, heads to Capitol Hill on Friday to back an uphill attempt to censure President George W. Bush.

Dean, author of a book about Bush titled "Worse than Watergate," was to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee in support of a resolution to rebuke Bush for a domestic spying program introduced secretly after the September 11 attacks.

Sen. Russ Feingold (news, bio, voting record), a Wisconsin Democrat, introduced the resolution earlier this month.

He argues that the program, which allows eavesdropping on international telephone calls and e-mails involving Americans when one party is suspected of links with terrorism, violates the law because it is conducted without court warrants.


Ex-DeLay Aide Pleads Guilty

A former top aide to Rep. Tom DeLay pleaded guilty Friday to conspiracy and promised to cooperate with the government's investigation of lobbying fraud on Capitol Hill.

Tony Rudy, DeLay's former deputy chief of staff, was told by a U.S. District judge that he could receive up to five years in prison but the sentence could be much less depending on his cooperation with prosecutors in the case, which earlier brought a guilty plea from lobbyist Jack Abramoff.


Number of Operation Iraq Freedom and Enduring Freedom casualties as confirmed by U.S. Central Command: 2371/260

Most Recent Casualties:

March 31, 2006

Marine Lance Cpl. Jacob W. Beisel
, 21, of Lackawaxen, Pa.
-Operation Iraq Freedom

Accessible Airwaves

Once again, the United Church of Christ's inclusion-themed, 30-second TV commercials have been rejected by the broadcast networks.

Unfortunately, we now know that it’s not just the about the commercials.

A new study by Media Matters shows that you are far more likely to see a Religious Right political leader on a news program than a mainline religious leader. It’s time for equal access on America’s television news programs.

See the commercial in QT here .
Go to their blog Assessible Airwaves to learn more.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Repetition does not transform a lie into a truth.
-Franklin D. Roosevelt

Journalist Jill Carroll Released in Iraq

(FINALLY some genuinely good news out of Iraq!)

American journalist Jill Carroll, abducted in early January by gunmen in Baghdad, was released to a Sunni Arab political party in the capital Thursday morning after 82 days in captivity.

"I was treated very well. That's important for people to know," she said in an interview with an Arabic-speaking questioner at the headquarters of the Iraqi Islamic Party. "They never hit me, they never even threatened to hit me. I'm just happy to be free, and I want to be with my family."

Carroll, 28, a freelance reporter working for the Christian Science Monitor, was brought to party headquarters just after 1 p.m. local time (5 a.m. EST) and was able to borrow a phone from a party member and speak with her parents and her twin sister. She also spoke with a Washington Post reporter, who drove to the office and met with her.


Beleaguered Premier Warns US to Stop Interfering in Iraq's Politics

Facing growing pressure from the Bush administration to step down, Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari of Iraq vigorously asserted his right to stay in office on Wednesday and warned the Americans against interfering in the country's political process.

Mr. Jaafari also defended his recent political alliance with the radical Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr, now the prime minister's most powerful backer, saying in an interview that Mr. Sadr and his militia, now thousands strong, are a fact of life in Iraq and need to be accepted into mainstream politics.

Mr. Jaafari said he would work to fold the country's myriad militias into the official security forces and ensure that recruits and top security ministers abandoned their ethnic or sectarian loyalties.

The Iraqi government's tolerance of militias has emerged as the greatest source of contention between American officials and Shiite leaders like Mr. Jaafari, with the American ambassador contending in the past week that militias are killing more people than the Sunni Arab-led insurgency. Dozens of bodies, garroted or with gunshots to the head, turn up almost daily in Baghdad, fueling sectarian tensions that are pushing Iraq closer to full-scale civil war.


Father of man beheaded in Iraq runs for Congress

Almost two years after the videotaped beheading of U.S. contractor Nick Berg in Iraq, his father is running a third-party race for the U.S. Congress on a platform seeking a complete withdrawal of American troops.

Michael Berg, a veteran anti-war activist and retired schoolteacher who campaigns in jeans and a T-shirt, is the Green Party candidate for the Delaware seat of seven-term Republican Rep. Michael Castle.

Berg, 61, acknowledges that his late entry into politics is a result of his son's grisly death at the hands of hooded captors in May 2004. The event brought the elder Berg worldwide media attention, especially after he publicly blamed U.S. President George W. Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.


US debt clock running out of time, space

Tick, 20,000 dollars, tock, another 20,000 dollars.

So rapid is the rise of the US national debt, that the last four digits of a giant digital signboard counting the moving total near New York's Times Square move in seemingly random increments as they struggle to keep pace.

The national debt clock, as it is known, is a big clock. A spot-check last week showed a readout of 8.3 trillion -- or more precisely 8,310,200,545,702 -- dollars ... and counting.

But it's not big enough.

Sometime in the next two years, the total amount of US government borrowing is going to break through the 10-trillion-dollar mark and, lacking space for the extra digit such a figure would require, the clock is in danger of running itself into obsolescence.

The clock's owner, real estate developer Douglas Durst, knew such a problem could arise but hadn't counted on it so soon.

"We really expected it to be quite some time," Durst told AFP. "But now, with the pace of debt growth only increasing, we're looking at maybe two years and certainly before President (George W.) Bush leaves office in 2009."


Florida subpoenas voting machine companies

The Florida Attorney General's Office has issued investigative subpoenas to the three companies certified to sell voting machines in Florida.

Attorney General Charlie Crist is reviewing a dispute between the firms and Leon County's elections supervisor.

Diebold Election Systems, Election Systems and Software and Sequoia Voting Systems have refused to sell equipment to let disabled voters cast ballots without help in Leon County. Elections supervisor Ion Sancho has been outspoken about his concern that the devices can be easily manipulated to change race outcomes.


