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Monday, May 31, 2004

Show Everybody What You Got For Christmas, Junior

As I read this absurd story of the childlike preznit showing everybody Saddam's gun like he'd won first place in the spelling bee (fat chance) I was reminded of another illustration of the lil' guy's statesmanlike maturity, that I posted earlier

President-elect Bush asked some practical questions about how things worked, but he did not offer or hint at his desires.

The Joint Chiefs' staff had placed a peppermint at each place. Bush unwrapped his and popped it into his mouth. Later he eyed Cohen's mint and flashed a pantomime query, Do you want that? Cohen signaled no, so Bush reached over and took it. Near the end of the hour-and-a-quarter briefing, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Army Gen. Henry H. Shelton, noticed Bush eyeing his mint, so he passed it over.

'N he has pitchers 'o the bad guyz in his desk, 'n evertime we killz one of 'em, he crossus out there faces, cuz there ded.

It's Nightime In America

From Bush, Unprecedented Negativity

Scholars and political strategists say the ferocious Bush assault on Kerry this spring has been extraordinary, both for the volume of attacks and for the liberties the president and his campaign have taken with the facts. Though stretching the truth is hardly new in a political campaign, they say the volume of negative charges is unprecedented -- both in speeches and in advertising.

Three-quarters of the ads aired by Bush's campaign have been attacks on Kerry. Bush so far has aired 49,050 negative ads in the top 100 markets, or 75 percent of his advertising. Kerry has run 13,336 negative ads -- or 27 percent of his total. The figures were compiled by The Washington Post using data from the Campaign Media Analysis Group of the top 100 U.S. markets. Both campaigns said the figures are accurate.

Amazing, isn't it? And people wonder why Kerry hasn't been surging in the polls as Junior systematically destroys the country. And, it has such a nice salutary effect of making Democrats feel less than passionate about their candidate, too. If it weren't for such a strong and unyielding ABB feeling on our side, I have no doubt that these ads would have worked as effectively to reduce Dem turn-out as on the undecided voters they are supposedly trying to convince. As it is, I think they are succeeding only to the extent that they make it uncomfortable for the politically timid to publicly support Kerry -- e.g. take an unequivocal stand at the water cooler and the supermarket. That is an effect that is fading fast as disillusionment with Junior grows.

Incumbent presidents often prefer to run on their records in office, juxtaposing upbeat messages with negative shots at their opponents, as Bill Clinton did in 1996.

Scott Reed, who ran Robert J. Dole's presidential campaign that year, said the Bush campaign has little choice but to deliver a constant stream of such negative charges. "With low poll numbers and a volatile situation in Iraq, Bush has more hope of tarnishing Kerry's image than promoting his own."

"The Bush campaign is faced with the hard, true fact that they have to keep their boot on his neck and define him on their terms," Reed said. That might risk alienating some moderate voters or depressing turnout, "but they don't have a choice," he said.

(I love it when GOP operatives actively embrace totalitarian imagery. Smells like ... bad apples.)

At this point, the only way that Bush can win is by destroying John Kerry. Even if one of the much discussed "external events" take place, I doubt bush will gain from it. As a result he is forced to run the most negative campaign in modern memory. Unfortunately for the country, if there's one thing the Republicans have perfected, it's negative campaigns and character assassination. The Bush family specializes in it. They are the Borgias of our time.

I know that some believe political advertising has little effect on people, but the studies they cite are based upon respondent's own perceptions. The truth is that people rarely admit to being influenced by ads of any kind, yet their buying habits and perceptions of products prove that they are.

The thing that will change all of this is a critical mass of people using TiVO type technology. Then TV advertising is going to be in a world of hurt. TV ads (political ads especially because they are almost all so bad) work mostly on a subliminal level. People rarely pay active attention after they've seen it the first time. The key is for people to hear and see the key memes often enough for it to be absorbed subconsciously. One thing the Bush campaign has going for it is the money to relentlessly hammer their ads home. This gives them a much greater chance of having their message seep into the collective unconscious over time.

On the other hand, their image of Kerry as a of liberal, French flip-flopper only works well as contrasted with the Omnipotent Steely-Eyed Rocket Man, an image that I'm afraid is no longer operative. They are going to switch gears, I think, although I have no idea what form of destructive lies and images they are going to haul out this time.

It is only June. Bush poll numbers are still plummeting. It is going to get uglier and uglier. It's the only hope they have. And, don't underestimate them. They are very good at just that kind of politics. They're never happier than when personal destruction is job one.

Sunday, May 30, 2004

The Buck? What Buck?

It really has fallen completely apart. The government, I mean. The CIA and the Pentagon are at each others throats, as we already knew. The State Department and the Pentagon, too. The office of Homeland Security is pissed at the Justice Department. Everybody hates everybody.

Now, according to Laura Rozen the White House is tacitly approving all this infighting as long as nobody directly criticizes Junior Codpiece:

Secondly, about Condoleezza Rice's meeting with the pro-Chalabi crowd last week. I am told Rice requested the meeting with Perle, Woolsey, Gingrich, Pletka, Rubin et al, to ask them not to go off the reservation, in reaction to the White House cut off of Chalabi. And if you have noticed, they have refrained for the most part from directing their public criticism directly at the White House, attacking the CIA, DIA and State instead for a policy decision that came from the very top.

That's how bad its gotten. Go ahead and rake our administration over the coals if you want to. Just don't say anything bad about Junior. (Voters don't know that the president is responsible for the whole executive branch so they won't hold it against him.)

Did Ken Lay go to Harvard Business school too?


A new book on the Bush dynasty is set for release just six weeks before November's knife-edge presidential election. The Family: The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty by Kitty Kelley will have an initial print run of 500,000, and the main source is believed to be Sharon Bush, the ex-wife of Neil, President George W Bush's wayward brother.

Live by character assassination, die by character assassination. It looks like it's going to come out right after Junior makes his triumphant return to Ground Zero.

Saturday, May 29, 2004

All The News The GOP Sees Fit To Print

Daniel Okrent says the paper failed in its WMD coverage prior to the war. Everybody is at fault and it's wrong to single anybody out in particular and the way to put this behind them is to finally report the truth. Great.

Here's the problem. Like the Bush administration, they seem to think that "taking responsibility" means acting as if it was some vague and ephemeral "somebody" who committed the act and then going on as if nothing happened. These are children's ethics.

The only way journalists will understand that repeatedly publishing and hyping incorrect information (particularly disinformation) is unacceptable is if they will pay a price for doing so. That's what grown-ups expect when they screw up. And the only way the public can be assured that The New York Times cares about its credibility is if it holds the people who made these massive errors responsible.

The New York Times recently fired Jayson Blair and Rick Bragg because they plagiarized and misrepresented the truth. Presumably, the paper did this because its credibility was at stake. They simply could not countenance publishing work that was not truthful because then people would stop believing what they printed and wouldn't buy the paper.

Yet, they have repeatedly allowed themselves to be used by GOP Washington players to further their agenda over the last twelve years and as a result have printed wrong or misleading information hundreds of times. Sometimes, as with the Wen Ho Lee story, they investigated the problems, issued a mea culpa and then moved on. Other times, as with the endless Whitewater and independent counsel stories, they simply never addressed it. The hyped WMD stories are only the latest in a series of politically motivated disinformation campaigns.

And, the problem remains. After twelve years of blown story after blown story, it is time for the press (and not just The NY Times) to either declare that they are extensions of the Republican Party or expose their sources when they've shown themselves to be purposefully passing incorrect information (which Okrent endorses as proper journalistic ethics.)

Judith Miller undoubtedly believes she is being unfairly scapegoated, but she is not. Blair and Bragg were fired for offenses that didn't lead to any real consequences other than a lot of journalistic navel gazing. Yet Miller, more than anyone, was a willing tool for certain political friends and sources and used her prestige and position on the paper of record to further their agenda to take this country into a war. That is inexcusable. However, The New York Times has decided to excuse her and others like Patrick Tyler and Jill Abrahamson and is allowing them to keep their jobs.

Fine. If the paper wishes to hang its credibility on journalists like this then it obviously no longer cares about it. Therefore, the New York Times is collectively guilty and should be held responsible for the actions of these failed journalists.

The paper of record has officially chosen to became just another daily rag. RIP Gray Lady.

I don't think it's quite fair to condemn the whole program because of a single slip up.

Cuba Base Sent Its Interrogators to Iraqi Prison

Interrogation experts from the American detention camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, were sent to Iraq last fall and played a major role in training American military intelligence teams at Abu Ghraib prison there, senior military officials said Friday.

The teams from Guantánamo Bay, which had operated there under directives allowing broad latitude in questioning "enemy combatants," played a central role at Abu Ghraib through December, the officials said, a time when the worst abuses of prisoners were taking place. Prisoners captured in Iraq, unlike those sent from Afghanistan to Guantánamo, were to be protected by the Geneva Conventions.

