Saturday, March 27, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

It's been a good day, hasn't it? If the news that The Goon Squad is stealing Kerry's files can be considered good. Oy.

OTOH, the Philadelphia Reading Terminal Market now has free WiFi.

Eat your heart out, Starbucks! Enough of this "Blogging for Mr. Latté" stuff... Now you can blog and eat ice cream, cheese steaks, pig's knuckles, and all in a very lively and cosmopolitan atmosphere. See you there. On Saturdays, dammit, now that I have a 9-5 job.

Republicans funding Nader 


Here via Kos.

And one of the all time great headlines:

"GOP donors double dipping with Nader. Contributors deny that financial support is designed to hurt Kerry"

Wow. I never thought they would do that!


The kind of publicity Mel Gibson doesn't need 

The war of fundamentalisms picks up a notch:

A top Shiite cleric on Saturday urged Kuwait to let Mel Gibson's controversial film "The Passion of the Christ," be shown in this conservative Muslim state because it "reveals crimes committed by Jews against Christ."

"We have called on the information minister to show this movie," Ayatollah Mohammed Baqer al-Mehri told The Associated Press. He heads the congregation of Shiite clerics in Kuwait.
(via AP)


If the The Goon Squad thinks Clarke is guilty of perjury, then charge him! 

If they don't, it means they've got nothing. Bring it on:

The attack on former counterterrorism chief Richard A. Clarke escalated yesterday as Republican leaders in Congress said they would seek to declassify testimony he gave two years ago, in an effort to show he might have lied.

Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry said Clarke's testimony and book "raised very serious questions" and challenged the administration to act on its words.

"If Clarke is not believable and they have reason to show it, then prosecute him for perjury, because he is under oath," Kerry told CBS MarketWatch.

What Republicans seek to declassify involves almost six hours of testimony, filling about 190 pages, that Clarke gave to the congressional investigation June 11, 2002.

Republicans said the testimony, similar to a briefing Clarke gave reporters in August 2002, included a positive assessment of the Bush administration's efforts against terrorism in 2001.

Two congressional staffers said yesterday that Clarke, in his closed-door testimony in 2002, recounted a history of al-Qaeda attacks and U.S. responses with detailed time lines and sensitive information.

One staffer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: "There were details, sources and methods in there that would make this very difficult to declassify. I think this GOP attack is outrageous, because they know it won't be declassified."
(via our own Inky)

Josh Marshall has a typically restrained post on Bill "Hello Kitty" Frist's "truly egregious" role in this whole disgraceful affair:

A few hours after accusing Clarke of perjury [on the Senate floor], [Frist, on MSNBC, ] admits that he has no idea -- not just no idea whether he perjured himself, which is a fairly technical question, but no idea whether there were any inconsistencies at all.
(And lots more here)

So they just throw stuff out in the hopes that something, anything will stick.


UPDATE Kevin Drum shows that Bush reveals off-the-record and classified material whenever it suits him. As, of course, we already know from The Plame Affair. These guys will do and say anything to get elected.

Army prosecuting AWOL conscientious objector for desertion 

Looks like we have our first refusenik.

The U.S. Army has charged Staff Sgt. Camilo Mejia of North Miami -- who extended a two-week leave into a five-month absence -- with desertion from the war in Iraq, authorities said Friday.

Mejia, 28, was the first soldier to refuse to go back to the war and publicly declare himself a conscientious objector.

He was absent without leave for five months before surfacing and returning last week to his unit in Fort Stewart, Ga.

The Florida National Guardsman -- in hiding since Oct. 15, when he was supposed to return to the Sunni triangle -- is seeking an honorable discharge as a conscientious objector.

He said he decided not to return from his leave in October because it was an ''immoral war'' for the purpose of oil and money.
(via The Miami Herald)

So, the troops have somehow gotten wind of the idea that one reason for the Iraqi war was oil, and they don't much like that. The second reason is the "flypaper theory," and they don't much like that either.

[Florida National Guard Staff Sgt. Camilo Mejia], a squad leader charged with deserting his unit on Oct. 16 after he didn't return to Iraq following a 15-day home leave, has filed for conscientious objector status with the Pentagon. He is seeking an honorable discharge and dismissal of any charges, according to his civilian attorney, Louis Font, of Brookline, Mass., and GI advocate Tod Ensign of the group Citizen Soldier in New York.

[Mejia] has accused his commanders of using U.S. soldiers as "bait" to draw out Iraqi fighters and engage in excessive firefights to kill the enemy and accumulate combat badges and Purple Hearts, sometimes putting Iraqi civilians in harm's way.

His commanders have vehemently denied those accusations. Mejia said his opposition to war gradually solidified after his 124th Infantry Regiment arrived in Iraq last April and he has accused the Bush administration of invading Iraq for its lucrative oil reserves.
(via Knight Ridder Kansas City Star)

I have a suggestion that should make this whole problem go away: Sergeant Mejia should apply to Harvard Business School and then "work it out" with the Army. After all, that's what his commander in chief did!

UPDATE Alert reader dave notes that Stephen Funk was the first refusenik.

Conspiracy theorist [draft] 

Noun. A Democrat who believes that 2 + 2 = 4.

Readers, can this definition for the Lexicon of Liberal Invective be improved upon?

We get letters: The Times doesn't even get that it doesn't get it 

A person signing himself Arthur Bovino (sigh) writes, in response to our post "Hearty laughter from readers as Times crudely buries Clarke revelations" (back here), that we should take a look here for sadly overworked Times ombudsman Daniel Okrent's thoughts on Izvestia on the Hudson's coverage of the breaking Clarke story. We have, and we're disappointed. But not surprised.

Sometimes, we can both spot an article so certain to provoke response that we may as well stop reading the rest of the paper that day and use our commuting time to start preparing answers to mail we haven’t even seen yet.

Great. So Okrent is saying that the responses never add value, so it's not necessary to anticipate, or seek to change behavior? Sheesh. How do we get this mule's attention, except by continuing to wield our 2x4s?

This was the case Monday, March 22, when we separately encountered "Former Terrorism Official Faults White House on 9/11," by Judith Miller, on page A18. It was a volatile combination of subject (Richard A. Clarke’s book attacking the Bush administration’s anti-terror policies and practices), writer (Miller was a lead writer on last year’s reporting on weapons of mass destruction, and had often written about Clarke or used him as a quoted source), and placement.

Dunno what was "volatile" about it. It seemed straightforward to me. Clarke's interview on 60 minutes was explosive, and I wanted to see how The Newspaper of Record was going to cover it. All too soon, I found out.

In any case, the issue was not the writer, but the quality of the writer's past work, which Okrent does not address. Rather than think or research for himself, Okrent appeals to "authority," Bill Keller, who predictably defends Miller's work. Okrent's "policy" not to "address issues that arose before my tenure began" makes this easy for Keller to do: The Times can wring its hands over Jayson Blair, and at the same time issue itself a free pass for its disgraceful role both in Whitewater and the "Goring" of election 2000. For Keller's role in that last episode, see The Howler here and here. So why should anyone who isn't on the Times masthead accept Keller as an authority on anything?

For readers who came in late, working girl Judith "Kneepads" Miller earned her sobriquet the old-fashioned way: For her view of reportage as stenography, see back here. For more of the ugly, sordid details, see Atrios; Kos; and the A1 Project.

By early afternoon, more than 100 readers — so far as we could tell, not motivated by any organized Web effort — ...

Thank you!

... had written to protest how The Times had underplayed the story. Among them were several present and former members of The Times’s editorial staff.

So Clarke isn't the only one to escape from a sick institution!

Wrote one, "A bunch of editors were asleep at the switch."

Certainly that is more trusting and charitable than saying that they were awake at the switch!

I asked managing editor Jill Abramson how and why the decision was made. In an e-mail message, she noted that "the core of Clarke’s allegations" had featured prominently in a front page, above-the-fold article by Philip Shenon on Saturday, March 20.

Uh, right. Like coverage on a Saturday morning is the same as coverage on a weekday—and the week when Clarke is going to testify before the 9/11 commission. How stupid does the Times think its readers are? Can they imagine that nobody keeps track?

She also said that The Times is "conservative about being part of book publicity roll-outs,"....

Well, well, well. Looks like what the Times laughingly calls its "news room" has its mind made up on this story already, doesn't it? Should we cover the substance of the book? Naah...

Back in the day, when the Times really was a great, courageous paper, Clarke's material, and his story, would have appeared in the pages of the Times first! It's a concept called "reporting," and one example was The Pentagon Papers. As it is, Amazon (where Clarke's book is still #1) is slowly eviscerating the Times business model by disintermediating its analytical functions. Too bad, but they have to earn their readership.