G.O.P. Risking Hispanic Votes on Immigration

The battle among Republicans over immigration policy and border security is threatening to undercut a decade-long effort by President Bush and his party to court Hispanic voters, just as both parties are gearing up for the 2006 elections.

"I believe the Republican Party has hurt itself already," said the Rev. Luis Cortes, a Philadelphia pastor close to President Bush and the leader of a national organization of Hispanic Protestant clergy members, saying he delivered that message to the president last week in a meeting at the White House.


Number of Operations Iraq Freedom & Enduring Freedom casualties as confirmed by U.S. Central Command: 2364/258

Most Recent Casualties:

March 30, 2006
Army Pfc. Joseph J. Duenas
,23, of Mesa, Ariz.
-Operation Iraq Freedom

Complete casualty list

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Liars when they speak the truth are not believed.

Who is Really Distorting the Truth About Iraq? The GOP of Course!

How far will critics of media coverage of the Iraq war go to prove reporters are wrongly focusing on the negative?

One answer came this week, in a shocking if amusing episode featuring one Howard Kaloogian, a leading Republican running for the seat in Congress recently vacated by indicted Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham.

He posted on the official Web site for his campaign a picture taken in “downtown Baghdad,” he said, during his visit to the city, which supposedly indicated that the media was wrong about the level of violence in the city. “We took this photo of downtown Baghdad while we were in Iraq,” he wrote. “Iraq (including Baghdad) is much more calm and stable than what many people believe it to be. But, each day the news media finds any violence occurring in the country and screams and shouts about it - in part because many journalists are opposed to the U.S. effort to fight terrorism."

But the blogosphere quickly smelled a rat. The photo featured people who didn’t seem dressed quite right for Iraq, and signs and billboards that looked off, too. In the now-familiar pattern, the ace detective work leaped from obscure blogs to the well-known (Talking Points Memo, Eschaton, Attytood, more), and back again, as eagle-eyed experts proposed alternative locales, with Turkey a likely suspect.


Analysts: End of Rate Hikes May Be Near

After nearly two years and 15 interest rate increases, the end of Federal Reserve rate hikes may finally be in sight.

Many analysts think it could be one more and done. They believe the central bank will push the federal funds rate up by one last quarter-point to 5 percent at its next meeting on May 10 and then move to the sidelines for the rest of the year.


Saudia Arabia working on secret nuclear program with Pakistan help - report

Saudi Arabia is working secretly on a nuclear program, with help from Pakistani experts, the German magazine Cicero reported in its latest edition, citing Western security sources.

It says that during the Haj pilgrimages to Mecca in 2003 through 2005, Pakistani scientists posed as pilgrims to come to Saudi Arabia.

Between October 2004 and January 2005, some of them slipped off from pilgrimages, sometimes for up to three weeks, the report quoted German security expert Udo Ulfkotte as saying.


Gallup:More AmerIcans Now Call Themselves Democrats

In a (perhaps) historic shift, more Americans now consider themselves Democrats than Republicans, the Gallup organization revealed today.

Republicans had gained the upper hand in recent years, but 33% of Americans, in the latest Gallup poll, now call themselves Democrats, with those favoring the GOP one point behind. But Gallup says this widens a bit more "once the leanings of Independents are taken into account."

Independents now make up 34% of the population. When asked if they lean in a certain direction, their answers pushed the Democrat numbers to 49% with Republicans at 42%.


Abramoff Gets Almost 6 Years in Prison

Disgraced former lobbyist Jack Abramoff and a business partner were sentenced Wednesday to five years and 10 months in federal prison, the minimum they faced for fraud related to their 2000 purchase of the SunCruz Casinos gambling fleet.

Abramoff and Adam Kidan both pleaded guilty to conspiracy and wire fraud, but they won't have to report to prison immediately.

The judge postponed their reporting date for at least 90 days so the two can continue cooperating in a Washington corruption investigation and a Florida probe into the killing of former SunCruz owner Konstantinos Boulis. Both deny roles in the killing. Abramoff pleaded guilty in connection with the corruption probe but has yet to be sentenced.


House Dems spent some time this morning calling the Rubber Stamp Republican Congress to accountHouse Dems spent some time this morning calling the Rub

Number of Operations Iraq Freedom and Enduring Freedom casualties as reported by U.S. Central Command: 2361/258

Most Recent Casualties

March 29, 2006

Air Force Tech. Sgt. Walter M. Moss Jr., 37, of Houston
-Operation Iraq Freedom

Complete Casualty List

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Oh what a tangled web we weave,
When first we practise to deceive!
-Sir Walter Scott

Bush caught in another lie: this time, his finger wag at Helen Thomas "no president wants to go to war".

The Logic of Withdraw

We find ourselves in a remarkable situation today. Despite a massive propaganda campaign in support of the occupation of Iraq, a clear majority of people in the United States now believes the invasion was not worth the consequences and should never have been undertaken.

Likewise, people strongly disapprove of the foreign policy of Republicans and Democrats in Congress, particularly their position on the war in Iraq. In a September 2005 New York Times-CBS News poll, support for immediate withdrawal stood at 52 percent, a remarkable figure when one considers that very few political organizations have articulated an "Out Now" position.

The official justifications for the war have been exposed as complete fallacies. Even conservative defenders of U.S. empire now complain that the situation in Iraq is a disaster.

Yet many people who opposed this unjust invasion, who opposed the 1991 Gulf War and the sanctions on Iraq for years before that, some of whom joined mass demonstrations against the war before it began, have been persuaded that the U.S. military should now remain in Iraq for the benefit of the Iraqi people. We confront the strange situation of many people mobilizing against an unjust war but then reluctantly supporting the military occupation that flows directly from it.

The U.S. Military has no right ro be in Iraq in the first place.

The United States is not bringing democracy to Iraq.

The United States is not making the workd a safer place by occupying Iraq.

