Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Lincoln Memorial

The Top 43 Appointees Who Helped Make Bush The Worst President Ever


1. Dick Cheney The worst Dick since Nixon. The man who shot his friend while in office. The "most powerful and controversial vice president." Until he got the job, people used to actually think it was a bad thing that the vice presidency has historically been a do-nothing position. Asked by PBS's Jim Lehrer about why people hate him, Cheney rejected the premise, saying, "I don't buy that." His top placement in our survey says otherwise.

2. Karl Rove There wasn't a scandal in the Bush administration that Rove didn't have his fingerprints all over see Plame, Iraq war deception, Gov. Don Siegelman, U.S. Attorney firings, missing e-mails, and more. As senior political adviser and later as deputy chief of staff, "The Architect" was responsible for politicizing nearly every agency of the federal government.

3. Alberto Gonzales Fundamentally dishonest and woefully incompetent, Gonzales was involved in a series of scandals, first as White House counsel and then as Attorney General. Some of the most notable: pressuring a "feeble" and "barely articulate" Attorney General Ashcroft at his hospital bedside to sign off on Bush's illegal wiretapping program; approving waterboarding and other torture techniques to be used against detainees; and leading the firing of U.S. Attorneys deemed not sufficiently loyal to Bush.

4. Donald Rumsfeld After winning praise for leading the U.S. effort in ousting the Taliban from Afghanistan in 2001, the former Defense Secretary strongly advocated for the invasion of Iraq and then grossly misjudged and mishandled its aftermath. Rumsfeld is also responsible for authorizing the use of torture against terror detainees in U.S. custody; according to a bipartisan Senate report, Rumsfeld "conveyed the message that physical pressures and degradation were appropriate treatment for detainees."

5. Michael Brown This former commissioner of the International Arabian Horse Association was appointed by Bush to head FEMA in 2003. After Katrina made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane, Brownie promptly did a "heck of a job" bungling the government's relief efforts, and was sent back to Washington a few days later. He was forced to resign shortly thereafter.

6. Paul Wolfowitz As Deputy Secretary of Defense from 2001 to 2005, Wolfowitz was one of the primary architects of the Iraq war, arguing for the invasion as early as Sept. 15, 2001. Testifying before Congress in February 2003, Wolfowitz said that it was "hard to conceive that it would take more forces to provide stability in post-Saddam Iraq than it would take to conduct the war itself." Wolfowitz eventually admitted that "for bureaucratic reasons, we settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction," as a justification for war, "because it was the one reason everyone [in the administration] could agree on."

7. David Addington "Cheney's Cheney" was the "most powerful man you've never heard of." As the leader of Bush's legal team and Cheney's chief of staff, Addington was the biggest proponent of some of Bush's most notorious legal abuses, such as torture and warrantless surveillance, and is a loyal follower of the so-called unitary executive theory.

8. Stephen Johnson The "Alberto Gonzales of the environment," EPA Administrator Johnson subverted the agency's mission at the behest of the White House and corporate interests, suppressing staff recommendations on pesticides, mercury, lead paint, smog, and global warming.

9. Douglas Feith Undersecretary of Defense for Policy from 2001-2005, Feith headed up the notorious Office of Special Plans, an in-house Pentagon intelligence shop devised by Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz to produce intelligence to justify the invasion of Iraq. A subsequent investigation by the Pentagon's Inspector General found the OSP's work produced "conclusions that were not fully supported by the available intelligence."

10. John Bolton As Undersecretary of State, Bolton offered a strong voice in favor of invading Iraq and pushed for the U.S. to disengage from the International Criminal Court and key international arms control agreements. A recess appointment landed Bolton the job of U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, despite his stringent animosity toward the world body. Today, he spends his time calling for war with Iran.