The teams were sent to Iraq for 90-day tours at the urging of Maj. Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller, then the head of detention operations at Guantánamo. General Miller was sent to Iraq last summer to recommend improvements in the intelligence gathering and detention operations there, a defense official said.


In interviews, two military intelligence soldiers who served at Abu Ghraib as part of the 205th Brigade described the unit from Guantánamo as having played a notable role in setting up the interrogation unit in Iraq, which they said was modeled closely after the one that General Miller put in place in Cuba.

"They were sent to Iraq to set up a Gitmo-style prison at Abu Ghraib," a military intelligence soldier said of the unit. None of the soldiers knew what military unit the group from Guantánamo had been drawn from, but one of them said he understood that it had also served earlier in a detention facility in Guantánamo.

It wasn't a bunch of bad apples. It was at the explicit instruction of General Geoffrey D Ripper, who sent in his best leg breakers to teach 'em how to get the job done.

And then, as reports of the abuse and torture at Abu Ghraib were coming to light the Bush administration decided that the best way to deal with the problem was to put in charge the same guy who had recommended and implemented the abuse and torture in the first place.

How long will it take for somebody to ask, considering his history at the prison, why in the world General Ripper was brought in after the scandal broke? I'm just asking. He is, after all, an obviously sadistic freak who is one of the causes of the greatest foreign policy PR disaster in American history.

I have a suggestion as to who might replace him:

The commander of Guantánamo Bay, sacked amid charges from the Pentagon that he was too soft on detainees, said he faced constant tension from military interrogators trying to extract information from inmates.

Brigadier General Rick Baccus was removed from his post in October 2002, apparently after frustrating military intelligence officers by granting detainees such privileges as distributing copies of the Koran and adjusting meal times for Ramadan. He also disciplined prison guards for screaming at inmates.

In one of the general's first interviews since his dismissal, he told the Guardian: "I was mislabelled as someone who coddled detainees. In fact, what we were doing was our mission professionally."


Eighteen months after being removed from Guantánamo, Gen Baccus, 51, and a commander of the Rhode Island National Guard, is still waiting for a new military assignment.

As for Guantanamo, I keep reading this refrain about prisoners with negligible or non-existent ties to al Qaeda or the Taliban having been "sold" for four or five thousand dollars by the Northern Alliance or others. They held the five Britons for more than two years as "unlawful combatants" and then the UK just set them free. How many other "terrorists" like that are there down in Guantanamo?

From the Frontline Documentary Son of Al-Qaeda"

What's your impression of Guantanamo? Do a lot of people belong there? What's your impression of the inmates?

They asked me always this question. I told them in 100 percent there is 80 percent of people that went to Afghanistan, like people that can't do anything. They've had enough. If you put them back in their countries they won't do anything. That's in 80 percent.

Among those 80 percent there is almost 60 in those 80, 60 that are people that haven't done anything. People that worked in a project in Pakistan, an old man that his son brought him, you know, just to sell him for $5,000. Drug dealers, people that didn't have anything to do with Al Qaeda were put there for no reason but because someone brought them there or someone thought of getting thousands for them, whoever captured them that they were Al Qaeda.

The rest, the 20 percent from the whole 100 percent, there's 10 percent of them that should be kept there and 10 percent of them if they go out and they catch up with Al Qaeda again they might go back to being Al Qaeda. But there's only like 10 percent of the people that are really dangerous, that should be there and the rest are people that don't have anything to do with it, don't even, don't even understand what they're doing here.

Just explain the bounty hunting, how people ended up there. That they paid a bounty.

At the very beginning, after Americans took over Afghanistan, they needed to show the American public that you know, we have got people. So there was normal Afghans would catch normal Arabs, normal small Arabs and go to the American base and tell them, you know what, we have a big commander. The American would say yes okay and they would just buy him.

If the Americans were paying large bounties, a large amount of money they would have ended up with a lot of innocent people there, don't you think?

Yes, a lot of innocent people. I told you the one story, I remember two, actually. One is the father that was brought by his own son. The son gave him a gun and took him up to an American base up there and took $5,000 for him. That's one story.

The second story is a drug user, a person that was sitting next to me, not worried about being in jail, not worried about what's going to happen to his family, not worried about what he's going to get. All he's worried about every time he asks the MPs to come around, asking them for a smoke, asking them for some hashish for you know, for marijuana, something like that, you know. Not even, he doesn't even know what he's doing here. Truly a drug addict, not Al Qaeda at all.

Yet, despite the obvious probability of corruption and error in capturing these "dangerous terrorists," the Geneva Conventions were openly discarded because we could not take a chance that these people could be set free on a technicality if they were allowed any kind of due process. Indeed, we couldn't even treat them humanely or eschew torture in interrogations. And when Iraq didn't turn out to be the promised cakewalk, and the damned Iraqis refused to cooperate sufficiently in their foreign occupation, we decided we couldn't take a chance on due process or humane treatment with them either.

And wherever the orders for endless incarceration and torture don't get followed the way they're supposed to, whether from the resistence of a decent, professional soldier or the inattention of a half baked reserve general, the go-to guy is General Geoffrey D. Ripper.

He Shoulda Known Better

Tristero reminds me of another reason I recoil at the very sight of Crusader Codpiece:

There was not only a new sound,' said Al Gore, speaking about the Beatles to the editor of Rolling Stone. "There was something else that was new with the Beatles. A new sensibility...that incredible gestalt they had." The great exception to all this is George W. Bush. He was at Yale from 1964 to 1968, and liked some of the Beatles first records. 'Then they got a bit weird,' he has said. 'I didn't like all that later stuff when they got strange.

He was too stoned on Jack and coke to unnerstand them big words. Jayzuz...

Tristero also mentions that Paul McCartney (finally) spoke out against the war.

You know, it might have helped just a little bit if Paul and others like him had shown a bit more guts a couple of years ago. I remember writing on this very blog, with a kind of naivete I haven't seen in myself for quite some time, that we could count on the artist community to step up.

Some did. Janeane Garrofolo, Sheryl Crow, the Dixie Chicks and the already politically active lefties like Ed Begley Jr and Ed Asner. The big names played it safe. Pretty much everybody else hemmed and hawed and looked the other way when they had a chance to actually make a difference.

And the last of my ideals shattered like an old 45 record on the asphalt of my dreams....

Friendly Fire

How depressingly predictable is this?.

Pat Tillman, the former National Football League safety who left the Arizona Cardinals to join the Army after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, was ``probably'' killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan, the U.S. Army said today.

In a wonderful Memorial Day post, Julia has some important advice to those who might be tempted to lash out at the friends and family who might express some dismay about this --- shut the fuck up.

And she makes a very important point:

Pat Tillman's death seems to me to be tragic because he was willing to give up a great deal to do what he thought was the right thing. The main thing he put on the line was his life. This makes him one of many hundreds of young americans who gave up their lives to do what they believed to be the right thing.

I find it incredibly distasteful when supporters of the current administration try to shove him up on a pedestal because he could have been rich instead. I haven't found any other area of political discourse where you folks think that it's honorable and righteous and patriotic to consider anything over profits. Certainly none of your political heroes have.

If you think it's unamerican to bitch about Halliburton taking a record rakeoff and serving our soldiers rotted food, just leave Pat Tillman's name out of your mouth. He didn't die for your ideology. He died to show it up.

She's right. If there's one thing that Republicans as a rule and the administration in particular do not represent is people who give up their fortunes to fight for what they believe is right. Indeed, they believe that the only right thing is making a fortune.

As Julia says, they need to shut the fuck up about Pat Tillman.

Look At All That Venison!

Now, this is what I call a photo-op, dammit:

So if I were John Kerry I'd go buy a grandfathered assault rifle at a gun show, then head out to the woods and mow down a few deer with my semi-automatic firing. "Some in my party," Kerry intoned, "say that this is not a legitimate hunting weapon. To them I say: Look at all this venison." Then grill it up, and start talking about Bush's giveaways to the HMOs and the pharmaceutical industry, about how his determination to cram subsidies for coal, oil, and gas companies has prevented the development of alternative fuels that could revitalize the rural economy. Etc. Where there's a will to compromise on guns, there's a way to win.

I've always thought Matt should branch out into some humor writing. He often cracks me up, anyway.

His point is well taken. I think the gun thing is pretty much over as a national issue until we have another assassination or a huge rise in crime, when it will once again rear its head. Until then, the Dems would do well to pander their asses off. It would have the salutary effect of defanging the NRA, which is basically a patronage operation for the RNC. The fewer of those the better.

Ahmad, We Hardly Knew Ye

The fog is lifting a tiny bit on this story and certain outlines are becoming clearer.

