Saturday, April 17, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

Anyone remember the old Firesign Theatre sketch? "This is the hour of the wolf news"? Kinda how I feel, these days. Honestly, I don't think I've recovered from Bush's press conference. The surreal sense of total dislocation....

On the other hand, it was a beautiful spring day in Philly; the apple blossoms were out. I guess we'd better enjoy it while we can, before it turns ninety degrees and sticky ;-)

Oh, and FTF.

Rocket launchers sought in Oakland warehouse near airport [update] 


Investigators from a dozen federal, state and local agencies raided a sprawling warehouse complex near Oakland International Airport on Friday, looking for items that included devices used to launch rockets from vehicles.

The exact nature of the investigation and the evidence being sought at the complex in San Leandro was not known because the federal search warrant used to conduct the raid was filed in U.S. District Court under seal. The search is expected to continue today.
However, U.S. Magistrate Edward Chen, the judge who signed the warrant earlier in the week, told The Chronicle: "The warrant was for a bunch of devices for rockets that could be launched from military vehicles and (for) some M-16s," semiautomatic assault rifles used by the U.S. military. "


UPDATE Curiouser and curiouser:

Law enforcement agents who raided a sprawling warehouse near Oakland International Airport failed to find the weapons they were looking for, including rocket launchers, officials said Saturday.

After obtaining a warrant to search for rocket launchers and other military weaponry, more than 200 officers from federal, state and local agencies raided the complex early Friday morning, federal officials said.

Federal officials would not reveal the exact nature of the investigation, but said the search was not related to terrorism.
(via AP)

Uh huh.

Harold Chapman, 65, the owner of building, said he suspected that a man dating one of his female friends may have called one of the agencies as a prank.

"I think he called the FBI up and said I had a bunch of ground-to-air missiles," Chapman said. "Of course, it's unfounded. I don't have any ground-to-air missiles."

Well, I'm certainly glad that a raid seeking ground-to-air missiles in a warehouse near an airport had nothing to do with terrorism. Otherwise, I might not feel safer. Weird.

Remember Bush's mustard gas on the turkey farm? It was YABL, YABL, YABL! 

Not once, but twice at his last press conference? How could I have missed this from Al Kamen:

Meanwhile, Bush, in his news conference Tuesday, showed he was ready to raise the level of his play in this arena.

Bush found a way to make not one, not two, but three factual errors in a single 15-word sentence, which must be something of a world indoor record. Bush said it is still possible that inspectors will find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

"They could still be there. They could be hidden, like the 50 tons of mustard gas in a turkey farm," Bush said, referring to Libya's WMD disclosures last month.

The White House, according to Reuters, said [1] the accurate figure was 23.6 metric tons or 26 tons, not 50. [2] The stuff was found at various locations, not at a turkey farm. And there was [3] no mustard gas on the farm at all, but unfilled chemical munitions.

Other than that, the sentence was spot on.
(via WaPo)

"Factual errors," eh? No, it couldn't be that Bush ... just ... makes .... shit .... up ....

YABL, YABL, YABL! Does sound kind of like a turkey, doesn't it?

Iraq Insurgency: Six Marines killed on Iraq-Syrian border 

More proof that we're winning:

Six Marines were killed and scores of insurgent Iraqis slain in a fierce 14-hour battle Saturday between Marines and mujahedeen fighters who slipped into this town near the Syrian border.
(via Kansas City Star)

Thanks to alert reader Northsylvania.

Iraq insurgency: Still too quiet 

A miscellany from AP:

We've closed down highways into Baghdad:

The U.S. military closed down two major highways into Baghdad on Saturday in the latest disruption caused by intensified attacks by anti-U.S. insurgents.

Sections of the two highways, north and south of the capital, were closed off to repair damage from a mounting number of roadside bombs. Commanders suggested the routes remained vulnerable to attacks by insurgents who have been targeting U.S. military supply lines.

"We've got to fix those roads, we've also got to protect those roads," Army Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt told reporters in Baghdad.
(via AP in the San Jose Mercury News)

This was the press conference that Kimmit fainted at, I imagine.

And I seem to remember those long, vulnerable supply lines from last year. But why now? Maybe to cut Sadr in Najaf off from his supporters in Sadr City, in the Baghdad slums? Since the Najaf negotiations seem to have broken down:

In the south [Najaf], U.S. troops skirmished for a second day with militiamen loyal to radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. His aides said Iraqi-led mediation aimed at resolving a standoff with the Americans had broken down.

A top al-Sadr aide, Jabir al-Khafaji, said mediations by Iraqi politicians had ended because of U.S. conditions that the cleric's al-Mahdi Army milita be disbanded.

U.S. forces at Najaf appear to be holding back their firepower to allow moderate clerics to bring pressure against al-Sadr, avoiding an assault on Najaf.

Meaning that Sistani still has Bush by the balls. Eesh.

Goalposts With Wheels 

The secret of not appearing to be flipping when, in truth, you are flopping? Redefine your objective.

You can catch Charles Krauthammer in the act here.

The column is meant to be a lethal blow to the muddled idiocy of all those comparisons of Iraq to "Vietnam," and everything that word entails. And I'm not kidding about that "lethal."

There is no cure for the Vietnam syndrome. It will only go away when the baby-boom generation does, dying off like the Israelites in the desert, allowing a new generation, cleansed of the memories and the guilt, to look at the world clearly once again.

Amnesia as clarity. Interesting concept. Not remembering certainly makes a pundit's life easier; forming an opinion based on a density of likely contradictory data is always more difficult than doing so on a simple set of selectively remembered facts. Works for Bush. And for those who've hitched their wagon to his star.

So, Charles, the Kraut, is waiting for the boomers to shuffle off their mortal coil. And while he waits, he will happily, if sternly, guide non-boomers to the path of moral clarity. That there would be comparisons between Iraq and Vietnam was inevitable, he tells us, but not why. Instead, he offers the example of such a comparison from early in the Iraq war.

During our astonishingly fast dash to Baghdad, taking the capital within 21 days, the chorus of naysayers was already calling Iraq a quagmire on Day 8!

This is nonsense, of course. There was no "chorus of naysayers." What there was were multiple reports and commentaries by journalists and military analysts, often working for media sources that had either endorsed the war or been highly supportive, about unexpectedly fierce localized opposition that raised the perfectly natural question of whether Rumsfeld's lean troop levels, deployed according to an expectation of rapid progress to Baghdad, would prove adequate to subdue the Iraqi nation.

From this non-sequitur, Mr. K moves to this one: the assurance that Iraq was not Vietnam then, and continues not to be, now.

Next we're given a few differences. In Iraq, we didn't inherit a "failed French colonialism," we overthrew "a deeply reviled tyrant." Yes, there were those few who prospered under Saddam, like the entire city of Fallujah for instance, i.e., their resistance is the equivalent of Saddam's tyranny, and must be dispatched with the same thoroughness. And since Sunni Arabs are only 1/6th of the population of Iraq, "a fraction of a fraction," no problem.

Next up, the Shiia, a majority of the Iraqi population. Not to worry. Saddam's frequent victims, the Shiia are glad we invaded; they have been truly liberated. Yes, they "chafe" at being occupied, but the Shiia clerics realize we must stay, lest our leaving leave the Shiia vulnerable to "the sway of either the Saddamites, foreign Sunni (al Qaeda) terrorists, or the runt Shiite usurper, Moqtada Sadr."

Al Sadr, Krauthammer will allow, represents something of a "crises," but look how the Shiia are helping us by negotiating with Al Sadr. Ditto for the Governing Council, working with us in Fallujah. All to the good, because these leaders "have far more legitimacy than Sadr's grandiloquent Mahdi army or the jihaadists of Fallujah." Whether they have more legitimacy than did the various governments that ruled South Vietnam Mr. K doesn't tell us. Nor does he comment on which if any of our "allies" might have more legitimacy than the other. Or whether any of them have sufficient legitimacy to offset our presence as occupiers of Iraq.

Then again, why should Krauthammer bother with such comparisons, or such analysis?

Iraq is Vietnam not on the ground, but in our heads. The troubles of the last few weeks were immediately interpreted as a national uprising, Iraq's Tet Offensive, and created a momentary panic. The panic overlooked two facts: First, Tet was infinitely larger and deadlier in effect and in scale. And second, Tet was a devastating military defeat for the Viet Cong. They never recovered. Unfortunately, neither did we, psychologically. Walter Cronkite, speaking for the establishment, declared the war lost. Once said, it was.

Who would have thought that Charles Krauthammer had a secret, inner "Lovin' Spoonful," but he does seem to believe in "magic." Certainly, nothing about those last two sentences could be interpreted as history.

And now to the "other" big difference between Iraq and Vietnam, according to the gospel of Kraut: in Vietnam we faced "a decades-old, centralized nationalist (communist) movement," and nothing like that exists in Iraq. Well, that's a relief. In fact, in Iraq what we confront is a country "highly factionalized along lines of ethnicity and religion."

Now we get to the heart of darkness Krauthammer's argument.

The gist: We have been responsding to this factionalism as if it is a problem, when perhaps it is the solution. Our motivation, the goal of "a united, pluralistic, democratic Iraq, in which the factions negotiate their differences the way we do in the West, " has turned out to be problematic, not because of any error in the policy, or its implementation, but because of the Iraqiis themselves.

It is a noble goal. It would be a great achievement for the Middle East. But it may be a bridge too far. That may happen in the future, when Iraq has had time to develop the habits of democracy and rebuild civil society, razed to the ground by Saddam.

