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Saturday, September 25, 2004

Taliban Healthcare Comes to Peoria 

(via NYT Business section)

The Bush administration has broken new ground in its "faith-based" initiative, this time by offering federal employees a Catholic health plan that specifically excludes payment for contraceptives, abortion, sterilization and artificial insemination.

The plan, which will begin enrolling federal workers in 31 Illinois counties in November, is sponsored by OSF Health, a unit of the Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis, which runs the St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria and five Roman Catholic hospitals in Illinois and Michigan.
Now frankly I would be tempted to shrug at this point...of all the "faith-based" crap this administration has pulled this is far from the worst. Until you read a little further....
The OSF plan has two parts. It couples a tax-free savings account for enrollees to use to pay for routine care with a high-deductible health plan that offers coverage only after the annual deductible has been reached - $1,050 for individual or $2,100 for family coverage. As part of the benefit, a portion of the premium that the government will pay to OSF will be deposited into each enrollee's savings account.

The government's total contribution to the new OSF plan will be $240.89 a month for individuals and $599 a month for families. The employees' monthly premium contribution will be $80.30 for individuals and $199.66 for families. By comparison, federal workers enrolling in a more traditional preferred provider plan in Illinois will pay $89.09 for individuals and $299.96 for families.
So if you join up with regular ol' Blue Cross or whatever it costs you a hundred bucks more a month, a significant amount given what Federal work pays down in the ranks. Join Blue Bishop instead and save that amount, PLUS get a payment into your deductible account...just as long as you're careful never to have sex. If temptation overcomes you and you're all that desperate for sterilization services there is always your local veterinarian.

I can see real potential here. If this plays in Peoria (thank you Richard Nixon) I can see it catching on elsewhere:

Blue Seagull, available in and around Salt Lake City: No coverage for lung cancer, liver disease, addiction treatment of any sort, or dental services like teeth whitening. Family coverage must include one male but is decidedly vague on number of females covered per household.

Blue Buggy, available in Lancaster PA, Amana IA, Arcola, IL and other towns with heavy Amish populations: No treatment for injuries incurred in auto accidents unless caused by collision with horse-drawn vehicle; no treatment for electric shock injuries; separate deductible for each child with genetic disorder caused by inbreeding.

Blue Baptist: No coverage for anything. All payments made to pastor of local church for power-of-prayer rituals. Patients charged extra for bad reactions to snakebites.

Bush Lost iWreck--Pass it On 

George Bush, personally, with his own dirty fingers and his own lying mouth, cost the US military whatever chance they had of "winning" (at least in the military sense) the war on the insurgency in Iraq.

This is worse than just about any White House meddling in the conduct of military operations that I can think of. Worse than Johnson micromanaging Vietnam. Worse than Lincoln ordering the untrained Union forces into the debacles of Ball's Bluff and Bull Run.

This could be a better story than it is--how about naming names, Rajiv? WHO in the Provisional Authority mismanaged the training and recruitement of the Iraqi police? WHO was the "private contractor" hired to do this training, and WHO ordered it chosen?
(via WaPo)
The police outpost here is supposed to house 90 armed members of Iraq's National Guard. Their job is to keep watch over a stretch of six-lane highway, deterring insurgents from laying roadside bombs and trying to blow up a bridge over the nearby Tharthar Canal.

But when the U.S. Marine commander responsible for the area visited the outpost this month, he found six bedraggled guardsmen on duty. None of them was patrolling. The Iraqi officer in charge was missing. And their weapons had been locked up by the Marines after a guardsman detonated a grenade inside the compound.

The unit's demise underscores the degree to which errors committed by civilian and military leaders during the 15 months of rule by the U.S.-led occupation authority continue to impede the U.S. effort to combat a vexing insurgency and rebuild Iraq's shattered government and economy. Recovering from those mistakes has become the principal challenge facing the United States in Iraq, three months after the transfer of political authority to an interim government.

"We're trying to climb out of a hole," said an official with the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, who spoke on condition of anonymity. American missteps during the occupation, the official said, "continue to haunt us."

The errors have had a major impact on almost every aspect of the U.S. agenda here, from pacifying rebel-held cities to holding elections in January to accelerating reconstruction projects. In each area, past mistakes have made it far tougher to accomplish U.S. objectives and those of Iraq's interim government.

The guardsmen in Saqlawiya, who come from the nearby city of Fallujah, were not always this pathetic. Early this year, their battalion was lauded by the U.S. military for repelling insurgent attacks on the mayor's office and police headquarters in Fallujah. They were, as one Army officer put it in March, "a glimmer of hope in an otherwise dark place."

The battalion disintegrated in April because of an order by the White House and the Pentagon to have the Marines lay siege to Fallujah -- a decision top Marine officials now acknowledge was a profound mistake. As Marines advanced into the city, the guardsmen were put in an untenable position: Either flee, or join the Marines in fighting Iraqi neighbors -- and risk violent retribution. The guardsmen fled.

In early April, as the Marines were besieging Fallujah, U.S. commanders ordered one of the first battalions of Iraq's reconstituted army to join the fight in a supporting role. The commanders figured it would provide the Iraqi soldiers with a valuable lesson. It turned out to be the other way around.

When the soldiers, who had just finished basic training, were told where they were being sent, they staged a mutiny and refused to board transport helicopters. The Iraqis told U.S. officers that they did not enlist in order to fight fellow Iraqis.

Stunned U.S. military officials tried to determine what had gone wrong. According to several commanders, they eventually concluded that it was a mistake to have a private contractor conduct basic training, a concern that had already been raised by some veteran military officers, who maintained that the military would have done a better job. Their objection was ignored by the Pentagon's civilian leadership. Once the soldiers finished boot camp, they were put under the command of U.S. officers whom they had never met.
To go with my WHO questions above I have one more: WHY is this running on a Saturday, the least-read day of the week? I know it's in the dead-tree paper today because somebody posted a screenshot of it on dKos. Maybe there's another installment tomorrow that will answer my quibbles. Meanwhile, go read.

Iraq clusterfuck: Allawi wants to try Saddam, US says No 

First, we learn that Negroponte controls Allawi's schedule (back) Now this.

So much for Iraqi sovreignty:

The trials of former president Saddam Hussein and his top lieutenants likely will not begin this year, a U.S. official here said Friday, contradicting a recent pronouncement from Iraq's interim prime minister, Ayad Allawi, that Hussein's trial could commence as soon as next month.

Allawi has sought to speed up the trials by exhorting judges and investigators to accelerate their work and by replacing the administrator of the special tribunal that will conduct the trials. The prime minister has said he wants the proceedings to begin before national elections, scheduled for January.

But the U.S. official, who is part of team of Americans advising the tribunal, cast doubt on that timetable because of the complexity in proving that Hussein and other top officials ordered soldiers and low-ranking government officials to commit atrocities. "These are very difficult trials," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "These are command-responsibility cases. . . . You have to follow the chain of command up."
(via WaPo)

Absolutely. I mean, it's obvious that the specialists and privates in the Army wouldn't have done what they did at Abu Ghraib without at least feeling they had been authorized... Oh, wait. Sorry. Wrong chain of command. My bad. What I meant to say—

Gee, it looks like Bush has decided that putting Saddam on trial won't get him any votes in November. I wonder why? Could it be pictures like this? Back from the days when Rummy had real hair?

CNN Embed Fakes Orgasm! 

Your morning 'Chestnut'


Friday, September 24, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

I remember the immortal words of Colin Powell: "I sleep like a baby. Every two hours, I wake up screaming."


Cowardly Broadcasting System 

Well, ratfucking (back) works, doesn't it?

CBS News said yesterday that it had postponed a "60 Minutes" segment that questioned Bush administration rationales for going to war in Iraq.

The announcement, in a statement by a spokeswoman, was issued four days after the network acknowledged that it could not prove the authenticity of documents it used to raise new questions about President Bush's Vietnam-era military service.

The Iraq segment had been ready for broadcast on Sept. 8, CBS said, but was bumped at the last minute for the segment on Mr. Bush's National Guard service. The Guard segment was considered a highly competitive report, one that other journalists were pursuing.

CBS said last night that the report on the war would not run before Nov. 2.

"We now believe it would be inappropriate to air the report so close to the presidential election," the spokeswoman, Kelli Edwards, said in a statement.

Ms. Edwards said that the report had been scheduled for June but that it was postponed because of additional news on the subject.

The CBS statement followed a report in the online edition of Newsweek that described the frustration of CBS News reporters and producers who said the network had concluded that it could not legitimately criticize the president because of the questions about the National Guard report.

According to the Newsweek report, the "60 Minutes" segment was to have detailed how the administration relied on false documents when it said Iraq had tried to buy a lightly processed form of uranium, known as yellowcake, from Niger. The administration later acknowledged that the information was incorrect and that the documents were most likely fake.

The Newsweek article said the segment was to have included the first on-camera interview with Elisabetta Burba, the Italian journalist who was given the fake documents and who provided them to a United States Embassy for verification. The documents were sent to Washington, where some officials embraced them as firm evidence that Iraq was aggressively trying to make nuclear weapons.
(via the pretty-cowardly-themselves Times)


Iraq clusterfuck: What Kerry would do 

And he's not exactly a dove. From Kerry's speech today at Temple:

My fellow Americans, the most urgent national security challenge we face is the war against those who attacked our country on September 11th, the war against Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda. As president, I will fight a tougher, smarter, more effective war on terror. My priority will be to find and capture or kill the terrorists before they get us.

President Bush was right to invade Afghanistan and overthrow the Taliban. I supported that decision. So did our country and our allies. So did the world.

But since then, again and again, the President has made the wrong choices in the war on terror… around the world and here at home.

Instead of using U.S. forces to capture Osama bin Laden… the President outsourced the job to Afghan warlords, who let bin Laden slip away. That was the wrong choice. ... That was the wrong choice. ... That was the wrong choice. ... That was the wrong choice. ... That was the wrong choice. ... That was the wrong choice.

The invasion of Iraq was a profound diversion from the battle against our greatest enemy – Al Qaeda -- which killed more than three thousand people on 9/11 and which still plots our destruction today. And there’s just no question about it: the President’s misjudgment, miscalculation and mismanagement of the war in Iraq all make the war on terror harder to win. Iraq is now what it was not before the war – a haven for terrorists. George Bush made Saddam Hussein the priority. I would have made Osama bin Laden the priority. As president, I will finish the job in Iraq and refocus our energies on the real war on terror.

And my litmus test: loose nukes (back):

Twelve years ago, we began a bipartisan program to help these nations secure and destroy those weapons. It is incredible – and unacceptable -- that in the three years after 9/11, President Bush hasn’t stepped up our effort to lock down the loose nuclear weapons and materials in the former Soviet Union and elsewhere. More such materials were secured in the two years before 9/11 than in the two years after.

When I’m president, denying our most dangerous enemies the world’s most dangerous weapons will become the central priority for America.

At our seaports we’re physically inspecting only 5% of the cargo coming into America. The Bush Administration is spending more in Iraq in four days than they’ve spent protecting our ports for all of the last three years.

For al Qaeda, this war is a struggle for the heart and soul of the Muslim world. We will win this war only if the terrorists lose that struggle. We will win when ordinary people from Nigeria to Egypt to Pakistan to Indonesia know they have more to live for than to die for. We will win when they once again see America as the champion, not the enemy, of their legitimate yearning to live in just and peaceful societies. We will win when we stop isolating ourselves and start isolating our enemies. The world knows the difference between empty promises and genuine commitment.

So we will win when we show that America uses its economic power for the common good, doing our share to defeat the abject poverty, hunger, and disease that destroy lives and create failed states in every part of the world. The world’s poorest countries, suffering under crushing debt burdens, need particular attention. As president, I will lead the international community to cancel the debt of the most vulnerable nations in return for them living up to goals of social and economic progress.

We will win when we work with our allies, to enable children in poor countries to get a quality basic education. More than 50 percent of the population in the Arab and Muslim world is under the age of 25. The future is a race between schools that spark learning and schools that teach hate. We have to preempt the haters. We have to win the war of ideas. New generations must believe there is more to life than salvation through martyrdom.
(via John Kerry transcript)

As I say, he's no dove. Neither am I. After all, we can hardly have fundamentalists flying airplanes into our buildings—any more than we can have them loading loose nukes into shipping containers and setting the timers.

My only concern: The speech reads great. Can anyone tell me how the speech sounded? Remember Xan's crucial insight: "Bushspeak is not meant to be read, but to be performed." (back) How was Kerry's speech as a performance? Readers?

UPDATE Hey, guess what! Kerry can interact with a heckler without having them arrested, or having morans in the crowd drown them out with that noxious "Four More Years!" chant, or having his thugs assault them. What a concept! Alert reader pol writes:

I saw most of the speech. It was excellent.

Someone interrupted [Kerry] in the middle of the speech and asked him what he would do about AIDS. He stopped his speech, spoke about how he had sponsored legislation for AIDS research and how Bush has paid out very little of the money he's promised for AIDS, then segued back into his speech seamlessly. It was impressive to see him connect like that, and a nice touch, too.

About That "Poll" Bush Cited.... 

Remember yesterday, in the Rose-Petal-and-Chocolates Garden? Bush said the "right track/wrong track" polls were better in Iraq than they were here. Aside from the fact that he is receiving some well-deserved mockery for what this says about people's attitudes here, Atrios points us to a genuine find by a party who goes by the nom-de-blog Balta :
Who exactly did that poll that Mr. Bush cited in his press conference which said that Iraqis were more optimistic about their country than the U.S.? Here's the answer.

Bush was referring to a survey by the International Republican Institute, a nonprofit group aimed at promoting democracy, which showed that more than 51% of Iraqis felt their country was headed "in the right direction." Thirty-one percent said it was headed in the wrong direction.

Now, suspicious as I usually am of our "Liberal" media, something struck me as curious about this. They call it the "International Republican Institute".
Cue scary music. Here's a partial list of the governance and participants in this IRI. Affiliations have been emboldened (sorry) for emphasis:

John McCain Chairman (R)
Michael V. Kostiw Vice-Chairman - also Vice President, International Government Affairs at ChevronTexaco
U.S. Representative David Dreier
Lawrence S. Eagleburger - Short-term Secretary of State under Bush 1
Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr. - Former Chairman of the Republican Party
Alison B. Fortier - Director, Lockheed Martin Missile Defense Programs
Susan Golding - Former Republican Mayor of San Diego
U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel, (R-Neb)
Robert M. Kimmitt - US ambassador to Germany under Bush 1
Dr. Jeane J. Kirkpatrick - Senior Fellow, American Enterprise Institute
U.S. Representative Jim Kolbe, (R-Ariz)
Brent Scowcroft - Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, Bush 1.
William J. Hybl - Bush 2's U.S. Rep to U.N. General Assembly
Fred Meyer - Former Chairman, RNC Victory 2000 and the Presidential Inauguration 2001 Executive Committee
Alec L. Poitevint, II - National Committeeman, Georgia Republican National Committee
Marilyn Ware - Board of Trustees, American Enterprise Institute

U.S. tax dollars go to fund the thing, and they really mean it when they say "Republican." They've been potentially involved in the coups in Venezuela and Haiti. THey even hosted a talk during the Republican National Convention. It also has a current budget of over $20 million dollars.
Down in Atrios' comments on this post we find the following by a commentor known as Count Asterisk:

51% said Right Track
31% said Wrong Track

Breaking the numbers down further:

18% said "Go away, go away"

15% shot at the poll taker
14% kidnapped the poll taker
2% kidnapped and shot the poll taker

51% said "We love America, we love America, please don't shoot us"
Run over to Balta's place and take a look, he has details on this outfit far beyond this brief excerpt. Let's just say this IRI is not nearly as interested in promoting "democracy" as they are "Republicancy." And overthrowing elected governments from time to time, but only when people were foolish enough to elect the wrong governments, dammit.

5:00 horror: Maybe this time "all" of Bushs military records have been released? 


Ha ha ha.


The Defense Department released the records in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by The Associated Press. Friday was the court-ordered deadline for the Pentagon to turn over all records it could find on Bush's Texas Air National Guard service.

The release marked the second Friday night in a row that the Defense Department has released more of the president's National Guard files. The White House has repeatedly announced this year that all of Bush's records have been released, only to have the Pentagon come up with more files in response to the AP's lawsuit and FOIA requests.

The records do not have information about the most controversial aspects of Bush's service: gaps in attendance for as long as six months in 1972 and 1973 and the future president's decision to skip a required medical examination in 1972 that ended his certification to fly F-102A fighters.
(via AP)


So, where was Bush during his missing year? And why has no witness come forward to claim that $50,000 reward?

And why did Bush miss that medical exam?

And why on earth is Bush proud of a record that ends with being grounded?

And is Bush just as proud of the thousands he's sent to their deaths in his own war?

Iraq clusterfuck: Negroponte controls Allawi's daily schedule 

So much for sovreignty.

