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Hullabaloo


Tuesday, September 28, 2004

 
Swimming In The Tank

Media Matters has a run down on debate expectations and clearly, the media have high expectations of George W. Bush in this debate. Across the board they are assuming that he will win with his two-faced, phony folksy ways. After all, they are the ones who decide such things. So, don't get your hopes up for John Kerry to "win" this debate even if he wins it. The press is in the tank.

On the other hand, I have a feeling that undecideds may be looking for more substance this year than robotic, on-message non-sequitors and they might just find the president's slouchy, casual style a little bit disconcerting in a time of serious challenges. It's easy for him to appear in charge and in control when he's all by himself on a stage. But, when you see him next to someone who has command of the issues and looks straight in the camera and challenges his unresponsive bumper sticker mantras, they may just be surprised. Anything's possible.

By the way, has anybody noticed that Bush is sounding a little bit spacey on the stump these last couple of days? Maybe he hasn't been getting enough sleep or enough coffee. His eyes are very puffy. I don't know what it is, but he doesn't seem to be himself. Wierd.







 
Meow

Kitty's Number One

Here's a fun little tid-bit from page 492, just to whet your appetite:


Barbara Bush was more determined than ever to see her daughter re-marry. She believed that only through marriage could Doro and her children find their safest haven. To that end Barbara encouraged Doro to date.

"We spent a weekend up at Camp David with the Bushes....They had two dogs up there at the time and the divorced daughter," recalled one congressional wife. "Barbara told me she was concerned because Doro had dated Representative David Dreier for a year and he never touched her... 'Never laid a hand on her,' said Barbara... I think Doro had better luck when she started dating a democrat."


There's more --- much, much more.

Thanks to Sekmet and Pandora on BCF




 
Pink Slip

Taking Bob Novak at face value (always a dicey proposition) I think we have to conclude that our vaunted resolute, CEO president doesn't listen to anyone and can't manage his way out of a bag of pork rinds.


Paul R. Pillar, the CIA's national intelligence officer for the Near East and South Asia, sat down Tuesday night in a large West Coast city with a select group of private citizens. He was not talking off the cuff. Relying on a multi-paged, single-spaced memorandum, Pillar said he and his colleagues concluded early in the Bush administration that military intervention in Iraq would intensify anti-American hostility throughout Islam. This was not from a CIA retiree but an active senior official. (Pillar, no covert operative, is listed openly in the Federal Staff Directory.)

For President Bush to publicly write off a CIA paper as just guessing is without precedent. For the agency to go semi-public is not only unprecedented but shocking. George Tenet's retirement as director of Central Intelligence removed the buffer between president and agency. As the new DCI, Porter Goss inherits an extraordinarily sensitive situation.


What a good idea it is to re-elect a president who is at war with his own State department and CIA in the middle of a national security crisis. This alleged great leader makes enemies of practically everyone he comes in contact with, particularly those who have expertise and knowledge he desperately needs. Harvard Business School must teach some odd management techniques.

For a man who coasted on his daddy's name until he was fifty four, antagonizing all of America's allies and half the US government is quite an achievement in just three short years. His family must be so proud. Four More Years!




 
Inevitablity Dance

Sunday's Washington Post made me suspect that the Bush campaign really does think things are going poorly right now. Why? Because Republicans are starting to make preposterously overconfident predictions of a Bush landslide.

[...]

It's well-known that Karl Rove believes that swing voters like to vote for the winner. Therefore, one of the central political strategies for Bush has been to create an "aura of inevitability" that, theoretically, will bring people to his side. If everyone believes you're a political juggernaut, the theory goes, then you will become a political juggernaut.

[...]

The worse things get for Bush, the more likely his aides are to declare that he is invincible. The Bushies are starting to sound like Baghdad Bob, trumpeting a decisive victory for Saddam Hussein as the American military zooms into Iraq's capital city. Whenever Bush is in trouble, someone—usually Rove—declares that things are going just swimmingly. The most memorable example of this was Bush's 2000 campaign trip to California to make it look like his election was going to be a walk even though polls showed that the race was a toss-up. Bush also took a day off from campaigning as a sign of confidence in his impending landslide. On Election Day, of course, Al Gore won more votes than Bush did, and eventually Bush won the presidency with only one more electoral vote than he needed to take office.


And, if one were to make the obvious comparison of their political campaign to their military campaign, then we can see this exact same dynamic at work with the war in Iraq. Lots of happy talk about "winning" and "mission accomplished" when the results are anything bit clear.

Let's keep this in mind as we go forward this next month. Whatever they say is happy horseshit spin from here on out. And the news media is unlikely to help out much. On Inside Politics yesterday, wide-eyed Judy Woodruff was extremely confused when Tad Devine pointed out that her poll was stacked with Republicans. The cable press corpse ranks only slightly above undecided voters and FoxNews viewers for sheer ignorance of current events.







Monday, September 27, 2004

 
The Big Fix

Jeffrey Rosen writes in TNR today:

It's November 2, and the presidential election looks close in Ohio. An army of lawyers are dispatched by the Bush and Kerry campaigns to scour all 11,614 precincts in the state for any hint of voting irregularities. Within hours, both sides have filed competing suits in state courts challenging the standards for counting provisional, absentee, and military ballots, as well as for the use of different voting machines. Within days, Laurence Tribe and James Baker are filing petitions to the Supreme Court, arguing that Bush v. Gore--the case that decided the 2000 election--compels the justices to intervene. The justices, who once confidently predicted that Bush v. Gore would have no effect on future elections, are horrified. Even the Bush v. Gore dissenters are shocked at the mess the decision has created. After all, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg called Bush v. Gore a "one-of-a-kind case" as recently as February 2003 in a speech to San Diego law students, adding optimistically, "I doubt it will ever be cited as precedent by the court on anything."

[...]


Unfortunately, the hopes that Bush v. Gore would fade from memory like an embarrassing dinner guest have proved to be wildly mistaken. And, if the election is close, the nightmare scenario described above seems all too likely to come to pass. During the four years since Bush v. Gore, the case has emboldened political candidates to file a tangle of litigation challenging election procedures in federal and state races--from the recall of Governor Gray Davis in California to the replacement of Senator Robert Torricelli in New Jersey. Moreover, in response to the legalization of politics that has followed Bush v. Gore, Democratic and Republican legal swat teams have been assembled to challenge the results of the 2004 presidential election if the vote in any state proves close enough to provide the margin of victory in the electoral college. And, even if the presidential election is not close, Bush v. Gore will continue to haunt congressional and local elections in November and beyond. "You could have dozens or even hundreds of cases filed on the Wednesday morning after the election," says Jack Goldsmith of Harvard Law School. "Given the litigation opportunities in Bush v. Gore, you could have real, real uncertainty for many weeks and months, not only about national elections but about local elections. And it's likely to get worse."


If this came from anyone but Rosen I would think it was another of those Greenfield-esque parlor games in which they sit around on CNN for hours at a time in stultifying discussion of bizarre election scenarios that will never happen. But we'd be fools to ignore the fact that Bush vs Gore is a cancer that has the potential to metastisize very rapidly if this election is as close as we expect it to be.

If you haven't had a chance to read the fascinating in-depth article in Vanity Fair this month about the Florida debacle in 2000, here are the (pdf) links to it--- Part one and Part two. It opens with a conversation between two of the Supreme court clerks who seem to have had the exact same opinion that I forcefully espoused at a dinner party during the recount drama (as I imagine many others did throughout the country.)

Shortly after the presidential vote in November 2000, two law clerks at the United States Supreme Court were joking about the photo finish in Florida. Wouldn't it be funny, one mused, if the matter landed before them? And how, if it did, the Court would split five to four, as it so often did in big cases, with the conservative majority installing George W. Bush in the White House? The two just laughed. It all seemed too preposterous. Sure, friends and relatives predicted that the case would eventually land in their laps, but that was ignorant, naïve talk -- typical of people without sophisticated legal backgrounds.

A majority of the justices were conservatives, but they weren't partisan; mindful of the Court's fragile authority, the justices had always steered clear of messy political spats. Moreover, the very jurists who'd normally side with Bush were the ones most solicitous of states' rights, most deferential to state courts, most devoted to the Constitution's "original intent" and the Founding Fathers had specifically provided that the Congress, not the judiciary, would resolve close elections. To top it off, the Court rarely took cases before they were ripe, and the political process in Florida was still unfolding. "It was just inconceivable to us that the Court would want to lose its credibility in such a patently political way," one of the clerks recalls. "That would be the end of the Court."


