This American Life: Habeas Schmaebeas

(Cross posted on my blog,

Just finished listening to a very moving radio piece from This American Life— an amazing public radio show that every week brings the sort of stories to its audience that informs, moves and presents the world as if one were seeing it for the first time. This week This American Life brought us the stories of some Guantanamo prison detainees. These are men so dangerous, so monstrous that the US had to build prison camp 90 miles outside of the US, so that these men, err, terrorists, could not harm American citizens... well, at least that's what the Bush Administration tells us.

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WaPo: "Port Deal's Political Fallout Not Over"

The headline from page A3 of today's issue of The Washington Post says it all: "Port Deal's Political Fallout Not Over".

President Bush believed that he could get away with selling off control of America's vital infrastructure by callin his opponents racists but the American people just aren't buying it. According to polling released on Tuesday by Rasmussen Reports, more Americans continue to trust the Democrats in Congress on issues of national security than they do the President, by a 41 percent to 40 margin. True, this lead for Congressional Dems is statistically insignificant, but that is no matter; the fact that the Democrats are even competitive on the issue of protecting America is a testament to the monumental shift going on in this country as a result of many factors, including the botched war in Iraq, the embarassing response to Hurricane Katrina and the sale of operational rights to key U.S. ports to a company owned by the government of the United Arab Emirates.

Simply put, a lot of Americans don't trust President Bush to protect the American homeland anymore. Alan Abramowitz summed up the President's problem well in a column for last Sunday's issue of The Post.

The problem for President Bush is a growing perception that he simply isn't competent. That's the story behind the polling numbers that have declined -- bad week by bad week -- since February 2005 when the president's approval rating stood at a respectable 52 percent.

The predecessor whom Bush has begun to resemble isn't, as many liberal Democrats seem to believe, Richard Nixon. It's Jimmy Carter. Carter's political demise began when the American people, including many Democrats, started to perceive him as in over his head in the Oval Office. That's what may be happening now to Bush.

Competence is not a partisan issue. Last week's polls found that somewhere between 34 and 40 percent of Americans approved of Bush's job performance. That is discouraging enough. But for Bush and his political advisers what may be more disturbing is the fact that his approval rating among Republicans had fallen to 72 percent, 10 to 15 percentage points lower than the president's previous level of support from his party's voters. It's a sign that even supporters are beginning to question Bush's effectiveness.

The problem for the George W. Bush is not just a result of the ports issue, though the U.A.E. deal did help reinforce Americans' concerns about his presidency. (Note, though, that a new governmental study raises even more questions about American port security.) And the problem is not only about national and homeland security, either. From the underfunded No Child Left Behind law to the horribly designed and poorly implemented Medicare prescription drug program, the Bush administration has proved time and time again that it is unable to govern in an effective or efficient manner. Still, this is not all of it.

An increasing and shocking number of Bush appointees and aides are being indicted and arrested for activities undertaken during their tenure in the administration. In October, Tom DeLay spoke of "the criminalization of conservative politics." Indeed! Whether it's top procurement official David Safavian, who was indicted for lying about his relationship with Jack Abramoff; Scooter Libby, who was indicted for lying about his role in the outing of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame; or Claude Allen, who has been arrested on felony charges, there are simply a lot of top Bush administration aides who have real legal problems these days. The pictures of the President with Jack Abramoff certainly don't help administration counterspin that George W. Bush and his party have not tainted the White House.

With so much evidence to the contrary, is George W. Bush really up to the job? Can he fully handle the responsibilities of the presidency? As more and more Americans raise these questions, the only possible response is to tell Washington that it's time to restore a little balance and give the President some help in governing this country by electing a Democratic Congress in November.