George Will—WTF?!—writes:

After "This Week" arranged with Allawi's office for Sunday's interview, the U.S. State Department called ABC to say that the office of U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte in Baghdad had decided that the interview would not happen until this coming Sunday, after Allawi's U.S. visit. This attempt by the U.S. embassy to exercise sovereignty over the prime minister raised interesting questions about just what was actually transferred on June 28 when sovereignty was supposedly given to the Iraqi government. The White House recognized the inconvenience of such questions. The interview occurred.
(South Missippi Su n Herald via Josh Marshall, who is getting snarkier and snarkier these days.)

But, I dunno. This may be a little exteme. I mean, that thug Acting President Rove controls "President" [cough] Bush's schedule, so why shouldn't that thug Ambassador Negroponte control "President" [cough] Allawi's schedule? Let's be reasonable here.

Common Humanity 

Yes, Virginia, there is such a thing.

Yesterday, I mentioned listening to President Bush in his joint press conference with PM Allawi, held in the White House rosey scenario garden , and asked the question, did I hear correctly, did he just say that the electric grid in Iraq was performing above pre-war levels, and asked readers if I hadn't just heard the President of the US tell an easily verifiable lie.

Well, in a land far away, Riverbend was also listening to the President; although, as she tells us, she usually avoids doing so, she was curious to see what Allawi was up to. The title of the post is "Liar, Liar," and here is what she has to say about the electricity in Baghdad.
My favorite part was when he claimed, "Electricity has been restored above pre-war levels..." Even E. had to laugh at that one. A few days ago, most of Baghdad was in the dark for over 24 hours and lately, on our better days, we get about 12 hours of electricity. Bush got it wrong (or Allawi explained it to incorrectly)- the electricity is drastically less than pre-war levels, but the electricity BILL is way above pre-war levels. Congratulations Iraqis on THAT!! Our electricity bill was painful last month. Before the war, Iraqis might pay an average of around 5,000 Iraqi Dinars a month for electricity (the equivalent back then of $2.50) - summer or winter. Now, it's quite common to get bills above 70,000 Iraqi Dinars... for half-time electricity.

She's absolutely right; the President's speech was almost interchangeable with ones he's given six months ago, six months before that, in fact, all the speeches he's given have been variations on the same "everything's great in Iraq" theme ever since it first began to occur to everyone else that everything wasn't. That's the President's Rovian modus operandi; deny, deny, lie, lie, attack, attack.

As Jon Stewart noted on the Daily Show, Allawi's speech sounded like it had been written by Bush speechwriters. Stewart is an American Jew, so am I, Riverbend is an Iraqi muslim, but the truth is still the truth, and our common humanity makes us more alike than different, at least when it comes to talking back to a TV screen.
I sat listening, trying not to focus too much on his face, but rather on the garbage he was reiterating for at least the thousandth time since the war. I don't usually talk back to the television, but I really can't help myself when Bush is onscreen. I sit there talking back to him- calling him a liar, calling him an idiot, wondering how exactly he got so far and how they're allowing him to run for re-election. E. sat next to me on the couch, peeved, "Why are we even watching this?!" He made a jump for the remote control (which I clutch to shake at the television to emphasize particular points)- a brief struggle ensued and Riverbend came out victorious. You know things are really going downhill in Iraq, when the Bush speech-writers have to recycle his old speeches. Listening to him yesterday, one might think he was simply copying and pasting bits and pieces from the older stuff.

She also helps to put in perspective Allawi's performance on Thursday.
After Bush finished his piece about the glamorous changes in Iraq, Allawi got his turn. I can't seem to decide what is worse- when Bush speaks in the name of Iraqi people, or when Allawi does. Yesterday's speech was particularly embarrassing. He stood there groveling in front of the congress- thanking them for the war, the occupation and the thousands of Iraqi lives lost... and he did it all on behalf of the Iraqi people. It was infuriating and for maybe the hundredth time this year, I felt rage. Yet another exile thanking the Bush administration for the catastrophe we're trying to cope with. Our politicians are outside of the country 90% of the time (by the way, if anyone has any news of our president Ghazi Ajeel Al Yawir, do let us know- where was he last seen or heard?), the security situation is a joke, the press are shutting down and pulling out and our beloved exiles are painting rosey pictures for the American public- you know- so everyone who voted for Bush can sleep at night.

Try and get your boggled mind to think for a moment about the implications of major Iraqi politicians being outside of the country 90% of the time. Read the whole thing.

We should probably note that Riverbend's take on her own country is markedly different from that which one gets from another Iraqi blog, "Iraq, The Model." I read "Ali" and his compatriots fairly regularly, and I don't quite know what to make of them. I'm prepared to believe that many Iraqs feel the same committment to a pluralistic, democratic future for Iraq, but find myself put off by their easy acceptance of so much misery being visited on their countrymen, their soaring rhetoric which mirrors so perfectly Bush and the American right wing, and most of all, I question his readiness to claim that anyone who is currently resisting the occupation is nothing more nor less than a terrorist. As I mentioned in yesterday's post, the portrait painted in the Guardian/Observer of at least one insurgent strongly suggested that he is anything but a hater of either democratic governance, or Americans as a people, and that if the Bush administration had made good on any of its promises, they would have won the patient support of more Iraqis than they've managed to. My question about Ali is why its so difficult for him to imagine that there were other ways of deposing Saddam, and other ways to help the Iraiqis toward a democratic future other than a full scale primarily American invasion whose purpose was not merely to get rid of Saddam, but even more importantly, to deliver all of Iraq into the hands of Bush & co?

I don't read Riverbend because she confirms the negative view of the occupation that I want to have; what is happening in Iraq breaks my heart. I read her because of her intelligence, gift for writing, and her honesty, and the rare opportunity to hear first-hand from such a sensibility what is happening in a place where history is happening right before our eyes, a history for which we Americans have a primary responsibility.

UPDATE Some numbers from Kos ("put together by USAID, are distributed to international aid workers and NGOs")."Liar, Liar," indeed.—Lambert

The "Quasi War" Part 2 

Finally! Someone in the media (Dana Milbank) has recognized that W's use of fear for partisan purposes in the War on Terra is like John Adams's use of the "Quasi War" on France!

Such accusations have been a component of American politics since the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 and surfaced in the modern era during the McCarthy communist hunt and the Vietnam War protests.
In a column for the History News Network, I suggested this more than two years ago. It's about time someone finally said it. I've been waiting for this moment for quite some time.

Of course, Adams and the Federalists ultimately lost a close election in 1800 as most Americans (or, more accurately, most Americans who could vote at the time) rejected this fear-mongering and elected Thomas Jefferson president. Their fear-mongering didn't work.

Therefore it would be nice if history repeated itself in this instance.

Americans simply have to prove that they can't be scared into voting for an incompetent and bumbling incumbent administration. The Bush campaign is doing its best to "stampede the herd" and, so far, it appears to be working.

As I've said on a couple of different comments to posts here, if W wins the election, I think it's going to be a rough four years for W. I suspect the wheels will rapidly come off Iraq in the months following the election and the economy is apparently pretty soft so a "dubya dip" recession very well may be in our immediate future. Furthermore, as Iraq spending increases the deficit is going to approach $1 trillion annually within two or three years.

If Bush wins, it will be nice to pin all of these problems on his administration and his party. As Atrios said the other day, if Bush wins, will we then, finally, be able to agree that EVERYTHING is his fault and not that of the all-powerful Clenis?

A second four years for W would also put the final nail in the coffin for the efficacy of all that Republicans hold near and dear as far as economy and foreign policy is concerned. Tax cuts have failed to do a damn thing for the economy (they didn't really work that well during the 1980s either, by the way). Militarism and go-it-alone-ism haven't worked at all in Iraq and as anti-terrorism policy.

The worst part for a John Kerry administration would be that it would have to work really hard to clean up the the horrible mess that is our economic and foreign policy -- a mess that no Democrat created I might add.

To return to the historical parallel, it would be nice if Bush's administration was ultimately remembered as Adams's administration has been by historians: as a desperate cabal of fear-mongering incompetents who tried ham-handedly to hold onto their power and succeeded in destroying their own party in the process.

That outcome, even if (God forbid) it means another four years for W, would be fine with me.

The Trial of Sadaam Hussein 

Prime-Minister-du-Jour Allawi may wind up regretting his notion of pushing for a "trial" of Sadaam before "the" elections. (If you saw much of the coverage of the Rose Petal Appearance of the two potentates yesterday you might have noted how it was occasionally hard to determine just which country's elections were being referred to at any given time.)

The proposal, however, has brought some voices bubbling back up out of the Memory Hole into which they had fallen. One of those voices belongs to a Chalabi, and--dig this!--he's the one who comes off sounding like the voice of reason, sanity, and respect for something resembling the rule of law:

(via AP via Jackson MS Clarion-Ledger)

Associated Press Writer

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- The former director of the Iraqi war crimes tribunal said that interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi has taken over the court and could rush forward with "show trials" of Saddam Hussein and other former Iraqi leaders to boost his popularity before presidential elections scheduled for January.

In an e-mailed statement Thursday, Salem Chalabi, the former chairman of the Iraqi Special Tribunal, urged the international community to prevent Allawi's government from politicizing the trials.

Allawi has said he wants the trials to begin sooner than the one or two years the court argues it needs to delve into tons of documents and prepare to prosecute Saddam and the top members of his regime. Allawi replaced Chalabi with a member of his own party - though Chalabi insists the move was illegitimate.

In August, Iraq's Central Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant on murder charges for Chalabi, and the court said it wanted Chalabi's uncle, prominent exile politician Ahmad Chalabi, on counterfeit charges.

Those charges have since been dropped,
Did you hear about that? Me neither. Dang, we gotta start following the news more...
but the murder investigation into the death of a Foreign Ministry official continues, Chalabi said.

"These murder charges were concocted in order to discredit me and the Iraqi Special Tribunal," he said.

Chalabi said his ouster was a violation of the court's U.S.-written founding law, which appointed him for a three-year term and holds the tribunal as independent from the government.

He said the investigations were not ready for indictments or trials that would meet minimum legal standards.
One question never, ever asked: What laws is Sadaam charged with violating? Pre-war law? What specific statute? You think that Sadaam, any more than Bush, being in control of the entire apparatus of government, didn't have some clause in there saying "If the President sez it's legal, then dammit, it's okay"? That would seem to bring up a problem with the notion that you can't have an ex post facto law--you can't charge somebody with something that wasn't illegal at the time it was done even if the law changes later.

Or is it postwar, Occupation "Provisional Authority" law? That brings up another set of challenges. If it's going to be a kangaroo court, which seems inevitable, where the charge consists of "You're a naughty, naughty man, dammit!" let's just admit it and get on with the theater and not tarnish the notion of "law" by pretending it's a trial.

Pushing Them Where They Want to Go 

Lambert notes (here) that Google News "skews right". This is said to have complicated reasons, which we believe because the word "algorithms" was used. Some rightwardness is less hard to understand. We have a little kabuki theater playing out in Norfolk, Virginia:

Richmond Times-Dispatch
NORFOLK A news-talk radio station in southeastern Virginia has dumped CBS News because of listener outrage over Dan Rather's "60 Minutes" report questioning President Bush's National Guard service.
Democracy in action, right? The People rose up and demanded Change, and this humble station nobly listened to their consumers. That's sure what they'd like you to believe anyway:
"We had so much outcry from our listeners. They were calling and complaining and saying they wouldn't listen to a CBS newscast anymore," said Lisa Sinclair, general manager of Sinclair Communications, which owns WNIS and four other stations in the Norfolk area, home to the world's largest naval base.

"This is a conservative market, and people felt that CBS was exhibiting a great deal of liberal bias and lost credibility with this situation," Sinclair said, referring to the Sept. 8 story. Sinclair did not know how many upset listeners had called the station.
We've seen the name "Sinclair Communications" a couple of times before, haven't we? Big supporters of The War on iWreck, big supporters of Bush as it just happens. In addition, the company is based in Minneapolis. Lisa Sinclair wouldn't know Norfolk from Nashville. But still, this was all spontaneous outrage, right? From local Norfolkians? Um, maybe so, maybe not:

Station managers at several CBS affiliates said they appear to be a target of a national e-mail campaign placing pressure on the network to oust Rather as anchorman of the "CBS Evening News."

Many e-mailers offer the same message: I will not watch CBS News again until Rather is gone, said Bob Lee, president and general manager of WDBJ-TV in Roanoke, and head of the CBS affiliate board. Lee said he can't recall any other issue getting such a big response from viewers.

The e-mail campaign appears to originate from a blogger on the Web site, who is forwarding e-mails to stations around the country.

"The buck has to stop," said Mike Krempasky of Falls Church, who works for a political advertising company and set up, as well as the conservative-oriented Web site
And they say one man's opinions don't amount to a hill of beans in this country anymore. I nominate Mike Krempasky for the 2004 Hill of Beans Award for his contributions to expanding diversity in public discourse, so long as all the diversity agrees with him.

What's missing from this picture? 

"Produced by the U.S. Department of State, Office of International Information Programs" -
Countries Where al Qaeda Has Operated Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda - (Posted November 10, 2001)

This list was posted to the State Depatment's webpage on Oct. 10, 2001:

Albania | Algeria | Afghanistan | Azerbaijan | Australia | Austria | Bahrain | Bangladesh | Belgium | Bosnia | Egypt | Eritrea | France | Germany | India | Iran | Ireland | Italy | Jordan | Kenya | Kosovo | Lebanon | Libya | Malaysia | Mauritania | Netherlands | Pakistan | Philippines | Qatar | Russia | Saudi Arabia | Somalia | South Africa | Sudan | Switzerland | Tajikistan | Tanzania | Tunisia | Turkey | Uganda | United Arab Emirates | United Kingdom | United States | Uzbekistan | Yemen

Uh....what's missing from this list? If you answered "Iceland" - YOU - yes you! - win the Pontiac Sunbird with the rollaway sunroof!

John archy McKay has more including a copy of the 2001 State Dept. map. As well as info and go check that out. (includes a Village Voice link - who also discovered the map.)

Also noted here: Uncle Horn Head who reminds us that Hesiod at Counterspin Central is back in action.


Thursday, September 23, 2004

Why do the results in Google News skew right? 

We certainly hope it's not bias—though some human at Google-owned blogger shamelessly pimping for the winger Mighty Wurlitzer (back) might give us pause.

The US Annenberg Online Journalism Review has a reasonable hypothesis:

Despite those predictable flaws, it's been puzzling to read Google News' takes on John Kerry and George W. Bush over the past month.

n addition to mainstream news outlets from both sides of the political fence (say, NPR and The Washington Post on the left and The Washington Times and New York Post on the right), there were 34 anti-Kerry screeds from the second-tier websites. There was only one pro-Kerry item, from

Far from an isolated example, the pattern has repeated itself throughout the past month. Small conservative Web sites such as Useless-Knowledge, Men's News Daily, Michnews and ChronWatch turn up in disproportionate numbers when clicking on news about John Kerry. Useless-Knowledge, for instance, made up 12 of the first 100 results for John Kerry on Friday, and 11 of the first 100 results Saturday.

By contrast, a search on George Bush or George W. Bush typically results in a fairly neutral, evenly balanced set of results from both sides of the political spectrum, with many of the same small conservative sites showing up to sing the president's praises.

What's going on? Have Google's search results been hijacked by Fox News?

"I think what you're seeing is an odd little linguistic artifact," said Zuckerman, former vice president of and now a fellow at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society who studies search engines. The chief culprit, he theorized, is that mainstream news publications refer to the senator on second reference as Kerry, while alternative news sites often use the phrase "John Kerry" multiple times, for effect or derision. To Google News' eye, that's a more exact search result.

A second possible factor, Zuckerman said, is that small, alternative news sites have no hesitancy about using "John Kerry" in a headline, while most mainstream news sites eschew first names in headlines. The inadvertent result is that the smaller sites score better results with the search engines.

"You have to wonder why some of these wacky sites make the cut," he added. With an occasional exception, Weblogs are generally not found among the Google News results, so Zuckerman had some advice for aspiring political publishers who want to game the search engines: Don't blog -- start an alternative news network. Use terms like George Bush and John Kerry frequently, rather than their last names alone, in both your text and headlines. Publish new works frequently.

What Zuckerman calls gaming the system, others call optimizing your site.
(Online Journalism Review via Talking Points Memo)


Isn't this another way of saying "Don't mourn, organize"?

And isn't there one other factor? It's an awful lot easier to set up a network when you're funded. And as we know, there's been a lot of funding in the past for winger networks doing meme transmittal. $300 million worth...

We need an equalizer, don't we?

Goodnight, moon 

1. Super analysis of the Iraq clusterfuck by Leah (back).

2. Start spreadin' the memes:

(via "The Mighty Atrios)

It's the Amazing Two-faced Man! (And does that make Dick "Dick" Cheney the Dog-faced Boy?)