.... as the paper had been in January when former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill’s revelations about his experience in the Bush administration were first released. "We’d rather be in on the front end, with our own enterprise, than be manipulated into helping sell a book," Abramson concluded. "And we hardly buried the news in the book."

I disagree, both in principle and on the specifics.

Bravo! Give yourself a pat on the back, Dan!

When I wrote about The Times’s treatment of the O’Neill book in my Public Editor column on Feb. 1 ("All the News That's Fit to Print? Or Just Our News?"), I argued that if it’s consequential, it shouldn’t matter where it comes from; whether or not you’re promoting a book is less important than whether you’re serving your readers. As The Times’s subsequent coverage of the story demonstrates, this one was hugely important.

Thank you.

Tuesday’s paper presented a front page, above-the-fold report on Clarke’s charges and the White House’s defense; inside, a lengthy news analysis contextualized the controversy, and a boxed sidebar ...

Authored by none other than Judith Miller!

quoted verbatim excerpts from Clarke’s book. (It was good coverage, and in some respects — including giving full exposure to the book — it almost seemed designed to compensate for the weak first-day effort.)

Well, the Times does do that. (The Times lost me when they identified the bourgeois rioters as Republican operatives a week after Florida 2000 was decided, though they had the evidence some days before.) But a newspaper is supposed to COVER THE NEWS, not offer "make goods" for NOT covering the news!

As I write (Tuesday afternoon, around 5) The Times's Web site has five additional items on the unfolding story.

Thank you.

That’s all good news, and so is a not-so-peripheral lesson that can be derived from all of this. However deeply buried some readers considered the Clarke story (leave alone whether or not anything not on Page One is ipso facto “buried” [Thanks!—Lambert] ), it nonetheless surfaced and survived. Conspiratorialists who think The Times can stick a fork in a piece of breaking news by underplaying it should note that a truly important story will develop a life of its own, driven by events and public demand.

What a weird way of justifying the Times's coverage. "We didn't manage to kill the story off (like we did with Bush AWOL, back here) so everything's OK!"

The Times may be playing catch up on this one, but at least there’s still a story to catch up to.

RIght. Thanks. I think.

NOTE There are times when I think that only the invective of a scatologist like Alexander Pope could capture the reality of the exchange I've documented above, and our position with the SCLM. See The Dunciad, book III here, and search on "A place there is, betwixt earth, air, and seas." The part of Jove is not played by Bovino, of course, but by Okrent himself.

Rapture index closes up 2 on Financial Unrest and Beast Government 


Bush too busy defending and sliming to take care of business in the Middle East 

And so Sharon rolls him, here. So much for the roadmap, if indeed Bush ever meant it to be taken seriously.

And yes, Bush is taking the time out from his busy day to organize the War on Clarke personally (back here).

Bush Urges Iraqis To Pass Amendment Banning Gay Marriage 

Fooled ya! It's The Onion:

BAGHDAD—In a private meeting with Mohammed Bahr al-Ulloum, President Bush urged the Iraqi Governing Council president to amend the recently ratified Iraqi constitution to protect the sanctity of heterosexual marriage. "The Iraqi constitution, signed just a few short weeks ago, will usher in a new era of democratic freedom in Iraq," Bush said. "But there are some unlawful and unholy acts that the constitution's original drafters could not have possibly intended to protect." Bush then told al-Ulloum he must act quickly and decisively to preserve his country's most sacred tradition.
(via here)

Then again, why doesn't Bush advocate this? If gay marriage is evil, isn't it evil everywhere?

News of the weird: UK military spelunkers caught without visas in Mexico 

The Boston Globe, viaAP:

As she spoke, federal officials from the immigration, foreign relations and military agencies were grilling 13 British citizens, several of them members of a military caving club [hey, maybe Condi can join?], about their activities at the vast Alpazat caverns in the Cuetzalan area.

The group was detained after six of them were rescued Thursday after more than a week trapped in an underground cavern.

Military caving club.... Practicing for Tora Bora, perhaps?

Poetry Corner: Winger haikus 

There were so many excellent ones (back here) but I must say alert reader Norm Jensen's was my favorite, because of its classic simplicity.

Lies lies lies lies lies
Lies lies lies lies lies lies lies
Lies lies lies lies lies

It seems so right today, in the days of lies and the lying liars.

Poetry Corner: "Chickenhawks with Rice" 

Alert reader JoXn Costello points us to this gem:

Chicken hawks with Rice

Watching as the days go by the folks all swear to testify
to just the truth or pay a price.
Swearing once, swearing twice, all except for Dr. Rice.


Read the whole thing..

UPDATE Josh Marshall reviews
what Condi was writing before election 2000, and, surprise, it's all cold-war-relic stuff like missile defense and state-sponsored terrorism. So, in fact, Clarke's critique is correct: Bush and his gang made a strategic error by not focusing on AQ. It's there in the record.

"Crooks": Goon squad steals Kerry FBI files 

Well, well, well. Wonder if it was RNC operatives, Scaife-funded wingers, the freepers, or Vance paramilitaries?

A Bay Area historian on Friday reported the theft of three boxes of confidential FBI documents, some detailing government surveillance of presidential hopeful John F. Kerry when he was a spokesman for a 1970s veterans group protesting the Vietnam War.

Gerald Nicosia told police that the theft occurred sometime Thursday from his home in Corte Madera, a Marin County suburb of San Francisco, said Sgt. Chuck Lovenguth of the Twin Cities Police Department.

Nicosia said he suspected that the thieves were specifically in pursuit of the files because a camera and other expensive items in the home were left untouched. He added that he did not know exactly what material was taken because it was not cataloged or marked. Three of 14 boxes of files that had been stacked in his kitchen are missing. He said he was moving the remaining documents to a secure location Friday afternoon.
(via LA Times)

I've said it before, I'll say it again: Bush will do and say anything to get elected.

NOTE From alert reader Phred at the essential Atrios.

JFK2: How about some "new directions" in the campaign signage too? 

Look at this! It's a straight rip-off of those stupid signs Bush uses that we all make fun of.

Now, awhile back, I posted a comparison (back here) of the polarized politics of Germany in the '30s, and the polarized politics of today, based on a big Penguin book by Richard Evans called The Coming of Hitler. And, I thought, we're a long way from where the Germans were then (thank God).

Alas, the point that in American the major parties don't have paramilitary wings turned into a point of similarity rather than a point of difference, since the Republicans are contracting with paramilitary supplier Vance International (see back here).

And now another point of similarity: Evans writes in his book that the National Socialist logo, graphics, and design treatments were so effective that the Social Democratic Party, and the other opposition parties, copied them. The result was that the voters couldn't see any visual difference between the parties, and this contributed to the destruction of the fragile German democracy.

So when I see Kerry (as above) copying a Bush design treatment, it makes me very nervous. Who designed that, someone at the DNC? Is the message going to be, heaven forfend, that Kerry is really a Lite Republican? That is certainly the subliminal message conveyed by the photo above. How about conveying the "New Directions" idea with all the campaign materials, not just in a speech by Kerry?

NOTE Nice trick getting JFK2's head in the "O" of "Jobs." Kind of a halo effect, eh? This does show how easy it is to manipulate the press with images—present them with an obvious "cute" photo, and off it goes onto the wires. However, Bush has already used the same trick (see back here, and more effectively; his true believers, after all, are capable of thinking Bush's halo is real. So why, again, is JFK2 playing copycat?

TROLL PROPHYLACTIC I didn't say that Bush is a Nazi. I said that when you look at history, it's useful to compare Germany in the 1930s with the United States today.

Photo Phunnies: It takes two hands to handle a whopper 

How big was it, Rummy? (From a suggestion by alert reader Sadly No.)

If you're going to lie, Lie Big. Because lying is what Rummy and The Goon Squad do best!

NOTE Readers, today the graphics seem to be coming fast and furious. On my Mozilla/Linux set up, all is well with the layout. But have I caused any of you problems? Destroyed the layout? Thanks.

UPDATE For more Republican funky hand gestures from Rummy, see Poe News.

Talk to Mr. Hand! 

Last night (back here) we posted a photo from a mainstream source, the Portsmouth Herald, that seemed to show, well, something on Blotchy's hands.

Obviously the photo wasn't some kind of all-in-fun retouch job, since it was published in a mainstream source. Go look, and see if you see anything that looks, well, sticky.

Anyhow, ever since, we've been wondering what was on Bush's hands.

Alert reader ESaund asked to have Bush's hand rescaled to a larger size, to do a palm reading with (be sure to share the results with us, ESaund) And alert reader Jesse responded: Go look.

Readers, what do you think is on Bush's hands?

Whatever it is, George, "you're soaking in it." (So saieth Madge.)

UPDATE See the original post back here for medical information.

Musical interlude: Condi goes ballistic. 

"You have heard the heavy groups, now you will hear Morning Maniac Music."