The United States is not preventing civil war in Iraq.

The United States is not confronting terrorism by staying in Iraq.

The United States is not honoring those who died by continuing the conflict.

The United States is not rebuilding Iraq.

The United States is not fulfilling its obligation to the Iraqi people for the harm and suffering it has caused.

This article is adapted from Anthony Arnove's forthcoming book Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal, due out on April 18 from The New Press.

Fitzgerald Will Seek New White House Indictments

It may seem as though it's been moving along at a snail's pace, but the second part of the federal investigation into the leak of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson is nearly complete, with attorneys and government officials who have remained close to the probe saying that a grand jury will likely return an indictment against one or two senior Bush administration officials.

These sources work or worked at the State Department, the CIA and the National Security Council. Some of these sources are attorneys close to the case. They requested anonymity because they were not permitted to speak publicly about the details of the investigation.

In lengthy interviews over the weekend and on Monday, they said that Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has started to prepare the paperwork to present to the grand jury seeking an indictment against White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove or National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley.

Although the situation remains fluid, it's possible, these sources said, that Fitzgerald may seek to indict both Rove and Hadley, charging them with perjury, obstruction of justice, and conspiracy related to their roles in the leak of Plame Wilson's identity and their effort to cover up their involvement following a Justice Department investigation.


ACLU: Pentagon concedes Abu Ghraib photo, video case

The American Civil Liberties Union today announced that the Department of Defense has withdrawn its appeal of a district court order compelling it to turn over images depicting detainee abuse by U.S. forces at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. The Defense Department will identify which public images come from the contested trove and release any additional images in its possession.


MSNBC's Olbermann Beats CNN's Zahn

In the first quarter of 2006, MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann beat CNN's Paula Zahn Now in the 25-54 demographic. "This marks MSNBC's first quarterly primetime victory over CNN in the demo in almost five years (2Q01 MSNBC Investigates beat CNN at 8 p.m. ET)," MSNBC's press release said today.

Countdown averaged 164,000 total viewers in the quarter, up 41% from Q1 2005. Zahn averaged 158,000 demo viewers (down 33 percent), according to MSNBC. Bill O'Reilly averaged 450,000 in the demo (down 24 percent).

Olbermann also beat Headline News star Nancy Grace in the demo. According to program ranker data, Grace averaged 154,000 demo viewers...


Fed Boots Key Interest Rate to Highest in 5 yrs

The Federal Reserve on Tuesday boosted a key interest rate to the highest level in five years as new Chairman Ben Bernanke followed the Alan Greenspan inflation-fighting formula.


Bolten to Replace Card As Chief of Staff

White House chief of staff Andy Card has resigned and will be replaced by budget director Joshua Bolten, President Bush announced Tuesday amid growing calls for a White House shakeup and Republican concern about Bush's tumbling poll ratings.

Though there was no immediate indication of other changes afoot, the White House did not close the door on a broader staff reorganization. White House press secretary Scott McClellan said Bolten will have the authority to make personnel shifts if he deems them necessary, and he declined to say whether top aides, such as the two current deputy chiefs of staff, Joe Hagin and Karl Rove, would remain in place.



Under Bolten’s Leadership, Federal Debt Ballooned By $1.8 Trillion In 34 Months.

In the Bush administration, this is grounds for a promotion.

Full Story

Andrew Card resigns

White House chief of staff Andy Card has resigned and will be replaced by budget director Josh Bolten, an administration official said Tuesday, in a White House shake up that comes amid declining poll standings for President Bush. CNN was also reporting the news.

Bush was expected to announce the change himself later Tuesday during a meeting with reporters in the Oval Office.

The move comes as Bush has been buffeted by increasing criticism of the drawn-out war in Iraq and as fellow Republicans have suggested pointedly that the president bring in new aides with fresh ideas and new energy.


Rove said cooperating in CIA leak inquiry

Karl Rove, Deputy White House Chief of Staff and special adviser to President George W. Bush, has recently been providing information to special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald in the ongoing CIA leak investigation, sources close to the investigation say.

According to several Pentagon sources close to Rove and others familiar with the inquiry, Bush's senior adviser tipped off Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald to information that led to the recent "discovery" of 250 pages of missing email from the office of Vice President Dick Cheney.


Number of Operations Iraq Freedom and Enduring Freedom casualties as confirmed by U.S. Central Command: 2361/258

Most Recent Casualties

March 28, 2006

Army Sgt. 1st Class John T. Stone, 52, of Norwich, Vt
-Operation Enduring Freedom

Army Staff Sgt. Robert Hernandez, 47, of Silver Spring, Md
-Operation Iraq Freedom

Army Sgt. Michael D. Rowe
, 23, New Port Richey, Fla.
-Operation Iraq Freedom
Army Pfc. Sean D. Tharp
, 21, of Orlando, Fla.
-Operation Iraq Freedom

Complete Casualty List

Monday, March 27, 2006

Nothing is so admirable in politics as a short memory.
-John Kenneth Galbraith

Start Your FAX Machines

The Rubber Stamp Republican Congress is about to get a wake-up call.

From Firedoglake:

For Phase One: The Senate Judiciary Committee will be holding more hearings on the illegal domestic NSA spying without a warrant on Tuesday. They will also be holding hearings on Sen. Russ Feingold’s censure resolution on Friday. We’d like to get their attention, and let them know that illegal actions of the President and upholding the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are issues about which Americans care deeply.

So here is what we want you to do:

We’re headed back to the FAX machines this morning. Please take some time to FAX the members of the Judiciary Committee and let them know how you feel about this issue.

But start with the following header, in big type, across the top of your missive:

U.S. Constitution: Do Not ShreD



Bush Was Set on Path to War, Memo by British Adviser Says

In the weeks before the United States-led invasion of Iraq, as the United States and BritainUnited Nations resolution condemning Iraq, President Bush's public ultimatum to Saddam Hussein was blunt: Disarm or face war.

