Saturday, September 18, 2004

Election fraud 2004: Guess who's assuring us electronic voting is safe in Georgia? 

Wait for it—

F/Buckhead! (back; back)

Yep, winger loon, Federalist Society "elf", Republican operative, and typographic Renaissance Man (sayeth digby):

Computer experts at respected universities have sounded the alarm over the potential for high-tech chicanery. Grass-roots activists, leaders of alternative political parties and others have stoked the flames, mostly via the Web. Touch-screen-related legislation is pending in Congress and the General Assembly.

Some critics suspect the machines might have played a role in the surprise defeats in 2002 of two Democrats — Gov. Roy Barnes and U.S. Sen. Max Cleland.

Diebold [back] Election Systems won a $54 million contract to provide touch-screen machines for Georgia, which in 2002 became the first state in the nation to implement electronic voting statewide.

In October, the Fulton County Elections Board sent Cox a letter that asked pointed questions about the security of Georgia's voting machines. The state's largest county uses 2,975 machines. Harry MacDougald, a Republican board member [F/Buckhead!!] , wrote the letter after hearing about Rubin's report.

Cox wrote a six-page response explaining the procedures in place to ensure the machines cannot be manipulated.

The Fulton board replied Dec. 1, telling Cox she had alleviated members' concerns.

"I feel reasonably comfortable," MacDougald said recently.

F/Buckhead feels comfortable.... Well, that's all I need to know!

"There's always a theoretical possibility [of tampering]. That can never be excluded, regardless of the voting technology. But the measures that were previously in place, with the new measures and technical fixes that are being made, bring the issue within a reasonable degree of security."
(via the Atlanta Joural Constitution)

Digby also adds the following sage warning:

One thing I might warn everyone about on this voting technology issue. Be advised that if we win and it's close, the set-up has been put in place for Buckhead and his grubby little friends to rush online claiming that we stole the election. I have a hundred bucks riding on it. Projection has gone beyond a psychological diagnosis to an actual propaganda tool.

Eesh. I hate to picture Digby losing a hundred bucks—but I sure hope he does.

Goodnight, moon 

I dunno. On the one hand, there's supposed to be some sort of liberal conspiracy against Bush, and CBS, the Democratic Party, and the Kerry campaign are all in it together, and forged the Killian memos.

On the other hand, the guy who's being tagged as the source of the Killian memos is announcing his intentions to all and sundry on a Yahoo bulletin board (AP), no doubt infested with Republican trolls and operatives, just as our blog is.

Something doesn't add up here.


Election fraud 2004: Leave it to Louisiana 

Yes, leave it to Louisiana to combine election fraud with an anti-gay marriage amendment. Unbelievable:

Louisiana voters decided Saturday whether to approve a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, one of up to 12 such measures on the ballot around the country this year.

It was expected to pass by an overwhelming margin, though court challenges are likely. The civil rights group Forum for Equality has promised legal action.

[A] possible legal complication: delayed delivery on Saturday of voting machines to precincts in New Orleans, which has a politically strong gay population.

State director of elections Frances Sims said at least 59 precincts did not have voting machines when polls opened because officials with New Orleans' clerk of court's office failed to meet drivers who tried to deliver the machines earlier that morning. The problem was solved by midday.

Julius Green, 58, said he went to his polling place in New Orleans' Bywater neighborhood about 10 a.m. and found no voting machines - just a crowd.

"I am angry. I'm very angry," [Julius] Green said. "This is ridiculous. It makes people feel that their vote don't count."
(via AP)

Yes, Julius? Your point?

Sheesh. Just not having the voting machines there at all... That makes Florida look subtle, doesn't it?

Bush AWOL: Say, has anyone claimed that $50,000 yet? 

You know, the $50,000 that goes to anyone who can prove that Bush performed his duties in the Air National Guard between May 1972 and May 1973? (back)

Didn't think so.

Say, when are they putting Saddam on trial, anyhow? 

Oh, wait.

Bush hasn't agreed to the debates, yet.

So they can't be sure of the trial date, now, can they? C'mon, people. Let's be reasonable.

Iraq clusterfuck: Bush's poodle was warned 

From the UK's Daily Telegraph (via Kos:

Tony Blair was warned a year before invading Iraq that a stable post-war government would be impossible without keeping large numbers of troops there for "many years", secret government papers reveal.

The documents, seen by The Telegraph, show more clearly than ever the grave reservations expressed by Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, over the consequences of a second Gulf war and how prescient his Foreign Office officials were in predicting the ensuing chaos.

But it is the warning of the likely aftermath - more than a year in advance, as Mr Blair was deciding to commit Britain to joining a US-led invasion - that is likely to cause most controversy and embarrassment in both London and Washington.

Mr Straw predicted in March 2002 that post-war Iraq would cause major problems, telling Mr Blair in a letter marked "Secret and personal" that no one had a clear idea of what would happen afterwards. "There seems to be a larger hole in this than anything."

Most of the US assessments argued for regime change as a means of eliminating Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, Mr Straw said.

"But no one has satisfactorily answered how there can be any certainty that the replacement regime will be any better. Iraq has no history of democracy so no one has this habit or experience."

The paper, compiled by the Cabinet Office Overseas and Defence Secretariat, added: "The only certain means to remove Saddam and his elite is to invade and impose a new government, but this would involve nation-building over many years."

Then again, there's plan B (can you say "Allawi"?)

Replacing Saddam with another "Sunni strongman" would allow the allies to withdraw their troops quickly. This leader could be persuaded not to seek WMD in exchange for large-scale assistance with reconstruction.

"However, there would then be a strong risk of the Iraqi system reverting to type. Military coup could succeed coup until an autocratic Sunni dictator emerged who protected Sunni interests. With time he could acquire WMD," the paper said.

Even a representative government would be likely to create its own WMD so long as Israel and Iran retained their own arsenals and Palestinian grievances remained unresolved.

The documents also show the degree of concern within Whitehall that America was ready to invade Iraq with or without backing from any of its allies.

Sir David Manning, Mr Blair's foreign policy adviser, returned from talks in Washington in mid-March 2002 warning that Mr Bush "still has to find answers to the big questions", which included "what happens on the morning after?".

In a letter to the Prime Minister marked "Secret - strictly personal", he said: "I think there is a real risk that the administration underestimates the difficulties.

"They may agree that failure isn't an option, but this does not mean they will necessarily avoid it."

Oh, that dry British understatement. I love it.

It did not see the war on terrorism as being a major element in American decision-making.

"The swift success of the war in Afghanistan, distrust of UN sanctions and inspections regimes and unfinished business from 1991 are all factors," it added. That view appeared to be shared by Peter Ricketts, the Foreign Office policy director.

There were "real problems" over the alleged threat and what the US was looking to achieve by toppling Saddam, he said. Nothing had changed to make Iraqi WMD more of a threat.

"Even the best survey of Iraq's WMD programmes will not show much advance in recent years. Military operations need clear and compelling military objectives. For Iraq, 'regime change' does not stack up. It sounds like a grudge match between Bush and Saddam."
(via Daily Telegraph)

Yep. "He tried to kill my Dad." Well, I'm sure the families of the 1000 American dead will be happy to hear all this.

How crazy is F/Buckhead? 

He is a vacuous, vapid ignoramus. He is the author of Lott's Doctrine of Preemptive Capitulation. Except, of course, when he is sticking it to his own party. Then he is willing to burn down the Senate in order to preserve his sinecure and the perquisites of his office. He is a disgusting rodent of a man but is really much more of a Nancy Boy than a man.

Rather than letting him gratify his ego lust by hanging on to the Senate Majority Leadership, may I suggest just paying someone to walk around behind him calling him "Leader" every few minutes in a room full of mirrors, and throwing in a life-time supply of Aqua Net hairspray? He would be equally happy, and we would all be a lot better off.