Thanks to alert reader MJS (to the tune of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic").

Condi Goes Ballistic

Thru the beauty of the Barbara
George was born upon the sheets,
Not like his poor old Condi
Who was surely born a breech;
As George cried for his mommy:
'Lean down closer to my reach';
'Tis a shame she did respond!
Gory, gory, life will fool 'ya
Gory, gory, life will fool 'ya
Wipe my mouth, I have some droolya',
The Truth's a bloody con!

Mine eyes have seen the whorey
Clusterfuck of memes gone bad;
They have squinted into sunshine
That glared out from old Baghdad,
They have even spied a cockpit
Sans the cock my girlfriend had:
The Truth's a fucking pawn!
Gory, gory, life will fool 'ya
Gory, gory, life will fool 'ya
Gory, gory, life will fool 'ya
'Tis a shame he ever spawned!

I have seen the slacker napping
As his wife complains of cramps,
They have builded him a war-chest
Making proud old Prescott/Gramps;
I can guess his frightful penance
Is to lick all his own stamps:
This cipher stumbles on.
Gory, gory, life will fool 'ya
Gory, gory, life will fool 'ya
Wipe my mouth, I have some droolya',
The Truth's a bloody con!

I have read the Daily Howler
Eschaton, Corrente's zeal:
"As I surf out all the bloggers,
Cuz' most media's unreal!"
Let the Heroes born of concern
Bring to light what's under heel,
God's silence is the song:
Gory, gory, life will fool 'ya
Gory, gory, life will fool 'ya
Wipe my mouth, I have some droolya',
The Truth's a bloody con!

He has called forth his own Novak
To sound out some racist cant;
He is sorting out his gonads
For his next walk up a ramp.
Oh, be swift to sweep the poop deck
'Cuz his shit is always damp!
Our George is smirking on!
Gory, gory, life will fool 'ya
Gory, gory, life will fool 'ya
Gory, gory, life will fool 'ya
'Tis a shame he ever spawned!

Elvis has left the building!

Friday, March 26, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

It's been a good day, hasn't it? No real 5:00 horror, but I think that's because, right now, the horror is 24/7.

And I know I'm getting away from the computer fast, after what happened last night.


Photo Phunnies: You can't hide / those lyin' eyes 

I really need alert reader MJS's abilities to do this one justice...

And I can't believe I'm actually quoting the Eagles, but here goes:

Late at night the WhiteWash House gets lonely
I guess ev’ry form of refuge has it’s price
And it breaks her heart to think her love is
Only given to a man with hands as cold as ice

You can’t hide your lyin’ eyes
And your smile is a thin disguise
I thought by now you’d realize
There ain’t no way to hide your lyin eyes

NOTE Thanks to alert reader EssJay for the photo crop op, of original here.

Who knew? 8 (eight) past cases of planes flying into buildings, or threatening to 

911 Commission Testimony: Remarks of NORAD Personnel: Maj. Gen. Craig McKinley, Maj. Gen. Larry Arnold, Col. Alan Scott:

Richard Ben-Veniste, Commissioner
Well, let’s start for example with September 12th, 1994. [1] A Cessna 150L crashed into the south lawn of the White House barely missing the building and killing the pilot. Similarly, in December of 1994, an Algerian armed Islamic group in Paris hijacked [2] an Air France flight in Algiers and threatened to crash it into the Eiffel Tower. In October of 1996, the Intelligence community obtained information regarding [3] an Iranian plot to hijack a Japanese plane over Israel and crash it into Tel Aviv. In August of 1998, the Intelligence community obtained information that [4] a group of unidentified Arabs planned to fly an explosive-laden plane from a foreign country into the World Trade Center. The information was passed on to the FBI and the FAA. In September of 1998, the Intelligence community obtained information that [5] Osama bin Laden’s next operation could possibly involve flying an aircraft loaded with explosives into a U.S. airport and detonating it. In August 2001, the Intelligence Community obtained information regarding [6] a plot to either bomb the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi from an airplane or crash an airplane into it. In addition, in the Atlanta Olympics, the United States government and the Dept. of Justice and my colleague Jamie Gorelick were involved in planning against possible terrorist attacks at the Olympics, which included [7] the potential of an aircraft flying into the [Olympic] stadium. In July 2001, [8] the G8 Summit in Genoa, attended by our President - among the measures that were taken, were positioning surface-to-air missiles, ringing Genoa, closing the Genoa airport and restricting all airspace over Genoa.
(via Bill St. Clair)

So when Condi says "I don't think anybody could have predicted that those people could have taken an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center . . . that they would try to use an airplane as a missile"... Well, I think she's now admitted she "misspoke" (back). But what about Bush? Did he just not notice the SAMs in Genoa?

None so blind as those who will not see, eh?

NOTE Thanks to alert reader Hobson for the source of the transcript.

Republican Goon Squad lays groundwork to indict Clarke for perjury when he tried make his boss look good 

And they're going to de-classify Clarke's testimony to do it! Say, does this remind you of anything? An affair, starts with "P"... Some kind of criminal investigation.... Anyhow:

Faced with damaging charges this week by former White House counterterrorism adviser Richard A. Clarke, Republican leaders in Congress are seeking to declassify previous testimony Clarke gave to the House and Senate intelligence committees to determine whether he committed perjury.
(via WaPo)

Of course, the Goon Squad tried this at the 9/11 hearing and Clarke hit it out of the park (back here).

At the hearing, however, the Goon Squad only released a Clarke background briefing to FUX. (Say, if they can do that, why don't they release Novak from his vow of silence on who outed ... P... Plame!? That's it!)

Now, it's classified information that's going to be released—information classified, supposedly, to protect the country. This mindbogglingly vindictive, vicious, and deeply stupid act—for which Bush himself bears personal responsibility (back here)—proves, if it ever needed proving, that Bush really and truly does consider anyone who disagrees with him an enemy, in exactly the same way that, say, Hitler was our enemy in World War II. And Bush is willing, really and truly, to do anything to destroy his enemies. "If you're not with us, you're against us." The slippery little scut.

Josh Marshall has said all this ever so much more politely than I can here.

UPDATE Bill "Hello Kitty" Frist seems to be taking point on this one. Guess they've used about everyone else up. Yawn. More winger projection. The Times has the same story. Interestingly, both stories seem to have been published at around 11:50PM Friday. You know the Goon Squad is spinning hard when they try to control Saturday morning.

Billionaires for Bush 

Latest antics covered here.

Their website is here.

Republicans for Kerry 



And I must confess... I get a little thrill of schadenfreude (snark!) when I ask myself how long before the group is infested by freepers. Welcome to the party, moderate Republicans—it's just some the guests you'd really rather not know....

NOTE There is a Salon article about this group,
but the link above is to a Yahoo Group. There is also a Republicans Against Bush MeetUp.

NOTE From a post by ElectroLite.

Bush AWOL: National Guard now "under orders" not to discuss story 

The story that will not die, though the SCML keeps trying to kill it.

The government's reaction to questions about the human reliability regs [back] merits attention. The White House gave no comment to a Spokesman-Review reporter, referring questions to the Defense Department. The National Guard Bureau, now run by a Bush pick from Texas, said it was under orders not to discuss the story. The bureau's chief historian also told the Spokane paper he was under orders not to discuss the topic. The freedom of information officer at the bureau said her people stopped taking requests on Bush's military service last month and now refer all questions regarding it to the Pentagon.
(via Village Voice)

Hmmm.... Whose orders, we wonder?

Bush looks awful blotchy in his latest photo... And what's that on his hands? 

Here it is. From here, in the Portsmouth Herald, if you want to check.

Look at his nose and ears. They're all red. Is he off the wagon again, or what?

And... On the hand he's got in the air—what's that on his fingers?


UPDATE Some readers have commented that Bush's appearance may be affected by rosacea, so I went to MedScape (subscription required) and found an article titled "Diagnosis and Treatment of Rosacea" from the Journal of the American Board of Family Practice:

Rosacea generally involves the cheeks, nose, chin, and forehead, with a predilection for the nose in men

A survey by the National Rosacea Society reported that 75% of rosacea patients felt low self-esteem, 70% felt embarrassment, 69% report frustration, 56% felt that they had been "robbed of pleasure or happiness," 60% felt the disorder negatively affected their professional interactions, and 57% believed that it adversely affected their social lives. Much of this suffering is unnecessary, however, because rosacea is a condition that can be easily diagnosed and effectively treated in most patients.

The most important first step in the treatment of rosacea is the avoidance of triggers. Triggers are both exposures and situations that can cause a flare-up of the flushing and skin changes in rosacea. Principal among these is sun exposure. Rosacea patients must be advised always to apply a nonirritating facial sun block when outdoors. Stress, through autonomic activation, can also increase the flushing. Alcohol consumption, while not a cause in itself, can aggravate this condition through peripheral vasodilation. Spicy foods can also aggravate the symptoms of rosacea through autonomic stimulation.