But behind closed doors, the president was certain that war was inevitable. During a private two-hour meeting in the Oval Office on Jan. 31, 2003, he made clear to Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain that he was determined to invade Iraq without the second resolution, or even if international arms inspectors failed to find unconventional weapons, said a confidential memo about the meeting written by Mr. Blair's top foreign policy adviser and reviewed by The New York Times.

"Our diplomatic strategy had to be arranged around the military planning," David Manning, Mr. Blair's chief foreign policy adviser at the time, wrote in the memo that summarized the discussion between Mr. Bush, Mr. Blair and six of their top aides.

"The start date for the military campaign was now penciled in for 10 March," Mr. Manning wrote, paraphrasing the president. "This was when the bombing would begin."

The timetable came at an important diplomatic moment. Five days after the Bush-Blair meeting, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell was scheduled to appear before the United Nations to present the American evidence that Iraq posed a threat to world security by hiding unconventional weapons.


Lara Logan disputes accusations that the media is not reporting the good things happening in Iraq.

American Excess

Paul Jordan, Sr has a blog called "Life From the Trenches....Literally". He has produced a short video clip that you really must see entitled "American Excess. Don't Leave Home Without It."

Thanks to Crooks&Liars for the heads up on this.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

National leaders who find themselves wilting under the withering criticisms by members of the media, would do well not to take such criticism personally but to regard the media as their allies in keeping the government clean and honest, its services.
-Corazon C. Aquino

30 Beheaded Bodies Found; Iraqi Death Squads Blamed

The bodies of 30 beheaded men were found on a main highway near Baquba this evening, providing more evidence that the death squads in Iraq are becoming out of control.

Interior Ministry officials said a driver discovered the bodies heaped in a pile next to a highway that links Baghdad to Baquba, a volatile city northeast of the capital that has been wracked by sectarian and insurgent violence.


Feingold's Censure Call Gives Him Boost

While only two Democrats in the Senate have embraced Sen. Russ Feingold's call for censuring President Bush, the idea is increasing his standing among many Democratic voters as he ponders a bid for the party's presidential nomination in 2008.

Feingold, a Wisconsin Democrat, insists his proposal has nothing to do with his political ambitions. But he does challenge Democrats who argue it will help energize Republicans.

''Those Democrats said that within two minutes of my announcing my idea,'' Feingold said in a telephone interview last week. ''I don't see any serious evidence of that.''

A Newsweek poll taken March 16-17 found that 50 percent of those surveyed opposed censuring Bush while 42 percent supported it, but among Democrats, 60 percent favored the effort.

Feingold's resolution would censure the president for authorizing a warrantless surveillance program, which the senator contends is illegal. Co-sponsors are Democratic Sens. Tom HarkinBarbara Boxer of California.
of Iowa and


Detainees' Rights—Scalia Speaks His Mind

The Supreme Court this week will hear arguments in a big case: whether to allow the Bush administration to try Guantánamo detainees in special military tribunals with limited rights for the accused. But Justice Antonin Scalia has already spoken his mind about some of the issues in the matter.

During an unpublicized March 8 talk at the University of Freiburg in Switzerland, Scalia dismissed the idea that the detainees have rights under the U.S. Constitution or international conventions, adding he was "astounded" at the "hypocritical" reaction in Europe to Gitmo. "War is war, and it has never been the case that when you captured a combatant you have to give them a jury trial in your civil courts," he says on a tape of the talk reviewed by NEWSWEEK. "Give me a break." Challenged by one audience member about whether the Gitmo detainees don't have protections under the Geneva or human-rights conventions, Scalia shot back: "If he was captured by my army on a battlefield, that is where he belongs. I had a son on that battlefield and they were shooting at my son and I'm not about to give this man who was captured in a war a full jury trial. I mean it's crazy." Scalia was apparently referring to his son Matthew, who served with the U.S. Army in Iraq. Scalia did say, though, that he was concerned "there may be no end to this war."


Former DeLay Aide Enriched By Nonprofit

A top adviser to former House Whip Tom DeLay received more than a third of all the money collected by the U.S. Family Network, a nonprofit organization the adviser created to promote a pro-family political agenda in Congress, according to the group's accounting records.

DeLay's former chief of staff, Edwin A. Buckham, who helped create the group while still in DeLay's employ, and his wife, Wendy, were the principal beneficiaries of the group's $3.02 million in revenue, collecting payments totaling $1,022,729 during a five-year period ending in 2001, public and private records show.


Court Grants Request to Question Abramoff in SunCruz Slaying Trial

A judge has approved subpoenas for ex-lobbyist Jack Abramoff and a former business partner to answer questions about the mob-style slaying of the owner of a gambling fleet they bought.

Abramoff and Adam Kidan have insisted, through their attorneys, that they know nothing about the slaying of Konstantinos "Gus" Boulis, who was ambushed in his car by a gunman in Fort Lauderdale a few months after the pair bought SunCruz Casinos from him.




500,000 Pack Streets to Protest Immigration Bills

A crowd estimated by police at more than 500,000 boisterously marched in Los Angeles on Saturday to protest federal legislation that would crack down on undocumented immigrants, penalize those who help them and build a security wall along the U.S.' southern border.

Spirited but peaceful marchers — ordinary immigrants alongside labor, religious and civil rights groups — stretched more than 20 blocks along Spring Street, Broadway and Main Street to City Hall, tooting kazoos, waving American flags and chanting, "Sí se puede!" (Yes we can!).

Attendance at the demonstration far surpassed the number of people who protested against the Vietnam War and Proposition 187, a 1994 state initiative that sought to deny public benefits to undocumented migrants but was struck down by the courts. Police said there were no arrests or injuries except for a few cases of exhaustion.