I did not cut down the cherry tree

Seeger and Springsteen: "This Land Is Your Land" like Woody Wrote It

Folk legend Pete Seeger (89) joined Bruce Springsteen at the conclusion of the "We Are One" concert at the Lincoln Memorial to lead a sing-along of Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land." Seeger, who rode the rails with Guthrie during the Great Depression, led the 500,000 person audience on the mall in singing the song as it was originally written - including verses often left out that address worker's rights.


He saved me

Bolivia to take Israel to The Hague

Israel ignores international calls to end Gaza invasion.
Bolivia is seeking to take Tel Aviv to International Criminal Court over the brutal atrocities the Israeli forces have committed in Gaza.

The Andean state says it is intended to make regional allies take a unified stance against "the Israeli political and military leaders responsible for the offensive on the Gaza Strip" and make it to stand trial at the international body in the Hague, said Sacha Llorenti, whose portfolio covers civil society.

Moves to begin the legal process will begin "probably next week," Bolivia's deputy justice and human rights minister Wilfredo Chavez told journalists during the visit to Geneva, AFP reported on Friday.

Bolivia followed in the steps of its ally Venezuela and severed diplomatic ties with Israel over its massacre of the Gazans and snubbing the international calls for an 'immediate' and 'durable' truce, said the Latin American governments.

The Bolivian president Evo Morales told a group of diplomats in the administrative capital of La Paz that he will request the International Criminal Court (ICC) to file genocide charges against Israeli President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

The ICC is competent to adjudicate war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide committed after 2002.


The media myth about the cost of Obama's inauguration


by Eric Boehlert

Did you hear that "some are saying" Barack Obama's inauguration will cost "$160 million," which is $100 million more than George W. Bush's last swearing-in? That's the tale the crew at Fox & Friends was telling on January 15. "Why does the thing have to cost so much?" demanded co-host Gretchen Carlson. "I don't get it. George Bush spent $42.3 million and that was just four years ago." She wondered why Obama needed "another $100 million" for his celebration.

The Fox News crew wasn't alone. The Internet and cable news were filled with chatter about the jaw-dropping (and unsubstantiated) number suddenly attached to Obama's swearing-in. But the sloppy reporting and online gossip about the price tag illustrated what happens when journalists don't do their job and online partisans take advantage of that kind of work.

It also highlighted the type of news you can generate when making blatantly false comparisons. In this case, it was the cost of the Obama and Bush inaugurations. The connection was unfair because the Obama figure of $160 million that got repeated in the press included security costs associated with the massive event. But the Bush tab of $42 million left out those enormous costs. Talk about stacking the deck.

The misinformation first arrived in the form of an underreported newspaper article in America, and then one in London. Between them, and thanks to furious transatlantic online linking, the reports gave birth to the story that Obama's inauguration was going to cost nearly four times what the country spent on Bush's bash in 2005 -- that the Obama inauguration would cost almost $120 million more.


At Long Last, Ready for the Real Deal

By Maya Angelou

In September 2008, I was invited to introduce Michelle Obama at an event in Greensboro, N.C. I had met her fleetingly during the Democratic National Convention in Boston, but I had no real sense of her personality.

I telephoned Oprah Winfrey, aware that she knew the Obamas, and asked, "What is your take on Michelle Obama?"

Oprah answered promptly and with conviction, "She is the real deal."

I waited backstage in the Carolina Theatre wings. Mrs. Obama arrived, and we sat and talked for 45 minutes. We spoke about family, the economy, youth obesity, television, music, cooking and men. I was completely won over. She neither postured nor preened. I sensed no subterfuge in her conversation. She said what she thought and said it clearly, without bombast. When I was cued to go onto the stage, I shook hands with her warmly and went to the microphone. The theater was packed, and there was no standing room. I told the audience of some of Mrs. Obama's accomplishments, and then I told them of the conversation that I had had with Oprah. I ended my introduction by saying, "Now ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the 'real deal.' "


Mission Accomplished

The President's Last Goodbye - Slate crashes Bush's farewell party.

can often tell a party by its parties. This week, Democrats are feting the incoming chief with top-shelf DJs, valet parking, and more coat checks than coats. Republicans, on the other hand, seem to be partying on a tight budget, if at all.