But until then, expecting Iraqis to fight with us on behalf of a new abstract Iraq may be unrealistic. Some Iraqi police and militia did fight with us in the last few weeks. But many did not. That is not hard to understand. There is no de Gaulle. There is no organizing anti-Saddam resistance myth. There is as yet no legitimate Iraqi leadership to fight and die for.

Now he tells us. It was rather a different story we were told prior to the invasion. In fact, just last Tuesday during his press conference, the President was still sticking up for the democratic instincts of our brown-skinned brothers, and sisters, of course.

And it dawned on me that had we blown the peace in World War II, that perhaps this conversation would not have been taking place. It also dawned on me then that when we get it right in Iraq, at some point in time an American President will be sitting down with a duly-elected Iraqi leader talking about how to bring security to what has been a troubled part of the world.

The legacy that our troops are going to leave behind is a legacy of lasting importance, as far as I'm concerned. It's a legacy that really is based upon our deep belief that people want to be free and that free societies are peaceful societies.

Some of the debate really center around the fact that people don't believe Iraq can be free; that if you're Muslim, or perhaps brown-skinned, you can't be self-governing and free. I strongly disagree with that. I reject that, because I believe that freedom is the deepest need of every human soul, and, if given a chance, the Iraqi people will be not only self-governing, but a stable and free society.

That moment made me cringe, not because I don't believe it to be true, I do. But because nothing that this administration has done in prosecuting its Iraq policy of invasion and occupation suggests that their belief is anything other than rhetorical.

For Krauthammer, as for David Brooks et al, that is sufficient.

True national greatness, after all, requires we be tough-minded, as well as just plain tough, if not with ourselves, with all others, including our allies, including those who have been the object of our liberating invasion of their country. And Krauthammer, ready to move those goalposts, need only help us understand what truly motivates Iraqiis and the wheels will do the rest.

What there is to fight and die for is tribe and faith. Which is why we should lower our ambitions and see Iraqi factionalization as a useful tool


This is no time for despair. We must put down the two rebellions -- Fallujah's and Sadr's -- to demonstrate our seriousness, then transfer power as quickly as we can to those who will inherit it anyway, the Shiite majority with its long history of religious quietism and wariness of Iran. And antagonism toward their former Sunni oppressors. If the Sunnis continue to resist and carry on a civil war, it will then be up to the Shiites to fight it, not for Americans to do it on their behalf.

Hardly the best of all possible worlds. But it is a world we could live with.

I had to read that last paragraph several times before I could be sure that Krauthammer wasn't actually proposing an early withdrawal of our troops from Iraq, or at least committment to some kind of timeline. Instead, I think the point of what he is suggesting is to accept the Shiia as the rightful rulers of Iraq in service of the larger goal of making them our proxy when it comes to putting down jihadist violence.

There is so much dumbness contained in this single column, it's hard to know where to begin.

There are divisions between Shia and Sunni, but there are also profound connections, not the least being that they are all Iraqis, as attested to by the high rate of intermarriage between the two groups. Sunnis were involved in Saddam's oppression of the Shiia, but it was this country which had an army resident in a nearby desert during the brutal suppression of the Shia uprising at the end of the Gulf War and did nothing to stop it. Why would the Shiia be willing to engage in a civil war with Sunni Iraq on our behalf? The problems we are facing in Iraq range beyond Fallujah and Najaf, and include the complicated matter of an Iraqi constitution. Bremer has come down so hard on the side of "indivdual rights," that he/we helped to create the problem of Shiia rejection of the constitution, because they rightly saw that giving the Kurds veto power undermined the central concept of any democratic society, majority rule; what kind of majority rule can be vetoed, not by contitutional guarantees of individual liberties, which Sistanni has made clear he understands, but instead, by constitutional fiat handed to the Kurds; a Shiia government may be able to propose, but minority Kurds, but not the minority Sunnis, would retain the power to depose whatever doesn't please them.

Then there's this unaddressed difficulty inherent in Krauhammer's revised vision; what makes him think, based on the last two weeks, that the means by which we will have to put down the current "two rebellions," won't have created a permanent resistence to any American presence in Iraq?

But I guess that's just all too detailed for those big-picture guys.

Republicans dropping like flies during press conferences 

Now it's DOD Iraqi flak Kimmit who "appeared to briefly lose consciousness during a news conference."

So, it's not exactly the same as Bush, since during his press conference, Bush appeared to briefly regain consciousness.

But still, what's up? Something uniquely stressful about answering questions right now?

With things quiet... Too quiet... In Najaf ....

Iraq insurgency: Hopes for negotiated settlement in Najaf fade 

Via Juan Cole.

It's been quiet... Too quiet...

Except for the explosions in Kufa and the demonstrations in East Baghdad, I mean.

So, the Congressional vote for war, the UN speech, the diplomacy, the speeches to the American people were just a fraud? 

There was just the pretence of demoracy, and in fact a decision for war had been made, by one man, acting alone in secret?


We knew it at the time, but now we really know it, and, as usual with Bush, it's worse than even we imagined. One of our problems is that we have limits, so when Bush or some other winger says something utterly outrageous, we don't take them at their word. Remember this one from Bush?

[BSUH]: I'm the commander—see, I don't need to explain—I do not need to explain why I say things," he told Bob Woodward. "That's the interesting thing about being president."
(via Atlantic

Turns out Bush meant exactly what he said. So much for the Constitution:

On the war's origins, the book describes Bush pulling Rumsfeld into a cubbyhole office adjacent to the Situation Room for that November 2001 meeting and asking him what shape the Iraq war plan was in. When Rumsfeld said it was outdated, Mr. Bush ordered a fresh one.

The book says Mr. Bush told Rumsfeld to keep quiet about their planning and when the defense secretary asked to bring CIA Director George Tenet into it at some point, the president said not to do so yet.

Even Mr. Bush's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, was apparently not fully briefed. Woodward said Mr. Bush told her that morning he was having Rumsfeld work on Iraq but did not give details.

The book says Gen. Tommy Franks, who was in charge of the Afghan war as head of Central Command, uttered a string of obscenities when the Pentagon told him to come up with an Iraq war plan in the midst of fighting another conflict.

Rumsfeld gave Franks a blank check worth hundreds of millions of dollars, according to the book, but Congress was kept in the dark about it.

About that, Woodward told Mike Wallace in the 60 Minutes interview, "(At) the end of July 2002, they need $700 million, a large amount of money for all these tasks. And the president approves it. But Congress doesn't know and it is done.

"They get the money from a supplemental appropriation for the Afghan War, which Congress has approved. ... Some people are gonna look at a document called the Constitution which says that no money will be drawn from the treasury unless appropriated by Congress. Congress was totally in the dark on this."
(via CBS)

Now, of course, Bush and his handlers are saying these were just plans, no decision has been made, et cetera.

And, oh yeah, so much for Congressional spending authority, checks and balances, and the Constitution.

It's enough to make me go to one of those MoveOn bake salses, and I am not a bake sale kind of guy.

Friday, April 16, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

Wierd. No 5:00 horror. Have they just gotten undisciplined, or is it just horror 24/7?

UPDATE From Corrente Chief Lyricist MJS:

It's one Iraq, two Iraq, three Iraq rock
Four Iraq, five Iraq, six Iraq rock
Seven Iraq, eight Iraq, nine Iraq rock
It's Iraq around the clock tonight...

Well, on that note....

Color Us Red, White & Blue 

Is there anything more American, more down home, more "red state" than a Bake Sale? Church auxiliaries do them, YWCAs do them, PTAs do them, so MoveOn.org figured, if anything goes, let's do it, Let's Have A Bake Sale.

And if one Bake Sale is a good idea, isn't a thousand Bake Sales a thousand times better?


Tomorrow [Saturday], from Lincoln City, OR to Kent, OH to Peaks Island, ME, MoveOn members will holding over 1,000 bake sales to help raise some dough (sorry) and take our country back. It's a great way to demonstrate the contrast between Bush's millionaire-backed campaign and our grassroots movement.

The creativity and energy folks are putting into their sales is just astounding. Over 11,000 bakers have signed up to help. And just take a look at some of the sales' titles:

Beat Bush Bake Bash in
Mountaineer Bake Sale for Democracy in Charleston, WV
Cheekypotato's Home-made Aussie Cookies, Cakes, Pizzas & Calzones for Democracy in Phoenix, AZ
No CARB (Cheney, Ashcroft, Rumsfeld, Bush) Bake Sale in Seattle, WA
Have Your Cake and Beat Bush II in Storrs, CT
Sweet Eating, Bush Beating in Brooklyn, NY
Hippies against Hoodlums (HAH!) in Boulder, CO
Afternoon Tea for Democracy in Princeton, NJ
Goodies for Good in Davie, FL
. . . and the list goes on.

With over 1,000 bake sales, it’s likely there’s a bake sale you can drop by near you

To find one, click here, you'll be whisked away to events in the LA area, but you can find out what is in your area by entering your zip code in the appropriate box. That's the best I can do because MoveOn's emails are tailored to the geographical imperatives of each member.

This won't be the last of these efforts, so sign up to bake or to otherwise help.

UPDATE Alert reader peanut asks: Is Condi bringin' her special yellowcake?

UPDATE Alert reader skaterina adds Moab, UT to the list. See you there, Moabites!

Iraq insurgency: the legal case against Sadr 

Via The Australian from The Agonist.

