Alberto Gonzales Wrap-up

It appears that there's been an agreement precluding recess appointments, so we can relax a bit about replacing the AG. Here's a wonderful rundown of the Gonzales moments of shame, but they don't even really hit on the numerous instances of perjury committed by the "nation's top cop," since those don't lend themselves to pithy video. Josh Marshall from Talking Points Media deserves almost complete credit for Gonzales' resignation, as the 8 fired US Attorneys would have never been a story without him.

In that video, our Attorney General refuses to give congressional testimony about the Hospital visit without giving a legal reasoning for refusal. He's physically in the seat, but he's still in flagrant contempt - you can fail to recall something or cite privilege, but you're not allowed to simply refuse to answer. Also, in questioning by the Republican Arlen Specter, Alberto's childish responses are so deserving of ridicule that he's openly laughed at by the Republican staffers.

Despite the absolute beating taken by this man, I'm still surprised he was allowed to resign. The Democrats should be able to insure an independent replacement, and that can only mean trouble for an Administration with such demonstrated contempt for the rule of law and the strictures of our Constitution.



Romney and the Straw Poll

It looks like Romney is still on course to win Iowa, with his meager victory in their straw poll last weekend. If he can maintain the lead in Iowa, he'll also win in his neighbor New Hampshire, and the nomination will be his. With the momentum created by winning the compressed schedule, I think we'll get a stampede to a nominee just as we did last cycle.

The one detraction is the fact that, despite spending millions, he still wasn't able to break 1/3 of the vote. Governor Huckabee, who I thought had the best chance of taking the traditional Republican vote (being an ordained minister), finished second with 18%, and apparently only spent around $100,000.

Of course, neither McCain, Giuliani, or Thompson showed up, so the whole affair's relevance is called into question.


Petreaus Report? Not so Much.

We all knew the Petreaus report would reflect exactly what the White House wanted - enough progress to justify our continued presence. "Duh," one might say to that towering insight. The White House only refers to Petreaus over and over again because they know they have no credibility of their own left. They have to trade on this military genius' reputation because their own is so irredeemably sullied.

The LA Times has the scoop:
Despite Bush's repeated statements that the report will reflect evaluations by Petraeus and Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, administration officials said it would actually be written by the White House, with inputs from officials throughout the government.
Petreaus report? More like a White House Report that will be read aloud by someone who doesn't have a record of lying to the American people about Iraq since 2002.

IEDs and EFPs Are Easy to Make

Over and over we've heard about the "high degree of sophistication" required to manufacture Explosively Formed Projectiles/Penetrators (EFPs), the most effective weapon used against our troops in Iraq. The weapon does exactly what the name implies - rather than using the force of the explosion to kill, that explosive power is used to form a plate of heavy metal into a supersonic molten slug capable of burrowing through inches of armor. You can see a picture of an un-exploded version here.

The video below isn't the best footage for showing the projectile streaking to target, but you can see it fly up at about a 45 degree angle to the right. The projectile provides a standoff distance of up to 80 meters, making hiding the weapons much easier for the insurgents. They no longer need to set off a gigantic bomb right under one of our tanks to destroy it and kill our men.

The Bush Administration says that because of the "high degree of sophistication" required to manufacture these weapons, they must be supplied by Iran, and therefore Iran is materially participating in the killing of American soldiers. That sounds like an act of war to me.

Needless to say, I have been skeptical about the Bush Administration line on these weapons. This war boosting rhetoric seems oddly familiar. The AP gets the facts on the ground, and guess what? I was right.
The Brits and the Americans now have fancy forensic facilities, like the CSI labs on TV, to trace bombmakers. But Lamburne, who has inspected hundreds of devices, notes that the insurgents don't try all that hard to cover their tracks. About one in five leaves behind fingerprints. "It's not ignorance," he says. "They just don't care. They may believe they're going to die fighting anyway."

How do you defeat a foe who can destroy million-dollar machines with devices that can be built off the Internet for about the cost of a pizza, especially if that foe doesn't particularly worry about dying? When the insurgency began, there were about five "master bombmakers" in Baghdad, each with a recognizable style. Their model was the roadside bombs that were used in Lebanon almost 20 years earlier by the Iranian-backed group Hizbullah. Primitive versions used rudimentary triggers—sometimes just a car battery and a long wire.