Republicans on the Run

If the midterm elections were held today, top strategists of both parties say privately, the Republicans would probably lose the 15 seats they need to keep control of the House of Representatives

Considering that Vice President Dick Cheney had come a long way to help Florida Congressman Ric Keller raise $250,000 last week, the reception he got in the Sunshine State could have been a bit warmer. After extolling Cheney as "one of the most effective Vice Presidents in the history of the U.S.," Keller launched into all the times he had recently opposed the Bush Administration, including the deal to allow a Dubai company to manage operations at several U.S. ports. And then Keller went right for the punch line: "'Don't be too hasty,'" he claimed the Vice President had pleaded with him. "'Let's go hunting. We'll talk about it.'"

As the campaign season kicks into gear, Republican incumbents are having a hard time figuring out how close they want to be to the White House. Voters have plenty to take out on Republican candidates this year—ethics scandals, the g.o.p.'s failure to curb spending, the government's inept response to Hurricane Katrina, a confusing new prescription-drug program for seniors and, more than anything else, an unpopular President who is fighting an unpopular war. Iraq could make a vulnerability of the Republicans' greatest asset, the security issue.

The midterm contests in a President's second term are almost always treacherous, but this time around, Republicans thought it would be different. The 2006 elections, coming on top of their gains in 2002 and 2004, would make history and perhaps even cement a g.o.p. majority in Congress for a generation. George W. Bush's credibility on national security and the states' aggressive gerrymandering, they believed, had turned the vast majority of districts into fortresses for incumbents. But that's not turning out to be the case. In recent weeks, a startling realization has begun to take hold: if the elections were held today, top strategists of both parties say privately, the Republicans would probably lose the 15 seats they need to keep control of the House of Representatives and could come within a seat or two of losing the Senate as well. Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, who masterminded the 1994 elections that brought Republicans to power on promises of revolutionizing the way Washington is run, told Time that his party has so bungled the job of governing that the best campaign slogan for Democrats today could be boiled down to just two words: "Had enough?


Be Worried. Be Very Worried

No one can say exactly what it looks like when a planet takes ill, but it probably looks a lot like Earth. Never mind what you've heard about global warming as a slow-motion emergency that would take decades to play out. Suddenly and unexpectedly, the crisis is upon us.

It certainly looked that way last week as the atmospheric bomb that was Cyclone Larry—a Category 5 storm with wind bursts that reached 180 m.p.h.—exploded through northeastern Australia. It certainly looked that way last year as curtains of fire and dust turned the skies of Indonesia orange, thanks to drought-fueled blazes sweeping the island nation. It certainly looks that way as sections of ice the size of small states calve from the disintegrating Arctic and Antarctic. And it certainly looks that way as the sodden wreckage...

Environmentalists and lawmakers spent years shouting at one another about whether the grim forecasts were true, but in the past five years or so, the serious debate has quietly ended. Global warming, even most skeptics have concluded, is the real deal, and human activity has been causing it. If there was any consolation, it was that the glacial pace of nature would give us decades or even centuries to sort out the problem.


Harris Campaign Staffers Prepare to Jump Ship

As Katherine Harris' rocky Senate campaign takes an increasingly evangelical Christian bent, her remaining top campaign staffers are preparing to jump ship.

Colleagues say Harris' closest confidante lately appears to be spiritual adviser Dale Burroughs, founder of the Biblical Heritage Institute in Bradenton.

"Dr. Dale," as she is known among campaign staffers, describes herself as a licensed clinical pastoral counselor who counsels in behavior temperament, career, crisis and disaster, among other things.

Burroughs has been advising Harris for years, but lately has had a more prominent role as Harris stopped listening to other campaign advisers. Burroughs said she has little role in the campaign beyond helping reach out to religious voters and is merely a Bible study partner and close friend.

Friends and advisers say Harris has been deeply religious all her life, but religion recently has become a central part of her campaign. Campaign staffers warily describe Harris as leading a "Christian crusade."


Saturday, March 25, 2006

The price of apathy towards public affairs is to be ruled by evil men: Plato

Bush Blasts Democrats on Economic Issues

President Bush, trying to regain his political footing ahead of this year's critical midterm elections, asserted Friday "the difference is clear" between the two parties on how to sustain the U.S. economic recovery.

"If you want the government in your pocket vote Democrat," Bush said. "If you want to keep more of your hard earned money vote Republican." (If on the other hand you want the government in your bedroom, in your uterus, in your church, in your mail, on your phone, in your search engine and perpetual war then by all means....VOTE REPUBLICAN! )

He made one of his strongest appeals yet for making permanent various tax cuts due to expire within several years.

Speaking at a fundraiser for GOP Rep. Mike Sodrel in what may be one of the closest races in the country, Bush attempted to draw a sharp contrast between the two parties' economic policies.

"We've got a record to stand on," Bush said. (Yeah, record deficits, a war based on a lie, 2300 + dead soldiers, multibillion no bid contracts to Halliburton, illegal wire tapping, Tom Delay, Abramhoff, etc, etc, etc. See 100 more FACTS on their record here.)

But he said the Democratic record consisted of "loud noises" and votes against tax cuts. (Such a bad plan to actually match revenue with spending. Dumb Democrats. They obviously didn't graduate from the Bush school of Business. Meanwhile Bush pushed for 23.5 billion in corporate tax breaks which benefited major campaign contributors, we have a record deficit under Bush, tax audits for the working poor have been increased, the social security surplus has been spent. Yeah, there's a clear choice alright.)


Senate hearing set on move to censure Bush

The Republican-led U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee announced on Friday it would hold a hearing next week on a call by a Democratic lawmaker to censure President George W. Bush for his domestic spy program.

