Idiot President is Lonely

2 07 2007

An excerpt from The Washington Post:

A President Besieged and Isolated, Yet at Ease
Bush, Grasping for Answers and Fixated on Iraq, Remains Resolute
By Peter Baker
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, July 2, 2007; Page A01

At the nadir of his presidency, George W. Bush is looking for answers. One at a time or in small groups, he summons leading authors, historians, philosophers and theologians to the White House to join him in the search.
Over sodas and sparkling water, he asks his questions: What is the nature of good and evil in the post-Sept. 11 world? What lessons does history have for a president facing the turmoil I’m facing? How will history judge what we’ve done? Why does the rest of the world seem to hate America? Or is it just me they hate?

These are the questions of a president who has endured the most drastic political collapse in a generation. Not generally known for intellectual curiosity, Bush is seeking out those who are, engaging in a philosophical exploration of the currents of history that have swept up his administration. For all the setbacks, he remains unflinching, rarely expressing doubt in his direction, yet trying to understand how he got off course.

These sessions, usually held in the Oval Office or the elegant living areas of the executive mansion, are never listed on the president’s public schedule and remain largely unknown even to many on his staff. To some of those invited to talk, Bush seems alone, isolated by events beyond his control, with trusted advisers taking their leave and erstwhile friends turning on him.

“You think about prime ministers and presidents being surrounded by cabinet officials and aides and so forth,” said Alistair Horne, a British historian who met with Bush recently. “But at the end of the day, they’re alone. They’re lonely. And that’s what occurred to me as I was at the White House. It must be quite difficult for him to get out and about.”

Friends worry about that as well. Burdened by an unrelenting war, challenged by an opposition Congress, defeated just last week on immigration, his last major domestic priority, Bush remains largely locked inside the fortress of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. in the seventh year of a presidency turned sour. He still travels, making speeches to friendly audiences and attending summit meetings, such as this weekend’s Kennebunkport talks with President Vladimir Putin of Russia. But he rarely goes out to dinner, and he no longer plays golf, except occasionally chipping at Camp David, where, as at his Texas ranch, he can find refuge.

“I don’t know how he copes with it,” said Donald Burnham Ensenat, a friend for 43 years who just stepped down as State Department protocol officer. Rep. K. Michael Conaway (R-Tex.), another longtime friend who once worked for Bush, said he looks worn down. “It’s a marked difference in his physical appearance,” Conaway said. “It’s an incredibly heavy load. When you ask men and women to take risks, to send them into war knowing they might not come home, that’s got to be an incredible burden to have on your shoulders.”

Bush is fixated on Iraq, according to friends and advisers. One former aide went to see him recently to discuss various matters, only to find Bush turning the conversation back to Iraq again and again. He recognizes that his presidency hinges on whether Iraq can be turned around in 18 months. “Nothing matters except the war,” said one person close to Bush. “That’s all that matters. The whole thing rides on that.”

And yet Bush does not come across like a man lamenting his plight. In public and in private, according to intimates, he exhibits an inexorable upbeat energy that defies the political storms. Even when he convenes philosophical discussions with scholars, he avoids second-guessing his actions. He still acts as if he were master of the universe, even if the rest of Washington no longer sees him that way.

“You don’t get any feeling of somebody crouching down in the bunker,” said Irwin M. Stelzer, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute who was part of one group of scholars who met with Bush. “This is either extraordinary self-confidence or out of touch with reality. I can’t tell you which.”

A Parade of Setbacks

The reality has been daunting by any account. No modern president has experienced such a sustained rejection by the American public. Bush’s approval rating slipped below 50 percent in Washington Post-ABC News polls in January 2005 and has not topped that level in the 30 months since. The last president mired under 50 percent so long was Harry S. Truman. Even Richard M. Nixon did not fall below 50 percent until April 1973, 16 months before he resigned.

The polls reflect the events of Bush’s second term, an unyielding sequence of bad news. Social Security. Hurricane Katrina. Harriet E. Miers. Dubai Ports World. Vice President Cheney’s hunting accident. Jack Abramoff, Tom DeLay and Mark Foley. The midterm elections. I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Alberto R. Gonzales and Paul D. Wolfowitz. Immigration. And overshadowing it all, the Iraq war, now longer than the U.S. fight in World War II.





GOP Stalls House over Earmarks

15 06 2007

The “grand old party” — no longer so grand — has stalled operations in the House of Representatives in a bid to insert more wasteful spending into the budget. Such pork spending exploded since the Republicans took control of Congress in 1994, and was one factor in their electoral defeat in 2006. Nevertheless, these crazy fascists have decided to derail the Congress rather than give up their pet projects. Such earmarks are simply a way to by themselves another term in office, a shameful and degrading act that violates the spirit of their individual mandates. For shame! For shame!

An excerpt from the •San Francisco Chronicle•:

House grinds to a halt in rift over earmarks

Republicans stall Homeland Security spending bill

Edward Epstein, Chronicle Washington Bureau
Thursday, June 14, 2007
(06-14) 04:00 PDT Washington — For the second straight day, minority House Republicans ground the House to a standstill Wednesday as they drove home their objections to a Democratic plan to deny a floor vote on lawmakers’ thousands of pet projects.

Public anger over the surging number of special member projects called earmarks — derided as pork barrel spending — was a factor in the Republicans’ loss of House control last November, GOP members concede, and now they say they’ve gotten religion on the need for openness in government.