3. Hunter: TANG typewriter: ROVE did it. Why am I not surprised? And why isn't this post over at Fables of the Reconstruction? Heh.

4. They're playing our song! OK, so it's a classic.

Bush's "mandate": When they say it's not about the money, it's about the money 

Acting President Rove clues us in on what Bush will consider His mandate to be, if He takes office a second time:

White House political adviser Karl Rove said President Bush, if re-elected, will claim a legislative mandate to institute personal Social Security accounts, to simplify and reform the tax code and to extend No Child Left Behind standards into high school.

When you hear a Republican use the word "reform," put your hand on your wallet.

Although the election debate has been dominated by foreign policy and national security, Mr. Rove told editors and reporters of The Washington Times at a luncheon yesterday that the president also will claim a mandate to move on domestic issues.

Weird. Bush didn't run on that platform. But now He's going to claim a mandate? Oh, I forgot. That's what He did the last time He won took office.

Mr. Rove yesterday said the administration won't produce specific policy for changing Social Security during this campaign, but it's clear what Mr. Bush wants and, if he wins, he will consider that a mandate to move forward.
(via The Moonie Paper)

Since we already know that "tax reform" means that only people who work for paychecks will get taxed, and we already know that Bush didn't bother to fund No Child Left Behind, let's look at Social Security. After all, giving up my guaranteed retirement check so that those fine upstanding people in the financial industry (back) can rake off a commission—I mean, where do I sign up?

And here I want to go back to a post that I wrote on July 4, 2003, back when we were all over at Atrios (see The Constitution, Corporatism, and "Loot, Repeat") It's based on an article by Nick Confessore, which you should also read (see "Welcome to the Machine") The "Loot, repeat" piece even has a handy chart!

The "Loot, repeat" concept has two simple points:

(1) With Republicans, when they say it's not about the money, it's about the money.If they say "reform," it's about the money. If they say "values", it's about the money. And especially if they say "freedom," it's about the money. As we'll see in a minute, Social Security is an especially obvious case of this.

(2) With Republicans, there's a method to their madness; their operations have a signature that you can watch out for. Here it is:

(1) Target: Pick an existing government revenue stream
(2) Transmit memes: Focus on the Mighty Wurlitzer on the target
(3) Privatize: Write the legislation "privatizing" the revenue stream
(4) Loot: Steer the privatized service to a wired (Republican) firm, and
(5) Repeat: Take a payoff from the wired firm, as campaign contributions or otherwise. With the payoff money, return to step (1) and pick new targets.
(Quoting "Loot, Repeat"

A simple example is Medicare prescription drugs [step (1)]. It is not an accident that the program is more complicated, more costly, and involves an initial corporate subsidy. That's the result of steps (3) and (4). As for step (5)—no doubt an alert reader can give the figures on the campaign contributions to the Republicans from Big Pharma.

Now, Social Security is the biggest money pot there is [step (1)]. And years of unrelenting winger propaganda and phony projections (back) [step (2)] have made the need for "reform" part of the CW. Never mind that the arithmetic doesn't add up (2-1=4). In fact, the looting [step (4)] has already begun (back); part of the Clinton surplus that Bush pissed away with the reverse Robin Hood move of giving the super-rich tax cuts was built up from ordinary people's pay checks through FICA contributions. Oh, that would be step 5—as the beneficiaries of Bush's largesse have already given the Republicans record contributions to complete his rape of the public purse.

Now, however, in election 2004, Bush is going for it all—all $2 trillion-worth of loot (step 4). (back),

Is it any wonder that his guys are energetic and very well-funded? Is it any wonder that such a big pile of cash draws whores?

So, when Republicans say it isn't about the money, it's about the money.

And when Republicans say "reform," put your hand on your wallet.

Especially with Social Security.

NOTE Readers, this is a complex issue and hard to explain simply. I believe Kerry has to hammer Bush on the war. But I also believe that the fate of Social Security is what this election is all about.

NOTE This post is an attempt at framing a la Lakoff, as written up in crucial post by Kos.

World o' Fluffing's Greatest Hits: The Bush Years 

Words fail me:

"[BUSH] But what's important for the American people to hear is reality," Bush said, turning toward Allawi. "And the reality's right here in the form of the prime minister."
(via ABC)

Election fraud 2004: Bush politicizes DHS to suppress Latino regisitration 

Incredible but true!

To an immigrant, Arnold Schwarzenegger told delegates at the Republican convention last month, there is no country "more welcoming than the United States of America." And most of the time, that's true.

But it wasn't true last week in Miami Beach, where the Department of Homeland Security attempted to ban a nonpartisan voter registration operation from setting up tables on the sidewalk outside a massive naturalization ceremony at that city's convention center. The DHS complained that Mi Familia Vota would be blocking the doors at the swearing-in. But last Thursday, U.S. District Judge Adalberto Jordan ruled that the right to register voters was protected by the First Amendment, though he did stipulate how much space the group's tables could take up.

If that arrangement seems to you the kind of compromise that Mi Familia Vota and the DHS could have arrived at themselves without making a literal federal case out of it, you underestimate the Bush administration's aversion to voting by new immigrants -- particularly new Hispanic immigrants. (The DHS didn't respond to Mi Familia Vota's request for a meeting.) In states such as Florida and Nevada -- battleground states with Republican election officials and burgeoning Hispanic populations -- the activities of groups such as Mi Familia Vota have been challenged by GOP officeholders, though it's a new wrinkle to have the DHS join the fray.
(via WaPo)

Oddly, I read this story in today's paper edition of the Newark Star Ledger, but I can't find it on the site. And I can't find it on WaPo either. Now, before I go all paranoid....

Oh, wait a minute. I forgot. Inerrant Boy is Chosen of God to Lead His People. So anyone who doesn't vote for him is going to Hell. And what more could we do, to keep Der Heimat, whoops! The Homeland Secure than preventing people who are going to Hell from voting? Well, a lot more, actually, but this will do for a start.

Bandar Blows It, but Ivan Rides to Rescue 

Remember how "Brother" Bandar (bin-Sultan bin-Bush) promised that, come hell or high water, Saudi Arabia would use its leverage with OPEC to drop oil prices just in time for the election? Apparently somebody isn't clapping hard enough, because things aren't working too well there.

And remember how, when prices were spiking last spring, at or over $2.00 a gallon at the pump almost everywhere, Dear Leader not only did nothing to help the situation but aggravated it by continuing to buy crude for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, because that was absolutely vital to the national interest?

Funny how things change. Funny timing too, the cynical might think.

(via AP)
The Bush administration said Thursday it is weighing a request from several U.S. refiners to borrow crude oil from the nation's emergency stockpile to help offset supply disruptions along the Gulf Coast from Hurricane Ivan.

``Certainly Hurricane Ivan had an effect on the supply of oil imports and production in the Gulf of Mexico,'' said White House spokesman Scott McClellan. ``It has limited some refiners' access to crude oil supplies.''

He said that the Department of Energy was reviewing the requests.

In the past, President Bush has resisted calls to tap into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, located in Texas and Louisiana, in an effort to counter soaring prices. Bush had criticized President Clinton's move in the fall of 2000 to tap the reserve, saying it was a political effort to help Democrat Al Gore, Bush's opponent in the 2000 election.
Damn! The potency of that man is just amazing. It's still the fault of The Clenis!

A World Of Pain: What "We" Have Achieved In Iraq 

As you may have heard, Riverbend has posted for the first time since early August.

With her usual searing honesty, she reports her reaction to seeing a bootleg video of "Farhenheit 911" and tells us what 9/11 means to her as an Iraqi, living through this hellish American occupation that for over a year and a half now has predicated the terms under which Iraqis will live. Yes, non-Iraqi jihadists have had a part in all this, but we created the conditions of chaos, and the porous borders that have let them use Iraq as a forward position from which to wage their Jihadist war against the west, and not incidentally thereby demonstrate the impotence of the world's greatest superpower. Our President seeks to camouflage that woeful set of facts by pretending it's all part of the plan; "Bring 'em on," he says, better we fight them in Iraq than here, oh, and, by the way, we're to be congratulated for the blessings of liberty we're bringing to Iraqis.

Writing on September 15th, Riverbend tells us about a few of those blessings:

The last few days, Baghdad has been echoing with explosions. We woke up to several loud blasts a few days ago. The sound has become all too common. It’s like the heat, the flies, the carcasses of buildings, the broken streets and the haphazard walls coming up out of nowhere all over the city… it has become a part of life. We were sleeping on the roof around three days ago, but I had stumbled back indoors at around 5 am when the electricity returned and was asleep under the cool air of an air-conditioner when the first explosions rang out.I tried futilely to cling to the last fragments of a fading dream and go back to sleep when several more explosions followed. Upon getting downstairs, I found E. flipping through the news channels, trying to find out what was going on. “They aren’t nearly fast enough,” he shook his head with disgust. “We’re not going to know what’s happening until noon.”

Try for a moment to imagine yourself, at night, in your own bedroom, in your house or apartment, in your own town or city, not being surprised anymore by bombs exploding, or attacks from the air: imagine your own life, and the lives of the people who matter to you, being lived in a world where walls are haphazard, streets are broken, and buildings are carcasses, and no real end in sight to the violence of this war that isn't a war, because the President of someone else's country keeps proclaiming that this army of strangers he's sent to liberate you knows what's best for you, will stay in your country until that President of someone else's country "succeeds" in making your country what he thinks it ought to be, because "failure," despite all the failed promises of reconstruction of a functioning infrastructure, "is not an option," though killing and maiming increasing numbers of Iraqis clearly is.

Of course we can't really imagine that reality, not even those of us who were against this invasion from the first, though not against holding Saddam to account, on the matter of WMD and on the matter of his violation of the human rights of Iraqis. What distinguishs us from Bush & co and its battalion of keyboard tough guy idealists, so gung ho for a war and occuapation they wouldn't be caught dead fighting in, or reporting on first hand, is that it doesn't even occur to the likes of Bush, Cheney, Wolfowitz, David Brooks or Wm. Kristol, that any reality other than the one in their own heads is worth trying to imagine.

The increasingly invaluable Spencer Ackerman makes the point in his TNR blog, "Iraqued," in a post about hearing Paul Wolfowitz addressing a group of visiting Iraqi dignitaries at a evening affair just last week; Ackerman compares two examples of Wolfowitz's "now-signature rhetorical mixture of delusion, arrogance, and platitude." with his reputation as a true paragon of neo-con idealism. (link, subscriber only)

Our plan for Iraq is what Iraqis can do for Iraq. Your future is in your hands.

It's wonderful to see Iraq standing up on its own two feet, taking its rightful place in the international community. ... We can't tell you how to solve your problems in your country. ... There are going to be extraordinary days ahead, and difficult days as well, both positive and negative.

Ackerman comments:

If you thought he couldn't get any more dismissive with other people's lives, he did: "Iraqis probably understand the challenges more than Americans." You think? If President Bush is allowed to continue his non-strategy in Iraq, the Iraqis listening to Wolfowitz last night stand a very good chance of being murdered by insurgents, like Izzedine Salim of the Iraqi Governing Council was. Wolfowitz stands a very good chance, by contrast, of returning to an endowed chair at a think tank. Just minutes before he spoke, I chatted with a top official of Iraq's Interior Ministry, who through an interpreter complained with astonishing candor about the U.S.'s inability to arm and equip police officers, whose morale he called "low." The Iraqi government, he said bluntly, was much weaker than the various insurgencies consuming the country.


....on the question of postwar Iraq, the intelligence community has understood the situation on the ground exponentially better than Wolfowitz. His method of dealing with difficult questions is to dismiss those who ask them. Consciously echoing Bush's convention-speech reference to a 1946 New York Times dispatch about occupied Germany--which he took completely out of context--Wolfowitz bragged about finding a line from Life magazine in 1947 that said "Yes, America got rid of Nazism, but maybe the cure is worse than the disease."


And that reference reveals something significant about Wolfowitz, Bush, and the supposed intellectual fault lines within the administration. There is a conceit in right-wing circles--a conceit shared by both Pat Buchanan and Bill Kristol--that the administration neoconservatives led by Paul Wolfowitz are somehow "different" from President Bush. In fact, three years after September 11, they are exactly alike in both program and intellectual style: dogmatic yet adrift, and relentlessly deceitful.

Tuesday, dogma adrift and relentless deceitfulness were in rare form, on display first at the UN, where the President didn't even try and pretend that he meant anything he was saying, whether it was the fiction that the he stood with the people of Iraq who want nothing more than a continuation of the current situation, or the fiction that Prime Minister Allawyi was the real head of a real Iraqi government that expresses the real desires of most Iraqis. But it was the President's performance in the joint press conference with Allawi that struck me as the high point of the day.

PRESIDENT BUSH: A couple of opening statements. We'll answer -- I'll answer a couple of questions from the U.S. media, AP and Reuters, and I'll answer a question from the Iraqi media, as well.

First, Mr. Prime Minister, it's been my delight to visit with you. I appreciate your courage. I appreciate your leadership. I am -- I share the same confidence you share that Iraq will be a free nation, and as a nation, our world will be safer and America will be more secure. We look forward to working with you, sir. I'm proud that you have -- you and your administration have stood strong in the face of the terrorists who want to disrupt progress in Iraq.

Today -- yesterday an American citizen was beheaded. We express our heartfelt condolences. We send our prayers to the Armstrong family. We also stand in solidarity with the American that is now being held captive, while we send our prayers to his wife. These killers want to shake our will --


PRESIDENT BUSH: They want to determine the fate of the Iraqi people. We will not allow these thugs and terrorists to decide your fate, and to decide our fate. As your election draws closer, I'm confident the terrorists will try to stop the progress by acts of violence. And I appreciate your will, and I appreciate your strength. And we'll stand with you, Mr. Prime Minister. Welcome.

PRIME MINISTER ALLAWI: Thank you very much. I would like to pay my condolences really to the people who lost their lives in defending -- fighters of freedom and democracy. The barbaric action of yesterday really is unbelievable. It demonstrates how much these criminals are wanting to damage our worth across Iraq, as well as in the civilized world.

We in Iraq appreciate tremendously the courage President Bush took in deciding to wage war to destroy Saddam. The atrocities and tyranny and -- atrocities that have been committed when Saddam was around was unbelievable. We show a lot of -- hundreds of thousands of mass graves in Iraq.

The war now in Iraq is really not only an Iraqi war, it's a war for the civilized world to fight terrorists and terrorism. And there is no route but the route of winning, and we are going to prevail and we are going to win, regardless of how much damage they are going to make and cause in Iraq and elsewhere.


PRESIDENT BUSH: Thank you, sir. Scott.

Q Thank you, Mr. President. You've answered some of Senator Kerry's criticisms in the last couple days about your Iraq policy. A couple of Republicans have raised some questions, as well, in the last couple days. Senator Hagel said that, "sharp analysis of our policies is required. We didn't do that in Vietnam, to the point where we finally lost." Senator McCain, you're not being "as straight as we would want him to be," about the situation in Iraq. What do you say to them?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Both Senators you quoted strongly want me elected as President. We agree that the world is better off with Saddam Hussein sitting in a prison cell. And that stands in stark contrast to the statement my opponent made yesterday when he said that the world was better off with Saddam in power. I strongly disagree. It is in our interests that we deal with Prime Minister Allawi. It's in our interests that we work toward a free society in Iraq. And I believe we'll have a free society in Iraq, and I know that a free society in Iraq makes America safer and the world better off.

My opponent has taken so many different positions on Iraq that his statements are hardly credible at all.

Who is from the Iraqi media?

Q Mr. President, how do you evaluate Mr. Allawi's visit to America? And in what way -- how can we -- what the result will be reflected on the situation of Iraq, as a result of this visit?


This is an important visit because the Prime Minister will be able to explain clearly to the American people that not only is progress being made, that we will succeed. The American people have seen horrible scenes on our TV screens. And the Prime Minister will be able to say to them that in spite of the sacrifices being made, in spite of the fact that Iraqis are dying and U.S. troops are dying, as well, that there is a will amongst the Iraqi people to succeed. And we stand with them. It's also an important visit for me to say to the people of Iraq that America has given its word to help, and we'll keep our word.

Who is the Reuters man here?

Q Right here, Mr. President, thank you. Why do you think the CIA's assessment of conditions in Iraq are so much at odds with the optimism that you and Prime Minister Allawi are expressing at the moment?

PRESIDENT BUSH: The CIA laid out a -- several scenarios that said, life could be lousy, like could be okay, life could be better. And they were just guessing as to what the conditions might be like. The Iraqi citizens are defying the pessimistic predictions. The Iraqi citizens are headed toward free elections. This government has been in place for a little over two months, and the Iraqi citizens are seeing a determined effort by responsible citizens to lead to a more hopeful tomorrow. And I am optimistic we'll succeed.


One thing is for certain. My discussions with Prime Minister Allawi reconfirm to me that the world is much better off with Prime Minister Allawi and his government in power. And any statement to the contrary is wrong. The idea somehow that the world would be better off with Saddam Hussein in power is an absurd notion.