First, despite Matt Yglesias's reasonable belief that the outside-the-government Neo's would listen to any "ix-nay on the Alabi-chay" signals they've been getting from the inside-the-government Neo's, many are following Ahmad off the cliff without hesitation. The exception seems to be The Weakly Standard, which (with the exception of Fred "Nascar" Barnes) is always a bit smarter than the rest of the crew.

So, up to the White House march the perennially wrong Richard Perle, James Woolsey and Newt Gingrich to convince Condi Rice that poor Ahmad is the victim of a smear campaign. Condi is non-committal as is every single neocon in the government who obviously know that Ahmad is a traitor on a particularly egregious scale. (Not to mention that they all may very well be sitting in the same hot seat within a very short period of time.)

Meanwhile, in Jane Meyer's new piece in the best investigative magazine in America, The New Yorker, she relates the inside story of the rise of Chalabi in Washington. He is a clever fellow:

After the fall of Communism, the neoconservatives were eager for a new cause, and Chalabi—an educated, secular Shiite who was accepting of Israel and talked about spreading democracy throughout the Middle East—capitalized on their enthusiasm. Judith Kipper, the Council on Foreign Relations director, said that, around this time, Chalabi made “a deliberate decision to turn to the right,” having realized that conservatives were more likely than liberals to back the use of force against Saddam.[read: gullible fools-ed.]

As Brooke put it, “We thought very carefully about this, and realized there were only a couple of hundred people” in Washington who were influential in shaping policy toward Iraq. He and Chalabi set out to win these people over. Before long, Chalabi was on a first-name basis with thirty members of Congress, such as Trent Lott and Newt Gingrich, and was attending social functions with Richard Perle, a former Assistant Secretary of Defense, who was now a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and Dick Cheney, who was the C.E.O. of Halliburton. According to Brooke, “From the beginning, Cheney was in philosophical agreement with this plan. Cheney has said, ‘Very seldom in life do you get a chance to fix something that went wrong.’”

Wolfowitz was particularly taken with Chalabi, an American friend of Chalabi’s said. “Chalabi really charmed him. He told me they are both intellectuals. Paul is a bit of a dreamer.” To Wolfowitz, Chalabi must have seemed an ideal opposition figure. "He just thought, This is cool—he says all the right stuff about democracy and human rights. I wonder if we can’t roll Saddam, just the way we did the Soviets,” the friend said.[Oh, Jesus - ed]

Chalabi was running out of money, however, and he needed new patrons. Brooke said that he and Chalabi hit upon a notion that, he admitted, was “naked politics”: the I.N.C.’s disastrous history of foiled C.I.A. operations under the Clinton Administration could be turned into a partisan weapon for the Republicans. “Clinton gave us a huge opportunity,” Brooke said. “We took a Republican Congress and pitted it against a Democratic White House. We really hurt and embarrassed the President.” The Republican leadership in Congress, he conceded, “didn’t care that much about the ammunition. They just wanted to beat up the President.” Nonetheless, he said, senior Republican senators, including Trent Lott and Jesse Helms, “were very receptive, right away.”

So basically, Chalabi charmed the starry-eyed neocons with delusions of a Mesopotamian Monticello and handed the craven, GOP powerfucks another weapon to use against Clinton. This guy completely understood the Modern Republican Party, you have to admit.

And then there is this simply mind-blowing story about The NY Times, which they somehow forgot to mention in their "editor's note":

In an unusual arrangement, two months before the invasion began, the chief correspondent for the Times, Patrick E. Tyler, who was in charge of overseeing the paper’s war coverage, hired Chalabi’s niece, Sarah Khalil, to be the paper’s office manager in Kuwait. Chalabi had long been a source for Tyler. Chalabi’s daughter Tamara, who was in Kuwait at the time, told me that Khalil helped her father’s efforts while she was working for the Times.

In early April, 2003, Chalabi was stranded in the desert shortly after U.S. forces airlifted him and several hundred followers into southern Iraq, leaving them without adequate water, food, or transportation. Once again, the assistance of the U.S. military had backfired. Chalabi used a satellite phone to call Khalil for help. According to Tamara, Khalil commandeered money from I.N.C. funds and rounded up a convoy of S.U.V.s, which she herself led across the border into Iraq.

Tyler told me that he hadn’t known that Khalil had helped Chalabi get into southern Iraq. He added that Khalil had a background in journalism, and that Chalabi hadn’t been a factor in the war when he hired her. “We were covering a war, not Chalabi,” he said. The Times dismissed Khalil on May 20, 2003, when word of her employment reached editors in New York. During the five months that Khalil was employed, Tyler published nine pieces that mentioned Chalabi. When asked about Khalil’s rescue of Chalabi, William Schmidt, an associate managing editor of the Times, said, “The Times is not aware of any such story, or whether it happened. If so, it was out of bounds.”

Out of bounds. Goodness gracious, I hope they suspend his milk money for at least a week. But, it begs the question. Was there any reporter on the Iraq story for The NY Times who wasn't in Chalabi's pocket?

Spoonfed journalists and spoonfed presidents alike all got what they wanted. (And the Chayefskys, Hellers and Kubricks of tomorrow have a veritable feast of material to draw from):

Francis Brooke said that nobody had ordered the I.N.C. to focus solely on W.M.D.s. “I’m a smart man,” he said. “I saw what they wanted, and I adapted my strategy.”


As a result, the war was largely marketed domestically as a scare campaign, and the I.N.C. was enlisted to promote the danger posed by Saddam’s regime. Brooke said, “I sent out an all-points bulletin to our network, saying, ‘Look, guys, get me a terrorist, or someone who works with terrorists. And, if you can get stuff on W.M.D., send it!’”

As Chalabi's little scam unravels, the marks are struggling to understand what's happened to them:

Jack Blum, a former lawyer for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told me that the Administration compromised its vision from the start, by relying on dubious partners such as Chalabi. He said, “We ruined what could have had some promise by dealing with all the wrong people.”
Hahaha. The "vision" was Chalabi's from the get-go. He just made the neocon fools think it was theirs. As his daughter said:

[her father’s problems could be traced to the fact that] “a foreigner, and an Arab, had beaten the Administration at their own game, in their own back yard.”

Friday, May 28, 2004

Ooops, He Did It Again

I am reliably informed that Dana Rohrabacher is once more blaming the Clinton administration for the Taliban and al Qaeda, this time on Crossfire. Looks like it's time to dig into the Dana files again:


Rohrabacher’s post-Sept. 11 finger-pointing was a fraud designed to distract attention from his own ongoing meddling in the foreign-policy nightmare. Federal documents reviewed by the Weekly show that Rohrabacher maintained a cordial, behind-the-scenes relationship with Osama bin Laden’s associates in the Middle East—even while he mouthed his most severe anti-Taliban comments at public forums across the U.S. There’s worse: despite the federal Logan Act ban on unauthorized individual attempts to conduct American foreign policy, the congressman dangerously acted as a self-appointed secretary of state, constructing what foreign-affairs experts call a "dual tract" policy with the Taliban.

I mean, this is getting ridiculous. Isn't there any "journalist" in Washington who has the cojones to call this asshole on his little "friendship" with the Taliban? What in Gawd's name is it going to take to get these people to actually, you know, do their jobs? There are pictures, ferchristsake!

Thanks Wendel for the heads up.

Just Because You're Paranoid, Doesn't Mean That People Aren't Out To Get You

Rush told his listeners this week, "There's something going on. I mean, every day now somebody is out there trashing me and mentioning my name from someplace.These comments are two weeks old. Now they've even got Gore mouthing these comments

There's something going on, all right, hop-head. You're having to answer for the vomitous lies you've been spewing for the last 10 years. Nobody has to say anything bad about you. All they have to do is wrap your own words around your neck and let them hang you.

Guess what, Rush. You're becoming a liability.

What Was Your First Clue?

The one and only time I interviewed Mr. Bush, when he was running in 2000, he called me by the wrong name several times, which was no big deal, and I didn't correct him. But after this went on for a while, his adviser Karen Hughes, who was sitting in on the interview, finally said: "Governor, her name's not Alison, it's Melinda."

"I think I know what her name is; we just had lunch last week," Bush responded. "Your name IS still Melinda, isn't it?"


"You haven't changed it since last week?"


"OK, then. Glad we got that cleared up."

Hughes persisted, though. "Governor, you were calling her Alison."

"I wasn't calling HER Alison," he said, with apparent conviction. "I was calling YOU Alison."

At the time, I thought this was very funny. But now I'm not so sure. I keep wondering what has become of the "humble" foreign policy Bush talked about during the 2000 campaign. Yes, 9/11 has changed our president's view of the world and given him a new sense of mission, of "crusade" as he once said. Yet it has not altered just-war theory or the rule of law---which in the absence of personal humility, or any doubts about right action, seem particularly useful guideposts.

Ya think?

