Saturday, February 07, 2004

Rush MTP transcript: Wussert wusses out when interviewing Bush 

Is anyone surprised?

AP quotes excerpts of the interview provided by NBC:

[BUSH:] "I strongly believe the CIA is ably led by George Tenet," Bush said in an Oval Office interview to be broadcast Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press."

Misson accomplished!

Bush pledged to cooperate with the commission he set up last week to examine intelligence on Iraq and the spread of weapons of mass destruction. "I will be glad to visit with them," the president said. "I will be glad to share with them knowledge. I will be glad to make recommendations, if they ask for some."

No doubt!

Bush also responded to concerns the commission was not required to complete its review until after the presidential election in November. He said the panel needs time to do its work.

"There is going to be ample time for the American people to assess whether or not I made ... good calls - whether I used good judgment, whether or not I made the right decision in removing Saddam Hussein from power," Bush said. "I look forward to that debate."

Right. Just after the election!

Guess Tim "Mr. Softee" Russet caved after all. "More tongue, Mr. President?"

That would be WhiteWash Commission, of course 

Heh heh.

From the man who put the "W" in "WhiteWash," a man who needs no introduction....

Say, why is the winger marriage amendment going to be about gay marriage, and not adultery or divorce? 

The amendment isn't against adultery, even though adultery has wrecked more marriages than two guys getting hitched in P-town ever could....

The amendment isn't against divorce, even though divorce has wrecked more marriages than Cheney and Gephardt's daughters walking down the aisle together ever could....

So the whole brouhaha can't really be about marriage.... Could it be something about wingers that is, um, a little closer to home? What could that be?

Whitewash Commission: The fix is in (Silberman) 


The men put in charge of the Iraq intelligence commission have wide experience with covert information - one in federal courts, the other in Congress.

Silberman, 68, sat until recently on the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review, where he served up a wholehearted endorsement of the Justice Department's legal tactics in the fight against terrorism. Civil libertarians and many Democrats say those powers are overreaching and have fought to have them rolled back.

Silberman and the other two members of the court ruled that the expanded wiretap guidelines sought by Attorney General John Ashcroft under the new USA Patriot Act law do not violate the Constitution.

The special review court ordered the lower court to issue a new ruling giving the government the powers it was seeking.

The decision "revolutionizes our ability to investigate terrorists and prosecute terrorist acts," Ashcroft said at the time.

Silberman, a former federal appeals court judge and ambassador to Yugoslavia, has been known to speak his mind. He did so memorably in a 2002 speech to the conservative Federalist Society when he criticized the Supreme Court for "ducking" affirmative action cases and following "elite public opinion."

The Republican also had something to say in the perjury and obstruction probe of President Clinton's intimate relationship with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Silberman said [President Clinton's] aides had decided to "literally and figuratively declare war" on prosecutor Ken Starr, a former appeals court colleague of Silberman.

And in an odd intersection with Robb's career, Silberman helped write the decision that overturned the convictions of Iran-Contra figure Oliver North, a pivotal event that undercut the criminal investigation then under way.

Silberman's dirty, people. No doubt about it.

And it's nice to see the truth about Silberman mainstreaming with some speed. It wasn't in the initial coverage, but later is better than never.

Bush trashing of Contitutional rights continues  


In what may be the first subpoena of its kind in decades, a federal judge has ordered a university to turn over records about a gathering of anti-war activists.

In addition to the subpoena of Drake University, subpoenas were served this past week on four of the activists who attended a Nov. 15 forum at the school, ordering them to appear before a grand jury Tuesday, the protesters said.

Federal prosecutors refuse to comment on the subpoenas.

In addition to records about who attended the forum, the subpoena orders the university to divulge all records relating to the local chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, a New York-based legal activist organization that sponsored the forum.

The group, once targeted for alleged ties to communism in the 1950s, announced Friday it will ask a federal court to quash the subpoena on Monday.

According to a copy obtained by The Associated Press, the Drake subpoena asks for records of the request for a meeting room, "all documents indicating the purpose and intended participants in the meeting, and all documents or recordings which would identify persons that actually attended the meeting."

It also asks for campus security records "reflecting any observations made of the Nov. 15, 2003, meeting, including any records of persons in charge or control of the meeting, and any records of attendees of the meeting."

And, best of all, the university can't even talk about it

A source with knowledge of the investigation said a judge had issued a gag order forbidding school officials from discussing the subpoena.

Gee, I hope the FBI doesn't take it into its head to ask for MeetUp data. Eh?

Why do they hate America? 

What, again?

A second American paid a hefty fine for making an obscene gesture during fingerprinting procedures for U.S. citizens in Brazil, police said Saturday.


High stakes in 2004 

Though I think the New Yorker has been great after sloughing off Tina, and Philip Gourevitch is usually reliable, I think he's a little off the mark here:

After all, a Democratic strategist said to me over drinks recently, “There are five—five!—Democratic seats in the Senate up for grabs in the South. We could lose four. I think we will. And the Republicans could have a majority for thirty to forty years. Do you understand what’s at stake? George Bush with no concern about reëlection, a filibuster-proof Senate, a G.O.P. able to raise a billion dollars a year, packed courts, government shrunk to whatever level they like, gerrymandered districts.” A colleague of the strategist, who was a bit soberer, agreed. “This has the potential to be one of those periods in the country’s history when a single party dominates for a very long time—unless we nominate the right guy.”

It's the "a bit soberer" bit that me a little ticked. In fact, this is an eminently "sober" assessment of what democrats (yes, I am using the small "d") are up against, fighting the Republicans. And this doesn't even mention fact that the SCLM whores for the Republicans 80% of the time, or the role electronic voting machines could play in stealing the next election.

Howler previews aWol on MTP 

The Bush propaganda campaign for the war, and how the SCLM bought into it 

More essential reading from the New York Review of Books. Lots of juicy detail.
About Pravda on The Potomac:

In the weeks following {Powell's UN] speech, one journalist—Walter Pincus of The Washington Post—developed strong reservations about it. A longtime investigative reporter, Pincus went back and read the UN inspectors' reports of 1998 and 1999, and he was struck to learn from them how much weaponry had been destroyed in Iraq before 1998. He also tracked down General Anthony Zinni, the former head of the US Central Command, who described the hundreds of weapons sites the United States had destroyed in its 1998 bombing. All of this, Pincus recalled, "made me go back and read Powell's speech closely. And you could see that it was all inferential. If you analyzed all the intercepted conversations he discussed, you could see that they really didn't prove anything."

By mid-March, Pincus felt he had enough material for an article questioning the administration's claims on Iraq. His editors weren't interested. It was only after the intervention of his colleague Bob Woodward, who was researching a book on the war and who had developed similar doubts, that the editors agreed to run the piece—on page A17.

About Izvestia on the Hudson: Judy Miller really does use kneepads:

The performance of the Times was especially deficient. While occasionally running articles that questioned administration claims, it more often deferred to them. ... The September 8 story on the aluminum tubes was especially significant. Not only did it put the Times's imprimatur on one of the administration's chief claims, but it also established a position at the paper that apparently discouraged further investigation into this and related topics. On the aluminum tubes, David Albright, as noted above, made a special effort to alert Judith Miller to the dissent surrounding them, to no avail.

Asked about this, Miller said that as an investigative reporter in the intelligence area, "my job isn't to assess the government's information and be an independent intelligence analyst myself. My job is to tell readers of The New York Times what the government thought about Iraq's arsenal." Many journalists would disagree with this; instead, they would consider offering an independent evaluation of official claims one of their chief responsibilities.

In other words, what some have taken to be a rhetorical flight of fancy by tinfoil hat types—that we have a state-run media—is for Judith "Kneepad" Miller quite literally true.

Isvestia on the Hudson has an ombudsman here. Ask him why Judith Miller still has a job as a reporter, when she's really an administration flack.

Pravda on the Potomac has an ombudman here. Ask him why they buried accurate stories by Walter Pincus in the back of the paper, and put administration propaganda on the front page.

And ask them both why they don't read The Howler. We do.

The Bush index 

623: Number of coalition deaths in the Iraq war.

0 (zero): Number of military funerals attended by George W. Bush.

NOTE: CNN has done an excellent thing by posting this "Iraqi memorial wall" linked to above.

A little innoculation against the coming attacks on Teresa Heinz Kerry 


Reichstag fire investigation brings yawns 

The New York Times here:

Searches for a tainted envelope in Dr. Frist's office have been fruitless, leading some investigators to theorize the envelope or package with the poison ricin may have been discarded days before the poison was found on a letter-opening machine.

Law enforcement officials said they had no suspects and did not know how the ricin had arrived.

Looks like an inside job, to me. Just an election year stunt.

"Naah, they wouldnt'! They couldn't possibly!" How many times have we heard that?

