Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

No Questions

Apparenlty, no matter how friendly the audience, Bush doesn’t feel like answering any questions:

In a 45-minute pep rally in a basement conference room under the West Front of the Capitol, Mr. Bush told more than 200 House and Senate Republicans that the United States was firmly committed to transferring power to the Iraqis on June 30 and insisted that the temporary government would not be under American control. Specifically, Mr. Bush told the group, according to House and Senate members in the meeting, that the new American ambassador to Iraq, John D. Negroponte, would not be a de-facto successor to L. Paul Bremer III, the top American civilian administrator in Iraq who is to step down from his duties on July 1.

Mr. Bush took no questions from the [all Republican] lawmakers

In the same story, this stands out as stunningly true:

Mr. Santorum said that Mr. Bush told the group that Mr. Negroponte would not be opening schools and hospitals.

Yes, indeed. I am quite sure that John Negroponte (see also, this) will most certainly not be opening any schools or hospitals.(*) I’m just surprised that Santorum and Bush would admit it so readily.


(*) No, death-squad training doesn’t count as “schooling.”

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Having nearly filled my Yahoo inbox, I’m transitioning to Google’s new email service, Gmail (it’s still in Beta, but apparently Google decided to let bloggers get in early.) My new email address will be is, which is much easier to type than, so I’m expecting lots of mail. I’ll keep checking the old account until people stop sending messages to that address.


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By now, you’ve all seen the big Chalabi news. There’s a post I wanted to write last night but didn’t because PRI’s The World doesn’t publish transcripts. In any case, the reporter (Lisa Mullins?) was interviewing the soon-to-be-raided Chalabi. Since it’s rather timely now, I offer the following loose paraphrase of the interview:

Mullins: You’re not getting $350,000/month any more. What happened?

Chalabi: We decided we didn’t want it anymore. It made us look not independent. [I broke up with her, dammit!].

Mullins: Well, what were you getting the money for before?

Chalabi: For our cooperation. [Seriously, he basically just called it a bribe.] And for intelligence.

Mullins: But much of that intelligence turned out to be wrong. For example, Secretary Powell just said that the defectors fabricating stories.

Chalabi: Defectors? What defectors? We [the INC] never supplied any defectors to anybody.

Mullins: What about the WMD claims?

Chalabi: WMD? Who said anything about that? Not me.

The actual interview lasted five minutes or so, but it was mostly along the lines of Chalabi claiming that he gave valuable information to the US, but denying that he or the INC was the source of any of the information that has turned out to be wrong (i.e., all the information that formed the ex-ante rationale for the war.) You may think I’m paraphrasing for comedic, or perhaps tragic, effect, but I’m not — well, only slightly. You can listen to last night’s The World here (scroll down to “Chalabi interview”.)

My thought in real time was, “How does anyone ever believe anything this guy says? He’s an obvious and blatant liar.”


UPDATE: Atrios has a great picture of Chalabi, surrounded by (former?) friends.

UPDATE 2: Non-evil Roger Ailes has the apt theme song.

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Tax Cuts = Support the Troops?

Earlier, I wrote about a proposal by House Republicans (which includes Hastert, of course) to extend the income limit for the $1,000 child credit from $110,000 to $250,000. Now, reading the Hastert/McCain exchanges that Kash just posted, I see that Hastert has the gall to basically claim that tax cuts support the troops.

Quick question for Hastert: can you tell me who doesn’t make between $110,000 and $250,000? (Hint: they’re fighting and dying in Iraq. No, not the private contractors. Nice try, but wrong. Try again.)


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McCain v. Hastert

Some quotes from their exchanges in recent days, as reported in the Washington Post:

The nasty exchange between McCain and Hastert began with a comment the senator made at a think-tank conference on the budget deficit on Tuesday. “My friends, we are at war. Throughout our history, wartime has been a time of sacrifice,” McCain said. “But about the only sacrifice taking place is that by the brave men and women fighting to defend and protect the liberties we hold so dear, and that of their families. It is time for others to step up and start sacrificing.”

…Hastert shot back: “If you want to see sacrifice, John McCain ought to visit our young men and women at Walter Reed [Army Medical Center] and Bethesda [Naval Hospital]. There’s the sacrifice in this country.”

…Hastert questioned whether McCain is really a member of Bush’s party. “A Republican?” Hastert said with feigned incredulity. He then criticized McCain’s opposition to extending tax cuts in wartime.

“We’re trying to make sure that they have the ability to fight this war, that they have the wherewithal to be able to do it,” Hastert said. “And at the same time, we have to react to keep this country strong not only militarily but economically.”

…McCain retorted: “The speaker is correct in that nothing we are called upon to do comes close to matching the heroism of our troops. All we are called upon to do is to not spend our nation into bankruptcy while our soldiers risk their lives. I fondly remember a time when real Republicans stood for fiscal responsibility.”

Makes you almost nostalgic for the fiscally responsible 1980s, doesn’t it, Senator?


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Bush Campaign Spending

Wow. They really have been spending their money like crazy. From today’s The Note:

ABC News’ Karen Travers reports that according to the Bush-Cheney ’04’s April FEC report, the campaign has officially hit the $200 million mark for total fundraising. As of April 30, BC04 had $71.6 million in cash on hand, putting the campaign’s spending at about $128.4 million. In March, BC04 spent nearly $50 million.

Spending $50 million in one month on a campaign must smash all previous monthly records. Looking at their cash on hand, I’d be surprised if they can hit that high water mark again during this election, but you never know…


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The Government as Bush Campaign Tool

We all know that Bush has taken this art form to new levels in the past year. Yesterday the GAO took the first concrete steps to try to curb this practice, finding that the White House’s Medicare propaganda videos are illegal. Of course, whether this finding will make any difference is a different question. As a NY Times story about the GAO ruling says, the GAO “does not have law enforcement powers, but its decisions on federal spending are usually considered authoritative.” I take this to mean that we should expect the Bush administration to simply ignore the GAO’s judgment.


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Fiscal Discipline …

… or rather the lack thereof:

House and Senate Republican negotiators have produced a [pay as you go] measure that is essentially make-believe. It purports to require that tax cuts or spending increases be paid for with offsetting tax increases or spending cuts. It pretends to impose that rule for the next 10 years.

But it then provides, in the very same section, that the rule expires on April 15, setting the stage for a new tax-cutting spree next year. The rule applies only to the Senate. And it exempts $27.5 billion in tax cuts from this year’s pay-go requirements.


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Crediting Wonkette

As I MUST. She’s got the right take on Wolfowitz’s testimony yesterday:

Paul Wolfowitz fesses up on why Iraq isn’t going so well: “We had a plan that assumed we’d have basically more stable security conditions than we’ve encountered.”

Among those assumptions: That Iraq was a magical country, where lollipops grew on trees and the clouds were made of marshmallows! With gumdrop mountains and fruit-punch rivers and houses made of gingerbread!


P.S. Homer Simpson did say, “Oh look at me !!! I’m making people happy! I’m the magical man from happy land, with a gumdrop house on lollipop lane! Oh by the way … I was being sarcastic.” But I don’t think Homer every talked about ***-******* (regular Wonkette readers will know what each asterisk stands for. Childless couples unfamiliar with the procreative process should probably not try to figure it out.)

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