Rosacea responds well to oral antibiotics. Recalcitrant rosacea can respond to oral isotretinoin therapy. Although the exact cause of rosacea is unknown, its progression, signs, and symptoms can be readily alleviated by the primary care physician.

A few thoughts: First, interestingly, the hands (the focus of the post) are not generally involved. Second, there are well-known courses of treatment. This leads me to question whether Bush does in fact suffer from rosacea, since he must have the best of medical care available to him. Third, if Bush does have rosacea, it's very interesting to look at the triggers: they include alchohol, the sun, and stress.

The alchohol trigger: We know Bush has a predeliction for it. 'Nuff said.

The sun trigger: If Bush does in fact have rosacea, we should read somewhere about him always using sunblock, when he's clearing brush on this "ranch," for example. I can't find a reference to this. Readers, can you?

The stress trigger: We all know that telling lies doesn't stress Bush at all. But, just maybe, telling lies and being caught does, which (if Bush does indeed have rosacea) would mean that the Clarke situation may have put him in considerable stress. It will be interesting to see how this possible indication of Bush's mental state plays out in the course of the long, long election.

UPDATE Alert reader Adrienne suggests the following:

If you use self tanner, which I think Bush does, and don't wash your hands after applying it, it leaves stains like those in the picture.


More proof that we're winning in Iraq 

What a mess.

After a marked decline in U.S. troop deaths in Iraq in February, the toll is again escalating. So far this month 37 U.S. troops and two Department of the Army civilians have died, according to the Pentagon's count. Mid-March saw the heaviest death toll for any 10-day period since November, which was the deadliest month of the war so far. Even though February showed improvement, it was one of the deadliest months for Iraqi civilians.
(via the Boston Glob, AP)

I wonder how many of these deaths were caused by Bush not getting them body armor (back).

NOTE And an excellent post from Billmon: "Waving the bloody shirt."

Why should we believe Bush when he says "I didn't know"? 

Aren't CEO Presidents supposed to know?

"Had I known that the enemy was going to use airplanes to strike America, to attack us, I would have used every resource, every asset, every power of the government, to protect the American people," Bush said, appearing with Cheryl McGinnis, the wife of a pilot killed in the attacks.
(via the Boston Glob, Reuters)

Nice to see Bush has managed to divide the 9/11 families too. And who said the subjunctive was dead?

But to the "substance" of Bush's remarks:

1. Bush says he didn't know. But he says a lot of things. Condi said she didn't know. Now (back) she says she did.

So, did she not tell her boss, in which case we should fire her, or did she tell her boss, in which case Bush is lying?

2. When Condi admitted that she did know, she said she had "received information" that terrorists would use airplanes as missiles. How? Through the PDBs? Did she write on the PDB? And then did Bush write on the PDB? And does that explain why they won't let anybody see the original PDBs? (back)

3. As usual Bush sets the bar for himself absurdly low. Let's grant that he's telling the truth, and that he didn't know. Well, it took eight months for him to meet with his own counter-terrorism advisor, who was trying to put a system in place that would have let him know!

4. And [thanks to alert reader a] will he know the next time?

Say, if Clinton can testify under oath about a blowjob, why can't Condi about the death of 3000 Americans? 

Just asking.

"Kenya Plans Massive Relocation of 400 Elephants" 

"When we remove them there will be less conflict with the neighboring communities and the habitat will get a chance to rejuvenate," [said Edward Indakwa, Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) communication officer.]
(via Reuters)

Oh... Make up your own jokes.

"Liars and Crooks": DOJ tries to bribe FBI translator Sibel Edmonds to alter terrorist intercept transcripts 

Annointed arm and sword of the law and DOJ (Dept. Of Jesus) avenger John "Oil Me Up" Ashcroft invokes his "higher power": "State Secret Privilege and National Security":

FBI translator, Sibel Edmonds, was offered a substantial raise and a full time job in order to not go public that she had been asked by the Department of Justice (DOJ) to retranslate and adjust the translations of [terrorist] subject intercepts that had been received before September 11, 2001 by the FBI and CIA.


In a 50 reporter scrum in front of some 12 news cameras, Edmonds said "Attorney General John Ashcroft told me 'he was invoking State Secret Privilage [sic] and National Security' when I told the FBI I wanted to go public with what I had translated from the pre 9-11 intercepts".


Edmonds said "My translations of the pre 9-11 intercepts included [terrorist] money laundering, detailed and date specific information enough to alert the American people, and other issues dating back to 1999 which I won't go into right now."

Incredibly, Edmonds said "The Senate Judiciary Committee, and the 911 Commission have heard me testify for lengthy periods of time time (3 hours) about very specific plots, dates, airplanes used as weopons, and specific idividuals and activities."

This explosive information has been kept under wraps by the White House, CIA, FBI, and DOJ since Edmond's 60 Minutes interview segment.[*]


"This whole situation is outrageous and I am going public," said Edmonds, adding "I am currently being advised by counsel. Thank you."

Kristen Breitweiser, 9-11 family member and also one of the nick-named Jersey girls, arranged to have Ms. Edmonds address the gathered media right after Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet testified.

[Tom Flocco | March 24, 2004]

Full article here: DOJ Asked FBI Translator To Change Pre 9-11 Intercepts - Tom Flocco / March 24 2004

*Note: A transcript of Ed Bradley's October 2002 60 Minutes interview with Edmonds can be found here (scroll down page): SHOW: 60 Minutes (7:00 PM ET) - CBS / October 27, 2002 Sunday

See also back here.

This Is What Autocracy Looks Like 

With the lying liars now resorting to their favorite ironic weapon of choice--threatening a perjury prosecution--Josh Marshall tells us that Baby Doc himself is directing the character assassination of Richard Clarke:

Bear in mind that top White House aides have told the press that the president personally initiated and is directing this campaign against Clarke. Not outside rabble-rousers, not nefarious aides operating on their own account, but the president himself. This is all his doing, according to his own staffers.

Well, one good thing: at least we now know that he's capable of focusing his attention on something other than getting Saddam. And it's not like there's anything else going on in the world or the country that might merit sustained, serious attention.

In Cognitive Therapy of Personality Disorders, Aaron T. Beck, Arthur Freeman, and associates list typical beliefs associated with each specific personality disorder. Here are some of the typical beliefs that they have listed (pp. 361-362) for Narcissistic Personality Disorder:

  • Since I am so superior, I am entitled to special treatment and privileges.
  • I don't have to be bound by the rules that apply to other people.
  • Other people should satisfy my needs.
  • Other people should recognize how special I am.
  • Since I am so talented, people should go out of their way to promote my career.
  • No one's needs should interfere with my own.
  • If others don't respect my status, they should be punished.

The other night, commenting on Clarke's testimony, Jon Stewart reminded viewers of Jack Nicholson's famous line from A Few Good Men, and added that, having watched Clarke, he now knows he'd personally rather not know the truth. I know what he means. Not only are we in deep shit on nearly every front, it may be deeper than we imagined.

NOTE Alert reader pansypoo informs us that Jack Nicholson's line is: "You can't handle the truth!"

Condi "clarified" whether terrorists she knew would try to use airplanes as missiles 

Certain in public, confused in private. That's our Condi-lie-zza!

Democratic commission member Richard Ben-Veniste disclosed this week that Rice had asked, in her private meetings with the commission, to revise a statement she made publicly that "I don't think anybody could have predicted that those people could have taken an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center . . . that they would try to use an airplane as a missile." Rice told the commission that she misspoke; the commission has received information that prior to Sept. 11, U.S. intelligence agencies and Clarke had talked about terrorists using airplanes as missiles.
(via WaPo)

Now we know why she doesn't want to testify in public—the sheer embarassment. Or under oath...

And hey—if Condi knew, did her boss know? He's been running round the country saying he didn't, so that means he did, right?

UPDATE Alert reader Sovreign Eye comments:

I've long wondered whether or not Rice is familiar with the Japanese aerial tactics employed during the battle of Okinawa.

But you don't understand! The airplanes that AQ used were really big ones. So it's different.

UPDATE Reading A1 has an excellent dissection of how that once great newspaper is butchering this story—and, for some strange reason, all the butchery goes aWol's way. I wonder why?

Remember Sibel Edmonds? 

From Salon.com:

A former FBI translator told the 9/11 commission that the bureau had detailed information well before Sept. 11, 2001, that terrorists were likely to attack the U.S. with airplanes.

By Eric Boehlert
March 26, 2004 |

A former FBI wiretap translator with top-secret security clearance, who has been called "very credible" by Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, has told Salon she recently testified to the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States that the FBI had detailed information prior to Sept. 11, 2001, that a terrorist attack involving airplanes was being plotted.