Interesting that the judge who compiled the case is in the sacred city of Najaf, Sadr is holed up in Najaf, Sistani has an office in Najaf, and the Marines have surrounded Najaf. So, again, I wonder what Sistani wants?

Yes, Sistani has Bush by the balls indeed 

The classic question one politician asks another: "What do you want?"

More than 2500 US troops surround the city, primed for an attack to capture the renegade imam Moqtada al-Sadr. But the spiritual leader of all Iraq's Shiites, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, has told them he has "drawn a red line" around Najaf.

It is a classic Iraqi power play. Ayatollah Sistani has brought the rambunctious Sadr to heel, so now he will protect him against a US threat to capture or kill the headstrong young imam, who is wanted on murder charges.

The implicit deal Ayatollah Sistani is offering the US is that it should back off in the face of his defusing a Shiite uprising
that risked all-out war between the US and the majority Shiites.

There has been an ominous Iraqi silence on a United Nations outline of the structure of a provisional government to run the country between the return of sovereign power by the US on June 30 and elections to be held in January.

The plan calls for the abolition of the US-appointed Iraqi Governing Council and of the US occupation administration, the Coalition Provisional Authority. It calls for the UN to lead a consultative process to appoint officials and a national conference to appoint a national assembly.

But no light has yet been shed on how tense relations between religious, tribal and ethnic groups will be reflected in the structure of the interim government...
(via Sidney Morning Herald)

Sistani, Sistani I love you Sistani,
You're always a day away...

Iraq insurgency: US forces holding 200 members of Iraqi Civil Defence Corps 

Winning hearts and minds.... Honestly, what did we expect?

US forces have detained around 200 Iraqi paramilitary soldiers who refused to take part in a US offensive against the Sunni Muslim city of Fallujah, their former comrades said today.

The US military declined to confirm whether the men were being held.

Senior officers play down the significance of such incidents but, asked about reports of mutiny among Iraqi troops, have acknowledged a "command failure" took place during the Fallujah offensive.

Soldiers from the Baghdad-based 36th Security Brigade, part of the Iraqi Civil Defence Corps (ICDC), said that last week US commanders took them at night to Fallujah, west of the capital, where US forces were massing to crush a growing insurgency.

"They told us to attack the city and we were astonished. How could an Iraqi fight an Iraqi like this? This meant that nothing had changed from the Saddam Hussein days. We refused en masse," said Ali al-Shamari.

Shamari said the brigade members did not know they were heading to Fallujah until they arrived there.

After the brigade refused to fight, he said, soldiers were stripped of their badges and confined to tents in a US base on the outskirts of Fallujah. Their rations were restricted to one meal per day.

"I escaped, but around 200 of our comrades remain there. We demand their release," Shamari said.

Ali Hussein, a Shi'ite private, said the brigade's mission since its formation had been security tasks such as conducting searches and guarding buildings.

"Suddenly, we were asked to take part in a huge offensive," Hussein said, adding that he felt sympathy for Fallujah residents although they were from the Sunni minority who had dominated the Shi'ites for decades.
(via Sidney Morning Herald)

Hey, I've got an idea! Let's ship 'em to Gitmo!

Seems like the situation in Fallujah must have been a lot worse than we were told, for us to throw these guys in there.

At long last, a Republican operative has the decency to admit a mistake! 

And it's none other than Acting President Rove himself.

President Bush's top political adviser said this week he regretted the use of a "Mission Accomplished" banner as a backdrop for the president's landing on an aircraft carrier last May to mark the end of major combat operations in Iraq.

"I wish the banner was not up there," said White House political strategist Karl Rove. "I'll acknowledge the fact that it has become one of those convenient symbols."

Last October, Bush said the White House had nothing to do with the banner; a spokesman later clarified that the ship's crew asked for the sign and the White House staff had it made by a private vendor. It wasn't clear who paid for the sign.
(via the LA Times)

"Convenient symbol," eh?

Symbolize this!

Have they transplanted a heart back into Dick "Dick" Cheney? 

Here's a curious little item from alert reader Xan that I quote in its entirety:

Was Vice President Dick Cheney recently treated at Culpeper Regional Hospital?

Some with connections to the hospital say they heard that Cheney was recently treated at and released from the facility.

A spokesman for Cheney declined to comment.

When asked yesterday whether it was true, hospital spokeswoman Lynn Martin said, "We have no record in our system of Mr. Cheney being here."

When further asked if Cheney had been seen by hospital personnel but there was simply no record of the visit, Martin replied, "We have no record in our system of Mr. Cheney being here."

When asked if his office had helped provide security for the reported visit, Culpeper County Sheriff Lee Hart replied: "No. He has his own people."


When asked if the Sheriff's Office knew that Cheney was or would be at the hospital, Hart said, "We had some knowledge."

When questioned further, Hart said he could say no more until he made a telephone call. Less than two minutes later the sheriff called back to report, "We had no knowledge of the incident."

The exact date of or reasons for the vice president's reported hospital visit are unclear. It has long been rumored that Cheney, who has a history of heart problems, has occasionally been secreted at some remote Culpeper government facility since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
(via the Fredericksburg Freelance-Star)

And you all know the joke: "Bush is a heartbeat away from the Presidency." [rimshot. Laughter]

UPDATE Alert reader Jon H asks:

Maybe the hospital is keeping Cheney supplied with the blood he needs for nourishment?

Lyric Corner: "I'm your puppet" 

Somehow, the prospect of Bush and Cheney testifying together at the 9/11 Commission brings this song to mind. I don't know why...

Which shall it be? The Marvin Gaye version, or the Elton John version?

Pull the string and I'll wink at you, I'm your puppet
I'll do funny things if you want me to, I'm your puppet

I'll be yours to have and to hold
Darling you've got full control of your puppet

Your every wish is my command
All you gotta do is wiggle your little hand
I'm your puppet, I'm your puppet

I'm just a toy, just a funny boy
That makes you laugh when you're blue
I'll be wonderful, do just what I'm told
I'll do anything for you
I'm your puppet, I'm your puppet
(via here)



US Treasury puts Government Seal on RNC propaganda—and my taxes are paying for it! 

Go read Pandagon.

Great headlines of our time: "Fighting erupts as U.S., Iraqis start dialogue" 

We really expect better of the Canadians.

Explosions shook a riverbank as U.S. soldiers battled Shiite militiamen outside the southern city of Kufa today. The fighting came as the U.S. military held its first direct negotiations in an attempt to end fighting in Falluja.

The military said U.S. soldiers fought back after they were attacked by supporters of radical cleric near Kufa, which neighbours the holy city of Najaf. Some 2,500 U.S. soldiers are deployed outside Najaf to kill or capture al-Sadr and dismantle his al-Mahdi army militia.

Large explosions were seen by the river in a sparsely populated area on the edge of Kufa. Five civilians caught in the crossfire were killed and 14 wounded, hospital officials said.

In Falluja, west of Baghdad, U.S. military and civilian officials met today with leaders from Falluja, the first known direct negotiations involving Americans since the siege of the city began April 5.

Until now, U.S.-allied Iraqi leaders have been holding talks with city representatives trying to find an end to fighting that has killed dozens of U.S. soldiers and hundreds of Iraqis.

Both countries want to avoid a U.S. attack on Najaf, site of the holiest Shiite site — the Imam Ali Shrine, near the office where al-Sadr is located, surrounded by armed gunmen.

Shiite Governing Council member Ibrahim al-Jaafari said he saw "flexibility from al-Sadr's side" and urged Americans to show "similar flexibility."

Top U.S. administrator Paul Bremer was involved in "multiple channels" to try to negotiate an end to the standoff in the south and in Falluja, said Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

But Myers warned there was a limit as to how long the marines can wait. "At some point somebody has to make a decision on what we're going to do, and we certainly can't rule out the use of force there again," he said.

U.S. commanders have vowed to "kill or capture" al-Sadr, but have limited their actions to small skirmishes on the outskirts of the city.

Maj. Neal O'Brien said the units at Najaf "will not complete this operation" and will likely be replaced by other troops — a rotation that suggests that an assault on the city is not imminent.

Negotiations appeared focused on dissolving al-Sadr's al-Mahdi army militia — a demand he has refused — and how to deal with al-Sadr himself. He has been charged with involvement in the assassination last year of a rival Shiite cleric.
(via Toronto Star)

I don't get what's to negotiate about: The CPA wants to kill Sadr and destroy his militia, and Sadr doesn't want that. So how do we make a deal?

I think Rick Santorum would want to know about this 

Go read.

Gotta watch out for those disgruntled employees...

Anyhow, in case his staff isn't, uh, on top of it, you can Rick all about it here.

Heh heh heh.

Incomparably, The Howler shows us what a free press would look like 

Here are the questions that Bush was asked at his press conference (what the hell has he got to be stressed about, anyhow?), what's wrong with them, the questions that should have been asked, and how to ask them.

Of all the words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: It might have been.

Sigh. That slippery little scut gets a free pass again.

Juan Cole on Sadr and the Sadrists 

So—ho hum—all that "gangster" and "thug" rhetoric from Dear Leader is just wrong:

I am often highly impressed with the intelligence and learning of the military officers I meet at security conferences. But I confess myself deeply puzzled as to how, after being in Iraq for over a year, these bright and well-informed persons could have gotten the Sadrist movement so wrong.

1) It is a longstanding social movement, not just a fly by night militia
2) It is not tiny in numbers of adherents, though not all adherents are willing to put themselves out for it at the moment; that could change.
3) It has lots of potential leaders besides Muqtada
4) Its cadres can easily become guerrillas, as the Army of the Mahdi shows.