The latest imbroglio is just more more good reason this pathetic loser, this pale pint-size knock-off of a genuine leader, has to be removed from the leadership. He has got us so far off message we need a trip planner and a telescope to find it again. He has gladly capitulated to a constellation of race-hustling poverty pimps in an repellent effort to hang on at all costs.

Get rid of this weasel or go down in flames with him.
And that's what this genius F/Buckhead said about someone in his own party, Trent Lott.

He honestly felt that Trent Lott wasn't conservative enough to be a Republican Senate Majority Leader. He was too compromising! Holy Cow!

I keep reading stories in which friends and political allies of his call him a "passionate" conservative.

If by passionate you mean he's a stark-raving right-wing loon that has no business being anywhere near the corridors of power then I guess I'll agree that he's certainly, um, passionate.

These are the sorts of operatives this administration keeps around them folks.

And, yeah, I'm so sure he didn't get tipped by Rove about this. Right. The Freepi don't have enough imagination or analytical ability to come up with this stuff on their own. Rove fed it to him. I can't help but wonder how long they had copies of this memo -- and it makes me wonder if the memos aren't genuine after all.

Shouldn't this sort of thing bother moderates who are pondering voting for this utter failure of an administration?

Especially so since, I'm sure, F/Buckhead is on the list of appointees to the federal bench for the second Bush term.

UPDATE Alert reader Beth shares some F/Buckhead-isms:

A few Buckheadisms:

Oh, please Joe, let it be me."

2."Not knocking Cheney - he's a total stud"

3."Actually, there's a very good argument that environmentalism is a
secular religion.... This being so, it is more a matter of faith and
belief than of facts and reason."

"What do Greens and watermelons have in common? Green on the outside, red on the inside"

Oh, and F/Buckhead's views on Stalingrad:

4.[re:US offer of ceasefire in Fallujah] "Hopefully, we are just saying
that stuff publicly to shut up the backstabbing ingrates on the IGC,
while we press the assault with another battallion of marines and kill
every last man or boy in the city who is toting a weapon."

Iraq clusterfuck: Great work on that oil, Inerrant Boy! 

Sheesh. Fight a war for the oil, and at least you could get some:

The sharp rise in attacks on Iraq's oil pipelines in recent weeks has substantially impaired the country's production, dealing a blow to the economy and threatening the struggling reconstruction effort, U.S. and Iraqi officials say.

Insurgents are bombing pipelines and other parts of Iraq's oil infrastructure almost daily, another sign that the country's security situation is deteriorating beyond the control of U.S. military and Iraqi security forces.

In an appearance before Congress in March 2003, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul D. Wolfowitz said Iraqi oil revenue could bring in as much as $100 billion over two to three years.

This week, however, Bush administration officials asked Congress to divert $450 million earmarked for reconstruction to increase oil production. That's on top of $1.7 billion already devoted to rebuilding the industry.

"The premise was that we'd go to Iraq, and oil would provide the money. That's not what is happening, and somebody is going to have to pay," said Gal Luft, executive director of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security.

The success of the bombings and the expansion of targets have signaled to some experts that the insurgents have inside help. Some of Iraq's 55,000 oil technicians and engineers who are disenchanted with the U.S. occupation may be providing instruction.

"A significant number are supplying information and intelligence to the various insurgents to blow up facilities," said Youssef Ibrahim, a director of the Strategic Energy Investment Group, an energy consultancy based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. "It's part and parcel of the effort to bring down a government that they see as collaborators."

The effectiveness of the pipeline attacks also has led to worries that dissidents in neighboring Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporter, could copy the strategy. "A simple attack produces a huge impact," said Mustafa Alani, a security analyst with the Gulf Research Center in Dubai. "It's cheap, easy and achievable."

With 40% of the world's oil transported by pipelines and global demand at an all-time high, an outbreak of pipeline bombings could have disastrous economic consequences, analysts said. "The world can live with Iraq pumping 2 million barrels per day. The world cannot live with pipelines popping all over the place," Luft said.

U.S. and Iraqi officials have been at a loss to determine how to contain the damage.
(via LA Times)

More proof that we're winning!

Look! Over there! Hurricane Ivan!

Look! Over there! CBS News!

And pay no attention to the war behind the curtain!

"You know the drill."

Bush torture policies: The bad applies didn't fall far from the tree 

Who knew?

What better image of Arab ill-treatment and oppression could be devised than that of a naked Arab man lying at the feet of a short-haired American woman in camouflage garb, who stares immodestly at her Arab pet while holding him by the throat with a leash? Had bin Laden sought to create a powerful trademark image for his international product of global jihad, he could scarcely have done better hiring the cleverest advertising firm on Madison Avenue.

And not only are these photographs perfect masterpieces of propaganda; they have, to paraphrase Henry Kissinger, the considerable advantage of being true. Or, to put it another way: if the Hooded Man and the Leashed Man and the naked human pyramids and the rest shocked Americans because of their perverse undermining of the normal, they shocked Iraqis and other Arabs because the images seemed to confirm so vividly and precisely a reality that many had suspected and feared but had tried not to believe.

(via The Fancy-That-A-New-York-Publication-Not-The-New-Yorker-That-Covers-The-News Review of Books)

Excellent review. Go read. And I've got to quote this:

"I always knew the Americans would bring electricity back to Baghdad. I just never thought they'd be shooting it up my ass."
—Young Iraqi translator,Baghdad, November 2003

[Rim shot. Laughter. "Thanks. I'll be here for the whole war."]

Bush AWOL: FBuckhead unmasked.  

He's an "elf":

[Buckhead is Harry MacDougal], an Atlanta lawyer with strong ties to conservative Republican causes and who helped draft the petition urging the Arkansas Supreme Court to disbar President Clinton after the Monica Lewinsky scandal, the Los Angeles Times has found.

MacDougald is a lawyer in the Atlanta office of the Winston-Salem, N.C.-based firm Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice and is affiliated with two prominent conservative legal groups, the Federalist Society and the Southeastern Legal Foundation, where he serves on the legal-advisory board.

Well, well, well. Remember the role the Federalist Society and its elves played in the coup the wingers plotted against our last elected President?

This really is starting to give off, um, a Rove-ian aroma, isn't it?

What's the word for FBuckhead? It's on the tip of my tongue... Op.. Op... Operative!

Editor and publisher has more:

Suspicions that MacDougald may have been tipped off have arisen because his quick comments on typography seemed to go far beyond his reputed expertise. He wrote that the memos purportedly written in the early 1970s by the late Lt. Col Jerry B. Killian were "in a proportionally spaced font, probably Palatino or Times New Roman....The use of proportionally spaced fonts did not come into common use for office memos until the introduction of laser printers, word processing software and personal computers," MacDougald wrote. "They were not widespread until the mid to late 90's. Before then, you needed typesetting equipment, and that wasn't used for personal memos to file. Even the Wang systems that were dominant in the mid 80's used monospaced fonts."

Actually, there are two reasons to be suspicious: (1) the quickness of FBuckhead's response, (2) his typographic comments were lies, as we've repeatedly demonstrated (take the PC magazine tests).

Gee, it's almost like the Republicans think they're in a war, and have pre-positioned the material for their campaign, isn't it? That's what enables rapid response, after all. (If only they could fight real wars so well. Oh, wait...)

And now (3) the source of the typographic lies was a Republican operative. A classic case of the winger meme transmittal from the fringe to the mainstream, per Orcinus (in his essential "Rush, Newspeak, and Fascism.")


