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Presidential News Conference

Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2007 7:45 AM

I'm watching President Bush's live news conference, in which he has essentially placed S-CHIP on a par with 'Protecting America Act,' funding his gorram war, and the ineffective 'No Child Left Behind' program.

And then, with a smirk on his face, he blames Congress for all of it.

Let's recap, Mr. Bush. Congress did, in fact, send you a completed S-CHIP bill, which you refused to sign.

The Protecting America Act is tainted by news that its passage was encouraged by a trumped-up (and non-existant) terrorist threat against the Capitol, and concerns that the illegal, warrantless wiretapping program promulgated by executive order and carried out by the NSA was, in fact, being set up prior to 9/11 - in the absence of any focus on terrorism.

No Child Left Behind does not actually improve our children's ability to learn. Rooted in the mistaken concept of 'teaching to the test' instead of 'teaching students to think,' the program plays a dangerous game with numbers to create the illusion of competency in core abilities.

Bush again criticized Congress for their resolution about Armenian genocide - not because it was factually incorrect, but because it risks 'antagonizing a democratic ally in the Muslim world.' (Whose airfields remain an important strategic asset for covering Northern Iraq and Iran.)

The Q&A session which follows is laden with folsky hyuk-hyuks and cowboy talk and jokes.

"This ain't my first rodeo," Bush told one reporter whom he accused of trying to catch him with a trick question.

Then, there's this gem:

"Diplomacy only works if there are consequences when diplomacy breaks down," Bush asserted.

Actually, diplomacy only works if you're willing to talk, not this slam-the-door crap you've favored since your installation as president. And focusing on diplomacy-by-threat is called gunboat diplomacy - it's not the foundation for stable relations, but a ready ground for the breeding of resentments.

And it's a laugh riot hearing the King of No Consequences talking about holding anyone responsible for anything.

We go on to the usual blathering about how al-Qaeda is still dangerous, continuing the conflation of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's al-Qaeda in Iraq. That we're fighting them every day (even on the days when we're dismissing them as irrelevant, or when generals are floating trial ballons about 'defeating' AQI).

Bush is also seeing things in Iraq, citing 'political reconciliation at the grass-roots level.' Which we can only imagine refers to the arming of tribal chiefs in Anbar province, which drew sharp criticism from the Iraqi parliament.

Let's not overlook the nonsensical declaration that the Protecting America Act must be enhanced by providing the 'phone companies that allegedly helped us' with 'liability protection.' If they didn't help you, then any proven collection of data would be ... what do they call it? ... oh, yes - a crime.

Bush also motored through a rambling answer to a question about criticisms made by General Ricardo Sanchez that there was a serious failure of competent strategic leadership at a national level by mumbling a bland appreciation for Sanchez' service, that the situation on the ground had changed, and that progress was being made.

In response to a question about what constitutes torture, Bush asserted that the definition of torture rests within American law, and that 'we don't torture,' ignoring the recent revelations about recursive legal opinions and Bush's ironic invocation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights during his recent address before the United Nations General Assembly.

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