Know your enemy: It's the Bush Dynasty, and its restoration under aWol 

Atrios recommends that we check out Krugman's review of American Dynasty and The Price of Loyalty so I did. Here's the stuff to feed the troops:

Still, the fundamental question isn't what motivates the Bush family and its retainers. It's how such a self-interested clan, with little by way of a redeeming record of public service, could have come to such a position of power.

There are three strands to Phillips's thesis. First is the effect of surging economic inequality, which has led to a broad-based "dynastization of America." To put the matter simply, the economic elite has become far more elite than it was a generation ago. Since the late 1970s, the top 1 percent of the population has more than doubled its share of national income, and the top 0.01 percent has increased its share by a factor of six. Today there is, to an extent not seen since the 1920s, a substantial class of people wealthy enough to form their own dynasties.

Second is the, um, unholy alliance between the dynastic class and the religious right. I found Phillips's explanation of how Bush uses religiously charged language to signal his alliance with fundamentalists revelatory. Biblical scholar Bruce Lincoln's line-by-line analysis of Bush's October 7, 2001, address to the nation announcing the US attack on Afghanistan identified a half dozen veiled borrowings from the Book of Revelation, Isaiah, Job, Matthew, and Jeremiah. He concluded that for those with ears to hear a biblical subtext, "by the [speech's] end America's adversaries have been redefined as enemies of God and current events have been constituted as confirmation of scripture."

The third strand in Phillips's explanation of the Bush dynasty's success isits virtuosity in misrepresenting what it's up to ... Under Bush, it seems, political rhetoric bears no relation to reality—what officials say has nothing in common with what they do, or what they think. And policy decisions are driven almost entirely by politics, by what the political arm thinks will play well with "the base."

So, what are we going to do about "what's happened to our country"?

"Burbling" Brooks 

is insufferably smarmy, as usual.

All the same, I wish Kerry had been through the fire like Dean has been. Now the stakes are higher, and the time is shorter.

Readers! Any Kerry people out there who can comment on Brooks's mongering of (rather old) scandals? I know they pale by the side of Republican looting, and Bush Dynasty crony capitalism, and politics ain't bean-bag, but those aren't answers, are they?

Say, if outsourcing is good, why don't we outsource the CEOs? 

Just asking

YABL: Bush reads the newspapers after all 

And who outs him? His own wife.

Mrs. Bush also contradicted her husband on his statement that he does not read newspapers and leaves it to his staff to provide him with what he calls unbiased news.

"He does read the papers, of course," Mrs. Bush said, adding that she and her husband make their way through five national newspapers over coffee in bed and then at the breakfast table each day. "I mean we've read the newspapers for years. It's our morning ritual, since the day we married."

Bush just lies! He lies all the time! Big lies, little lies, in-between lies. Hot lies, cold lies, just-right lies: He's a serial liar! And so is Lady Bush: the touching little "lump in the bed" poem was a lie!

And even more amazing, they don't think we notice or care. That is the truly insulting part: they feel they can lie with impunity—that's what Lady's Bush's throwaway "of course" is telling you.

Great to see the SCLM all over the Bush impunity story. Oh, wait....

Fly-by-Night Pilot 

Commander 8-Ball tippy-toes out the back door on his way to the next big dance. But-uh, golly Mr. Moral Clarity, it looks like there might be a button or two missing from that party dress. (?)

More info below

See: aWol's blue dress? The Torn Document

Boston Globe backtrack

Uggabugga Timeline

Where were you in 72? --- "If you can remember, you probably weren't there." ~ Country Joe McDonald


George Bush omarashi! 

On Friday afternoon, looking unusually ill at ease in the White House press room while quickly announcing most of the members of his commission, [Bush] acknowledged that "some prewar intelligence assessments by America and other nations about Iraq's weapons stockpiles have not been confirmed." Mr. Bush certainly was in no mood Friday to entertain many questions on the issue of intelligence. He announced the commission's formation in a five-minute statement. He barely introduced its co-chairmen... He left the room without taking questions.

Heh heh. I wonder why Bush had to leave the room so fast? Truth-telling-related-program-activities?

NOTE What are omorashi, you ask? One of those vile but harmless habits indulged in by stone wingers.


For my money, the common thread linking Bush, Laura Bush, and the Bush twins—all of whom will shortly be on the campaign trail— is impunity. (Yes, I know that's a word for a characteristic that dictators everywhere feel that they have).

  • Bush himself: impunity for, well, you name it

  • Lady Bush: impunity for a man's death in an automobile accident (back)

  • The Bush twins: impunity for the usual stuff: underage drinking, drugs ... All the stuff Daddy did, with impunity.

And Lady Bush is now fair game:

The fact is Mrs. Bush is moving into a new role as a prominent surrogate for her husband in his re-election campaign.

Of course, Dems really need an attack machine to handle this. The Democratic nominee needs to be above the fray. The most he should do is "deeply regret that some have made our President's ______ an issue. I think this should stop" and so forth.

That's the issue: They can, so they do. Impunity. Runs through everything the Bush dynasty does.

Don't let Bush whitewash the unemployment numbers 


Although the jobless rate dropped, the average length of unemployment grew to 19.8 weeks last month from 19.6 weeks in December and from 18.5 weeks in January of last year, on a seasonally adjusted basis. The share of jobless workers who had been unemployed for more than six months grew to 22.7 percent last month from 22.3 percent the month before, and was up from 20.3 percent in January 2003.

Many economists, including some Fed officials, say the unemployment rate understates the slack in the job market because it doesn't count people who have stopped looking for work but say they still want a job. When these people are added, plus those who say they are working part time because they can't find full-time work, the rate of underused labor was 9.9 percent last month, unchanged from December.

Oh, and don't fall for the "corrected numbers" line. Those don't help Bush either. From the LA Times here:

Administration officials, such as Treasury Secretary John Snow and National Economic Council Director Stephen Friedman, have argued for months that the smaller, household survey was giving the more accurate picture of the labor market. They have suggested that when the Labor Department got around to correcting its establishment survey results, they would show job gains instead of losses.

But the latest job numbers include corrections of the establishment survey results through March of last year, and they show that the economy lost 163,000 more jobs than previously thought.

So all the hullabulllo about the improving job market doesn't mean squat, if you look at the whole picture and include everybody. I guess all the financial MWs and the economists must be bears—if they can manage to talk the market up, even briefly, they can cash in. Not that I'm cynical.... Nah, they would never do that...

A-and another thing:

YABL: "A uniter not a divider." Remember that one? In jobs, as everywhere else, Bush and the truth have 180-degrees between them. Here, those with jobs are being slowly but surely divided from those without out. Once, if you lost your job, you got another one, if you waited for awhile, moved, changed careers... Now, that's not happening. We're slowly creating an underclass of people who will never work again. All very congenial to people who believe that the way to motivate people is through threats and fear.

How could there be an intelligence failure when they'd already made up their minds? 

The SCLM pointing out the bogosity of the "intelligence failure" meme, in a half-hearted way (here, too).

So much for the Whitewash Commission, which assumes that the only failures were in intelligence, and has no mission to look into the politicization and cherrypicking of intelligence at all.

Friday, February 06, 2004

Can you guess where the word "cherrypick" doesn't appear? 

Why, in the executive order setting up the Commission on Faith-based Intelligence!

The commission has no mandate to look into how the White House used intelligence at all.

And no subpoena power.

A tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

NOTE I've been calling it The Commission on Faith-Based Intelligence, since The Whitewash Commission seems a little crude .... How about The Commission to Change The Subject? Readers?

NOTE The Whitewash Commission it shall be.

McCain: the fix is in 


But another panel member, Senator John McCain, said yesterday that he did not believe Mr Bush had manipulated information.

"The president of the US, I believe, did not manipulate any kind of information for political gain or otherwise," the Republican senator told reporters on the sidelines of a security conference in Munich.

Has McCain already prejudged the issue? Granted, this was before Bush appointed him to the Commission on Faith-Based Intelligence; or was it the price for his appointment?

NOTE Thanks to alert reader MJS for the "fix is in" wording.

Robb: the fix is in 

For those who came in late, Robb's a co-chair of the Commission on Faith-Based Intelligence.

Really badly. Via Orcinus, Dan Conley has the goods on him. Though nominally a Dem, Bush probably owns him.

Tell me again why any Democrats are serving on this puppy?

Silberman: the fix is in 

For those who came in late, Silberman's a co-chair of the Commission on Faith-Based Intelligence.

Really badly. A real thumb in the eye for the Dems. Orcinus has the goods on him. Earlier, we joked about "The Scalia Commission" (back). Looks like we weren't far wrong.

Tell me again why any Democrats are serving on this puppy?

Why do they hate America? 


A second American in three weeks was arrested in Brazil on Friday after being accused of making an obscene gesture during new customs procedures for U.S. citizens.

A little more on the "torn document" 

CalPundit Here. Seems that that the numbers on the "torn document" that some have claimed shows Bush fulfilled his Texas obligations during his missing years aren't totalled. This is strange, if the form was indeed the real form. Clerks like to total things.

