Today, the House Judiciary Committee threatened to subpoena former White House adviser Karl Rove, unless he agrees by May 12 to testify about former Alabama governor Don Siegelman’s corruption case. In a letter to Rove’s attorney, the committee wrote, “We can see no justification for his refusal to speak on the record to the committee. We urge you and your client to reconsider…or we will have no choice but to consider the use of compulsory process.”
Two weeks ago, the New York Times revealed a secret Pentagon program that uses retired military analysts to “generate favorable news coverage of the administration’s wartime performance.” Yesterday, White House Press Secretary Dana Perino defended the program, claiming “it’s absolutely appropriate to provide information to people who are seeking it.”
In an interview with ThinkProgress today, Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) called the program “unfortunate,” adding that “it hurts us in the long run.” Murtha said he was especially “disappointed” that some of the analysts involved in the program “didn’t even believe what they were saying” in support of the administration:
MURTHA: I saw that some of the officers that were saying that didn’t even believe what they were saying. Well, the military’s held in the highest level and the highest esteem in this country. All of us appreciate their sacrifices. I’ve gotten to the point where I now distrust the military because they have been dishonored by these kind of untruths. It used to be that I could listen to the military, they would come to me, and what they said privately they were willing to say publicly. With Rumsfeld’s tenure, they distorted everything. And that’s the way they got by for four years because the public said, well, the military’s saying that. Well, the public’s no longer accepting that. The public realizes we made a mistake when we went in, much of the information was inaccurate and they continue to say these kind of things.
Murtha also said that he was “disappointed in the news media” for allowing the Pentagon to exploit them, noting that “blogs have been so important to bringing out the truth.”
As Murtha noted, the Times reported that some of the analysts toed the administration’s line to such an extent that they publicly contradicted what they privately believed:
“I saw immediately in 2003 that things were going south,” General Vallely, one of the Fox analysts on the trip, recalled in an interview with The Times.
The Pentagon, though, need not have worried.
“You can’t believe the progress,” General Vallely told Alan Colmes of Fox News upon his return [from a Pentagon-provided trip to Iraq in Sept. 2003]. He predicted the insurgency would be “down to a few numbers” within months.
Murtha closed by noting the price Americans are paying for the Iraq war, saying that the Pentagon program is “unfortunate and it just makes it that much more difficult for us to overcome this, because people who don’t believe it now, believed it for a while and they don’t want to be misled again.”
Transcript: Read more
Douglas Holtz-Eakin told the New York Times that, to attempt to cover people who fall through the (rather substantial) cracks in his health care plan, McCain would help pay for state “high-risk pools” by redirecting money “from existing federal programs that pay for uncompensated medical care, primarily in hospitals.”
Translation: Holtz-Eakin wants to eliminate some portion of the $7.8 billion in federal support for “Disproportionate Share Hospitals,” or DSH, which serve especially high numbers of poor and uninsured patients. This money is “the largest source of federal support for uncompensated care for uninsured patients.”
States across the country have used DSH money to provide “essential funding to many safety net hospitals” and “maintain access to health services for low-income patients.” States are already fighting back against Bush’s proposed sweeping cuts to Medicaid and changes to health regulations that shift costs to state and local governments, and John McCain is offering more of the same.
As a study by the National Health Policy Forum concludes, “in the absence of a viable plan to broadly expand health insurance coverage, support for providers that serve low-income patients will become increasingly critical.” But John McCain’s plan would leave millions of Americans without health insurance, so his disregard for DSH funds is a bit disturbing. Read more
Appearing on Fox News today, former Bush adviser Karl Rove was asked about Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) similarities to President Bush. Rove said the argument that McCain somehow represents a third term of President Bush in fact “lacks credibility with a wide number of Americans”:
ROVE: The American people are prospective. They’re always looking forward. So if you try and say John McCain is George Bush, that simply lacks credibility with a wide number of Americans. All they know about John McCain is that he’s the maverick Republican senator who has often crossed swords with Bush and in fact ran against him in 2000. So I’m not certain claiming that McCain is Bush and therefore you ought to vote against McCain because he is Bush is a very credible argument.