Bush AWOL: Keeping the winger persecution myth alive 

What Kevin Drum says:

I think it's worth pointing out that this is why the right wing is paying so much attention to Rather, just as they did to Jayson Blair and the BBC's Andrew Gilligan — but not to Judith Miller or Robert Novak. It's not about the fact that the mainstream media makes mistakes — of course they do — it's about keeping alive the persecution myth so central to American conservatism: that the liberal media is a corrupt and malign institution intent on crushing conservative dissent at every opportunity.

Sure, it's an absurd argument, but that doesn't mean it won't work. After all, yelling loudly enough got the heads of both the New York Times and the BBC fired last year, both of them for journalistic misdeeds that were actually fairly modest. Meanwhile, Judith Miller, who plied patent falsehoods from Ahmed Chalabi on the front page of the New York Times, and Robert Novak, who cheerfully outed a CIA agent in his syndicated column, continue to ply their trade unhindered.

This game has been ongoing for a long time, of course, but conservative bullying and intimidation of the media has real-world consequences quite aside from personnel shuffling at the New York Times or the BBC. Just as Rathergate has helped bury bad news from Iraq this week, persistent complaining from conservatives has kept the overall coverage from Iraq relatively benign for over a year, despite a nearly unanimous belief among reporters on the ground that events there are even worse than they look.

Since the Iraq clusterfuck is a winning issue for Kerry, yes, I'd say that winger bullying does have real world consequences...

Within the past few weeks some of those reporters have finally begun saying that on front pages and the evening news, but it's a year late and several billion dollars short.

Dan Rather can handle his own problems, but preventing conservatives from intimidating the press into manufacturing a phony balance regardless of where the truth lies affects us all. That's what's really at stake here.

The wingers are just working the refs. Same as always. Yawn.

Don't you just love it when Bush... 

... Says "I'm here to ask for your vote"—in front of pre-screened supporters? (In fact, may have been made to sign loyalty oaths, back?

That takes real courrage, doesn't it? Bush courage....

Bush's "gathering threat" = fabulous bullshit 

"This is far graver than Vietnam. There wasn't as much at stake strategically, though in both cases we mindlessly went ahead with the war that was not constructive for US aims. But now we're in a region far more volatile, and we're in much worse shape with our allies." - Retired general William Odom, former head of the NSA. ~ credit: "Anonymous" [from earlier comments]

NY Times (the old grey whore she ain't what she used to be):
That verdict is now at hand, and it only strengthens the case against Mr. Bush's main reason for waging preventive war against Iraq. Iraq was not an imminent or urgent threat, and Mr. Duelfer's report undermines the idea that it was even a "gathering threat," as Mr. Bush now routinely describes it.


The most specific evidence of an illicit program was apparently a network of clandestine laboratories operated by the Iraqi intelligence service. Those laboratories, first mentioned by Mr. Kay, have now been thoroughly inspected. They look small-bore indeed, capable of producing only small quantities of chemical or biological agents that might be useful in assassinations or perhaps in research far removed from weapons production. That is hardly justification for preventive war.


Republicans argue that the international consensus to keep Mr. Hussein boxed in with sanctions and inspections was eroding, making the invasion necessary to forestall the graver threat of a rearmed Iraq. But with no evidence emerging that Mr. Hussein posed an urgent threat, and with the situation deteriorating badly in Iraq, that calculus is flawed. Intentions Versus Reality in Iraq, (NYTimes, Sept. 18)

"...the economy stinks and that war is a joke, and yet all we hear about is the drunk's viet nam record." ~ credit: "Anonymous" [from earlier comments.]

Note: "The drunk" doesn't have any "viet nam" record. None. As in: not any. The closest "the drunk" ever got to "viet nam" (according to my "official sources") was chasing a minature pig around a picnic table during a 1972 campaign fundraiser at the Prattville State Game Farm.


Signs of the times contest 

Most of you probably already know about the Freeway Blogger sign slogan contest. But just in case...:

The Freeway Blogger and General JC Christian are holding a contest. You can submit your own freewayblogger sign slogan and become famous. Your sign will be featured at Freewayblogger.com and on an overpass or fence or something.

Rules, guidelines, and prize info available from the General. Deadline Monday, Sept 20th.

And Remember:


Hee. Get it? Pleeze don't vote for Bu$h. :-) nevermind........

Hurry and enter. You can win a Savage M-12 BVSS bolt action varmint hunting rifle or a whole bag of used Ted Nugent records! Or maybe you can't. Either way, enter to win. And also read this blog post by the Freeway Blogger right here: 100 signs, 1000 soldiers


Friday, September 17, 2004

Goats and GOTV 

Esteemed reader Raison de Fem points us to an incredibly useful site, courtesy of Michael Moore: Registration Deadlines State By State.

A hasty scrolldown reveals that possibly as many as HALF the states have deadlines in just two weeks, Oct. 1-4. Oct. 1, as it happens, is a Friday this year. I suggest all voter registration encouragers to treat Oct. 1 as the deadline by which forms must be either postmarked or physically in the hands of the registrars.

Mike has some useful data for college students on voting at school vs. back at home. My advice is to vote back home, since you know you should call your mother anyway and she will be so relieved that you are asking for an absentee ballot rather than money it will make her day. And at worst you can always ask for money later in the conversation. You may have to have voted in person at least once before you can vote absentee so check this too.

Xan Advice: (1) Carry stamps. I am looking at a TN form I picked up at the Davis-Kidd Bookstore in Jackson yesterday (free plug for good citizenship behavior), and it isn't postage-paid. Don't be a cheap bastard like TN is, blow contribute $3.70 per ten voters and think of it as an investment of good will.

(2) If you live on or near a state line, carry forms from both. Yeah it's work, but people will be impressed by your dedication and/or too embarassed to refuse by this point. As a form of nonviolent coercion I think even Gandhi would be impressed.

(3) Don't be shy. You're not asking for money, a committment, an oath of fealty or a DNA test. You can even phrase it as "hey, have you moved since you voted last time, you know you have to re-register in your new precinct" which is both perfectly true AND lets both of you avoid having to raise the question of whether the person has voted since the Carter administration.

(4) And if anybody hits you with a refusal because they think registering to vote will make them eligible for jury duty--nope. They're already in the pool if they have a driver's license. If they still argue after you point this out, skip 'em, they're so stupid they'd probably vote Bush anyway.

So that's my nag for the week on GOTV. When I got back into active politics (thanks to blogs) I had forgotten that acronym and kept trying to figure out what the hell it meant. Go TV? TV sucks, that would be stupid. Go on TV? Ehh, no--when it comes to appearance, I've got a body for radio.

Get Out The Vote, somebody finally said. D'oh! I said, slapping my forehead. Fact remains, it's the most important thing us foot soldiers in the trenches do in an election year. Personal contact and interest is the most powerful influence on anybody to do anything.

Most people are so lonely and don't realize it, that making any non-commercial human contact at all is a real rush. Being asked for a favor conveys a feeling of power, also a strong behavioral reinforcer. You have more influence as one person than a $20 million media buy.

If we turn out even 20% of the non-voting half, Kerry's landslide will be of historic proportions. And we have to win, or the goats will cry.

Goodnight, moon 

I'm putting out the candle in my little room under the stairs at The Mighty Corrente Building. The fervor of the Bush crowd really appalls me. How can they not see? Sigh.

And why (Republican donor) Gallup's polls are hosed. Phew.

Republican straw Nader on ballot in Florida 


As the Green Party candidate in 2000, Nader attracted 97,000 Florida votes -- and most Democrats and many Republicans agree that those votes cost Democrat Al Gore the presidency.

President Bush won the state by 537 votes after three weeks of recounts and legal fighting -- much of it before Florida's high court.