Bush names panel members for Commission on Faith-Based Intelligence 

AP via WaPo here:

President Bush named seven people Friday to sit on an independent study commission to look into intelligence failures regarding Iraq's weapons capabilities, choosing former [Democratic] Sen. Charles S. Robb and [Republican] retired judge Laurence Silverman [sic—it's Silberman] to head the panel.

Bush, who said the commission will report to the nation by March 2005 and who [sic] said he's told federal agencies to cooperate with its work.

Bush also picked Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., to be a member of the commission.

Two more members are expected to be named.

UPDATE The balance besides Robb, Silverman, and McCain? From CNN:

Lloyd Cutler, who served as White House counsel to Presidents Carter and Clinton

• Former apellate court judge Pat Wald, a Democrat

• Rick Levin, president of Yale University, Bush's alma mater

• Ret. Adm. Bill Stuberman, a former deputy director of CIA

Of the Democrats, is Cutler still of the opinion that he can cut deals with these guys?

Looks at first sight like a panel of "Wise Men" (well, almost all men). Ten to 1 Bush won't be able to keep from pre-judging their work, or from trashing or politicizing them. As of now, the sole and only function of the commmission is to serve as aWol's beard on WMD lies until after the 2004 election. If Bush is re-elected, the bait and switch will come.

The good news? Bush has just handed the Dems the tools for their own October surprise: resignations based on the usual White House tactics of stonewalling, delay, obstructionism .... "It's my nature, as the scorpion [Bush] said to the frog [Democrats Robb and Cutler]." That slippery little scut won't be able to stop himself, just wait.

UPDATE Alert reader Dwight Meredith informs us that Cutler's firm is representing the Saudis in the 9/11 case. [BUSH: "Now that's my kind of Democrat!"] Conflict of interest issues, anyone?

UPDATE Alert reader James Madison's Dog catches WaPo (and me) spelling "Silberman" as "Silverman." (Reuters has it right). And JMD gives us the scoop on Silberman, from Brock's book Blinded by the Right:

"...If Republican aides were eager to abet my savaging (Anita) Hill, so were Thomas's closest friends. Among others, they included fellow DC Circuit Judge Laurence Silberman..."
(Brock, p.95)

"Judge Silberman speculated that Hill was a lesbian 'acting out.'"

"[Silberman] was a behind-the-scenes adviser to the conservative editors of the Wall Street Journal editorial page."
(ibid, p. 96)

Or, this little bit of interest,
"Of course, it had been none other than Judge Silberman who gave me the false information on his colleague, Pat Wald, whom he hated with a passion."
(ibid. P. 116)

Group dysfunction already, since Pat Wald is on the commission. Pass the popcorn!

UPDATE Meanwhile, the Times has positioned its story right next to an ad for Bertolucci's new film, Dreamers (like those who believe Bush will give the commission "everything it needs"?), for which the slogan is: "An orgasm is better than a bomb." Well, yes.

UPDATE Hasty error on my part: Pat Wald is a respected (and female) jurist, not a Federalist Society member. Thanks also to alert reader Walden.

UPDATE Text of Bush's announcement here:

[BUSH] Last week, our former chief weapons inspector, David Kay, reported that Saddam Hussein's regime had weapons programs and activities in violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions and was a gathering threat...

What, not "grave and gathering?
... to the world. Dr. Kay also stated that some pre-war intelligence assessments by America and other nations about Iraq's weapons stockpiles have not been confirmed. We are determined to figure out why.

And OJ is going to find the real killer!

UPDATE Here are the bios of the committee members. And here's a little tidbit about Cutler:

Cutler was named last year to an oversight board set up to monitor Pentagon anti-terrorist technology.

Hmmm.... I wonder what that's all about. Poindexter's wacky schemes? Yep.

More good news for our "popular" (ha) "President" (ha) 

From the Associated Press-Ipsos poll on the economy and President Bush. AP:
(January results are in parentheses.)
1. Generally speaking, would you say things in this country are heading in the right direction or are they off on the wrong track?
-Right direction, 44 (49)
-Wrong track, 52 (46)

2. Overall, do you approve, disapprove or have mixed feelings about the way George W. Bush is handling his job as president? (asked of registered voters)
-Approve, 47 (56)
-Disapprove, 50 (42)

3. Do you approve or disapprove of the way George W. Bush is handling the economy? (asked of registered voters)
-Approve, 44 (53)
-Disapprove, 53 (44)

6. If the election were held today, would you ... (asked of registered voters)

-Definitely vote to re-elect Bush as president, 37 (41)
-Consider voting for someone else, 18 (24)
-Definitely vote for someone else, 43 (33)

Big swing on that last question....

The silence is deafening 

No other "journalists" have picked up on the UPI story about impending indictments in The Plame Affair (back)—not even to debunk it.

I wonder why?

The Wecovery 


The U.S. economy created just 112,000 new jobs in January, far fewer than expected, government data showed on Friday in a disappointing report that will likely weigh on President Bush's re-election campaign.

The fifth straight monthly gain in payrolls outside the farming sector was the largest since December 2000, the Labor Department said. However, its report still showed weak hiring 26 months after the economy climbed out of recession.

"The payrolls number was well below market expectations and confirms the jobs market in the U.S. is weak,," said Daniel Tenengauzer, vice president for foreign exchange at Lehman Brothers.

Analysts had been expecting the economy, which has been showing strength in areas outside the jobs market, to add 150,000 new jobs in January after an originally reported gain of only 1,000 the previous month. The department revised the December figure to an increase of 16,000.

Economists say the United States needs to add 150,000 jobs a month just to keep pace with growth in the labor force and to keep the unemployment rate steady. Since September, only 366,000 jobs have been added, or just over 70,000 a month.

"This is the weakest job creation rate relative to economic growth on record," said Steven Wood, an economist at Insight Economics.

Great job, George.

Open season 


President Bush's twin daughters may take part in their father's re-election bid after they graduate from college this spring, first lady Laura Bush said Thursday.

You take the high road, and I'll take the low road... Of course, anything too harsh might bring a sympathetic backlash.

AWOL: Boston Glob editorial weighs in 


Since significant uncertainties remain, the next step should be for the president to clarify his Vietnam-era service in the Texas Air National Guard. In particular, Bush should offer whatever evidence he can of his participation at Guard meetings during a year-long period when there is no record of his attendance. Bush should also explain why he let his flight status as a jet pilot lapse in 1972, when he had two years of his Guard commitment to go.

Gee, I wonder if Tim Russert will ask him anything? And whether Rove is planning to sandbag the Democrats on this?

It takes a village to stomp a weasel 

What doesn't kill us makes us stronger. WaPo:

This year, the Democratic contest is likely to produce a nominee who will be stronger coming out of the process than going in, according to strategists with both parties.

Democratic activists, downbeat and disillusioned a year ago, have turned out in record numbers in the primaries and caucuses, with polls indicating they are far more unified by the desire to defeat Bush than divided by issues or candidate preferences. Kerry and Sen. John Edwards (N.C.), considered by analysts to be Kerry's strongest competitor, have sharpened their skills under the pressure of competition. And Democrats generally have enjoyed two solid months with all their candidates generating publicity for increasingly honed anti-Bush messages, especially in two states -- Iowa and New Hampshire -- that were important swing states in 2000 and will be again if this year's election is close.

Can we keep it up after the nomination?

As Ben Franklin said: "Gentleman! We must all hang together, or assuredly, we will all hang separately." True for us today.

The Missing: The Bush Years 

Any more talk of a mission to Mars ...

The jobs czar ...

Pesky National Guard records ...

Those WMDs ....

Money, money, money ....

Pentagon cancels electronic voting project 


The Pentagon has canceled plans to collect votes over the Internet from military personnel and civilians abroad for this fall's presidential election because of security concerns.

The $22 million pilot project was intended to be used by about 100,000 voters from 50 counties in seven states. State election officials said they were told late Wednesday that it would not be used to count votes included in election results.

Computer-security specialists released a report last week saying the Internet and personal computers are so inherently vulnerable that the entire election could be undermined. That report was followed by requests from the overseas wings of both the Republican and Democratic parties not to be used as "guinea pigs" in a system where their votes might not be secure.

So, can someone explain to me why any election involving electronic voting machines can called legitimate, when they all have gaping security holes?

So if outsourcing is good, why don't we outsource the CEOs? 

Just asking....

The ever-essential Orcinus gets press mention 


Orcinus is Here.

Chestnut Friday 

The Washington Chestnut - Friday edition.

Highlights from inside this morning's Washington Chestnut.

On the fallout from Venus de Milo's recent announcement that she would resign her post as a symbol of beauty due to controversy resulting from the recent Superbowl halftime sporting fiasco and ensuing amplified cultural phantasmagoria and televised news-noise histrionics.