In a one-sentence notice, the panel said the hearing would be held next Friday by the order of its chairman, Republican Sen. Arlen Specter (news, bio, voting record) of Pennsylvania, who has opposed censure.

Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold (news, bio, voting record) of Wisconsin introduced a resolution last week calling for a Senate censure of the president, charging that Bush's warrantless domestic surveillance program was illegal. Revelation of the once-secret program has triggered a political uproar.

Feingold, who has attracted little support from fellow Democrats for censure, said unless a hearing was held he would push for a vote by the full Senate on his resolution.

The White House and many Republicans in Congress have denounced Feingold's censure resolution as a political stunt.


All the 'Good News' From Iraq

I bet you guys didn't really listen to President Bush this week. Too bad, because for once he told the truth. I listened, heard the truth and checked it out. And, as he promised, it was a real eye-opener.

It happened at one of Bush's fake "town hall meetings" this week. An Army wife asked Bush why the mainstream media only focuses on "the bad news" from Iraq and never reports "the good news." Bush furrowed his brow and nodded in agreement. Earlier in the week the administration launched a Vietnam-era-style "blame the media" campaign to explain plummeting public support for both the war and Bush himself.

The woman's question offered Bush an opportunity for another anti-media riff on that theme. He sympathized with her distress and suggested (pay attention -- here comes the truth part) that she should turn to alternative sources for news, "like the internet." (He used to call it the "internets" until his handlers informed him that, like God, the internet is not plural.)

Whoa! When I heard Bush say that, it struck me. Of course! The internet! Why have I been relying on the New York Times and Washington Post and CBS, NBC, CNN to tell me what's really going on in Iraq. Hell, they don't even speak the language. And, of course, we learned four years ago we can't believe anything the U.S. government says about the war.

So I took the president's advice. I logged right on to the internet and spent the rest of that day reading firsthand reports posted by for-real Iraqis. Who would know better what life in is like today in Iraq? Is there a civil war brewing or not? They live there. They should know. Are things getting better or worse? If I wanted to know if things were getting better or worse in my hometown, would I check with CNN or the White House? No. I'd ask my neighbors and the small business owners on Main Street, Sebastopol, Calif., U.S. of A.

So I checked with Iraqis to see how much "good news" I could find. I read dozens of March postings by folks living in U.S.-'liberated' Iraq. Bush was right. It was time well spent. CNN, MSNBC, FOX, eat your hearts out. These postings are a revelation. And, hey, big dude -- thanks for the tip, George. Now I suggest you take your own advice and do the same.

Here's a sampler and some links to get you started on your search for all the "good news" from Iraq that the scheming evil U.S. media is hiding from you.

From A Star from Mosul:

March 9: It was about 6 p.m. last night when dad's mobile rang, dad was in the mosque, my aunt was calling him and so mom picked up the mobile instead. Mom's emotions on the phone only led to one conclusion: Someone is dead. … Mom put the mobile aside and said: "Uncle S is dead." … Yesterday he was shot by Americans on his way back home, and he died. Like many others, he died, left us clueless about the reason and saddened with this sudden loss. He was shot many times, only three reached him: One in his arm, one in his neck and one in his chest. But they said they're sorry. They always are.


DOJ: NSA Could've Monitored Lawyers' Calls

The National Security Agency could have legally monitored ordinarily confidential communications between doctors and patients or attorneys and their clients, the Justice Department said Friday of its controversial warrantless surveillance program.

Responding to questions from Congress, the department also said that it sees no prohibition to using information collected under the NSA's program in court.


Good vs Evil isn't a Strategy

THE BUSH administration's newly unveiled National Security Strategy might well be subtitled "The Irony of Iran." Three years after the invasion of Iraq and the invention of the phrase "axis of evil," the administration now highlights the threat posed by Iran — whose radical government has been vastly strengthened by the invasion of Iraq. This is more tragedy than strategy, and it reflects the Manichean approach this administration has taken to the world.

It is sometimes convenient, for purposes of rhetorical effect, for national leaders to talk of a globe neatly divided into good and bad. It is quite another, however, to base the policies of the world's most powerful nation upon that fiction. The administration's penchant for painting its perceived adversaries with the same sweeping brush has led to a series of unintended consequences.


Number of Operations Iraq Freedom and Enduring Freedom casualties as confirmed by U.S. Central Command: 2350/262

Most recent casualties:

March 25, 2006

Army Staff Sgt. Christopher L. Robinson, 36, Brandon, Miss.
-Operation Iraq Freedom

Army Spc. Frederick A. Carlson ,25, of Bethlehem, Pa.
-Operation Iraq Freedom

Complete casualty list

Friday, March 24, 2006

Patriotism is easy to understand in America. It means looking out for yourself by looking out for your country.
- Calvin Coolidge

Bush shuns Patriot Act requirement

When President Bush signed the reauthorization of the USA Patriot Act this month, he included an addendum saying that he did not feel obliged to obey requirements that he inform Congress about how the FBI was using the act's expanded police powers.

The bill contained several oversight provisions intended to make sure the FBI did not abuse the special terrorism-related powers to search homes and secretly seize papers. The provisions require Justice Department officials to keep closer track of how often the FBI uses the new powers and in what type of situations. Under the law, the administration would have to provide the information to Congress by certain dates.

Bush signed the bill with fanfare at a White House ceremony March 9, calling it ''a piece of legislation that's vital to win the war on terror and to protect the American people." But after the reporters and guests had left, the White House quietly issued a ''signing statement," an official document in which a president lays out his interpretation of a new law.

In the statement, Bush said that he did not consider himself bound to tell Congress how the Patriot Act powers were being used and that, despite the law's requirements, he could withhold the information if he decided that disclosure would ''impair foreign relations, national security, the deliberative process of the executive, or the performance of the executive's constitutional duties."