So you can't wipe it out, and you can't hope that it will just go away, and it is highly unwise to start a decades-long (yes) feud with it.
(via Informed Comment)


The "kill 'em all" strategy won't work.


The Republican sense of "impunity" 

Buried at the end of a Reuters story about "partisanship" is a list of three probes into Republican lawbreaking. Why would the Republicans do such things? In the punchline of the old joke: "Because they can." They felt they could get away with anything, so they did whatever they wanted.

That's a feeling of impunity.

Adding to the rough-and-tumble atmosphere has been squabbling over Bush's handling of Iraq and terror threats prior to Sept. 11, 2001 as well as some unrelated investigations.
(via Reuters)

"Squabbling"?! I mean, did Bush lie his way into a war, or not? Did Bush drop the ball on 9/11 not? To Reuters, raising these questions is "squabbling." And Nedra Pickler doesn't even work there! Merciful Heavens.

One probe involves possible bribes on the House floor on behalf of an administration-backed prescription drug bill that narrowly won passage late last year.

Authorities are also examining an alleged threat to dismiss a federal actuary if he revealed what the bill might actually cost, drawing fire from some Republicans as well as Democrats.

The Senate's top law enforcement officer found that two Republican aides tapped into Democratic computer files, part of an apparent renegade effort to track opposition to Bush's most contentious judicial nominees.

Man, that's a lot of probing, and there's no mention of The Plame Affair at all.

And do I sense a common thread here? Gee, it seems like the very same people who were prating about "the rule of law" while in the process of overthrowing Clinton are now being investigated for bribery, threats, and theft. What a surprise!
The essential Orcinus nails it:

The GOP, and the conservative movement generally, has been overtaken by people whose chief concerns have little to do with true conservatism and more with the Machivellian acquisition of power by any means. This is not mere opportunism, but a malignant metastasis that not only finds white supremacism an acceptable impulse but one fully consonant with its drive to power.

All tyrannies and all tyrants, including Bush and his regime in Washington, feel they posses "impunity," because the powper they have makes them crazy. It's our job, as citizens, to teach them differently.

Great headlines of our time: "Economic Rebound on Track Despite Reports" 

Who you gonna believe? Me or your lyin' eyes?

U.S. industrial production unexpectedly dropped in March while consumer sentiment slipped this month, but economists downplayed the two disappointing reports and said the economy's solid expansion remains on track.

Strong data this week on regional factory output and retail sales have boosted forecasts for overall economic growth in the first half of the year. Some economists are now looking for gross domestic product of about 5 percent, up from the 4.1 percent pace in the fourth-quarter last year.

Yet Federal Reserve officials have sought to play down worries they will be eager to lift official interest rates from 46-year lows in response, even with an surprising jump in consumer price inflation in March.

Richmond Federal Reserve Bank President Alfred Broaddus reinforced that message on Friday, saying the central bank was "some distance" from tightening monetary policy to choke off a future inflation threat. Broaddus also said he wanted "more confirmation" economic growth would be sustained.
(via Reuters)

What's "unexpected" about it? Bush is still in office!

Out of the mouths of babes 

So Dick "Dick" Cheney and his wife, authoress Lynn, travelling in the fabled East, and Lynn is doing a photo-op with some cute South Korean kids:

Lynne Cheney, wife of Vice President Dick Cheney, faced some tough grilling Friday when she met American and South Korean third graders on a tour of a U.S. military base in Seoul.

Among the questions: "Did your husband ever fight in a war?"

Mrs. Cheney stopped in at the Seoul American Elementary School on the sprawling Yongsan Army Garrison in the South Korean capital to give a short history lesson from her 2002 book "America: A Patriotic Primer."

As for her husband's military record, she said: "He was in college, so he did not fight in a war."
(via AP)

As with all the chickenhawks, "patriotism" and putting your own ass on the line are two very, very different concepts.

Too bad one of the kids didn't ask this:

Mrs. Cheney, why don't you feel your lesbian romance novel is "your best work"?

Oh well....

Our CEO President: Bush shows leadership by hiding decision for Iraq war from "team" 

Here's an example of Bush courage:

President Bush secretly ordered a war plan drawn up against Iraq less than two months after U.S. forces attacked Afghanistan and was so worried the decision would cause a furor he did not tell everyone on his national security team, says [Woodward's] new book on his Iraq policy.
(via AP)

Including his exercise partner and surrogate Mom, Condi.

It's the new Republican concept: "implausible deniability"!

Eesh. "Furor," eh?

The following presentation is 100% American! 

Crawford Dinner Theater Presents!

"I Remember It Well" ~ by MJS

We fought for peace.

We had a plan.

Long distance called


Ah yes, I remember it well.
We fought for peace

I fought for war

My ticker raced

My ass is sore

I remember it well.
Then on to Saddam’s Iraq

It’s Saddam’s no more
Caught him, and made him crack

War is such a chore

If not for France

You stuffed your crotch!

I creamed my pants

Ah, yes, I remember it well.
You wore a special suit

I swaggered strong

I stayed at home

I wore a thong!
How strong we were
How young and gay
Two valiant men
In every way!

Ah yes, I remember it well.

Based on:
Original song from "Gigi"
Music: Frederick Loewe
Lyrics: Alan Jay Lerner

Parody arrangement by MJS.
Makeup, wardrobe, and costume design by the farmer.

A Mustard Gas Turkey Farm Production ~ 2004


Thursday, April 15, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

Paid the price of civlization today.

Oh, and FTF (back)

I always knew those studies about cool college Republicans were part of Operation Steaming Load 

At last, some data:

College students favor Democratic presidential contender Sen. John Kerry over President Bush by a 10-point margin and have become substantially more dissatisfied with Bush over the past six months, according to a poll released Thursday.
(via CNN)

Now, if only we can get them to vote, and the Republicans don't manage to disenfranchise them.

Sunday's 60 minutes: Woodward to paint picture of dysfunctional WhiteWash House 

Who knew?

CBS has a teaser here. And Drudge (sigh) writes:

Top administration officials now barely speak to each other

Well, naturally.

With all the criminal investigations going on, their lawyers probably told them that not talking to each other would be a good idea.

Weird jobless claims numbers 

The experts tell us there's nothing to worry about:

New claims for unemployment benefits increased last week by 30,000, the biggest jump in 16 months. Still, analysts said Thursday they believe the labor market has turned a corner, pointing the way to a sustainable economic recovery.
(AP via Pandagon)

Of course, it could be just a blip. Let's hope. Honestly.

Say no more! Say no more! 

In case striking likely Democratic voters from the rolls won't be enough to win Florida in 2004, Bush takes out an insurance policy:

President Bush's embrace yesterday of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's plan to unilaterally disengage from the Palestinians carries potential political benefits for Bush... Bush's strategists believe that even small inroads into the Jewish vote could mean the difference between winning and losing Florida, and several Republicans believe the announcement could further inhibit Kerry's fundraising in the Jewish community.
(via WaPo)

Nudge nudge wink wink!

"Brave and courageous"? How about "Craven and boneheaded"?

Iraq insurgency: Sadr negotiating, with the Iranians, of all people, mediating 

From The Agonist.

The latest: According to Pakistani sources:

NAJAF Firebrand Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr said on Thursday he was prepared to meet an Iranian delegation in Najaf as he embraced mediation efforts to avert a showdown with US troops massed outside the holy city.

Another aide in nearby Kufa, Sheikh Fuad al-Torsi, said Sadr “welcomes the Iranian initiative because it is coming from an Islamic country.” But the contents of any Iranian proposal remained unknown to the Sadr camp and the delegation was tight-lipped about the purpose of its visit.

A senior US official said the delegation was in Iraq at the request of the British government.

What is clear is that Sadr has significantly toned down his rhetoric over the past week as US troops massed near Najaf with the stated mission of killing or capturing him.

On the ground in Najaf, all was quiet Thursday as Iraqi police were seen around the city’s main streets, while Sadr’s black-clad fighters milled around the shrine of Imam Ali, the city’s holiest site.
(via Pakistan Daily Times).

Well, as long as we don't we don't shell any mosques in Najaf, like we just did in Fallujah. That would'n't play real well on Iraqi TV, would it?

Iraq insurgency: The Brahimi Plan for a transitional government 

From the essential Juan Cole:

[Brahimi's plan] suggests a handful of top appointments, and wants the United Nations to have a strong hand in making them. But then he also suggests the election of a Consultative Assembly that would be more broadly based and would advise the government during the transition.

The danger in Brahimi's plan for a corrupt Pentagon-supported expat like Chalabi is that Brahimi is saying that the UN doesn't want him in a high appointive post because of all the questions that swirl around him regarding embezzlement and playing fast and loose with other people's money.

Brahimi seems to be saying that the appointed high officials--a president, two vice-presidents, and a prime minister-- should have genuine grass roots in Iraq and be respected as upright. I think Barzani and Talabani among the Kurds fit this bill, and so do Abdul Aziz al-Hakim and Ibrahim Jaafari among the Shiites. I don't know, however, to whom you would turn among the Sunni Arabs for a politician with substantial grass roots.

it seems likely that Chalabi also does want to clear the decks so that he can rule unopposed if he can get into power, without a lot of pesky informed technocrats second-guessing him and even thwarting some of his policies. Since the CPA is a creature of the Neocon-dominated Department of Defense, it may well be that punitive measures against former Baath Party members is designed to punish them for their hostile attitudes to Israel or to ensure that Iraq is able to conclude a Camp David-style peace treaty with Ariel Sharon down the road.
(via Juan Cole)

We have the word "Byzantine" to describe all this. It's interesting the linkage between Chalabi and Sharon, eh?