Giorgione's famous painting Oda Lisk Scratching Herself refused to comment fully but indicated that she would be available for future retrospectives in civilized European capitols.

Classical world muse Daphne, creator of the sculpture, "A Night on the Town with Laura Ingraham" (depicted at left) expressed concern that Venus de Milos' resignation was premature and hoped that she would re-consider the whole matter, or at least agree to pose naked at the base of a laurel tree with Michelangelo's David.

Eugene Delacroix's Liberty leading the People remarked that the entire prudish overwrought cable TV hyper-babble and general squawking over the matter made her want to beat the shit out of a Bourbon King and all the stupid little boobies that put him on the throne. Liberty also remarked, "leave de Milo alone, she may be a vapid pampered air-head but at least she's easy on the eyes."

In other news: George Tenet explained that despite the Bush administration's claims that the CIA was full of shit, any claims that the Bush administration is full of shit is purely a lot of shit, and that not only was the CIA not full of shit and not responsible for the shit that the Bush administration claimed was not shit, but really was, doesn't know shit, and anyone who claims that the CIA and the Bush administration are both full of shit is clearly full of shit themselves and obviously totally responsible for all the shit or lack of shit in question. No shit.

In the words of one great American patriot: "We have met the booby, and the booby is us"

And thats the wrap, for Friday, Feb 06, 2004. This chestnut is roasted.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

Say, will the defense of marriage amendment ban adultery too? 

Just asking.

'Cause if it does, there will be an awful lot of Republicans in trouble... Starting with Ol' Newt Gingrich, who served his wife with divorce papers when she was lying in a hospital bed after a cancer operation, continuing on with Henry Hyde's "youthful indiscretion," on to Bob Livingston, whose proclivities must have been very peculiar, since they are never, ever mentioned...

Well, it's a very long list, and I have to go to bed.

But it's been a good day: The AWOL story has legs, The Plame Affair is blowing up, the Republicans are trying to make some staffer take the fall for some ratfucking on the Judiciary Committee, Scalia's looking even more of a hoser ...

I hope I wake up tomorrow to find out that lots more ugly and discomfiting things have happened to Republican operatives everywhere. God knows they've earned it. GOP delenda est.

WaPo fails to renew its Internet address 


The e-mail system for writers and editors at The Washington Post failed Thursday for hours because the newspaper did not renew its Internet address, the company said.

The newspaper's failure to heed warnings that its washpost.com address had expired led to the outage. The company said in a statement that e-mail was disrupted for hours and that the Internet domain was immediately renewed.

Well, that's what happens with these old-line, sclerotic, state-run media companies....

So if you haven't gotten an answer from them when you sent them some mail, be sure to write again!

aWol's blue dress? The Torn Document 

Via CalPundit, here it is:

See that "W" that the red arrow is pointing too? That's the only proof that this record is, in fact, aWol's. And this record is the only proof that aWol fulfilled his obligations to his country during his National Guard duty.

CalPundit makes the following excellent points:

This document supposedly records Bush's attendance record in Texas from May 1972 to May 1973 [part of the "missing year"; there are no records for Bush's alleged Alabama service at all]. However, the astute observer will note several things about this document:

  • It is strategically torn along its left edge.

  • There is no name on the document, only a single letter: W. Does it say "1LT BUSH GEORGE" just before the initial? Maybe, but the page has been torn so there's no way to tell.

  • The Social Security number is blacked out.

  • The tear eliminates the year and month of all the dates. (The date at the bottom right is just a note added by a reporter.)

But it's even worse than that: it turns out that this document wasn't even part of Bush's original service file.

Rather, back in 1999 the nascent Bush campaign, which was apparently already worried about his service record, hired Albert Lloyd Jr., a former Texas Air National Guard personnel director, to help make sense of Bush's file. Lloyd "scoured" the archives and found the document above, which he says contains Bush's Social Security number beneath the redaction. It has since been inserted into Bush's file.

Read the whole thing. CalPundit has more here. (It's only fair to say that CalPundit thinks the document, on balance, is genuine. But if so, why the tear?) Of course, see The Howler too. And there's a book coming out (below).

And the beauty part is, we haven't even gotten to the real scandal: Why did aWol stop flying? Was it because he knew that if he did, he'd have to take a medical exam, and if he did that, he'd have to take a drug test? See UggaBugga's timeline (done almost a year ago, for cryin' out loud. SCLM).

Of course, to make this whole controversy go away, all Bush has to do is release his military records, as Kerry, Gore, McCain and his own father all did. So why doesn't he?

Pass the popcorn!

Criminal activity in Plame Affair 

Normally, I'd never quote Moonie-owned Insight magazine, but Richard Sale reports:

Federal law-enforcement officials said that they have developed hard evidence of possible criminal misconduct by two employees of Vice President Dick Cheney's office related to the unlawful exposure of a CIA officer's identity last year. The investigation, which is continuing, could lead to indictments, a Justice Department official said.

According to these sources, John Hannah and Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, were the two Cheney employees. "We believe that Hannah was the major player in this," one federal law-enforcement officer said. Calls to the vice president's office were not returned, nor did Hannah and Libby return calls.

For "major player," of course, read "fall guy."

Funny thing. In a lot of ways, this is just like the controversy over Bush's "missing year" in the National Guard. If Bush wants to make that issue go away, all he has to do is release his military records. For some reason (I wonder what?) he doesn't do that.

Same deal with Plame. If Bish wants to make this issue go away, all he has to do is release the press from its confidentiality agreement with the criminal in the White House who leaked the name of an intellgence agent to the press. For some reason (I wonder what?) he doesn't do that.

Bush the Piranha Brother 


"We have not yet found the stockpiles of weapons that we thought were there," Bush said in a speech at the port of Charleston, South Carolina, in his clearest acknowledgment of problems with prewar intelligence on Iraqi weapons.

What do you mean, "we"?

However, he said, "Knowing what I knew then and knowing what I know today, America did the right thing in Iraq."

In a speech that laid out a political defense of his Iraq policy in an election year, Bush also blasted critics of the war, saying, "If some politicians in Washington had their way, Saddam Hussein would still be in power."

Maybe so. And?

The problem here is that Bush has also instituted the new doctrine of pre-emptive war. And that doctrine combined with cherry-picked, politicized intelligence combined with decisions taken in secret is a recipe for war with any country, at any time, for the smallest reason, or no reason, whenever the President decides; two, three, many Iraqs. Maybe even war just to win an election. (See Leah, below for a far more analytical perspective on this.)

This lethal combination turns our country from a constitutionally governed Republic into the international equivalent of the Piranha Brothers, with Bush as Dinsdale Piranha:

INTERVIEWER: Stig, I've been told Dinsdale Piranha nailed your head to the floor.

STIG: (Eric) No, no. Never, never. He was a smashing bloke. He used to give his mother flowers and that. He was like a brother to me.

PRESENTER: But the police have film of Dinsdale actually nailing your head to the floor.

STIG: (pause) Oh yeah, well - he did that, yeah.


STIG: Well he had to, didn't he? I mean, be fair, there was nothing else he could do. I mean, I had transgressed the unwritten law.

INTERVIEWER: What had you done?

STIG: Er... well he never told me that, but he gave me his word that it was the case, and that's good enough for me
with old Dinsy. I mean, he didn't want to nail my head to the floor. I had to insist. He wanted to let me off. There's nothing Dinsdale wouldn't do for you..

INTERVIEWER: And you don't bear him any grudge?

STIG: A grudge! Old Dinsy? He was a real darling.

INTERVIEWER: I understand he also nailed your wife's head to a coffee table. Isn't that right Mrs O' Tracy?

Right. And I'm sure that knowing what he did then, and knowing what he does now, Dinsdale Piranha would still have nailed Stig's head to the floor. Pre-emptively.

A Blitzering Interview With The Chairman of Senate Intelligence Committee 

After finding myself, during the past week or so, caught up in the sordid business of making a free-lance living, (i.e., being hired to do a month's worth of work within a week's time), and thus relatively starved of access to the often elevating task of blogging on the nature of contemporary political discourse, it was something of a shock to find myself, this morning, back in the company of ace reporter, foreign correspondent, on-air interviewer, war correspondent, and international man of mystery (am I the only person who thought he was Israeli because he'd been a correspondent for the Jerusalem Post), Wolf Blitzer.

It was during the 9AM PDT hour on CNN, where else, and Wolf, who else, was interviewing Senator Pat Roberts about the "intelligence," what else could it have been, failure in regards to the absence of Saddam's dreaded WMDs. The Senate Intelligence Committee is doing an investigation into the matter, and Senator Roberts, its chairman, was anxious to reassure the CNN viewers the committee's report will be made public, but before he could finish the thought, Wolf interrupted to reassure himself that the public version of the report will be properly cleansed of information that could compromise the security of these United States. For a nano-second Senator Roberts appeared flummoxed; he'd clearly been trying to make the point that the public's right to know would be honored, and here was a "reporter," expressing concern that the public's right to know be properly limited. "Oh, redacted, you mean, we call that redacted, " the Senator explained, before going on to reassure us all that there would be no intelligence leakages from his committee.

