Posts Tagged ‘Bush Administration’


Read this blog post by James Fallows over at The Atlantic. Fascinating and sobering in terms of what it means for the present state of governance in the country and what it could mean for the future.

This story in the Washington Post is unbelievable. If this had happened in the private sector, people would have been fired immediately.

This exchange really captures the severity of it all:

“Isn’t that a terrible way to look after the taxpayers’ money and to make purchases anywhere?” Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.), ranking member on the Senate Banking Committee, said at a hearing on oversight of the bailout.

Warren replied, “Senator, Treasury simply did not do what it said it was doing.”

“In other words, they misled the Congress, did they not?” said a visibly flustered Shelby.

When a Republican senator is openly accusing the Bush Treasury Department of misleading Congress, you know it’s bad.

As the Bush administration winds down, Democrats and historians are concerned about what information (documents, emails, etc.) might be deleted, destroyed, or withheld before they leave office. ProPublica’s Kristin Jones has this brief review of which documents are and are not protected from destruction by the Presidential Records Act of 1978.

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I have not yet seen Oliver Stone’s recent biopic of the 43rd president, but I recommend reading this discussion about the movie and the Bush presidency between Stone and journalists Ron Suskind, Jacob Weisberg, Bob Woodward, and Michael Isikoff.

The New America Foundation will be hosting a discussion on the Cheney vice presidency on December 2. Participants will include Bart Gellman, author of the Cheney VP biography (which I highly recommend), Steve Coll of The New Yorker and Steve Clemons of The Washington Note.

If you’re in the DC area, I would recommend going to this.

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The Washington Post has this writeup of some of the immediate executive branch policy changes being looked at by the new administration.

Transition advisers to President-elect Barack Obama have compiled a list of about 200 Bush administration actions and executive orders that could be swiftly undone to reverse White House policies on climate change, stem cell research, reproductive rights and other issues, according to congressional Democrats, campaign aides and experts working with the transition team.

A team of four dozen advisers, working for months in virtual solitude, set out to identify regulatory and policy changes Obama could implement soon after his inauguration. The team is now consulting with liberal advocacy groups, Capitol Hill staffers and potential agency chiefs to prioritize those they regard as the most onerous or ideologically offensive, said a top transition official who was not permitted to speak on the record about the inner workings of the transition.

In some instances, Obama would be quickly delivering on promises he made during his two-year campaign, while in others he would be embracing Clinton-era policies upended by President Bush during his eight years in office.

“The kind of regulations they are looking at” are those imposed by Bush for “overtly political” reasons, in pursuit of what Democrats say was a partisan Republican agenda, said Dan Mendelson, a former associate administrator for health in the Clinton administration’s Office of Management and Budget. The list of executive orders targeted by Obama’s team could well get longer in the coming days, as Bush’s appointees rush to enact a number of last-minute policies in an effort to extend his legacy.

538 The total number of votes in the Electoral College.

270 The number of votes in the Electoral College needed to win the White House.

72 – John McCain’s age. If elected, he would be the oldest first term president in American history.

65 – Joe Biden’s age.

47 – Barack Obama’s age.

44 – Sarah Palin’s age.

9The number of candidates who ran for the Democratic presidential nomination.

11 The number of candidates who ran for the Republican presidential nomination.

43 The number of men who have been President of the United States.

46 The number of men who have been Vice President of the United States.

14 The number of vice presidents who have become president.

0 – The number of women and African Americans who have been President or Vice President of the United States.

41 The number of states that lost jobs during the month of September.

11 The percentage of people who think the country is going in the right direction, according to a recent poll by CBS News and the New York Times.

15The approval rating of Congress in a recent poll by CBS News and the New York Times.