Rapture index closes mixed: Volanoes down, plagues up 


But trading closed before the Sharon's ghetto wall was blessed by The Leader. I'll check back tomorrow.

Bush remains unserious about loose nukes 

UnbelievableAll too believable. (See "Reckless indifference to the nightmare scenario," back). Anyhow:

Some Iraqi nuclear facilities appear to be unguarded, and radioactive materials are being taken out of the country, the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog agency reported after reviewing satellite images and equipment that has turned up in European scrapyards. The International Atomic Energy Agency sent a letter to U.S. officials three weeks ago informing them of the findings. The information was also sent to the U.N. Security Council in a letter from its director, Mohamed ElBaradei, that was circulated Thursday.

The IAEA is waiting for a reply from the United States, which is leading the coalition administering Iraq, officials said.

The United Sattes has virtually cut off information-sharing with the IAEA since invading Iraq in March 2003 on the premise that the country was hiding weapons of mass destruction.

No such weapons have been found, and arms control officials now worry the war and its chaotic aftermath may have increased chances that terrorists could get their hands on materials used for unconventional weapons or that civilians may be unknowingly exposed to radioactive materials.
(via AP)

You know, there could be a shipping container in the Port of Philadelphia right now with radioactive material, a conventional explosive, and a timer. If I were AQ, I'd set it for July 4th, and try to take out the Liberty Bell and Constitution Hall.

If Iraqi nuclear material is loose (sure sounds like it), and AQ takes out an American city with it, Bush will have caused it: (1) by lying his way into the war, (2) by butchering the security situation after the war, and (3) not protecting our ports.

Aw, fuck 'em. It's only the port cities that in danger, and they're the enemies of all decent Americans: They're Blue, they're full of non-Christians, they don't all drive cars or own guns, and they harbor gays, so they deserve to be cleansed by the fire from Heaven. Any questions?

Return the Gift 

Lambert's question below invites at least two more, namely:
  • Does the "Almighty" (Judeo-Christian variety) really give a shit about freedom?
  • How does Islam stack up in comparison?

The Bible's position on slavery is pretty clear:

"All who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy of full respect, so that God's name and our teaching may not be slandered. (NIV 1 Timothy 6:1)"

Elsewhere, that lovable whackjob Leviticus, when not dispensing proscriptions about shellfish and sodomy, sagely advises,

"Both thy bondmen, and thy bondmaids, which thou shalt have, shall be of the heathen that are round about you; of them shall ye buy bondmen and bondmaids. Moreover of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy, and of their families that are with you, which they begat in your land: and they shall be your possession. And ye shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them for a possession; they shall be your bondmen for ever: but over your brethren the children of Israel, ye shall not rule one over another with rigour. (Leviticus 25:44-46 )

Now, one could see how this vision of society would appeal to a Bushie, but for the not so high-born fundamentalist who believes in the literal inerrancy of Scripture, this doesn't sound like a "freedom-loving" God at all.

As for the second question, I don't know enough to say, though this site takes up the case on Islam's behalf. My own view is that freedom is reason's gift to man and consequently the mortal enemy of bigotry and fear, which are the coin of the realm in Bushworld and any other belief system governed by revealed truth. Any readers care to chime in?

If "Freedom is the Almighty's gift" to humanity, is that the same as igniting a crusade over "which Almighty"? 

And which "freedom"?

Just asking.

OBL heard from 

Yeah, the Israelis assassinating Yassin was another match under the insurgency, along with shutting Sadr's newspaper.... Thanks, Ariel.

April 15, 2004: A man identifying himself as bin Laden offers a "truce" to European countries that do not attack Muslims, saying it would begin when their soldiers leave Islamic nations. The tape gives the countries three months to start pulling out its troops. It vows revenge against the United States for the Israeli assassination of Hamas founder Sheik Ahmed Yassin. The CIA is reviewing the tape's authenticity.
(via AP)

UPDATE The tape is "likely authentic".

Brave And Courageous 

With those two words, George W. Bush, surely destined to be the worst US President in the history of this country, and even, perhaps, the worst president of anything in the history of the world, torpedoed his own stated policy for carving from the chaotic violence of the fifty year-plus Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a path to a peaceful, just settlement, his so-called "road map" at the end of which Palestinians were to have forsaken random terrorist violence for a national state of their own.

Who else but George W. Bush could turn two excellent words like "brave" and "courageous," into lethal missiles which he then aims directly at his own stated policy, his big-picture vision for a newer, better version of the Middle East But that's what he did, by applying them to Sharon's peace plan for Israel; withdrawal from Gaza, in exchange for acceptance of a "security barrier," otherwise recognized as a huge concrete wall, whose path will guarantee that when Israel withdraws behind it, signifigant settler portions of the West Bank will become part of Israel, leaving Palestinians with an expanse of isolated bantustans from which to try and build a national state.

My expectations of this administration are minus nil, but it simple isn't possible to be sufficiently cynical not to find oneself surprised once again at the utter vacancy at the heart of everything it does. I did expect Sharon's presence at Crawford to produce a lot of attempts to dance on raindrops. Yes, Bush would probably endorse the withdrawal from Gaza, ignore the issue of that hideous wall, and give some kind of deliberately vague gesture in the direction of something less than total Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank.

What happened is a complete capitulation to Sharon's master plan, the one he's been actively pursuing since 2002.

Bush's disgusting letter is truly the final stone in that commerative mounument, built primarily from Palestinian corpses, but also not a few Israeli ones, that will mark the final and complete death of the Oslo accords, and with it any pretense that we're engaged in a peace process, or following a genuine roadmap toward a just settlement between these two peoples. Two state solution? No, just another Bush lie.

Take the wall. Please.

Here are the words the President's speechwriters put in his mouth today:

The Government of Israel is committed to take additional steps on the West Bank, including progress toward a freeze on settlement activity, removing unauthorized outposts, and improving the humanitarian situation by easing restrictions on the movement of Palestinians not engaged in terrorist activities.

As the Government of Israel has stated, the barrier being erected by Israel should be a security rather than political barrier, should be temporary rather than permanent, and therefore not prejudice any final status issues including final borders, and its route should take into account, consistent with security needs, its impact on Palestinians not engaged in terrorist activities.

Every word of that statement, including, as Mary McCarthy once famously said, the "ands" the "thes" and the "buts," is a lie. That security, separation wall is already all the things the statement claims the Israeli government recognizes and accepts it should not be.

Four decades of American policy, flushed down the Bush potty. No surprise there. Has this administation ever met a policy it didn't view as inferior to anything it could think up in the time it takes to fly Airforce One to Crawford?

Colin Powell, how do you live with yourself; how do you manage to shave everyday without looking at yourself in the mirror. And when you do, who and what do you see staring back at you?

This way, Sharon's way, Bush's and the whole parade of neo-con revelers, lies madness. And not only for the Palestinian people. It's a tragedy for Israel, precisely because it will not provide genuine lasting security. As long as enough Israelis are willing to keep in power a government which believes that there is some way to rid themselves of Palestinians once and for all, by making life so impossible for them that they will either finally leave, or take up arms, thus justifying Israeli's willingness to slaughter them in the name of all that is right and good in the world, Israel will never find either security or peace. And Israelis misread Americans if they think that American support is as impregnable as that wall in the face of the kind of injustice Israel is preparing itself to rain down on the heads of all Palestinians. When those Palestinians begin to be seen not as terrorists, but as the latest in a long line of oppressed peoples struggling for the most basic human rights, it won't be as easy to color them "terrorists." When the American people wake up to what Israel is allowing itself to become, all those bets so carefully crafted by those who claim to be supporters of Israel, will be inoperative. What happens when the rest of the world comes to a consensus that Israel no longer has a moral claim to Palestine so long as it denies and actively suppresses Palestinian claims to nationhood. This brave new Israel is a fool's fantasy. Not that Sharon hasn't been masterfully clever, far too clever for the likes of George W. Bush, whose road map leads nowhere, except, perhaps, to a hundred year war with the muslim world.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

The effort of processing the results of last night's Operation Steaming Load was really too much for me, so, surly to bed. Night all.

Man, those RPGs are pesky 


And the Iraqi insurgents resourceful, and getting more organized all the time.

So, Bush's new ambassador to Iraq, Negroponte, is a death squad enabler. Your point? 

Kos has a bit more, and some pointers.

History is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake ....

OK, the Sharon plan 


Head Trip 

Atrios lauds today's column by William Saletan, in which he ridicules Bush's "unhinged" idea of "credibility". According to Saletan, the problem is that Bush sincerely believes that credibility means refusing to change one's mind, when even reality demonstrates that the "picture in his head" is wrong.

Atrios' props notwithstanding, the same could be said of Saletan. Saletan is, after all, the guy who recently lectured Democrats that "most voters don't [think Bush is a liar], for a good reason: It isn't true." The ludicrousness of this assertion gives new life to the old line about some things being so preposterous it takes an educated person to believe them.

To normal people, a lie is a statement knowingly at variance with reality. Occasional false statements do not automatically point to dishonesty, but a constant stream of false statements made in the teeth of evidence that demonstrates their falsity does. That has been abundantly on display since Inauguration Day 2001.