This year, the Reform Party of Florida submitted Nader to the state as its candidate. The Florida Democratic Party and several individual voters challenged his certification.

The key legal challenge against Nader was the contention that the Reform Party was no longer a bona fide national party and didn't nominate Nader in a national convention -- as required by Florida law -- but did it in a conference call three months earlier.

Officials with the party and Nader argued that the Reform Party convention may have been small but that it had legitimately confirmed him as their presidential nominee.

The Reform Party formed in 1995 out of Ross Perot's 1992 and 1996 presidential bids; Buchanan ran as its candidate in 2000. But the party has seen its membership decline amid infighting in recent years. Its national treasurer last month said the party had $18.18 in the bank.

Well... I have to believe that the Florida Supreme Court was reading the law right... And it's good to have Nader exposed as a fraud (sigh)... But still...

Bush torture policies: Firm that supplied torturers at Abu Ghraib gets new contract 

Why am I not surprised?

SAN DIEGO (AP) - The U.S. Army said Friday that defense contractor Titan Corp. will continue to provide translators and interpreters in Iraq for at least the next six months.

The contract, which has an option for another six months, has a potential value of up to $400 million. Titan, which has had at least two employees linked to the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, had a five-contract that was due to expire at the end of the month, but the Army decided to hold off on renewing it because another company complained the process was unfair.

A recently released investigation by Army Maj. Gen. George Fay found two Titan civilian translators, who were not named, contributed to the Abu Ghraib prison scandal.

One employee, a woman, failed to report detainee abuse. The second, a man, beat and may have raped a detainee. The Fay report recommends the information be forwarded for possible criminal prosecution and that "appropriate contractual action" be taken.
(via AP)

You know, generally contractors aren't rewarded when they don't do what the administration wants. Oh, wait...

The Cohen in his Purple Labyrinth 

"I bump into these anti-Bush alarmists all the time. Recently an extremely successful and erudite man I much admire told me he viewed the upcoming election as something akin to September 1939,..." - Richard Cohen, Washington Post

Apparently Richard Cohen is mighty flummoxed over all of the - EEK! - "Bush hatred" - and "anti-Bush alarmists!" - Eeek-eeek! - fouling his airspace. Give it up Cohen you silly assed Attack Pussy [link to James Wolcott's recent post]

Likewise, visit the Daily Howler for Bob Somerby's take on Cohen's latest quivery. See:
"This is not the place to examine why Bush is so hated," Cohen continues. But does his acquaintance really "hate Bush?" It's hard to tell from the exchange he describes. What exactly did Cohen's friend mean when he compared this election to 1939? Either Cohen didn’t ask, or the answer wasn't colorful enough to be included in this column.

I think I know what Cohen's friend is talking about. Maybe this will encourage Richard Cohen to add a little more blue to his prosy pallet:
Within the Protestant Church, there were those who looked to the coming Leader to bring about spiritual renewal and moral revival. The fall of the monarchy and collapse of 'God-given' authority, the secularization of society, and the perceived 'crisis of faith' in German Protestantism all contributed to a readiness to look to a new form of leadership which could reinvoke 'true' Christian values. The shadings of the various leadership images came together in the tract of the nationalist publicist Wilhelm Stapel, a former liberal turned volkisch enthusiast, member of the hamburg group of neo-conservatives associated with the ideas of Moeller van den Bruck, who depicted the 'true statesman' as 'at one and the same time ruler, warrior, and priest'. It amounted to a secularized belief in salvation, wrapped up in pseudo-religious language.

Whatever the particular emphasis, the conservative and volkisch Right juxtaposed the negative view of a 'leaderless democracy' with a concept of a true leader as a man of destiny, born not elected to leadership, not bound by conventional rules and laws, 'hard, straightforward, and ruthless', but embodying the will of God in his actions. 'God give us leaders and help us to true following', ran one text. Devotion, loyalty, obedience, and duty were the corresponding values demanded of the followers.

The spread of fascist and militaristic ideas in post-war Europe meant that 'heroic leadership' images were 'in the air' and by no means confined to Germany. The emergence of the Duce cult in Italy provides an obvious parallel. But the German images naturally had their own flavour, drawing on the particular elements of the political culture of the nationalist Right. And the crisis-ridden nature of the Weimar state, detested by so many powerful groups in society and unable to win the popularity and support of the masses, guaranteed that such ideas, which in a more stable environment might have been regarded with derision and confined to the lunatic fringe of politics, were never short of a hearing.

Sound familiar? Thats from Ian Kershaw's Hitler; 1889-1936: Hubris, page 181. The keep it stupid, keep it simple, drumming that you hear coming from the palace guard at CNN and MSNBC and FoxNoise et al., as well as the Bush campaign itself, bears an eerie resemblance to Kershaw's passage above (and below); not only in style but in content.
The crowds that began to flock in 1919 and 1920 to Hitler's speeches were not motivated by refined theories. For them, simple slogans, kindling the fires of anger, resentment, and hatred, were what worked. ~ Kershaw, Hubris, pg 137

How many times have you heard some think tank pundit dolt, broadcast television "news" chanter, or newspaper attack pussy, repeat the negatively intended charge that John Kerry's arguments to audiences are to complex, or refined, or - eek! - nuanced. Oooo that pesky nuance. By God and Homeland that George W. Bush, Him chosen by divine oversight to lead, does not engage in such sensitive girly man complexities. Him, embodied by the 'W', parade marshal to the heroic leadership personality cult, surrounded by entralled sycophants at each whistlestop, and embedded within the neo-corporate state oligarchy, is not motivated by wispy fuzzy wuzzy "refined theories". No-seh!

Remembering also of course that this is this same clangor horn of corporate media-store stove minders, think tank hood ornaments, and Bush administration policy swindlers that screwed the American people into an unnecessary war in Iraq based on fraudulent intelligence, misleading rationalizations, forgeries, and outright lies. All wrapped up and tied neatly with a pretty purple ribbon of simple slogans and expalnations designed to kindle the fires of anger, resentment, and hatred.

And it worked.


Not Impressed by Kneepads 

Miss Manners, er we mean Miller, does not seem to carry any particular clout with Judge Hogan. We award him one more character point--but this story has a twist I have never heard before in privilege cases:

(via WaPo)
A federal judge, in an order released yesterday, ruled that New York Times reporter Judith Miller cannot avoid a subpoena to testify about her private conversations with news sources before a grand jury investigating whether senior administration officials leaked the identity of a covert CIA officer to the media.

In his Sept. 9 order denying Miller's request to quash the subpoena, U.S. District Chief Judge Thomas F. Hogan said that the reporter's discussions with anonymous sources are not protected, either by the First Amendment or by common- law privilege. Miller's attorney, Floyd Abrams, said the Times would appeal the decision.

Senior White House officials have acknowledged they were trying to raise concerns with reporters at that time about Wilson.

Miller contemplated writing an article about Wilson and Plame and "spoke with one or more confidential sources" about a July 6, 2003, article that Wilson wrote for the Times titled 'What I Didn't Find in Africa," according to Hogan's order.
Why the distinction about "anonymous sources"? Hell, is there any other kind in Washington? Anyone with expertise in First Amendment law is invited to clarify this point in Comments.

MBF watch: Grieving mother pops Leadfoot's bubble 

And gets arrested for it, naturally, since anyone who dissents at a Bush rally is arrested (back)

The Pennington mother of a soldier killed in Iraq was arrested and charged with trespassing after she interrupted first lady Laura Bush’s speech yesterday.

Sue Niederer was arrested after she was escorted from the Colonial Fire Co. hall on Kuser Road where the Republican rally was being held yesterday morning, according to Hamilton police Lt. James Kostopolis.

Niederer was wearing a shirt that read, "You killed my son," at the time.