Boy, was I ever wrong. And as you read the article the sheer partisan nature of the court's involvement becomes even more obvious than we have previously known. The article goes on to show how Anthony Kennedy, widely considered dumb as a post and obsessed with his own grandeur, had been staffed by the right wing with a cadre of federalist society Hitler Youth who "guided" him the partisan direction Big Tony and the Chief wanted him to go. (Our gal Sandy, it turns out, was in the tank from the get-go.)


The Bush's petition for certiorari - that is, for the Court to take the case?went initially to Justice Anthony Kennedy, whose task it was to consider all emergency motions from Florida, Georgia, and Alabama. For Kennedy, then 64, a man known to relish the pomp and circumstance of the Supreme Court and his own, often crucial role in close cases, weighing such a momentous matter must have been glorious indeed. Batting aside a Thanksgiving Day plea from the Gore campaign to pass on the case, Kennedy urged his colleagues to take it on, suggesting that the Court was absolutely the essential arbiter of such weighty matters. He conceded, though, that Bush faced an uphill struggle on the law. When Kennedy's memo circulated, one flabbergasted clerk had to track down Justice John Paul Stevens on the golf course in Florida and read it to him over the phone. Under the Court's rules, Kennedy needed only three votes beside his own for the Court to hear the matter. Quickly, the four others who make up the Court's conservative block signed on: Chief Justice William Rehnquist, along with Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Sandra Day O'Connor.

[...]


As was customary, the Court did not detail how many justices had voted to hear the case, or who they were, and Gore's lawyers didn't really want to know. At that point, they felt a certain faith in the institution and in the law: it was inconceivable to them that the court would intercede, much less decide the presidency by a vote of five to four.


As you continue through this article you see that this was the problem for the Democrats throughout the recount period. It wasn't cowardice, it was a naive faith in the rule of law. It was the last vestige of true, internalized belief that the American legal system was immune from naked, opportunistic partisanship.


Desperate for legal advice, Klain reached out to prominent firms in the capital of Tallahassee. He found little help. "All the establishment firms knew they couldn't
cross Governor Bush and do business in Florida," recalls Klain. And so he improvised,
pulling together a team headed by former secretary of state Warren Christopher, now a Los Angeles-based lawyer in private practice. Christopher, Gore felt,would imbue the team with an image of decorous, law-abiding, above-the-fray respectability.

[...]

Unlike Christopher and company, Baker spoke to the press loudly and often, and his message was Bush had won on November 7. Any further inspection would result only in "mischief." Privately, however, he knew that at the start he was on shaky political ground. "We're getting killed on "count all the votes," he told his team. "Who the hell could be against that?"

Baker saw his chance that Thursday, November 9, when the Gore team made a formal request for a manual recount in four counties: Volusia, Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade. Asking for a recount in these large, Democrat-dominated counties left the Gore team fatally vulnerable to the charge that they wanted not all votes counted, as Gore kept claiming in his stentorian tones, but only all Gore votes. Yet the Bush team knew full well that Gore could not have asked for a statewide recount, because there was no provision for it in Florida law. A losing candidate had 72 hours to request a manual recount on a county-by-county basis or wait until the election was certifed to pursue a statewide recount. The requests had to be based on perceived errors, not just the candidate's wish to see recounts done. Certainly, Gore chose counties that seemed likely to yield Gore votes. But he chose them because that's where the problems were.

Proper as this was by Florida election law, the Democrats?strategy gave Baker the sound bite he'd been seeking: Gore was just cherrypicking Democratic strongholds. It was a charge the Bush team wielded to devastating effect in the media, stunning the Gore team, which thought its strategy would be viewed as modest and fair.


Foolishly, Gore thought that being modest and fair still meant something. He was not prepared for a streetfight. And, looking back I realize that I wasn't either. Like a green youth I didn't believe they'd actually go that far. Even after the impeachment sideshow, an event that solidified my belief in the lethal, fascistic nature of the modern Republican party, I was not fully prepared for the no holds barred approach they would take in this situation.

It is what led me to the point at which I am able to say without any sense of restraint or caution that I would put NOTHING past them --- even a staged terrorist attack. This is because every time I think they have some limits, they prove me wrong. As the old saying goes, fool me once shame on you, fool me twice...won't get fooled again....

Gore and his team knew that the Republicans would fight with everything they had, but they still maintained some faith in the legal system to require basic fairness in something this important. And, even the most cynical of us thought that the egos of the Supreme Court justices would never allow them to make a purely partisan decision because history would remember them as whores.

If I had any political idealism left it died on the day that Antonin Scalia stopped judges from counting votes in Florida.

This article shows that fix was in from the beginning. Had Gore audaciously requested a statewide recount he would have been accused of not following the strict laws that required him to show problems in each precinct. It was always headed to the Supremes and once they took the case, the interviews with the Supreme court clerks show that there was never any question about who would win. It was always a decision in search of a rationale.

If Jeffrey Rosen is correct and dozens of lawsuits await filing in close races out there, all based on this ill-considered opinion, then we are likely to see a repeat. After all, the same five vote majority still sits on the court today. And like all the others who voted for this irresponsible, unqualified, incompetent boob in 2000, they are not likely to admit their mistake and vote otherwise this time out.

This time, we must operate on that assumption and prepare for a knife fight --- in the courts and in the realm of public opinion. There are no rules other than winning.

I urge you to read the entire article. There is much more about the disenfranchisement of the black community and the shocking actions they've taken since then to supposedly update the voting system. (Kevin Drum has more on this latest.) With fine fellows like "Buckhead" working on the wing nut Voter Integrity Project, and Ashcrofts new intimidation tactics, this election could be very, very ugly.

Update: Via Suburban Guerilla, here is more on the suppression of black voters Jeb has planned for 2004.







 
The Billionaires Are In The House!

I love these guys...




 
Now We're Talking Some Real $$$

If you have the nerve, it's now worth more than $8,000 to ask the Preznit One Simple Question




 
He's Simple


One of my readers, who works at the UN, noticed something unique about George W. Bush's speech last week.

Evidently, the official UN transcript is the exact speech that Bush read off the teleprompter. My reader says that nobody who works there can ever remember a leader having to have words phonetically spelled out before, as it is here (pdf):


In the last year alone, terrorists have attacked police stations, and banks, and commuter trains, and synagogues ... and a school filled with children. This month in Beslan [bez-LAN] we saw, once again, how the terrorists measure their success in the death of the innocent, and in the pain of grieving families. Svetlana Dzebisov [day-BEES-off] was held hostage along with her son and her nephew and her nephew did not survive.


This is the best the so-called greatest nation on earth can do?




 
Embolden This




Matthew Yglesias makes an interesting observation about this new charge of "emboldening" the enemy by criticising the war in Iraq. As he notes:

Does anyone really believe, after all, that our enemies currently lack for boldness of all things? One can say accurately various nasty things about Osama, his hardened core of terrorists-cum-special-forces, his more conventional guerilla fighters, Zarqawi, al-Sadr, their followers, etc., but one thing they certainly aren't is some kind of chickenshit force that would be really scary if only they got bolder.

[...]

The notion that the USA could possibly impress these guys with grand displays of machismo is silly. The bad guys here are hard core and that's just the way it is. A strategy to beat them has to be smart and has to use the many advantages America really does have. Worrying about the other side's boldness isn't going to get us anywhere.


And anyway, doesn't it seem a bit, well...girlie-manish...for our swaggering Crusdader Codpiece to be tremulously waving his hands and shushing his opponents because it might make the nasty terrorists even bolder than they already are? Surely, superheroes such as he are much too strong and manly to care whether the bad guys are emboldened by talk of any kind. Real men say "bring it on," right?

Clearly, people who are willing to blow themselves up aren't suffering from a lack of physical courage. That is not the problem. Indeed, until we create a corps of suicide bombers they have the advantage in willing human cannon fodder material. Our military superiority isn't supposed to be our "courage" and "boldness" it is our international leadership, advanced technology and smart strategy, none of which Junior has employed worth a busted fuck.

This has been part of the fallacy driving Junior's misbegotten strategy from day one. While it's obvious that a fair amount of his ridiculous Hopalong Cassidy bullshit was calculated to thrill the rubes here at home, there is ample evidence that many of the starry-eyed neocons truly believed that a thrilling show of Big American Power would snap some of those Ay-rabs out of their little dreamworld and bring them around right quick to the knowledge that they can never win against us, the Ubermenschen.