Today's IED makers have inexpensive gadgets like garage-door openers and disposable phones to detonate their bombs...And thanks to the ubiquitous videos of IED attacks shot by insurgents and put up on YouTube, they will be credited with driving us out of the country whenever we do leave...

In 2005, the teams emplacing IEDs were being paid $100 for each successful blast. Now in central Iraq the payoff is sometimes as low as $40.
Can we please not go to war with Iran over another pack of lies? Iran is a deterable enemy, who is no threat to America.



YKos: Hilary Evades the Nail

I was late to the convention this morning because somehow my pass was not with me, so I had to run back home and catch the next train. I came into Clinton's session late, so I wasn't able to strategically position myself, dooming my chance to ask a question. Luckily, two of the five questions she took were about the issues of tyranny I wanted to raise... of course, they weren't as biting as mine. But she answered them perfectly.

Clinton is a very interesting candidate. She really is pitch-perfect. Despite the fact that she's already clearly running a general campaign (see Iraq War), she still gets on famously with this activist slice of the Democratic Party.

I'm at the Presidential Candidate's Forum right now, and even here, poor Senator Gravel doesn't get any questions. He's looking pissed-off over there. Edwards is tearing it up... he's really quite impressive as well. I've never been a big fan of Edwards. I don't know what exactly he lacks, so I've always just called it Voltage. Well, he's got it today. Hairs are standing on end here. Neat.

Maybe it's just that all of these people are better in person. Except Richardson.


YKos: Nailing Hilary

I'm primed for tomorrow. I got the very last Hilary Clinton pass this afternoon, right after it was confirmed that Hilary is, in fact, going to be here. I know what room she'll be in, and I'm going to camp the tables next to the microphones. So help me, my voice will be heard:
I opposed this war because I knew Saddam's decades-old WMDs were useless, because there was no articulated plan for the post-war, because the ethnic tensions in Iraq could spark into civil war, and because you cannot decrease terrorism by inflicting "collateral damage" on hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians. I knew these things before the war. Did you?
I think that's a pretty good question... especially when you've got Mr. Sound-Judgement Obama in the race. But then again, I am at YearlyKos, so the Iraq War will probably be well covered. How about:
Madison, one of the most conservative of our Founding Fathers, defined tyranny as the combination of executive, legislative, and judicial power in one man or office. By asserting his right to break the law by spying on Americans, and by suspending Habeas Corpus, Bush fulfills that definition. When you're President, will you repudiate Bush's precedent and return us to Constitutional rule, or will I have to call for your impeachment as well?
Maybe that would be a better use of this singular opportunity.

Blogging and Mainstream Media Panel

The Politico's Mike Allen - a new big-time muckety-muck constantly appearing on TV (and flaking continuously for Drudge) - is on a YearlyKos panel with my favorite, Glenn Greenwald. If you read Greenwald, you know that... well, let's just say that Greenwald is not Allen's biggest fan. He's written at least a half-dozen articles about the incredibly hollow and stenographic journalism that The Politico practices, with Allen as it's chief target.

Allen spoke first, and just buttered up Greenwald like crazy. At one point he essentially made the case that Glenn deserves a Pulitzer for his work with Alberto Gonzales' perjury! We're about two minutes from Greenwald's first at bat, and I somehow doubt that he'll go easy on poor Mike.

... Yup, he's going at The Politico for Edwards $400 Haircut, amongst many other things. He makes the point that in 2003 70% of Americans wrongly believed that Saddam Hussein had personally ordered the 9/11 attacks, and yet 46% of Americans can correctly identify John Edwards as the candidate with the expensive hair.

Greenwald is brilliant.

Yearly Kos

So, here I am, bathing in the red glow of hatred provided by the Great Orange Satan. I gotta say, from the inside, it doesn't look so hateful. O'Reilly can't be wrong, can he?

On an interesting note, it's amazing how bloggers type. Ezra Klein, sitting with Matthew Yglesias and I for lunch, is madly hunting and pecking with a single, motion-blurred finger. You'd think if you were trying to make this your job, you'd learn how to touch-type.