Our Common Good


The White House received a truly remarkable amount of warnings that al-Qaida was trying to attack the United States. From June to September 2001, a full seven CIA Senior Intelligence Briefs detailed that attacks were imminent, an incredible amount of information from one intelligence agency. One from June called “Bin-Ladin and Associates Making Near-Term Threats” writes that “[redacted] expects Usama Bin Laden to launch multiple attacks over the coming days.” The famous August brief called “Bin Ladin Determined to Strike the US” is included. “Al-Qai’da members, including some US citizens, have resided in or travelled to the US for years, and the group apparently maintains a support structure here,” it says. During the entire month of August, President Bush was on vacation at his ranch in Texas — which tied with one of Richard Nixon’s as the longest vacation ever taken by a president. CIA Director George Tenet has said he didn’t speak to Bush once that month, describing the president as being “on leave.” Bush did not hold a Principals’ meeting on terrorism until September 4, 2001, having downgraded the meetings to a deputies’ meeting, which then-counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke has repeatedly said slowed down anti-Bin Laden efforts “enormously, by months.”

The thing that I think a lot of people are missing when they read this story is that intelligence worked the way it was supposed to, but Bush the Incompetent didn’t pay attention, because he didn’t care. He was a lazy and stupid son of privilege who was too busy being on vacation to take his responsibilities as president seriously.

Consider this, though: all the laws passed in the aftermath of 9/11, including the PATRIOT Act, that we were told were absolutely necessary to save us from The Terrorists™ just aren’t. The system was working the way it was supposed to work, and the 9/11 plot should have been stopped, but we had an incompetent jackass president who didn’t take it seriously.


Over 120 CIA documents concerning 9/11, Osama bin Laden and counterterrorism were published today for the first time, having been newly declassified and released to the National Security Archive. The documents were released after the NSA pored through the footnotes of the 9/11 Commission and…

Americans continue to place more blame for the nation’s economic problems on George W. Bush than on Barack Obama, even though Bush left office more than three years ago. The relative economic blame given to Bush versus Obama today is virtually the same as it was last September.


We’ve known for quite some time that our justice system is capable of condemning innocent men to death. But some people — like Antonin Scalia, George W. Bush, and Rick Perry — continued to claim the system worked so well that it was always able to save them from execution. With the all of this information about Carlos DeLuna and Cameron Todd Willingham, it’s hard to believe that anyone will continue to make such a claim going forward. Except we know, of course, that they will.

Many years ago now, I bristled at the plot of The Life of David Gale precisely because it implied that, since innocent people really aren’t executed, opponents of the death penalty would need to go so far as to enter into an elaborate conspiracy to make it happen.

That, of course, is demonstrably false:

A Texas judge who reviewed the controversial 2004 execution of Cameron Todd Willingham planned to posthumously exonerate the father who was put to death for killing his three daughters in a house fire.

Scientific experts who debunked the arson evidence used against Willingham at his 1992 trial and a jailhouse witness who recanted his shaky testimony convinced District Court Judge Charlie Baird in 2010 that “Texas wrongfully convicted” him. But Baird’s order clearing Willingham’s name never became official, because a higher court halted the posthumous inquiry while it considered whether the judge had authority to examine the capital case.


Baird’s intended order never came to light because the court of appeals criticized his handling of the case and prevented him from resuming work on it before he left the bench at the end of 2010 after choosing not to seek re-election. No one asked him for it after the court of appeals blocked him, he said.

Baird, now an attorney in private practice, said he was moved to share the document with HuffPost after reading about Carlos DeLuna, a Texan who a Columbia University team said this week may have been wrongly executed in 1989.

In 2006, Justice Scalia wrote that there hasn’t been “a single case — not one — in which it is clear that a person was executed for a crime he did not commit. If such an event had occurred in recent years, we would not have to hunt for it; the innocent’s name would be shouted from the rooftops.”

When do we suppose Scalia will be prepared to shout his error from the rooftops?


During an interview last week on The Fernando Espuelas Show, Alexandra Franceschi, Specialty Media Press Secretary of the Republican National Committee, said that the Republican party’s economic platform in 2012 is going to be the same as it was during the Bush years, “just updated”:

ESPUELAS: What do you mean by economic security? Regardless of who the ultimate nominee is, what’s the general idea that the RNC, or the Republican party in general, has in terms of this message?