For another nano-second, I considered the possibility that Wolf's point was that because of the necessary redactions, the report would be necessarily compromised, but no, no such point was made, and the Senator was able to get back to his real message, that in the 200 or so interviews thus completed by the committee, tough interviews, too, not one person has so much as suggested that there was any undue "political" influence brought to bear on the process of intelligence gathering and interpretation, or words to that effect. (No transcript is yet available).

Why was I stunned? Hadn't I lived through the first successful articles of impeachment (all of which concerned themselves with a private sexual act unconnected to any aspect of the people's business) to be brought against a sitting President, (and only the second time in American history that it was even attempted), the 2000 campaign, the post-election Stealing of the Presidency, the post 9/11 fawning press coverage of this president and his entire presidency?

How easily we forget. Just ten days away from my TV set....

The interview got better.

Wolf raised the issue of George Tenet, and why President Bush has continued to express confidence in Tenet, especially in view of the suspicions some Republicans harbor because he was a Clinton appointee. The Senator's answer is notable because it suggests just how right Digby, and others are when they stress that Bush's re-election campaign, and that of the Republican congress as well, will stress, not the Iraq war, but 9/11, the event that changed everything and made Bush a war time president, a war we're still in, and that 9/11 is essentially the legacy of the Clinton administration. Here's approximately what Roberts said: The questions about Tenet's tenancy at the CIA had to do with events during the Clinton administration, i.e., the USS Cole, the Khobar Towers, and the bombing of the aspirin factory in the Sudan. Tenet and this President have worked closely with one another, and there's real respect there, and problems of intelligence gathering go back many years before either Tenet or Bush took over, or, again, words to that effect. Does George Tenet know something Bush is afraid might come out if he were to let Tenet take the fall? Just asking.

At some point the Senator reminded Wolf and his audience that the search for WMDs isn't yet over and that the Iraqi Survey Group is still in the job, with stacks of more documents to sift through, a point made by Tenet today in his speech at Georgetown. You can bet that we'll be hearing about the Iraqi Survey Group for weeks and even months, the way we heard for months about the work that David Kay was doing in Iraq, combing through records.

Wolf brought up David Kay's name; not attached to an actual question, it seemed more like a cue for the Senator that he probably had a point to make about Kay, and he did, of course, it being that David Kay went out of his way to be clear that he found no evidence that the mistaken assessment of the level of threat posed by WMDs in Iraq was the fault of any politicization of the intelligence process, and that Kay still supports Bush's policy of waging war to remove Saddam Hussein from power. That's how Republicans will always talk about this war, as the one waged to rid the world of Saddam; it's their strongest suit, and the left needs to be able to frame some sort of answer better than most I've yet heard, but that is for another post.

I don't need to tell you that Wolf couldn't find a single question to ask anything about the rather contradictory position David Kay has been carving out for himself, since admitting in his testimony to the Senate that there were no WMDs in Iraq, but then so has the rest of the SCLM cut Mr. Kay the same slack. Apparently, Kay's repurtation meant enough to him that he felt the need not to equivicate in that testimony, and his straightforwardness there has bought him a free ride in everything else he's had to say; he's treated as an independent, objective, no axe to grind voice, almost a hero. With their usual early onset of dementia amnesia, the same anchors and pundits who now reference Kay as the last objective word on the subject of the absence of WMD's in Iraq and what that means, don't seem to remember that Kay gave numerous interviews in the runup to the war in the person of a weapons inspector who was certain that Saddam's WMDs were a major threat, and that he heaped nothing but scorn on any voice that dared question that assessment, and behaved, in all respects, like a spokesman for the Bush administration.

Okay, not Wolf, but is there anyone at CNN, or MSNBC, or CNBC, or NBC, or ABC, or CBS, let's just forget Fox, who would be willing to ask David Kay how it is he knows what pressure was brought to bear on who in the CIA or the State Department, or about the differences in assessments between those two government agencies, or why, when he stressed WMDs as the raison d'etre for the war, their absence doesn't compromise the reasons for going to war, or.....anything that would challenge any of the paradoxes in Kay's current position?

aWol: His claim of "Honorable Discharge" is meaningless; we've got witnesses 

From the Salon article recommended by Tresy (below)—go on, get the one-day pass:

"An honorable discharge does not indicate a flawless record," says Grant Lattin, a military law attorney in Washington and a retired Marine Corps lieutenant colonel who served as a judge advocate, or JAG officer. "Somebody could have missed a year's worth of Guard drills and still end up with an honorable discharge." That's because of the extraordinary leeway local commanders within the Guard are given over these types of issues. Lattin notes that the Guard "is obviously very political, even more so than other military institutions, and is subject to political influence."

And TANG was a very political unit.

And more good news! There's a book coming out:

"His records have clearly been cleaned up," says author James Moore, whose upcoming book, "Bush's War for Re-election," will examine the issue of Bush's military service in great detail. Moore says as far back as 1994, when Bush first ran for governor of Texas, his political aides "began contacting commanders and roommates and people who would spin and cover up his Guard record. And when my book comes out, people will be on the record testifying to that fact: witnesses who helped clean up Bush's military file."

[BABS]: George, you slippery little scut! Stop whimpering, put down that frog, and pay attention! You're in trouble on this one!

Of course, Bush could make this problem go away, by releasing all his military records, like Kerry, Gore, McCain, and Oedipussy's father (41) have. I wonder why he doesn't?

Bush the deserter: Robinson rides again 

The Glob:

A detailed Globe examination of the records in 2000 unearthed official reports by Bush's Guard commanders that they had not seen him for a year. There was also no evidence that Bush had done part of his Guard service in Alabama, as he has claimed. Bush's Guard appointment, made possible by family connections, was cut short when Bush was allowed to leave his Houston Guard unit eight months early to attend Harvard Business School.

It really is all about character, isn't it?

Say, if there's no story here, why doesn't Bush just release his records, like Kerry, Gore, and McCain did?

UPDATE The records we do have are here (thanks to alert reader JC). And another set of the same here, with an additional were you ever arrested document.

Let's AWOL! 

Salon's Eric Bohlert partially redeems yesterday's hack job by Chris Farah with the definitive summary of Bush's AWOL problem.

Two reasons to think the Dems have Shrub in the crosshairs of their HUD:

  • Their uncharacteristically aggressive posture. They've had four years to test the scandal for weakness. You can bet they wouldn't be putting this one over the plate if there was a chance in hell that BushCo could hit it out of the park.
  • The unmistakable whiff of fear emanating from the White House. Unless they are playing Brer Rabbit with the Dems, they aren't promising not to attack Kerry's patriotism out of a heretofore undetectable sense of human decency.

Take no prisoners, guys.

Staffer who led effort in which Democrat's files were stolen from Capitol server to resign 

To spend more time with his family, no doubt. Via Pandagon here:

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist’s (R-Tenn.) top aide on judicial nominees is expected to announce his resignation at the end of this week — a sacrifice offered by the GOP leadership in hope of persuading the Democrats to wind down the fight over leaked Judiciary Committee memos.

If they can tamp down the furor over the leaked memos, Republicans could focus on the content of the documents, which illustrate the influence outside groups such as the NAACP and People for the American Way have had on Democratic decisions to block nominees.

It’s capitulation to the old Democratic trick that if you catch us with our hands dirty, we’ll blame Republicans for dirty tricks,” said a GOP aide.

Wow. Great stuff. The problem isn't that Republicans are dirty, is just that the Democrats caught them. There you have it, folks!

To recapitulate: Over a two year period, Republicans on the Judiciary Committee (through a sysadmin-type screwup) had access to all the Democratic files on the system, a great intelligence victory in their war to pack the courts with wingers. And they didn't tell the Democrats about it. And then they over-reached and leaked some of the files to the press.

So why on earth would our (gutless, feckless) Beltway Dems be persuaded by the sacrifice of a helpless staffer? What about the Republican Senators and all the other operatives (Mr. Rove) who read them? How about the (gutless, feckless) Beltway Dems start out with a demand for some sort of apology? How about the (gutless, feckless) Beltway Dems demand to know who leaked the files to the press? How about the (gutless, feckless) Beltway Dems set up a secure system all their own, so this never happens again?

And say, here's an idea—why not, gasp, politicize the issue so voters can be fully informed when they make judgments about the character of their elected representatives? I mean, any fool—except the Republicans, the SCLM, and any "persuaded" Democrat—knows this is a very, very, simple issue:

You don't read other people's files without permission. Which, BTW, is the real issue here, not the subsequent leakage of the files to the media.

Merciful heavens. Sometimes the obvious is so hard to see.

Aux duck pits, citoyens! 