That last, the waving of Saddam's bloody shirt in the face of anyone who questions the decision to go to war or the prosecution of the occupation is the President's security blanket, habitually clutched at to ward off all questions raised about the worsening situation in Iraq. And didn't he sound like a petulant child when brushing aside the CIA's own estimate of the dire security situation in Iraq? Just "guessing?" In 2002, when we'd had no human intelligence resources on the ground in Iraq since 1998, the Bush administration spoke with one voice to reassure us that the intelligence claims which confirmed Saddam's Iraq as a gathering threat were certain, you could take them to the bank, or slam dunk them through the nearest hoop. Now that we've had all kinds of human resources on the ground in Iraq for a year and a half now, our intelligence estimates are just guesses. Is a puzzlement.

In the context of Kerry's strong speech on Iraq this Monday, and the equally clear and strong position he articulated in Tuesday's press conference, Bush and Cheney's attempts to reduce all questions about Iraq to whether the world is a better place with Saddam Hussein under lock and key lacked their usual punch. Saddam in jail, big plus. Iraq on the brink of becoming a failed state, much bigger minus. Bush/Cheney ought to be able to recognize a cost/benefit analysis when they see one.

Based on Allawi's performance on Tuesday, in which each of his pronouncements mirrored exactly Bush administration talking points, I would predict that his address this morning to a joint session of Congress will display his readiness to be used by the Bush administration as part of its campaign for re-election.

For a dose of reality, read, if you haven't already, this compelling portrait from the Observer of a Sunni insurgent who initially welcomed the American overthrow of Saddam .

Intelligence experts in Iraq talk of three main types of insurgent. There is the Mahdi Army of Shia Muslims who follow the radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and have led recent resistance to coalition forces in northern Baghdad, the central shrine city of Najaf, and Basra, the southern port under British control. There is also 'al-Qaeda' - non-Iraqi militants who have come to Iraq to wage jihad. And finally the 'former regime loyalists', who are said to want the return of Saddam Hussein or, if that is impossible, his Baath party.

Abu Mujahed, worryingly for the analysts, fits into none of these easy categories. For a start, he was pro-American before the invasion. 'The only way to breathe under the old regime was to watch American films and listen to their music,' he said. He had been a Bon Jovi fan.

Some of Mujahed's expectations were wholly unrealistic, but it wasn't disappointment that fed his disillusionment.
He spoke of how his faith in the US was shaken when, via a friend's illicitly imported satellite TV system, he saw 'barbaric, savage' pictures of civilian casualties of the fighting and bombing. The next blow came in the conflict's immediate aftermath, as looters ran unchecked through Baghdad.

'When I saw the American soldiers watching and doing nothing as people took everything, I began to suspect the US was not here to help us but to destroy us,' he said.

Abu Mujahed, whose real name is not known by The Observer, said: 'I thought it might be just the chaos of war but it got worse, not better.'

He was not alone and swiftly found that many in the Adhamiya neighbourhood of Baghdad shared his anger and disappointment. The time had come. 'We realised. We had to act.'

Read the rest and you'll find Mujahed's reality is nowhere represented in what our President or "their" Prime Minister had to say this week. And note, too, that nowhere did the President seem to understand that Prime Minister Allawi's claim of sovereignity comes exclusively from us, there having been no elections as yet in Iraq.

Let us remember too, since it is devilishly difficulty to keep track of the mountain of mis-judgements made by this administration in Iraq, that the sole reason there are elections scheduled for January is that the Ayatollah Sistani vetoed the original Bremer/Bush plan by demonstrating his ability to put a hundred thousand protesting Iraqis in the street to demand direct elections to chose a interim government. Remember, too, that the only source Sistani was willing to believe about the non-feasibility of elections being held sooner than January of 2005 was the UN and Kofi Anan, and that Sistani was only willing to agree to the appointment of an interim government that would receive sovereignity from Bremer's coalition authority prior to elections if the UN played a prime role in the selection. And let us also not forget that the sudden revamping of the Brenner/Bush plan this summer to include an earlier than planned turnover of soverenity to an Iraqi government was the precise policy that both the UN and the non-coalition European countries were insisting was a necessary first step to get other countries to offer help on the ground in Iraq. So, in the end, Bush did a switcheroo, known in some quarters as a flip flop, but too late for American taxpayers, the American military on the ground in Iraq, or the Iraqi people to get the extra benefit from it that was available if Bush were ever able to listen to anyone outside his own small circle of advisors.

(BTW, I'm working on another post that will offer a talking points list arranged chronologically of all the mistakes made by Bush & co in Iraq from the point of the statue of Saddam coming down, so if any readers have suggestions, please email, or leave them in comments.)

Listen for a moment to the ambivalence of that Sunni insurgent, who, remember, has taken up arms against the American occupation:

Last week US military casualties in Iraq passed the 1,000 mark, most killed since the end of the war by the actions of men like Abu Mujahed. The former engineering student said he does not know how many his group has killed: 'It is impossible to say what has been hit. I could boast of killing maybe 25, but to be honest we don't know,' he said. 'Maybe only five or six.'

'I know the soldiers have no choice about coming here and all have a family and friends,' he added. His justification for the struggle was an inconsistent mix of political and economic grievances and wounded pride: 'We are under occupation. They bomb the mosques, they kill a huge number of people. There is no greater shame than to see your country being occupied.'

He dismissed the interim Prime Minister, Iyad Allawi, as 'the Americans' Barbie doll' but then says that if everyone had 'full bellies' no one would fight.

'Iraqis' top priority is to provide a good living for their families. I take home less than 250,000 ID (£100) a month and I have four children. I have to pay the rent, doctor's bills, my wife needs something, my house needs something. And a kilo of chicken costs 2,500 ID.'

'The US or the UK are not my enemy. I know that any individual US or UK citizen is very good, but we will keep fighting the occupying forces. We have no choice.'

It shouldn't have been that difficult to give a man like this, a Sunni who despised Saddam, a different choice, maybe two or three different choices. John Kerry is saying it isn't too late.

As I finish this post, I'm listening to Allawi this morning addressing congress. Wow, is he ever in Bush's pocket. Or perhaps its the other way around. And now in the Rose Garden, Bush is saying that the electrical grid in Iraq is fully functioning at pre-war levels. Am I missing something? Did I just hear our President tell a straight-up easily verifiable lie? Readers, please advise in comments.

I fear that Allawi is Bush's kind of guy; tough, resolute, mendacious, and an idealist about democracy and human rights, which is to say, he, like Bush, enjoys the sound of his own soaring rhetoric, while both men are relatively indifferent to the messy actuality of creating and preserving the institutions required to implement the rhetoric here on earth.

The best discussion I've read about Allawi is by Andrew Cockburn and can be found at Salon. Herewith, a sample:

May 29, 2004 There could be no more perfect evidence of the desperation among U.S. officials dealing with Iraq than the choice of veteran Baathist and CIA hireling Iyad Allawi as prime minister of the "sovereign" government due to take office after June 30. As one embittered Iraqi told me from Baghdad on Friday: "The appointment must have been orchestrated by Ahmed Chalabi in order to discredit the entire process." He was not entirely joking, given the fact that Chalabi joined the rest of the Governing Council in voting for Allawi despite their long and vicious rivalry.

Though he is Shiite, Allawi was once upon a time an active Baathist, a member of Saddam Hussein's political party, and is thought to enjoy much support among the officer corps of the old Iraqi army, and by extension among many former Baathists and influential Sunni. Indeed, there are reports that the reason Ahmed Chalabi, the neoconservative favorite, urged his friends in the White House to dissolve the army last year -- a decision now acknowledged to be the most disastrous of the occupation -- was Chalabi's fear of the support enjoyed by his rival (and cousin -- everyone in Baghdad is related) within the military.

Allawi cut his political teeth as a strong-arm Baathist student organizer before being dispatched by the party to London to run the Iraqi Student Union in Europe. Apart from the Iraqis he dutifully monitored, other Arab students with whom he came in contact were of considerable interest in Saddam's Baghdad, since they tended to be drawn from elite circles in the Middle East. They were also of more direct value to Allawi personally, garnering him a fruitful array of connections in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere, which he then used with great effect in various business enterprises in the region. By the late 1970s he had become wealthy.

Cockburn goes into detail about Allawi's fascination with "the intrigue of intelligence operations," which led to the always paranoid Saddam's unsuccessful attempt to assassinate Allawi, and his subsequent career as an anti-Saddam exile, which has included a long rivalry with Chalabi.

The most interesting as well as depressing information Cockburn supplies is about the machinations of both Chalabi and Allawi, in concert with Bremer and the US to prevent the nomination of the UN envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi's first choice as interim Prime Minister, Hussein Shahristani.

Shahristani, a devout Shiite, would have been an inspired appointment. A man of extraordinary courage and integrity, he once told Saddam Hussein to his face that Iraq should not build a nuclear weapon. Predictably, he was tortured and put on trial for espionage, in the course of which he blithely insulted Saddam's parentage. He spent 10 years in solitary confinement in Abu Ghraib. "I probably survived execution because I was there on the direct orders of Saddam," Shahristani once told me. "And he simply forgot to sign my death warrant." He escaped disguised as a prison guard during the 1991 war after suborning a trusty who unlocked his cell and helped him flee.

Finding refuge in Iran, Shahristani refused to move on to comfortable exile in the West, preferring instead to stay in Iran and organize aid for otherwise friendless Iraqi refugees as well as the resistance inside Iraq itself. His unshakable independence eventually drove the Iranians to force him to move to London.

Returning to Iraq immediately after the war, Shahristani eschewed the trappings of power and cash rewards sought by other returning exiles and even refused to enter the U.S. Green Zone headquarters on the grounds it was occupied territory. He soon earned the trust and respect of Ayatollah Sistani. But that was not enough to protect him from self-interested intriguers like Allawi, Chalabi, and the representatives of the Islamist parties SCIRI and DAWA.


The United Nations, charged with coming up with the new government, was taken by surprise by Allawi's selection. U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi said he "respects" the decision and is willing to work with Allawi, according to U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard. But the world body was less than effusive about the choice.

Me too. How could the Bush administration not see the greater value to the United States and what we say we hope to accomplish in Iraq of Shahristani over Allawi?

I'll talk about Kerry's speech about Iraq in a separate post, but for some idea of why his proposals may not be as utopian and impractical as they sound in the context of how the Bushies have handled the occupation of Iraq, take a look at this essay by Salim Lone, a surviving member of the UN delegation to Iraq in 2003. The essay, "I Lived to Tell the Tale: It wasn't Last Year's Bomb but American Policy which Destroyed the UN's Hopes in Iraq," details the way in which the Bush administration had already undercut the ability of the UN to be of use in creating an intelligent occupation that might have succeeded to the benefit of both the US and the Iraqi population, even before that terrible bomb of August killed 22 members of the delegation, including the incomparably valuable, Sergio Vieira de Mello.

The vicious terrorist attack a year ago today surprised no one working for Sergio Vieira de Mello, the UN secretary general's special representative. Indeed, the UN chiefs of communication in Iraq had met that morning to hammer out a plan to counter the intensifying perception among Iraqis that our mission was simply an adjunct of the US occupation.

Little did the Iraqis know that the reality was quite the opposite: by August, the UN mission had grown very distant from the Americans. The intense early relationship that Sergio, the world's most brilliant negotiator of post-conflict crises, had fashioned with Paul Bremer, the US proconsul, had already fractured. Contact was intermittent now that Bremer's coalition provisional authority (CPA) could deal directly with the Iraqis whom it had appointed, with Sergio's help, to the governing council. General dismay over occupation tactics aside, Sergio had already parted company with Bremer over key issues such as the need for electoral affirmation of a new constitution, and the arrest and conditions of detention of the thousands imprisoned at Abu Ghraib prison.

The low point came at the end of July last year, when, astonishingly, the US blocked the creation of a fully fledged UN mission in Iraq. Sergio believed that this mission was vital and had thought the CPA also supported it. Clearly, the Bush administration had eagerly sought a UN presence in occupied Iraq as a legitimizing factor rather than as a partner that could mediate the occupation's early end, which we knew was essential to averting a major conflagration.

Sergio had nevertheless continued to squeeze whatever mileage he could from what he called the "constructive ambiguity" of a terrible postwar security council resolution; one that sent UN staff into the Iraqi cauldron without giving them even a minimal level of independence or authority. It is not an exaggeration to say that it was this resolution that rang the death knell for the UN in Iraq. Having heroically resisted American pressure to authorize the war, security council members decided to show goodwill to the "victors". "A step too far" was how an Iraqi put it to me on my second day in Baghdad.

So it wasn't the "terrorists" who made a meaningful UN presence impossible in postwar Iraq, "little did the Iraqi's know," even less did Americans know about any of the reality Lone is talking about.

Read the whole thing; it's one of the most important pieces I've read about what went wrong with postwar Iraq. As if we didn't know.

CBS fiasco: SCLM gets "the blogosphere" wrong again 

And surprise! It's to the winger's advantage! What liberal media?

Would it be too much to ask that journalists do just a little basic research?

They know enough to know that Limbaugh is "conservative" [pause for true conservatives to gag] but they don't think to ask whether the blogs are.

Unbelievable? All too believable. From often reasonably reliable (at least when WaPo owned a piece of it) International Herald Tribune. Watch how seemingly neutral reportage eliminates half of your discourse:

It was largely the hammering of Web sites like, and, echoed by talk-show hosts - from the conservative talk-meister Rush Limbaugh to imitators like Sean Hannity and Michael Savage - that left CBS News without cover or defense, like a boxer too exhausted to protect his head.

As if the freepers and LGF weren't conservative? Puh-leeze! Can we have just a little objectivity here?

The blogs' response in the CBS News case was so immediate that some shaken Democrats muttered about a White House conspiracy.

"The" blogs? Like all blogs?

Within hours of the memos' becoming electronically viewable, according to Kelly McBride of the Poynter Institute, had posted a message from a certain “Buckhead,” who said the memos appeared typographically anachronistic - likely produced by computers unavailable in the early 1970s. Remarkably, a plethora of other experts on 1970s' fonts and spacing popped up almost instantly to agree.

Um, and it turned out that F/Buckhead was a winger oeprative, a lawyer, and a member of the Federalist society (back) Not exactly a guy in his pajamas, eh?

This writer learned in an earlier life, editing letters to this newspaper, that an error that might go unchallenged in a local American paper would almost invariably be caught by someone among the International Herald Tribune's far-flung readership. Someone, somewhere, would always know.

Blogs have the unknown reliability of “a tipster calling a reporter on the phone,” South said. Some tips pan out, others fizzle. But someone, somewhere, will always know.
(via Herald Trib)

Right. "Someone will always know." We'll be waiting for the correction real soon....

You'd think that a first thing that a journalist [cough] would do, when talking about a new medium that he or she does not understand, would check the circulation figure.

Here are the top 1o blogs from the NZ Bear ecosystem (here):

Looks pretty much like America, right? Evenly divided.

Daily Kos: Liberal

Talking Points Memo: Liberal

Eschaton: Liberal

And Volokh, if not liberal, is nothing like LGF.

Yet, for some reason, the SCLM, when it talks about "blogs," leaves out the liberal half of the blogosphere. I wonder why?

Bush AWOL: The hills are alive, with the smell of ratfucking 

The facts vs. the fonts:

As usual, the utterly essential Orcinus not only nails the analysis, he points out the way forward. Starting with the criticism/self-criticism:

Ever since the word came down Sunday night that CBS was backing off the story, I've been contemplating my mistake. Some of it was an excess of rigor: Being an old curmudgeonly editor, it was apparent to me that the vast majority of the "forgery" charges were themselves bogus. As someone who's dealt a great deal in conspiracy theories and debunking them, it was abundantly clear that nearly all of the right-wing bloggers' claims were utter nonsense. They had, moreover, leapt to the conclusion that these were forgeries without anything approaching actual proof. My chief tenet -- and a point that still holds, frankly -- is that it's impossible to declare something a forgery without dealing with original documents, and without establishing proper provenance.

Yep. Where I went wrong on this one as well. Heck, I OWNED AN IBM TYPEWRITER, IN THE '70s, THAT DID KERNING AND SUPERSCRIPTS. [1]. Where we went wrong was trusting the SCLM to do, like, actual journalism.

I understand their thinking: The memos mostly substantiated things we already knew about Bush's record. Contemporaries said the memos certainly sounded like things that Jerry Killian was concerned about, and were consistent with Bush's actual performance (or lack thereof). But it's a basic rule: You don't run with a story -- and especially not a major story -- without nailing everything down. And CBS didn't come close.

Thus—surprise!—leaving Bush smelling like a rose (again).

In the process, they probably destroyed any chance that there will be a serious discussion of Bush's military record.

We'll see what AP comes up with (unless the way that the wingers have "worked the refs" on CBS with this one succeeds in killing the story).

