Sunday, October 31, 2004
Secretary of State Colin Powell has privately confided to friends in recent weeks that the Iraqi insurgents are winning the war, according to Newsweek. The insurgents have succeeded in infiltrating Iraqi forces "from top to bottom," a senior Iraqi official tells Newsweek in tomorrow’s issue of the magazine, "from decision making to the lower levels."
This is a particularly troubling development for the U.S. military, as it prepares to launch an all-out assault on the insurgent strongholds of Fallujah and Ramadi, since U.S. Marines were counting on the newly trained Iraqi forces to assist in the assault. Newsweek reports that "American military trainers have been frantically trying to assemble sufficient Iraqi troops" to fight alongside them and that they are "praying that the soldiers perform better than last April, when two battalions of poorly trained Iraqi Army soldiers refused to fight."
If the Fallujah offensive fails, Newsweek grimly predicts, "then the American president will find himself in a deepening quagmire on Inauguration Day."
It's too late for Powell to redeem his reputation and it's pathetic to watch him try. But, he's probably right. When insurgents and terrorists are executing Iraqi soldiers fifty at a time it's hard to expect the army to be loyal to an occupying force. I'll be very surprised if they are able to maintain even a slightly cohesive force.
digby 10/31/2004 10:01:00 AM
Baby It's Cold Outside
For those of you who found my post from yesterday about Bush's failure to understand the terrorist threat interesting, check out the transcript of the BBC show The Power Of Nightmares over on Silt:
In the past, politicians promised to create a better world. They had different ways of achieving this. But their power and authority came from the optimistic visions they offered to their people. Those dreams failed. And today, people have lost faith in ideologies. Increasingly, politicians are seen simply as managers of public life. But now, they have discovered a new role that restores their power and authority. Instead of delivering dreams, politicians now promise to protect us from nightmares. They say that they will rescue us from dreadful dangers that we cannot see and do not understand. And the greatest danger of all is international terrorism. A powerful and sinister network, with sleeper cells in countries across the world. A threat that needs to be fought via a war on terror. But much of this threat is a fantasy, which has been exaggerated and distorted by politicians. It’s a dark illusion that has spread unquestioned through governments around the world, the security services, and the international media.
This is a series of films about how and why that fantasy was created, and who it benefits. At the heart of the story are two groups: the American neoconservatives, and the radical Islamists. Both were idealists who were born out of the failure of the liberal dream to build a better world. And both had a very similar explanation for what caused that failure. These two groups have changed the world, but not in the way that either intended. Together, they created today’s nightmare vision of a secret, organized evil that threatens the world. A fantasy that politicians then found restored their power and authority in a disillusioned age. And those with the darkest fears became the most powerful.
digby 10/31/2004 09:33:00 AM
Ground Game The Day After
At a prayer meeting here Wednesday night, Mr. Kulp led a dozen parishioners in thinly veiled prayers for President Bush's re-election. He prayed that God might do "whatever it takes on Election Day," including keeping some voters away while "bringing certain people to the polls."
The Lord helps those who help themselves, doesn't he?
An Observer investigation in the United States has uncovered widespread allegations of electoral abuse, many of them going uninvestigated despite complaints of what would appear to be criminal attempts to manipulate voter lists.
Although allegations of misconduct have been levelled at both parties recently, the majority of complaints that have been identified in The Observer' s investigation involved claims against local Republicans.
The claims, made by the BBC's Newsnight, follow alleged attempts by Republicans to illegally suppress the votes in key states. Republican spokesmen deny these allegations.
Check out eripost's Vote Watch 2004 for dozens and dozens of stories that show the pattern all over the battleground states. There has been a campaign to send election literature to people's homes and if it is returned it is used as a reason to remove the person from the rolls. In at least one case, the literature was consciously returned by Democrats in protest and in others it appears that merely failing to retrive an RNC registered letter from the post-office lands a Democrat in the fraudulent voter column.
It is now crystal clear that we are seeing a nationally coordinated vote suppression effort by the GOP. In many cases they have waited until the last possible moment to mount challenges such as trying to get voters removed from the lists for spurious reasons like not having an apartment number listed on their address. Much of this is designed to throw the electoral process into chaos in the days just before the election. Mostly, they are trying to set the stage to make voting so difficult that busy working people will not be able to stand in long tedious lines to vote.
The stories are all very similar. This is obviously coordinated at the national level.
So, ok, what do we do about it? The press is covering it in the local papers. And, if we win decisively, this whole thing may be moot.
However, if this election is as close as 2000 and legal challenges become necessary, we are going to have to be prepared with a coordinated media response. You can bet they've already got theirs planned out. And they have a problem, just like they had in 2000:
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?"
They got around that when Gore was forced to follow Florida law and show cause in specific counties to request a recount. Then they were able to reframe that argument to "he wants to count only some of the votes."
I think that the key for the Democrats is to find legitimate voters ready to go on camera on Wednesday and tell their stories of denial, intimidation, and waiting. I sincerely hope that they have a list of those who've had to defend their voting rights already and that they are prepared to line up all the voters who will be forced to stand in lines for hours because some RNC operative is holding up the line with challenges. And then there are the voters who have been challenged because of ridiculous technicalities. (This college professor is a good start.)
I hope they are prepared to write the same narrative in all the swing states where this coordinated attack occurs and will stick with their charges no matter how many times the other side dredges up Mary Poppins and Mickey Mouse. Indeed, we should point out that neither "Mary" or "Mickey" showed up to vote, since anybody can see that it was a joke, not an attempt at voter fraud.
Hopefully, none of this will be necessary. But, if we find ourselves in legal limbo, the key will be to show over and over again that legitimate voters were illegally denied the right to vote and many, many others had ridiculous roadblocks put in their way as part of a coordinated plan to slow down the voting process in highly populated areas.
Our response must be aggressive and coordinated and ready to go on Wednesday morning. You know the Republicans will be.
digby 10/31/2004 09:11:00 AM
Saturday, October 30, 2004
I just heard a world weary journalist ask whether it is reasonable to think that Kerry can win when all the polls show Bush with a slight lead. If anybody seriously believes that, they really need to go have a talk with ace reporter Wolf Blitzer. Via Kos here's Wolfie on the day before the 2000 election:
BLITZER: And now, let's take a look at the latest poll numbers. The new CNN/"USA Today" Gallup Tracking Poll results are being released at this hour. It shows George W. Bush with 48 percent, Al Gore 43 percent, Ralph Nader with 4 percent, Pat Buchanan with 1 percent.
And those numbers are similar to other tracking polls. Take a look: ABC's poll has Bush at 49 percent, Gore at 45 percent; The Washington Post, Bush at 48 percent, Gore at 46 percent; the NBC-Wall Street Journal tracking poll, Bush at 47 percent, Gore 44 percent. And both the CBS and MSNBC-Reuters-Zogby tracking polls have Bush at 46, Gore at 44 percent.
It's clear that when a race is this close you cannot precisely poll the election. The press corpse should understand this but apparently they don't. Either that or they are listening to RNC spin which I'm sure they would never do. Right?
digby 10/30/2004 02:41:00 PM
Bush's Big Endorsement
This is getting ridiculous. The wing-nuts are going crazy with the idea that this tape means that bin Laden wants Bush to lose when it is obvious to any sentient being that the opposite is true.
Look, bin Laden is obviously very well connected to the American zeitgeist. He may be a nihilistic monster but he isn't stupid. His little speech made it clear that he is quite aware of the various rhetorical tentacles in the election and even quoted some of them. He knows that he is a feared and hated figure in America and he knows that anything he says will be taken with a grain of salt.
But, he also knows that the conventional wisdom of the American media is that his mere appearance on the scene accrues to Junior's benefit. There is nary a wingnut or gasbag who hasn't said in the last few months that any kind of terrorist attack would automatically benefit Bush in the election. Only those who are comotose have failed to notice that his approval rating rises at least a couple of points with a heightened terror warning. Bin Laden knows nothing has to blow up. All he has to do is show up.
It is obvious that if bin Laden was trying to influence the election --- and it's hard to see by the timing that he wasn't --- then it is also obvious that his intent is to help elect Crusader Codpiece, the most hated man in the world.
George W. Bush is the single best recruiting tool that Islamic terrorism has ever had. The American media may be too dumb or too insular to know this, but he certainly does.
Don't take my word for it though. Here's a guy with a few years of expertise on the subject under his belt, Richard Clarke. He agrees with me:
AHMED: If president bush is re-elected, it helps osama bin laden. It helps president musharraf, the two enemies in that. It helps both of them. Because it secures musharraf in pakistan it secures osama bin laden, his base. He needs an america that is on the war path against him, to be able to say america's attacking islam, in fact, so he's twisting what is happening from america.
KOPPEL: Do you agree, Richard?