But a Americans are deeply concerned that McCain is too similar to Bush, who has a 71 percent disapproval rating. MSNBC reports on a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll:
[T]he bigger problem appears to be John McCain’s ties to President Bush. In the survey, 43 percent of registered voters say they have major concerns that McCain is too closely aligned with the current administration.
Furthermore, today marked the 86th day that Karl Rove appeared on Fox News as a political analyst without disclosure of his ties to McCain’s campaign.
While shilling for McCain, Rove took few digs at Sen. Barack Obama’s (D-IL) ties to Rev. Jeremiah Wright — even twisting Obama’s statements. “Sen. Obama had previously said they [Wright's comments] were not controversial,” Rove said. Actually, Obama stated, “I don’t think my church is actually particularly controversial.”
Read more about McCain’s third term of Bush here.
Our guest blogger is Sam Davis, Policy Analyst at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.
Americans need immediate relief from high oil and gasoline prices and the government needs to respond. We have two options:
1) The McCain, Clinton “gas-tax-holiday” plan which will remove, for three months, the federal tax levied on fuel at the point of consumption — 18.4 cents for each unleaded gallon of gasoline and 24.4 cents for each gallon of diesel; or
2) The Center for American Progress’ “fuel price reliefbate” proposal that would give 80 percent of American households up to $450 and each independent truck driver $4,000 to partially offset their increased expenses due to the exorbitant rise in fuel prices.
Here’s the rub:
The “gas-tax-holiday” plan does not guarantee whether gas stations will lower the price of fuel by any amount once the tax is rescinded. Instead, oil companies could pocket the extra revenue and families save nothing. However, if the gas stations did drop the price, because the higher the income a household earns the more cars they have and the more miles they drive, under the regressive “gas-tax-holiday” plan, they would save more.
The “fuel price reliefbate” plan on the other hand would immediately relieve households who earn the least, but spend the most on gasoline proportionate to their income. While these households drive less and have fewer cars, they experience the hardship of rising gasoline prices the most not only at the pump but in the supermarket as well. This plan would be paid for by repealing the $23.4 billion in subsidies the government gives to oil companies.
Both plans would take the same exact time to enact, yet only one would guarantee immediate relief and can be paid for without dipping into the monies spent to (re)build our national highway system or adding additional taxes.
Today marks the fifth anniversary of President Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” speech aboard the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln. To commemorate the occasion, the Washington Post has trotted out its editorial from May 4, 2003. The reprinted editorial contains a preface, emphasizing that the WP disagreed with the infamous banner:
Five years ago, President Bush declared the mission in Iraq accomplished. The Post editorial board disagreed. Here’s what the board wrote on May 4, 2003. [...]
Still, it’s also impossible to agree with the banner that was draped near Mr. Bush on the carrier deck, proclaiming “Mission Accomplished.” Aides say the slogan was chosen in part to mark a presidential turn toward domestic affairs as his campaign for reelection approaches. … There is much to be done; the greatest tests and risks still lie in the future.
It’s wonderful that the WP didn’t buy into Bush’s PR stunt on May 1, 2003. But this self-congratulatory reprinting of its May 4 op-ed is disingenuous. Among the the nation’s major newspapers, the WP editorial board was one of the loudest cheerleaders for war in Iraq. As Chris Mooney wrote for the Columbia Journalism Review:
The paper started out hawkishly, echoing many of Bush’s arguments and calling war “an operation essential to American security” even before Powell’s presentation. The Post then quickly endorsed Powell’s WMD and al Qaeda claims. … Yet as invasion approached, the paper shifted its tone. In two lengthy editorials, it directly answered antiwar arguments and responded to readers who’d accused the paper of “jingoism.” Following this public grappling with dissent, the Post unleashed a flurry of editorials smacking the Bush administration for “worryingly vague” postwar planning. … The paper never changed its stance on war, however.