As Richard Perle memorably said back in October of 2001:

Having destroyed the Taliban, having destroyed Saddam's regime, the message to the others is, "You're next." Two words. Very efficient diplomacy. " You're next, and if you don't shut down the terrorist networks on your territory, we'll take you down, too. Is it worth it?" Of course it isn't worth it. It isn't worth it for any of them.


You can almost smell the testosterone, can't you? These guys really believed this Neverneverland nonsense. I'm afraid our Boy King still does.

He's just being his typical two-faced self bellowing "bring 'em on" one day and then falling over with the vapors the next because Kerry's words might make the badguys mad. Nothing new there.




Sunday, September 26, 2004

 
You can't build alliances if you criticize the efforts of those who are working side by side with you.




The President:

President Musharraf is a friend of our country, who helped us capture Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the operational planner behind the 9/11 attacks. Today, because we are working with Pakistani leaders, Pakistan is an ally in the war on terror, and the American people are safer.



The Ally

ZAHN: Is the world a safer place because of the war in Iraq?

MUSHARRAF: No. It's more dangerous. It's not safer, certainly not.

ZAHN: How so?

MUSHARRAF: Well, because it has aroused actions of the Muslims more. It's aroused certain sentiments of the Muslim world, and then the responses, the latest phenomena of explosives, more frequent for bombs and suicide bombings. This phenomenon is extremely dangerous.

ZAHN: Was it a mistake to have gone to war with Iraq?

MUSHARRAF: Well, I would say that it has ended up bringing more trouble to the world....

ZAHN: Has that happened in Iraq?

MUSHARRAF: Well, there are difficulties. One can't predict. Maybe the difficulties are surmounted and then it ends up with a victory, with a success. But, at the moment, we are bogged down, yes, yes indeed....

ZAHN: Do you think that the war in Iraq has undermined the overall war on terror?

MUSHARRAF: It has complicated it, certainly. I wouldn't say undermined. It has further complicated it. It has made the job more difficult.



The Vice President:

America does not create terrorists. But under President Bush, we will defeat them. (Applause.) And we will defeat them where they live and plot and plan so that we do not have to fight them on the streets of our own cities. (Applause.)


Senator Kerry

The invasion of Iraq was a profound diversion from the battle against our greatest enemy, al-Qaida, there's just no question about it. The president's misjudgment, miscalculation and mismanagement of the war in Iraq all make the war on terror harder to win.


Uh Oh.

This is the kind of thing that gives Lil' Crusader Codpiece a headache and makes him want to drink some choco-milk, eat a PB&J, grab his favorite pilly and go to bed early.




 
Do You Believe In Fairies?

I didn't have a chance to see Bush's speech before the UN last week but I recorded it so I could watch it this week-end. It May have been a litle bit optimistic, but for the life of me I can't figure out why John Kerry keeps saying Junior is living in fantasyland:

Here's a transcript:

Terrorists and their allies believe the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the American Bill of Rights and every charter of liberty ever written are lies to be burned and destroyed and forgotten.

They believe that suicide and torture and murder are fully justified to serve any goal they declare. And they act on their beliefs.

We're determined to destroy terror networks wherever they operate, and the United States is grateful to every nation that is helping to seize terrorist assets, track down their operatives and disrupt their plans.

Defending our ideals is vital, but it is not enough. Our broader mission as U.N. members is to apply these ideals to the great issues of our time.

Our wider goal is to promote hope and progress as the alternatives to hatred and violence. Our great purpose is to build a better world beyond the war on terror.

Because, it's a world of laughter, a world of tears, it's a world of hopes and a world of fears. There's so much that we share, it is time we're aware. It's a small small world.

It's a small world after all, it's a small world after all. There's so much that we share. It is time we're aware. It's a small small world.

There is just one moon and a golden sun. And a smile means friendship to everyone,
Though the mountains divide,and the oceans are wide, it's a small small world.

It's a small world after all, it's a small world after all. There's so much that we share,it is time we're aware it's a small small world.

It's a small world after all, it's a small world after all.It's a small world after all, it's a small world after all.It's a small world after all, it's a small world after all.It's a small world after all, it's a small world after all.It's a small world after all, it's a small world after all.It's a small world after all, it's a small world after all.It's a small world after all, it's a small world after all.It's a small world after all, it's a small world after all.It's a small world after all, it's a small world after all.It's a small world after all, it's a small world after all.It's a small world after all, it's a small world after all.It's a small world after all, it's a small world after all.It's a small world after all, it's a small world after all.It's a small world after all, it's a small world after all.It's a small world after all, it's a small world after all.It's a small world after all, it's a small world after all.It's a small world after all, it's a small world after all.It's a small world after all, it's a small world after all.


That John Kerry is just a big ole meanie pessimist! If you're happy and you know it clap your hands!







 
Do Something

All of you Democrats out there who are just aching to do something tangible to get Kerry elected, ACT is the place to go.

If you live in or near a swing state, volunteer on the ground. If you don't, there are programs in place (travelling where you're needed, writing letters, calling with your week-end minutes, etc) to help get newly registered voters to the polls.

And, apparently, there are a bunch of them:

A sweeping voter registration campaign in heavily Democratic areas has added tens of thousands of new voters to the rolls in the swing states of Ohio and Florida, a surge that has far exceeded the efforts of Republicans in both states, a review of registration data shows.

The analysis by The New York Times of county-by-county data shows that in Democratic areas of Ohio - primarily low-income and minority neighborhoods - new registrations since January have risen 250 percent over the same period in 2000. In comparison, new registrations have increased just 25 percent in Republican areas. A similar pattern is apparent in Florida: in the strongest Democratic areas, the pace of new registration is 60 percent higher than in 2000, while it has risen just 12 percent in the heaviest Republican areas.

While comparable data could not be obtained for other swing states, similar registration drives have been mounted in them as well, and party officials on both sides say record numbers of new voters are being registered nationwide. This largely hidden but deadly earnest battle is widely believed by campaign professionals and political scientists to be potentially decisive in the presidential election.

"We know it's going on, and it's a very encouraging sign," said Steve Elmendorf, deputy campaign manager for Senator John Kerry, the Democratic presidential nominee. The new voters, Mr. Elmendorf said, "could very much be the difference."

A spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, Christine Iverson, declined to comment on The Times's findings and said she did not believe Republicans were lagging in the registration battle. "We're very confident that we have a ground game that's as good as the Democrats', and better," she said.

The precise impact of the swell in registration is difficult to predict, as there is no reliable gauge of how many of these new voters will actually vote. Some experts, though, say that the spike has not been accurately captured by political polls and could confound prognostications in closely contested states.


This is awfully good news for us, guys. I always knew there were more of us than there were of them. But, the Republicans are all set to cry foul and say that felons and illegal immigrants and dead Democrats stole the election so we have to do this right and that means grassroots involvement on our side to make sure the voting is transparent and everything is out in the open.

This takes a little time and effort, but it's key. The media are determined to help Bush (for reasons I simply cannot fathom) so we just have to win the hard way, one voter at a time.




 
Blog Fever

LA Times, today:

Blogging Sells, and Sells Out by Billmon.

By most accounts, blogs — web logs to the uninitiated — scored a major coup last week when CBS News admitted that it couldn't vouch for the authenticity of memos supposedly written by George W. Bush's commander in the Texas Air National Guard. The conservative bloggers who led the charge against the CBS story were hailed as giant slayers. And yet it's the blogging phenomenon itself that may need the last rites.

That may seem a strange thing to say, given the flattering coverage of blogs triggered by the CBS affair. But the media's infatuation has a distinct odor of the deathbed about it — not for the blogosphere, which has a commercially bright future, but for the idea of blogging as a grass-roots challenge to the increasingly sanitized "content" peddled by the Time Warner-Capital Cities-Disney-General Electric-Viacom-Tribune media oligopoly.


Matt Yglesias said more or less the same thing a month or so ago (I can't be bothered to find the link) only his thinking was that blogs were rapidly devolving into an exclusive forum for professional writers in various specialized fields and the amateur players were fading away into obscurity.

Steve Gilliard, (via Atrios,) believes it's commercial advertising that fuels the blogosphere already.

Meanwhile, The NY Times does a big story on liberal bloggers that apparently has the right blogosphere in a complete tizzy.

Blogging as we know it is dead. Long live blogging.

Update:

I should make it clear that I was in no way beDrudging any blogger's success. I'm thrilled if anyone can make a buck doing this thing. If I got any real traffic on a regular basis, I'd think about doing it myself. And, believe me, on the days when I get one of those links from Atrios or some others, I think about it a lot because my traffic goes through the roof.

It's all about linkage, folks.