The picture in Saletan's head is that Bush's moral rigidity and self-righteousness prevents from seeing and adapting to reality. But that mental picture depends on his own selective picture of reality for its preservation, namely, that Bush never compromises his "principles" in the face of changing reality. As it happens, I'm listening to Franken on Air America right now, and they're having a field day listing just such Bush's broken promises. And this doesn't even get to his well-documented history of untruths about his own intentions, not least of which were those towards Iraq before 9/11. When Saletan calls Bush dangerously unhinged from reality, he's being unkind to the dangerously unhinged, who, after all, are not responsible for their mental state.

Is this how dysfunctional the national family has become under our dry drunk President, that his enablers in the intelligentsia, such as Saletan, bullied by relentless abuse of power and shameless prevarication, have so skewed public perception that delusional half truths are applauded simply because they are a break from 4 years of flat-out denial and sycophancy?


Is that not the single most conspicuously absent emotion from those our current President seems capable of expressing?

From his news conference last night:

There's no question it's been a tough, tough series of weeks for the American people. It's been really tough for the families. I understand that. It's been tough on this administration. But we're doing the right thing. . .. '

"And as to whether or not I make decisions based upon polls, I don't. I just don't make decisions that way. I fully understand the consequences of what we're doing. We're changing the world. And the world will be better off and America will be more secure as a result of the actions we're taking. "

"And you can understand why. This is a guy who was a torturer, a killer, a maimer; there's mass graves. I mean, he was a horrible individual that really shocked the country in many ways, shocked it into a kind of -- a fear of making decisions toward liberty. That's what we've seen recently. Some citizens are fearful of stepping up. And they were happy -- they're not happy they're occupied. I wouldn't be happy if I were occupied either. They do want us there to help with security, and that's why this transfer of sovereignty is an important signal to send, and it's why it's also important for them to hear we will stand with them until they become a free country."

"I feel incredibly grieved when I meet with family members, and I do quite frequently. I grieve for the incredible loss of life that they feel, the emptiness they feel.

There are some things I wish we'd have done when I look back. I mean, hindsight is easy. It's easy for a President to stand up and say, now that I know what happened, it would have been nice if there were certain things in place; for example, a homeland security department. And why I -- I say that because it's -- that provides the ability for our agencies to coordinate better and to work together better than it was before. "

"And the other thing I look back on and realize is that we weren't on a war footing. The country was not on a war footing, and yet the enemy was at war with us. And it's -- it didn't take me long to put us on a war footing. And we've been on war ever since. The lessons of 9/11 that I -- one lesson was, we must deal with gathering threats. And that's part of the reason I dealt with Iraq the way I did.

The other lesson is, is that this country must go on the offense and stay on the offense. In order to secure the country, we must do everything in our power to find these killers and bring them to justice, before they hurt us again. I'm afraid they want to hurt us again. They're still there."

"Q Thank you, Mr. President. Two weeks ago, a former counterterrorism official at the NSC, Richard Clarke, offered an unequivocal apology to the American people for failing them prior to 9/11. Do you believe the American people deserve a similar apology from you, and would you be prepared to give them one?

THE PRESIDENT: Look, I can understand why people in my administration anguished over the fact that people lost their life. I feel the same way. I mean, I'm sick when I think about the death that took place on that day. And as I mentioned, I've met with a lot of family members and I do the best I do to console them about the loss of their loved one. As I mentioned, I oftentimes think about what I could have done differently. I can assure the American people that had we had any inkling that this was going to happen, we would have done everything in our power to stop the attack.

"Here's what I feel about that. The person responsible for the attacks was Osama bin Laden. That's who's responsible for killing Americans. And that's why we will stay on the offense until we bring people to justice"

"I don't plan on losing my job. I plan on telling the American people that I've got a plan to win the war on terror. And I believe they'll stay with me. They understand the stakes. Look, nobody likes to see dead people on their television screens -- I don't. It's a tough time for the American people to see that. It's gut-wrenching. One of my hardest parts of my job is to console the family members who have lost their life. It is a -- it is -- it's a chance to hug and weep and to console and to remind the loved ones that the sacrifice of their loved one was done in the name of security for America and freedom for the world. "

Two stories about "family members."

Here's Steve Gilliard talking about one of them:

Thomas Hamill was a dairy farmer not long ago. But then he sold his farm and started driving trucks. Living in rural Mississippi, that didn't pay great. Then, of course, his wife had open heart surgery a couple of months back. With debts and a sick wife, he was looking for a better paying job. Kellogg, Brown and Root had one. Great pay, 10K a month, tax free. Benefits. Only one catch. It was in Iraq.

And then there's the story of the three sisters, perhaps not sadder than, but certainly more wrenching than Chekov's.

Brookfield - The two sisters of a United States soldier slain in Iraq last week will not have to return to active duty with their units in Baghdad once their emergency leave expires, a spokesperson for the family said on Tuesday.

All three women had enlisted in the Wisconsin National Guard, a part-time citizen soldier's unit, and were deployed to Iraq.

Specialist Michelle Witmer, 20, with the Guard's 32nd Military Police Company, was killed on Friday when her Humvee was ambushed. She was killed just weeks before her unit was expected to go home.

Her grief-stricken parents pleaded for their two remaining daughters - Rachel, 24, and Charity, Michelle's twin - to be allowed to serve out the rest of their tour of duty in the United States.

But the women said on Tuesday that they were deferring the wrenching decision until after their sister's funeral.

"They are focusing their attention on spending time with their family and grieving the loss of Michelle," spokesperson Joan Apt said.

In the same statement, Specialist Rachel Witmer, who is attached to the same unit as Michelle, and Sergeant Charity Witmer, a medic with the Guard, also stationed in the Baghdad area, touched on the dilemma facing them.

The women, tearful and clinging to their parents and brothers, did not speak at the brief press conference at a church in Brookfield.

But they sent a message to their comrades back in the field in a written statement.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with you," they wrote. "Not a minute goes by that we don't think of you. We are conflicted, because we have two families and we can't be with both at the same time."

Both of these stories would surely be the most tragic of last week, if it weren't for these stories, and these, and these, and these.

Meanwhile, it all still goes on:

Iraq Cleric Offers Peace Terms; U.S. Forces Poised

Iraq Shiite radical leader must be brought to justice: top US general

With the occasional twist:

Bush stands firm on Iraq, as Iran says it's been called on to help

Iran Halts Its Work With U.S. on Iraq

For bearing witness so that all of us can know what is being done in our name, we owe a huge thank-you to all the journalists who are there to tell us these stories, including the young Iraqi woman, Riverbend, and all the other Iraqi bloggers so many of us have become so fond of, and about whom we worry on a daily basis for bearing witness.

Richard Brookheiser is less grateful. One can see why.

The mere fact of having been here before throughout history is not comforting. Post-wars can be lost, just like wars. After the end of the Civil War, violent white resistance in the South rolled back black rights by weakening the North’s willingness to sustain Reconstruction. Robert E. Lee surrendered, but because the Ku Klux Klan did not, President Grant was unable to accomplish what General Grant had. That is why the fighting in Iraq is as important as it is depressing. The die-hards must die hard. But we, the television-watching public, have a task, too—not to be mesmerized into paralysis.

His position is completely understandable. Actual facts get in the way of what he is sure is the truth.

Real wars keep going after they end, by other means or by the same means, as Iraq shows. The Baathists in Fallujah, augmented by foreign predators and the followers of Moqtada Sadr, the ambitious young Shiite politician/cleric, took the fight to the Americans. The Americans obliged.

That, of course, is not what happened. Al Sadr said and published highly intemperate sentiments. He led demonstrations, he made threats. We, i.e., the CPA, some provisional that, made the decision to close the newspaper and to seek a warrant from a so-called Iraqi court, one that is controlled by those who truly govern Iraq today. But Mr. Brookheiser's real aim lies elsewhere.

All postmodern war is mindful of the camera. When did rabble the world over first bring hand-lettered signs in English to their demonstrations? During Ayatollah Khomeini’s revolution in Iran? A similarly iatrogenic event landed on the front page of the April 10 issue of The New York Times—the grinning Iraqi man, all teeth, displaying a pair of American boots he had looted from an attacked supply convoy. This shot was more badly staged than most. No crowd, not even of idle boys, was gathered for an Adoration of the Boots. The man was, seemingly, all by himself, performing for Your Correspondent. College girls on spring break show their boobs for Girls Gone Wild; this Iraqi showed his boots for Baathists Gone Wild. American men support the strip show with their bottomless appetite for flesh; Americans support the boot show with their appetite for failure.

Hence the need for other voices, other chat rooms

And the ever vigilant "Rick" finds those voices he needs to hear, all two of them. Courtesy of Andrew Sullivan. There is Ali of Iraqthemodel. blogspot.

What does Ali hope for? "When this riot will be crushed … all the clerics will no longer seem as strong as they seemed before, and once they see … Sadir [his spelling] in handcuffs, they will think a million times before committing a similar stupidity in the future." Even though we are not clerics, we can offer a prayer: from his lips to God’s ears.

There's also one other witness Rick finds worthy of note. What other Iraqi voices need he consult than the two that Andrew Sullivan recommends, along with an email from a Marine, all worthy of reading, mind you, but there are twenty-five million Iraqis and a hundred thousand or so of American troops there.