The tragic irony of it all is that Kevin Drum (or Orcinus, or Atrios, or Corrente) could have told Dan Rather not go anywhere near Burkett, but to look at Paul Lukasiak instead.[2]

And now, a very interesting point:

There's an added element here, though, that needs discussing: The whole scenario -- particularly the way the Bush AWOL story has been effectively nullified -- that stinks of a classic Rovian Ratfucking.

This is especially the case if Burkett is telling the truth about how he came into possession of the documents: From a "mystery woman" named "Lucy Ramirez" who gave them to him at a rodeo.

Given that Burkett's credibility cannot be any lower than it is now, it's extremely unlikely that he received any such phone call or talked to any such person.

But on the off chance that he is telling the truth, it raises a question:

Any chance that "Lucy Ramirez" has a more than a passing resemblance to Yvette Lozano?
(via Orcinus)

And now, for your viewing pleasure:

[1] Incidentally, I don't recall the issue of the variation of the baseline that a manual typewriter would produce. Was it? How manaically thorough was the forgery? And why not, after all, just buy a $75 typewriter?
[2] The story isn't about "the blogosphere." The story is about how a Republican elf transmitted a story to the winger blogosphere, thence to the Standard, thence to ABC.... And why CBS didn't look to the one portion of the blogosphere that could have saved them. "Liberal" media, ha.

Iraq clusterfuck: Kerry points out that the emperor has no clothes 

And about time, too:

Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry said Thursday that Iraq's Ayad Allawi was sent before Congress to put the ``best face'' on Bush administration policy.

Shortly after Allawi, the interim government's prime minister, gave a rosy portrayal of progress toward peace in Iraq, Kerry said the assessment contradicted reality on the ground.

``The prime minister and the president[Allawi and Bush] are here obviously to put their best face on the policy, but the fact is that the CIA estimates, the reporting, the ground operations and the troops all tell a different story,'' Kerry said.
(via MinneapolisStrib)

A child of six could see that Allawi is in DC to fluff Bush by saying whatever Bush needs him to say.

Kerry points this out; good! The amount of winger yammering on this will be directly proportional to the truth of Kerry's statement, and the degree to which Bush is, well, unclothed.

MEMO TO KERRY: Don't say "the President." Say "Bush." You're not in the Senate anymore. And why concede Bush a title He didn't earn? Besides, it makes for a better soundbite. See the edits above.

The Wecovery: Economy starts to tank (again) 

I guess this means we're making "progress on the ground":

A closely watched measure of future economic activity fell in August for a third consecutive month, reflecting an uncertain climate for both businesses and consumers.

The Conference Board said Thursday its Composite Index of Leading Economic Indicators fell 0.3 percent in August to 115.7, following a decline of 0.3 percent in July.

The August reading was the third month of decline in the index, after more than a year in which it gained steady ground. The drop last month was larger than the 0.2 percent decrease forecast by analysts.

Economists said the August drop in the index confirms a slackening in the recovery in recent months. But, while the new reading is cause for some concern, it comes as other evidence shows the economy is growing at a modest pace, they said.

"When the index goes down for a few months it doesn't mean the economy is in deep trouble, it could just mean the economy is cooling off," said Gary Thayer, chief economist with A.G. Edwards & Sons in St. Louis. "We get mixed signals on the economy when we're in a soft period like we've been in this summer, but the underlying economy is still doing pretty good."

The index is closely followed because it is designed to forecast the economy's health over the coming three to six months.
(via WaPo)

I blame gay marriage.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Postcards From New York City  


"This Is Our Country Too! - On October 20th let's tell George how we feel by sending a postcard to the White House."

From the folks at Stop Bush Postcards:
"Greetings from New York City"
We are selling postcards based upon nyc graffiti - our goal is to raise money for the Dems and to remind people to get out and vote. And of course to let george know how we feel. We have set up a day, an event, for everybody to mail their cards to the White House.

There ya have it. Visit Stop Bush Post Buy some cards and send them to the White House and to friends and relatives as a reminder to get out and vote. Various designs available.


Goodnight,. moon 

Too tired to write....

But Xan's post on Bushspeak is genuinely frightening.

Yes, He's good at what He does.... Be afraid, be very afraid...

Bush AWOL: The facts vs. the fonts 

I hate, again, to interrupt the massive winger circle-jerk on the CBS memos—SCLM newsgathering sloppy! Film at 11—but duty compels me to remind them that everything in the memos is already attested to by independent sources that the wingers do not dispute.

Here's how that well-known liberal organ, the Air Force Times, describes Bush's tour of, um, duty:

From most accounts, Bush appears to have received preferential treatment to get into the Air National Guard and avoid the draft after he graduated from Yale University in 1968. He was initially regarded as a good pilot, but his performance faded over his final two years in the Guard and he was suspended from flight status. He did not fly for the remaining 18 months he served in the Guard, though he was obligated to do so.

And for significant chunks of time, Bush did not report for duty at all. His superiors took no action, and he was honorably discharged in 1973, six months before he should have been.

In a 2002 interview with USA Today, Dean Roome, a former fighter pilot who lived with Bush in the early 1970s, said Bush was a model officer during the first part of his career. But overall, he said, Bush’s Air Guard career was erratic — the first three years solid, the last two troubled.

“You wonder if you know who George Bush is,” Roome said. “I think he digressed after a while. In the first half, he was gung-ho. Where George failed was to fulfill his obligation as a pilot. It was an irrational time in his life.”

Bush’s performance slipped. The descent began when Bush apparently did not follow an order to report for his annual flight physical in May 1972, which got him grounded
(via Air Force Times)

Plus all the usual detail you know about if you've been following the story at all.

Roome is wrong about one thing though—we don't wonder who Bush is; we know.

If It Were Happening Here 

TV doesn't "bring the world into our living rooms," it persuades us that everything we see on the tube is fiction. A look at life in the midst of Operation Ameriki Freedom:

(via Juan Cole)

--3,300 Americans died in car bombings, grenade and rocket attacks, machine gun spray, and aerial bombardment in the last week. This is an ongoing, weekly or monthly toll.

--Deaths occur all over the country, including in the capital of Washington, DC, but mainly above the Mason Dixon line: in Boston, Minneapolis, Salt Lake City, and San Francisco.

--The grounds of the White House and the government buildings near the Mall are constantly taking mortar fire.

--Reporters for all the major television and print media are trapped in five-star hotels in Washington, DC and New York, unable to move more than a few blocks safely, and dependent on stringers to know what was happening in Oklahoma City and St. Louis. The only time they venture into the Midwest is if they are embedded in Army or National Guard units.
(I almost left that last one out, because except for the "embedded" part it's pretty much what news coverage looks like anyway. Ahem, to continue...)
--Private armies totalling 275,000 men, armed with machine guns, assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, and mortar launchers, hide out in dangerous urban areas of cities all over the country. They completely control Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Denver and Omaha, such that local police and Federal troops cannot go into those cities.

--During the past year, the Secretary of State, the President, and the Attorney General have all been assassinated.

--The entire US is wracked by a crime wave, with thousands of murders, kidnappings, burglaries, and carjackings in every major city every year.

--The Air Force routinely (daily or weekly) bombs Billings, Montana, Flint, Michigan, Watts in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Anacostia in Washington, DC, and other urban areas, attempting to target "safe houses" of "criminal gangs", but inevitably killing a lot of children and little old ladies.

--Platoons of the Christian Soldiers militia are holed up in Arlington National Cemetery, and were bombarded by US Air Force warplanes daily, destroying thousands of graves and pulverizing the Vietnam Memorial.

--There is virtually no commercial air traffic in the country. Many roads are highly dangerous, especially Interstate 95 from Richmond to Washington, DC, and I-95 and I-91 up to Boston. If you get on I-95 anywhere along that over 500-mile stretch, you risk being carjacked, kidnapped, or having your car sprayed with machine gun fire.

--No one has electricity for much more than 10 hours a day, and often less. It goes off at unpredictable times, causing factories to grind to a halt and air conditioning to fail in the middle of the summer in Houston and Miami. The Alaska pipeline are bombed and disabled at least monthly. Unemployment hovers around 40%.

--Survivors of militia actions at Ruby Ridge and the Oklahoma City bombing have been brought in to run the government on the theory that you need a tough guy in these times of crisis.

--Municipal elections were cancelled and cliques close to the new "president" quietly installed in the statehouses as "governors?" Several of these governors ( Montana and Wyoming) were assassinated soon after taking office or resigned when their children were taken hostage by guerrillas.

--The leader of the European Union maintains that the citizens of the United States are refuting pessimism and that freedom and democracy are just around the corner.

You Thought We Were Exaggerating Perhaps?  

Earlier today I posted a couple of stories about people who are being actively prosecuted for "crimes" as heinous as wearing a Kerry-Edwards button within potential visual range of Dear Leader.

It wasn't until later in the day that I read today's Froomkin, at which point the situation got downright terrifying. He cites the following:
Jonathan M. Katz writes in Slate that behind the rash of arrests of presidential protesters is "an arcane 1970 Secret Service provision -- Title 18, Section 1752(a)(1)(ii) of the U.S. Code -- which makes it a federal crime to 'knowingly and willfully' enter an area restricted by the Secret Service during a presidential visit. The law was originally drafted by legislators scarred by the assassinations of the 1960s, in the hopes of preventing the next attempt on the life of a president. Turns out the law can be used to prevent criticism as well."
Go read Katz' piece, it's short. Of course, "1984" isn't very long either.

Dissent in public is a Federal crime. Wearing a button is dissent. I want somebody to try the following: Go to a BushCo worship service "rally" dressed like a Mormon missionary. As soon as Dear Leader mounts the stage, turn your back. That's it. Have no disloyal propaganda on your person--just turn your back.

I'll stand your bail, although I can't promise to cover medical expenses.

When FOX "News" Lies...... 

Via Media Matters:
Hume and York falsely claimed Bush fulfilled Guard service
National Review White House correspondent Byron York falsely claimed that President George W. Bush fulfilled his contractual obligation to the Texas Air National Guard. In fact, Bush's Guard records prove the opposite. In an interview with FOX News Channel managing editor and chief Washington correspondent Brit Hume on the September 20 edition of Special Report with Brit Hume, York purported to give a summary of Bush's Guard service; instead, he falsified Bush's record to make it appear that Bush had fulfilled his duty.

So where are all the twittering 24/7 "official statement" readers and "Cakewalk" frosting lickers at CNN and MSNBC when it comes time to wag a bitchy scold-finger at, oh say for instance, Fox "News" Channel's apparently endless parade of falsifications, intentionally misleading spinbites, cleverly sculpted distortions, and flat out lies? Well? Oh yeah, I forgot, too busy "examining" the fonts and proportional spacing in Ed Gillespie's latest media talking points memo. Or, sure nuff, squirming like cheap lazy whores in the lap of GOP agitprop pimp Roger Ailes.

Wolf Blitzer and Jeff Greenfield, leading CNN down the ladder one greasy rung at a time.

More FoxNoise style fear and sneer for the easily cowed: Via Isebrand
New GOP ads use old but proven tactics: spread irrational fear and gay bait. - Wed 09/22/04

Fear-mongering and division-causing drivel from a GOP radio ad: "There is a line drawn in America today. On one side are the radicals trying to uproot our traditional values and our culture. They're fighting to hijack the institution of marriage, plotting to legalize partial birth abortion, and working to take God out of the Pledge of Allegiance and force the worst of Hollywood on the rest of America."


CBS memos: New wave of tut-tuttery 

Yeah yeah the SCLM suck. This is news?. The latest:

"There's clearly a conflict of interest when [Mapes] plays both the role of the journalist and the role of an intermediary between a source and somebody in a political campaign," said Bob Steele, a professor of journalism ethics at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Fla.
(via LA Times)

And what did Mapes do? She gave Bartlett ("with friends like these") a number in the Kerry campaign. Some left wing conspiracym, huh? When the conspirators don't even have each other's phone numbers?

What kind of world are these people living in? I mean, does anyone believe that Roger Ailes, of FUX News, doesn't have Unka Karl's number by heart?

And I seem to remember when George Will didn't just hand out a number—he helped Reagan practice for a presidential debate! IOKIYAR!

So, big fuckin' deal. Snort!

Why We Don't "Get" Bush 

The biggest disconnect in politics is between people who "get" George W. Bush and those of us who don't. I'm not talking about those who are in it for the money or the (perceived) power or the simple joy of winning a pissing contest (yeah, trolls, I'm talkin' to YOU here.)

I mean those otherwise good people, often our own families and friends, but those who still maintain that they're going to vote for Bush. They can never quite articulate why, except to mouth some talking point like "He's keeping us safe" or "I just trust him."

(via New Yorker magazine)
When Bush appeared in person, moments later, he seemed surprisingly ordinary. “I’m here to ask for the vote,” he told the audience. “I believe it’s important to get out and ask for the vote. I believe it’s important to travel this great state and the country, talkin’ about where I intend to lead the country.” He made this sound like an original idea, and perhaps a controversial one, and the way he repeated the words “I believe” carried an air of defiant conviction: I’m not here offering myself to you because that’s how it’s done in a democracy but because that’s just how I am, and I don’t give a damn who says different.

He wore no tie, and his sleeves were rolled up, and the simplicity of the proposition, the easy conversational forthrightness, seemed so natural, so obvious and reassuring, that it was easy to forget, as he wound on through his stump speech, that he had promised to lay out a plan for the future. He offered no such plan, or even any new initiatives. He just declared the past four years a success, and said that more and better was to come.
This is quite a long article and somewhat icky in places (anything that includes a mention of "how comfortable [he] is in his body" requires a strong stomach) but it explains an awful lot. Come back when you've got an hour or so, first to read and then to think.

That great disconnect? We here deal in words, written words specifically. Bushspeak is not meant to be read but performed.

Iraq clusterfuck: Casualty figures 17 times too low? 

Granted, it all depends on what the meaning of "casualty" is. Still:

Nearly 17,000 service members medically evacuated from Iraq and Afghanistan are absent from public Pentagon casualty reports commonly cited by newspapers, according to military data reviewed by United Press International. Most don't fit the definition of casualties, according to the Pentagon, but a veterans' advocate said they should all be counted.

The Pentagon has reported 1,019 dead and 7,245 wounded from Iraq.

The military has evacuated 16,765 individual service members from Iraq and Afghanistan for injuries and ailments not directly related to combat, according to the U.S. Transportation Command, which is responsible for the medical evacuations. Most are from Operation Iraqi Freedom.
(via UPI)

17,000?! Makes the strain the army is experiencing a little more comprehensible, eh?

MBF Watch: Disturbing the Peace War 

The very patriotic Jesus General is working diligently today. He brings us these two items of treasonous conduct by people who should be grateful they are merely being dragged off, fingerprinted into the criminal justice system records for the rest of their lives, and subjected to possible fines and imprisonment. Since what they really deserve, after all, is to be summarily shot.

KWWL/Quad Cities, Iowa

Barbara Hannon was shocked her two friends Alice McCabe and Kristine Nelson were arrested for standing peacefully near the park. "We were told because we have Kerry Edwards buttons we are not allowed to be anywhere."

McCabe and Nelson were taken into custody and the Democratic Party called the American Civil Liberties Union about the arrests.

Linn County Democratic Party Chair Joel Miller says the party posted bond for the two women. "So much of the area is private property there is no room for protesters to stand. They have to keep moving away from the rally."

Maggie Swanson says she has been to lots of protests and has seen lots of arrests. "People who've never been to one say oh as long as you are standing peacefully they will let you stand as close as you want as long as you are being peaceful, it's just not true."

Police say they told protesters about the strict no loitering rules.
Lancaster PA
LANCASTER COUNTY, PA - Six Lancaster city men are headed to court next month, accused of dropping their pants this summer in protest during President George W. Bush's visit to Smoketown Elementary School.

Each of the self-monikered "Smoketown Six" has been charged with one count of disorderly conduct for stripping down to thong underwear minutes before the president's bus rolled by on its way to the Conestoga Valley elementary school.

East Lampeter Township Police arrested the men as they were re-enacting the infamous human-pyramid photo of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad, Iraq.

Citations given to each defendant on the day of his arrest word the violation the same way.

"A person is guilty of disorderly conduct if with the intent to cause public inconvenience or alarm or recklessly creating a risk thereof, he creates a hazardous or physically offensive condition by any act which serves no legitimate purpose of the actor," the citations read. "To wit: defendant did strip down to his underwear and build a human pyramid in protest of President Bush."

American Civil Liberties Union attorney Paula Knudsen said none of the men has violated any criminal laws..[and that] the defense team representing the "Smoketown Six" has invited the national media to cover the event because of its bearing on free speech.

"We believe this case deserves national attention because this kind of thing is probably happening in other communities," Knudsen said. "Clearly, this is more about politics than it is about the law. The very quick action in hauling off Tristan and the others says to me that someone didn't want protesters marring the scene when the president rode by."