FRANCESCHI: Well, it’s a message of being able to attain the American dream. It’s less government spending, which a Tarrance Group poll, came out last week actually, shows that the majority of Hispanics believe that less government spending is the way out of this deficit crisis. It’s lowering taxes so small businesses can grow and they can employ more people, because we understand that the private sector is the engine of the economy. It’s not the government. […]

ESPUELAS: Now, how different is that concept from what were the policies of the Bush administration? And the reason I ask that is because there’s some analysis now that is being published talking about the Bush years being the slowest period of job creation since those statistics were created. Is this a different program or is this that program just updated?

FRANCESCHI: I think it’s that program, just updated.

Listen here:

As a result of the Bush economic platform, “growth in investment, GDP, and employment all posted their worst performance of any post-war expansion,” while “overall monthly job growth was the worst of any cycle since at least February 1945, and household income growth was negative for the first cycle since tracking began in 1967.” Meanwhile, the deficit and debt exploded. It would have to be quite the update for the GOP to make anything better happen this time around.

Eight years ago, Dan Rather broadcast an explosive report on the Air National Guard service of President George W. Bush. It was supposed to be the legendary newsman’s finest hour. Instead, it blew up in his face, tarnishing his career forever and casting a dark cloud of doubt and suspicion over his reporting—and that of every other journalist on the case. This month, as Rather returns with a new memoir, Joe Hagan finally gets to the bottom of the greatest untold story in modern Texas politics, with exclusive, never-before-seen details that shed fresh light on who was right, who was wrong, and what really happened.


MSNBC host Rachel Maddow on Wednesday night explained a legal memo that advised the Bush Administration that so-called enhanced interrogation techniques were torture and therefore illegal.

Wired reporter Spencer Ackerman obtained the memo, written by State Department counselor Philip Zelikow,…

I once made the mistake of suggesting to Bush that he use the phrase cheap energy to describe the aims of his energy policy. He gave me a sharp, squinting look.

“Cheap energy”, he answered, “was how we got into this mess. Every year from the early 1970s until the mid-1990s, American cars burned less and less oil per mile traveled. Then in about 1995 that progress stopped. Why?”

He answered his own question: “Because of the gas-guzzling SUV. And what had made the SUV craze possible?”

This time I answered, “Um, cheap energy?” He nodded at me.


David Frum - The Right Man

Posting this because the new narrative developing among the right is that Barack Obama wants to raise gas prices because of statements he made in 2008 suggesting that “something good” may come of high gas prices.

(via abaldwin360)



Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) on Monday accused the Republican presidential field of incendiary rhetoric that did not match the level-headed tone in combating terrorism laid out by President George W. Bush and continued under President Obama. Appearing on CNN, Durbin was responding to the GOP candidates’ criticism that Obama’sapology to Afghans for the inadvertent burning of Muslim holy books was “unacceptable,” as former Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) put it.

Durbin said the Bush “got it right” when “(h)e said our war is not with the religion of Islam.” Instead, he said, “Our war is with those who would distort [Islam] and turn it into terrorism.” Durbin went on to say that this was a “guiding principle” that “was adopted by President Obama.” He then drew a distinction with the GOP presidential field, and CNN commentator Will Cain asked him to clarify:

DURBIN: Now, listen to these Republican candidates for president. They’re at war with Islam. What the president is trying to do is to calm down –

WILL CAIN: Senator Durbin, I haven’t heard one thing that backs up what you suggest. Just give me an example, how are they at war with Islam?

DURBIN: Newt Gingrich saying that the president is guilty of appeasement. […]What you listen to is incendiary rhetoric coming out in a very delicate situation. Lives are at stake here. The president is showing leadership. The president is stepping up, trying to calm a situation. These three candidates are coming on television doing the opposite.

Indeed, Durbin is right. Much of the GOP presidential campaign has been steeped in Islamophobic rhetoric. Gingrich has said he would single out Muslims by advocating for anunconstitutional federal law that would criminalize some practices of being Muslim in America.Santorum has endorsed Muslim profiling at airports, and has said Muslims don’t believe in equality. In 2007, Mitt Romney reportedly said he wouldn’t consider Muslim candidates for a cabinet position.

h/t: Ali Gharib at ThinkProgress Security 

…under George W. Bush, the price of gasoline increased from $1.60 per gallon when he took office in January 2001 to $4.40 per gallon in July 2008, a jump of 275 percent.