Charges of hypocrisy flew in floor speeches as House leaders huddled behind closed doors to seek a way out of a dispute that Republicans said showed Democrats led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi had backed down on promises of openness and disclosure made when they took power last January.
Democrats had hoped this week to pass four of the 12 annual bills that pay for federal operations beginning Oct. 1. Instead, Republicans have offered 116 amendments to a $37.4 billion Homeland Security spending bill — the first of the bills on the floor — in a bid to stall it. And on Tuesday they offered repeated motions to adjourn the House, each requiring a vote, keeping a wary House in session until 2:10 a.m. Wednesday.

Democrats argued Republicans were engaging in partisan attacks to try to embarrass Pelosi. They charged the GOP lawmakers lacked credibility on earmarks, the number of which exploded during their 12 years of House rule.
But Republicans cried foul over a plan by Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey, D-Wis., for the House to pass all of the dozen spending bills without any earmarks.

Obey said House members from both parties — even while expressing concern about rising government spending — had inundated his committee with 33,000 earmark requests. He said it would take the committee’s staff four weeks to study all those pork barrel requests and pare them to a manageable level.

Obey proposed to put the earmarks into the bill as the House prepares to confer with the Senate to reconcile the two chambers’ different versions of the spending bills. Obey promised to disclose the list of the earmarks a month before such a conference, which Democrats hope to hold by late summer, so members and the public will have time to scrutinize and react to the projects.





The Bush of the Past

1 05 2007

From Politicalwire.com:

Historical Quotes of the Day

“Victory means exit strategy, and it’s important for the president to explain to us what the exit strategy is.”

— George W. Bush, 4/9/99, criticizing President Clinton for not setting a timetable for exiting Kosovo.

“I think it’s also important for the president to lay out a timetable as to how long they will be involved and when they will be withdrawn.”

— George W. Bush, 6/5/99





DC Madam 1, Bush Official, 0

28 04 2007

The Washington, D.C. Madam, Deborah Jeane Palfrey, released her client lists to ABCNews, which I am sure has scared half of official Washington (and delighted the other half). I cannot wait for more names to come out. On Friday, State Department official (and Bush appointee) Randall Tobias resigned when he was outed as a client!

More to come, I hope!

An excerpt, from Yahoo! News::

Bush official resigns over escort links
By ANNE GEARAN, AP Diplomatic Writer
Sat Apr 28, 8:10 AM ET

WASHINGTON – Randall Tobias, head of the Bush administration’s foreign aid programs, abruptly resigned Friday after his name surfaced in an investigation into a high-priced call-girl ring, said two people in a position to know the circumstances of his departure.

It was Tobias’ own decision to resign, according to one of the people, who said the issue came up only in the past day or so. The people spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the investigation is still under way.
Tobias submitted his resignation a day after he was interviewed by ABC News for an upcoming program about an alleged prostitution service run by the so-called D.C. Madam.

ABC reported on its Web site late Friday that Tobias confirmed that he had called the Pamela Martin and Associates escort service to have women come to his condo and give him massages. More recently, Tobias told the network, he has been using a service with Central American women.

Tobias, 65, who is married, told ABC News there had been “no sex” during the women’s visits to his condo. His name was on a list of clients given to ABC by Deborah Jeane Palfrey, who owns the escort service and has been charged with running a prostitution ring in the nation’s capital.

Friday evening, the State Department put out a statement announcing Tobias’ resignation, saying he “informed Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice today that he must step down as Director of U.S. Foreign Assistance and U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator effective immediately.”

“He is returning to private life for personal reasons,” the statement said.

Tobias held two titles: director of U.S. foreign assistance and administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development. His rank was equivalent to deputy secretary of state.

Rice named Tobias to head the two programs in January 2006, and on Wednesday was at the White House, where President Bush praised his efforts coordinating global AIDS relief. Tobias had been the White House’s coordinator for global AIDS relief before taking the USAID post.





God Makes It Easier to Kill

28 03 2007

According to new research, belief that “God” is on one’s side makes it easier for people (or nations) to engage in war. Take a moment and read the article •at ABCNews.com•, it’s well worth the read!

This is, of course, no surprise to me at all.

An excerpt:

March 27, 2007 — Does believing that “God is on our side” make it easier for us to inflict pain and suffering on those perceived to be our enemies? If we think God sanctions violence, are we more likely to engage in violent acts?

The answer to both those questions, according to new research, is a resounding “yes,” even among those who do not consider themselves believers.

Social psychologist Brad Bushman of the University of Michigan led an international research effort to find answers to these questions, and said he is very “disturbed” by the results, though he found what he had expected. Bushman has spent 20 years studying aggression and violence, especially the impact on human behavior of violence in the media, but most previous research has focused on television and movie violence, not such things as scriptures and texts held sacred by many.

He wanted to take it a step further and see if simply exposing someone to a text that implies God sanctions violence would increase their level of aggression.

Fought in the Name of God

“I think many people use God as their justification for violent and aggressive actions,” Bushman said. “Take the current conflict in Iraq as an example. Bush claims that God is on his side. Osama bin Laden claims that God, or Allah, is on his side.”

History is replete with other examples of wars fought in the name of God, involving nearly every religion on the planet.





Which One Is Lying?

27 03 2007





Politicalwire: “Snow Job”

21 03 2007

Snow Job

Yesterday, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow asserted President Bush’s rights of “executive privilege” in not allowing his aides to be questioned by Congress under oath. However, the Chicago Tribune dug up a 1998 column written by Snow in which he felt differently.

“Evidently, Mr. Clinton wants to shield virtually any communications that take place within the White House compound on the theory that all such talk contributes in some way, shape or form to the continuing success and harmony of an administration.”

“Taken to its logical extreme, that position would make it impossible for citizens to hold a chief executive accountable for anything.”

There is a similar story over at •AmericaBlog•.