The blogosphere is a beehive in which the queenbee bloggers (and I'm not just talking about Sullivan) serve and are served by the rest of the colony. As Atrios points out in the comments, as long as some of the top bloggers continue to link to other blogs, the blogosphere as we know it will continue to thrive. People need hubs and starting points to make their way through all the buzzing and that's what the popular blogs provide.

Commercialization in terms of blogads doesn't have much to do with it so far because the ads don't seem to conflict with the content. That could change, I guess, but I think we are dealing more on a Nation model than Newsweek, anyway. Nobody's going to buy an ad on Kos or Atrios who isn't trying to reach liberals. They know exactly what they are getting into.

In my opinion, if there is any real danger of the old political blogosphere going extinct, I think it's more in what Yglesias describes than strict commercialization. It may be moving toward "professionalization" which is truly a big change. Marshall, Drum, Sullivan, Kaus and The Corner may be the new developing paradigm.

It's not that the blogosphere isn't incredibly enhanced by the presence of those writers, it's that they may develop the habit of only reading and linking to each other which, as Billmon points out, takes it one step closer to the insularity of the mainstream media. In academic fields this is generally a good thing --- consult the experts, talk amongst yourselves, get feedback. But, in politics it's not such a good idea. The blogosphere may not be the best sample of regular folks in the world, but it does consist of some intelligent, well informed citizens outside of the political and media world who are not required to please that establishment either socially or professionally and who bring a different perspective that may not make it into the Washington conference room on Monday morning or the cocktail party on Friday night.

In that sense, politics are more like art than science. The pros need fresh insights and passion or they get stale and repetitive. The blogosphere is a very convenient way to access some of that and it would be a shame if it contracted into a mirror image of the professional political media.. If it does,(with some relief I must admit) I'd probably just go back to reading newspapers and magazines and yelling at the TV, both of which I can do from the much more comfortable position of lying flat on my back.

As a political organizing and fund raising tool, the blogosphere has definitely shown its worth this round and it will remain a player, no doubt about it. Look at how much $$$$ just Atrios and Kos have managed to raise. If they were Republicans they'd be called "Conquerors."

But other than that, I think the blogosphere will continue to change in largely unpredictable ways. Certainly, anything the mainstream media says about it (now that they've discovered it like it's the Macarena of 2004) is almost assuredly wrong. So, I think it just keeps keepin on. Who knows what it all means and as long as it provides some good fun then there's really no reason to question it.

And, as I have said many times, it beats putting your fist through a wall or kicking the cat. In fact, it's downright therapeutic. Maybe that's the real point after all.




 
Props To Joe Biden

Joe just turned Chris Wallace into a puddle on Fox, refusing to back down and challenging all the predictable assumptions. At the end, Wallace made a crack about Biden needing to go on decaf and Biden retorted, "the way you guys misrepresent thing, it's just disgraceful."

Correction: Evidently I heard Biden say "you guys misrepresent" meaning Fox, when he actually said "these guys misrepresent" meaning the Bush administration.

Not that there's any real difference...




Saturday, September 25, 2004

 
Say It Loud

I'm shrill and I'm proud.




Friday, September 24, 2004

 
Shivering In Our Boots

Andrea Mitchell just said that the Kerry campaign knows that if they take the fight to the president they have to be respectful because he is extremely well-liked and very popular. And Kerry talks in long sentences and is boring but there's not much they can do about it.

Gosh, I think she's being much too generous. John Kerry is not only long winded and boring, he is also known to hold forth on aboriginal history in town meetings and sing Andrew Lloyd Webber songs for hours on end on the stump. It will be a miracle if he manages to even stay in the race after debating our very sharp, entertaining president who I understand usually hands out hundred dollar bills and tells hilarious jokes while laying out a cogent, simple plan for all Americans to become millionaires by 2008. I sure hope he doesn't do that in the debates or old boring Kerry will definitely lose.




 
Epic Disaster

Charles Peters at the Washington Monthly asks, "Was I right?"

Boy, he most certainly was:

Just before we went to war in Iraq, I wrote in this space, "This country has been conned by Karl Rove and the super-hawks. They have succeeded in changing the subject from Bush's failures and embarrassments, putting Iraq first on the national agenda for nearly six months at the expense of more important matters--like finding Osama bin Laden, securing peace between Israel and Palestine, drastically improving the FBI and CIA's ability to deal with terrorism, keeping nuclear weapons from being used by nations that already have them, including North Korea, and engineering economic recovery here at home. If we end up paying practically all the bill for Iraq and subsequent military occupation, that money won't be there for badly needed health and education programs … Once you consider these other higher priorities, the danger from Iraq isn't nearly imminent enough to justify war." I haven't changed my mind.


I think that one of the most frustrating things about Bush's smarmy rejoinder "they world is better off without Saddam in power" is that you have to answer..."well, yes, BUT THERE ARE PRIORITIES, GODDAMIT..."

It is impolitic to say it, (and probably suicidal) but in a very real sense, the answer to the question "is the world better off without Saddam in power?" is no.

9/11 did change everything. It meant that we could not afford to go around willy nilly experimenting with Wilsonian democracy schemes in the mid-east without further endangering Americans by ramping up terrorist recruiting. It meant we needed to be smart and cunning, not blustering loudly with half baked information or "liberating people" without considering the consequences. It meant that creating another failed state crawling with lawless terrorists was the most dangerous thing we could do. But, that is exactly what we did.

Clearly, if we had left Saddam in power and used the excuse of 9/11 to get inspectors back in, we would probably have made more progress against the fight against the Islamic radicals who pose the greatest threat to us. At the very least we wouldn't have been creating more terrorists every single day with our corrupt mismanagement of the occupation.

Saddam was not an imminent or even near term threat. We knew it then and we certainly know it now. If one had asked the American people in the fall of 2002 if they thought it was worth it to "liberate" Iraq if it made Americans less safe, I think we know what the answer would be. We are a good people but we aren't that good. Sadly, it appears that we will have to have that fact demonstrated before many people will understand that this is precisely what we just did.

And those poor schmucks who are over there fighting and dying for this misbegotten war need to believe that they are doing a good deed for their fellow man and protecting their own. I understand that. But, their commander in chief has made a series of terrible, terrible errors and he is setting them up for death right now by manipulating the situation on the ground in order to get elected here at home. It just gets worse and worse.

Two-faced Bush can pretend and lie and prevaricate and mislead all he wants. But, the facts are what they are. He sent American soldiers to die for no good reason. It has resulted in a large number of unnecessary Iraqi deaths in the process and it is creating Anti-American terrorists much faster than they can even kill themselves.

It's a disaster of epic proportions.





 
Freedom's Just Another Word For Chaos

Today, the Iraqi and Afghan people are on the path to democracy and freedom. The governments that are rising will pose no threat to others. Instead of harboring terrorists, they're fighting terrorist groups. And this progress is good for the long-term security of us all. George W. Bush, UN General Assembly, September 21, 2004


Well, except for the victims of the bombings, kidnappings and beheadings:

Gunmen have seized six Egyptians in a raid on their Baghdad office, Iraqi officials say, the third in a series of kidnappings of foreigners in the Iraqi capital this month.

[...]

Rahman said the Egyptians work for Iraqna, a subsidiary of Orascom which is an Egyptian-owned mobile telecommunications company.

Last week, two Americans and a Briton were kidnapped at their home in Baghdad by armed men.

A group led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi later beheaded the Americans, Eugene Armstrong and Jack Hensley, and posted video footage of the killings on the Internet.


But, don't worry about it. We'll stop hearing about all this unpleasantness soon. It's only a matter of time before it's too dangerous for any journalists to report on what's going on:

Germany's biggest television network, ARD, said on Friday it planned to pull out its two correspondents in Iraq after a foreign ministry warning that German journalists could be singled out for kidnappings.

Separately, the Spanish government has recommended to media that they withdraw their correspondents from Iraq following the increase in attacks and kidnappings there, the newspaper El Mundo said on its Web site on Friday.

The Spanish news agency EFE has withdrawn its only Spanish correspondent, Jose Manuel Seage, from Baghdad, a senior journalist at the agency said.

More than 100 foreigners have been abducted in Iraq since April in a deepening campaign, among them two French journalists who are still being held. Most hostages have been released, but around 30 have been killed.

The German foreign ministry last week strengthened a warning originally issued in March 2003 that mentioned journalists and the "very high risk" of kidnapping. But it declined to comment specifically on the issue on Friday.

[...]