Are they a representative sample? Do I look like a pollster? Do they have their own agendas? No doubt. But their agendas—the desire for liberty, and the determination to secure it—compare favorably with those of the Boot Man, who is at best mischievous, at worst a fanatic too cowardly or incompetent to take up an AK-47, but willing to help the cause of re-enslavement in little ways. The confusion of voices from the ground, on whatever side, is infinitely more interesting than Bob Kerrey’s audition for a Vice Presidential nomination at the hearings of the 9/11 commission. We do have a war on, and mistakes will be made, though none so bad as the mistakes all of us, Republicans and Democrats both, made when we imagined we lived in a world of peace.

Bosnia, the Sudan, ten years ago and today, Somalia, Rawanda, Haiti, Kosovo, Chechynya -- not to mention the first bombing of the WTC, Oklahoma City, US Embassies in Africa, and the USS Cole -- Richard Brookheiser spent the nineties thinking he lived in a world of peace?

Most remarkable - see if you can find one moment of genuine anguish in the whole piece?

You won't find any anguish here either, but at least this typical dingbat Newsmax column as the virtue of let-it-all-hang-out blood-thirsty, blood-curkling honesty.

When it comes to snatching defeat from the jaws of victory there is no more successful collaborator than the media.
As desperate terrorist insurgents in Iraq pour gasoline on embers to attract journalists like moths to a flame it should be noted that the bad guys are ‘using’ the media as a tactical resource.

They know there is "no way nohow" they can defeat the American coalition forces militarily. However, they also know that IF they can manipulate the media to bludgeon the American homeland with images and stories of outrageous atrocities, there is a distinct possibility the American people will compel the administration to leave.

It worked in Vietnam.
It worked in Somalia.
I seriously doubt it will work in Iraq.

Next time David Brooks tries to convince himself, and you, that there is a fundamental difference between his rightwinged soul and that of extremists Clinton-haters among whom Mr. Brooks seems not to place himself, look for the anguish, and when you can't find it, you'll know there is as much difference between Chris Ruddy and David Brooks as there is between Richard Brookheiser and Geof Metcalf.

And if that seems like harsh rhetoric, well, sometimes we're called upon not to be mesmerized into complacent good manners

Iraq insurgency: Latest on Sadr and the standoff in Najaf 

Somehow I doubt that, after we've dug in, we'll end up cancelling the assault. After all, that wouldn't look tough. And doubtless Sistani or his son is on the phone to someone in the WhiteWash House, trying for all they can get in exhange for their mediation services (and who can blame them). Hey, maybe we'll sell out the Kurds yet again! Anyhow:

In the south, 2,500 U.S. troops were digging in outside the Shiite holy city of Najaf, preparing for a possible assault against radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. An attack on the city would likely outrage Iraq's Shiite majority, a community that - aside from al-Sadr's militia - has so far shunned anti-U.S. violence.

Iraqi clerics and politicians have launched negotiations with al-Sadr, trying to get him to back down sufficiently to avert a U.S. attack. But al-Sadr appeared to take a tough stance, demanding U.S. troops withdraw from all Iraqi cities.
(via AP)

Does anyone else have the feeling (especially after reading Orcinus, below) that we're watching some kind of cheap horror movie?

I mean a really cheap horror movie. The kind where Condi, Rummy, Wolfie, Bush and all the rest of them are wandering round in the woods, and, as night falls, it starts to rain.

And they're wondering whether they should seek shelter—say, in that house with no lights in the windows, over there in the clearing.... Down the path with the, with the—"Say, are those footprints? Then... why the claw marks?" "Oh, come on, Rummy, I'm getting wet. Let's go!"

And the entire audience yells: "No! Don't go in the haunted house!"

But, of course, they do anyway....

Iraq insurgency: Sadr and the stand-off in Najaf: A second Waco? 

The ever essential Orcinus brings us this analysis from Jean Rosenfeld:

Watch what is happening with al-Sadr in an-Najaf. This is a critical incident writ large of the type my colleagues and I have advised about, studied, and written about over a period of eight years. I am hypothesizing that we risk making the same mistake at an-Najaf with al-Sadr

I have written and spoken many times about how a religiously motivated critical incident, or standoff, differs qualitatively and markedly from a criminally-motivated hostage standoff. The latter is the model for defusing critical incidents among law enforcement and [coutner-terrorism] specialists. They remain uninformed and skeptical about these important differences to this day.

What is not known about Waco is that the final assault plan was amended on the ground by the tactical field commanders on the very day of the assault. That alteration had been discussed and rejected by the FBI brass over several weeks. Nonetheless, the FBI HRT commander, Richard Rogers implemented the rejected plan via a loophole signed by Janet Reno the morning of the final assault on April 19. That alteration was identical to the gassing and demolition plan that two Delta Force advisors seconded to the Justice Dept. in a principals meeting of April 14. Those two advisors supported the rejected plan that was later implemented "hypothetically" in order to conform to the letter of Posse Comitatus law. I also have published a peer-reviewed article with this finding. It is based on government documents--all open source. The rejected plan supported by Jeff Jamar, Richard Rogers, and the two Delta Force officers resulted in a disaster that did not have to happen. It was an ill-advised tactical approach to a religious community that feared that Satan was attacking them.

Those two Delta Force officers were Peter J. Schoomaker and "Jerry" Boykin, now both top officials in the US Army in charge of military planning for the war on terrorism.

I believe [Republican operative Dan] Senor's approach is similar to the tactical one taken at Waco against another "messiah." It resulted in many deaths and a legacy that led us to the "commemoration" atrocity in Oklahoma City.

[And Orcinus adds: It is worth observing, of course, that (as Atrios notes) the coalition appears determined to make this mistake, since its official stance is that "The mission of U.S. forces is to kill or capture Moqtada al-Sadr."
(via Orcinus)


The good news is that it seems like the Ayatollahs are playing a mediating role in all this—meaning that they really do have Bush by the balls.

Sistani, Sistani I love you Sistani,
Your’e always a day away...

Stupid, stupid 

I imagine the wingers and freepers and LIttle Green Snotballs are going nuts over this one.

Fortunately, the Kerry campaign was on top of the story as it broke. Good work, guys.

Sheesh. Rush calling Democrats traitors to an audience of 15,000,000 and Anne Coulter calling for liberals to be killed, and not a peep from the watchdogs, and then they go nuts over an ad in a shopper. Just a reminder not to be stupid, people. It's like the Dean scream: something essentially harmless gets magnified.

Bush news conference: The harder they come 

WaPo style columnist Tom Shales makes a nice point:

Bush similarly struggled, a few minutes earlier, to cite the single biggest mistake of his presidency. He looked baffled and incredulous. "I'm sure something will pop into my head here," he said, noting the intense "pressure" of holding a news conference on TV. Of course people watching throughout the country expect a president to be able to handle that kind of pressure without blinking, based on the assumption that this is one of the milder forms of pressure that come with the office.
(via WaPo)

Yes, The Harder They Come does have relevance today, doesn't it?

Pressure Drop
It is you (oh yeah)
It is you, you (oh yeah)
It is you (oh yeah)

Cause a pressure drop, oh pressure
Oh yeah pressure drop a drop on you
I say a pressure drop, oh pressure
Oh yeah pressure drop a drop on you

I say when it drops, oh you gonna feel it
Know that you were doing wrong.


Bush couldn't take the hints on AQ, just like he couldn't take the hints on trading Sammy Sosa 

There's a pattern, and Trapper John at Kos finds it.

Nobody seems to have noticed, but Ashcroft heaved Bush over the side in his testimony 

They're starting to turn on each other...

MR. GORTON Did you make any changes reflecting that millennium after-action review [recommendations to disrupt the Qaeda network after a bomb plot] in your time as attorney general before 9/11?

A. [ASHCROFT]: This is a report which was not briefed to me or briefed to other individuals. It was a report which is a classified report.

Q. So you didn't know of its existence?

A. No.
... We — and these are the kinds of recommendations that were involved in the report, which was simply not made available —— ... The SEIB [Senior Executive Intelligence Briefing] available to me.

Q. On Aug. 7, 2001, a SEIB that reflected much of — although it was not identical to — much of the content of the Aug. 6 Presidential Daily Brief — came out. And I would like to ask you if you remember seeing a document headed Terrorism bin Laden Determined to Strike In The United States in the SEIB.

A. I do not remember seeing that. I was in, I believe I was in Chicago speaking at the American Bar Association meeting, I believe, at the time. So I do not have a recollection of seeing that.

Q. Did your staff regularly brief you on the intelligence when you returned?

A. I was briefed, and items of interest were noted for me from time to time by my staff.

Q. Would something like this, which is a memorandum that is going out to your colleagues — hundreds of your colleagues in the government — saying that bin Laden is determined to strike in the United States — been an item of significance that you would think would have been briefed to you?

A. These items had been briefed to me. They had been briefed to me by the F.B.I. They had been briefed to me by the C.I.A. The administration asked me to get briefings when appropriate in regard to these measures. I remember Ms. Rice, for example, early in July during the threat period and the heightened and elevated threat, asking me if I would receive a briefing from the C.I.A. because she thought it important. It's that kind of briefing that I received early. The C.I.A. — we have reconstructed it from the slides they used — talked a lot about the threat overseas. And we obviously were aware of the historical information that Osama bin Laden had issued statements years before, much of which is in the SEIB and was in the Aug. 6 P.D.B., which I have now read.

And but [sic] we inquired of the C.I.A. and the F.B.I. are there domestic threats that require — is there any evidence of domestic, of threat? And they both said no.
(via NY Times)

Contrast Bush:

BUSH: I was satisfied that some matters were being looked into.

Given what Ashcroft says about what he wasn't shown, how on earth could Bush have been "satisfied"?