So, now we find out that the intellectually deficient inbred son has always had a messianic complex, has always believed he's omnipotent and has always insisted that those who surround him maintain his version of reality.

Remind you of anyone?

Another great catch from Kevin at Catch.com

Classic Charles Pierce:

Yesterday, prior to watching the Sox get vivisected by Oakland at Fenway last night, I was listening to The Radio Factor on my way home from work. Now, I've followed Bill O'Reilly's career since he was just a baby megalomaniac on Boston TV. It would not now surprise me in the least if, one night on TV, right there during The Memo, O'Reilly declared himself to be the Grand Duchess Anastasia.

Such Total Losers, Dude

If you read this article by Michael Crowley in Slate, you'll soon realize that not only is Kerry a charisma deficient loser, but anyone he could possibly pick as his running mate is even worse.

What's really fun about it is that it contains every single GOP talking point ever devised to insult and demean Democrats. It will make you feel all kewl 'n stuff when you read it because then you'll know what to say to be above it all like the totally, like, smart dudes who write for, like, totally awesome online zines.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

What's a drunken man like, fool?

Like a drowned man, a fool, and a madman. One draught above heat makes him a fool, the seconds mads him, and a third drowns him.

Ezra deconstructs Hitchy's somehow sad little defense of his great friend Ahmad so we don't have to.

I actually thought this was rather poignant:

At our long meeting, Chalabi impressed me for three reasons. The first was that he thought the overthrow of one of the world's foulest-ever despotisms could be accomplished. I knew enough by then to know that any Iraqi taking this position in public was risking his life and the lives of his family. I did not know Iraq very well but had visited the country several times in peace and war and met numerous Iraqis, and the second thing that impressed me was that, whenever I mentioned any name, Chalabi was able to make an exhaustive comment on him or her. (The third thing that impressed me was his astonishingly extensive knowledge of literary and political arcana, but that's irrelevant to our purposes here.)

Isn't that something. Ahmad greatly impressed him by "bravely" saying he thought the US could overthrow a third world dictator, he knew many names of many Iraqis and he dropped lots of political and literary references into the conversation. Imagine that. All those thing in one meeting with the Orwell worshipping, name dropping literary and political snob, Chris Hitchens. Why it was Kismet!

If I were a cynical type, I might just think that old Chris got himself conned.

Me, Me, Me

In Jack Beatty's scathing takedown of the neocon vision in The Atlantic, the sub-head reads:

In the wake of Iraq, the term "neo-conservative" may come to mean "dangerous innocence about world realities."

Now, I don't mean to toot my own horn, being the incredibly modest and unassuming sort that I am, but I simply must call to everyone's attention the fact that I have been calling the Wolfowitz claque the "starry-eyed neocons" since before I started this blog even, which was way back in oh, 2003.

You can look it up.

When You're Wrong, You're Wrong

Tristero's in fine form today. Read it all. He takes on the blogospheric navel gazing about whether the war was a good idea but badly executed or whether it was just a bad idea. He's not in the mood to take a bunch of idealistic hawks' discredited views seriously any longer.

I especially like this:

A "great" foreign policy, like a "great" Christianity, can never depend on evangelism. You simply must strive to embody greatness in your own country (and in your soul). You can't ram greatness down someone's throat because, by definition then, it can't be that great.

He seems think you can't create a democracy by invading a country, putting a gun to the people's heads and telling them to be free or else. How odd.

Why, that's like telling a would-be suitor that he can't make the girl love him by throwing her to the ground and screaming "you WILL love me!" in her face.

That always works. Women love it. What's he going on about?

Showing Up Daddy

In reading this extremely interesting article by Robert Parry in Consortiumnews.com about how Junior should sit down with his father and have a heart to heart with dear old Dad about the real story of Iran, Iraq and Israel (wow, what a story) I was reminded of how often I heard people say in 2000 that Bush would have his father as his closest advisor. I think that this was one thing that settled people's minds a bit about the obvious lack of qualifications and essential knowledge that Lil' George brought to the table. Just the other day, somebody said to me, "but his father must have warned him."

The fact is that Bush is such a callow little ass that he doesn't talk to his father. And he is such an arrogant piece of compost that he actually believes all the Karen Hughes propaganda that's been spewed these last few years about the size of his codpiece:

...the alleged Iranian intelligence trap could only have been sprung because key Bush advisers were inclined to believe the bogus information in the first place, since it fit their own agendas. In addition, Bush lacked the sophistication and the knowledge to bring adequate skepticism to what he was hearing, assuming that he wanted to. Though his father has that depth of understanding, the younger Bush says he hasn't sought out his father's counsel on Iraq. Nor is advice from his father's top confidants welcome.

When the elder Bush's national security adviser Brent Scowcroft weighed in on Aug. 15, 2002, with a Wall Street Journal opinion piece warning against an invasion of Iraq, the younger Bush's NSC adviser Condoleezza Rice reportedly gave Scowcroft a tongue-lashing. He subsequently stayed out of the debate. "Neither Scowcroft nor Bush senior wanted to injure the son's self-confidence," wrote Bob Woodward in Plan of Attack.

When questioned about getting his father's advice, the younger George Bush sounds almost petulant. "I can't remember a moment where I said to myself, maybe he can help me make the decision," Bush told Woodward.
Bush said he couldn't remember any specifics about conversations he may have had with his father about the conflict. "I'm not trying to be evasive," Bush said. "I don't remember. I could ask him and see if he remembers something. But how do you ask a person, What does it feel like to send somebody in and them lose life? Remember, I've already done so, for starters, in Afghanistan. "

He's not only an incompetent president. He's an ungrateful, backstabbing son to the man for whom he owes EVERYTHING he ever got. Why anyone would want to have a beer with this supercilious little shit is beyond me.

Punchin' Judy

USA Today actually names names in this column about the Judith Miller debacle. The thesis of the piece, though, is that when The New York Times runs unskeptical articles on page one, it affects the political process more strongly than if another paper does it. In this case, when they breathlessly reported that Saddam was about to launch a nuclear missile (or close to it) it cowed many Democrats into thinking that the administration might just be right.

I suspect that this is true. And it is another example of liberals internalizing right wing cant. The "liberal" New York Times spent eight years trying to run the Democratic president out of town, both on its news pages and on the editorial pages. They assigned an openly hostile reporter to cover the Gore campaign and sent a fawning acolyte to report on Bush's every manly move. They have been fed all kinds of propaganda and lies by GOP political operatives for years and people knew this early on. Trudy Lieberman wrote an amazing expose in the Columbia Journalism Review of the Whitewater disinformation campaign by David Bossie's Citizens United all the way back in 1994:

Francis Shane, publisher of Citizens United's newsletter, ClintonWatch, hesitates to say exactly whom they've worked with -- "We don't particularly like to pinpoint people" -- but he does say, "We have worked closer with The New York Times than The Washington Times." Jeff Gerth, The New York Times's chief reporter on Whitewater, hesitated to talk on the record. He did say, "If Citizens United has some document that's relevant, I take it. I check it out like anything else."

Uh huh. Sometimes I think the Washington Times exists solely to provide a phony kind of balance so that Democrats will find the the NY Times more credible just by the contrast. Besides, The Times is "liberal," right? Everybody knows that. They wouldn't peddle phony stories about Democrats.

From the USA Today article:

Martin Kaplan, dean of the Norman Lear Center at the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication, says that "for people who are serious and thoughtful, the Times is a gatekeeper of quality in terms of what's credible and believable. When it published those pieces, it sent signals which legitimized our going to war and calmed people's fears that we were rushing. It turns out that the Times was hoodwinked just like the rest of the country."

See? "Serious and thoughtful" people know that The Times is credible and believable. This in spite of the fact that they almost single handedly took down a presidency based upon proven false information provided by political operatives and then proceeded to believe many of the same people when they said that the United States was in mortal danger from Saddam Hussein.

But, they are the liberal New York Times! They can't possibly not have our liberal best interests at heart.

Luckily there are some "realists" left:

... for anyone to suggest that the Times reports led us to war is "absurd," says Stephanopoulos. The former Clinton administration communications chief says the newspaper's influence is sometimes exaggerated. "In this Internet age, there is so much information. ... No single newspaper has that much power or influence. People aren't waiting for a single newspaper to hit their doorstep at 6 a.m. to set the agenda."

Quite the little whore isn't he? Setting aside the fact that the New York Times most definitely sets the news agenda and that Democrats are more likely to believe something if it's in the Times, Stephanopoulos of all people knows what the New York Times is capable of unleashing. But, he's now in the full time business of self promotion so he's keeping his options open. Besides, This Weak is a miserable failure so he's probably looking for work. It wouldn't pay to tell the truth.

Who Fed The Boys?

If anybody wants to catch up the very latest in Chalabi intrigue, Laura Rozen at War and Piece has got it goin' on as usual.