Scalia may have accepted gifts from Cheney, a violation of federal law on their duck-hunting trip:

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia traveled as an official guest of Vice President Dick Cheney on a small government jet that served as Air Force Two when the pair came here last month to hunt ducks.

The revelation cast further doubts about whether Scalia can be an impartial judge in Cheney's upcoming case before the Supreme Court, legal ethics experts said. The hunting trip took place just weeks after the high court agreed to take up Cheney's bid to keep secret the details of his energy policy task force.

Several experts in legal ethics questioned whether Scalia should decide the case.

"In my view, this further ratchets it up. If the vice president is the source of generosity, it means Scalia is accepting a gift of some value from a litigant in a case before him," said New York University law professor Stephen Gillers.

"It is not just a trip with a litigant. It's a trip at the expense of the litigant. This is an easy case for stepping aside."

Federal law says that "any justice or judge shall disqualify himself in any proceeding in which his impartiality might be questioned."

When asked about the trip last month, Scalia confirmed that he had gone duck hunting with Cheney, but said he did not see a need to withdraw from the case.

"I do not think my impartiality could reasonably be questioned," he said in a written response to The Times.

Except the wording of the statute doens't contain Scalia's weasel word "reasonable":

This week, the justice was asked whether he had traveled to south Louisiana as Cheney's guest or paid for the trip. He refused to comment.

[Local officials] said there were orders prohibiting photographs of those who exited the planes and climbed into the motorcade.

Crony capitalism.

In other news, the Reichstag fire investigation continues 

WaPo quotes Bill "Hello Kitty" Frist:

"This did come through the mail," Frist said, adding that the powder was discovered in the cutting tray of the letter-opening machine in his office mailroom. "I regard this as a terrorist attack on my life."

Right. And I regard it is a stunt to sell Frist's bioterrorism book.

Curiously, though, the powder was found next to the mail machine, and while the intern running the mail machine was gone. So who, if anyone, opened the envelope, if any, that got the powder on the machine? Nobody is saying....

Say, how's that anthrax investigation coming? You know, the one that threatened Democrat's lives?

And, oh yeah, we don't even know if the powder was toxic yet:

The officials said a third test, to examine the toxicity of the ricin in relation to human cells, will not be completed for two more days. This test is expected to determine whether the ricin in the powder could be toxic to humans.


The mother of all wedge issues 

The Newspaper of Record (not!) is reporting that Herr R0—uh, Bush is going to endorse a marriage amendment.

"Marriage is a sacred institution between a man and a woman," he said. "If activist judges insist on re-defining marriage by court order, the only alternative will be the constitutional process. We must do what is legally necessary to defend the sanctity of marriage."

At least Bush is being forced to start playing vicious early in the game; that's a win for the Dems.

I'm pretty sure I don't want any government defining "sanctity" though—and you'd think any honest, small c-conservative would feel the same.

I wonder what Cheney's lesbian daughter and campaign manager will think of all this? And will Bush dump him from the ticket because "some may feel that Dick Cheney's daughter is one of the Spawn of Satan?"

UPDATE Alert reader Gunther has an interesting idea: Apply The Barney Frank Rule. "Everything is on the table," as it were... "At some point, someone will come to Bush and tell him that they’ve got 5 Senators and two dozen members of congress who are, to put it nicely, “unhappy” with the situation. " Pass the popcorn!

Submit questions for Tim Russert to ask Bush on Sunday 

Here: mtp@nbc.com. Enjoy!

Thanks to alert reader 56K.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Sidney Blumenthal states the obvious: there was no "intelligence failure" 

Published overseas (naturally) Blumenthal writes:

The truth is that much of the intelligence community did not fail, but presented correct assessments and warnings, that were overridden and suppressed. On virtually every single important claim made by the Bush administration in its case for war, there was serious dissension. Discordant views - not from individual analysts but from several intelligence agencies as a whole - were kept from the public as momentum was built for a congressional vote on the war resolution.

Precisely because of the qualms the administration encountered, it created a rogue intelligence operation, the Office of Special Plans, located within the Pentagon and under the control of neo-conservatives. The OSP roamed outside the ordinary inter-agency process, stamping its approval on stories from Iraqi exiles that the other agencies dismissed as lacking credibility, and feeding them to the president.

At the same time, constant pressure was applied to the intelligence agencies to force their compliance. In one case, a senior intelligence officer who refused to buckle under was removed.

Bruce Hardcastle was a senior officer for the Middle East for the Defence Intelligence Agency. When Bush insisted that Saddam was actively and urgently engaged in a nuclear weapons programme and had renewed production of chemical weapons, the DIA reported otherwise. According to Patrick Lang, the former head of human intelligence at the CIA, Hardcastle "told [the Bush administration] that the way they were handling evidence was wrong." The response was not simply to remove Hardcastle from his post: "They did away with his job," Lang says. "They wanted only liaison officers ... not a senior intelligence person who argued with them."

When the state department's bureau of intelligence and research (INR) submitted reports which did not support the administration's case - saying, for example, that the aluminum tubes Saddam possessed were for conventional rocketry, not nuclear weapons (a report corroborated by department of energy analysts), or that mobile laboratories were not for WMDs, or that the story about Saddam seeking uranium in Niger was bogus, or that there was no link between Saddam and al-Qaida (a report backed by the CIA) - its analyses were shunted aside. Greg Thielman, chief of the INR at the time, told me: "Everyone in the intelligence community knew that the White House couldn't care less about any information suggesting that there were no WMDs or that the UN inspectors were very effective."

When the CIA debunked the tales about Niger uranium and the Saddam/al-Qaida connection, its reports were ignored and direct pressure applied. In October 2002, the White House inserted mention of the uranium into a speech Bush was to deliver, but the CIA objected and it was excised. Three months later, it reappeared in his state of the union address. National security adviser Condoleezza Rice claimed never to have seen the original CIA memo and deputy national security adviser Stephen Hadley said he had forgotten about it.

Never before had any senior White House official physically intruded into CIA's Langley headquarters to argue with mid-level managers and analysts about unfinished work. But twice vice president Cheney and Lewis Libby, his chief of staff, came to offer their opinions. According to Patrick Lang: "They looked disapproving, questioned the reports and left an impression of what you're supposed to do. They would say: `you haven't looked at the evidence'. The answer would be, those reports [from Iraqi exiles] aren't valid. The analysts would be told, `you should look at this again'. Finally, people gave up. You learn not to contradict them."

The CIA had visitors too, according to Ray McGovern, former CIA chief for the Middle East. Newt Gingrich came, and Condi Rice, and as for Cheney, "he likes the soup in the CIA cafeteria," McGovern jokes.

Meanwhile, senior intelligence officers were kept in the dark about the OSP. "I didn't know about its existence," said Thielman. "They were cherry picking intelligence and packaging it for Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld to take to the president. That's the kind of rogue operation that peer review is intended to prevent."

Funny how the SCLM all started singing in unison on "intelligence failure," isn't it? It's almost like, I hate to even think it, but it's almost like they get orders or something...

Truly, Bush and his friends are POTL—People of The Lie.

So, this Sunday, Bush is going on Meet the Press 

Do sitting Presidents do that?

Oh, wait....

Anyhow, I wonder what Bush will do? Wave copies of his National Guard attendance records around? Bring in a "surprise" eyewitness? I say, Bring it on. So Bush proves he spent a year in Alabama doing paperwork—after being grounded, remember, for blowing off a medical exam—while John Kerry spent a year risking his own life and saving the lives of others...

Let's play Tim for a Day ... What questions would you ask Bush? Readers?

Here's a good one, from alert reader SW:

[RUSSERT] Would you be willing to swear under oath, that you don't know, which member of your staff intentionally blew the cover of a CIA agent? Would you be willing to take a lie detector test?

From alert reader R. Porrofatto:

Why do you want to take away overtime pay from over 8 million Americans?

Rummy's Blues 

From alert reader MJS:

I'm asked a lot of questions,
I use a lot of words,
There's been times I've said some things
That were strictly for the birds

But now the words escape me
I think I'm losing hold
I'm gonna disappear real soon
And hide in Saddam's hole, boys
I'll hide in Saddam's hole

Saddam's hole, oh, dear brother
Saddam's hole, it calls to me
I shook his hand so long ago
But it's always been his hole for me, boys
It's always been his hole for me.

Bush the deserter: White House stonewalls 

Scott "Sucker MC" McClellan doesn't answer the question, not once, but twice

Q Scott, you expressed some outrage this morning that Democrats are questioning whether President Bush shirked his military duty with the Texas Air National Guard. Is the White House trying to come up with any records or any eye-witnesses to demonstrate that he did show up for his last two years in Alabama?

MR. McCLELLAN: Terry, I would just say that it was a shame that this issue was brought up four years ago during the campaign, and it is a shame that it is being brought up again. The President fulfilled his duties. The President was honorably discharged.

Q Scott, can I follow that up?

MR. McCLELLAN: Do you have a follow-up?