Until this month, almost all the kidnapped foreigners were snatched on Iraq's perilous roads. But the capture of foreigners in Baghdad in operations that seem carefully planned is an escalation that has alarmed foreign embassies and firms.



Everything is going very well. If it weren't for that little problem with fifty percent unemployment, civil war, beheadings and suicide bombers, it would be a lot like Nebraska.





 
Flying Blind

What happens when a horserace is being called by different commentators in completely different ways? This post in Salon's War Room again shows that something has gone seriously wrong with the polling this election:

It's been said that the 2004 election would be a challenge for pollsters, and today's polls are a fine demonstration. Put simply, side by side they make little to no sense.

In the national arena, the Associated Press finds Bush up by nine points, 52-41. An Economist poll, conducted on the same days, finds Kerry leading by one point. Both surveys were of registered voters, so previous disputes between pollsters regarding who constitutes a likely voter, can't account for the discrepancy.

Some new state polls also lead nowhere, with Wisconsin going from a two-point Kerry lead to a 14-point Bush romp in 24 hours, and Oregon, which went from a 12-point Kerry rout to a one-point Bush lead in the same span. And two Florida polls released today are at odds. Gallup gives Bush a 47-45 lead among registered voters, while Quinnipiac University finds Bush ahead 49-41.


I wonder if the campaigns can trust their own polls any more than these? How scary. Politics without a net.

I'm beginning to truly believe that this race is the one we've all been waiting for for the last few cycles --- the election when so many people screen their calls and so many people use cell phones that you can no longer get an accurate sample.

One experiment worth watching is the Zogby online poll. He seems to have faith that he's got a good model. We'll see.

If we don't see a better consensus before November 2nd, it's going to be one nail-biter of a night.






 
Killing Time

Following up on my earlier post about the Bush campaign claiming that Kerry is causing the insurgency, I find this article by Matt Yglesias that points out that two-faced Junior Codpiece is actually doing it. it is one of the most egregious cases of projection we've yet seen.

Bush has adopted policies designed to keep the death count low, primarily by avoiding ground combat in the Sunni triangle. Good campaign tactics, needless to say, but, as ever, the Bush team seems better at winning elections than winning wars. By delaying any assault on the wily Salafi terrorists (read: Democratic campaign operatives) lurking in Fallujah, Samarra, Ramadi, and Baquba until after November, we give them more time to dig in, prepare defenses, and strengthen their forces before the attack.

An important point comes next, so it gets a paragraph of its own: This plan will get people killed. If an assault is to be mounted, it should be done as soon as possible, before the adversary has been given months to prepare for it. The Marines and soldiers serving in Iraq volunteered for the military, but they've been conscripted into the Bush campaign. Decisions, as Lieutenant General James Conway recently stated, are being made on the basis of narrow political considerations rather than military ones. It's appropriate for generals to be subordinate to civilian politicians, but not to civilian campaign strategists. We're waging war as an extension of an electoral campaign, exposing our soldiers to harassing attacks right now and to a more difficult fight later on in order to help secure the president's re-election.


George W. Bush is setting up our soldiers for a killing field in order to keep the casualty count down during the election campaign. There's a word for that and starts with a "t" and ends with a "reason."







 
Security Spin




As I watched Judy Woodruff go on and on yesterday about the alleged Security Moms and how they are abandoning the Democrats in favor of that handsome hunk of manhood, Crusader Codpiece, I was reminded of the interesting piece that Matt Stoller wrote during the RNC on the subject.

This "security mom" story is a campaign tactic to keep Republican women in the fold. The bogus polls gave them cover to make their appeal based upon a two-faced premise that they were already busting the gender gap open. Attractive housewives have been popping up all over television to discuss "their issues" and make the case for Junior as their security teddy bear.

Here's what Matt reported from a GOP training seminar for women at the GOP convention:

"The Bush campaign is not anywhere in the hemisphere of where these women are…" Leslie Sanchez, political analyst for Bush/Cheney

I spent three and a half hours in a training session for grassroots leaders of the GOP, hosted by GOPAC, Newt Gingrich's group that led the Republican Congressional takeover in 1994. ...the most interesting part of the day was a presentation by Leslie Sanchez, Bush/Cheney advisor and frequent commentator on MSNBC, Fox News, and CNN, on how to win women voters. According to Sanchez, women voters make up the majority of registered voters in every battleground state, and they are angst-ridden, scared, tolerant, cynical, distrusting, and want and fear change. They are also the key to this election.


In 2000, there was an eleven point gender gap in terms of Republican support for women. Women are more often registered to vote, they are usually registered independent, and Republican women - who tend to be married - are voting increasingly for Democrats. The model is that they first vote for a Democratic female, and then start voting for Democratic candidates in general. This trend is worrisome to Republicans. The target for the Bush campaign this year is married women with high religiosity, women who voted for Bush in 2000 and value their family's safety.

[...]

The bottom line here is that the President's messaging strategy so far has been a failure with women, and women will decide this election. This Convention is an attempt to fix this political problem, but the only real solution is to scare women into voting for him, because Bush has no real successes that he can credibly point to (and that women believe).


In other words, the "security mom" is actually a Republican who Rove is fearful of losing, not a Democrat who is drifting to the Republicans. As usual, the media got seriously spun.

Noam Scheiber does some fact checking in an interesting article in TNR today:

Indeed, just about the only evidence you can find in support of the security mom proposition comes from the New York Times/CBS poll. A Times/CBS poll conducted September 12-16 found that Bush gained 14 points relative to Kerry among women since mid-August, but a mere four points relative to men (itself a highly dubious proposition), which would have narrowed the gender gap substantially. When I asked CBS polling director Kathy Frankovic about this, her response was sheepish. "I attribute it to short-term/long-term" differences, she said. In any case, Frankovic was quick to add, CBS had just finished another poll, which showed a return of the "gender gap one would expect."


Ruy Texeira runs the numbers.




 
Shameless

Joie Chen on CNN just interviewed Brigadier General David Grange who basically said that John Kerry is causing the insurgency in Iraq because he is criticizing the president and "emboldening" the bad guys. (Poodles Chen and Grange hit all the GOP catch phrases right on cue.) It looks as if their plan is to say that the increased violence is John Kerry's responsibility in the hopes that Kerry will ratchet down his effective attack.(See Cheney's remarks of yesterday which he is repeating on the trail today.)


This is just the latest chapter in the classic post 9/11 playbook in which they virtually shut down dissent and paralyzed the country with accusations of 5th columns and treason for speaking out against two-faced Junior Bush. More and more it looks to me as if Rove is simply running a 2002 replay, which depended on keeping the dems off balance on national security and ginning up turnout.

It does not appear that Kerry is going to fall for this line of balderdash and I hope that the red staters in tight contests can resist the urge to fall in line. I think giving in on this is much worse for the Democrat psychologically than aggressively responding. At this point, when Junior forces a member of the opposition to bow to his will it makes them look much weaker than if they are bloodied in the fight.

I've noticed that the wingnuts always vociferously deny impugning the patriotism of their rivals even though they constantly do it. So, I'm hoping the Dems run straight at their accusers with this latest nonsense. I suspect this patented fratboy "don't blame me" strategy is not ringing true with the swing voters. It's just kool-aid for the faithful in a turn-out street fight.

We Dems have been enjoying a little sip of a nice Cabernet (we don't drink children's drinks) ourselves these past few days and it tastes quite good. Give 'em hell John-John.




 
"You don't listen to the president? We're gonna mop the floor with the whole fuckin' world. The whole world's gonna be under our control. So what are you worked up about? "

I know the country is feeling all gushy and gooey about our handpicked Iraqi George Washington and all, but it's probably good to keep in mind that in spite of Junior's eloquent rendering of his courage in facing Saddam's henchmen at the foot of the bed in his posh London townhouse, Allawi is reportedly a homicidal maniac himself. This explains why Bush and Cheney love him so much, but the press corpse should probably be a little bit more skeptical:

Iyad Allawi, the new Prime Minister of Iraq, pulled a pistol and executed as many as six suspected insurgents at a Baghdad police station, just days before Washington handed control of the country to his interim government, according to two people who allege they witnessed the killings.

They say the prisoners - handcuffed and blindfolded - were lined up against a wall in a courtyard adjacent to the maximum-security cell block in which they were held at the Al-Amariyah security centre, in the city's south-western suburbs.

They say Dr Allawi told onlookers the victims had each killed as many as 50 Iraqis and they "deserved worse than death".

The Prime Minister's office has denied the entirety of the witness accounts in a written statement to the Herald, saying Dr Allawi had never visited the centre and he did not carry a gun.