It's creeping closer and closer to the inner circle. According to a UPI report Rozen cites from Tuesday, the FBI is looking at two former CPA officials who are now back in the states --- one still working for the pentagon and one snuggled safely in the arms of AEI.

Rozen says the two are reported to be Michael Rubin and Harold Rhode (although they have denied it.)

Just for kicks, here's what Right Web watch says about Rubin:

Michael Rubin is one of the youngest neoconservative figures to gain prominence within the George W. Bush administration. A Yale graduate whose dissertation focused on modern Iran, Rubin has traveled extensively in Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Sudan.

Rubin, an AEI scholar, was involved in several meetings and conferences officiated by Douglas Feith and Harold Rhode at AEI as part of the Bush transition team. One of the objectives of these meetings was to reshape the top leadership at the Pentagon, sidelining or removing those who were regarded as moderates. Out of these discussions came the idea for the creation of the Office of Special Plans (OSP).

Between 2002 and 2004, Rubin worked as a staff adviser for Iran and Iraq in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, in which capacity he was seconded to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq. Rubin was assigned to the Pentagon’s Office of Special Plans, which was fold into the Northern Gulf Affairs Office after the unit was implicated in cooking intelligence information to justify the Iraq war and occupation.

In a National Review article, Rubin discusses sentiments expressed whenever Secretary of State Colin Powell and Special Envoy Anthony Zinni would visit Israel.

“While working at Hebrew University this past year, I took the bus to campus each day. Whenever U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell or Special Envoy Anthony Zinni was dispatched to Israel, colleagues would urge me to stay home until after the suicide bombing. Middle Easterners understand the lesson those in the U.S. and Europe are still learning: When governments engage dictators, civilians suffer.” [Yeah. Europe doesn't know anything about that...ed.]

I hadn't heard of Harold Rhode, but waddaya know. It turns out that he is one of Michael Ledeen's intellectual houseboys. And he was involved in that bizarre little bit of deja vu-vu last summer when Ledeen tried to "open up the lines of communication with Iran" by getting in touch with our old friend Manucher Ghorbanifar, the Iranian con artist who arranged the arms for hostages deal for Ollie and the boys.

Pentagon hard-liners pressing for change of government in Iran have held secret, unauthorised meetings in Paris with an arms dealer who was a main figure in the Iran-Contra scandal.

Administration officials said at least two Pentagon officials working for the Undersecretary of Defence for Policy, Douglas Feith, have held "several" meetings with Manucher Ghorbanifar, the Iranian middleman in United States arms-for-hostage shipments to Iran in the mid-1980s.

The officials who disclosed the secret meetings said the talks with Mr Ghorbanifar were not authorised by the White House and appeared to be aimed at undercutting sensitive negotiations with Iran's Government.

A senior Administration official said the US Government had learned about the unauthorised talks by accident.

The senior official and another Administration source said the ultimate objective of Mr Feith and a group of neo-conservative civilians inside the Pentagon is change of government in Iran.

The immediate objective appeared to be to "antagonise Iran so that they get frustrated and then by their reactions harden US policy against them".

The official confirmed that the Secretary of State, Colin Powell, complained directly to the Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, several days ago about Mr Feith conducting missions that went against US policy.

A spokesman for Mr Feith's Near East, South Asia and Special Plans office, which sources said played a key role in contacts with Mr Ghorbanifar contacts, ignored an emailed inquiry about the talks.

The senior Administration official identified two of the defence officials who met Mr Ghorbanifar as Harold Rhode, Mr Feith's top Middle East specialist, and Larry Franklin, a Defence Intelligence Agency analyst on loan to the undersecretary's office.

Mr Rhode recently acted as a liaison between Mr Feith's office, which drafted much of the Administration's post-Iraq planning, and Ahmed Chalabi, a former Iraqi exilegroomed for leadership by the Pentagon.

Mr Rhode is a protege of Michael Ledeen, who was a National Security Council consultant in the mid 1980s when he introduced Mr Ghorbanifar to Oliver North, a NSC aide, and others in the opening stages of the Iran-Contra affair.

Rozen says that many of her colleagues have expressed skepticism because these guys couldn't have had access to the kind of sensitive information that's being discussed.

That may be true, but it sure looks like they have easy access to those who do. Particularly Douglas Feith, who is clearly up to his neck in this thing. Ledeen probably is too. He's been playing the Iran angle for years.

Who duped who and how is still up for grabs, but it sure looks like Junior and the Retreads got taken to the cleaners. What a surprise. Them being grown-ups and all.


Thanks to commenter Vin Carreo, I was reminded of this article by josh Marshall from 2002 in which he dissected the entire "second tier" pentagon neocon crew, (which includes an amazing anecdote about Rhode) describing them as even more nutty than the first tier of Wolfowitz, Perle and the rest:

In the minds of these second-tier appointees, taking out Saddam Hussein is only part of a larger puzzle. Their grand vision of the Middle East goes something like this: Stage 1: Iraq becomes democratic. Stage 2: Reformers take over in Iran. That would leave the three powerhouses of the Middle East -- Turkey, Iraq and Iran -- democratic and pro-Western. Suddenly the Saudis wouldn't be just one more corrupt, authoritarian Arab regime slouching toward bin Ladenism. They'd be surrounded by democratic states that would undermine Saudi rule both militarily and ideologically.

As a plan to pursue in the real world, most of the career military and the civilian employees at the Pentagon -- indeed most establishment foreign policy experts -- see this vision as little short of insane. But to Bush's hawkish Pentagon appointees the real prize isn't Baghdad, it's Riyadh. And the Saudis know it.

Oh, what a tangled web we weave.

Consider The Source

Eric Boehlert has an interesting post up in Salon's War Room '04. Discussing the NY Times sorta culpa, he notes the similarities between the paper's Wen Ho Lee apology and the Judy Miller debacle and then asks when it will have to answer for its even more egregious Whitewater coverage. (Never, is my guess.)

But, he says something in passing that is very important:

Of course the most troubling similarity is that in both cases Republican informants, operating with a clear political agenda, took the paper-of-record for a joy ride as they tried first to tar President Clinton with a China spy scandal in the late '90s and then set out to launch an unprecedented U.S. preemptive U.S. war against Iraq.

I would say this is troubling indeed. I have had a number of altercations with journalists over my characterization of them being spoonfed by Republican liars but it is a fact. It has been going on for a long time now and it is unlikely to stop.

Alterman, Conason, Brock and others have written about the SCLM and the echo chamber effect and the Mighty Wurlitzer. The information is out there and available. But, I'm not sure what it's going to take to convince the press that when a GOP operative is offering you a juicy story that is just too good to be true that it probably is.

The list of wrong stories, innuendos, misdirection, disinformation and outright lies that have been printed and broadcast on behalf of the Republican party in the mainstream press is staggering. It runs from bullshit about haircuts to rape accusations to trashing the White House to Bank Fraud to Chinese espionage to phony assertions about nuclear bombs and pending terrorist attacks. It goes on and on and on, escalating exponentially, and yet the media keeps writing up these falsehoods as if these people haven't been proven to be liars time and time again.

Judith Miller is only the most obvious culprit because her false stories have been so blatently exposed. But, it happens every day in the major papers and networks. These journalists have cultivated "sources" who are giving them misinformation. They continue to rely on these "sources" even though they have led them astray time and time again. That these sources are also Republican operatives or GOP power players with an agenda doesn't seem to engender much skepticism, I believe, because these sources always have such an entertaining and interesting "story" to tell.

But, why should an journalist worry much about such things? Getting stories wrong time after time after time doesn't seem to have any impact on your career. Unless you are caught red handed plagiarizing or simply making things up out of whole cloth, if you've got the inside Washiington track you won't be fired no matter how badly you get things wrong. As Judy says:

I had no reason to believe what I reported at the time was inaccurate," Miller told me. "I believed the intelligence information I had at the time. I sure didn't believe they were making it up. This was a learning process. You constantly have to ask the question, 'What do you know at the time you are writing it?' We tried really hard to get more information and we vetted information very, very carefully."

That seems to be good enough for the New York Times which is why they are constantly being played for stooges by the Republican party. And it's a good part of the reason why our politics are so fucked up.

In any normal organization Judith Miller would be gone. She committed journalistic malpractice of such a magnitude that people have died partially as a result of what she did. But instead, they are protecting her. After all, if she goes she'll take all of those "great sources" with her.