Niederer was one of 1,217 to receive a ticket for the rally and stood near the back of the hall as local Republican politicians thanked Bush for visiting Hamilton before introducing the first lady.

Bush was well-received by the crowd, many of whom waved pompoms and Bush-Cheney signs after giving the first lady a lengthy ovation when she arrived.

Bush was about 10 minutes into her speech on campaign issues, however, when she began speaking about U.S. involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It was at this point that Niederer began yelling loudly toward Bush, but supporters at the rally realized Niederer was a detractor and began drowning out Niederer’s shouts with chants of "Four more years!"

The ruckus briefly rattled Bush, who halted her speech and turned toward local dignitaries, but she quickly resumed her comments on the war.

Niederer’s son, Army Lt. Seth Dvorin, 24, was killed by a roadside bomb near Baghdad Feb. 3, while commanding an 18-man convoy. Dvorin was posthumously awarded a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart and was credited with saving more than a dozen soldiers from being killed or injured.

I said, ‘How come your daughters and children of congressmen and senators aren’t fighting in the war if it’s so positive?’" Niederer said last night of what she yelled to Bush.

Niederer is charged with defiant trespassing and was released on her own recognizance. She is scheduled to appear in court on Oct. 12.
(via The Trentonian)

Don't you just love the Republicans? Drowning out the voice of a mother who lost her son with that noxious "Four More Years" chant. Unbelievable.

Another taste to Republican love:

She drew little sympathy from the firehouse crowd.

"Your son chose to go fight that war!" shouted one woman. "She's got the press she wanted," cracked another.
(via The Trentonian)

And a party with attitudes like this is sending your sons and daughters off to die? Unbelievable.

NOTE Of course, she could consider herself lucky that she wasn't assaulted—the Republicans have a kink about assaulting women at Bush events. (See "Bush watches as woman gets abused, "Republicans keep hitting women; Kicking 'em while they're down.)

UPDATE Atrios lays in the ammo for when these thugs claim moral equivalence.

UPDATE Froomkin notes that the woman's remarks have been deleted from the official transcript. [Laughter. Applause. Chants of "Four more years."]

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

Salon has crucial stuff on the Iraq clusterfuck. Go read:

1. Turning point: How Bush "joysticked" the battle of Fallujah, and lost the war.

2. The "war is lost": The Sidster extracts devestating quotes from top military:

Gen. Odom remarked that the tension between the Bush administration and senior military officers over Iraq is worse than any he has ever seen with any previous U.S. government, including during Vietnam. "I've never seen it so bad between the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the military. There's a significant majority believing this is a disaster. The two parties whose interests have been advanced have been the Iranians and al-Qaida. Bin Laden could argue with some cogency that our going into Iraq was the equivalent of the Germans in Stalingrad. They defeated themselves by pouring more in there. Tragic."

I bet they wish they had Clinton back.

3. Why the Republicans can't fight terror 10 reasons:

The Bush administration's manifest failure to make us safer has ideological roots. American national security has been put at risk because of the Republicans' own "pre-9/11 mind-set." This mind-set includes distrust of centralized government, unquestioning faith in the private sector, hostility to nonmarket distributions, sympathy with religious certainty and scriptural fundamentalism, the belief that freedom demands an unregulated market in military-style weaponry, unawareness that "law" protects decision makers from disinformation, a proclivity to apply military solutions to nonmilitary problems, and a reluctance to take the interests and opinions of other countries into account. This dogmatic and erroneous set of beliefs and dispositions has prevented Cheney and Bush from coming to a clear understanding of the unprecedented threats we face and devising an adequate response.

We need to take seriously their steadfast refusal to admit even their most obvious mistakes. If reelected, they are promising, apparently without embarrassment, to continue unswervingly on the path that has brought us where we are today. If we want to know how they will conduct the war against terrorism in a second term, we need only examine the mess they have wrought over the past three years. Bush's and Cheney's spectacular mishandling of the war on terror has many causes, but none more important than the stale ideology that continues to becloud and paralyze their minds.

Great stuff.

Go on, get the day pass. You know you ought to, and it's definitely worth it.

And while we're at Salon, it looks like Paul Lukasiak finally has a mainstream media outlet. Congrats. Sometimes the good guys win.

Oh, and Jimmy Breslin on why the polls are all wrong.

Class warfare: They started it 

What Mithras says:

The national Republican Party seems intent on policies that will increase income and wealth disparity in this country. They may only be serving the interests of one of their two main constituencies (those being The Stupid and The Evil), but in effect they are driving the United States to look more like a third-world country, with a super-rich elite which both captures political power and diverts the country's resources to their own benefit, leaving everyone else to suffer. In any civilized society, they would be chucked out of power for such regressive, dangerous policies. Fortunately for them, money buys a lot of loyalty, and good advertising.
(via Fables of the Reconstruction)

"Seems" intent?


And Bush is seriously PO'd! Thanks to alert reader Beth for discovering this gem:


VICE President Dick Cheney enjoyed telling Sen. Pat Leahy to "F- - - off" on the floor of the U.S. Senate so much that he's been hurling the epithet at cabbies, clerks, waiters, interns, passersby -- and even first lady Laura Bush, shocked White House insiders report!

And President George Bush -- who's been known to let fly with a few hair-curlers himself --is said to have told Cheney to "cool it" before the religious right stops looking the other way and turns the cussing into a bona fide national scandal that could impact the presidential election.

"I know the Vice President is an important man but telling me to 'F- - - off' was harsh," says Pinkie Graderson, who waits tables and loads dishwashers at a posh restaurant near the White House.

"All I did was ask him if I could take his plate to make way for his dessert. He looked at me with a big, self-satisfied smile and said, 'F- - - off.'

"But I'm not the only one. He's been saying that to everybody. He thinks it's funny."

Nobody knows that better than blind paraplegic and Vietnam war hero Henry Feltern, who has owned and operated a popular newsstand in Washington since 1979.

"Mr. Cheney sent one of his aides over to pick up a few newspapers but forgot to give her the money to pay for them," says Feltern, 53. "When I told the young woman that she owed me $27.50, she said, 'But these are for the Vice President.'

"I told her she'd have to pay anyway, so she dialed Cheney on her cell phone and handed it to me. I said, "Mr. Vice President, your papers will be $27.50.'

"There was a long silence, and then he said, 'Do the words 'f- - - off' mean anything to you?' "

The incident with the first lady reportedly took place when Mrs. Bush accidentally bumped into Cheney outside the Oval Office. Sources close to the V.P. insist he merely told her to " 'frig off,' which isn't really cussing."

But a senior administration official who was in earshot insists that "the F-word Cheney used was 'the real thing.' Laura didn't say anything, but you could tell it floored her."

Washington insiders agree that Cheney has never been one to mince words. But that soon might be all in the past. White House sources say the President made a point of chastising Cheney during a recent Presidential Daily Briefing, basically telling him to "cut the crap" before bad press gets out of control. "The exact words he used were slightly more abrupt," says an insider who witnessed the dressing down. "The President said, 'Dick, I'll give you a choice: You can zip it with the cussing or you can 'you know what.' " 'F--- off?' Cheney asked. To which the President replied, 'F---- A!' And then it was on to a really nasty discussion about Iraq."

Don't forget to pick up this week's newsstand issue!
(via Weekly World News)

OK, it's the Weekly World News. I think that's great. This isn't Letterman or The Daily Show. A publication millions read in the supermarket checkout line has decided a couple of things:

1. Their readership will think this line—"He looked at me with a big, self-satisfied smile and said, 'F- - - off.'"— is an apt description of Cheney's attitude (and, by extension, the Republicans, and

2. A "really nasty discussion about Iraq" is an appropriate joke to make.

I'd say this gives the Democrats the green light to go after Bush hard on the war, starting right now. Heck, even throw a little class warfare into the mix, why not? We didn't start it, after all.