Q Well, the question actually was whether or not you're trying to find any eye-witnesses or any records to prove --

MR. McCLELLAN: Terry, this was addressed four years ago, and like I said, it was a shame that it came up then and it's a shame that some are bringing it up again.

It is a shame. It's even more of a shame that the SCLM didn't cover this in election 2002, but of course they were too busy yammering about Gore's earth tones. It's still more a shame that the SCLM is just asking Bush about the records, instead of, say, FOIA-ing them, or interviewing actual members of Bush's unit.

Funny what gets to be headline material, isn't it? 

"I could be wrong," Rumsfeld said today. "I'm asked a lot of questions. I use a lot of words, and I'm sure, from time to time, I say something that, in retrospect, I wish I hadn't."

If those words were from (Democratic) candidate Howard Dean, oh the hootin' and hollerin', the pontificatin' about gaffes, temperament, yadda yadda yadda. But since its only (Republican) Donald Rumsfeld, heck, it's just Rummy.


Bush the deserter: the paper trail 

Josh Marshall links to this excellent description of the paper trail a National Guardsman leaves. The bottom line:

So if I were a reporter sitting in the White House press room, asking questions of Scott McClellan, I'd start asking about [Bush's] pay records, retirement records, and tax records from 1972. Even if the attendance records are gone -- there are still plenty of ways to document the President's service. It's entirely possible that these records exist, and that they will document the President's honorable service in the National Guard. But only the records can show that conclusively.

Of course, all Bush has to do to make this problem go away is release his records, like Gore, McCain and Kerry have.

Anyhow, reporters! Here's the story. Will you go after it, or all you all whores?

Tenet to give speech at Georgetown 

On the anniversary of poor old Colin Powell's UN speech, no less.

Drudge (via The Horse).

George, you slippery little scut! Stop whimpering, put down that frog, and pay attention!

Bush as deserter: as always, read The Howler 

Essential reading!

The MWs at both Pravda and Investia are cowering under their desks—the whole case turns on a "torn document" (the one with a "W" on it) which both of them keep forgetting to mention.

It's not too soon to start planning for Bush's October surprise 

My vote: OBL's "capture" (since Bush actually has him on ice now).

Maybe that's what that toothless old whore Safire is telling us here.


Gays are human too 


Although since I think marriage is entirely a religious construct, the state should be out of it entirely. Still, if some (adult) citizens get to marry, and the state allows them to, all should be able to. And hey, Red state sex loons? If gays that want to marry want to move to Blue states, we'll welcome them as neighbors. Since that would be the Christian thing to do (Golden Rule; good samaritan; woman caught in adultery; et cetera, et cetera, et cetera).

UPDATE Alert reader Pat Robertson gives us the SIC (truly SIC) perspective on this:

"Christian thing to do (Golden Rule; good samaritan; woman caught in adultery; et cetera, et cetera, et cetera)."

The Golden Rule says love your neighbor as yourself. So God obviously realizes that the most important thing is that you love yourself. So you need to satisfy all of your desires completely before trying to help anyone else; otherwise, you are not loving yourself as much as you could and are therefore will not love others as they should be loved. As the desire to see a homosexual burn on a stick is a desire near and dear to all Bible-Believers, we cannot allow them any peace if we are to bring God's Love to the world; and they cannot marry if they are dead, so it makes no sense to let them marry when they will soon all be dead.

That Good Samiritan story sounds a little too pat. We all know about those people. That Samaritan probably did what he did just to butter up that innkeeper so he could cheat him later. Plus, wanna guess who robbed the man in the first place? 10-1, it was one of those Samaritans, probably the same one who carried him to the inn. Fucking Sammies, can't trust 'em. As Samaritans didn't follow all of God's Laws given to the Jews in the prescribed manner and were therefore heretics and blasphemers, they obviously practiced homosexuality, as it takes the God-given willpower only available to good Bible-Believing Christians to refrain from such evil sexual acts. Which means they must die so that Christians can show God's Love. The only Good Samaritan is a dead one. Again, allowing those people to marry just makes no sense, since they must die for the Greater Glory of God.

As far as the slut: we all know women can't keep their legs together without a man to show them proper behavior. She was on the dock the next day, if I know anything of feminine ways. She got stoned for it too. So see: how can you show her as a good example when she spit on The Lord's gift of mercy and committed her crimes all over again? Jesus went to all that trouble and she throws it in His Face. Such a God-hating whore must also obviously have been a heretic and a lesbian, as Christian women know they have to submit to a Bible-Believing man if they are to have any chance of avoiding Hell-Fire. How can we allow lesbians to live - much less marry - when they blaspheme Jesus Himself?

Thanks for sharing, Pat.

Bush wusses out on 911 commission extension 


See, he can be taught fear. Let's teach him some more!

Bush flails on picking comissioners for Committee on Faith-based Intelligence 


The White House has not disclosed any names, but among those that lawmakers and others have suggested as qualified candidates are former CIA directors Robert Gates, William Webster and James Woolsey; former Sens. Bob Kerrey, D-Neb., Warren Rudman, R-N.H., and Gary Hart, D-Colo; former CIA deputy director Richard Kerr and Kay.

Gee, I guess that "Monkey Business" episode won't bother the SICs at all, will it? Then again, we could spend another $70 million investigating.... Oh, wait, this is different... but how, exactly....

Seriously, though, why would any (real) Democrat participate on a commission whose sole and obvious purpose is to get Bush's nuts out of the wringer in an election year?

And in other news, investigation of the Reichstag fire continues ... 


But even Frist acknowledged that things were "not perfect." Chief among senators' complaints were that authorities were too slow to alert them.

"We weren't notified promptly enough yesterday," said Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, who said one of his aides worked well into the evening in the Dirksen building. "But that's OK. People make mistakes."

Hmmm ....

Bush-the-deserter meme continues to gain traction 

Hysterical Republican reaction... Yawn:

The White House's top advisers are trying to protect the [perceived—LS.] Bush strengths of character and trust," Rothenberg said. "They don't want this issue to start getting traction."

After McClellan's briefing, Bush campaign chairman Marc Racicot issued a statement saying Kerry is "supporting a slanderous attack" by not repudiating the McAuliffe comments. "By embracing this line of attack, Senator Kerry has made clear that he will accept and promote character assassination, innuendo and falsehood even when he doesn't have all the facts," Racicot said.

Ah, the old character assassination, innuendo and falsehood technique.... We know it works—It's Republican-tested™!

Just ask "traitor" Max Cleland (Georgia election), and "miscegnator" John McCain (South Carolina primary) ....

And of course, Bush can make all this go away so very, very easily: all he has to do is release his full military records, like Kerry and Gore have.

So, Bush can do this the easy way, or he can do it the hard way ....

UPDATE Alert reader TK directs us to Josh Marshall on this issue (here too). Marshall gives a tantalizing mention of pay records, much better kept, naturally, than the attendance records we've been looking at. Hmmm.... But be sure to read the always essential Howler on the torn document.

The definition of insanity 

Doing the same thing again and expecting a different result.

Like imposing democracy at gunpoint, for example.

George W. Downs and Bruce Bueno de Mesquita opine in the LA Times:

Presidents rarely fail to trot out "democracy" as a justification for their actions abroad. That's because it is popular with Americans, who like to feel they are on the side of the angels. But if it's democracy we're after, we are failing miserably.

Between World War II and the present, the United States intervened more than 35 times in developing countries around the world. But our research shows that in only one case — Colombia after the American decision in 1989 to engage in the war on drugs — did a full-fledged, stable democracy with limits on executive power, clear rules for the transition of power, universal adult suffrage and competitive elections emerge within 10 years. That's a success rate of less than 3%.

Of course, that definition of insanity is from AA. Too bad aWol never made it to a meeting, isn't it?

Surprise! Capturing Saddam turned out to be YABS—Yet Another Bush Stunt 

Turns out casualty rates afterwards are... worse. From the LA Times:

Nearly two months after the capture of Saddam Hussein, the casualty rate among U.S. soldiers and Iraqis in insurgent attacks has accelerated, and much of this nation's Sunni Muslim heartland remains a perilous zone of conflict — with bouts of violence also striking the Kurdish north and the Shiite south.

Gosh! Which presidential candidate bucked the CW by saying that Saddam's capture didn't make us safer, and was promptly trashed by the SCLM and all the millionaire pundits?

Who could it have been? Let me see now.... Starts with ...

It's really too bad, isn't it, that a penchant for telling the truth isn't seen as a necessary part of the presidential temperament. Says a lot about the level our politics have sunk to, doesn't it?



Bush's desertion: A new and improved non-denial denial for Kerry 

Alert reader Repack Rider suggests the following, using the some have said technique ("It's Republican-tested™!"):

"I'm aware that a lot of people are suggesting that Mr. Bush is a coward and a deserter who used his influence to jump past 400 better-qualified recruits and in spite of scoring 25%, the lowest possible score on the pilot's exam, still got the post, but deserted it later because he knew he couldn't pass a flight physical due to drug use, but I wouldn't say that, because it is over the top."