Sending A Message

I thought it would be nice to hear what our troops are listening to today as they toil in dangerous places, particularly the middle east. This is what they're hearing from home:

Algore, this whole speech, he went nuts. He's flailing around wildly there. Not just me, he's attacking everybody who has led the nation through 9/11, the war on terrorism, and he's making statements that are flat out lies in this speech. For example, the Geneva Conventions. I don't know how many of you know this, the Geneva Conventions do not protect terrorists. They protect soldiers who serve under a nation who wear uniforms who carry their weapons openly, and with the kind of threat that we're facing today with terrorist cells in the U.S. plotting an even bigger attack than 9/11. I mean, it says a lot about Gore. It says he's perverse, that he would be argue to go confer greater rights on those who seek to murder millions of Americans and calling for even tougher actions to seek them out and destroy them before they destroy us, and this is what is truly puzzling to me about the left, and this is what's disarming about these prison photos.

What really troubles me about these photos, above and beyond what's in them, is how they're being used to undermine our war effort. Now we have the former vice president, a man who was thisclose to becoming president of the United States, speak out in this speech. We haven't played you the bites, but he was flailing around on the Geneva Convention. He starts talking about conferring more rights on the kind of people who want to murder tens of thousands more Americans than he does seem interested in dealing with the people who want to commit those murders. He has succeeded in giving our adversaries in Europe and our enemies in the caves of Afghanistan and the allies of Iraq a message that they'll take to heart, and that is that we are not a united nation, that we do not have the will to win this war, and that we are weak and indecisive. That's the message that Gore sends today, and it's the wrong message, because it's a lie, and beyond that it is an outrage.

I don't think anything of this kind has ever been done by a former vice president during a war, but our adversaries and our enemies would be badly mistaken if they actually believe that Gore speaks for this nation, because he doesn't. I speak for more of this nation than Algore does, and I will say it on this program. Otherwise, why is he bothering to mention my name? He speaks for the radical fringe in his party who have become more and more the mainstream of his party. They are the Hate-America First radical left, and I hope the American people get to hear all of this speech. I hope it's played over and over again, for this is how low Gore and his crowd are willing to go to undermine the war effort and our troops and this president to promote themselves and their own agenda and get themselves back into power. Lest we forget, Algore and his boss, Bill Clinton, stood by while the enemy was plotting and planning to murder thousands of Americans.

They did nothing serious to stop bin Laden. They did nothing serious to fight terrorism. They degraded or military. They slashed our troop levels, undermined our intelligence services. Today calls for civil rights for terrorists in his speech while opposing the Patriot Act which helps us find and stop terrorist cells right here in our country, and Gore has said nothing about how he would fight this evil because he's obsessed with hatred not for the enemy but for George W. Bush -- and that's what identifies MoveOn.org. That's what identifies most of the fringe, radical left in this country. They actually think Bush is a greater threat to the people of this world and this country than any thug dictator, Saddam Hussein, Kim Jong ll, anybody. They think Bush poses a greater threat, and as misguided as that is, this is what animates them. It is what motivates them and inspires them.

I'm sure glad the boys and girls in uniform are kept up to date on current affairs, aren't you? And I'm sure they heard Gore's entire speech so they could judge for themselves if what Rush says is true. Certainly on All Things Considered or Marketplace they'll be addressing the question of whether the Democrats caused 9/11 and support terrorism. It wouldn't be fair and balanced otherwise.

Rush might be causing just the teeniest, tiniest bit of confusion, though, when the troops in Iraq hear that the Geneva Conventions don't apply to people who aren't in uniform. But, hey , I'm sure Goober and Gomer know that Rush Limbaugh doesn't know what he's talking about. I can't imagine that hearing stuff like this would make some pissed off national guardsman think that his countrymen support his treating Iraqi people like animals.

Thanks to Seeing the Forest for the heads up. Read Dave's entire piece. It's great.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Each In His Own Way

Sometimes I wonder how a Democrat can ever win an election in this country because he's being pulled so hard from all directions that he's likely to go crazy from the pain.

Al Gore gave a great speech today. The wing nuts are all over it, of course. But, it's also an occasion for our side to criticize John Kerry for not giving the same speech. Sigh.

As I said in my earlier post, I think that Al Gore holds a unique position in American politics. He is the man who was elected president who was not allowed to take the office. It's a position that allows him to speak in ways that others, who are within the political system, cannot. It's not because they are cowardly but because they have to actually govern and our system requires that presidential candidates especially, have to run to represent all the people, not just our side.

Al Gore can speak effectively yet with no holds barred because he holds the moral authority of the presidency without actually having to govern. It gives power to his words, particularly abroad. But, it is because of his unique situation that people listen to what he says. Kerry, on the other hand, is trying to get getting elected in what is currently a close election and that takes some --- dare I say it --- nuance.

Firebreathing is a powerful thing. But, it is not in and of itself a good thing. We have to use our hearts and our heads and manange this election intelligently.

For what it's worth, Kerry is on the same page this week as Gore. I don't think this is an accident:

At the same moment Attorney General John Ashcroft was telling reporters in Washington that al-Qaida may be planning an attack on the United States, Sen. John Kerry was in Seattle, arguing that Ashcroft and his Bush administration colleagues have failed to do enough to prepare for such an attack.

Noting that Bush administration officials have repeatedly said that a terrorist attack in the United States is a question of "when, not if," Kerry asked why the administration hasn't moved more decisively to increase the number of cops on the street, to require inspections of cargo container ships, to increase security on trains and to protect nuclear power plants and other potentially vulnerable targets.

"I'm not going to stand in front of you as a potential president and say to you that you can protect every single place and harden every single target in the country -- all Americans know that," Kerry told a few thousand supporters who braved Seattle's drizzle to see the candidate speak on a public pier. "But what we can do is protect against catastrophe. What we can do is protect those places that are most logical places for the largest potential damage or danger. And that is the responsibility of a president."

While Kerry didn't specifically say -- as some of his supporters have -- that Ashcroft's warnings could be a politically motivated ploy to shore up Bush's free-falling approval ratings, he came awfully close to doing so. "We deserve a president of the United States who doesn't make homeland security a photo opportunity and the rhetoric of a campaign," Kerry said. "We deserve a president who makes America safer."

Kerry begins an 11-day "focus" on national security and foreign policy in Seattle Thursday with what aides are billing as a major speech on terrorism and the war on Iraq. Wednesday's speech -- in which Kerry said that Bush had repeatedly misled the country about Iraq -- may have been a preview of things to come.

Invoking his own experience in Vietnam, Kerry said that the ultimate test of a commander-in-chief in wartime comes when he must look the parents of a fallen soldier in the eye. At that moment, Kerry said the president must be able to say of any war: "I tried to do everything in my power to avoid it, but the threat was such that we had no choice." Bush, Kerry said, "failed -- and fails -- that test in Iraq."

Nothing We Do Can Ever Be Bad

Via Media Matters I read this from Ben Stein:

Media, Congress, get it straight: The U.S. is the main repository of decency on this Earth. The al-Qaida can never defeat us if we are united. But we can defeat ourselves if we begin to think we are the enemy and lose our confidence in our cause. There is no moral equivalency between us and the terrorists. We're the good guys, and if we lose because we didn't play hard enough, it's the end of everything good in our world.

Then, I believe, his head turned five revolutions on top of his shoulders and he projectile vomited several gallons of matzo ball soup.

Update: Mary Matalin was on Rush Limbaugh and said:

[Y]ou inspired me this morning. There's no reason that I have to do that. I'm -- and at least I think I do, but when I listen to you, I get all the information I need, and I -- and I -- it is -- I have a confidence in the President, in the policies, in the goals. I have -- I know his conviction. I know he's right and I know he has the leadership to do it. What I don't have, and what I can only get from you, is the cheerfulness of your confidence --

It's amazing how a fistfull of little blue babies can lift your spirits, Mary. But, I think you know that.

The question I will always have for James Carville is ... how can anything be good enough to make up for all the rest?

Support The Troops

Salon.com is offering free subscriptions to active duty personnel. Tell your friends and relatives in the service. (It has some good sexy stuff, too, if that's what it takes to get them interested. And I mean normal sexy stuff, not the freak show stuff that Limbaugh quite obviously spends way too much time perusing.)

And, there's a petition circulating to get Limbaugh off of American Forces radio. Personally, I'd rather see them challenged to give Howard Stern the follow-up slot since he's explicitly anti-Bush these days, but this is good, too.

Turning down the volume of the Mighty Wurlitzer is key to ending the reign of the Gingrichian Republicans. If there's one thing we can do on the internet its show what glass jaws these right wing tough guy pundits really have.

Layers Of Lies On Lies

Bush administration has used 27 rationales for war in Iraq, study says

Only 27?

If it seems that there have been quite a few rationales for going to war in Iraq, that’s because there have been quite a few – 27, in fact, all floated between Sept. 12, 2001, and Oct. 11, 2002, according to a new study from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. All but four of the rationales originated with the administration of President George W. Bush.

The study also finds that the Bush administration switched its focus from Osama bin Laden to Saddam Hussein early on – only five months after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States.