CLARKE: I do. I think it's obvious he's trying to affect the u.S. Election. This is the second audio/visual tape we've received in the last week from al qaeda, addressed to the american people. And he attacked the president in the way that, i think, is designed to get the american people to move to bush's side. He's a smart guy, osama bin laden, and he knows if he attacks bush that will strengthen bush. Why does he want bush as president? Because Bush, as president, gives him the symbol that gets all these people joining al qaeda. Bush is the symbol that has increased recruitment for al qaeda, and has increased money flow for al qaeda. Bush is the symbol for all of the jihadists throughout the muslim world who hate america.
Uncle Osama Wants You, Junior.
Update: Atrios is skeptical that bin Laden's intention can be divined. I'm with Richard Clarke. I think it's clear that he knows Bush is better for the terrorist business. And he's right.
digby 10/30/2004 01:23:00 PM
Bush Is Completely Wrong On Terrorism
There are so many reasons not to elect George W. Bush that it's difficult to catalog them all. From the encroaching authoritarianism of its Justice department to the fiscal madness that has taken us from a record surplus to a record deficit in three short years due to immense tax cuts for the rich. But surely, the single most important reason to fire George W. Bush is his abject failure to properly comprehend the nature of the islamic fundamentalist threat. The re-emergence of Osama bin Laden is a stark reminder of why this is so.
Many people have been writing recently, and some of us quite some time ago, about the fact that the Bush administration, instead of seeing the assymetrical threat of terrorism for what it was, simply applied their cold war tenets of nation state rollback to the new threat. It is an intellectual failure of huge magnitude and it will haunt us for many years to come.
If you look back at the PNAC manifestos of the late 90's that served as the guiding documents of Bush's policy you will see that terrorism per se was not perceived as a threat. Indeed, it was hardly mentioned. Richard Clarke and others have verified that the Bush administration did not take it seriously. But, what is most distressing is that they refused to let go of their erroneous notions of state sponsored terrorism even after 9/11 which led to the mistaken belief that the key to defeating al Qaeda was to overthrow the Taliban, (thus freeing them to go after what they perceived to be a real threat, the totalitarian dictator Saddam Hussein.)
There has been a lot of discussion about the "faith based" nature of this presidency, drawing parallels to unquestioning fundamentalist religion and cults of personality. There are obviously elements of all of this in explaining why the Bush administration has made so many huge strategic errors that were entirely predictable before any action was taken. However, it's more than that. You cannot explain neocon intellectuals like Wolfowitz away with fundamentalist religion and there is no reason to believe that men like Rumsfeld and Cheney are subject to any Bush cult of personality. But, they all have one thing in common that is demostrable throughout their public careers --- their relentless adherence to their beliefs, no matter what the facts may seem to show. Going all the way back to TEAM B and the Committee for the Present Danger, these people have been proven wrong --- proven, mind you --- again and again and yet they maintain their bedrock belief that the threat of totalitarian nations is the singular overwhelming threat to our country and they must be defeated militarily wherever they occur. These people are stuck in a fringe cold war mindset that nothing can shake. 9/11, it seems, did not change anything.
For instance, their beliefs about Iraq sponsored terrorism were not solely fometed by Laurie Mylroie. She neatly piggybacked her theory that Saddam the Stalinist was the root of all mid-east terrorism onto an earlier theory promoted by Claire Sterling which posited that all terrorism was sponsored by the Soviet Union. Her book, The Terror Network from back in 1980 made the case that terrorism could not exist without the support of a state sponsor and that idea has guided the Republican foreign policy establishment even until this day. Just as it is said that Wolfowitz and Feith encouraged everyone in the DOD to read Mylroie's book, William Casey responded to his analysts assertion that there was no Soviet terrorist conspiracy by saying,"Read Claire Sterling's book and forget this mush. I paid $13.95 for this and it told me more than you bastards whom I pay $50,000 a year." This is, then, an old story.
This is why we didn't take out bin Laden. This is why we didn't take out Al-Zarqawi. In the administration's view, they were simple actors on behalf of totalitarian governments. Their idea of draining the swamp was to invade and occupy the source of their funding, which many of them convinced themselves had to be Saddam Hussein. Richard Clarke, in Against All Enemies quotes Wolfowitz as saying: "You give Bin Laden too much credit. He could not do all these things like the 1993 attack on New York, not without a state sponsor. Just because FBI and CIA have failed to find the linkages does not mean they don't exist."
The Bush policy on terrorism is based upon a false premise and nothing that has happened throughout this crisis has led them to reevaluate that premise and change direction. This is what they call "resolute" and "strong." What it is, in fact, is a dangerous delusion born of outmoded cold war thinking that was wrong when it was conceived and remains wrong today.
This is really what this election is about. The administration made the wrong choices on 9/11. That is why bin Laden still runs free, able to make propaganda videos showing him healthy and robust three years after the devastating attacks on the World Trade Center. This is why Al Zarqahi is killing vast numbers of Iraqis and Americans even today. (That this enormous error is seen as George W. Bush's primary strength is such a depressing comment on our media and my countrymen that I can't even contemplate it.)They fit their threat assessment into the mold of anti-communism, fatally misunderstanding the nature of what we are facing. If they are given the chance to continue on this deluded path (and they have never changed course in more than 40 years, no matter what the facts present) then we can expect this situation to hurtle ever more out of control.
digby 10/30/2004 01:03:00 PM
Friday, October 29, 2004
Bring On The Smelling Salts
This is interesting. The State Department Tried to Stop Airing of Bin Laden Tape.
Bush knew about this tape for a while and they obviously were not sure quite how to deal with it. They know that it can break either way for them.
It appears that they have decided on a modified "Mary Cheney" --- shock and outrage that Kerry allegedly politicized the issue, when he actually didn't. They are claiming that he brought up Tora Bora when he was talking to a Wisconsin repoter and that this is a crude and reprehensible act of opportunism. There's only one problem. When he spoke to the Wisconsin reporter he had only been told that a tape existed and had no idea what it said or whether it was even real. It was only after the interview that he was briefed about it, at which point he made his statesmanlike comment.
The Bush campaign is going to try to wrap Kerry in a straightjacket with one of their phony, sanctimonious coordinated fits of the vapors. Kerry is a bad, bad man. They will hide behind their dainty white hankies and shake their heads in sadness at Democratic vulgarity.
Frankly, I think there is so much white noise that nothing is going to penetrate this week-end. I'm having trouble keeping everything straight and I think that most voters at this point are a little bit befuddled and a little bit weary of all of this. If anything, this bin Laden tape just looks like another Bush fuck-up to those who are paying attention and those who aren't probably aren't really computing the relevance either way.
The country has been polarized for four years. This race has been tighter than tight for months and nothing's going to change that in these next few days. It is as it's always been. We have to get our vote out. That's what it's all about.
digby 10/29/2004 08:26:00 PM
From The You Can't Make This Shit Up Files
Raw Story has the story of the Republicans filing a complaint against a radio show for urging voters to defeat David Drier.
The General Counsel to the National Republican Congressional Committee has filed a complaint against a California radio show for advocating the defeat of Republican Rep. David Dreier, saying the show’s advocacy is illegal and goes beyond their first amendment rights.
RushSeanMichealLauraNeiletc., however, are perfectly within their rights in trashing John Kerry and every other Democrat --- and making a tidy profit at it.
digby 10/29/2004 07:34:00 PM
The media narrative is gelling that this bin Laden tape totally benefits Bush. Chris Matthews and the bunch have that glassy eyed, pre-orgasmic, reach-for-the-codpiece look and they are very excited about the prospect of Bush doing another metaphorical landing on the carrier. The security moms are panting with barely leashed desire. My gorge rises with every minute of this.
Chris Jansen quoted Karl Rove saying that John Kerry "trashing" Bush about Tora-Bora made this issue fair game. Jansen inexplicably claimed this means that Bush won't politicize it, but that makes no sense. Indeed, Bush just brought up the Tora Bora issue in Columbus as I write.
Bush just threw down the gauntlet. I say throw it right back in his face.
Bin Laden isn't stupid. He knows who the media will say this tape benefits. Perhaps Americans need to ask themselves why he would help the man he supposedly fears?
Update: Ask and ye shall receive.
Kerry Campaign Response to Bush in Columbus
Washington, DC – Kerry-Edwards spokesperson Phil Singer issued the following statement tonight in response to George Bush’s remarks in Columbus, OH:
“This is a serious issue, and it’s disturbing that the White House seems intent on making it a political issue. The president was briefed on the tape before he delivered one of his most negative and divisive attacks of this campaign.
“America deserves a national security debate on the merits rather, than a president who desperately resorts to distortions, falsehoods and untruths on a regular basis.