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"Former" Top Bush Administration Official Arrested

In mid-September, when David Safavian was indicted for lying to law enforcement officials about his close relationship with Jack Abramoff, the news media acceded to Republican spin and labeled Safavian a "former Bush administration official." Indeed, Safavian was no longer working in the White House at the time of his indictment. But as I argued at the time, it's quite a bit of a stretch to write that someone who leaves their position three days before being indicted when they likely know of their impending legal woes is a "former" member of the administration; they are clearly a member of the administration. Unfortunately, it looks like reporters are buying the same spin yet again from the GOP.

Yesterday Claude Allen, who until last month served as the top domestic policy adviser in the White House, was arrested on what are essentially felony shoplifting charges. Allen had to know that the jig was up a month ago when he resigned, so it's likely that the cause of his resignation was his coming legal woes. But even though the reason Allen left his top post in the Bush administration was probably his imminent arrest, the news media are welcoming the Republican narrative that Allen was simply a former member of the Bush administration. Take a look at these headlines from some of the major news outlets:

Why all of this quabbling about terminology? Why am I making a such a big deal about reporter's use of the word "former"? Mike Disharoon over at the Stakeholder perfectly explained the problem with reporters' vocabulary choice at the time of Safavian's indictment.

When I think of a former official, I think of a Colin Powell or a Paul O'Neill, someone who left a while ago; someone who obviously left because of an imminent indictment is undeserving of such a distancing description. This is a point to keep an eye on, because with no facts on their side we'll probably soon hear the Bush apologists making absurd claims along the lines of "Why are we talking about a former official,"as though the crimes he committed occurred after he left the administration. [emphasis added]

The problem here isn't necessarily one of reporting; journalists are no doubt explaining that Allen's allegedly felonious activities occurred while he was a major player in the Bush administration. But this major point is lost in the in one of the later grafs of the article, neither showing up in the headline nor the lede, and as a result, many, if not most, are left with the impression that "the crimes he committed occurred after he left the administration."

This is yet another example of the Republican tactic of obscuring the truth with facts -- or purported facts. When a top Bush administration official is indicted for activities that he or she undertook while serving in the White House, he or she is still referred to as a "former" administration official. When the privatization of Social Security is sought, confusing numbers are thrown around to scare voters. When war in Iraq is the goal, aluminum tubes are wielded to trump up charges of weapons of mass destruction. The list goes on and on.

Given all of the many examples of this tactic, isn't is about time for the press corps to start handling Bush administration spin with a little more incredulity instead of simply repeating whatever they are spoonfed?

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Reaganauts VS Bushites - Split in GOP ew/opinion/columnists/guests/ ml

The Tribune-Review says Bush is "Running on Fumes." They are  published by Dick Scaife, who is Ken Starr's sugar daddy. So you are seeing Scaife turn on Bush. Scaife financed much of the "get Clinton" conspiracy groups who claimed that Bill had assasination squads killing women he'd had sex with. Dick spent about $30M on various anti-Clinton projects.

Now we see the Reaganauts publishing books like "Tyranny of Good Intentions" and "Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America." They are lashing back against people like Cheney and others who originally worked for NIXON for Christ's sake. It is these Nixon staffers who bring the obsession with war, paranoia, centralized control, and wiretapping. But Nixon was by todays standards somewhere between flaming liberal and homo commie.

So the Bushites claimed to take Reagan's conservative agenda and Supply Side economics and merged it with Nixon's twisted pathology and contempt for the Constitution. The Reaganauts now see the Bushites as having not only confirmed all criticisms of "voodoo economics," but having dug a hole so deep that it will no longer work. And they have squandered the public support that Grandpa Reagan built up in his first term (before he went senile and Ollie North and the other 6 dwarves started piling up the felonies).

So now we the various wings of the GOP are calling each other "traitors."

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Whistle Blown on 2nd. Bush Domestic Spy Program

From the UPI:

"WASHINGTON, Feb. 14 (UPI) -- A former NSA employee said Tuesday there is another ongoing top-secret surveillance program that might have violated millions of Americans' Constitutional rights."

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