Iraq clusterfuck: Republican Palace no longer secure 

No, no. In Baghdad!

US military officers in Baghdad have warned they cannot guarantee the security of the perimeter around the Green Zone, the headquarters of the Iraqi government and home to the US and British embassies, according to security company employees.

At a briefing earlier this month, a high-ranking US officer in charge of the zone's perimeter said he had insufficient soldiers to prevent intruders penetrating the compound's defences.

The US major said it was possible weapons or explosives had already been stashed in the zone, and warned people to move in pairs for their own safety. The Green Zone, in Baghdad's centre, is one of the most fortified US installations in Iraq. Until now, militants have not been able to penetrate it.

But insurgency has escalated this week, spreading to the centre of Baghdad.
(via Financial Times via Kevin Drum)

More proof that we're winning, right? Somehow, I don't think that little ol' $3 billion for security is going to do the job. I mean, if we can't secure the most fortified installation in Iraq, where's the security?

Iraq clusterfuck: Kerry's speech before the National Guard 

Kerry starts holding Bush accountable:

There’s something else we owe you and all the men and women serving right now in Iraq. We owe you the truth. True leadership is about looking people in the eye and telling the truth – even when it’s hard to hear. And two days ago, President Bush came before you and you received him well, as you should. But I believe he failed the fundamental test of leadership. He failed to tell you the truth. You deserve better. The Commander in Chief must level with the troops and the nation. And as president, I will always be straight with you – on the good days, and the bad days.

Two days ago, the President stood right where I’m standing and did not even acknowledge that more than 1,000 men and women have lost their lives in Iraq. He did not tell you that with each passing day, we’re seeing more chaos, more violence, more indiscriminate killings. He did not tell you that with each passing week, our enemies are getting bolder – that Pentagon officials report that entire regions of Iraq are now in the hands of terrorists and extremists. He did not tell you that with each passing month, stability and security seem farther and farther away.

He did not tell you any of this, even though – as the country learned today in the New York Times – his own intelligence officials have warned him for weeks that the mission in Iraq is in serious trouble. But that is the truth – hard as it is to hear. You deserve a president who will not play politics with national security, who will not ignore his own intelligence, while living in a fantasy world of spin, and who will give the American people the truth about the challenge our brave men and women face on the front lines.

Putting the "W" in Wrong:

The hard truth is that our president has made serious mistakes in taking us to war with Iraq. He was wrong to rush to war without giving the inspectors time to do their job. He was wrong to rush to war without understanding and planning for the post-war in Iraq – which itself has become an ongoing conflict. He was wrong to rush to war without the allies we needed by our side. He was wrong to send our troops into battle without the equipment they need to do their jobs. He was wrong to ignore the best advice of America’s own military – including his own Army Chief of Staff – about how many troops we needed to accomplish our mission. So when it comes to Iraq, it’s not that I would have done one thing differently than President Bush – I would have done almost everything differently.

And today, because of his wrong choices, America has borne nearly 90% of the casualties, and paid nearly 90% of the bill in Iraq. Contrast that with the first Gulf War, where our allies paid 95% of the costs.

And perhaps worst of all, the mess in Iraq has set us back – way back – in the war on terror. The simple fact is, when it comes to the war on terror, George W. Bush has taken his eye off the ball.

In the months after September 11th, our troops were doing a magnificent job in Afghanistan, and they were hot on the trail of Osama bin Laden. But instead of staying the course and letting them finish the job, George W. Bush turned over critical military operations in Tora Bora to a band of warlords. As a result, Osama bin Laden escaped, and we haven’t seen him since.

And today, three years after September 11th, Al Qaeda is operating in 60 countries, and gaining a whole new generation of recruits. And again and again, on the evening news, we see videotapes from bin Laden or his top lieutenants. This administration has said bluntly: It is not a matter of if al Qaeda attacks here at home – it is a question of when.

I believe America can do better than we’re doing. We simply cannot afford four more years of wrong choices that undermine our security and our standing in the world.

I also believe that despite the miscalculations [Heh—Ed.] , it is not too late to turn things around in Iraq and in our global war on terror. But we need a leadership that sees a better set of choices – better options for getting the job done. Who will bring in our allies. Who will train Iraqi forces at the right pace with the right partners, so our troops can finally come home. Who will never mislead you about the realities you face on the battlefield. And when I’m your Commander-in-Chief, that is exactly what I will do.
(via Transcript)

More like this, please.

My Favorite Republican 

As our cultured readers surely know by now, the world lost a giant yesterday. Johnny Ramone, founding member of the world's greatest punk band, The Ramones, died yesterday of prostate cancer. As my friend Mark put it, there are now more surviving Beatles than Ramones.

I'll leave Johnny's biography to others. Who was the rock critic who began his review of Road to Ruin, "Have the Ramones ever written a bad song? No. Then how come they aren't rich?" That was exactly the way I felt in 1978. I could not believe I owned 4 albums by a band even most of my friends wouldn't listen to, and yet I loved every single song. I not only loved every song--I knew every song was objectively great. Every single goddam one. And yet they weren't famous! It blew my mind.

It may be hard for younger whippersnappers to comprehend just how bad music was in the mid-70s. Disco. Country rock. Jazz rock. ELO. ELP. Steve Miller Band. Toto. Music with a dial tone. I can't even bring myself to commit to writing the crap I listened to and pretended to like. Then, one day in 1977, I was introduced to a scruffy student whose dorm room still stands out in my memory for its utter squalor, even by dorm room standards. He was wearing a filthy t-shirt emblazoned, "Richard Hell and the Voidoids." I was there because I was looking for some, um, alternative to the pap music played at our college pub, and I'd heard about this punk stuff. In short order I was toddling back to my room lugging a dozen albums on labels I'd never heard of, by bands whose names seemed like an invitation to a club whose only requirement was an ability to share an inside joke: Talking Heads, Blondie. The Voidoids. Television. The Blockheads. And 3 albums by a bunch of misfits called The Ramones.

Everyone has, I imagine, their own list of songs that caused the world to stand still. On that day, I added a song called "Blitzkrieg Bop" to mine. In some real ways I imagine it was like Vaclav Havel felt listening to Zappa in Prague. It was about fun, but it was more than about fun. It was about subversion, but it was about more than subversion. It was nostalgia and antinostalgia. It was agitprop that was antiprop. It was intelligent stupidity. It was music that said: this is what you always wanted to hear, even if you never thought of it in a million years. It was like great oral sex, fun and passionate, naughty and innocent all at the same time. Compared to the stupefying banalities of "Fly Like an Eagle," songs like "We're a Happy Family"--
Sitting here in Queens
Eating refried beans
We're in all the magazines
Gulping down thorazines
We ain't got no friends
Our troubles never end
No Christmas cards to send
Daddy likes men

were like a bomb going off, a sensibility that mocked itself as much as it mocked the insane culture it found itself trapped in, making both criticism and self-importance equally impossible. All that was stolid henceforth melted into air.

I remember going to my first Ramones concert, in 1978, at Asbury Park. A preppie in a sea of black leather, I was like some Beatlemaniac teen bopper; I remember my girlfriend looking at me bemusedly like I had been possessed by some demented person. Well, gabba gabba, sweetheart. Shortly thereafter they came to my college, where I got to see Johnny from about 6 feet away, power chording through Blitzkrieg Bop and 24 other songs with barely a pause, Joey looming over the mike like some ectomorphic freak of nature and Dee Dee slashing away at his bass. I was a supplicant at the Church of the Everlasting Pinhead, baptized anew.