But the informants told the Herald that Dr Allawi shot each young man in the head as about a dozen Iraqi policemen and four Americans from the Prime Minister's personal security team watched in stunned silence.


[...]

Given Dr Allawi's role as the leader of the US experiment in planting a model democracy in the Middle East, allegations of a return to the cold-blooded tactics of his predecessor are likely to stir a simmering debate on how well Washington knows its man in Baghdad, and precisely what he envisages for the new Iraq.

There is much debate and rumour in Baghdad about the Prime Minister's capacity for brutality, but this is the first time eyewitness accounts have been obtained.

A former CIA officer, Vincent Cannisatraro, recently told The New Yorker: "If you're asking me if Allawi has blood on his hands from his days in London, the answer is yes, he does. He was a paid Mukhabarat [intelligence] agent for the Iraqis, and he was involved in dirty stuff."

[...]

The witnesses said the Iraqi police observers were "shocked and surprised". But asked what message they might take from such an act, one said: "Any terrorists in Iraq should have the same destiny. This is the new Iraq.

"Allawi wanted to send a message to his policemen and soldiers not to be scared if they kill anyone - especially, they are not to worry about tribal revenge. He said there would be an order from him and the Interior Ministry that all would be fully protected.

"He told them: 'We must destroy anyone who wants to destroy Iraq and kill our people.'

"At first they were surprised. I was scared - but now the police seem to be very happy about this. There was no anger at all, because so many policemen have been killed by these criminals."

[...]


One witness justified the shootings as an unintended act of mercy: "They were happy to die because they had already been beaten by the police for two to eight hours a day to make them talk."

[...]

The Herald has established that as many as 30 people, including the victims, may have been in the courtyard. One of the witnesses said there were five or six civilian-clad American security men in a convoy of five or six late model four-wheel-drive vehicles that was shepherding Dr Allawi's entourage on the day. The US military and Dr Allawi's office refused to respond to questions about the composition of his security team. It is understood that the core of his protection unit is drawn from the US Special Forces units.

[...]

The two witnesses were independently and separately found by the Herald. Neither approached the newspaper. They were interviewed on different days in a private home in Baghdad, without being told the other had spoken. A condition of the co-operation of each man was that no personal information would be published.

Both interviews lasted more than 90 minutes and were conducted through an interpreter, with another journalist present for one of the meetings. The witnesses were not paid for the interviews.

Dr Allawi's office has dismissed the allegations as rumours instigated by enemies of his interim government.

[...]

US officials in Iraq have not made an outright denial of the allegations. An emailed response to questions from the Herald to the US ambassador, John Negroponte, said: "If we attempted to refute each [rumour], we would have no time for other business. As far as this embassy's press office is concerned, this case is closed."


It's worth noting that the reporter of this piece, Paul McGeough, is a widely respected hotshit investigative journalist. This story was buried, but it's probably true. Allawi is a gangster, which explains his comfortable affiliation with the dumbshit Soprano of American politics, Junior Bush.




Thursday, September 23, 2004

 
Do As I Say, Not As I Did

For too long our culture has said, "If it feels good, do it." Now America is embracing a new ethic and a new creed: "Let's roll." In the sacrifice of soldiers, the fierce brotherhood of firefighters, and the bravery and generosity of ordinary citizens, we have glimpsed what a new culture of responsibility could look like. We want to be a nation that serves goals larger than self. We've been offered a unique opportunity, and we must not let this moment pass.


Inspiring words from the man who said:

"I was not prepared to shoot my eardrum out with a shotgun in order to get a deferment. Nor was I willing to go to Canada. So I chose to better myself by learning how to fly airplanes."


Two faced bastard.




 
Kossacks At The Gate

I have not been among those pumping my fist in blog triumphalism, but I have to say that when I went to Google News tonight and saw at the top of the page...

Wrestling with the Porter Goss dilemma...
Daily Kos - 2 hours ago
Although I'm concerned about Porter Goss, I have to add my voice to those who think Senate Democrats were right not to oppose his confirmation.


...I was impressed. This link came before the NY Times.

I don't know what it all means, but congratulations to Kos Blogger Valentine.




 
Phony Sanctimony, Part II

Vice President Cheney's delicate sensibilities were bruised today by Senator Kerry's bad manners:

"I must say I was appalled at the complete lack of respect Senator Kerry showed for this man of courage when he rushed to hold a press conference and attack the prime minister, a man America must stand beside to defeat the terrorists," Cheney told an audience in St. Joseph, Missouri.


"John Kerry is trying to tear down all the good that has been accomplished, and his words are destructive to our effort in Iraq and in the global war on terror.


"As Prime Minister Allawi said in his speech, and I quote, 'When political leaders sound the siren of defeatism in the face of terrorism, it only encourages more violence,'" Cheney added.


If there is one thing that the Bush Cheney administration will not stand for it's disrespect to our allies around the world.

It's quite clear that any criticism of the president's leadership in a time of war is sounding the siren of defeatism in the face of terrorism. It's another example of what Zell Miller decried at the Republican convention --- Democrats determined to bring down the commander in chief by contesting an election. What could be more antithetical to freedom and democracy than that?






 
It Depends On What The Definition Of "Mistake" Is

October 7, 2002

Tonight I want to take a few minutes to discuss a grave threat to peace, and America's determination to lead the world in confronting that threat.

The threat comes from Iraq. It arises directly from the Iraqi regime's own actions -- its history of aggression, and its drive toward an arsenal of terror. Eleven years ago, as a condition for ending the Persian Gulf War, the Iraqi regime was required to destroy its weapons of mass destruction, to cease all development of such weapons, and to stop all support for terrorist groups. The Iraqi regime has violated all of those obligations. It possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons. It is seeking nuclear weapons. It has given shelter and support to terrorism, and practices terror against its own people. The entire world has witnessed Iraq's eleven-year history of defiance, deception and bad faith.

[...]

Some ask how urgent this danger is to America and the world. The danger is already significant, and it only grows worse with time. If we know Saddam Hussein has dangerous weapons today -- and we do -- does it make any sense for the world to wait to confront him as he grows even stronger and develops even more dangerous weapons?

[...]

Iraq possesses ballistic missiles with a likely range of hundreds of miles -- far enough to strike Saudi Arabia, Israel, Turkey, and other nations -- in a region where more than 135,000 American civilians and service members live and work. We've also discovered through intelligence that Iraq has a growing fleet of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to disperse chemical or biological weapons across broad areas. We're concerned that Iraq is exploring ways of using these UAVS for missions targeting the United States. And, of course, sophisticated delivery systems aren't required for a chemical or biological attack; all that might be required are a small container and one terrorist or Iraqi intelligence operative to deliver it.

[...]

Iraq could decide on any given day to provide a biological or chemical weapon to a terrorist group or individual terrorists. Alliance with terrorists could allow the Iraqi regime to attack America without leaving any fingerprints.

Some have argued that confronting the threat from Iraq could detract from the war against terror. To the contrary; confronting the threat posed by Iraq is crucial to winning the war on terror. When I spoke to Congress more than a year ago, I said that those who harbor terrorists are as guilty as the terrorists themselves. Saddam Hussein is harboring terrorists and the instruments of terror, the instruments of mass death and destruction. And he cannot be trusted. The risk is simply too great that he will use them, or provide them to a terror network.

[...]

The evidence indicates that Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program. Saddam Hussein has held numerous meetings with Iraqi nuclear scientists, a group he calls his "nuclear mujahideen" -- his nuclear holy warriors. Satellite photographs reveal that Iraq is rebuilding facilities at sites that have been part of its nuclear program in the past. Iraq has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes and other equipment needed for gas centrifuges, which are used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons.

If the Iraqi regime is able to produce, buy, or steal an amount of highly enriched uranium a little larger than a single softball, it could have a nuclear weapon in less than a year. And if we allow that to happen, a terrible line would be crossed. Saddam Hussein would be in a position to blackmail anyone who opposes his aggression. He would be in a position to dominate the Middle East. He would be in a position to threaten America. And Saddam Hussein would be in a position to pass nuclear technology to terrorists.


[...]


Knowing these realities, America must not ignore the threat gathering against us. Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof -- the smoking gun -- that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud. As President Kennedy said in October of 1962, "Neither the United States of America, nor the world community of nations can tolerate deliberate deception and offensive threats on the part of any nation, large or small. We no longer live in a world," he said, "where only the actual firing of weapons represents a sufficient challenge to a nations security to constitute maximum peril."