“John Kerry was very clear tonight that we will stop at nothing to hunt down and kill the terrorists and that all Americans - Republicans and Democrats - are united in the war on terror. George Bush wasted no time in dividing us again.”
digby 10/29/2004 04:49:00 PM
Dickie Fills The Void
Atrios and Josh are amazed that Danielle Pletka accused Michael Moore of giving aid and comfort to bin Laden with fahrenheit 9/11 (presumably because of the My Pet Goat reference.)
FYI, this is a Dick Morris talking point. I watched him spew it extemporaneously to John Gibson and Gibson even commented that he was surprised that the "operatives" (Racicot and Devine) who appeared previous to Dickie had been so non-committal by comparison. Dickie said they hadn't received their talking points yet.
Pletka came on shortly thereafter evidently after feverishly taking notes in the green room. I agree with Atrios that we should hope these talking points really gain currency. If Morris is behind it, it will guarantee Kerry's win.
Pletka, btw, is one of the leading neocon Iraq "intellectuals" over at AEI. It says a lot, doesn't it?
digby 10/29/2004 03:56:00 PM
I'm a little bit surprised there hasn't been an outcry about this. It seems that PAX TV is pulling a Sinclair in the swing states this week-end. They are showing a propaganda hit piece "Unfit For Command" starring Scumbag For Truth John O'Neill at five in the afternoon and 11:30 at night on Saturday and Sunday in various battleground markets, particularly Florida:
“Unfit for Command”: hosted by John E. O’Neill
Hosted by Unfit for Command’s best-selling author, John E. O’Neill, this program picks up where the book leaves off and brings to the screen the faces and real stories of the eyewitnesses that served with John Kerry in Viet Nam, and as a result, strongly oppose him.
Far from the “war hero” image of his carefully crafted public campaign, these men consider him a fraud, a liar, and a coward in battle. In fact, most Americans do not know that three of John Kerry’s fellow officers asked him to leave Viet Nam because they considered him a liability.
Never before has a former member of the Armed Forces been so adamantly opposed by his fellow sailors and officers – Why?
As you probably know, PAX is that nice wholesome Christian network (partly owned by GE/NBC) that set out to counter the hedonistic, immoral mainstream media:
"Sure there are skeptics out of Hollywood and the TV industry: no sex, no violence, no ratings," Paxson says. "But I have no doubt that mainstream media will recognize that talking about God is a good thing and can make you money."
And allowing lying scumbags to spew unrebutted character assassination on your network the week-end before an election is sending you straight to hell, "Bud."
It's too late to preempt this, but it sure wouldn't hurt to make these guys pay after the fact. This is another example of a wingnut media mogul using public airwaves to help the Republican party. We are very foolish to let this pass in any instance. They will only take it as encouragement.
Republicans very smartly fight every single time, even if they know they are going to lose. They do it to make us have to fight for everything too. We need to do some of that. These media guys especially have to be schooled hard or by the time anybody really notices, it will be too late.
Update: FYI, with the exception of Pennsylvania, these are all broadcast stations. This isn't cable.
digby 10/29/2004 02:54:00 PM
Dick Morris just told John Gibson that bin Laden can't actually explode a bomb so he's reduced to sending a tape. This is because Junior has made America safe.
And bin Laden was much harder on Bush than Kerry which means that he favors Kerry. He used the My Pet Goat anecdote which proves that the far left is helping terrorists. Therefore, bin Laden just won the election for Bush.
Morris' Law states that whatever he says means the opposite is surely true. Therefore, the tape is a scathing indictment of Bush and will help Kerry.
digby 10/29/2004 02:32:00 PM
We've Heard From Him Now
Q (March 13, 2002): Mr. President, in your speeches now you rarely talk or mention Osama bin Laden. Why is that? . . .
Bush: So I don't know where he is. You know, I just don't spend that much time on him , Kelly, to be honest with you. . . .
Q: But don't you believe that the threat that bin Laden posed won't truly be eliminated until he is found either dead or alive?
Bush: Well, as I say, we haven't heard much from him. And I wouldn't necessarily say he's at the center of any command structure. And, again, I don't know where he is. I -- I'll repeat what I said. I truly am not that concerned about him. I know he is on the run. I was concerned about him, when he had taken over a country. I was concerned about the fact that he was basically running Afghanistan and calling the shots for the Taliban.
Maybe if he'd been a little bit more concerned about bin Laden and a little less obsessed with "takin' out" Saddam, he might not be threatening us still today.
Is there any better reason to fire this asshole than this?
digby 10/29/2004 01:32:00 PM
As Bush introduced the mother of a New York Port Authority police officer killed at the World Trade Center, a machine that was to blast confetti into the air at the end of the event went off prematurely with a loud, startling bang.
Bush flinched and paused, then resumed his speech as the confetti fell around him.
Bush had planned to campaign here with Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling, a World Series hero with Kerry's hometown team. Schilling's presence was canceled at the last minute for what was described as an ankle problem.
Looking like a Loserman more and more each day.
digby 10/29/2004 01:15:00 PM
Salon.com interviews a physicist who is an expert on imaging. It's not good news for the Codpiece.
George W. Bush tried to laugh off the bulge. "I don't know what that is," he said on "Good Morning America" on Wednesday, referring to the infamous protrusion beneath his jacket during the presidential debates. "I'm embarrassed to say it's a poorly tailored shirt."
Dr. Robert M. Nelson, however, was not laughing. He knew the president was not telling the truth. And Nelson is neither conspiracy theorist nor midnight blogger. He's a senior research scientist for NASA and for Caltech's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and an international authority on image analysis. Currently he's engrossed in analyzing digital photos of Saturn's moon Titan, determining its shape, whether it contains craters or canyons.
For the past week, while at home, using his own computers, and off the clock at Caltech and NASA, Nelson has been analyzing images of the president's back during the debates. A professional physicist and photo analyst for more than 30 years, he speaks earnestly and thoughtfully about his subject. "I am willing to stake my scientific reputation to the statement that Bush was wearing something under his jacket during the debate," he says. "This is not about a bad suit. And there's no way the bulge can be described as a wrinkled shirt."
digby 10/29/2004 11:47:00 AM
Being A Republican Means Never Having To Say You're Sorry
Atrios is mighty angry about this story and so should we all be. As I read it I got more and more enraged and I had toask myself why it was. After all, we've been hearing about this nationwide scheme to suppress the vote through dirty tricks and intimidation for the last month. What is it about this particular story that is so inflammatory?
After taking a few deep breaths I think I have figured it out. It's that the Republican Party's corruption has extended far into the grassroots. It's not longer just the Nixonian Roger Stones or the Rovian Nathan Sproul's, it's average, everyday, pillars of the community who have joined in doing the sickening dirty work of a party that cannot win a majority legitimately. These weren't operative sharpies. They were older Republicans willing to do the bidding of their corrupt party and they didn't seem to care even when confronted with proof that their scheme was entirely unethical.
Of course, this little drama was really republican vs republican. There were decent republicans on the board who were disgusted by this underhanded plot and they did the right thing. But, they were few and far between. The state GOP was only sorry that they hadn't sent in better lawyers to defend the miscreants.
I suppose that I thought that most average Republican voters were honest citizens with whom I disagree. I've always blamed the leadership for the modern party's Nixonian reliance on dirty tricks and corrupt election practices. Once again I've been proven wrong. The sickness has flowed all the way down to the grassroots.
How long can the decent people like those two on the board hold out against a machine like this? I doubt they will. They will either go over to the dark side or leave the party. When average citizens are willing to be fronts for a dirty tricks operation there is no room left for decency.
digby 10/29/2004 09:48:00 AM
We should have known:
Al Qaqaa was on a classified list of Iraqi weapons facilities that the CIA provided to Pentagon and military officials before the invasion, said the U.S. intelligence official.
But when the Pentagon and U.S. Central Command produced their own list of sites that a limited number of U.S. "exploitation teams" should search, priority was given to those identified by exiled Iraqi opposition groups, he said. Al Qaqaa wasn't one of them.
All roads lead to Chalabi.
digby 10/29/2004 09:17:00 AM
Thursday, October 28, 2004
Update: Haha. According to Atrios, Fox jumped the gun and aired the video already. And for some bizarre reason the freepers think the scary Halloween terrorist is gay. WTF?
How likely is it do you suppose, that FOX will run with the American Al Qaeda boogeyman tape before the week-end is out?
Ross and other ABC staffers say they believe that a Bush administration official leaked the story to Internet gossip Matt Drudge as a way of pressuring the network into airing the tape, which would heighten concerns about terrorism in the final week of the president's reelection campaign. They note that whoever gave the information to Drudge had a transcript of the tape.
The debate may not be over. The officials say a source with access to the tape, apparently impatient with ABC, has offered it to another broadcast news organization, which has called the government for guidance.