22 President George W. Bush’s approval rating in recent poll by CBS News and the New York Times.

435 The number of members in the House of Representatives. All of them are up for re-election.

34 The number of senators up for re-election.

60 The number of senators necessary to break a filibuster.

9 The number of Senate seats Democrats need to win on Election Day to reach a 60-seat filibuster-proof supermajority.

150,000The amount of money the Republican National Committee spent on shopping for clothes for Sarah Palin and her family after she was chosen to be John McCain’s running mate.

150,000,000The record amount of money the Obama campaign raised during the month of September.

134,000,000The amount of money the Obama campaign had at its disposal to spend during the final month of the election.

640,000,000The amount of money raised by the Obama campaign.

360,000,000The amount of money raised by the McCain campaign.

84,000,000The amount of money from public financing John McCain could spend during the last two months of the campaign after securing his party’s presidential nomination.

4,191The number of U.S. military casualties killed in Iraq since 2003.

554The number of U.S. military casualties killed in Afghanistan since 2001.

537 The number of votes that decided who won Florida and the 2000 presidential election.

123,535,883The number of people who voted in the 2004 presidential election.

19,549,291The number of ballots cast during early voting in the 2008 election.

Note: All statistics are updated as of Friday, October 31.

I recently finished reading “Meltdown: The Inside Story of the North Korean Nuclear Crisis” by former CNN correspondent Mike Chinoy. Before I go any further with this, I should note in the interest of full disclosure that Mike was a teacher of mine at USC, and that I transcribed several interviews and contributed some research for this book.

It’s an excellent read, although the nuances of nuclear proliferation policy may be a bit complicated for a person unfamiliar with the issues surrounding America’s complicated relationship with North Korea. Mike does a good job documenting some of the behind-the-scenes power struggles within the Bush administration. There’s enough duplicity and backstabbing going on to rival any reality TV show, only that there are real world consequences as a result.

The major characters in this book – secretaries of State Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, nonproliferation chief John Bolton, North Korea negotiator Christopher Hill, and others – come across as dedicated public servants regardless of their position on the ideological and diplomatic spectrum in handling the North Korea issue, even when they are at each others’ throats.

Mike also does a good job at analyzing the M.O. of the North Koreans, parsing through the public and private statements of government officials as well as the official reports from the North Korean news agency to put developments and events into context, and how these comments often foretold of positive or negative developments in the U.S.-North Korea relationship. It’s easy and tempting to try and dismiss the North Koreans for their behavior, and wonder about how accurate the caricature of Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s Kim Jong Il really is (I’ve been guilty of that), but they certainly do not come across this way in the book.

If there is such a thing as being able to figure out what makes North Korea and Dear Leader tick, Mike is probably pretty close to it. He once said to me words to the effect that Kim Jong Il was as rational as a person could be in an irrational environment. Some of the words and actions of the North Korean government do seem irrational, and even childish at times. Their nuclear test in October of 2006 was neither of these, but rather something akin to Glenn Close’s famous line in the movie Fatal Attraction: “I’m not gonna be ignored.”

There are no bombshells in this book like George Tenet’s infamous slam dunk comment, but Washington Post diplomatic correspondent Glenn Kessler reviewed Meltdown and has a far better understanding of the news value and significance of what Mike uncovered in the course of his reporting for this book.

Regardless of who wins the election next week, the next president will have to figure out how to continue dealing with North Korea and make sure that the relationship does not deteriorate the way it did during the past eight years.

The New Yorker’s George Packer has written a brutal analysis of the past, present and future of the conservative movement over the last 40 years.

The Guardian wrote a profile on legendary investigative reporter Seymour Hersh. Yes, he does have a well-documented record of being a Bush-hating liberal who can get a little over the top with his rhetoric. But the Guardian buried the lead in their story.

‘You cannot believe how many people have told me to call them on 20 January [the date of the next president’s inauguration],’ he says, with relish. ‘[They say:] “You wanna know about abuses and violations? Call me then.” So that is what I’ll do, so long as nothing awful happens before the inauguration.’

Memo to investigative reporters everywhere: Have your rolodexes updated and ready to work the phones on Inauguration Day.