Understanding the threats of our time, knowing the designs and deceptions of the Iraqi regime, we have every reason to assume the worst, and we have an urgent duty to prevent the worst from occurring.



January 27,2004:

David Kay, The Central Intelligence Agency's outgoing chief weapons:

"I'm personally convinced that there were not large stockpiles of newly produced weapons of mass destruction," he said on Saturday. "We don't find the people, the documents or the physical plants that you would expect to find if the production was going on. I think they gradually reduced stockpiles throughout the 1990s."


April 14, 2004

Q. In the last campaign, you were asked a question about the biggest mistake you'd made in your life and you used to like to joke that it was trading Sammy Sosa. You've looked back before 9/11 for what mistakes might have been made. After 9/11, what would your biggest mistake be, would you say? And what lessons have you learned from it?

A. Hmmm. I wish you'd have given me this written question ahead of time so I could plan for it. I'm sure historians will look back and say, Gosh, he could have done it better this way or that way. You know, I just I'm sure something will pop into my head here in the midst of this press conference with all the pressure of trying to come up with an answer, but it hadn't yet.

I would have gone into Afghanistan the way we went into Afghanistan. Even though what I know today about the stockpiles of weapons, I still would have called upon the world to deal with Saddam Hussein. See, I happen to believe we'll find out the truth on the weapons. That's why we sent up the independent commission. I look forward to hearing the truth as exactly where they are. They could still be there. They could be hidden, like, the 50 tons of mustard gas in a turkey farm.

One of the things that Charlie Duelfer talked about was that he was surprised at the level of intimidation he found amongst people who should know about weapons and their fear of talking about them, because they don't want to be killed. You know, there's this kind of, there's this terror still in the soul of some of the people in Iraq. They're worried about getting killed. And therefore, they're not going to talk. And it'll all settle out. We'll find out the truth about the weapons at some point in time.

However, the fact that he had the capacity to make them bothers me today just like it would have bothered me then. He's a dangerous man. He's a man who actually not only had weapons of mass destruction — and the reason I can say that with certainty is because he used them. And I have no doubt in my mind that he would like to have inflicted harm or paid people to inflict harm or trained people to inflict harm on America because he hated us.

You know, I hope I don't want to sound like I've made no mistakes. I'm confident I have. I just haven't — you just put me under the spot here and maybe I'm not quick, as quick on my feet as I should be.



September 22,2004:

In Washington, in the tense months before war in Iraq, Charles Duelfer was confident. "Of course he is developing his weapons of mass destruction," the American arms expert wrote of Saddam Hussein.

In Baghdad, however, Hans Blix was much less convinced. The UN weapons inspector, on the eve of the conflict, remarked sadly on the likelihood that armies would be "waging the war at a tremendous cost, and in the end find there was very little".

In the end, as a hurricane distracted Americans, as terrorist car bombings and US air strikes bloodied Iraq, the findings of a Duelfer-led investigation were quietly leaked in Washington.

And, after 16 months of trying, what his teams have found is less than little.

In fact, the only unconventional weapon turned up in Iraq wasn't turned up by the Americans at all, but by the other side, Iraq's shadowy resistance.

In May, in an incident causing no serious injuries, insurgent fighters in Baghdad rigged an old artillery shell as a roadside bomb, apparently unaware it was loaded with sarin nerve agent.

Otherwise, two or three stray shells have been discovered with traces of degraded agent - far short of the 100 to 500 tons of usable chemical weapons that Secretary of State Colin Powell warned of on February 5 2003, as he sought a UN blessing for the US-British invasion.


September 23, 2004:

Q Mr. President, you say today that the work in Iraq is tough and willremain tough. And, yet, you travel this country and a central theme of your campaign is that America is safer because of the invasion of Iraq. Can you understand why Americans may not believe you?

PRESIDENT BUSH: No. Anybody who says that we are safer with SaddamHussein in power is wrong. We went into Iraq because Saddam Hussein defied the demands of the free world. We went into Iraq after diplomacy had failed. And we went into Iraq because I understand after September the 11th we must take threats seriously, before they come to hurt us.

And I think it's a preposterous claim to say that America would be better off with Saddam Hussein in power. I certainly know that that's the case for America and I certainly know it's the case for the Iraqi people. These are people who were tortured. This good man was abed in a London flat, and he wakes up with two Saddam henchmen there with axes, trying to cut him to pieces with an axe. And, fortunately, he's alive today; fortunately, we call him friend and ally. But he knows what it means to have lived under a society in which a thug like Saddam Hussein would send people with axes to try to kill him in bed in a London flat. No, this world is better off with Saddam Hussein in prison.

Q Sir, may I just follow, because I don't think you're really answering the question. I mean, I think you're responding to Senator Kerry, but there are beheadings regularly, the insurgent violence continues, and there are no weapons of mass destruction. My question is, can you understand that Americans may not believe you when you say that America is actually safer today?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Imagine a world in which Saddam Hussein were still in power. This is a man who harbored terrorists -- Abu Abbas, Abu Nidal, Zarqawi. This is a man who was a sworn enemy of the United States of America. This is a man who used weapons of mass destruction. Going from tyranny todemocracy is hard work, but I think the argument that says that Saddam Hussein -- if Saddam Hussein were still in power, we'd be better off is wrong.

King.

Q Sir, I'd like you answer Senator Kerry and other critics who accuse you of hypocrisy or opportunism when, on the one hand, you put so much stock in the CIA when it said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, and now say it is just guessing when it paints a pessimistic picture of the political transition.

[...]

PRESIDENT BUSH: Yes, got it. Listen, the other day I was asked about the NIE, which is a National Intelligence Estimate. This is a report that talks about possibilities about what can happen in Iraq, not probabilities. I used an unfortunate word, "guess." I should have used, "estimate." And the CIA came and said, this is a possibility, this is a possibility, and this is a possibility. But what's important for the American people to hear is reality. And the reality is right here in the form of the Prime Minister. And he is explaining what is happening on the ground. That's the best report. And this report was written in July, and now we are here in September, and as I said, "estimate" would have been a better word.


As of September 4, 2004:

7032 coalition forces wounded in action

As of September 23, 2004:

1176 coalition forces killed in action, 67 in this month alone.

As of September 23, 2004:

Between 12800 and 14843 Iraqi civilian deaths

How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?







 Posted by Hello
 
Speaking Out Of Both Sides Of His Mouth

Shortly after our two faced president took office it was revealed that his single largest political contributor had been running a congame on his workers and investors to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. He quickly came up with a 10 point plan to ensure that CEOs could never snow their investors like that again.

Let's assume for the sake of argument that the country really should be run like a business and that bush has been out CEO for the last four years. Has our prez lived up to his CEO requirements?


1.) Each investor should have quarterly access to the information needed to judge a firm’s financial performance, condition, and risks.

"It's hard for me to explain why we need to make [the tax cuts] permanent. It's kind of like some of the things that happen in Washington. On the one hand, they taketh away. On the other hand, they giveth.
-- Denver, Colorado Sep. 27, 2002


2.) Each investor should have prompt access to critical information.

It's clearly a budget. It's got a lot of numbers in it.
-- Reuters, May 5, 2000


3.) CEOs should personally vouch for the veracity, timeliness, and fairness of their companies’ public disclosures, including their financial statements.

"The CIA laid out several scenarios. It said that life could be lousy, life could be OK, life could be better. And they were just guessing as to what the conditions might be like," he said
-- Washington, D.C., September 22, 2004


4.) CEOs or other officers should not be allowed to profit from erroneous financial statements.

"The really rich people figure out how to dodge taxes anyway."
-- Annandale, Virginia, Aug. 9, 2004


5.) CEOs or other officers who clearly abuse their power should lose their right to serve in any corporate leadership positions.

"Q: So when you say that you want the U.S. to adhere to international and U.S. laws, that's not very comforting. This is a moral question. Is terr -- torture ever justified?

GWB: Look, I'm gonna say it one more time. I can -- if I can -- maybe -- maybe I can be more clear. The instructions went out to our people to adhere to law. That oughtta comfort you. We -- we're a nation of law. We adhere to laws. We have laws on the books. You might look at those laws. And that might provide comfort for you. And those were the instructions out of -- from me to the government."
--- Savannah, Georgia, Jun. 10, 2004


6.) Corporate leaders should be required to tell the public promptly whenever they buy or sell company stock for personal gain.

"I remember campaigning in Chicago one time, and the guy said, would you ever deficit spend? I said, well, only if we were at war, or the country was in recession, or there was a national emergency. I didn't realize we were going to get the trifecta." --- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Apr. 3, 2002


7.) Investors should have complete confidence in the independence and integrity of companies’ auditors.