Drudge said yesterday that a political motivation behind the leak was "possible," but put the onus on ABC. "They haven't authenticated previous al Qaeda tapes before airing them," he said. "Why are they waiting to authenticate this? It's election week."
But Isham noted that previous videotapes featured Osama bin Laden or other al Qaeda leaders who could be verified by sight.
"It's either a well-done hoax or a tremendous news story," Ross said. "We're not going to get stampeded."
I love the fact that Drudge is lecturing the network on journalistic practices.
And, there's only one network that would "call the government for guidance."
I'm thinking Sunday morning.
digby 10/28/2004 04:23:00 PM
Are They All Corporate Lawyers?
I've mentioned this before, but I am still hungering for an explanation. Why is it that when Bush utters the words "tort reform" and "frivolous lawsuits" that the crowd reacts with an orgasmic roar that eclipses even the speaking in tongues they do over "tax cuts." I'm assuming that this is just some kind of reflexive conditioning, but it consistently seems to get the biggest responses at Bush's rallies.
Can someone explain to me why average citizens surge to their feet screaming and frothing at the mouth at the words "tort reform?" Is this really a code word for some underground fascist movement? It kind of freaks me out.
digby 10/28/2004 03:59:00 PM
According to Carl Cameron, Kerry is on the run because the Al qaqaa story is hurting him badly. They even found a picture of a truck in the desert that is supposed to prove something, I'm not sure what.
But, back here on planet Earth, MYDD has the full compendium of Bush fuck-ups and nasty surprises --- from just this week:
In other news, FOX is flogging a story about preparation for a "major offensive" in Fallujah. I'm sure the boys are happy to give up their lives (and the lives of many Iraqis) to help their Codpiece in Chief change the story line.
digby 10/28/2004 03:14:00 PM
Oh Sure, Now When It's Safe To Be Shrill
It seems that my favorite bucket of lukewarm spit has finally received the memo saying that supporting Commander Codpiece's manly manliness is no longer de riguer in DC salons. How refreshing.
Check out this post by Yglesias to see what a long strange trip it's been.
digby 10/28/2004 02:28:00 PM
Playing The Game Of Risk
Via Atrios I see that Wes Clark is a little bit miffed with everybody's favorite GOPHo, Rudy Giuliani:
For President Bush to send Rudolph Giuliani out on television to say that the 'actual responsibility' for the failure to secure explosives lies with the troops is insulting and cowardly.
The President approved the mission and the priorities. Civilian leaders tell military leaders what to do. The military follows those orders and gets the job done. This was a failure of civilian leadership, first in not telling the troops to secure explosives and other dangerous materials, and second for not providing sufficient troops and sufficient equipment for troops to do the job.
President Bush sent our troops to war without sufficient body armor, without a sound plan and without sufficient forces to accomplish the mission. Our troops are performing a difficult mission with skill, bravery and determination. They deserve a commander in chief who supports them and understands that the buck stops in the Oval Office, not one who gets weak knees and shifts blame for his mistakes.
Dana Bash on CNN just said that the Bush campaign told her that Giuliani may not have used the most "elegant" or "eloquent" terms but he just meant to say that it's not the president fault. That doesn't really pass the smell test since William Kristol on FOX News Live and Laura Ingraham all echoed this reprehensible line: They seem to be implying that this was a call by the officers on the ground and therefore, out of the hands of the civilian leadership.
KRISTOL: ... [President] George [W.] Bush didn't decide, you know, "skip that dump" [the Al Qaqaa military installation, where the missing explosives were supposedly housed]. That was 101st [Airborne Division] or the 3rd ID [Infantry Division], "skip that arms dump." That's not a decision made by the president, that's made on the ground...
STEVE MURPHY (FORMER MANAGER OF REP. DICK GEPHARDT'S (D-MO) PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN): Laura, Laura, John Kerry did not question the troops. John Kerry questioned the leadership of --
INGRAHAM: Oh, really? Who was looking for those weapons, Steve?
MURPHY: He questioned the leadership of George [W.] Bush. George Bush did not send enough soldiers.
INGRAHAM: Was George Bush on the ground there? The military commanders were on the ground there, Steve.
Man, we've sure come a long way from "the buck stops here." Indeed, we've come a long way from the "responsibility era" that Junior has been hectoring us about for the last four years.
This Al Qaqaa disaster is 100% the fault of the civilian leadership of the Bush administration. One thing that has to be remembered about these early days was the insistence that the army push through to Baghdad at record speed, stopping not even for rest or refueling. Do you remember the embeds hanging on to the back of jeeps and humvees by their fingernails, looking like hell, as they raced through the desert to get to Baghdad (and then found that Baghdad was wide open?)
These lethal explosives are missing because Rumsfeld was using Iraq as an experiment for certain aspects of his Revolution in Military Affairs wet dream. He managed an impressive dash across the desert with a relatively small force but because he was trying to prove a theory rather than deal with a very real situation on the ground, his refusal to commit enough troops to the operation as a whole meant that they could not spare the manpower or the time to secure these weapons dumps.
I wrote about this crazy stuff back in March of 2003, when it was revealed that none other than Newtie Gingrich was advising the Pentagon, and had been doing so for a long time, with some very questionable new-age theories that his soul mate Rumsfeld was more than happy to put into practice. It's not that there aren't some aspects of this RMA that are very useful, it's that like everything else in this administration they let their faith and their ideology overrule reality. Talking about Afghanistan, Newtie told the Hoover institute:
…their [old] answer has been to design campaign plans that are so massive - I mean the standard plan in Afghanistan was either Tomahawks or 5 divisions, and that's why Rumsfeld was so important. Cause Rumsfeld sat down and said, "Well what if we do this other thing? You know, 3 guys on horseback, a B-2 overhead." And it was a huge shock to the army. I mean, because it worked. Now I'll tell you one guy who does agree and that's Chuck Horner who ran the air campaign.
We now know that this "high tech horseback" plan was the one that let bin Laden escape. And it unfortunately informed the choices that were made in Iraq. The International Herald Tribune wrote this in the fall of 2002 about the Iraq invasion:
Gingrich, who also is a member of the Defense Policy Board, a Pentagon advisory panel, said he was confident that General Tommy Franks, the commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, would not be swayed by suggestions that he include more reinforcements and plan a more cautious attack. He said that Franks, an army general, "will probably have a more integrated, more aggressive and more risk-taking plan."
"If the chiefs wanted to be extremely cautious, extremely conservative and design a risk-avoiding strategy, that would be nothing new," he said in an interview.
This was the mind-set that sent the troops barreling across the desert. It was a macho show of hi-tech modern strength designed to "send a message" not actually accomplish the task of securing the nation of Iraq. Relying on rose colored cakewalks, the civilian policy makers simply didn't look any further than the images they wanted to see --- the statue falling, Bush in his flyboy costume. And, that is actually the crux of Gingrich and Rumsfeld's "third wave information warfare" scheme --- you don't have to actually fight wars, you just have to be seen to be winning them.
Clearly, this little experiment in faith-based warfare has been a disaster. The looting of Al Qaqaa is just the most recent example of reality raising its ugly head and biting these starry eyed, ivory tower neocons right in the ass.
And, let's not forget that not one single member of that civilian leadership has been called to account for the disaster in Iraq. Since the boss won't do his job, the only thing Americans can do is fire the boss.
Great minds and all that update: I see that Josh marshall makes much the same point here. And, Yglesias has some other thoughts along this line as well.
It's always interesting trying to unravel the reasoning behind Bush's decisions. Every single time you find that it is opaque and unknowable because there are so many compting and complimentary philosophies that led to the same catastrophic result. Historians are going to have a field day with this administration.
digby 10/28/2004 01:27:00 PM
I had a very spirited conversation this morning in which I had to convince a number of Kerry supporters that polls this close don't mean shit. They were feeling frustrated that the horserace consistently shows Bush slightly ahead and their gut says that it must mean he is going to win. I wish I had had the following post from DonkeyRising handy, which is pointed at those same nervous Democrats. I'm printing it out for future reference:
It's time to revisit the thrilling polls of yesteryear to get a sense of just how much the polls in 2000 tended to overestimate Bush's strength and underestimate Gore's. I believe, for reasons I have discussed at length, the polls are likely overestimating Bush's strength this year as well. But this year, Kerry is doing better in the polls than Gore did at the equivalent point in the 2000 race. Therefore, if current polls are overestimating Bush's strength by the same amount as in 2000, Kerry should wind up doing better than Gore on election day--and Gore won the popular vote by half a point. And that's not even factoring in the likelihood that, with Bush as the incumbent, Kerry will receive the bulk of undecided voters' support on election day.
So let's take that stroll down memory lane.