Largio mapped the road to war over three phases: Sept. 12, 2001, to December 2001; January 2002, from Bush’s State of the Union address, to April 2002; and Sept. 12, 2002, to Oct. 11, 2002, the period from Bush’s address to the United Nations to Congress’s approval of the resolution to use force in Iraq.

She drew from statements by President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, Defense Policy Board member and long-time adviser Richard Perle; by U.S. senators Tom Daschle, Joe Lieberman, Trent Lott and John McCain; and from stories in the Congressional Record, the New York Times and The Associated Press. She logged 1,500 statements and stories.

The rationales Largio identified include everything from the five front-runners – war on terror, prevention of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, lack of weapons inspections, removal of Saddam Hussein’s regime, Saddam Hussein is evil, to the also-rans – Sen. Joe Lieberman’s “because Saddam Hussein hates us,” Colin Powell’s “because it’s a violation of international law,” and Richard Perle’s “because we can make Iraq an example and gain favor within the Middle East.”

We knew this because unnamed Bush administration officials said in the fall of 2002 that they were throwing everything against the wall to see what sticks. And, of course, there was the infamous George W. Corleone statement, "Fuck Saddam, we're taking him out." Still it is very interesting to see all the various excuses and rationales in one place.

But, here's the interesting part:

Largio also discovered that it was the media that initiated discussions about Iraq, introducing ideas before the administration and congressional leaders did about the intentions of that country and its leader. The media also “brought the idea that Iraq may be connected to the 9-11 incident to the forefront, asking questions of the officials on the topic and printing articles about the possibility.”

The media “seemed to offer a lot of opinion and speculation, as there had been no formal indication that Iraq would be a target in the war on terror,” Largio wrote. Oddly, though, the media didn’t switch its focus to Iraq and Saddam until July of 2002.

Yet, “Overall, the media was in tune with the major arguments of the administration and Congress, but not with every detail that emerged from the official sources.”

So much has happened so quickly that we lose sight of what total war whores the media were in the lead up and initial execution of the invasion. The reason the media "initiated discussions" about Iraq was quite obviously because they were being spoonfed by the administration. And, as they admitted again just today, even SCLM outlets like the NY Times just can 't shake the habit of running like a herd of buffallo over the cliff whenever the Republicans let out a war whoop.

Here's the report's web site.

The Best Speech Of His Presidency

I urge all of you to read President Gore's speech if you didn't get to see him give it.

Al Gore has a unique position in the eyes of the world, especially in places where Machiavellian vote counting schemes are the norm rather than the exception. He is the shadow president, the man who should be at the helm instead of the man whom they have almost universally come to despise.

His words have particular meaning because they express to many the beliefs of the majority of Americans. He alone has the authority to speak for all of us who were cheated and have been forced to sit by as this usurper, through incompetence, misplaced machismo and --- most of all --- unbelievable hubris, has managed to destroy more than half a century's worth of international goodwill and over two centuries hard won belief by the American people in the rule of law.

The world is watching to see what we do in November. They are counting on us to save this country and them. Al Gore is the single best person to reassure the world that we are serious, we understand the problem and we are going to deal with it.

A few excerpts follow, but I urge you, again, to read the whole speech:

What happened at the prison, it is now clear, was not the result of random acts by "a few bad apples," it was the natural consequence of the Bush Administration policy that has dismantled those wise constraints and has made war on America's checks and balances.

The abuse of the prisoners at Abu Ghraib flowed directly from the abuse of the truth that characterized the Administration's march to war and the abuse of the trust that had been placed in President Bush by the American people in the aftermath of September 11th.

There was then, there is now and there would have been regardless of what Bush did, a threat of terrorism that we would have to deal with. But instead of making it better, he has made it infinitely worse. We are less safe because of his policies. He has created more anger and righteous indignation against us as Americans than any leader of our country in the 228 years of our existence as a nation -- because of his attitude of contempt for any person, institution or nation who disagrees with him.


President Bush said in his speech Monday night that the war in Iraq is "the central front in the war on terror." It's not the central front in the war on terror, but it has unfortunately become the central recruiting office for terrorists. [Dick Cheney said, "This war may last the rest of our lives.] The unpleasant truth is that President Bush's utter incompetence has made the world a far more dangerous place and dramatically increased the threat of terrorism against the United States. Just yesterday, the International Institute of Strategic Studies reported that the Iraq conflict " has arguable focused the energies and resources of Al Qaeda and its followers while diluting those of the global counterterrorism coalition." The ISS said that in the wake of the war in Iraq Al Qaeda now has more than 18,000 potential terrorists scattered around the world and the war in Iraq is swelling its ranks.


Make no mistake, the damage done at Abu Ghraib is not only to America's reputation and America's strategic interests, but also to America's spirit. It is also crucial for our nation to recognize - and to recognize quickly - that the damage our nation has suffered in the world is far, far more serious than President Bush's belated and tepid response would lead people to believe. Remember how shocked each of us, individually, was when we first saw those hideous images. The natural tendency was to first recoil from the images, and then to assume that they represented a strange and rare aberration that resulted from a few twisted minds or, as the Pentagon assured us, "a few bad apples."

But as today's shocking news reaffirms yet again, this was not rare. It was not an aberration. Today's New York Times reports that an Army survey of prisoner deaths and mistreatment in Iraq and Afghanisatan "show a widespread pattern of abuse involving more military units than previously known.'

Nor did these abuses spring from a few twisted minds at the lowest ranks of our military enlisted personnel. No, it came from twisted values and atrocious policies at the highest levels of our government. This was done in our name, by our leaders.

These horrors were the predictable consequence of policy choices that flowed directly from this administration's contempt for the rule of law. And the dominance they have been seeking is truly not simply unworthy of America - it is also an illusory goal in its own right.


A policy based on domination of the rest of the world not only creates enemies for the United States and creates recruits for Al Qaeda, it also undermines the international cooperation that is essential to defeating the efforts of terrorists who wish harm and intimidate Americans.

Unilateralism, as we have painfully seen in Iraq, is its own reward. Going it alone may satisfy a political instinct but it is dangerous to our military, even without their Commander in Chief taunting terrorists to "bring it on."


They resent any constraint as an insult to their will to dominate and exercise power. Their appetite for power is astonishing. It has led them to introduce a new level of viciousness in partisan politics. It is that viciousness that led them to attack as unpatriotic, Senator Max Cleland, who lost three limbs in combat during the Vietnam War.

The president episodically poses as a healer and "uniter". If he president really has any desire to play that role, then I call upon him to condemn Rush Limbaugh - perhaps his strongest political supporter - who said that the torture in Abu Ghraib was a "brilliant maneuver" and that the photos were "good old American pornography," and that the actions portrayed were simply those of "people having a good time and needing to blow off steam."


But what we do now, in reaction to Abu Ghraib will determine a great deal about who we are at the beginning of the 21st century. It is important to note that just as the abuses of the prisoners flowed directly from the policies of the Bush White House, those policies flowed not only from the instincts of the president and his advisors, but found support in shifting attitudes on the part of some in our country in response to the outrage and fear generated by the attack of September 11th.

The president exploited and fanned those fears, but some otherwise sensible and levelheaded Americans fed them as well. I remember reading genteel-sounding essays asking publicly whether or not the prohibitions against torture were any longer relevant or desirable. The same grotesque misunderstanding of what is really involved was responsible for the tone in the memo from the president's legal advisor, Alberto Gonzalez, who wrote on January 25, 2002, that 9/11 "renders obsolete Geneva's strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions."


The abhorrent acts in the prison were a direct consequence of the culture of impunity encouraged, authorized and instituted by Bush and Rumsfeld in their statements that the Geneva Conventions did not apply. The apparent war crimes that took place were the logical, inevitable outcome of policies and statements from the administration.


President Bush offered a brief and half-hearted apology to the Arab world - but he should apologize to the American people for abandoning the Geneva Conventions. He also owes an apology to the U.S. Army for cavalierly sending them into harm's way while ignoring the best advice of their commanders. Perhaps most importantly of all, he should apologize to all those men and women throughout our world who have held the ideal of the United States of America as a shining goal, to inspire their hopeful efforts to bring about justice under a rule of law in their own lands. Of course, the problem with all these legitimate requests is that a sincere apology requires an admission of error, a willingness to accept responsibility and to hold people accountable. And President Bush is not only unwilling to acknowledge error. He has thus far been unwilling to hold anyone in his administration accountable for the worst strategic and military miscalculations and mistakes in the history of the United States of America.


In December of 2000, even though I strongly disagreed with the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to order a halt to the counting of legally cast ballots, I saw it as my duty to reaffirm my own strong belief that we are a nation of laws and not only accept the decision, but do what I could to prevent efforts to delegitimize George Bush as he took the oath of office as president.

I did not at that moment imagine that Bush would, in the presidency that ensued, demonstrate utter contempt for the rule of law and work at every turn to frustrate accountability...