Referring to the Homeland Security Department's color-coded warnings instituted in the wake of 9/11, the former translator, Sibel Edmonds, told Salon, "We should have had orange or red-type of alert in June or July of 2001. There was that much information available." Edmonds is offended by the Bush White House claim that it lacked foreknowledge of the kind of attacks made by al-Qaida on 9/11. "Especially after reading National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice [Washington Post Op-Ed on March 22] where she said, we had no specific information whatsoever of domestic threat or that they might use airplanes. That's an outrageous lie. And documents can prove it's a lie."

Full story: Boehlert / Salon.com

Say, how's Bush's executive order reimbursing troops who buy their own body armor coming? 

Just asking.

I mean, just because Kerry suggested it doesn't make it a bad idea.

But apparently, it's not happening.

Soldiers headed for Iraq are still buying their own body armor -- and in many cases, their families are buying it for them -- despite assurances from the military that the gear will be in hand before they're in harm's way.
(via CNN)

Of course, the WhiteWash House is sliming and defending against Clarke, and preparing for all those criminal investigations, so I can understand how they'd be too busy to actually save some lives.

Stupid Republican tricks: They find a "secret web page"! 

And it turns out it's the blog for Stephanie Herseth! See Kos.

Scott "Sucka MC" McClellan—isn't he about used up? 

Even Howie the Whore thinks so. And get a load of this one:

Asked about Bush's personal reaction to the criticism from a former White House aide, McClellan said, "Any time someone takes a serious issue like this and revises history it's disappointing."
(via AP)

Oh. Like the reasons to go to war with Iraq?

The weird thing about the "revisionist history" thing is that it's a Marxist meme... Must come from the neocons roots with the trots....

I guess they say "revisionist history" because sounds, you know, eddicated and works with the base. Yes?

Hiring freeze at DHS 

Oh, I really feel safer now!

New York Rep. Carolyn Maloney, chair of the House Democratic Task Force on Homeland Security, said the problem will hamper efforts to prevent terrorists entering the country.

"This administration has spared no expense to open new firehouses in Iraq but won't even keep our Department of Homeland Security solvent," Maloney said in a statement.
(via AP)

Hey, here's an idea! Let's privatize DHS entirely!

Sing along with aWol! 

Lyrics from alert reader MJS (to the tune of "My Favorite Things"), inspired by the kind of things that Bush finds funny (back), and that 1,500 DC insiders (well, 1499 - David Corn) find funny:

Bush's Favorite Things

Lieberman laughing
while aWol is aping,
People of conscience
Yet no mouths are gaping,
Dark coffins buried ‘neath
Patriots’ dreams
These are a few of my favorite things…

Blood splattered camels
And orphaned Iraqis
Pundits on TV
All paid-off Bush lackeys
Sunnis and Shiites who dance and who sing
These are a few of my favorite things

Jokes in the White House
Ah, laughter so cleansing
Hire more armed guards and raise up the fencing
Blood spackled winters
That bleed into spring
These are a few of my favorite things

When the maimed cry
When the kids die
When I’m feeling sad
I call up some writers—they toss me some zings
And then I don’t feel so bad...

Funny ha ha?

Bush's sick WMD joke sounds sicker and sicker the more we hear 

David Corn was there, and describes it:

But an awful you're-all-alone moment came during George W. Bush's comments that followed the sit-down dinner. The current president is often the honored guest at this annual affair, and the audience toasts him in what is supposed to be a sign of communal and nonpartisan spirit. And, the tradition is, that the president has to be funny. It's standard fare humor. ... But at one point, Bush showed a photo of himself looking for something out a window in the Oval Office, and he said, "Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be somewhere."

The audience laughed. I grimaced. But that wasn't the end of it. After a few more slides, there was a shot of Bush looking under furniture in the Oval Office. "Nope," he said. "No weapons over there." More laughter. Then another picture of Bush searching in his office: "Maybe under here." Laughter again.

Disapproval must have registered upon my face, for one of my tablemates said, "Come on, David, this is funny." I wanted to reply, Over 500 Americans and literally countless Iraqis are dead because of a war that was supposedly fought to find weapons of mass destruction, and Bush is joking about it. Instead, I took a long drink of the lovely white wine that had come with our dinner. It's not as if I was in the middle of a talk-show debate and had to respond. This was certainly one of those occasions in which you either get it or don't. And I wasn't getting it. Or maybe my neighbor wasn't.

So what's wrong with this picture? Bush was somber about the sacrifice being made by U.S. troops overseas. But he obviously considered it fine to make fun of the reason he cited for sending Americans to war and to death. What an act of audacious spin. ...
As the crowd was digesting the delicious surf-and-turf meal, Bush was transforming serious scandal into rim-shot comedy.

Few seemed to mind. His WMD gags did not prompt a how-can-you silence from the gathering. ...

And now comes the double standard. Why, why, why, WHY does Bush keep getting a free pass on this stuff?

Even if Bush does not believe he lied to or misled the public, how can he make fun of the rationale for a war that has killed and maimed thousands? Imagine if Lyndon Johnson had joked about the trumped-up Gulf of Tonkin incident that he deceitfully used as a rationale for U.S. military action in Vietnam: "Who knew that fish had torpedoes?" Or if Ronald Reagan appeared at a correspondents event following the truck-bombing at the Marines barracks in Beirut--which killed over 200 American servicemen--and said, "Guess we forgot to put in a stop light." Or if Clinton had come out after the bombing of Serbia--during which U.S. bombs errantly destroyed the Chinese embassy and killed several people there--and said, "The problem is, those embassies--they all look alike."

Yet there was Bush--apparently having a laugh at his own expense, but actually doing so on the graves of thousands. This was a callous and arrogant display. For Bush, the misinformation--or disinformation--he peddled before the war was no more than material for yucks. As the audience laughed along, he smiled. The false statements (or lies) that had launched a war had become merely another punchline in the nation's capital.
(David Corn via The Nation)

Yes, the sickest thing of all is that almost the entire audience—our national press, mind you—thought this was funny. I bet Bush thinks it's funny.

Of course, there's "funny ha ha" and the other kind of funny. Which do you think applies to Bush and our Beltway press?

UPDATE The transcript is here.

The 5:00 horror 

The administration always releases the really bad news at 5:00PM on Friday, hoping that people will ignore it until they can spin it properly with their MWs on the Sunday talk shows.

What will the 5:00 horror be today?

UPDATE From alert reader catalexis:

An announcement that the Mars mission will be moved up to this Sunday.

And it will be manned.


By Richard Clarke.

All Fascism is Local 

Hands on personnel management from the absolute beings at Lancaster Management Incorporated. The all seeing true parent to the Waldron Newspaper flock.

The following is a listing of our non-negotiable terms for allowing you to continue in your position at Waldron.

Both you and Vickie go to a Christian counselor. These sessions will probably need to be weekly or at least semimonthly. Yes, it costs money. Spend it. Make the commitment. Regardless, be sure you are seeing a Christian counselor. There are all kinds of wacko "counselors" out there.

Attend church weekly. Without fail. No excuses.

[...] You and Vickie must go to bed with each other every night without fail. If she likes to go to sleep early and you like to stay up late, compromise where she stays up a little later with you and you go to bed a little earlier. But go to bed together. Besides saying good night to each other, the last thing you should do each night is say a prayer out loud together. And start each morning the same, with a prayer out loud together.

[...] We want a short written report from you faxed to us every Monday morning and on our desk here by 8 a.m. In this report should be your triumphs and tragedies of the past week, the high points and the low points you hit. Business and personal. Tell us about a successful promo you all did. Tell us how the press broke down in Mena. Tell us about a good Scripture passage you found. Tell us about the time you got so mad you had to go for a walk. Tell us about Adam's curveball. Tell us about Adam's curveball breaking the window on the house.

We want you and Vickie to succeed in all personal and business areas of your lives — in that order. You are accountable to us; do not forget this. You must comply completely.

Resistance is futile!

More from: Harpers Magazine/Stations of the Boss


Thursday, March 25, 2004

Goodnight, Rove 

It's been a good day, hasn't it?


Goodnight, moon 

It's been a good day, hasn't it?

The sickest part of Bush's sick joke on WMDs 

Town Hall has was it claims is a transcript of Bush's fun filled riot of laughs before 1,500 guests at the 60th annual dinner of the Radio and Television Correspondents' Association:

Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be somewhere. (Laughter and applause.) ... Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be somewhere. (Laughter and applause.) ...
(via Drudge via Atrios)

Of course, Bush does lay on the sanctimony at the end:

To honor those who died on September the 11th, and to make a statement of their own commitment to this country's security, these Americans buried a piece of the World Trade Center in a place in Afghanistan where the al Qaeda once ran free.