As much as it would like to pat itself on the back for getting one right, the WP editorial board had many more that were wrong. A few lowlights:
“After Secretary of State Colin L. Powell’s presentation to the United Nations Security Council yesterday, it is hard to imagine how anyone could doubt that Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction.” [2/6/03]
“The Perils of Passivity” [2/13/03]
“But the United States cannot again join the Security Council in backing down from a confrontation with the Iraqi dictator, as it did repeatedly during the 1990s, also under pressure from France and Russia.” [2/16/03]
“In the case of Iraq, the functioning of American democracy has been pretty straightforward. President Bush has been respectful of opponents, at least at home, as he should be on such a momentous issue.” [2/23/03]
Evidently, getting just one editorial right is a “mission accomplished” for the Washington Post.
The Washington City Paper notes that on May 11, approximately a week after this op-ed, the WP attacked Democrats for criticizing Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” moment:
Their real gripe with Mr. Bush is that he looked great; the president pulled off his “Top Gun” act as much as Michael Dukakis flubbed his spin in a tank.
No wonder the WP chose not to highlight this piece as well.
I think this element of Paul Krugman’s grudging willingness to give Barack Obama credit on the gas tax issue deserves a response:
Just to be clear: I don’t regard this as a major issue. It’s a one-time thing, not a matter of principle, especially because everyone knows the gas-tax holiday isn’t actually going to happen. Health care reform, on the other hand, could happen, and is very much a long-term issue—so poisoning the well by in effect running against universality, as Obama has, is a much more serious breach.
I think that’s wildly off-base. It’s true that the health care plan Obama is attacking is, in fact, better than the plan he’s proposing. But Obama’s health care plan would, in fact, improve the situation. He’s making the good the enemy of the better, which isn’t admirable but it’s not the worst thing in the world. Clinton is, by contrast, proposing to make things worse which isn’t at all what you want to see your presidential candidates proposing. What’s more, as Brad Plumer says this is hardly a “short-term” issue — is Clinton really going to implement a cap-and-trade program if she thinks the correct policy response to rising gasoline prices is tax cuts? There’s a big problem here.
In 2003, McCain Claimed ‘Mission Accomplished’ In Iraq, Now Claims ‘I Thought It Was Wrong At The Time’
Speaking in Cleveland earlier today, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) defended President Bush, saying he should not be held responsible for the “Mission Accomplished” banner that was visible aboard the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln when Bush declared that “major combat operations in Iraq have ended” on May 1, 2003:
“Do I blame him for that specific banner? I can’t,” McCain said. “But I do say that statements are made, ‘a few dead-enders,’ ‘last throes,’ those are, as opposed to the banner, direct statements which were contradicted by the facts on the ground.”
McCain then said of the banner: “I thought it was wrong at the time.” But while the White House has actually acknowledged making an error, McCain himself used the term “mission accomplished” when talking about the Iraq war on at least two occasions in 2003:
– “Their morale could not be higher. This is a mission accomplished. They know how much influence Saddam Hussein had on the Iraqi people, how much more difficult it made to get their cooperation.” [This Week, ABC, 12/14/03]
– During an appearance on Fox News, host Neil Cavuto said, “many argue the conflict isn’t over.” McCain answered, “Well, then why was there a banner that said mission accomplished on the aircraft carrier? Look, the — I have said a long time that reconstruction of Iraq would be a long, long, difficult process, but the conflict — the major conflict is over, the regime change has been accomplished.” [FOX, Your World With Neil Cavuto, 6/11/03]
Because McCain is running for president while an unpopular war –- which he supports — is raging in Iraq, it seems he must both defend Bush on “mission accomplished” and, at same time, distance himself from it. But despite McCain’s similar rhetoric on the war “at the time,” Washington Post reporter Michael Abramowitz seemed happy to help McCain in his effort during a “Post Politics Hour” web chat today on washingtonpost.com:
ABRAMOWITZ: I think McCain will certainly be attacked over the war during the campaign but I doubt that he will be blamed for “Mission Accomplished” because he was always more sober than than the White House about progress in Iraq.