• Percentage of women in state government leadership positions in 2005, an increase from 23.1 percent in 1998, according to a report by the Center for Women in Government & Civil Society:

• Percentage in Arizona, the nation's highest:
• Percentage in Mississippi, the nation's lowest:

Source: Associated Press

New Mexico Democrats call for Bush impeachment

The New Mexico Democratic Party is calling for President Bush's removal from office.

Party Chairman John Wertheim said Tuesday that delegates to Saturday's state party convention supported a call for the president's impeachment largely because of "perceived abuses of power and corruption in the Bush administration."

He listed as examples of abuses of power, warrantless wiretapping of U.S. citizens, the misstatement of facts preceding the invasion of Iraq, and the scandal surrounding the indictment of Vice President Dick Cheney's former top aide in connection with the leak of the identity of a covert CIA operative.

"Everyone understands President Bush is not going to be impeached," Wertheim said. "But these abuses of power and corruption in the administration are deeply serious matters and there should be more talk about this abuse of power."



Rhode Island education officials have banned from public schools a federally funded abstinence program that civil rights advocates said embraced sexist stereotypes and included a voluntary student health survey that violated privacy laws.

Lawyers at the Rhode Island affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union first complained last year that a now-abandoned textbook used by Heritage of Rhode Island taught students that girls should wear clothing that doesn't invite "lustful thoughts" from boys. The book described men as "strong" and "courageous" while women were called "caring."

A speaker on an accompanying videotape said abstinence helped him "honor my relationship with Jesus," although Heritage officials said the tape wasn't used in public schools.

"The curriculum had these incredible sexist viewpoints about men and women and boys and girls that seemed to come out of the nineteenth century," said Steven Brown, executive director of the state's ACLU.

Authorities at the private health education firm said they stopped using the disputed materials a year ago.


Global Warming Is Rapidly Raising Sea Levels, Studies Warn

Water from melting ice sheets and glaciers is gushing into the world's oceans much faster than previously thought possible, sending scientists scrambling to explain why. The unexpected deluge is raising global sea levels, which scientists say could eventually submerge island nations, flood cities, and expose millions of coastal residents to destructive storm surges.


Programmer who alleged plot to steal Florida election runs for Congress

To Republicans, Clint Curtis is a traitor; a back-stabbing liar with an imagination that rivaled Jack Abramoff's influence over Congress.

To liberal Democrats, Curtis is a hero; a stand up guy who blew the whistle on computer voting fraud, testifying before a group of U.S. House Committee Judiciary Democrats after the 2004 presidential election.

And to the man himself, the Republican-turned-Democrat is nothing but a computer geek who purports to have found himself smack in the middle of a brazen political plot to tamper with elections in Florida, where fact can be stranger than fiction and politics as shady as swampy underbrush.

After all, since the software programmer accused Florida Congressman Tom Feeney of asking him to create a computer program to steal an election, the plot has unraveled quirkier than a Carl Hiaasen novel.


Thursday, March 23, 2006

When the president tells you he doesn't pay attention to the polls - he's saying he doesn't pay attention to the people.
-Randi Rhodes


US Iraq casualties stay high

As Iraq teeters on -- or over -- the brink of civil war the pressure is not easing on the hard-pressed U.S. ground forces there.

Over the past month, the average rate at which U.S. troops have been killed in Iraq has significantly fallen, the but the rates at which they are being wounded have dramatically increased.

U.S. mainstream media reports have focused only on the numbers being killed. But over the past eight months, we have repeatedly emphasized in this column that the far larger numbers of U.S. troops wounded, especially those wounded too seriously to return to active duty, represent a far broader and more statistically significant figure of the scale of insurgent activity and the degree to which it is succeeding or failing to inflict significant casualties on U.S. forces.

The total number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq through Tuesday, March 21 since the start of U.S. operations to topple Saddam Hussein on March 19, 2003, was 2,319, according to official figures issued by the Department of Defense, a rise of 49 in the past 39 days or an average of just over 1.3 killed per day.

The good news is that this is a more than 60 percent improvement on the rate of 3.1 killed per day in early February. And it is a 350 percent improvement on the 33 U.S. soldiers killed in only seven days from Jan. 11 through Jan. 17, an average of 4.7 soldiers killed per day.

The bad news, however, is that in the 39 days from Feb. 11 through March 21, 616 U.S. soldiers were injured in Iraq, an average of 15.8 per day. This was more than twice as bad as the Feb. 4-10 period when 47 U.S. soldiers were injured at an average rate of just under seven per day. And it was also more than 36 percent worse than the rate of the five-day period from Jan. 30 through Feb. 3 when 58 U.S. soldiers were injured, according to the DOD figures, at an average rate of 11.6 per day.


Iraqi civilian deaths shrouded in secrecy

Recent figures from the campaign group Iraq Body Count put the minimum number of civilians killed in Iraq since the US-led invasion three years ago at between 33,710 and 37,832.

Although many of those deaths were caused by insurgent attacks, multi-national forces stationed in Iraq ostensibly to protect the population have been responsible for a significant number post-invasion.

Hundreds of civilians have been killed during major offensives by US-led forces against insurgents in cities such as Falluja, and many others have died after lethal force was used at military checkpoints.

Military commanders have said those killed were "collateral damage" or the unfortunate victims of "crossfire" between their troops and militants.

But the announcement that US military investigators have flown to Iraq to study allegations that their troops deliberately shot dead at least 15 civilians in Anbar Province in November has cast doubt on some of those claims.


Running From Roe

Pro-choice Americans everywhere are becoming unsettled about the future of reproductive rights. The Supreme Court is one vacancy away from overturning Roe v. Wade and at least one state, South Dakota, has already outlawed abortion in the hope of bringing the Court a case to challenge Roe. But the ones who are really nervous? The Republicans.