In December 2000, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled that companies that provided prescription drugs to their employees but didn’t provide birth control were in violation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prevents discrimination on the basis of sex. That opinion, which the George W. Bush administration did nothing to alter or withdraw when it took office the next month, is still in effect today—and because it relies on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, it applies to all employers with 15 or more employees. Employers that don’t offer prescription coverage or don’t offer insurance at all are exempt, because they treat men and women equally—but under the EEOC’s interpretation of the law, you can’t offer other preventative care coverage without offering birth control coverage, too.

"It was, we thought at the time, a fairly straightforward application of Title VII principles," a top former EEOC official who was involved in the decision told Mother Jones. “All of these plans covered Viagra immediately, without thinking, and they were still declining to cover prescription contraceptives. It’s a little bit jaw-dropping to see what is going on now…There was some press at the time but we issued guidances that were far, far more controversial.”

After the EEOC opinion was approved in 2000, reproductive rights groups and employees who wanted birth control access sued employers that refused to comply. The next year, in Erickson v. Bartell Drug Co., a federal court agreed with the EEOC’s reasoning. Reproductive rights groups and others used that decision as leverage to force other companies to settle lawsuits and agree to change their insurance plans to include birth control. Some subsequent court decisions echoed Erickson, and some went the other way, but the rule (absent a Supreme Court decision) remained, and over the following decade, the percentage of employer-based plans offering contraceptive coverage tripled to 90 percent.


Once again, teatards, it’s actually Dubya’s fault. Again:

Right-wing media figures are accusing the Obama administration of seeking to impose a tax on Christmas trees; but the Christmas tree industry has been working since 2008 — before President Obama was elected — to partner with the Department of Agriculture and establish a marketing campaign funded by tree growers in order to promote the sale of fresh Christmas trees.

[…] Led by the Drudge Report and Fox Nation, right-wing media figures immediately leaped on the rule, calling it President Obama’s “Christmas tree tax“:


Gateway Pundit blogger Jim Hoft said the “Christmas Tree Tax” illustrated that “Barack Obama hates Christians.”

Far from a tax initiated by the Obama administration, the proposal to create an assessment on tree growers to fund a research and promotion program through the USDA was begun by the industry during the Bush administration.

I guess George W. Bush hates Christians.

It’s only been 3,095 days since this happened…

“I can’t speak to the psychosomatic or the genetic problems with heart attacks or whatever, but I can speak to power. He wanted desperately to be president of the United States … he knew the Texas governor was not steeped in anything but baseball, so he knew he was going to be president and I think he got his dream. He was president for all practical purposes for the first term of the Bush administration.” - Colin Powell’s former chief of staff Larry Wilkerson, on Dick Cheney


I can’t speak to the psychosomatic or the genetic problems with heart attacks or whatever, but I can speak to power. He wanted desperately to be president of the United States … he knew the Texas governor was not steeped in anything but baseball, so he knew he was going to be president and I think he got his dream. He was president for all practical purposes for the first term of the Bush administration.” - Colin Powell’s former chief of staff Larry Wilkerson, on Dick Cheney



As former Vice President Dick Cheney publishes his long-awaited memoir, we speak to Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell. “This is a book written out of fear, fear that one day someone will ‘Pinochet’ Dick Cheney,” says Wilkerson, alluding to the former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, who was arrested for war crimes. Wilkerson also calls for George W. Bush and Cheney to be held accountable for their crimes in office. “I’d be willing to testify, and I’d be willing to take any punishment I’m due,” Wilkerson said.

We also speak to Salon.com political and legal blogger Glenn Greenwald about his recent article on Cheney, “The Fruits of Elite Immunity.” “Dick Cheney goes around the country profiting off of this sleazy, sensationalistic, self-serving book, basically profiting from his crimes, and at the same time normalizing the idea that these kind of policies…are perfectly legitimate choices to make. And I think that’s the really damaging legacy from all of this,” says Greenwald.

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