There Bush goes again, mistaking a wish for a fact. What Bush meant to say "once ran free, except for the ones we didn't catch because we got sidetracked in Iraq, and who just escaped us again using tunnels."

And back to the sick humor (which I guess I'd prefer the lies to, if I had a choice). The sickest part of all is this:

Bush feels—rightly—that he can get away with this disgusting behavior in front of 1,500 members of the press.

UPDATE The Kerry reaction, again quoted by Drudge here. (Can't Kerry get his press releases up on his site?)

Science for Republicans: Big jaws, small brain lose out in evolutionary terms 


Need I say more?

Oh, and that word is evolution. And the earth isn't only 6000 years old.

The Wreckovery: Cooking the books again? 

Missed this one in all the excitement:

America's buoyant economic recovery could largely be a statistical illusion, according to research released this weekend.

Last year's growth may be half the official figure, which would explain the lack of job creation which is damaging President Bush's re-election chances.

A growing number of discrepancies are emerging in America's economic numbers, including a dramatic over-estimation of manufacturing output. The latest analysis from Goldman Sachs suggests that the US economy may have grown by only about 2.2 percent in the year to the fourth quarter of 2003, considerably less than the official 4.3 percent.

Jan Hatzius, a senior economist at Goldman Sachs, has added his voice to a growing band who believe that the growth figures are overstating the true recovery of the US economy. Errors in calculating manufacturing output and income growth explain why unemployment, on all measures, has consistently disappointed the markets in recent months, the research claims.

Hatzius said: "Over the last year, the official data show real gross domestic product (GDP) growing a sturdy 4.3 percent. Yet, non-farm payrolls are up only 0.1 percent. It is hard to overemphasise how unusual this combination is."

The results of the alternative, survey-based method have also been weak, recording a 1.5 percent rise in household employment since November 2001, the smallest gain of any post-war business cycle, despite the dramatic rebound in US economic growth on the official figures.

Big flaws in the manufacturing data are responsible, according to the Goldman research. Real GDP for goods, which accounts for 33 percent of total GDP, has surged by 8 percent over the past year, the official figures say, more than double its 3.6 percent long-term trend. But these figures are in complete contradiction with the standard data for industrial production, a closely-related and far more reliable measure calculated using separate data.
(Knight Ridder via The Miami Herald)

Interesting, if true...

The Right Christians on gay marriage 

Excellent post from Allen. Go read.

These are the Right Christians, as (very) opposed to the "Christian" Right.

What the Sidster said 

In the Guardian. How come a best selling author like Sidney Blumenthal can't get published in a "respectable" paper like Pravda on the Potomac or Izvestia on the Hudson? Anyhow:

Rice now claims about terrorism that "we were at battle stations". But Bush is quoted by Bob Woodward in Bush At War as saying that before September 11 "I was not on point ... I didn't feel that sense of urgency".

Heh heh. Bush hagiographer and fluffer Woodward accidentally lets the truth slip out. Sweet!

Cheney alleges that Clarke was "out of the loop". But if he was, then the administration was either running a rogue operation or doing nothing, as Clarke testifies.

Bush protests now: "And had my administration had any information that terrorists were going to attack New York City on September 11, we would have acted." But he had plenty of information. The former deputy attorney general, Jamie Gorelick, the only member of the 9/11 commission to read the president's daily brief, revealed in the hearings that the documents "would set your hair on fire" and that the intelligence warnings of al-Qaida attacks "plateaued at a spike level for months" before September 11. Bush is fighting public release of these PDBs, which would show whether he had marked them up and demanded action.

Or, even that Bush marked them up and said to take no action. That would be a really good reason to expose the originals, wouldn't it?

The administration's furious response to Clarke only underscores his book. Rice is vague, forgetful and dissembling. Cheney is belligerent, certain and bluffing. In Clarke's account, as in the memoir of former secretary of the treasury Paul O'Neill, Bush is disengaged, incurious, manipulated by those in the circle around him; he adopts ill-conceived strategies that he has played little or no part in preparing. Bush is the Oz behind the curtain, but unlike the wizard, the special effects are performed by others. Especially on terrorism and September 11, his White House is at "battle stations" to prevent the curtain from being pulled open.
(Sidney Blumenthal via The Guardian)

Let the public read the PDBs! (Tom's right.) And the CSGs too, of which there are tapes (back).

UPDATE Thomas Blanton at Slate has more. He goes into detail about why, despite their "mystique", the PDBs are nothing special in national security terms, and concludes:

Releasing the PDBs would tell us what Dubya knew and when he knew it. That's the real reason you won't see them anytime soon.

UPDATE Hobson asks: Where do we write?

My thought is MoveOn since they have the organization to mount a petition drive. Though there isn't one yet, we could suggest it to them. In fact, I just did. Readers? Better ideas?

"Crooks": Another Republican criminal... Yawn... What is one among so many? 

Missed this one in all the excitement this morning.

John T. Korsmo has resigned as chairman of the Federal Housing Finance Board, saying that "speculation concerning my private affairs has become a distraction" for the panel that regulates the nation's 12 home loan banks.

In an e-mail to colleagues Friday, Korsmo said he had regretfully concluded he should step aside while Congress debates the future oversight of the home loan bank system. White House spokesman Erin Healy said yesterday that the White House accepted but did not request Korsmo's resignation.

Korsmo did not describe the speculation he cited and has not responded to repeated requests for comment. But last month, Dow Jones reported that the Justice Department was conducting a criminal probe of Korsmo's political fundraising in 2002, the year after President Bush appointed him to head the regulatory agency.
(via WaPo)

Housing, hmmm? Sure hope a winger hack wasn't put in charge of another one of Alan Greenspan's bubbles....

Hey, when Ashcroft gets out of rehab, he share war stories on campaign finance with this guy!


With, as they say, a bullet. Here.

Anyone else read it? Got any thoughts?

UPDATE All Clarke, all the time:

Road to Surfdom (start here and read back)

The Agonist

Slate's review here, with incisive summary and quotes.

Profiles in Bush League courage  

So Condi wants to clear up clear up "a number of mischaracterizations" (AP).

That's good. Except she wants to do it in private. So Clarke testifies, in public, and the Bush machine slimes and defends him, in public, and then Condi responds to Clarke—in private? What kind of sense does that make?

Was there ever a kid on your block who'd hit you, and when you went after them, they'd run and hid behind their mother's skirts, and start crying "He started it"? That's Condi Rice. And that's Bush League courage.

WhiteWash House mouthpiece Gonzales explains why Condi doesn't have to testify in public 

I love it when they try to set the record straight.

Gonzales also sought to set the record straight about the obligation of a presidential aide to testify publicly. He said that statements that other national security advisers have testified before Congress in open sessions were wrong.

Previous testimony from national security advisers have either been in closed session or involved potential criminal wrongdoing, making those situations markedly different from the current one, Gonzales said.
(via AP)

Well, shoot.

If the wingers can get Clinton to testify on video about a blowjob, and spend $70 million doing it, then we can probably think of soome form of "criminal wrongdoing" to get Condi to do the same thing when 3,000 citizens die because she and her boss spent eight months setting up a meeting that might "possibly" (Clarke) have saved all those lives. Eh?

Now, Condi wants to appear before the commission 

Get this!

WASHINGTON - Richard Clarke’s testimony to the independent commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks was considered so damaging that national security adviser Condoleezza Rice planned to ask the panel for a private interview to answer his allegations, a senior White House official told NBC News on Thursday.

During his appearance before the committee Wednesday, Clarke, the former counterterrorism coordinator in the Bush and Clinton White Houses, placed the bulk of the blame for the attacks on President Bush and apologized to the families of the approximately 3,000 victims, saying, “Your government failed you.”

Clarke, the star witness at the two days of hearings by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, accused Rice and Bush of ignoring Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaida terrorist network before the attacks. He said his access to senior officials was cut off by the new Bush administration, which he said did not consider terrorism to be an “urgent problem.” In contrast, he said, the Clinton administration gave the terrorist threat its “highest priority.”

In interviews to promote his new book this week, Clarke alleged that Rice appeared not to even have heard of al-Qaida when he first broached the subject with her. He portrayed Bush as being obsessed with Iraq and its president, Saddam Hussein, saying Bush asked him directly almost immediately after the attacks to find out whether Iraq was involved.

The senior administration official told NBC News that Rice would ask the commission sometime Thursday for a private meeting as soon as possible to rebut Clarke’s testimony, which was widely praised by commission members. She was said to be concerned that his presentation would disproportionately influence the commission’s final report, which is expected in July, just four months before the presidential election.
But will it be in public? Or under oath? Well, of course not:

Rice, who has met privately with the commission once before, may not get her wish, however, because the commission could insist that any new appearance, even if in private, be conducted under oath. A source familiar with the commission’s operations told NBC News that the panel has consistently required anyone rebutting sworn testimony to be similarly under oath.