"You know, capitalism is only as strong as the integrity of the people involved in the process. And these leaders will tell you that you've got to be open with your employees. Otherwise, they're not going to work for you very hard.
-- Washington, D.C., Jan. 9, 2004


8.) An independent regulatory board should ensure that the accounting profession is held to the highest ethical standards.

Sometimes things aren't exactly black and white when it comes to accounting procedures.
-- Justifying his oil firm's accounting record, Washington, D.C., July 8, 2002


9.) The authors of accounting standards must be responsive to the needs of investors.

Look, I don't care about the numbers. I know the facts.
-- St. Petersburg, Florida, Mar. 8, 2002


10.) Firms’ accounting systems should be compared with best practices, not simply against minimum standards.

"In order to make sure the country was stronger, I pulled this page out of the economic textbook, the page that says, if you let people keep more of their own money, they're going to spend it on a good or a service. If they spend it on a good or a service, somebody will produce the good and service. And if somebody produces a good or service, some American is more likely to find work."
-- Trenton, New Jersey, Sep. 23, 2002









 Posted by Hello

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

 
Rhetorical Inversion

Via TAPPED I see that John Edwards has begun to use some of his great primary speech in the stretch of this campaign.

I posted a glowing review of this speech back in June of 2003 because I thought it was one of the best examples of reframing the economic issues I had seen in many a day. He takes the language of the right and throws it right back at them in a way that's very difficult for them to deflect:

"It's the most radical and dangerous economic agenda to hit our shores since socialism a century ago. Like socialism, it corrupts the very nature of our democracy and our free enterprise tradition. It is not a plan to grow the American economy. It is a plan to corrupt the American economy," he told an audience outside in Cleveland. "We don't know all of the details, but we know that people who inherit hundreds of millions will pay nothing; firemen and waitresses and working people will pay everything. And we know his plan will take away the most important incentive for the single most important form of ownership: it will eliminate entirely the tax deduction for home mortgage interest."


Now, I don't happen to think that socialism corrupts the nature of our economy, but you can bet that most Americans have been brainwashed to think that. The key here is to jettison the word "socialism" on to the ashheap of history and tie the Republicans into it by saying they have a similarly "radical and corrupt" economic plan. This is using their own propaganda against them and it's very smart.

The TAPPED post goes on to point out that Bush really has proposed changes to the tax code that would eliminate the home mortgage deduction. That fits in nicely with another part of Edwards speech that goes like this:

Our economy, our people, and our nation have been undermined by the crony capitalists who believe that success is all about working the angles, working the phones, and rigging the game, instead of hard work, innovation and frugality. And these manipulators find comfort in an Administration which, through its own example, seems to embrace that ethic. We will never turn this country around until we put our economy and our government back in line with our values."

[...]

It’s time for a new approach that trusts people to make the most of their own lives and gives them the chance to do so. It’s time to stop emboldening entrenched interests and start empowering regular people. Above all, it’s time to end the failed conservative experiment and return to the idea that made this country great: Instead of helping wealthy people protect their wealth, we should help working people build their wealth."


I just love the way this appropriates all the comfortable GOP catch phrases --- projecting their own critique back back at them while redefining the positive ones for our own purposes. It's a very effective way to make the permeation of GOP rhetoric in the national subconscious work for us instead of against us.

It also has the value of confusing the Republicans. It's one of the most creative uses of political rhetoric I've seen in this campaign. I'm glad they are using it.




 
Drumbeat

I said earlier in the week that the stupid CBS memos flap was becoming a full fledged Wurlitzer frenzy and I think we went one step closer today.

Yesterday, Rush said:

"...the question about CBS, and I don't mean to be skirting this, but I don't know how they expect us to trust them on anything else they do, particularly when it's in this presidential race. This is a problem for them, folks. Now they're trying to make it go away by stonewalling it with this independent commission but you've got a major, major federal crime here."


This whore was on FOX saying:

"You start tying these connections together … I said I'm so scared because I know what's going on with my party," Democratic strategist Pat Caddell told FOX News. "The fact is, [Burkett] did not approach CBS, CBS approached him looking for the documents, which means someone tipped CBS off … which could be a violation of the law."


On Wolf Blitzer today, they devoted a full segment to the question of whether the forgeries were a crime. Joe DiGenova, former federal prosecutor de jour, said that a special prosecutor with subpoena power was needed to find out who tried to interefere with a federal election during wartime. Blitzer seemed to agree that the subject was so serious that somebody needed to get to the bottom of it.

Later, Brit Hume had some new nonsense about Mary Mapes and federal prisoners in Colorado.

Fasten your seatbelts. The Wurlitzer is gearing up. It's possible that it won't have legs, but the set up for a long term mediawhore feeding frenzy is being put in place. The good news is that Joe Lockhart and Mike McCurry are the two most experienced flacks on planet in dealing with this garbage.




 
Calling Mr Rains, Mr Claude Rains

Jeffrey Dubner at TAPPED takes the Kerry campaign to task for following up the DNC's hard hitting rhetoric of yesterday on the Roger Stone rumor with what he calls a weak-kneed follow-up today:

"Mr. President, this is a shameful advertisement that shows a disturbing disregard for those fighting and sacrificing in Iraq, and you should repudiate it immediately."


He points out that they will never get the Bush campaign to repudiate anything so they show themselves weak by failing to get results.

But, everybody knows very well that Bush is not going to repudiate it and that is exactly why they are saying it. This is the way the game is played. It's why Ed Gillespie gets the vapors every time the Democrats say boo and calls it "political hate speech."

It's called phony sanctimony and it works very well, as the Republicans have shown for years. They always shed crocodile tears and call the other side's attacks vicious and beyond the pale while they are sticking the shiv in as hard as they can. The difference is that this time we stuck the shiv in too.

I see Atrios disagrees with me. I think he should repudiate it.




Tuesday, September 21, 2004

 
Tin Foil Freakshow

On Hardball just now, Ben Ginsberg just claimed that Barnes, the NY Times, the Boston Globe, CBS, Joe Lockhart and Terry McAuliffe coordinated the memos story and the liberal media just isn't giving it the kind of scrutiny they gave the Swift Boat story.

Chris asked whether this controversy now means that the public should also be skeptical of the media's Iraq reporting going forward.

Deborah Orin made the important point that the bloggers who "exposed" the forgeries also are very skeptical of the reporting on Iraq so perhaps that should be a lesson for all of us.

Advantage: Idiots




 
Masterdebator

Ezra has it right on the debates.

We know he beat the friendly, funny, charismatic Weld. But what's rarely noted is that he also beat John Edwards in the series of one-on-one debates they held at the end of the primary. Edwads came off as nicer and funnier, sure, but he lacked the gravitas and policy knowledge of Kerry. I watched those confrontations expecting to vote for Edwards, but got up from the couch a Kerry supporter. It was clear to me then, as it is now, that the empathy and charm that pols like Edwards and Clinton possess are not applicable to elections fought on serious, scary ground. As I've said before, Bush only won (and he didn't even do that) in 2000 because the country was at peace and the economy was doing well, voters were unconcerned and thus won over by the friendlier, funnier candidate -- that was a popularity contest. But in a time when voters want serious leaders who demonstrate competence, strength and judgment, Bush's glib moralizing and self-effacing jokes are not going to save him. In contrast, Kerry's boring wonkishness and obvious thoughtfulness (not to mention his 4-inch height advantage -- two of the debates are standing) just might.



I sincerely hope that's true. I also think that this time the press may just be a bit less likely to fall back on their script simply because the Iraq story seems to be heating up as we go into the stretch. They used the press conference today to talk almost exclusively about Iraq and didn't mention the CBS nonsense.

I can't believe there is any question that Kerry will beat Bush in the debates when it's obvious that your average ten year old would beat him. But we have to take into account the press corpse which seems to adore his incoherent blather and buy into the idea that making sense is secondary to winning debates than presenting a manufactured regular guy image. So, it's always possible that in spite of what we all see with our eyes, we will be told that Bush won the debate because Kerry was too tall or something. But, I'm hopeful that the electorate is a bit more serious than last time and will see the contrast between a man of real substance and an empty suit.

I do think that Ezra took Atrios and Yglesias a bit too literally. I think their gnashing of teeth about Bush's great strength in the town hall format was a little tongue in cheek exercise in lowering expectations. Nobody really believes that Bush is good in debates, but the game requires that you set up Kerry as a big loser in order to defy expectations. Politics is so dumb these days.





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