Iraq insurgency: US adopting Israeli tactics 

And don't think the Iraqis haven't noticed.

With sporadic fighting in Falluja and US forces moving into position outside Najaf, the Arab press is pointing to similarities between US military operations in Iraq and the tactics Israeli forces employ in the West Bank and Gaza.

Such similarities are not coincidental.

While many of Israel's methods are controversial it has, in purely military terms, developed highly effective tactics for offensive operations in urban areas along with a range of specialised equipment which, for example, can help troops to breach walls, gather intelligence, and locate snipers.

And senior US commanders have visited Israel specifically to discuss what the Pentagon jargon calls "Military Operations on Urban Terrain".
(via BBC)

Great news, eh?

What next? A generation of warfare? A wall? Where would we build it?

Mission accomplished? Not! 

As always, the numbers tell the story.

(Via BBC via The Agonist.

This kind of stunt pisses me off so much I can't even write about it. 

President Bush, fulfilling a 15-month-old promise, scheduled a jog around the South Lawn Wednesday with a soldier badly wounded in Afghanistan.
(via AP)

Christians don't lie 

Ashcroft lies (via Atrios).

Therefore, Ashcroft is not a Christian.


(Roger Ailes wrote:

His review showed, [Ashcroft] testified, that there was "no covert action program to kill bin Laden."

But several commissioners disagreed. They cited the 1998 "memorandum of notification" signed by Clinton, which was found among the documents that the Bush White House originally refused to turn over to the commission.

Imagine that!

Joseph Wilson's book on the way 

You know, the one where he outs the outer of Valerie Plame.

Preorder The Politics of Truth here.

Drip, drip, drip....

Iraqi insurgency: Sadr, negotiations, and the dry humor of the Ayatollahs 

Superb analysis from Juan Cole. Go read.

A reasonable wrapup of Bush's press conference from Howie the Whore 


At least he gives a lot of links.

The CW seems to be that Bush changed few minds. I still think that's a win for us, since that means the drip, drip, drip dynamic is still in place.

Did Bush really give a speech at the start that took 17 minutes of a 60 minute news conference?

And what's up with the tie? The Bush media operation is famously disciplined—who let him go on national TV looking like a 60's acid casuality?

And how about the turkey farm and the mustard gas? Twice, yet. Was that bizarre? Has Bush been secretly reading Atrios on "Preznit give me turkee"?

And call me cynical, but I don't really see how Bush can lie his way into a war, and then grieve with the families whose children he sent to die. That kind of contradiction is what makes my head explode whenever I watch the guy.

Republicans cut back on the air war because it hasn't moved the numbers 

Why would that be, I wonder?

Despite its unprecedented fundraising success, President Bush's reelection team is scaling back its massive level of television advertising, according to senior Republicans familiar with the campaign's planning.

In the next few weeks, viewers in the 18 states where the ads have aired since early March will see about 30% fewer a week, one ranking GOP strategist said.

Of course, they claim the cutbacks were planned.

Anthony Corrado, an expert on campaign finance at Colby College in Maine, said that since March 4 — just after Kerry in effect wrapped up his party's nomination — Bush has bought about as much television advertising as past presidential candidates purchased for the entire general election campaign.

"And frankly," Corrado said, the president's campaign "didn't move the [poll] numbers that much."

He added: "The Bush campaign came out heavy, both in terms of volume and with some of their strongest attacks, and they didn't get a knockout."
(via LA Times)

As they say in the Navy: You can't buff a turd.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Good night, moon 

And don't stand under the turkeys when they fly overhead.

NOTE I took the tie picture down. Alert reader nope says it was some kind of moire pattern. Damn, but many thanks. What I get for not being media-minded, I guess.

So, how did Bush do? Any signs of the earpiece? 

I don't have a TV, so I couldn't watch with the sound turned down even if I wanted to.

NOTE Pandagon are, as usual, blogging live.

President delivers opening statement on Iraq before White House news conference (MSNBC via WaPo.)

Bush certainly doesn't look good. And what's with the tie? Is he on the brown acid, or what?

UPDATE Seems like AP is putting the transcript up in near real-time:

BUSH: This has been tough weeks in that country.

Yep, it's the brown acid, alright.

UPDATE Some lowlights:

Non-answer: Why Bush is appearing with Cheney before the 9/11 commission

QUESTION: Mr. President, why are you and the vice president insisting on appearing together before the 9-11 commission? And, Mr. President, who will we be handing the Iraqi government over to on June 30th?

BUSH: We'll find that out soon. That's what Mr. Brahimi is doing. He's figuring out the nature of the entity we'll be handing sovereignty over.

And, secondly, because the 9-11 commission wants to ask us questions, that's why we're meeting. And I look forward to meeting with them and answering their questions.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) I was asking why you're appearing together, rather than separately, which was their request.

BUSH: Because it's a good chance for both of us to answer questions that the 9-11 commission is looking forward to asking us. And I'm looking forward to answering them.
(via AP)

I don't see an answer. Do you see an answer?

Scripted? Yes, it was scripted

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President.

BUSH: I've got some must-calls. I'm sorry.
(via AP)

[UPDATE: Alert reader Matt corrects me on the must calls:

[Re:] "must-calls." Every president since Reagan has come to each press conference with a list of the first 8-12 reporters to call on, to make sure all the wire service and network and major newspaper reporters get their turn. Until at least last time, they didn't have to submit the questions in advance, but the order for the first several questions has been pre-determined for about 20 years.

It's only after those reporters have had their shot that the President starts taking questions from the floor, and that's when he snapped tonight about not calling on anyone who shouted. He probably also had a list of other suggested questioners, or at least a seating chart with names and affiliations. That's how he knew to call on Don Gonyer of NPR, whom he admitted he'd never called on before.

I still wouldn't put it past them to force the questions to be cleared in advance, though.

I can think of some other farms with turkeys...

BUSH: By the way, they found [in Libya], I think, 50 tons of mustard gas, I believe it was, in a turkey farm, only because he was willing to disclose where the mustard gas was. But that made the world safer.
(via AP)

Certainly a reason for our troops to die. No question.

Sick and bizarre

BUSH: One of my hardest parts of my job is to console the family members, who've lost their life. It's a chance to hug and weep and to console, and to remind the loved ones that the sacrifice of their loved one was done in the name of security for America and freedom for the world.
(via AP)


BUSH: One of the things that's very important, Judy, at least as far as I'm concerned, is to never allow our youngsters to die in vain. And I made that pledge to their parents. Withdrawing from the battlefield of Iraq would be just that, and it's not going to happen under my watch.
(via AP)

The very definition of a quagmire. Because some died, more must die, otherwise the deaths are in vain. And let's infantilize the troops. Yech!

Scripted? Yes, it's scripted!

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President.

In the last campaign, you were asked a question about the biggest mistake you'd made in your life, and you used to like to joke that it was trading Sammy Sosa.

You've looked back before 9-11 for what mistakes might have been made. After 9-11, what would your biggest mistake be, would you say, and what lessons have learned from it?

BUSH: I wish you'd have given me this written question ahead of time so I could plan for it.

[Alert reader says norbizness says "This is the question that had him frozen like a deer in the headlights." Readers, did it really play that badly on TV?]

Now read the whole response. Is there any sign Bush can ever admit a mistake?

BUSH: John, I'm sure historians will look back and say, gosh, he could've done it better this way or that way. You know, I just - I'm sure something will pop into my head here in the midst of this press conference, with all the pressure of trying to come up with answer, but it hadn't yet.

I would've gone into Afghanistan the way we went into Afghanistan. Even knowing what I know today about the stockpiles of weapons, I still would've called upon the world to deal with Saddam Hussein.

What is it that you know??!?! That they didn't exist?

BUSH: See, I'm of the belief that we'll find out the truth on the weapons. That's why we sent up the independent commission.

Huh? What commission was "sent up"? Not David Kay?

BUSH: I look forward to hearing the truth as to exactly where they are. They could still be there. They could be hidden, like the 50 tons of mustard gas in a turkey farm.

And there's that turkey farm again. Beautiful plumage!

At this point, they only way the "truth" could correspond to Bush's beliefs is if some CPA contractors planted them (or papers about them, or plans).

BUSH: One of the things that Charlie Duelfer talked about was that he was surprised of the level of intimidation he found amongst people who should know about weapons and their fear of talking about them because they don't want to be killed.

You know, there's this kind of - there's a terror still in the soul of some of the people in Iraq.
(via AP)

Fah. When we can offer millions of dollars in reward money and a new identity, we can't even get Ahmed Chalabi to fake a scientist for us? What a load of bollocks.

Our CEO President

BUSH: Let's see. Last question here. Hold on for a second. Those who yell will not be ask - I tell you a guy who I have never heard from.

[mush deleted]

BUSH: One thing is for certain, though, about me, and the world has learned this: When I say something, I mean it.
(via AP)

Except for things like, oh, the PDBs, meeting with the 9/11 commission for only an hour, et cetera, et cetera et cetera (via Kos). There's actually quite a list of things that Bush said, and turned out not to mean—outright lies and bait and switch aside, it's still quite a list.

AP has some person in the street reaction.

My gut take: Unless there's something the small screen conveys that I'm missing—was that tie really as goofy as it looked?—I don't think Bush hurt himself. That's a win for us, because he needed to help himself. And I'll be interested to see how that "mustard gas on a turkey farm" bit plays. The performance by the press corps was utterly shoddy, as they allowed themselves to be manipulated by the scripting, but we've come to expect that.


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