Start with this nugget from Alan Abramowitz:
During the final week of the 2000 campaign, 43 national polls were released, including multiple releases by several polling organizations such as Gallup. George Bush led in 39 polls, Al Gore in 2. Bush's average lead in the polls was 3.6 percent. Something to keep in mind when people complain that so far (two days) in this final week Kerry has "only" had small leads in the DCorps poll, the Harris Poll and the WP/ABC tracking poll twice (LVs and RVs)!
And here are some readings from specific 2000 polls:
1. The ABC tracking poll averaged a 4 point Bush lead in the last week and its final poll had a 3 point Bush lead.
2. Bloomberg News final poll (October 29) had a 3 point Bush lead.
3. Final Time poll (October 26) had a 6 point Bush lead.
4. Gallup's tracking poll had Bush ahead by an average of 4 points in the final week and by 2 points in its final poll.
5. Marist College's final poll (November 2) gave Bush a 5 point lead.
6. Final NBC/WSJ poll (November 5) had Bush up by 3 and their mid-October poll had him up by 6.
7. Final Newsweek poll (November 2) had Bush up by 2 and their October 27 poll had him up by 8.
8. Final Pew Research poll had Bush up by 2.
9. A November 4 CBS/NYT poll had Bush up by 5 (though the final CBS poll was dead-on, with a 1 point Gore lead).
10. Final ICR poll had Bush up by 2.
11. Voter.com Battleground survey (this year called GWU Battleground) averaged an 8 point Bush lead in the final week and its final poll gave Bush a 5 point lead.
12. TIPP tracking poll gave Bush a average 6 point lead in the final week and a final poll lead of 2 points.
13. Prior to its well-known final reading of a 2 point Gore lead, Zogby's tracking poll gave Bush an average 3 point lead in the final week.
14. Final Hotline poll (November 5) gave Bush a 3 point lead.
If anyone thinks that Democrats are less enthusiastic and motivated than they were in 2000, they are kidding themselves. As 2000 showed, polling is an imprecise science. When they're this close you just put your head down and get out the vote.
digby 10/28/2004 11:28:00 AM
I don't know how many of you have ABC News Now, but if you do, tune it in. They are showing the entire Kerry rally in Madison. Springsteen is singing No Surrender as we speak. Kerry's about to come on. It's one of those rare hair on the back of your neck political moments.
digby 10/28/2004 11:04:00 AM
Spin On This
I just saw Marc Racicot babble like a two year old on ABC News Now when confronted with Rudy Giuliani's footage blaming the troops for the looting of munitions on Good Morning America. They really need to work on those talking points. This didn't look good.
Sam Donaldson wryly noted that nobody is really blaming the troops. As it was in Vietnam, the blame lies with the policy makers. hah.
digby 10/28/2004 10:37:00 AM
Who's Your Daddy
Finally we have an explanation for Dick Morris.
On an isolated Indonesian island, scientists have discovered skeletons of a previously unknown human species — tiny, Hobbit-sized figures who lived among dwarf elephants and giant lizards as recently as 12,000 years ago.
digby 10/28/2004 08:34:00 AM
Wednesday, October 27, 2004
There must be something in the water this year in Beantown. The Yankee machine had the Sox down and they battled their way back and back and back to get into the series. And then they won with authority, dammit!
That righteous Boston mojo took them all the way and it's going to take John Kerry right through next Tuesday. And he's going to win with the same decisiveness that the Red Sox won the series. No bullshit and no question about who won.
And a certain faux Texan is going to get a chance to run for the office he always wanted --- baseball commissioner.
digby 10/27/2004 08:51:00 PM
I'm Joining The Republic Party
With an appeal like this, who can resist?
Listen, before I want to say something, I'm traveling with a guest and a friend who represents thousands of people all across this country who are affiliated with the Democrat Party.
In fact, I believe my opponent is running away from some of the great traditions of the Democrat Party.
The Democrat Party has also a great tradition of defending the defenseless.
If you're a Democrat, and your dreams and goals are not found in the far left wing of the Democrat Party, I'd be honored to have your vote.
Those Republics sure know how to reach across the aisle.
digby 10/27/2004 05:06:00 PM
Because One Must
Today, I would like to join my online brethren over at Slate in endorsing John Kerry, as distasteful as that particular chore is. Sadly, one doesn't have much choice considering what we have to deal with. I only wish that the nominees could be more like, well... me. But that would be too much to ask so I will hold my aristocratic nose and vote for the lesser of two losers. Again.
You see, I am a beltway "independent" which allows me to criticize everyone and take responsibility for nothing at all. I would never actually vote for a Republican mind you --- how could I align myself with all that tacky Nascar and gay bashing business? But, neither can I associate myself with the Democratic party what with its stubborn insistence on not being exactly like me in every way.
As a beltway independent, then, I can safely vote against the Republicans without ever having to compromise even one of my pet issues in order that anything actually gets accomplished. And, there's no need to sully my clean hands with those tawdry fights against the opposition. Whatever I don't like I blame on Democratic weakness and perfidy, thereby proving to the Republicans that I am independent enough to agree with them on a least that one issue if nothing else.
John Kerry, sadly, does certain things with which I disagree and I find that unacceptable in a politician. And even worse, instead of being as dazzlingly exciting as say...me, he is serious and plodding as are so many of these lowly politicians who cater to the unwashed hoi polloi. Frankly, it's just a bit stomach churning to see a brahmin behaving as if he cares about what they want and need when we know that he couldn't possibly.
Still, what choice to we really have? George W. Bush has made a hash out everything so even someone uninspiring and thick will just have to do.
Vote for John Kerry. He's slightly better than that cretin George W. Bush but not nearly as perfect as I am.
digby 10/27/2004 02:15:00 PM
FYI: Blogger is very bloggered so posting is by the grace of the goddess
Trick Or Treat
FAUX News is having a baby over Drudge's screaming headline:
ABCNEWS HOLDS TERROR WARNING VIDEO
The terrorist claims on tape the next attack will dwarf 9/11... 'The streets will run with blood,' and 'America will mourn in silence'... America has brought this on itself for electing George Bush... ABCNEWS strongly denies holding back from broadcast over political concerns during last days of election...."We have been working 24 hours a day trying to authenticate'... Developing...
Run for your lives!!!
I love this part, though:
The terrorist's face is concealed by a headdress, and he speaks in an American accent, making it difficult to identify the individual.
Golly, I don't know why ABC might be skeptical of such a tape. It's clear that this alleged terrorist is simply a member of the Kerry campaign who's joined al Qaeda.
digby 10/27/2004 02:10:00 PM
Tuesday, October 26, 2004
Setting Up The Fall
James Wolcott documents some more FAUX news atrocities. "Liberal bias" definitely made it into Moody's memo this morning since virtually every anchor has opined on it today. This is definitely a preview of the new and improved wingnut whine and pout. It's almost sweetly nostalgic, like a gauzy trip back ten or twelve years in time. I remember it well...
As Wolcott says:
I'm not saying Fox News is anticipating a Bush loss, only that they seem to be laying the ground work for the blame game should he cough it up on November 2nd. They are taking the first baby steps to denying the legitimacy of a Kerry win, preparing the first batch of sour grapes.
It's all of a piece with the preemptive screeching about voter fraud and Democratic dirty tricks. They are cataloging reasons to explain why the asterisk couldn't pull it off. They will whine and fret and stomp their tiny little feet in a frenzy, earnestly claiming that Kerry didn't legitimately win. And they will do it without even the slightest trace of irony.
Try to imagine how little I care.
digby 10/26/2004 06:43:00 PM
Stench Of Panic
Amy Sullivan at The Washington Monthly post a very disconcerting piece about the Junta making a recess appointment to the Supreme Court.
Just when you thought the various post-election legal nightmare scenarios couldn't get worse. U.S. News & World Report is emailing around some reporting that indicates the Bush White House may be considering a recess appointment (requiring no Senate approval, remember) to replace Chief Justice Rehnquist if he steps down for health reasons:
"Even though the U.S. Supreme Court has said Chief Justice William Rehnquist will return to the bench following cancer surgery, administration officials are quietly considering candidates to replace him and even the possibility of making a recess appointment. The officials said that they do not want to talk about the process publicly in the last week of the presidential campaign. However, one insider said that the West Wing is considering what would happen if the judge left the bench soon and if a close election next Tuesday meant an evenly split 4-4 court was to decide the winner. Such a situation would likely mean that a lower court's ruling on an outcome would be final and officials are worried that it would go against the President."
I have serious doubts that they could get away with this, but it doesn't surprise me that they would consider it. They circumvent the letter of the law at every opportunity. To think they would observe the spirit of the law and our democratic system is laughable.
digby 10/26/2004 05:47:00 PM
Dear gawd. Via Media Matters I see that Dick Morris's wife is making a pathetic living hanging on to Lil' Dickie's coattails:
McGANN: People have heart surgery all the time. They don't have to go into hiding. He has been in hiding for the last six weeks.