Rice has come under heavy criticism for refusing to testify before the commission under oath or in public. She said Wednesday in an interview on “NBC Nightly News” that she had a responsibility to protect the president’s constitutional guarantee of executive privilege, arguing that the president could not rely on his advisers to speak to him openly if they could be questioned about their advice to him.
It's now time to ask this rather important question: Shouldn't she at least testify under oath? If not, why not?

Is it because she's lying?

UPDATE Elvis56, the author of the indispensible Iraq Coalition Casualties Counter, has more.

Daschle slams Bush slime and defend on Clarke 

I'm still holding the loss of the Senate against Daschle, but I have to say he's being reasonably aggressive now. He asks Bush:

Please ask the people around you to stop the character attacks they are waging against Richard Clarke. Ask them to stop their attempts to conceal information and confuse facts. Ask them to stop the long effort that has made the 9-11 Commission's work more difficult than it should be.

Regardless of whether one agrees or disagrees with Mr. Clarke's facts, he set an eloquent example for all of us yesterday. He acknowledged to the families of the victims of September 11 that their government had failed them. He accepted responsibility for September 11. He made himself accountable and he tried, in my view, to help us understand what happened in the months and years before September 11.

I couldn't be more disappointed in the White House's response. They have known for months what Mr. Clarke was going to say. Instead of dealing with it factually, they've launched a shrill attack to destroy Mr. Clarke's credibility.
(via Senate Democrats site

Daschle is right. Remember, Bush had the galleys for three months, reviewing them. So they knew exactly what Clarke was going to say, and had months to prepare for it. And slime and defend is the best they can do?

It's also delicious to hear the Republicans called "shrill." They are all that, aren't they?

There's also that key word "facts". I've heard it a lot recently, as in the idea that Democrats and liberals argue from facts, as opposed to Republicans and wingers who argue from ideology and fixed ideas (remember the Iraq "cakewalk"?) So it's interesting to see Daschle pick up on this.

It could be an effective rhetorical device.

"Just the facts, George!"

"George Bush has no problem talking the talk about his faith, but he does have a problem walking the walk with his facts."

And so forth... Rip the new one of your choice, readers ....

UPDATE Orcinus fixes on key word, "facts," too.

Dean gives "spirited" endorsement to Kerry 

"We must all hang together or assuredly we will hang separately."

Former Democratic Party front-runner Howard Dean endorsed the party’s nominee, Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, Thursday at a rally at Washington, D.C.'s George Washington University. Amid spirited chants of "Kerry, Kerry, Kerry" led by Dean himself, the former Vermont governor pledged his support for Kerry, once his arch-rival on the campaign trail.

"Who would you rather have in charge of the defense of the United States of America," Dean asked the eager crowd, "a group of people who never served a day overseas in their life, or a guy who served his country honorably and has three Purple Hearts and a Silver Star from the battlefields of Vietnam?"

"If this is what Governor Dean feels is best to bring the party together, that's fantastic," said Becca Doten, the Southern California Generation Dean organizer and a University of Southern California film production grad. "It feels right to offer a unified front to beat George Bush."
(via MTV (!) )

UPDATE From alert reader paradox:

"It feels right to offer a unified front to beat George Bush."

Wrong answer.

"It feels right to offer a unified front to beat George Bush AGAIN."

Bush tries to change the subject 

Apparently his Department of Changing the Subject is too busy, so he has to do it all himself. Perhaps they're preparing for the criminal indictments? Anyhow:

Buffeted by charges that he failed to fully grasp the terrorist threat before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, President Bush said Thursday he would have employed "every resource, every asset, every power of this government" had he known the attacks were coming.

His remarks came as part of a speech here on his plans for retraining laid-off workers.

"[BUSH]There's a commission going on in Washington, DC. It's a very important commission," Bush said.

And Bush tried to prevent the commission from being created, stonewalled it throughout, and is still stonewalling on Condi.

"This commission is determined to look at the eight months of my administration and the eight years of the previous administration to determine what we can learn, what we can do to make sure we uphold our solemn duty."

That's not the issue. The issue is why it took the entire first eight months of the Bush administration to get a meeting set up on the counter-terrorism plan Clarke had ready to go on Day One.

The president said there are "a lot of good folks working to keep us safe."


"We overcame Sept. the 11th because this nation refused to be intimidated," he said. "We weren't going to let killers and assassins determine our course of life."

Really? Given how Bush has been shredding the Constitution, it seems like "killers and assassins" are doing a pretty good job of that.

"Had I known the enemy was going to use airplanes to strike America, to attack us, I would have used every resource, every asset, every power of this government to protect the American people," [Bush] said as a loud cheer erupted from the [hand-picked—Lambert] audience.
(via Portsmouth Herald)

Total misdirection. The issue is not that Bush did not know. This, we know. The issue is why didn't he know? And why did it take him eight months to even have a meeting to approve the system that would have told him?

And, of course, the elephant in the room: The Iraqi war not only had nothing to do with AQ, it made us worse off in the WOT.

Good shot on the "eight years versus eight months." If you aren't paying attention, you might even buy into what that slippery little scut is saying....

UPDATE Bush is still using the same talking point: See up here.

UPDATE Eight (8) other cases where terrorists flew airplanes into buildings, or threatened to up here.

Yes, there are tapes of the CSGs 


Bush makes jokes about not finding WMDs. Pretty funny, right? 

Especially funny to the families of the soldiers who died thinking this was why their children were sent to war.

The president rubbed elbows Wednesday night with 1,500 guests at the 60th annual dinner of the Radio and Television Correspondents' Association.

Bush's speech featured a slide show which he called the "White House Election-Year Album." One photo showed the president looking under furniture. He captioned it: "Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be somewhere."
(Channel 5 in Champlain via Buzzflash.

Ha ha.

That George Bush—what a kidder!

And Bush feels—rightly—that can get away with this disgusting behavior in front of 1,500 members of the press. That's the sickest part of the joke.

So where's the cheap oil we should get with our new empire in Iraq? 

Was it Jim Fish, the famous old robber baron who said, "It is gone where the woodbine twineth"?

Yet nearly 12 months after "victory" in Iraq, oil prices are at an eye-popping $38 a barrel, or about $15 above the two-decade average, and some forecasters are now offering a far less sanguine prognosis: Not only will oil stay high through 2005, but the days of cheap crude are history. These aren't exactly glad tidings for a global economy designed to run on low-priced oil, nor for a White House that gambled it could deliver low oil prices with a mix of diplomatic muscle and market liberalization.

What happened? In simplest terms, what we're seeing are the final months of a 25-year oil boom.

Many motorists and some opportunistic politicians will reflexively point the finger at greedy oil companies and nefarious "foreigners." But eventually, all of us, from the man in the Oval Office on down, may be forced to concede that the days of cheap oil are over and that the U.S. really does need an entirely new approach to energy.
(Paul Robers, "Say Goodbye to Cheap Oil via the LA Times)

Gee, you'd think a WhiteWash House that's a partly owned subsidiary of Big Energy would be able to deliver cheap oil, right? Not. And just like Iraq, everyone was done on faith, and there's no plan for when things go wrong.

Say, how's that hydrogen car coming? We haven't heard to much about that, have we?

NOTE: For why the days of cheap oil aren't coming back, see about the Hubbert Curve (back here).

The Wecovery: So if this is a recovery, where are the jobs? 

Conveniently buried in a story with the headline "Economy Grows at Solid 4.1 Percent Pace" is the following:

In other economic news, new claims for unemployment benefits rose last week by a seasonally adjusted 1,000 to 339,000, the Labor Department said.
(via AP from LA Times)

Welcome to 1,000 lucky duckies!

Hey, AP! Bush has $170 million! Let him do his campaigning all on his own!

Say, is Ashcroft out of rehab yet? 

Just asking.

I just want to make sure he's really, really there for Tom "Bugsy" DéLay when he's indicted.

"Crooks": Tom "Bugsy" DéLay about to wuss out? 

Pass the popcorn!

DELAY TO STEP DOWN?....Could it be? From Roll Call (subscription only):
House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) has begun quiet discussions with a handful of colleagues about the possibility that he will have to step down from his leadership post temporarily if he is indicted by a Texas grand jury investigating alleged campaign finance abuses.

...Republican Conference rules state that a member of the elected leadership who has been indicted on a felony carrying a penalty of at least two years in prison must temporarily step down from the post.
(via CalPundit via Atrios)

Or the deep-fried battered chocolate bars. Whatever your pleasure is! Sit back, relax, and watch another Republican crook get indicted?

Say, how's that... I know it starts with a "P"... Some investigation...