Such was the case Sunday night at Glen Echo Park in Maryland, where outgoing administration officials gathered for a final send-off. (Well, almost final: They'll see Bush off Tuesday at Andrews Air Force Base.) Everyone from the lowliest White House aides to President Bush himself was there, many of them bundled in coats, chomping on barbecue, knocking back Buds, and dressed in the "very casual attire" the invitation called for.

The party, dubbed "Crossing the Finish Line" and held in the park's giant Spanish Ballroom, was organized by outgoing White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and his predecessor, Andy Card.

The venue had been somewhat controversial, according to attendees. There was no heating, so a lot of bodies were needed. "Due to the historic nature of the venue, there are limitations on what can be done in terms of climate control," the hosts warned in an e-mail. "DO: Wear layers and coats. DON'T: Dress like you're going to Gold Cup or Smith Point."

Apparently some of the more climate-controlled venues had been taken. "There weren't a lot [of places] available," said Card. "There weren't a lot of bands available, either."

"Are these all white people- I mean White House people?" I asked someone in a genuine Freudian slip. Turned out the crowd was a mix of alumni from the White House, State Department, Treasury, and Justice and a few campaign workers. The mood felt more sweet than bitter. Many staffers had spent the weekend clearing out their offices. The question I kept hearing was "What's next?" Some were applying to grad schools, others were heading to D.C. law firms or think tanks, and others were returning to their home states or traveling. One outgoing Treasury employee had already landed a job as a manager at Abercrombie & Fitch.

As I stood in line for barbecue, Dana Perino came over to greet some friends. "I'm starting to breathe!" she said. I asked her for a comment on the party. "It's a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the outgoing administration and reminisce in casual clothes," she said.

Indeed, Bolten made the rounds in a bright-purple fleece, while Card sported a tweed blazer. Karl Rove, afloat in a gaggle of camera-toting staffers, rocked a cap from the 2004 Bush campaign.


Down to the wire, Murkowski wants pardon for Stevens

by Jill Burke

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to clarify statements made in December by Sen. Lisa Murkowski about pursuing a pardon for former Sen. Ted Stevens.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Sen. Lisa Murkowski has made a request with President George W. Bush to pardon former Sen. Ted Stevens, Channel 2 News learned Sunday.

Stevens was convicted in October on seven felony counts of lying on Senate disclosure forms. He lost a subsequent re-election bid to Sen. Mark Begich.

Murkowski's spokesperson, Mike Brumas, confirmed the request in an e-mail to Channel 2 News, writing, "In answer to you question, yes Sen. Murkowski has requested that President Bush pardon former Sen. Stevens. I can't provide any further details at this time due to the sensitive nature of the issue."

Outside of this statement from her office, Murkowski declined to comment.

It's unclear when the application may have been made. The Department of Justice says as of Friday no one had made an application for a pardon on the Senator's behalf with the Office of Pardon Attorney, according to Laura Sweeney in the department's Office of Public Affairs.

Sweeney went on to say that Murkowski could have made a direct appeal to Bush, bypassing the pardon attorney.


Former sen. ted stevens, addressing the senate for the final time in november, has adamantly insisted his innocence. (ktuu-tv)
Former Sen. Ted Stevens, addressing the Senate for the final time in November, has adamantly insisted his innocence. (KTUU-TV)
During this joint press conference in december, both sen. lisa murkowski and then-sen.-elect mark begich said they had not thought about seeking a pardon for stevens. (ktuu-tv)
During this joint press conference in December, both Sen. Lisa Murkowski and then-Sen.-elect Mark Begich said they had not thought about seeking a pardon for Stevens. (KTUU-TV)
Stevens was convicted by a washington, d.c. jury on seven felony charges of lying on senate disclosure forms. (ktuu-tv)
Stevens was convicted by a Washington, D.C. jury on seven felony charges of lying on Senate disclosure forms. (KTUU-TV)


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