And I think that it's part of their plan to build up and hype him -- at the end of the election, and for the opening of his [presidential] library. So, we have once again for -- I don't know what time, the 10th, 15th, 20th time -- the new Bill Clinton. And I think it's also what Dick [Morris] likes to call his ADD [attention deficit disorder] problem. That when he doesn't get attention he's disordered. And on the one hand, he I don't think really wants to help the Kerry campaign because if Kerry wins, Hillary has less of a shot, if any, at ever running for president and becoming president. [...] You know, there was no reason for him to be holed up. My uncle had the same operation two weeks before he did. And he [McGann's uncle] called me yesterday as he and his wife were driving to Florida. And he's 71 years old. People recover from this surgery and they can do other things. You don't have to just sit in a chair. They have created this. This is -- you know -- just like the sensation he created when he walked into the [Democratic National] Convention, with the camera showing him in 2000. They have to do something -- he has to do something dramatic or he's not happy.
Jayzuz. A man spends six weeks recovering from quadruple bypass surgery and he's "in hiding." (There seems to be a lot of speculation about all this on the wingnutladies lunch bunch circuit because I heard Mrs. Alan Greenspan say that there was word that Clinton's recovery wasn't going well.)
The next time some GOP harpy brings up the fact that Hillary is a big lesbian or a self hating feminist because she didn't drop Bill like a hot potato after he got a few furtive blow jobs, ask them how Eileen McCann can respect herself after having her dachshound-like husband splashed all over The Star as a connoisseur of prostitute toe-sucking.
From Howie Kurtz in 1998:
"He is deeply angry and resentful of the Clintons," says one Clinton supporter who knows Morris well. "He feels they basically walked away from him at a time he was in need and in trouble." Yet friends say Morris retains a psychological attachment to Clinton – a need to be needed by him – while reserving his strongest fury for Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Two and a half years ago, Morris was a national punch line. While serving as chief strategist for Clinton's 1996 campaign, Morris was fired after the Star tabloid revealed his longtime relationship with prostitute Sherry Rowlands. His marriage to attorney Eileen McGann broke up, and his $2.5 million book on policy-making in the White House was a commercial flop.
But the suddenly famous Morris refused to go into hiding. Determined to launch a punditry career, he explored different venues – trying out for a New York radio show, for example – before landing high-profile gigs with Rupert Murdoch's Fox TV network and Post newspaper. Now Morris is back with his wife – the most important thing in his life, he says – and gaining new prominence as an expert on Clinton and sex.
Eileen apparently took the (pedi) cure and voted with her feet.
They sure have some kinky family values on FAUX News --- you'd think the falafels and foot fetishes alone would make it distinctly spicy for the Gary Bauer set. Has anybody asked the fundies about this...uh...inconsistency?
digby 10/26/2004 04:21:00 PM
Dancing As fast As They Can
On FAUX News, Hume just tried to make the argument that the missing explosives proves that Saddam had WMD. Kondrake and Liasson politely point out that while this is undoubtedly true, these weapons actually don't fit the traditional definition of WMD. Hume appears to roll his eyes derisively. Krauthamer adds that it's all the IAEA's fault for not destroying the stuff as they were required to do in 1991. (They weren't.)
Everyone agrees that it's all a dirty trick by the New York Times, and they should have had "all the facts" before they put this on the front page. If only they'd sourced it to Ahmad Chalabi as they usually do, the Beltway Boyz would have had no room to complain.
Update: I missed the first part of the broadcast so I didn't know what had made the panel look so sour and unhappy:
Fox News' "Special Report" with Brit Hume
Brit Hume: As you saw earlier, when the 101st airborne division stopped overnight at that weapons facility south of Baghdad, there was an NBC news embedded reporting team with them, including correspondent Dana Lewis, who is now with fox news in Moscow, where he joins me now. Dana, tell me what happened. Now, this was the day after Baghdad had fallen. You were with the 101st. You were making your way up the spine of Iraq toward Baghdad. How did you come to stop there, and what happened?
Dana Lewis: Well, Britt, I mean, you know, put it into context of what was going on at that moment. The fighting wasn't over. There was chaos everywhere on the roads, and we were with the 101st as it was pushing north to take the southern suburbs of Baghdad. And as we were driving up the road I can remember seeing this amazing wall that just seemed to go on forever. This thing was about 10 feet tall and it went on for at least a mile or two. I've never seen such a big compound in Iraq since I've been there for two years now. It was a tremendous compound. The 101st was ordered to go into the compound and spend the night there. They were not ordered to search that compound there. They simply used it as a pit stop so that they could then continue their mission on to Baghdad. In fact, I can tell you I was with the colonel of the strike brigade, the second brigade, Colonel Joe Anderson. He was frustrated they had to spend the night there because they wanted to get on to their mission in Baghdad.
BH: So you got inside this facility. I suppose some members of the unit might have heard of the place. What did you see when you got in there?
DL: Sure, they may have had information on what may have been in there, because they generally had that kind of information. It was a tremendously large facility. You got in and saw all sorts of bunkers inside. And, Britt, because we spent 24 hours there, I had the chance to walk that facility and I took it. It was a long walk as we went from bunker to bunker with me and my camera man. Most of the bunkers were locked at that point. You could not get inside. Some of them, though, appeared to have been hit by air strikes and we were told by some of the soldiers on the ground that they had been hit by bombs. So some of the concrete was split open and you could see munitions in a few of the bunkers. And then at one end of the facility I can remember seeing hangars full of rockets. I've never seen so many rockets in one place. It looked like that facility had also been bombed from the air and most of those rockets were bent out of shape and inoperable.
BH: Right. Now, we have seen pictures of these seals that the international atomic energy agency and the weapons inspectors used to
identify and to close off the bunkers where some of these heavy explosives were believed to have been kept. Did you see any of those seals on any of the facilities as you were walking through there?
DL: I've had those seals described to me, and I can tell you that as we went from the bunkers, certainly there were wires and there were locks. But I don't recall ever seeing an IAEA stamp on any of them. It doesn't mean that there weren't any of them.
BH: I got you. Now, in addition to -- you saw evidence of bombing, obviously. Was there any sign that this facility had been looted that
you could see?
DL: I would say at that point, no, Brit. I mean, as we went north, you could certainly see looting in Baghdad. And I know what looting looks like. Hundreds of kids and hundreds of people everywhere. This facility was basically abandoned at that point. There were lots of Russian tanks that had abandoned on the road around it. But it looked like it had been well guarded right up until the point that the army got in there. But I don't know what happened between the point that the Iraqi army left that facility and then the US Army came in there. There would have been a gap. And who knows what would have gone on in there? But when I was there, we didn't see any looting. And that's not to say there couldn't have been looting after we left, either.
BH: Right. Well, after you left, describe if you can - I mean obviously, we're talking about a fairly large amount of explosives. The IAEA says it was 380 tons, that would be, we estimate, about 38 truckloads. That's quite a lot. Was the situation that you witnessed around the facility such that it would have been easy for somebody to spirit 38 tons of explosives, or 38 tons of anything else out there, undetected by US Forces in the area?
DL: I think it would have been pretty tough. I mean, the roads for the most part were closed down. Not very many people were driving those roads, because there was still some shooting going on and people were worried about getting caught in the crossfire. It would have been hard to move trucks in there right under the army's nose. But at the same time certainly there were vehicles moving on the roads as we got closer to Baghdad. But at that moment I certainly didn't see any lines of trucks heading for that facility. And remember, who would have been ordering those trucks down there? For all intents and purposes, the regime had fled.
BH: So it would have taken an operation of some size, if the stuff was still there, to get it out of there. And you didn't see, at least any
indications at the time you were there, that such a thing could easily have been done.
DL: We didn't see any sign of that when we were there, no.
BH: Dana Lewis, glad to have you. Thanks very much for staying up late in Moscow to be with me. Thank you very much.
Here's the video
digby 10/26/2004 04:04:00 PM
Marshalling The Youth Vote
Kevin at Catch has all the info on Eminem's new video (and a bunch of links if you want to see it.) It would appear that Marshall has pulled no punches and it also appears that MTV is airing it this afternoon. That in itself is amazing.
From Salon's review:
...the just-released video for his new anti-Bush song "Mosh," makes "Fahrenheit 9/11" look like a GOP campaign spot, and it will almost certainly reach an audience that wouldn't think of shelling out for a documentary.
The beautifully animated video, which is directed by Ian Inaba, opens with a classroom. At the front is a man in a blue suit, his face buried in an upside down children's book that says "My Pet," with a picture of a bush. Just as the man is revealed to be Eminem, the scene changes, and we see the singer taping up newspaper stories to a wall -- "Sick Wounded Troops Held in Squalor," says one. "Civil Liberties at Stake," says another. "Bush Knew," says a third.