And, like a zillion other untalented kids in the years to come, it was soon after that that I bought my first guitar.
The second to last time I saw them was at University of Washington student union building, in 1985 or so. By then, the frat boy nitwits had picked up on them and the floor was jammed with these bozos, who were all being "punk" and spitting on the band. Finally Dee Dee jumped into the crowd and started using his bass as a baseball bat, injecting new meaning into "Beat on the Brat." The band was largely in decline by then, with no album to match the glorious first four. By then I knew, too, that Johnny was a hardcore Reaganite, but this only made watching them roast Ronnie in "Bonzo Goes to Bitburg" that much more engrossing. A credit to his politics, Johnny was a guy who put business first.

I actually met Johnny once, on 8th Street in the Village, back in the Road to Ruin years. I was walking down the street when he materialized around the corner, sullenly hunched over, wearing his trademark jeans, jacket and shirt. Not wanting to blow the moment, I nodded in acknowledgement and said simply, "Hey."

To which he replied, "Hey."

Now, with the Boys from Forest Hills gone, I wish I had added, "Thanks."

Here Today, Gone Tomorrow. Why Is It Always This Way? I'm gonna miss those guys.

Ba-ba-bamp-ba ba-ba-ba-bamp-ba  

"I wanna be sedated!"

Only the good die young. I mean, look at Dick Cheney.

How Low Can They Go? THIS Low.... 

I thought I had burned out my outrage circuits until I saw an ad last night for the "Twin Towers Memorial Collectible Coin" coated with a 1-atom-thick layer of silver recovered from the vaults under the WTC.

Then there came this...

(via MSNBC, story originally from WaPo)
As swing states with large elderly populations such as Florida gear up for another presidential election, a sleeper issue has been gaining attention on medical, legal and political radar screens: Many people with advanced dementia appear to be voting in elections -- including through absentee ballot. Although there are no national statistics, two studies in Pennsylvania and Rhode Island found that patients at dementia clinics turned out in higher numbers than the general population.

About 4.5 million Americans have Alzheimer's disease, the most common cause of dementia. Florida alone has 455,000 patients, advocates estimate.

Concern is growing that people with dementia may be targets for partisan exploitation in nursing homes and other facilities. Even without abuse, family members and caregivers may unduly influence close elections.
If a spouse of an Alzheimer's victim wants to vote on their behalf, even if they think it's 1914 and they're voting for Woodrow Wilson because they like his slogan "Too Proud to Fight", I got no problem with that. Organized political ops are another matter.

Bad enough they screw Grandma Millie on her electric bill. And scare the crap out of Grandpa Joe with ominous stories about Social Security. Stealing votes from the Mentally Not Quite All There is another matter, and a criminal one, although it would explain a lot about the outcome of certain races in 2000.

Dead cat Weasel bounce 

Nice to see Big Mo on the side of the angels. Eh?

Sen. John Kerry and President Bush are now enjoying almost equal levels of support, according to the latest Harris Interactive poll.

Immediately after the Republican convention in New York, several polls showed Mr. Bush jumping ahead of Mr. Kerry with a clear lead of between six and 11 percentage points. There's no such "convention bounce" for the president in the latest poll by Harris.

The results echo a recent poll sponsored by Investor's Business Daily, which also showed that the gap between the U.S. presidential candidates has disappeared. The poll of likely voters showed the two candidates tied at 47% in a two-man race and tied at 46% if independent candidate Ralph Nader is included.
(Online WSJ via Pandagon)

OK, stop cheering and back to work. And let's hope this brings all the Dem whining about the Kerry campaign to a halt. Heck, the guy went dark for an entire month, and he's still even. Digby says this better than I just did.

NOTE It takes a village to stomp a weasel.


1: Chance that a member of New York's Army National Guard was in Iraq in June : 1 in 4 [New York Army National Guard (N.Y.C.) ]
1A: Chance that a member of Texas's Army National Guard was : 1 in 31 [Texas Army National Guard (Austin) ]

2: Estimated year in which Baghdadis first harnessed electricity, using clay pots lined with copper : 230 b.c. [The British Museum (London) ]

3: Words the New York Times devoted last May to examining its own faulty reporting on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction : 3,082 [Harper's research ]
3A: Words the Times devoted last year to "correcting the record" after an investigation of reporter Jayson Blair : 7,102 [Harper's research ]

4: Minimum amount that Wal-Mart has received in subsidies from state and local governments since 1980 : $625,000,000 [Good Jobs First (Washington) ]

5: State grant awarded a Missouri police department's Youth Outreach Unit two years ago to battle Goth culture : $273,000 [Youth Outreach Unit (Blue Springs, Mo.) ]
5A: Amount the Unit returned to the state in April after no Goth-influenced youth could be found to aid : $132,000 [Youth Outreach Unit (Blue Springs, Mo.) ]
5C: Amount spent in the interim to set up the program : $141,000 [Youth Outreach Unit (Blue Springs, Mo.) ]

1-5C above from: Harpers Index, August 2004.


Iraq clusterfuck: Bush signs disaster declarations... 

for Iraq Florida! Right! Anyhow, guess what? What Bush has been saying about Iraq doesn't match the facts. Who knew?

The National Intelligence Council presented President Bush this summer with several pessimistic [Um, that would be realistic, right?] scenarios regarding the security situation in Iraq, including the possibility of a civil war there before the end of 2005.

Well, that's 2005—after the election. What's their point, anyhow?

In a highly classified National Intelligence Estimate, the council looked at the political, economic and security situation in the war-torn country and determined that - at best - stability in Iraq would be tenuous, a U.S. official said late Wednesday, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

At worst, the official said, were "trend lines that would point to a civil war." The official said it "would be fair" to call the document "pessimistic."

This latest assessment was performed by the National Intelligence Council, a group of senior intelligence officials that provides long-term strategic thinking for the entire U.S. intelligence community.

Acting CIA Director John McLaughlin and the leaders of the other intelligence agencies approved the intelligence document, which runs about 50 pages.

C'mon, let's get the highly non-partisan Goss in there, already!

The estimate appears to differ from the public comments of Bush and his senior aides who speak more optimistically about the prospects for a peaceful and free Iraq.


"We're making progress on the ground," Bush said at his Texas ranch late last month.


"It states the obvious," White House press secretary Scott McClellan said on Air Force One as Bush flew to a day of campaigning in Minnesota.

I'll say.

"It talks about the scenarios and the different challenges we face." He said it did not reach any conclusions and left it up to policy-makers to act on the information.
(via AP)

So I'm sure I can have every confidence...

And I love Bush talking about "progress on the ground." I mean, as opposed to what, progress in the air? Progress in the sea?

"No Plans" vs "NO DRAFT" 

Jenna and Not-Jenna have to be in a quandary now. If they vote for Daddykins they will be exempt from the draft that's going to clearly be needed to keep supplying cannon fodder for his infinite series of excellent adventures in optional warfare, by reason of class privilege and family friends.

But if, in the privacy of the voting booth November 2, where Daddy and Vice-Voldemort Dick and Unka Karl can't see, they were to misread a confusing ballot and *purely by accident* hit the electronic screen for Kerry-Edwards, they would avoid military service by other means:

(via USAToday)
PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (AP) — Vice presidential candidate John Edwards promised a West Virginia mother on Wednesday that if the Democratic ticket is elected in November the military draft would not be revived.

During a question-and-answer session, the mother of a 23-year-old who recently graduated from West Virginia University asked Edwards whether the draft would be reinstated.

"There will be no draft when John Kerry is president," Edwards said, a statement that drew a standing ovation.
As Kos points out, this is brilliant all across the board. BushCo's minions' statements have always been "we have no plans for a draft" (which is bullshit, they always have plans for everything) but puts the Forces of Evil on the defensive anyway. It's even better than statements like "We are quite sure the President has stopped beating his wife" or "It is beneath the dignity of the political process to comment in any way on the vile rumors about goats."