The real elephant Clarke put in the room is the one nobody's talking about 

Not how Bush butchered our response to AQ by hanging up an action plan in a corporate-style bureaucratic maze for eight months.

No, that's a small elephant, compared to the big elephant, which is that Bush botched the entire WOT by focusing on Iraq, and he did so because his advisors are all Cold War relics with closed minds.

It would be nice to see the press focus on the real issue. Hopefully, if things keep exploding outward, it will.

That "inconsistency" meme the WhiteWash House is trying to peddle 

Clarke nailed that one too. Read the transcript:

THOMPSON: So you believed that your conference with the press in August of 2002 is consistent with what you've said in your book and what you've said in press interviews the last five days about your book?

CLARKE: I do. I think the think that's obviously bothering you is the tenor and the tone. And I've tried to explain to you, sir, that when you're on the staff of the president of the United States, you try to make his policies look as good as possible.
(transcript via Times)

Duh! In fact, these is a beautiful case of "blame the victim." The WhiteWash House puts out the lies on WMD. The WhiteWash House puts out the lies on an A-Iraq connection. Clarke is duty-bound to defend all this as best he can, to make The WhiteWash House look "as good as possible."

Then when his obligations to The WhiteWash House are over, he's free to tell the truth as he sees it, exposing the The WhiteWash House lies. And Clarke is the inconsistent one? I don't think so.

UPDATE Froomkin rips Condi a new one:

Okay, students of the White House, what did we learn yesterday?

1) Senior administration officials can make remarks on a not-for-attribution basis to the press -- but the White House can later decide to make the attribution public if it can help discredit said senior administration official-turned-whistle-blower.

2) When you're a special assistant to the president, your job is to tell the press the truth -- but only the parts that reflect well on the president.

3) When you're the national security adviser, it's really important for the public to understand your position so you give lots of interviews to the press -- but you can't answer questions under oath before a legislatively-chartered body because that would be a violation of the Constitution.

4) It's not okay to suggest the president has credibility problems -- unless you're the president, and you're at a black-tie correspondents dinner, and you're being really, really funny.
(via WaPo)

Looks like the WhiteWash House outing the source of a backgrounder has the press pretty steamed. Say, doesn't this remind me of something.... Something criminal... Starts with a "P"....

Condi fights for her life.... By calling the tame press into her office 


I mean, Clarke is under oath, and Condi isn't, and we already know these guys will say anything, so who cares?

And the argument that there's some kind of constitutional reason for her not to testify, in public, under oath is just a smokescreen. Josh Marshall nails it.

UPDATE Heh heh. Daschle calls Condi on her behavior too:

span class="highlight">IWe need Condoleezza Rice, who seems to have time to appear on every television show, to make time to appear publicly before the 9-11 Commission. She is not constrained by precedent from doing that, as the White House has argued. As the Congressional Research Service documented, two of her predecessors have given testimony in open session on matters much less important than September 11. I've reluctantly reached the conclusion that what really constrains Ms. Rice's full cooperation is political considerations.
(via Senate Democratic site.)

"Reluctantly concluded" is rather fine, I think.

A good summation of Clarke's testimony 


Kaplan is right. It was a home run.

Oh yeah, and you ought to read Josh Marshall's post about how Condi Rice is declassifying documents written by Clarke and writing in the WaPo while at the same time refusing to testify before the 9/11 commission. Josh sees it as a tactical strategic move by the administration. Condi only reveals information that helps her boss and then heads off stage quickly so she won't have to answer any questions. In short, she's just doing what Clarke says he was doing in that background briefing back in 2002.

However, I actually think most people will see it for what it is: rank hypocrisy. She won't testify under oath because she'd have to admit that Clarke is right about this -- and she'd have to do it under oath. She won't testify before the 9/11 commission in public or behind closed doors again because she'd have to admit this.

As I've said before, they're in trouble folks.

Clarke to Condi: "If you had done your job"... 

Apparently Clarke was dy-no-mite on Larry King too.

In an interview Wednesday on CNN's "Larry King Live," Clarke said that "we'll never know" if the 9/11 terrorist attacks were preventable.

But he said the Clinton administration's approach to a similar threat before the turn of the millennium -- in which top officials held daily interagency meetings and actively sought out information from within their agencies -- shows that a similar approach might have worked.

He said that people within the FBI knew that two of the 19 hijackers were in the country before September 11, but that information never made its way up the chain of command.

"If Condi Rice had been doing her job and holding those daily meetings the way Sandy Berger did, if she had a hands-on attitude to being national security adviser when she had information that there was a threat against the United States ... [the information] would have been shaken out in the summer of 2001," he told King.
(via CNN)

And where was our CEO President during all this? In the exercise room? On vacation?

10 questions for Al Franken 

Here's one of them:

Q. 6. Our nation experiences eight years of unparalleled prosperity and international good will. Then, come election time, 50 percent of our country decides to vote out the party that brought us our good times. Now, on the combined domestic and international fronts we are at an unprecedented low, yet all the pundits are expecting a tight race. What the hell is wrong with us?!

A. [FRANKEN]: I think Clinton made it look too easy. Here he was a successful president with one hand tied behind his back, always under assault by a hostile Congress and the nutcase right. Americans just assumed it wasn't that hard to be president so they took a flyer on Bush. Gore paid for Clinton's sins, and Bush pretended to be something he's not. As far as this year? I believe the mainstream media's been cowed and not doing their job, leaving the right-wing media free to present a distorted view of this administration. I think this is the most radically conservative administration in history and, if we don't get these guys out of there, the deck will be stacked for decades.
(via Times)

What Al said.

Brits take cuisine to new heights 

Better than passing the popcorn!

Chocoholics seeking to indulge their passion this Easter will appreciate a British hotel chain's diet-busting chocolate sandwich, which boasts the added attraction of being dipped in batter and deep-fried.
(via Reuters)

Democrats still successfully protecting your overtime pay 

Election year posturing, my Aunt Fanny! I pay my bills with OT!

U.S. Senate Democrats vowed on Wednesday to press ahead to stop the Bush administration's planned changes in rules on overtime pay after Republicans blocked a vote on the election-year jobs issue.

In a critical 51-47 vote Republicans failed to win the 60 votes necessary to block a vote on the Democratic overtime proposal and move on to passing the bill.
(via Reuters)

Bev Harris's book on electronic voting machines is out 

Black Box Voting.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

It takes a village to stomp a weasel™ 

Welcome aboard, Tom!

Good Heavens! The anti-Bush memes are going mainstream! 

I'm still plowing through the Clarke transcript, and I get a pop-line whose come-on phrase is:

"Who cares what you think?" (See here for context).

Sure, it turned out to be some useless telemarketing-equivalent, but that makes it even more interesting.

Now, granted, the demo for reading the online transcripts of the 9/11 hearings at 11PM EST is rather narrow. But still, the fact that some soulless marketing weasel used a famous anti-Bush meme to pique my interest is suggestive of a big erosion in public support for Bush. Yes? Readers? Any marketing experts care to comment?

FUX screws the pooch 

Finally, finally, FINALLY someone is calling Fox "News" for what they are.

KERREY: And let me also say this document of Fox News earlier, this transcript that they had, this is a background briefing. And all of us that have provided background briefings for the press before should beware. I mean, Fox should say occasionally fair and balanced after putting something like this out.

KERREY:(LAUGHTER) Because they violated a serious trust.

KERREY:(APPLAUSE) All of us that come into this kind of an environment and provide background briefings for the press I think will always have this as a reminder that sometimes it isn't going to happen, that it's background. Sometimes, if it suits their interest, they're going to go back, pull the tape, convert it into transcript and send it out in the public arena and try to embarrass us or discredit us. So I object to what they've done, and I think it's an unfortunate thing they did.
(transscript via the Times)

Great to see the SCLM and the Bush Administration all over Fox for publishing a backgrounder. Oh, wait ...

Clarke asks: Who let the dogs out? 

The Salon interview with Joe Conason here:

Vice President Cheney told Rush Limbaugh that you were not "in the loop," and that you're angry because you were passed over by Condi Rice for greater authority. And in fact you were dropped from Cabinet-level position to something less than that. How do you respond to what the Vice President said?

The vice president is becoming an attack dog, on a personal level, which should be beneath him but evidently is not.
(via Salon)

[rim shot. Laughter. Applause].

Go on, Richard! Don't hold back. Say what you feel! More:

Dr. Rice now says that your plans to "roll back" al-Qaida were not aggressive enough for the Bush administration. How do you answer that, in light of what we know about what they did and didn't do?

I just think it's funny that they can engage in this sort of "big lie" approach to things. The plan that they adopted after Sept. 11 was the plan that I had proposed in January [2001}. If my plan wasn't aggressive enough, I suppose theirs wasn't either.

On practitioners of "big lie" techniques, see the essential Orcinus, here. Read the whole thing..

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