If convicted, each of the defendants faces a maximum of 90 days in prison and a $300 fine.
Grateful, dammit! They should be grateful for such a mild rebuke to help them see the error of their ways. The Michelle Malkin Memorial Mind-Mending Module awaits those who persist in their wickedness.

Calling Dr. Freud! Your patient is slipping! 

Dear Leader:

"[BUSH] It's tough as heck in Iraq right now because people are trying to stop democracy," he said. "That's what you're seeing. And Iraqis are losing lives, and so are some of our soldiers. And it breaks my heart to see the loss of innocent life and to see brave troops in combat lose their life. It just breaks my heart. But I understand what's going on. These people are trying to shake the will of the Iraqi citizens, and they want us to leave. That's what they want us to do."

Then, he said: "And I think the world would be better off if we did leave." Pause. "If we didn't -- if we left, the world would be worse," he corrected himself.
(Froomkin in WaPo

No matter how deep in denial Bush is, sometimes the truth slips out. (About the only time it does, eh?)

Opportunity Cost of Iraq CF: Abu Musab Zarqawi 

Who is now beheading people. Oh well.

With Tuesday’s attacks, Abu Musab Zarqawi, a Jordanian militant with ties to al-Qaida, is now blamed for more than 700 terrorist killings in Iraq.

But NBC News has learned that long before the war the Bush administration had several chances to wipe out his terrorist operation and perhaps kill Zarqawi himself — but never pulled the trigger.

“Here we had targets, we had opportunities, we had a country willing to support casualties, or risk casualties after 9/11 and we still didn’t do it,” said Michael O’Hanlon, military analyst with the Brookings Institution.

“People were more obsessed with developing the coalition to overthrow Saddam than to execute the president’s policy of preemption against terrorists,” according to terrorism expert and former National Security Council member Roger Cressey.
(MSNBC via AmericaBlog)

So tell me again what invading Iraq had to do with fighting terrorism? Made it worse, didn't it? Feeling safer yet?

NOTE "CF": Clusterfuck.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

MBF Watch: Minnesota Polling Displeases Them 

And we all know what They do when something displeases Them, or is insufficiently genuflectual to Dear Leader. They bring out the wind machines, on the theory that if they just huff and puff enough they can blow inconvenient facts out of public attention.

(via Minneapolis Star-Tribune)
Republicans brought their protest of the Star Tribune's polling methods to the newspaper's front doors in downtown Minneapolis on Monday.

About 40 GOP activists again called for the resignation of Minnesota Poll director Rob Daves or the suspension of the poll through the Nov. 2 presidential election.

"Hey, hey, ho, ho, Rob Daves has got to go" and "Star and Sickle, you're in a pickle," they chanted, using a nickname to describe what they regard as the newspaper's leftist views.

..Outside the newspaper's Portland Avenue entrance during the lunch hour, demonstrators carried signs with "Real reporters report real results" and "Strib polls are fibs."

[Star Tribune editor Anders] Gyllenhaal said the Star Tribune's poll methodology is available for anyone to review. He also...noted that Gallup and Pew, widely respected national pollsters, last week reported vastly different presidential poll results. Gallup's poll showed Bush leading Kerry 55 percent to 42 percent nationally. Pew's survey showed the two tied at 46 percent.
This was not a repeat of the Republican-staged white collar riots in Dade County in 2000. The jackbooters don't have to be that blatant just to intimidate at this stage of the game.

Oh, and while I've never lived there and see nothing but their Page 1 every day, as best I can tell the Strib is about as "left-wing" as your average turnip. But the campaign continues to make the term "left-wing," like "liberal" before it, something akin to an accusation of child molestation, where the mere invokation of the word is enough to get the accused cast into the outer darkness.

Roger Stone ~ Bu$h Junto Ratfucker King 

The hot rumor in New York political circles has Roger Stone, the longtime GOP activist, as the source for Dan Rather's dubious Texas Air National Guard "memos." - (NYPost) See below

Pat Buchanan's secret "love child"; and other slimy tales squirming in the Bush family ooze.

Stone told Von Raab that his Buchanan maneuvers were a "tactical exercise"—an accurate description of his ironic orchestration of Al Sharpton's campaign this year. The master of convoluted chaos, double agent Stone has left his mark in the dark alleys of presidential politics since Watergate, but the sacking of the Reform Party may be his lasting legacy.


"Everyone who worked for Nixon knew about" the alleged Buchanan baby, says Stone, adding that he "lived with it through two Reagan campaigns." Stone and Buchanan were aides to Nixon and Reagan, and Stone, also a Bush I campaign veteran, was rewarded for his subterranean 2000 efforts with an appointment to the Department of Interior transition team, which he parlayed into a multimillion dollar business as an Indian gaming consultant (see Voice, April 19).

The Stone-inspired Reform infighting served multiple Bush interests: It killed any possibility of a third Perot run, blocked the candidacy of former Connecticut governor Lowell Weicker, and forced out the party's only elected official, Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura. Buchanan's vanishing act—after Stone cajoled him to run Reform—left nearly a dozen party leaders contacted by the Voice convinced that he and Stone were conscious agents of doom. (more...)

READ: How GOP operative Roger Stone destroyed the Reform Party in the 2000 presidential campaign - The Sex Scandal That Put Bush in the White House - by Wayne Barrett with special reporting by Jessie Singer - May 18th, 2004 - Much more... via the Village Voice (Long Article)

Fear and Sneer and Florida Fixers:
In 1992, W. famously offered his services to his father's moribund re-election campaign. The younger Bush counseled the president to hire private investigators to rummage through the bedtrails of Clinton's sex life, hoping to ignite "bimbo eruptions." This advice coming from a man who, according to one of his friends, spent the 1970s "sleeping with every bimbo in West Texas, married or not."


Then, with the recount underway, the Bush junta sprang into action. Using $13.8 million in campaign funds, they recuited an A-list of Republican fixers, tough guys and lawyers. Roger Stone, the former Republican fixer and body builder of Reagan time who fled to Florida following a DC sex scandal, was summoned to orchestrate gangs of rightwing Cubans to harass election officials in Dade and Palm Beach counties. Marc Racicot, later to be elevated by Bush to chair of the RNC, staged similar white-collar riots, all designed to impede the counting of ballots. Jeb and the haughty Harris did their parts as institutional monkeywrenchers.

Meanwhile, the legal strategy designed by Theodore Olson to fast track the case to the Supreme Court. When Scalia and Thomas refused to recuse themselves from the case despite glaring conflicts of interest (family members worked for the Bush campaign), the electoral theft was legitimized.

The ringmaster of this affair was Bush Sr.'s old hand, James Baker. Baker later boasted to a group of Russian tycoons mustered in London, "I fixed the election in Florida for George Bush." (more...)

READ: High Plains Grifter; The Life and Crimes of George W. Bush, - by Jeffery St. Clair, Sept. 01, 2004 - Counterpunch

Digby has more on Stone.


Bunkhouse buddies:
[Donald Rumsfeld] "Co-Owns New Mexico Ranch with Dan Rather, among others:..." ~ Sunday, Dec. 21, 2003 Time Magazine

Ooooo, that gawd derned libr'l media!


Goodnight, moon 

Not to interrupt the collective winger circle-jerk about the Killian memos, but—

1. Bush still blew off his Guard duty, multiple times in multiple ways, and we still don't know why he didn't take his medical exam (Holden has a nice takedown here, on "Ask the Presidential Lackey," of all places.)

2. Rather sucks. He's sloppy. So? Par for the course with today's SCLM, as the liberals who lived through Whitewater and election 2000 already know. Read The Howler.

3. Funny, isn't it—all the Republican yammering for an investigation of the CBS memos, where all the content is true, and which only hurts Bush's image. Compare that to the forged yellowcake memos—you remember, where 1/2 an hour on Google took them down, without even looking at the kerning—where the content was false, and which only took us into The Big Sandy, at the cost of over a thousand American lives, so far. Priorties, huh?
Why would that be?

Because 4. It's all about working the refs. If the wingers can take down Rather, the rest of the SCLM will get a bad case of The Fear.

And Fear, as ever, is Inerrant Boy's friend.

Iraq clusterfuck: Considering the opportunity cost 

James Fallows has a sober, and sobering, look at Iraq that takes opportunity cost into account, as apparently Bush did not—amazingly for anyone with an MBA—when choosing to invade Iraq.

Since the article is only on the newstands, and not yet online, I typed excerpts from it in. But go read the whole thing. It's essential.

James Fallows, "Bush's Lost year: How the war in Iraq undermined the war on terror," The Atlantic, October 2004

Over the past two years I have been talking with a group of people at the working level of America's anti-terrorism efforts...

"Let me tell you my gut feeling," a senior figure at one of America's military-sponsored think tanks told me recently, after we had talked for twenty minutes about details of the campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq. "If I can be blunt, the Administration is full of shit. In my view we are much, much worse off than we were than we went into Iraq. This is not a partisan position. I voted for these guys. But I think they are incompetent. Whatever tactical victories we may gain along the way, this will prove to be a strategic blunder."

This man will not let me use his name, because he is still involved in military policy. He cited the experiences of Joseph Wilson, Richard Clarke, and Generals Eric Shinseki and Anthony Zinni to illustrate the personal risks of openly expressing his dissenting view. But I am quoting him anonymously—as I will quote some others—because his words are representative of what one hears at the working level.

Professionals argue that by the end of 2002 the decisions the Administration had made—and avoided making—through the course of the year had left the nation less safe, with fewer positive options. Step by step through 2002 America's war on terror because little more than preparation for war in Iraq.

Because of that shift, the United States succeeded in removing Saddam Hussein, but at this cost: Afghanistan was left to fester, as attention and money were turned toward Iraq. This in turn left more havens in Afghanistan in which terrorist groups could reconstitute themselves. ...

A full inventory of the costs of the war in Iraq goes on. Bush began in 2002 with a warning that North Korea and Iran, not just Iraq, threatened the world because of the nuclear weapons they were developing. With the United States preoccupied with Iraq, the other two countries surged ahead. ... Because it lost time and squandered resources, the United States now has no good options for dealing with either country. It has fewer deployable soldiers and weapons; it has less international leverage through the "soft power" of its alliances and treaties; it has even worse intelligence, because so many resources are directed toward Iraq.

Before America went to war in Iraq, its military power appeared limitless. Now the limits on our military's manpower and sustainability are all too obvious.... Because of outlays in Iraq, the United States cannot spend $150 billion for other defensive purposes. Some nine million shipping containers enter American ports each year; only two percent of them are physically inspected ... Fewer than a quarter of 231 major cities under review had received any of the aid they expected. An internal budget memo from the Administration was leaked this past spring. It said that outlays for virtually all domestic programs, including homeland security, would have to be cut in 2005—and the federal budget deficit would still be more than $450 billion.

Worst of all, the government-wide effort to wage war in Iraq crowded out efforts to design a broader strategy against Islamic extremists and terrorists; to this day the Administration has articulated no comprehensive long term plan.

And here is the startling part. There is no evidence that the President and those closest to Him ever talked systematically about the "opportunity costs" and tradeoffs in their decision to invade Iraq. No one has pointed to a meeting, a memo, a full set of discussions, about what America would gain and lose.

The Administration apparently did not consider questions like "If we pursue the war on terror by invading Iraq, might we incite even more terror in the long run?" and "If we commit so many of our troops this way, what possibilities will we be giving up?" But Bush "did not think of this intellectually, as a comparative decision, I was told by Senator Bob Graham, of Florida, who voted against the war resolution for fear it would hurt the war on terror. "It was a single decision: He saw Saddam Hussein as an evil person who had to be removed."

A man who participated in high-level planning for both Afghanistan and Iraq—and who is unnamed here because he still works for the government—told me, "There was absolutely no debate in the normal sense. There are only six or eight of them who make the decisions, and they only talk to each other. And if you disagree with them in public, they'll come after you, the way they did to Shinseki."

"How will history judge this period, in terms of the opportunity costs of invading Iraq?" said John Pike, the director of GlobalSecurity.Org, when we spoke. I think the opportunity cost is going to be North Korea and Iran."

The strong working-level consensus is that terrorists are "logical," if hideously brutal, and that the steps in 2002 that led to war have broadened the extremists base. ... As violence surged in occupied Iraq, the International Institute for Strategic Studies, in London, reported that Al Qaeda was galvanized by the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. As of mid-2004 Al Qaeda had at least 18,000 operatives in 60 countries. "Al Qaeda has fully reconstituted [and] set its sights firmly on the USA and its closest Western allies in Europe," the report said.

"I have been saying for years, Osama Bin Laden could never have done it without us," a civilian adviser to the Pentagon told me this summer. "We have continued to play to his political advantage and to confirm, in the eyes of his constituency, the very claims he made about us." The claims are that the United States will travel far to suppress Muslims, that it will occupy their holy sites, that it will oppose the rise of Islamic governments, and that it will take their resources.

To govern is to choose, and the choices made in 2002 were fateful. The United States began that year shocked and wounded, but with tremendous strategic advantages. All that was required was to think broadly about the threats to the country, and creatively about the responses.

The Bush administration chose another path. Implicitly at the beginning of 2002, and as a matter of formal policy by the end, it placed all other considerations second to regime change in Iraq. It hampered the campaign in Afghanistan before fighting began and wound it down prematurely, along the way losing the chance the capture Osama Bin Laden. It turned a blind eye to misdeeds in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, and to MD threats from North Korea and Iran far more serious than any posed by Saddam Hussein, all in the name of moving toward a showdown with Iraq. It overused and wore out its army in invading Iraq—without committing enough troops for a successful occupation. It saddled the United States with ongoing costs that dwarf its spending for domestic security. And by every available measure [the Administration] only worsened the risk of future terrorism. In every sense 2002 was a lost year.

If Kerry can condense this down to a sentence, he wins. The debate and the election. The concept of "opportunity cost" lets us look at Iraq as a "kitchen table" issue. The issue is not, Was invading Iraq a good use of our resources. The issue is, Was invading Iraq the best use of our resources? We've had two years to find out, and the answer is No.


Alert reader MJS has the transcript:

Hey, what a crowd, huh? I just flew in from San Diego and boy is my crotch big. Ha-ha. I went up to Heaven and they asked me how I found the place—I answered "Could use some paint." Get it?

Is that blood on your hands or are you just happy to see me? Ever notice how Satan and Cheney are never seen together? Heh-heh—Hold on there, Saddam. Is this thing on?

Yeah, I found God—too bad the motherfucker never found me—some punishment, huh? I got a devil of an agent: Twenty shows a day, seven days a week for all eternity. It was either this or I had to read a book...Thank you, thank you. Got another post card from Mom—heck, she could have walked it over. I don't care what they say about you, Mom, you got a beautiful mind. Your face looks like Texas asphalt, but you got a...Hey, don't throw lava. I hate it when you throw lava. It's all in fun! Heh-heh.

You said you'd never compromise With the mystery tramp 

But now you realize
He's not selling any alibis
As you stare into the vacuum of his eyes
And ask him do you want to make a deal?

The hot rumor in New York political circles has Roger Stone, the longtime GOP activist, as the source for Dan Rather's dubious Texas Air National Guard "memos."

The irony would be delicious, since Rather became famous confronting President Nixon, in whose service a very young Stone became associated with political "dirty tricks."

Reached at his Florida home, Stone had no comment.
(via NY Post)

Of course, we consider the source...

"Like a Roger Stone" ...

UPDATE Digby has more.

Take time to stop and smell the Turd Blossoms 

Kevin Drum (here) points us to an oldie-but-goodie Julian Borger article on Acting President Rove:

"We did not believe that Bush would be as disciplined as he was. He was extremely disciplined," recalls George Shipley, who was then Richards' campaign adviser. "Karl gave him 10 index cards and said, 'This is what you are going to say. Don't confuse yourself with the issues.' It's the model for the presidency."
(via Guardian)

Sound familiar?

Iraq clusterfuck: SCLM starts to ask "What is Bush's plan?" 

And about time, too. Columnist Richard Cohen writes:

We all have to face the prospect that Iraq will end up a mess no matter what. The administration's own national intelligence estimate raises the possibility that civil war may erupt by the end of next year. That's the direst prediction, but it now seems more likely than the one President Bush once envisioned: an Iraq with some sort of Jeffersonian democracy. That ain't about to happen and bit by bit, Bush has been scaling back his rhetoric. The truth is that we'd now settle for a pro-American strongman such as Pakistan's Pervez Musharraf or Egypt's Hosni Mubarak. Both countries are essentially military dictatorships.

Who'd like to be the last man to die for that? I'm looking for a show of hands. But more than that, I'm looking for someone to raise questions that go to the heart of this matter of life and death. In this sense, Iraq is fast becoming Vietnam -- only the stakes are higher. (Vietnam had no oil.) It is also Vietnam in the way the presidential campaign is handling it. Once again the GOP is playing the odious patriotism card to silence dissent. As for Bush, he talks about Iraq with the same loopy unreality as he does his National Guard service. [Bush is] a fabulist.

