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Tue May 16, 2006 at 09:40 AM PDT

Snow Day! Tony Snow open thread

by LITBMueller

Anyone watching Tony Snow's first day?  It's started - on C-Span3.

Here's an open thread!

My first observations:
1) We are getting "Cool Tony," not "Smart Tony," i.e., he's not wearning glasses.

2) The press isn't giving him a honeymoon!  David Gregory went after him on Bush's immigration proposal.

3) Helen Thomas is hammering him on NSA domestic spying.

Discuss
The USA Today article on the NSA phone record database fails to ask the important question: what are they actually doing with the information?

Besides whatever database the NSA may be building, or whatever data mining might be occurring, I believe a hint can be found in this New York Times article from Janaury 17, 2006.

At the time of its publication, the article was tied into the "terrorist surveillance" program.  In reality, it might have to do more with the NSA program revealed today.

More below...

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Yesterday's visit by Chinese President Hu Jintao certainly will probably do little to distinguish us in the annals of diplomacy, to say the least (and steal from Star Trek VI).

From Bush tugging on Hu's coat to lead him in the right direction like a small child, to Cheney taking a catnap during a press briefing, it was almost a comedy of errors.  And should leave us all completely unsurprised that The Decider made absolutely no headway with China on issues concerning trade and Iran.

But, the heckler incident was the most interesting.  It says a hell of a lot about Bush event security.

More on this, and photographic evidence, below...

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Wed Apr 19, 2006 at 08:08 AM PDT

Jack Anderson and Franklingate

by LITBMueller

Personally, I agree with the sentiments already expressed here at DKos about the fact that the FBI wants to seize and "bury" classified information that had already been leaked to Jack Anderson.

But there is a very very very interesting other angle here.

When I read that the FBI wanted to look at papers going back some 50 years as part of the AIPAC investigation, my ears perked right up.  Jack Anderson was not a journalist involved in the Larry Franklin indictment.  But, before the indictment was ever handed down, there had been press reports that the Franklingate investigation had expanded far beyond the original crime.

I have written previous diaries about how the Franklin case has connections to other events, recent, and in past decades.  So, I've been looking into Jack Anderson and how he might have been in contact with AIPAC or Israeli intelligence sources.

What I have found is on the other side of the break...

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There is some speculation out there in the blogosphere that Zacarias Moussaoui's last-minute on the witness stand "confession"  that he was to be the 20th hijacker, charged with crashing a plane into the White House, may not have been completely voluntary.

This is due to something that NBC News' Pete Williams let slip on The Abrams Report:

WILLIAMS: ...the old outbursts were gone... He was very docile today... ...we believe that he's wearing one of those stun belts, and it may be that he was very worried about doing anything that would cause those Marshals to press the button...understandably so...

ABRAMS [incredulously]: A stun belt? They literally have something around his waist? That they can push a button and...?

WILLIAMS: [Pause] Well...we're not positive about this...

The link has the acual video.

What are "stun belts?"  How and how often are they being used?

Answers below...

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While much attention has been paid to the fact that the new National Security Strategy document released today by the Bush Administration confirms that our official policy is still one of preemption, the MSM coverage of the story seems to have missed that the Administration also moved the goalposts significantly.

Yes, folks.  The football field is now about 10 yards long.

More below...

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Wed Mar 08, 2006 at 12:18 PM PST

QDR 2006: Blueprint for Empire?

by LITBMueller

"The United States is a nation engaged in what will be a long war."

And so begins the very first page of the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), submitted by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on February 3, 2006.  The report itself is a normal function of the Department of Defense, and some of the "normal" neoconservatives who worked so hard to guide us into conflict with both Afghanistan and Iraq had a hand in completing it, even though they have left the Pentagon for other posts  - namely, Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith.

The rest of the Preface to the QDR speaks of the war on terrorism, and protecting the American homeland from weapon of mass destruction.  But, is that what the QDR really is about?  Or, does it hint towards much more?

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Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 12:44 PM PST

Bush's Nookular Gaff Today

by LITBMueller

This morning I had the displeasure of watching Soledad O'Brien on CNN speaking with another reporter who was traveling with Bush as he escapes his woes at home by traveling abroad.  CNN played a clip of Bush in Afghanistan, saying this:

It's in our interests and the interests of the United States -- it's in the interests of countries around the world that India develop a nuclear power industry because that will help alleviate demand for fossil fuels. And by alleviating demand for fossil fuels, it takes the price off of gasoline at the pump. And so the faster the Indian economy grows, the more fuel they demand; the more fuel they demand, it affects our gas prices and it affects your gas prices.

Of course, the CNN dimwits ignored what Bush actually said.  Meanwhile, I spit out my coffee and said "Whaaaaaa...?!?!?!?!?"

More below....

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RANT: We must not betray our principles as Democrats in order to "get Bush" or "get votes"

I am not an old man, but I'm old enough to remember the hysterics about "Japan buying up America" during the 1980's.  As if allowing the Japanese to own anything deemed "American" was necessarily bad for the country.

Yet, the Republic is still standing.  

Today, I see this sort of "guilt by association" being used to criticize Dubai Ports World.  And much of  the criticism is based on supposition, not facts.

That's a shame, because that is exactly what we criticize the Republicans of doing every day - basing decisions on false premises based more on twisted logic than a reliance on cold, hard facts.

More below...

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More attention has been paid of late to cronyism within the Bush administration, and to the actions of political appointees due to the latest revelations involving George Deutsch and NASA.  More can be read about his crusade to discredit the Big Bang, and the fact that he just resigned, at gobacktotexas' diary here.

Another interesting past revelation concerned the efforts of political appointees in the Federal Park Service to make sure new civil service ("G-Level") employees pass a political screening "for adherence to Interior Secretary Gail Norton's personal `philosophy,' and to Bush's general political agenda, to be eligible for senior management or program-director positions," according to LeanLeft.com.

The latest evidence of cronyism and a political purge is contained in this Knight Ridder article, "State Department Sees Exodus of Weapons Experts."

More on the flip...

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Tue Jan 17, 2006 at 01:02 PM PST

Lobbying: An Inside Look

by LITBMueller

This diary is intended to be a follow-up to the excellent diary that was published today by Soj.  Soj attempts to provide a look inside one of the biggest lobbying firms in D.C. as a way of better understanding the industry.  I thought it might be helpful to provide some more information about lobbying from someone who used to work as one in New Jersey - me.

By way of "credentials," I worked for six years at one of the largest lobbying firms in Trenton, NJ, before deciding to leave the industry and pursue my JD.  Of late, a friend of mine who is a professor at Penn State Great Valley and teaches a Business and Ethics class has had me lecture to her students on the subject of the ethics of lobbying.

Continued below...

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There are those that believe that, as a matter of prudent politicking, the best way to kill a negative news story is to admit that you did what you are accused of.  That is exactly what President Bush did this past weekend when he admitted in a nationally televised address that he had authorized repeatedly a secret National Security Agency (NSA) eavesdropping program that monitored communications originating in the United States (i.e., domestic spying).

One question that has crossed many people's minds at this point in the debate is "why has the President so quickly admitted ordering an agency to circumvent the Constitution?"

I personally believe that the answer is this: he's hiding something - he wants to quickly own up, let the debate rage and then die down, and hope that other activities are not uncovered.

One of those "other activities" may have been the creation of new domestic intelligence agency, in secret.

More below the fold...

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