This could probably use little work still, though. Remember, Kerry's the front runner, so the knifework has to be subtle (yeah, my strong point). Readers?

UPDATE: Alert reader unrelated disney suggests adding:

Of course, the President could end all of these attacks by releasing his military records like I have done and John McCain and Al Gore did

Excellent, except for that usage of "President."

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Mayberry D-CT 

The Washington Chestnut
Early Edition - Wed. Feb. 04, 2004

Department of Homeland Security turning into The Ministry of Nearly Everything 


The directive also lets Homeland Security take charge of a peacetime outbreak of a major disease that threatens widespread risk to human health or the economy, Stump said. The new plan could allow a faster and more coordinated response, he said.

Responsibility for food safety is scattered among many agencies, and the initiative "crosses over agencies" so the response to both terror and to nonterror disasters would be comprehensive, Buchan said. Cabinet secretaries still would be responsible for their sections of the overall plans, she said.

Right. Not that the fact DHS is going to be filled with party hacks (in the absence of civil service protection and after the union busting) would have anything to do with all this....

Whiney Joe out 

Good riddance.

Via Kos.

Kerry: Arizona, Delaware, Missouri and North Dakota

Edwards: South Carolina


I like the idea all of the finalists (Kerry, Edwards, Dean, Clark) continuing the battle after the nomination, no matter who wins. "It takes a village to stomp a weasel."™

This would be an extraordinary thing, if it came to pass, but these are extra-ordinary times.

The mysterious survival of George Tenet 


But Frederick Hitz, a former CIA inspector general now at Princeton University, said he doesn't believe Bush would be inclined to fire Tenet.

"[Bush]'s loyal to his people and I think he would like to have George Tenet depart on his own terms. So I think [Bush] would try to avoid any rupture if possible," Hitz said.

No shit, Sherlock. And that's because George Tenet has "our" killer President by the balls.

Can anyone doubt that the real business of the CIA right now is not intelligence, but running a covert, Operation Phoenix-style operation of extra-judicial assassination against AQ (and whoever else Bush thinks, under the doctrine of pre-emption, deserves to be killed)? And that it's highly unlikely that Congress gave approval to this program? And that it's also extremely likely to have really bad blowback effects, and in the near term at that? Yep, I don't think George Tenet is going to be fired any time soon.

Latest on the Reichstag fire 

Curiously, none of the stories say who actually made the discovery of the mysterious white powder (Times, entirely in passive voice; ditto AP). WaPo:

Mihalko said the source of the powder, whether it was a letter or a package or neither, has not been firmly established. He said that an intern in [Senator Bill "Hello Kitty"] Frist's office was using a mail opening machine that slices letters open. He left the mail opening area for about three hours yesterday to attend a class, Mihalko said, and when he returned discovered a powdery substance in the area near the machine.

Interesting. Weird. Um, entirely plausible?

Meanwhile, while Fort Detrick is still doing the tests, and false positives are common, Senator Bill "Hello Kitty" Frist himself was already certain of the test results. Um, how could he be so sure?

Oh, and I'm sure you'll want to buy Frist's book! It's all about bioterrorism! What a surprise!

UPDATE: Then again, Josh Marshall, who isn't nearly as bitter and cynical as I am, refers to a ricin incident in early January in Greensville, NC; the ever excellent Orcinus connects this incident to the possibility of domestic terrorism, where ricin has been used. So if it's not Frist, it's one of the wingers his party is in bed with. My money's still on The Good Doctor himself, though: means, motive, opportunity. Plus, we get to shut down the Senate for four days and hold up all those pesky investigations....

Your tax dollars at work 


The Bush administration launched a $9.5 million television advertising campaign Tuesday to rebut criticism of the new Medicare law.

Uh, couldn't they just have asked Big Pharma to run some more ads? Free enterprise, and all that.

The Wecovery 


U.S. corporations announced 117,556 layoffs in January, up 26 percent from December, outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas reported Tuesday.

But don't worry—"the economy" is doing great!

And if your economy isn't doing so well, well, that just shows "the economy" isn't your economy!

Oh, but then you knew that ....

Bush-the-Deserter Meme keeps on spreading 


The incomparable Daily Howler (must read here, and here) gets a mention, though Pravda calls The Howler "iconoclastic." Yeah, keeping good archives and calling liars on their lying is iconoclastic, to today's media millionaires.

Iconoclastic means "smashing the idols," right? Including smashing the business model of an SCLM that acts like it deserves the privileges and respect of a free press, while in fact being state-run.

Excellent non-denial denial from Kerry here:

Kerry said yesterday that he had not decided whether to make Bush's service an issue in the general election. Asked whether he has suggested that surrogates pursue this line of attack, he said: "I have not suggested to any of them that they do so, and I spoke out against the use of the word deserter, which I thought was inappropriate, wrong and over the top."

Right on. Leave this to surrogates!

Who was right on the WMDs? 


We're waiting for the apologies for being called traitors, and so on and so forth.

Oh, look! Over there! Is that the Reichstag on fire?

In the time-honored tradition of the Reichstag fire 

The Unwar continues. Yawn.

A white powder found in the mail room of the office of the majority leader, Senator Bill Frist, was confirmed today as the poison ricin, the senator said.

None of the substance has turned up outside his office, Mr. Frist told his colleagues as the Senate session opened.

Dr. Frist, a heart-lung transplant surgeon who wrote a book advising the public on how to prepare for a bioterror attack, said no one had shown any signs of sickness.

"To the best of my knowledge, in a human being, inhaling it has never hurt anybody," said Dr. Frist,

I bet Frist's book is going to start selling like hotcakes!

UPDATE: Via Pandagon, some Iraqis had ricin, just not Saddam. The Kurds, in fact.

Poor old Colin wanders off the planta—uh, reservation on WMDs 

Pravda Here:

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said yesterday that he does not know whether he would have recommended an invasion of Iraq if he had been told it had no stockpiles of banned weapons, even as he offered a broad defense of the Bush administration's decision to go to war.

Look! Over there! Ricin!

Reality Check 

Atrios is right. In any sane world, Bush would be wishing he had Jimmy Carter's electoral prospects right now. Carter at least had a Middle East Peace Plan, and a basically honest character. On domestic as well as foreign policy, Bush has nothing to show except catastrophe, lies and embarrassment. If he were the guy pumping your gas, you would wonder how he kept his job. Yet the CW presents him as, if not Superman, then at least Truckasaurus.

It came to me while I found myself fretting yet again, like many Democrats these days, about electability. I was inspecting our latest front-runner, Kerry, and, like so many others, finding frightful blemishes: How would he play in the South? How about vote X? Would he be able to inspire the undecideds? What about his campaign chest? Etc. etc.

Suddenly I stopped. How did I get like this? Three months ago we had an embarrassment of riches, at least 4 candidates, each of whom could eat Incurious George's lunch in a one-on-one debate. Yet now each of these candidates had shrunk in my eyes. What happened?

Then I recalled what Thomas Pynchon had written years ago:
Well, if the Counterforce knew better what those categories concealed, they might be in a better position to disarm, de-penis and dismantle the Man. But they don't. Actually they do, but they don't admit it. Sad but true. They are as schizoid, as double-minded in the massive presence of money, as any of the rest of us, and that's the hard fact. The Man has a branch office in each of our brains, his corporate emblem is a white albatross, each local rep has a cover known as the Ego, and their mission in this world is Bad Shit. We do know what's going on, and we let it go on.

And that's the problem. We let it go on. Despite our loathing of them, despite our fear, in varying degrees we buy into the media's line of bullshit about Bush, about the Dems, about the public. We accept that the public mind is a lump of putty that Republicans can mold as it suits them, but assume that it's a block of cement when Democrats try. We await the inevitable slandering of our candidate's character while muting the truth about Bush's demonstrable lack of any discernible virtue (compassion, honesty, humility, generosity, courage) whatsoever. We fume at the largely impotent role that has been assigned to us, thereby helping make that role a reality.

We have to drop this mindset, now. We aren't on the defensive; they are. If the enemy has more money, it's because they need it to distract attention from their fundamental weakness. We need to attack, then redouble the attack, then attack some more. As someone somewhere said, when they pull a knife, we pull a gun; when they pull a gun, we pull a bazooka. You want to talk courage? You want to talk honesty? You want to talk trust? Bring it on. We gotcher character issue right here, bub. In practical terms this means that we stop conceding territory to the enemy. It means writing op-eds, staffing phones, walking door to door. It means refusing to let the press lie. And it means writing checks, giving not until it hurts, but until it feels good.

Whatever else we do, we have to drop this idea that Democrats have anything to apologize for. We don't. It's past time to start putting the onus of shame back where it belongs: on the people who have brought disgrace to our present, and who are promising the ruination of our future. If we do, we win in a walk.

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