Bush ought to come clean. What are his goals for Iraq now? Does he plan to bring in more troops if he wins in November or is he simply going to accept defeat, call it victory and bring the boys (and girls) home? If I were still in the uniform I once wore, I'd sure like to know. It's terrible to die for a mistake. It's even worse to die for a lie.
(via WaPo)

Inerrant Boy a "fabulist," eh? I like that. Ties into Bush's constant use of "fabulous" (back). It's another way of expressing the "Bush is just in denial" meme, which is really starting to spread. Good!

Monday, September 20, 2004

Bush: Reckless indifference to the nightmare scenario 

Because I live in a port city, Philadelphia—and others of us live in other port cities—my hair was been on fire about a loose nuke or a dirty bomb in a shipping container for some time (here, here, and here).

Now the CEO of the Port of Seattle is saying the same thing:

In the United States we have 361 river ports and seaports. Every year we get 50,000 visits from 8,100 foreign ships. Every day 21,000 containers enter the United States. We can verify the contents of only about 4 to 6 percent of those containers. And it would require only one rogue container to bring commerce to its knees.

It is a very different story at our nation's seaports. We're spending a fraction of what we spend at airports, on a far more complex problem. We do not have a comprehensive plan to know what is in the containers that arrive every day. We need to verify that those boxes are documented, loaded securely and protected against tampering throughout their journey.

Secretary Ridge has said that funding for more robust solutions to container security problems will have to come from the private sector.
(via WaPo)

These... people want to privatize port security? WTF?

Oh, wait. I forgot. The port cities are mostly in Blue states, and all the inhabitants are going to Hell anyhow. Fuck 'em.

The soft bigotry of low expectations 

The line Bush keeps repeating:

"[BUSH] I'm proud of my service in the Guard."
(via WaPo)





Bush was grounded when he refused to take a mandated medical exam and never flew again.

So, what's to be proud of?

Hey, any witnesses collected on that $50,000? Just asking.

UPDATE Hey, it just occurred to me. Bush can spout shit like this—and even believe it—because He's in denial (back). It really is just classic AA, isn't it? Stinkin' thinkin'.

George's Party Mates Reveal Truth  

Serious questions about George W. Bush's credibility in his accounts of his misspent youth have arisen from a new group who say they shared those long-ago days of the early '70s with the future Commander in Chief. As noted in today's Washington Post, way down at the bottom of Froomkin's column.

These guys say they partied with Dubya, they drank (and other things), they sailed, they consorted with women of dubious character-- and they say Georgie was a punk. We think they deserve at least as much attention as the Swiffer Liars did. Genties and ladlemen, we bring you:

Pleasure Boat Captains for Truth
Look, there's a lot of people who will swear up and down that President George Bush is a genuine hard-partier, a real man who can hold his liquor and dope, a real hero of the dope days of the sixties and seventies. But those of us who served with him on the front lines of Miami and in the trenches of Houston and Cape Cod know the truth. The lies about Bush's ability to party sully the good name of all of us who really could party and sail at the same time, who fought the good fight back in the glory days. George Bush - you're a lightweight.

I'm Captain "Panama" Red and this is a true account, I think.
Note to trolls...we're pretty sure these Pleasure Boat guys are working in a category known as "humor." You're probably not familiar with it, so might want to start out on something easier like knock-knock jokes and work your way up. We know you, like your glorious leader, would much rather get back to the present day and have a serious discussion of policy issues.

"Bitter enders" 


"'Til the last dog dies."

Soldier Vote May Surprise Bush 

Another one for the Pulitzer short list. After all the stories about reporters hiding out in the Green Zone, we find one, a woman no less, who went out looking for a story as likely to have her in danger from one side as the other:

(via Christian Science Monitor)
Ann Scott Tyson | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor

WASHINGTON – Inside dusty, barricaded camps around Iraq, groups of American troops in between missions are gathering around screens to view an unlikely choice from the US box office: "Fahrenheit 9-11," Michael Moore's controversial documentary attacking the commander-in-chief.

"Everyone's watching it," says a Marine corporal at an outpost in Ramadi that is mortared by insurgents daily. "It's shaping a lot of people's image of Bush."

The film's prevalence is one sign of a discernible countercurrent among US troops in Iraq - those who blame President Bush for entangling them in what they see as a misguided war.

Conventional wisdom holds that the troops are staunchly pro-Bush, and many are. But bitterness over long, dangerous deployments is producing, at a minimum, pockets of support for Democratic candidate Sen. John Kerry, in part because he's seen as likely to withdraw American forces from Iraq more quickly.

"[For] 9 out of 10 of the people I talk to, it wouldn't matter who ran against Bush - they'd vote for them," said a US soldier in the southern city of Najaf, seeking out a reporter to make his views known. "People are so fed up with Iraq, and fed up with Bush."

With only three weeks until an Oct. 11 deadline set for hundreds of thousands of US troops abroad to mail in absentee ballots, this segment of the military vote is important - symbolically, as a reflection on Bush as a wartime commander, and politically, as absentee ballots could end up tipping the balance in closely contested states.

It is difficult to gauge the extent of disaffection with Bush, which emerged in interviews in June and July with ground forces in central, northern, and southern Iraq. No scientific polls exist on the political leanings of currently deployed troops, military experts and officials say.
Suddenly those stories about troops being encouraged to vote by email make more sense. Read the rest of this, there is no reason any soldier anywhere HAS to give up the right to a secret, paper, absentee ballot.

Election fraud 2004: Republicans suppress the vote drive... 

On July 16, the Detroit Free Press quoted John Pappageorge, a Republican state representative from Troy, Michigan, who said, "If we do not suppress the Detroit vote, we're going to have a tough time in this election cycle." Detroit is 83 percent African American. Link


Forgeries?: Bush's actual military records show signs of tampering: 

Forget Dan Rather and CBS. Regardless of the CBS memos scam questions still remain concerning Bush's service record.
"One serious question is whether some of Bush's superiors may have played an active role in hiding Bush's shoddy record -- pressured perhaps by powerful politicians -- by crediting him with crucial makeup training days that appear dubious in nature." - Eric Boehlert -

Bush's very own "official" military records make that clear. So if you're looking for some document tampering to eyeball check out what Paul Lukasiak has found:


A second form which has clearly been subjected to tampering is Bush’s AF Form 11, his Officer Military Record. There are three different versions among the documents that were released by the White House: an “old” version, whose entries extend only to sometime prior to July 7, 1972, an “unscribbled” version whose last entry is dated October 1, 1973, and an excerpt from the form (Item 8, “Chronologicial Listing of Service”) that has clearly been tampered, whose last entry is also 10-1-73.


Indeed, if one were to believe Bush’s Official Military Biography, one would think that he spent his last year affiliated with the Armed Forces as a pilot assigned to the Obligated Reserve Section of ARPC. Yet, according to the documents that were released by the White House, this is clearly not the case. The complete lack of appropriate documentation for virtually everything that occurred that is indicated by the documents strongly suggests that Bush's records were purged in order to avoid disclosing embarrassing information.

Coming attractions:
Judge orders government to find, release all Bush military records (AP) Thursday, September 16, 2004 - SFGate

A federal judge has ordered the Pentagon to find and make public by next week any unreleased files about President Bush's Vietnam-era Air National Guard service to resolve a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by The Associated Press.

U.S. District Judge Harold Baer Jr. handed down the order late Wednesday in New York. The AP lawsuit already has led to the disclosure of previously unreleased flight logs from Bush's days piloting F-102A fighters and other jets.

Pentagon officials told Baer they plan to have their search complete by Monday. Baer ordered the Pentagon to hand over the records to the AP by Sept. 24 and provide a written statement by Sept. 29 detailing the search for more records.

Froomkin | WaPo, Monday, September 20, 2004
National Guard Watch
Yet more questions are being raised about Bush's National Guard service -- questions that have nothing to do with the disputed CBS document. The issue now is whether Bush may have received credit -- and maybe even payment -- for drills he didn't perform.

In the New York Times, Sara Rimer takes a long look at 1972, "the year George W. Bush dropped off the radar screen."

Rimer writes that "a review of records shows that not only did he miss months of duty in 1972, but that he also may have been improperly awarded credit for service, making possible an early honorable discharge so he could turn his attention to a new interest: Harvard Business School."

Rimer writes: "Payroll records released by the White House show that in addition to being paid for attending a drill in Alabama the last weekend in October, Mr. Bush was also paid for a weekend drill . . . on Nov. 11 and 12, and for meetings on Nov. 13 and 14.

"But there are no records from the 187th indicating that Mr. Bush, in fact, appeared on those days in October and November, and more than a dozen members of the unit from that era say they never saw him. The White House said last week that there were no records from the Alabama unit because Mr. Bush was still officially part of the Texas Guard. But Mr. [Bobby W.] Hodges, the former Texas commander, said the 187th 'should have a record of his drills.' "

Similarly, Rimer writes: "Documents released by the White House show that he was paid for drills in January, April and several days in early May 1973. . . . But Mr. Bush had been authorized to drill in Alabama only from September through November 1972."

Resource link:
Payroll records showing that Bush requested and received pay and point credit for which he was ineligible under Air Force policy (See Fraud—The Secrets of Bush’s Payroll Records Revealed) AWOL Project



Yeah, so Rather "admitted" he got spoofed by a source. Insert obilgatory gasping of shock, horror, He admitted these particular memos were not what he thought they were, and apologized.

This does not make him a bad guy, or a bad reporter, believe it or not. This is why we do not call Dan Rather rude names like "Kneepads," unlike some people with jobs in the media who get played for fools and help bring on unnecessary wars which kill and maim thousands, and have never yet admitted they were spoofed by their ever-so-trusted Chalabi source. Other similar examples are pointed out by the invaluable Digby
The thought of a network or major newspaper acting as a tool of political sabotage to sully the character of a president is chilling indeed.

But, I can't help wondering why this orgy of recriminations is happening over this incident when there have literally been thousands of even worse examples of the press willingly acting as partisan tools over the past 12 years or so, much of it fed to them directly by political operatives. Why is the thought of Dan Rather being used for partisan political purposes (if indeed he was) so shocking when we know that the mainstream press has been the victim of hoax after hoax by such outfits as Citizens United for years?

Did anyone ever call Jeff Gerth on the carpet for falling for the Scaife financed "Arkansas project" propaganda on the NY Times Whitewater stories? How about the chinese espionage "scandal" which was also a right wing hack job that proved to be absolutely bogus (aided and abetted by our good friend Rep. Chris Cox and his wholly discredited Cox Report.) Did anybody pay a price for pimping the Vince Foster story for the Mighty Wirlizter? Troopergate? The White House vandalism and stolen gifts stories? The list is endless. Years and years and years of hoaxes and smears and lies that led to tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer money wasted on investigations that went nowhere and NOBODY SAYS A FUCKING WORD about the press's incestuous involvement with those who perpetrated these expensive frauds on the American public. (I won't even mention the elephant sitting in the middle of the room with the words "Saddam and 9/11" tattooed on his forehead.)

The lesson in this is clear. Dan Rather made a big mistake all right, but it wasn't the one that the rest of the press corp is unctuously wringing its hands over. The lesson is that he should have never have shown the documents. He should have done the story with some guy in the shadows with his voice disguised saying that "he'd seen the documents." He should have hinted darkly at death threats and used many anonymous sources without ever producing any kind of proof. He should have dribbled the story out over a couple of weeks on the CBS evening news instead of presenting it all at one time.

Oh yes, and he should have done the story about a Democrat. Nobody ever gets in trouble for committing journalistic malpractice against them. In fact, it's a career booster.
"Memogate" has Karl Rove's fingerprints all over it, most especially the "non-denial" of the memo contents from the White House. He did his damndest to wave the red flag of distraction in our faces, to take attention away from Bush's crappy "service" record, noted below. Paul Lukasiak's brilliant, dogged work is getting attention all over the place, which we tried for months to do. We could never have done it without Karl's help.

I sometimes feel almost sorry for Karl. He's a good whore, in the sense that he does his best to service his client, but I bet he's sneaking a look at his watch about now to see how soon this one's going to be over. I hope he got a nice sum left on the dresser, because I don't see him getting a lot of work from here on out.

Conservative vs. liberal values 

Excellent post by Kos. go read. The differences are clear, and even show up in how conservative and liberal blogs are structured. Interesting.

MBF Watch: Democratic headquarters trashed in Louisiana 

Republican violence escalating:

Vandals set fire to signs and wrote pro-President Bush messages on the front of Lafayette’s Democratic Party Headquarters, the second time the office was hit by vandals.

A mixture of ash from the fire and what appeared to be motor oil was used to smear “4+ GWB” across the front windows and “W” on the headquarters’ door.

The office was closed Thursday because of Hurricane Ivan. The building’s owner found the damage Thursday morning when he checked on the building, said Lexi Thompson, state director of the National Coordinated Campaign.

“Obviously, this vandalism is an attempt to intimidate volunteers and the Democratic effort,” said Mike Skinner of Lafayette, chairman of the Louisiana Democratic Party. “This is not Iraq. This is Louisiana. Issues will decide this election, not intimidation.”

The situation could have been even more dangerous because the fire was set at the front door of the headquarters, Thompson said.

“Thank God we didn’t have anybody here this morning,” she said. “They were trying to harm us.”
(Lafayette Advertiser via Kos)

Nice to hear Bush speak out against the behavior of his supporters. Oh, wait...

Bush AWOL: The facts and the fonts 

Here's what we know without the fershuggeneh Killian memos. Eric Boehlert writes in Salon (and I'm quoting most of it because it's so tightly written and consolidates everything. Go on, get the day pass anyhow.

The record—again, not considering the Killian memos—contain 34 discrepancies. They clearly show that Bush disobeyed a direct order to take his medical exam. And leave open the question of why Bush didn't take the exam. And they indicate that Bush simply did not take his commitment to the Guard seriously.

The flap over dubious documents has obscured the real story. Here it is. None of the discrepancies detailed below between Bush's accounts and what his records show are based on the disputed memos reportedly written by Lt. Col. Jerry Killian that were aired by CBS News two weeks ago.

1. Bush flew for the last time on April 16, 1972. Upon entering the Guard, Bush agreed to fly for 60 months. After his training was complete, he owed 53 months of flying.

But he flew for only 22 of those 53 months.

2. Upon being accepted for pilot training, Bush promised to serve with his parent (Texas) Guard unit for five years once he completed his pilot training.

But Bush served as a pilot with his parent unit for just two years.

3. In May 1972 Bush left the Houston Guard base for Alabama. According to Air Force regulations, Bush was supposed to obtain prior authorization before leaving Texas to join a new Guard unit in Alabama.

But Bush failed to get the authorization.

4. In requesting a permanent transfer to a nonflying unit in Alabama in 1972, Bush was supposed to sign an acknowledgment that he received relocation counseling.

But no such document exists.

5. He was supposed to receive a certification of satisfactory participation from his unit.

But Bush did not.

6. He was supposed to sign and give a letter of resignation to his Texas unit commander.

But Bush did not.

7. He was supposed to receive discharge orders from the Texas Air National Guard adjutant general.

But Bush did not.

8. He was supposed to receive new assignment orders for the Air Force Reserves.

But Bush did not.

9. On his transfer request Bush was asked to list his "permanent address."

But he wrote down a post office box number for the campaign he was working for on a temporary basis.

10. On his transfer request Bush was asked to list his Air Force specialty code.

But Bush, an F-102 pilot, erroneously wrote the code for an F-89 or F-94 pilot. Both planes had been retired from service at the time. Bush, an officer, made this mistake more than once on the same form.

11. On May 26, 1972, Lt. Col. Reese Bracken, commander of the 9921st Air Reserve Squadron at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama, informed Bush that a transfer to his nonflying unit would be unsuitable for a fully trained pilot such as he was, and that Bush would not be able to fulfill any of his remaining two years of flight obligation.

But Bush pressed on with his transfer request nonetheless.

12. Bush's transfer request to the 9921st was eventually denied by the Air Reserve Personnel Center in Denver, which meant he was still obligated to attend training sessions one weekend a month with his Texas unit in Houston.

But Bush failed to attend weekend drills in May, June, July, August and September. He also failed to request permission to make up those days at the time.

13. According to Air Force regulations, "[a] member whose attendance record is poor must be closely monitored. When the unexcused absences reach one less than the maximum permitted [sic] he must be counseled and a record made of the counseling. If the member is unavailable he must be advised by personal letter."

But there is no record that Bush ever received such counseling, despite the fact that he missed drills for months on end.

15. Bush's unit was obligated to report in writing to the Personnel Center at Randolph Air Force Base whenever a monthly review of records showed unsatisfactory participation for an officer.

But his unit never reported Bush's absenteeism to Randolph Air Force Base.

16. In July 1972 Bush failed to take a mandatory Guard physical exam, which is a serious offense for a Guard pilot. The move should have prompted the formation of a Flying Evaluation Board to investigation the circumstances surrounding Bush's failure.