In five minutes, Eminem manages a furious indictment of the administration that will likely resonate among many troops in Iraq as well as disaffected kids here at home. In one scene, a smiling soldier returns home from Baghdad, only to be handed a notice announcing that he has to go back. As Eminem sings, "fuck Bush," the soldier mouths the words.
Then we see a woman walking home in the rain, carrying groceries and an envelope. Inside is an eviction notice. As she reads it, we hear Eminem saying, "Maybe this is God just saying we're responsible for this monster, this coward that we have empowered." The woman looks at her TV, where Bush is speaking over a banner that says "Tax Cuts." She looks at her terrified children, then back at the screen, which says, "Breaking News…Terror Alert."
It all ends amazingly earnestly, with Eminem leading a black-clad army to the voting booth. Once again, Bush proves he really does have wonder working powers -- by behaving even more callously and irresponsibly than the most outrageous rapper, he's turned music's foremost enfant terrible into a role model of civic engagement.
I don't know how much impact something like this has, but it's a big mistake to underestimate the pull of popular culture. Eminem is an icon for a large swathe of young disaffected men, some of whom, as the review mentions, are in Iraq getting shot at as we speak.
One of the reasons that we may expect a nice uptick in voters this year, particularly young voters, is the extent to which the election has found its way into the cultural zeitgeist. It's not confined to its usual little corner of the media universe --- it's everywhere. It is culturally significant to people who are usually uninterested (meaning non-fundies) and it has insinuated itself into the media in such a way as to take on Big Event proportions.
We've had high hopes before in this regard and were sorely disappointed. 1972 is a compelling example. However, the media did not have the kind of pervasive influence it now has and people were not connected the way they are now. It was a political time, to be sure, but the strongest energy among young people went to cultural and lifestyle revolution. Politics was as much a matter of style as substance. Indeed, one of the stongest strains in American youth culture encouraged people to drop out entirely. There is nothing like that happening now.
The current culture war is not generational, it's mostly urban vs rural. And popular culture is omnipresent and dominating --- the internet bringing an entirely unprecedented new wrinkle. The conditions for a high turnout among people who don't usually tune in to politics but who've been drawn by the buzz into the conversation has never been higher. This could be the election that merges the general "audience" with the electorate and makes it one.
From the way it looks a week out, we may actually have the culture warriors a little bit on the run for the first time in many years. I may have my problems with Eminem, but I've got to be honest. I consider him to be far less dangerous than the leadership of the modern Republican Party. If he can help get out new voters, I welcome his help.
digby 10/26/2004 03:00:00 PM
A Votre Sante!
Dr. Vino has compiled the all important electoral guide for wine lovers.
Not exactly a surprise --- Kerry wins.
Reading about the politics of wine reminded me of a legendary appearance on Crossfire by Justin Vaisse, during the pathetic "freedom-fries" era:
CARLSON: But just, honestly, just correct the misperception here. This is not simply an effort by the administration to beat up on France. This is coming -- there's a deep wellspring of anti-French feeling in this country, and it's going to have consequences. This is a bottle of French wine. This is a bottom [sic] of American wine.
VAISSE: It is bigger.
CARLSON: And it's bigger. That's exactly right. More forceful. There will be Americans who boycott French products. This in the end is really going to hurt France, isn't it?
VAISSE: No, I think it is going hurt wine lovers.
Wine lovers have long memories. We will vote en masse for a fromage and pate-loving, Chardonnay-swilling liberal. Fuck that PB&J 'n milk bullshit. Voting, like so many good things in life, is for adults.
digby 10/26/2004 02:12:00 PM
Forgive Us, World
Via TBOGG I see that the amount of lead in our environment has finally reached critical mass.
Kimberly Parmer, 33, who works as a human resources manager in western Michigan, said the emphasis on national security issues had distorted the campaign.
"I don't think terrorism is as big a threat as everyone is making it out to be," Ms. Parmer said. "Yes, we have had a couple of incidents, but other countries have hundreds every year. Iraq is important, but so are things like Social Security and Medicare. Neither one has really touched on those subjects because no one is going to be happy, no matter what you do."
Ms. Parmer, who said she is firmly planted in "the very low middle class," also saw the Bush tax cut as poorly timed. She normally votes for Democrats, she said, but is not sure this time.
"One is too polished; the other one, I think to be honest, I don't know how he ever got to be president," Ms. Parmer said. "I am really surprised he has gotten as far as he has in life. I do think he's honest."
Even so, Ms. Parmer said, she thought she might vote for Mr. Bush. "If you actually look at him, and he stands up next to Kerry, you just kind of feel sorry for him," she said. "I feel he's more of an underdog, he's had a hard go of it in the last four years."
As we all sit here pondering how it can possibly be that Commander Codpiece is even in the running, this explains it. I think that what gets me the most about people like this is that they obviously pay a certain amount of attention, they know what the issues are yet they see the world as if it's a TV soap opera.
I'll bet this woman will vote for Bush. Here's why. According to the LA Times Poll today:
In its final days, the race is blurring some of the electorate's familiar divides but emphatically deepening others, according to the poll.
Much smaller than in recent presidential elections is the gender gap, in which the majority of men usually vote Republican, and women usually lean Democratic.
Bush's message, which stresses his national security record and his commitment to conservative cultural values, is helping him gain ground among lower middle-income and less-educated voters ambivalent about his economic record. Conversely, the message is costing him with more affluent and better-educated families that have historically supported Republicans.
Strikingly, Bush leads Kerry in the poll among lower- and middle-income white voters, but trails his rival among whites earning at least $100,000 per year.
Bush also runs best among voters without college degrees, whereas Kerry leads not only among college-educated women (a traditional Democratic constituency), but among college-educated men — usually one of the electorate's most reliably Republican groups in the electorate.
This tracks with the PIPA Survey which said:
As the nation prepares to watch the presidential candidates debate foreign policy issues, a new PIPA-Knowledge Networks poll finds that Americans who plan to vote for President Bush have many incorrect assumptions about his foreign policy positions. Kerry supporters, on the other hand, are largely accurate in their assessments. The uncommitted also tend to misperceive Bush’s positions, though to a smaller extent than Bush supporters, and to perceive Kerry’s positions correctly. Steven Kull, director of PIPA, comments: “What is striking is that even after nearly four years President Bush’s foreign policy positions are so widely misread, while Senator Kerry, who is relatively new to the public and reputed to be unclear about his positions, is read correctly.”
When the inevitable forums and roundtables of beltway "intellectuals" chewing over the election coverage and results take place over the next few months, I would very much like to see somebody ask William Kristol and his buds over at the Weakly Standard and AEI how they square their grand global vision with the fact that the vast number of their followers are total morons. Indeed, the country seems to have divided up rather neatly into the dumbshits vs. everybody else and they represent the dumbshits. Do the cosmopolitan neocon elite believe that a country run on behalf of people like this can actually run the world? If they do, then all the hoo-hah about their Straussian allegiance was true.
digby 10/26/2004 01:14:00 PM
Ok, folks. Here's what Jim Miklaszewski said yesterday:
"April 10, 2003, only three weeks into the war, NBC News was embedded with troops from the Army's 101st Airborne as they temporarily take over the Al Qaqaa weapons installation south of Baghdad. But these troops never found the nearly 380 tons of some of the most powerful conventional explosives, called HMX and RDX, which is now missing."
"The U.S. troops did find large stockpiles of more conventional weapons, but no HMX or RDX, so powerful less than a pound brought down Pan Am 103 in 1988, and can be used to trigger a nuclear weapon."
He has now been contradicted by the NBC embed herself:
Here's the video. And, here's the relevant transcript:
Amy Robach: And it's still unclear exactly when those explosives disappeared. Here to help shed some light on that question is Lai Ling. She was part of an NBC news crew that traveled to that facility with the 101st Airborne Division back in April of 2003. Lai Ling, can you set the stage for us? What was the situation like when you went into the area?
Lai Ling Jew: When we went into the area, we were actually leaving Karbala and we were initially heading to Baghdad with the 101st Airborne, Second Brigade. The situation in Baghdad, the Third Infantry Division had taken over Baghdad and so they were trying to carve up the area that the 101st Airborne Division would be in charge of. As a result, they had trouble figuring out who was going to take up what piece of Baghdad. They sent us over to this area in Iskanderia. We didn't know it as the Qaqaa facility at that point but when they did bring us over there we stayed there for quite a while. We stayed overnight, almost 24 hours. And we walked around, we saw the bunkers that had been bombed, and that exposed all of the ordinances that just lied dormant on the desert.