That's because the South Dakota law -- which criminalizes abortion except to save a woman's life -- has pulled the abortion issue back to a fundamental question: whether Roe should be overturned and abortion made illegal in large parts of the country. This is just the debate Republicans don't want to have. For years, they've used a strategy of chipping away at reproductive rights by finding side issues like parental consent, "partial-birth" and the newest, "fetal pain," on which they can obtain broad public support.


Humans spur worst extinctions since dinosaurs: UN

Humans are responsible for the worst spate of extinctions since the dinosaurs and must make unprecedented extra efforts to reach a goal of slowing losses by 2010, a U.N. report said on Monday.

Habitats ranging from coral reefs to tropical rainforests face mounting threats, the Secretariat of the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity said in the report, issued at the start of a March 20-31 U.N. meeting in Curitiba, Brazil.

"In effect, we are currently responsible for the sixth major extinction event in the history of earth, and the greatest since the dinosaurs disappeared, 65 million years ago," said the 92-page Global Biodiversity Outlook 2 report.

A rising human population of 6.5 billion was undermining the environment for animals and plants via pollution, expanding cities, deforestation, introduction of "alien species" and global warming, it said.


Questions Arise About Résumé of Challenger to Clinton

(Now had this news story been "Questions Arise about Hillary Clinton's Resume" - we would have heard every wingnut across this land with a microphone declaring "Hillary Lied about Credentials" . They would be screaming for her to be burned at the stake. You know it, and I know it. eaprez)

When Kathleen Troia McFarland stepped forward as a Republican challenger to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, she was a relatively obscure figure with two intriguing claims to fame: She had worked on President Ronald Reagan's "Star Wars" speech and had been the highest-ranking woman at the Reagan Pentagon.

But interviews with former Reagan administration officials and a review of documents show her claims were not entirely accurate. Though she helped write the "Star Wars" speech, its most famous passage — the one that announced the anti-ballistic missile program — was actually written by the president himself and his top national security advisers, according to two senior advisers to Mr. Reagan and a review of the literature and news articles of the period.

And while Ms. McFarland, who is known as K. T., was a close confidante of Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger, serving as his speechwriter and spokeswoman for several years, there were two women with higher ranks in the Pentagon during virtually her entire time there, according to information provided by the Pentagon and the McFarland campaign.


New poll shows Bush slipping in South

Republicans are losing ground in Georgia and Florida over Bush's handling of the Iraq war according to a new poll previewed by a conservative columnist, RAW STORY has found. The poll, which surveyed 4,000 in Southern states, finds that Bush has higher disapproval ratings than approval ratings. Bush won both states in 2004.


Are Late Innings the Time for a Relief Pitcher?

President Bush's suggestion on Tuesday that he may add a new senior figure to his White House team raised questions about the future of two of his closest and most powerful aides, Andrew H. Card Jr. and Karl Rove, as they struggle to put Mr. Bush's White House back on course.

Mr. Rove, his senior strategist, and Mr. Card, his chief of staff, have increasingly been forced to fend off rebellious Congressional Republicans, complaints about the administration's competence and calls from within their party for an infusion of fresh thinking into the White House.

Mr. Rove told associates in recent days that he was confident he could resist calls to bring in new advisers. Still, Mr. Bush's decision not to squelch speculation about such a move — "Well, I'm not going to announce it right now," he said Tuesday at his news conference, with Mr. Rove watching — did nothing to restore diminished Republican confidence in a White House team that once promoted a reputation for efficiency, order and impeccable political instincts.


Specter to Shepherd Bills Through Senate

A vocal Republican critic of the Bush administration's eavesdropping program will preside over Senate efforts to write the program into law, but he was pessimistic Wednesday that the White House wanted to listen.

"They want to do just as they please, for as long as they can get away with it," Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., said in an interview with The Associated Press. "I think what is going on now without congressional intervention or judicial intervention is just plain wrong."


Number of Operations Iraq Freedom & Enduring Freedom casualties as confirmed by U.S. Central Command: 2350/262

Most recent casualties:

Marcy 23, 2006
Army Staff Sgt. Brock A. Beery, 30, of White House, Tenn
-Operation Iraq Freedom

Army Sgt. 1st Class Randy D. McCaulley
, 44, Indiana, Pa.
-Operation Iraq Freedom

Complete Casualty List

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

This is, I say, the time for all good men not to go to the aid of their party, but to come to the aid of their country.
-Eugene McCarthy

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

"All I asked for is what happened to my son, and it has been lie after lie after lie between me and the military."
-Patrick K. Tillman

2 Years After Soldier's Death, Family's Battle Is With Army

Patrick K. Tillman stood outside his law office here, staring intently at a yellow house across the street, just over 70 yards away. That, he recalled, is how far away his eldest son, Pat, who gave up a successful N.F.L. career to become an Army Ranger, was standing from his fellow Rangers when they shot him dead in Afghanistan almost two years ago.

"I could hit that house with a rock," Mr. Tillman said. "You can see every last detail on that place, everything, and you're telling me they couldn't see Pat?"

Mr. Tillman, 51, is a grieving father who has refused to give up on his son. While fiercely shunning the public spotlight that has followed Cpl. Pat Tillman's death, Mr. Tillman has spent untold hours considering the Army's measurements, like the 70 yards.

He has drafted long, sometimes raw, letters to military leaders, demanding answers about the shooting. And he has studied — and challenged — Army PowerPoint presentations meant to explain how his son, who had called out his own name and waved his arms, wound up dead anyway, shot three times in the head by his own unit, which said it had mistaken him for the enemy.

"All I asked for is what happened to my son, and it has been lie after lie after lie," said Mr. Tillman, explaining that he believed the matter should remain "between me and the military" but that he had grown too troubled to keep silent.