But no such FEB was convened.

17. Once Bush was grounded for failing to take a physical, his commanders could have filed a report on why the suspension should be lifted.

But Bush's commanders made no such request.

18. On Sept. 15, 1972, Bush was ordered to report to Lt. Col. William Turnipseed, the deputy commander of the 187th Tactical Reconnaissance Group in Montgomery, Ala., to participate in training on the weekends of Oct. 7-8 and Nov. 4-5, 1972.

But there's no evidence Bush ever showed up on those dates. In 2000, Turnipseed told the Boston Globe that Bush did not report for duty. (A self-professed Bush supporter, Turnipseed has since backed off from his categorical claim.)

19. However, according to the White House-released pay records, which are unsigned, Bush was credited for serving in Montgomery on Oct. 28-29 and Nov. 11-14, 1972. Those makeup dates should have produced a paper trail, including Bush's formal request as well as authorization and supervision documents.

But no such documents exist, and the dates he was credited for do not match the dates when the Montgomery unit assembled for drills.

20. When Guardsmen miss monthly drills, or "unit training assemblies" (UTAs), they are allowed to make them up through substitute service and earn crucial points toward their service record. Drills are worth one point on a weekday and two points on each weekend day. For Bush's substitute service on Nov. 13-14, 1972, he was awarded four points, two for each day.

But Nov. 13 and 14 were both weekdays. He should have been awarded two points.

21. Bush earned six points for service on Jan. 4-6, 1973 -- a Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

But he should have earned four points, one each for Thursday and Friday, two for Saturday.

22. Weekday training was the exception in the Guard. For example, from May 1968 to May 1972, when Bush was in good standing, he was not credited with attending a single weekday UTA.

But after 1972, when Bush's absenteeism accelerated, nearly half of his credited UTAs were for weekdays.

23. To maintain unit cohesiveness, the parameters for substitute service are tightly controlled; drills must be made up within 15 days immediately before, or 30 days immediately after, the originally scheduled drill, according to Guard regulations at the time.

But more than half of the substitute service credits Bush received fell outside that clear time frame. In one case, he made up a drill nine weeks later.

24. On Sept. 29, 1972, Bush was formally grounded for failing to take a flight physical. The letter, written by Maj. Gen. Francis Greenlief, chief of the National Guard Bureau, ordered Bush to acknowledge in writing that he had received word of his grounding.

But no such written acknowledgment exists. In 2000, Bush spokesman Dan Bartlett told the Boston Globe that Bush couldn't remember if he'd ever been grounded.

25. Bartlett also told the Boston Globe that Bush didn't undergo a physical while in Alabama because his family doctor was in Houston.

But only Air Force flight surgeons can give flight physicals to pilots.

26. Guard members are required to take a physical exam every 12 months.

But Bush's last Guard physical was in May 1971. Bush was formally discharged from the service in November 1974, which means he went without a required physical for 42 months.

27. Bush's unsatisfactory participation in the fall of 1972 should have prompted the Texas Air National Guard to write to his local draft board and inform the board that Bush had become eligible for the draft. Guard units across the country contacted draft boards every Sept. 15 to update them on the status of local Guard members. Bush's absenteeism should have prompted what's known as a DD Form 44, "Record of Military Status of Registrant."

But there is no record of any such document having been sent to Bush's draft board in Houston.

28. Records released by the White House note that Bush received a military dental exam in Alabama on Jan. 6, 1973.

But Bush's request to serve in Alabama covered only September, October and November 1972. Why he would still be serving in Alabama months after that remains unclear.

29. Each of Bush's numerous substitute service requests should have formed a lengthy paper trail consisting of AF Form 40a's, with the name of the officer who authorized the training in advance, the signature of the officer who supervised the training and Bush's own signature.

But no such documents exist.

30. During his last year with the Texas Air National Guard, Bush missed nearly two-thirds of his mandatory UTAs and made up some of them with substitute service. Guard regulations allowed substitute service only in circumstances that are "beyond the control" of the Guard member.

But neither Bush nor the Texas Air National Guard has ever explained what the uncontrollable circumstances were that forced him to miss the majority of his assigned drills in his last year.

31. Bush supposedly returned to his Houston unit in April 1973 and served two days.

But at the end of April, when Bush's Texas commanders had to rate him for their annual report, they wrote that they could not do so: "Lt. Bush has not been observed at this unit during the period of this report."

32. On June 29, 1973, the Air Reserve Personnel Center in Denver instructed Bush's commanders to get additional information from his Alabama unit, where he had supposedly been training, in order to better evaluate Bush's duty. The ARPC gave Texas a deadline of Aug. 6 to get the information.

But Bush's commanders ignored the request.

33. Bush was credited for attending four days of UTAs with his Texas unit July 16-19, 1973. That was good for eight crucial points.

But that's not possible. Guard units hold only two UTAs each month -- one on a Saturday and one on a Sunday. Although Bush may well have made up four days, they should not all have been counted as UTAs, since they occur just twice a month. The other days are known as "Appropriate Duty," or APDY.

34. On July 30, 1973, Bush, preparing to attend Harvard Business School, signed a statement acknowledging it was his responsibility to find another unit in which to serve out the remaining nine months of his commitment.

But Bush never contacted another unit in Massachusetts in which to fulfill his obligation.
(via Salon)


Dan Rather got punked. Memo to Burkett: With friends like you, who needs enemies?

Question to Bush supporters: So?

Iraq clusterfuck: Time for an intervention? 

Kerry brings it in the NYU speech. Read the whole thing, but one small point:

[Kerry] This President was in denial.

This is a more powerful statement of the "way beyond spin" meme (back) we pointed to last night. I think this one might take. Everyone knows what being "in denial" means. It's good because it converts Bush's "moral clarity" and "resolve" from a perceived strength into a weakness. More like this, please.

MBF watch: Republican who kicked woman while she was down IDed 

One more example of what Republicans call courage:

A New York ABC television affiliate captured footage of a Republican Youth Convention attendee dragging to the ground and kicking an AIDS activist who had entered the event undercover as part of a larger protest against the George W. Bush administration.

The student in the video, whose name was unknown at the time the footage was taken, has been identified by several Penn students as Wharton junior Scott Robinson, a member of the Penn College Republicans.

In video clips on the Internet, the student is seen grabbing for a female protester and helping to drag her to the ground. He is later shown making a kicking motion toward the girl on the ground, while the television reporter commented that he was kicking her.

When asked on camera after the incident if he kicked a protester, the student replied, "I don't believe so." He had no response when he was told that the image was captured on tape.

The protesters were removed from the event within minutes by security and Secret Service agents. It was not until later that the video footage emerged.

"Having seen Scott at a number of events, and having seen the video, I think it looks like him," said Stephanie Steward, a College senior and chairwoman of the College Republicans. "But I can't say absolutely positively."

The College Republicans have distanced themselves from the incident.

"Our group strongly condemns violence, politically motivated or otherwise. This incident is between two individuals at a private event and will be resolved between those two individuals. It in no way involves the Penn College Republicans," a group statement read.
(Daily Pennsylvanian via Atrios)

Nice to see the Republicans condemning violence. Not that there's a pattern, or anything...

Iraq clusterfuck: Novak—"We're outta here!" 

After the election, of course. Just a trial balloon....

[NOVAK] Inside the Bush administration policymaking apparatus, there is strong feeling that U.S. troops must leave Iraq next year. This determination is not predicated on success in implanting Iraqi democracy and internal stability. Rather, the officials are saying: Ready or not, here we go.
(Sun Times via Pandagon)

Wow. Moral clarity!

UPDATE Say, wonder if this has anything to do with lockdowns for the reservists on their way to Big Sandy?

Election fraud 2004: Bush recommends Republican voters use absentee ballots 

Here's a curious little item from the Times letters column. It reinforces what we already know about the Boy in the Bubble, but there's more:

To the Editor:

"Before Friendly Audiences on the Trail, a Looser, Livelier Bush Appears" (White House Letter, Sept. 13) mentions the policing of dissent at events, but does not mention the campaign's pre-emptive invitation process.

Through a misplaced phone call, we were invited to pick up tickets for a convention-week appearance in Michigan. The invitation was nearly rescinded when we said we were neither registered Republicans nor likely supporters of the president. We were granted nontransferable tickets only after a campaign supervisor sensed that her colleague's "grilling" (his word) might appear, well, undemocratic. This grilling session sought a loyalty oath.

We're still on the presidential guest list; President Bush himself calls to urge us to use the absentee ballot his campaign secured, and we're invited to attend events 200 miles away. These "rapturous" crowds are not only vetted but, apparently, willing to travel.

Jennifer Wenzel
Joseph Slaughter
Ypsilanti, Mich., Sept. 16, 2004
(via Times)

As we've been pointing out (back):

The voting machine manufacturers are Republicans...

The voting machine testers are Republicans...

The testing process is entirely secret....

The voting machine software is entirely secret...

Swing states Ohio (home of Diebold) and Florida (fraud in 2000, already) are using electronic voting machines that are manufactured, tested, and run by Republican firms...

And now we have Bush recommending that Republicans bypass the system they own and run, and use absentee ballots. I wonder why? Could it be—and I know this would be winger projection run amok—that in the case of a close election that Bush loses, He plans to cry fraud Himself?

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

The light bulb goes on for MoDo:

But the Bushies are way beyond spin, which is a staple of politics. These guys are about turning the world upside down, and saying it's right side up. And that should really give security moms the jitters.
(via NY Times)

A nice meme to start working on. It converts a percieved Bush strength—his certainty—into a weakness. More like this please.

'Till It's Over Over There 

This is ugly. This is beyond FUBAR. Read past the lead and see how screwed up this situation is getting before these guys even get on the boat to leave for the Big Sandy:

(via The State (Columbia SC) via WaPo)

The Washington Post

FORT DIX, N.J. — The 635 soldiers of a battalion of the South Carolina National Guard scheduled to depart today for a year or more in Iraq have spent their off-duty hours under a disciplinary lockdown in their barracks for the last two weeks.

The trouble began Labor Day weekend, when 13 members of the 1st Battalion of the 178th Field Artillery Regiment went AWOL, mainly to see their families again before shipping out. Then there was an ugly confrontation between members of the battalion’s Alpha and Charlie batteries — the term artillery units use instead of “companies” — that threatened to turn into a brawl involving three dozen soldiers, and required the base police to intervene...[Note: booze was involved. Big whoop.]

This particular Guard unit was put on an accelerated training schedule — giving the soldiers about 36 hours of leave over the past two months — because the Army needs to get fresh troops to Iraq and there are not enough active-duty or “regular” troops to go around.

Preparation has been especially intense because the Army is short-handed on military police units, so these artillerymen are being quickly re-trained to provide desperately needed security for convoys. And in order to fully man the unit, scores of soldiers were pulled in from different Guard outfits, some voluntarily, some on orders.

As members of the unit — drawn mainly from South Carolina’s coastal Lowcountry — looked toward their tour, some said they were angry, or reluctant to go, or both. Many more are bone-tired. Overall, some of them fear, the unit lacks strong cohesion — the glue that holds units together in combat....

The decisions include the Bush administration’s reluctance to sharply increase the size of the U.S. Army. Instead, the Pentagon is relying on the National Guard and Reserves, which provide 40 percent of the 140,000 U.S. troops in Iraq. Also, the top brass has concluded that more military police are needed as security deteriorates in Iraq and the violent insurgency flares in ways that were not predicted by Pentagon planners.

These soldiers will be based in northern Kuwait and will escort supply convoys into Iraq. That’s some of the toughest duty on this mission, with every trip through the hot desert bringing the possibility of being hit by roadside bombs, rocket-propelled grenades and sniper fire.

Sgt. Kelvin Richardson, 38, a machinist from Summerville, S.C., volunteered for this mission but says he now wishes he had not and has misgivings about the unit’s readiness.

Richardson is a veteran of the 1991 Persian Gulf War, in which he served with the 1st Cavalry Division, an active-duty “regular” unit. This battalion “doesn’t come close” to that division, he said. “Active-duty, they take care of the soldiers.”

Pfc. Kevin Archbald, 20, a construction worker from Fort Mill, S.C., who was transferred from another South Carolina Guard unit, also worries about his cobbled-together outfit’s cohesion.

“My last unit, we had a lot of people who knew each other. We were pretty close.” He said he does not feel that in the 178th. Here, he said, “I think there’s just a lot of frustration.”
UPDATE: Hit "publish" too fast without highlighting what I think is the most important line in this story. The rules for creating effective mass armies have been around since the ancient Spartans and two of the biggies are gone with the wind here:

(1) You want to instill not just training in a particular skill, but pride that that is the most important damn job in the whole friggin' service. Artillery is particularly intense, so much that they have their own saint even (Barbara). This is compensation, in part, for being the original "cannon fodder." Now that's been taken away from them. Does wonders for morale.

(2) Even more important is unit cohesion. Draw your own inference how well THAT'S working here. You are, after all, supposed to fight the Other Guy, not your mates. As best I can tell Pfc Archbald is considerably more hip to this than whoever threw this mismash together.

Tech Tip: Morale Booster 

Swiped from an Atrios comment thread from late last night, from somebody who goes by the handle "Just Asking":
How to start your day with a positive attitude
1. Create a "new folder" on your computer.
2. Name it "George W. Bush".
3. Send it to the trash.
4. Empty the trash.
5. Your computer will ask you: "Do you really want to get rid of "George W. Bush"?
6. Answer calmly, "Yes", and press the mouse button firmly.
Scoff if you will, but I actually did this a couple of times and you know, it does feel good. Consider that freepers and LGT'ers get up every morning and do calisthenics in front of their Freedom Family (tm) Security Surveliance Cameras, choreographed to John Ashcroft's rendition of "Let the Eagle Soar" followed by the Daily Patriot Prayer (recited while kneeling in the direction of Crawford, Texas) to get themselves fired up for the day's fight, and it doesn't seem like a lot of work at all.

Election fraud 2004: "Lost" Florida votes only found because of paper trail 

Well, well:

A mistake by an election worker "lost" 245 electronic ballots cast in last month's Florida primary, but the mix-up did not change the outcome of any race when the votes were finally counted, authorities said.

Hillsborough County residents cast the ballots before the Aug. 31 election on an ATM-style machine set up at a library, Elections Supervisor Buddy Johnson said. A member of Johnson's staff left the machine, made by Sequoia Voting Systems, in test mode. The votes were recorded and stored but not counted until they were found Friday.

Johnson said the votes were discovered missing when his staff compared the number of people who signed in to vote at the precinct and the number of ballots counted there. In all, the county had 118,699 votes cast.
(via WaPo)

So 567/245 is what?

But not to worry! After all, Federalist society "elf", freeper, and Republican operative F/Buckhead (back) says everything is A/OK! Phew!

Department of Translation: "Progress on the ground" 

1. Photo opportunity. 2. Planted story in the SCLM.

Chain of command 

Went into a small Barnes and Noble today—the one I used to sit down and read the magazines in when I was unemployed and had no money at all—to get Hersh's (back) Chain of Command. The lady behind the cash register said "Oh yes, I've got to buy that one today."

So we got to talking about the election and Kerry.

The bad news was, she had a Cuban friend who is "very smart, but she's going to vote the wrong way. She's Cuban, and she's going to vote Republican because of what Kennedy did."

The good news is, she's out there talking up Kerry and how important it is to vote for him.

Who can say the same?

The chain of command... It starts with us. Right? Right?

Ain't No Time to Wonder Why 

Theoretically everybody saw this when they followed Lambert's lead to the *F*Buckard story over at Digby, but here's another shot. Don't bother unless you have, hope to have, once had, once were, know any, or otherwise care about a teenage boy:
If there was ever a man with less moral authority to call up a draft than the phony AWOL flyboy, I don't know who it would be. He has even less than someone who went to Canada --- at least that person had to live with the consequences of his actions. This was a guy who had the gall to shove to the front of the line, play around with a million dollar airplane for a couple of years and then check out early for reasons we can only speculate about.

All young people in this country should vote for John Kerry and they should drag their slacker friends to the polls with them. He faced all these choices head on in the crucible of his generation and he came out a man of strength and integrity. Bush ran away. Young people should realize that he will not hesitate to put their lives on the line to cover his ass. He did it to his fellow young men when he was twenty one years old, he's doing it to reserves and national guard troops today and he'll do it to young people with a draft tomorrow. It's in his character to make others fight his battles and clean up his messes for him.
Go read the whole thing for the documentation: DOD documents (mysteriously "scrubbed" off their website by people who never heard of Google Cache) about how they're revving up the old Selective Service Boards again. My sons are 24 and 15, I'd sure appreciate if this news got around a little more.

"Why should we hear about body bags, and deaths, and how many, what day it’s gonna happen, and how many this or what do you suppose? Oh, I mean, it’s not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?" - former first lady Barbara Bush - "Good Morning America" March 18, 2003


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