Today in the “the latest effort by the Bush administration to expand the boundaries of government secrecy,” the Justice Department said that “records about missing White House e-mails are not subject to public disclosure. Administration lawyers detailed the legal position in a lawsuit trying to force the White House Office of Administration to reveal what it knows” about the disappearance of at least 5 million White House e-mails.
Shadi Hamid on Peter Baker’s weird theory that opposition from foreign service professions wrecked Bush’s strategy of democracy promotion:
Wait a second, wasn’t the State Department against another “new idea” in 2002? I seem to recall that there was some talk around then of invading a foreign country that had nothing to do with 9/11. I seem to also recall that the State Department bureaucracy was furious about this. President Bush was able, however, to overrule or circumvent this “resistance” because he wanted to. Iraq was his priority. I don’t doubt that Bush is sincere in his commitment to democracy, but I’m under no illusions that it was ever a top priority of his, or that it took precedence over more “tangible” strategic interests…like, um, supporting dictators with billions of dollars, something which Bush has proven quite fond of.
Right. Similarly, one doubts that the professional bureaucracy in the Treasury Department has been wildly enthusiastic about Bush’s tax-and-budget policies or that folks in the EPA love Bush’s environmental policies. The dominant views of the civil service, the foreign service, the uniformed military, and the intelligence community all really do matter in Washington, but Bush has time and again shown an ability to get his way when he’s determined to. The democracy agenda didn’t make it through the grinder because there was no agenda.
Via Kay Steiger, MSNBC finds that young, white Americans are happier than young Americans of color. Boring into it, the survey in particular was of 13-24 year-olds. But what kind of age group is that? It’s hard to think of a ten year span that has more heterogeneity than that one.
Last night on the Charlie Rose show, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) — who proclaims himself to be “the greatest critic” of the past four years of the Iraq war — said, “I predicted that we would fail when I saw the Rumsfeld strategy that was being employed. And I railed and spoke against it and did everything I could to change it.” (Some examples of his “railings” here.) Asked if there was a moment in time where he could envision himself supporting a withdrawal, McCain said, “I think in the months ahead — plural — that you will see continued progress on the military side and I think that can be encouraging for us to have a strategy where…we gradually withdraw.” Watch it:
“The Washington Post-ABC News consumer comfort index (CCI), a barometer of the public’s assessment of current economic conditions, plunged nine points this week, the biggest ever one-week drop since the poll started in late 1985. The CCI now stands at -20 on its scale of –100 to +100, well off its high for the year, +2 in March, and near its post-Hurricane Katrina lows.”
Recent polls show a “decline in the public’s embrace of the conservative social and economic values that have been the hallmark” of President Bush’s politics. A recent CBS/New York Times poll found nine out of 10 people want “either major repairs to the health care system or a complete overhaul.” The Pew Research Center “found a decline in the intensity of religious beliefs and more acceptances of homosexuals.”
“A federal judge in Montana has ordered the Bush administration’s top forestry official to explain why he should not be held in contempt of court for the U.S. Forest Service’s failure to analyze the environmental impact of dropping fish-killing fire retardant on wildfires. If found in contempt, Agriculture Undersecretary Mark Rey, who oversees the U.S. Forest Service, could go to jail until the Forest Service complies with the court order to do the environmental review.” Liliana Segura at Alternet has more.
I am not defending Rudy, the presidential candidate. Almost no one who has lived in New York wants Rudy anywhere near the nuclear football, nor would we like to see his strongly authoritarian instincts (however much they arguably may have done for New York’s policing) unleashed on the federal justice system. Rudy is craaaaaaaaazy, albeit not in a way that made him a particularly bad mayor.
This is, I think, true. The American people should spend some time considering the fact that a large number of people who voted for Rudy Giuliani as mayor and who then voted for his designated successor have no desire whatsoever to see him in the White House. Part of it is just that being crazy seemed “in character” for New York. It’s a town full of crazy people. There was a sort of “that’s our Rudy” mentality about it — what a crazy character! — after all, Ed Koch was crazy, too, and David Dinkins was just boring. It’s a point of pride. Everyone loves the proverbial ranting and raving cab driver. One doesn’t, however, necessarily want to see him running the country.
The crux of the matter is that the mayor of a city has way, way, way less power than the president. When Giuliani cooked up his nutty scheme to use 9/11 as a pretext to cancel an election, suspend the rule of law, and extend his term in office, all that happened was . . . none of that happened, since he was just the mayor. By contrast, as we’ve been learning lately, it’s really hard to stop the President of the United States from ordering that people be indefinitely detained and tortured in secret on the basis of God-only-knows what evidence. The damage that these aspects to Giuliani’s approach could do as mayor were rather limited, but as a potential president it’s a whole different can of worms.
A new AP-Ipsos poll finds that liberals read more books than conservatives. Some highlights from the poll:
– 34 percent of conservatives have not read a book within the past year, compared with 22 percent of liberals and moderates.
– Among those who had read at least one book, conservatives “typically read eight” books in the past year. Liberals read nine, moderates five.
– “By slightly wider margins, Democrats tended to read more books than Republicans and independents. There were no differences by political party in the percentage of those who said they had not read at least one book.”
Pat Schroeder, president of the American Association of Publishers, attempted to explain the results: “The Karl Roves of the world have built a generation that just wants a couple slogans: ‘No, don’t raise my taxes, no new taxes. It’s pretty hard to write a book saying, ‘No new taxes, no new taxes, no new taxes’ on every page.”
Responding to the poll, White House spokesman Tony Fratto attacked liberals for being too “locquacious”:
Obfuscation usually requires a lot more words than if you simply focus on fundamental principles, so I’m not at all surprised by the loquaciousness of liberals.
A recent Pew Research Study survey also found that viewers of the conservative Fox News channel had the lowest knowledge of national and international affairs.
Former CIA Director George Tenet “failed to lead a strategic effort against al-Qaeda before the Sept. 11 attacks,” according to an inspector general report released today. The intelligence community’s understanding of al Qaeda “was hampered by insufficient analytic focus,” the report said, as “the CIA had made no comprehensive report on Osama bin Laden since 1993, had not examined the potential for terrorists to use aircraft as weapons, and had done only limited analysis on the potential of the United States as a target.” Tenet called the analysis “flat wrong.”