So today, I want to speak on behalf of those Americans who feel that President Bush has betrayed our nation's trust, those who are horrified at what has been done in our name, and all those who want the rest of the world to know that we Americans see the abuses that occurred in the prisons of Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantanamo and secret locations as yet undisclosed as completely out of keeping with the character and basic nature of the American people and at odds with the principles on which America stands.

I believe we have a duty to hold President Bush accountable - and I believe we will. As Lincoln said at our time of greatest trial, "We - even we here - hold the power, and bear the responsibility."

I hope that this speech is covered heavily in the rest of the world. The situation is so dire that it is important that people realize that the duly elected president of the United States stands in stark contrast to the usurper who sits in the White House. These words could go a long way to calm some of the anger overseas by clearly and distinctly separating the hated president from the American people.

What A Novel Idea

The Bush administration is actually going to work with other nations to solve the global challenge of how to keep nuclear material away from terrorists and dictators. I know it's not quite as efficacious as breast beating about good 'n evul and invading foreign countries to show off our big swinging military prowess, but in a sane world it is the kind of thing one would have expected us to do immediately after 9/11 to great fanfare.

However, as it is a break from the preferred Republican methods of intimidation and "message sending," I'm sure it will be repudiated by Monsieur Delay and Senator Lott as a feminized, sissy-boy program.

The United States, Russia and the U.N. are working to round up nuclear material across the globe to keep it out of the hands of rogue states and militants trying to acquire anything from crude 'dirty bombs' to atomic weapons.

U.S. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham gave details of the initiative in a speech on Wednesday to members of the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Washington has earmarked more than $450 million for the plan, he said.

Abraham said the initiative addressed 'the threat posed by the entire spectrum of nuclear materials (and) reflects the realities of the 21st century that were so startlingly made clear on a September morning three years ago'.

IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei said the plan was a crucial step in reducing the nuclear threat in light of the recent discovery of a global black market that supplied sensitive atomic technology to countries like Libya, North Korea and Iran.

'We live in an increasingly polarised world,' ElBaradei told reporters. 'If you put these...things together -- a polarised world, the proliferation of (nuclear) technology, the proliferation of terrorism -- you know we will need to adjust, augment, strengthen our defence.'

The initiative includes a plan to repatriate all unused Russian-origin highly enriched uranium (HEU) fuel by the end of next year and all spent nuclear fuel by 2010.

It really is a bold move on Bush's part because this kind of thing could actually, you know, solve a probem. And solving problems is not something the Bush administration lowers itself to do. Following their Leader's example, the GOP believes that solutions are for the cleaning crew (the Democrats) to handle after Republicans have worn themselves out raping and pillaging the treasury and the military to such an extent that the American people have to throw them out of office --- after which they will devote their rich, fat lives to criticizing the sexual mores of the dog loving feminazis and counting their ill gotten gains.

This is obviously yet another testament to how much the administration is in disarray. This kind of thing would never have happened if Preznit Cheney wasn't distracted by all the torture, error, lying and mismanagement folderol.

Close Your Deaf Ear

Via The Poorman, I'm glad to find that not all Republicans are simpleminded fools like their president. Here's one who's talking some sense for a change:

When people are running for cover to avoid contact with powerful, deadly chemicals, there will be little time to say "I told you so" because once a person is exposed to Sarin gas and other deadly gasses, death is imminent and fast. Maybe then, when it is too late, they will wish they had closed a deaf ear to political rhetoric, and united with the ones who really had their best interest uppermost in their minds.. . all along.

There is no way to satisfy liberals. President Bush was unfairly criticized for failing to stop the 9/11 attacks (he knew nothing about), and yet he is criticized for trying to ward off another devastating attack. What do these people want? It's obvious, the White House, the Senate and the House. Never mind the safety of the citizens. I would love to be a fly on the wall, at some of the private meetings of the Democrats. Boy, talk about an ear full!

No one paid attention to "Chicken Little" running around like a chicken with his head cut off, warning the sky was falling, either. Most people want to live in their own little world, and the world be void of problems. Since the threat of terrorist attacks are real, it's time to get out of the mode of fairytales and enter the real world.

The real world hates America, and we were hated long before President Bush came into office. And we'll be hated long after he leaves office. It does not matter to terrorists like Osama bin Laden, who is president in America. The destruction of America has been many years in the making and now it's coming to pass, unless the plan is foiled by logical minds. Senator John Kerry cannot stop terrorists who are determined to destroy America, whether he is president or not.

The only thing I haven't figured out is why the administration didn't send this person to Iraq to run its ministry of science and hang out with Sophie Ledeen and her Neocon Party Posse. She seems to have the required qualifications.

(BTW: Did Chicken Little really run around like a chicken with his head cut off? That seems so wrong.)

For an in-depth analysis, read all about it at The Poor Man.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Moral Relativism

Reading the words in my post below by that glorious symbol of rectituide and traditional American values,Trent Lott, made me think back to a time when the good senator was extremely upset by some bad behavior:

Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) said yesterday President Clinton has lost credibility, stature and the 'moral dimension' of his presidency, but he withheld judgment on whether the president should resign or be impeached and removed from office.

Lott said his mention months ago of censure as a possible alternative to impeachment was not meant as a suggested course of action and he now appeared cool to the idea. 'That was March. This is the first of September . . . and a lot has happened since then,' Lott said, referring to Clinton's acknowledgment he had an affair with former intern Monica S. Lewinsky after denying it for seven months.

Lott called the president's relationship with Lewinsky 'disgusting.' He added: 'I am very disappointed by what has been coming forward, that apparently these acts did occur in the White House and that he, in effect, lied about it.'

Lott, who has had little to say about Clinton since the president addressed the nation about the issue two weeks ago, volunteered his comments at the start of news conference shortly after the Senate returned from a month-long recess.

'As a husband and father, I am offended by the president's behavior,' Lott said. But as a senator and congressional leader, he added, he must judgment until independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr submits his report to Congress about potentially impeachable offenses, presumably later this month.

Lott's statement was in line with an earlier go-slow signal from House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), indicating a reluctance on the part of the top GOP leadership to appear overly partisan in pursuit of Clinton. It contrasted with a more aggressive approach by other Republican leaders such as House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (Tex.), who is pushing for Clinton to resign.

Despite reserving judgment on Clinton's future, Lott left no doubt that he condemned the president's behavior in the strongest possible terms. He said Clinton had set a "tragic example . . . for the young people of this country," and added: "There is a moral dimension to the American presidency, and today that dimension, that power, has been lost in scandal and in deception."

Lott stressed that the scandal would not undermine unity of the government in the face of terrorist or other threats but questioned whether Clinton could provide the leadership to cope with them.

"Can he provide leadership without the necessary respect and with the problems that he has?" Lott asked. "That's what really matters: Will he, can he, provide leadership at a very critical time, internationally and domestically? And I guess only time will answer that question."

Unlike some other Republicans, Lott did not quarrel with Clinton's decision to go to Russia yesterday. "Obviously the timing is not ideal," he said. But "I do think that if he had canceled at this particular time . . . it would have made perhaps a bad situation even worse."

Lott also cautioned Clinton and the Democrats against confrontational tactics to divert attention from the scandal, saying the president has lost the credibility to blame Republicans if a government shutdown results from a standoff over spending bills for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1.

Can you believe how seriously they took that nonsense? It's almost quaint, isn't it? This was only 6 years ago. It's not ancient history.

Trent Lott and his friends were saying that the moral failing of the president, which consisted of 7 acts of consensual fellatio, was so great that it was questionable whether he could lead the country in the event of a crisis. It now appears that if Clinton had instead tortured or killed an innocent person he would have been in the clear.

What do you suppose Jesus would think of that, Trent?

Why'd They Bother?

So, the New York Times' faceless editors fall on their swords and accept the blame for not properly questioning the disinformation that the neocon claque fed the country about the Saddam's arsenal of evil. They name no names but are contrite about the mistakes that were made in reporting that helped the president lead this country into an immoral and useless war.

How touching.

Yet, when you read the page in which they link to the actual articles in question, you find that with the exception of two articles in 2001 about the Atta Prague meeting, all the rest of the bogus reporting featured the work of one reporter, Judith Miller, which we all knew already.

Has any person anywhere lost his or her job yet because of this unbelievable series of lies, errors and political misjudgement we call Iraq? What, exactly, is it going to take?

Judith Miller is a neocon hack, not a reliable reporter. She should never have been trusted in this area because she partnered in a book with a known tin foil hat lunatic, Laurie Mylroie, on the subject which should have tipped everyone off that she had no journalistic integrity. I don't expect Republican stooges will pay the price for their crack pot schemes until the American people boot them out of office. But, the New York Times is supposed to be about credibility. Otherwise, they are just another boring piece of fishwrap.