AR: Was there a search at all underway or did a search ensue for explosives once you got there during that 24-hour period?
LLJ: No. There wasn't a search. The mission that the brigade had was to get to Baghdad. That was more of a pit stop there for us. And, you know, the searching, I mean certainly some of the soldiers head off on their own, looked through the bunkers just to look at the vast amount of ordnance lying around. But as far as we could tell, there was no move to secure the weapons, nothing to keep looters away. But there was -- at that point the roads were shut off. So it would have been very difficult, I believe, for the looters to get there.
AR: And there was no talk of securing the area after you left. There was no discussion of that?
LLJ: Not for the 101st Airborne, Second Brigade. They were -- once they were in Baghdad, it was all about Baghdad, you know, and then they ended up moving north to Mosul. Once we left the area, that was the last that the brigade had anything to do with the area.
AR: Well, Lai Ling Jew, thank you so much for shedding some light into that situation. We appreciate it.
LLJ: Thank you.
NBC has cleared up this little "misunderstanding" but we need to ensure that they emphasize their clarification on the evening news and on all the gasbag shows on MSNBC.
Once again, I think that the Rove machine has lost a ball bearing or two. It is not in their interest to be fighting this story with such fervor in the waning days of the campaign, particularly relying on a news organization's preliminary reporting to justify its position. They would have been far better off using one of those infuriating Codpiece tautologies and called it a day --- "of course we didn't know anything about this because if we had we would have done something about it. Since we didn't do anything about it, we couldn't have known." Instead they've called in the full force of the mighty Wurlitzer which gets the mainstream press all quivering with excitement --- and forces NBC to work the story even harder since they are now part of it.
Still, it might just be helpful to ensure that NBC knows that you are aware of the Lai Ling Jew clarification and also that you are aware that Drudge and the wing-nuts are using their story to pass on bad information to the voters. Karl Rove is said to have thought so highly of the NBC story that he planned to use it in a mass e-mail.
If NBC and MSNBC have any journalistic integrity they might want to take extra measures to ensure that they don't get used as Karl's love slave this close to an election.
One MSNBC Plaza
Secaucus, NJ 07094
Phone: (201) 583-5000
Fax: (201) 583-5453
30 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, NY 10112
Phone: (212) 664-5900
Fax: (212) 664-2914
DBellone@msnbc.com (Hardball producer)
For the full backround on this story, Josh Marshall is the resident blogospheric expert.
Update: Marshall has posted a subsequent clarification by Miklaszewski. I just heard even CNN finally drop the earlier NBC version of events and also reveal that the wing-nuts have been inundating them with e-mail flogging the NBC story.
digby 10/26/2004 11:37:00 AM
The Dinner Guest From Hell
Apparently, David Brooks just went to a family gathering somewhere on his home planet where he bored the living shit out of every single person in the room. In fact, there is little doubt in my mind that there was at least one suicide, right there at the dinner table.
I used to think that at least he was an interesting guy, but it's clear that even his imaginary friends are pompous bores.
digby 10/26/2004 10:32:00 AM
Monday, October 25, 2004
This Land Is Your Land
Ezra pointed me to this Paul Waldman piece in The Gadflyer that hits on something that's been getting me angrier and angrier during the last few years --- the constant refrain by Republicans (and accepted without comment by the mediawhores) that blue state America is somehow unamerican. It's offensive and I'm tired of it:
Fantasyland, October 25, 2004 – Today John Kerry opened up a new line of attack on President Bush, charging that his policies and positions are a product of Texas, a state whose political culture lies far outside the American mainstream. "The former governor of Texas has governed like, well, like a former governor of Texas," said Kerry to the laughs and hoots of the crowd. "He's so far out on the right wing, he fell off the plane."
Kerry also brought up Tom DeLay, the ultra-conservative congressman from the Lone Star state. "George Bush makes Tom DeLay look like a Texas moderate!"
The new line of attack came as an independent liberal group began airing a new ad in which an elderly couple says, "George Bush should take his NASCAR-loving, tobacco-chewing, trailer-park-living, redneck freak show back to Texas, where it belongs."
Of course, we've never seen a story like this one – like all Democrats, John Kerry knows that if he criticized one state or one region of the country, the press and the Republicans would come down on him like a ton of bricks, charging him with being a Northeastern elitist who doesn't want to be the president of all Americans.
But the rules are different on the other side of the aisle. In today's politics, it is acceptable for Republicans to traffic in ugly stereotypes and assert outright that people who come from some areas of America are not really American. Some might remember the ad to which I referred, aired by the conservative Club for Growth, which said, "Howard Dean should take his tax-hiking, government-expanding, latte-drinking, sushi-eating, Volvo-driving, New York Times-reading, body-piercing, Hollywood-loving, left-wing freak show back to Vermont, where it belongs."
Bush is hardly the first Republican to use this attack; when the DNC decided to hold its convention in Boston, former House Majority Leader Dick Armey said, "If I were a Democrat, I suspect I'd feel a heck of a lot more comfortable in Boston than, say, America."
Why does Bush get away with this? Because the press corps buys the Republican argument that the areas of the country where there are lots of Republicans are "really" American, and the areas of the country where there are lots of Democrats aren't. So they never asked whether the fact that Bush was a "Texas conservative" would hurt him, while they constantly wonder about how damaging it is that Kerry is a "Massachusetts liberal." Disparage Texas – or Alabama, or Mississippi, or Kansas – and you're in for a heap of trouble. Throw insults at Massachusetts or California or New York, and the press will laugh right along.
If Kerry wins this election, it is highly likely it will be without the South. And maybe then people are going to realize that catering entirely to one regional culture and insulting the others may not be the way to build a permanent majority. If that happens it's not going to be us blue-staters from Taxachusetts or Hollywood who have the problem.
digby 10/25/2004 08:18:00 PM
Dick Morris just said on FAUX that Bush is "surging in the polls" and it's because of the puppies ad. In fact, he believes that ad is going to go down as one of the greatest political ads in history.
The rule of thumb for everything in life is that if Dick Morris says it, the opposite must be true. Therefore, Bush is slipping and the puppies ad is going down as the biggest political joke in history.
I feel good!
digby 10/25/2004 07:01:00 PM
Sunday, October 24, 2004
What Is News?
Here's a little quiz for everyone. Which of these two stories will dominate the news tomorrow?:
To review the essential facts, prior to the war, Iraq's Al Qa Qaa bunker and weapons complex had roughly 350 tons of high explosives under IAEA seal. After the war, for whatever reason, the complex was either not guarded at all or inadequately guarded. And all those explosives (primarily RDX and HMX) were carted away.
What we're talking about here isn't just a bunch of dynamite. This encyclopedia entry says RDX "is considered the most powerful and brisant of the military high explosives." And not 350 pounds, 350 tons.
It is apparently widely believed within the US government that those looted explosives are what in many, perhaps most, cases is being used in car bombs and suicide attacks against US troops. That is, according to TPM sources and sources quoted in this evening's Nelson Report, where the story first broke.
One administration official told Nelson, "This is the stuff the bad guys have been using to kill our troops, so you can’t ignore the political implications of this, and you would be correct to suspect that politics, or the fear of politics, played a major role in delaying the release of this information."
or this one:
U.N. ambassadors from several nations are disputing assertions by Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry that he met for hours with all members of the U.N. Security Council just a week before voting in October 2002 to authorize the use of force in Iraq.
An investigation by The Washington Times reveals that while the candidate did talk for an unspecified period to at least a few members of the panel, no such meeting, as described by Mr. Kerry on a number of occasions over the past year, ever occurred.
FAUX News will be flogging the latter like crazy. But, the former is above the fold on the front page of the NY Times.
Anybody want to lay down a bet?
digby 10/24/2004 08:46:00 PM
Now's The Time
Memo to the press corpse: In light of this new information about Junior's lies regarding Project P.U.L.L., it's now perfectly legitimate to ask that One Simple Question.
In fact, it's your job. Consider the bounty your bonus.
digby 10/24/2004 08:04:00 PM
Junior isn't the most coordinated fellow in the world and he has a lot of trouble staying upright in the best of circumstances. It's probably not a good idea to put him in platform shoes. He falls down. Again:
President Bush is helped after tripping on a step after speaking at the Canton Palace Theatre about medical liability reform Friday, Oct. 22, 2004 in Canton, Ohio. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
digby 10/24/2004 06:00:00 PM
Haven't They Seen Enough Horror?
Wayne Newton Entertains Troops in Iraq
Newton, along with special guests that included actor Rob Schneider and country singer Neal McCoy, spent nearly three hours at a 1st Cavalry division camp in the capital on Tuesday.
Wasn't the mutiny in the 1st Cavalry? I'm just saying...
digby 10/24/2004 05:11:00 PM