Here are some of McCain’s past assessments of the Iraq war that, according to Abramowitz, have been “more sober” than Bush’s:
– “I believe that this conflict is still going to be relatively short.” [NBC, 3/30/03]
–- “It’s clear that the end is very much in sight.” [ABC, 4/9/03]
–- “I think the situation on the ground is going to improve,” he says. “I do think that progress is being made in a lot of Iraq. Overall, I think a year from now, we will have made a fair amount of progress if we stay the course. If I thought we weren’t making progress, I’d be despondent.” [The Hill, 12/8/05]
Someday the media will realize that a McCain presidency will actually be a “third Bush term.”
On May 22, 2003, McCain proclaimed “massive victory” in Iraq.
The Chicago Tribune reports that the Bush administration has forced Mary Gade — the EPA’s regulator for the Midwest — to resign today, “after months of internal bickering about dioxin contamination downstream from Dow Chemical’s world headquarters in Michigan.” In January, the Tribune says, “Dow officials urged officials at the EPA’s headquarters to intervene” and oust Gade; she said that EPA officials, including EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson, “repeatedly questioned her aggressive action against Dow.” The EPA forced Wade out despite giving her glowing reviews in the past:
Gade, who led the Illinois EPA under Republican Gov. Jim Edgar, previously had earned high marks from Bush administration officials and won praise from environmental groups that often are at odds with the federal agency. … When Johnson announced that the president had appointed Gade to the regional job in Chicago, he touted her “impressive environmental career” that began at the agency two decades earlier.
The Wonk Room’s Brad Johnson notes that Gade’s ouster resembles the U.S. attorney scandal: “It seems the EPA is following the Department of Justice’s efforts to rid itself of staffers who are not ‘loyal Bushies.’”
The Wonk Room has previously described Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Stephen L. Johnson as “the environment’s Alberto Gonzales.” After years of scandal as White House Counsel and Attorney General, Gonzales finally resigned after it was revealed that numerous U.S. attorneys were fired without cause under his watch.
Now it seems the EPA is following the Department of Justice’s efforts to rid itself of staffers who are not “loyal Bushies.”
The Bush administration forced its top environmental regulator in the Midwest to quit Thursday after months of internal bickering about dioxin contamination downstream from Dow Chemical’s world headquarters in Michigan.
In an interview with the Tribune, Mary Gade said two top political appointees at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency headquarters in Washington stripped her of her powers as regional administrator and told her to quit or be fired by June 1.
For the past year, Gade has been locked in a heated dispute with Dow about long-delayed plans to clean up dioxin-saturated soil and sediment that extends 50 miles beyond its Midland, Mich., plant into Saginaw Bay and Lake Huron. [. . .]
Though regional EPA administrators typically have wide latitude to enforce environmental laws, Gade drew fire from officials in Washington last month after she sent contractors to test soil in a Saginaw neighborhood where Dow had found high dioxin levels.
She said top lieutenants to Stephen Johnson, the national EPA administrator, repeatedly questioned her aggressive action against Dow, which long ago acknowledged it is responsible for the dioxin contamination but has resisted federal and state involvement in cleanup plans.
Gade told the Chicago Tribune, “There’s no question this is about Dow.” When Johnson appointed Gade to her position in 2006, he praised “her impressive environmental career,” saying, “Mary is well-prepared to lead the Agency’s largest regional office.”
UPDATE: In 2000, Mary Gade wrote optimistically about environmental policy in a Bush administration:
To the question of politics — or, I hope, the lack thereof. A successful twenty-first-century environmental policy will require a leader who can reach across partisan lines and bridge political differences on what should be the ultimate nonpartisan issue. It also will require a President who recognizes that environmental issues don’t respect national borders and who can credibly address these complex issues on the international stage. I confess, I’m a Republican and a supporter of Texas Governor George W. Bush. I believe Governor Bush in two terms has put together a stronger bipartisan record on conservation and the environment than Al Gore has in twenty-plus years in Washington, D.C., precisely because Bush puts action and results above talk and posture.
UPDATE II: Via Daily Kos user LakeSuperior, Michigan Environmental Council President Lana Pollack calls Mary Gade “woman of unquestioned credentials and integrity who was doing her job enforcing our environmental laws”:
If Mary Gade were indeed forced out because she was willing to enforce environmental laws against Dow Chemical, then it is a travesty.