Bush AWOL: Only 40? 

Given Delay's control over the House, and the clout that Acting President Rove wields, I'm surprised every single House Republican hasn't stepped up to the plate. Anyhow, if there were any percentage in it, Whiney Joe Lieberman would be

House Republicans are requesting a House committee investigation of CBS' use of forged documents.

Forty House Republicans have demanded CBS retract the report, calling CBS part of a campaign to deceive the public and defame the President.
(via "Christian" Broadcasting Network)

Two points:

1. The case that the substance of the memos is true has never been stronger (back). That's why the White House didn't dispute their authenticity immediately, but instead distributed copies of them.

2. Nice to see the House Republicans kicking ass and taking names over the WMD fiasco.

Oh, wait... I'm sorry. The memos thing is a public relations issue that might make Bush look bad in an election, so it goes right to the top of the list. This whole WMD thing is so over... It only justified this strategic disaster of a war, that's taken over 1000 American lives, with no end in sight. What was I thinking?

Gaslight watch: It's quiet. Too quiet. 

Say, isn't it a little weird that all the terror alerts died down right after the Republicans retreated from Manhattan?


Bush AWOL: A very good question 

From alert reader semper ubi:

Where are the memos that Knox (back) said she did type?


Knox said the information about Bush in the memos was familiar and that she had typed documents for Killian with similar complaints. She also said the colonel did keep private "cover your back" files.


Psychedelic 'W' and the Goat Squadron 

Far Out Crazy Man!

Where was George W. Bush in the late summer and autumn of 1972? I'll tell you where I think he was; he was making an album. Yup, and I have the only known copy that I know about.

The name of the album appears to be "Far Out Crazy Man" by Psychedelic 'W' and the Goat Squadron. On the Runaway Souffle Records label. There are some pretty weird songs on it too so I've been busy giving it a listen and writing down the lyrics for you. The audio quality isn't the best, a lot of cracks and pops and skirrrschhhh-and-krrrrrrshchhhhhh sounds on it, but you know how that is with those old records. Probably a bootleg. Heh.

The first song on side one is called "Media Creation". Goes like this:
Media Creation
You know I could run
for governor
but I'm basically a media creation.
I'm basically a media creation

I've never done anything much
I've worked for my dad.
I worked in the oil business.
but I'm basically a media creation.

You know I could run
for governor
If this were a dictatorship,
it'd be a heck of a lot easier,
just so long as I'm the dictator.

but I'm basically a media creation.
I'm basically a media creation

A lot of noisy guitar jammin' and a long drum solo on that one. Next, side one, song number two, is a kind of weird country western acid-rock gospel cut called "Plain Speakin":
Plain Speakin'
The way I like to put it,
if I can -- in plain English is,
on the one hand, they taketh -
- they giveth, on the other hand

On the one hand they give
on the other hand you don't get
It's hard to explain
things aren't exactly black and white

The way I like to put it,
if I can -- in plain English is,
when it comes to accounting
It's hard to explain

On the other hand they giveth.
On the one hand they taketh
The way I like to put it
things aren't exactly black and white

Jeezis huh? The paper with the little goat characters on it musta been some good shit! Next up is a track from side two. An anti-war MC5-like knockoff called "Motherhugger Me!":
Motherhugger Me!
I was running against peace
and prosperity.
There's only one person,
responsible for that decision.

Through opinion and the noise
you hear in Washington.
There's only one person,
responsible for that decision.

Motherhugger Me!
Motherhugger Me!

I've got responsibility to hug
the mothers and the widows,
The wives and the kids,
on the death of their loved ones.

There's only one person
responsible for that decision.
And thats me...

Motherhugger Me!
Motherhugger Me!

I was running against peace
and prosperity
there's only one person
responsible for that decision,
And thats me...

And, you know, it'll take time
to restore chaos
there's only one person
responsible for that decision,
And thats me...

Motherhugger Me!
Motherhugger Me!

Lots of screeching metal on that one. Immediately following that track is a strange arrangement of "Crimson and Clover" (over and over and over), so I'll spare you the agony and move to the fourth song on side two. Called "Sweet Home Alabama". Yep, that's right. Just like that song title by those Len-nerd Skin-nerd guys. I wonder if they stole the title from P.W. and the Goat Squadron? I suppose we'll never find out the truth but nevertheless the song goes like this:
Sweet Home Alabama
Home home on my mind
where the beer and the chandeliers sway.
Where seldom is seen,
any weed thats unclean.
And the skys are hot vinyl all day

Where cookies are baked...
with Columbian flake.
And the liquor stores open at nine.

Home home on my mind.
where the girls from the Country Club play
Where mostly I've found,
folks will by me a round.
Once my Daddy and friends have their say.

(repeat chrous)

Pretty straight forward peppy folk-pop number with some interesting harmonica action and someone whacking away at a cowbell. Up with people! The last track I had a chance to listen too is a love song titled "Sometimes When I Sleep at Night" which features a female lead vocalist named Laura Dream. Hmmm...well anyway, think Nico and the Velvet Underground on this one.
Sometimes When I sleep at Night
Sometimes when I sleep at night
I think of Hop on Pop.

Well, you got a pretty face,
You got a pretty face,
You're a good-looking guy.
Better looking than my Scott

Sometimes when I sleep at night
I think of Hop on Pop.

I didn't know what to say,
But I'll take what I can, I guess,
When a Texas Republican says
you've got a pretty face,

then I guess there is just no way around it.
You got a pretty face,
You're a good-looking guy.
Better looking than my Scott

Sometimes when I sleep at night
I think of Hop on Pop.

Yikes huh? There's also a version of "All Tomorrows Parties" on side one but I'm afraid to listen to it. I'm gonna have to go back to my attic and see what else is up there.

Psychedelic 'W' Live: The General was there! This is very exciting news. I believe that this was P.W. & the Goat Squadron's "Mission Accomplished" tour. I'm pretty sure. That was the tour that featured the giant inflatable codpiece - nicknamed "Tired Dick" - that was erected on stage for the show's encore perfomance of the classic generation defining ballad "White Panty Elvis Party". (I read about it in Tiger Beat.) I also believe that the concert the General mentions may have been the very same show that almost killed Grover Norquist when the inflatable codpiece suddenly went limp, collapsed onto the stage, and nearly suffocated the little runt like a chipmunk trapped under a wet plastic bag. But I'm not positive because I was far far away at the time, raising sheep in Patagonia, or mining Haiphong Harbor, or having sex with Claudine Longet in the front seat of a snowplow high in the Italian Alps. In August. Or something like that. I mean really, for chist's sake its just not reasonable to expect someone to remember exactly where they were or what they were doing or why they were doing it every single day years and years ago when they were supposed to be here or supposed to be there or supposed to be somewhere else or supposed to be.............


Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Bush AWOL: Winger triumphalism indeed premature ejaculation 

A new twist to the saga:

CBS News reported that the documents it first broadcast last week on "60 Minutes II" appear to be forgeries to the woman who would have typed the original memos in 1972 and 1973.

But Marian Carr Knox, a former Texas Air National Guard secretary, said she did type similar documents for her boss, Lt. Col. Jerry Killian.

OK, since the wingers only want to talk about form. I guess we'll have to focus on substance:

"I know that I didn't type them. However, the information in those is correct," Knox told CBS anchor Dan Rather.

Knox, 86...

Not a lot of reason to lie, eh?

... had previously told the same story to the Dallas Morning News in a report that was published Wednesday morning.

The newspaper said Knox "spoke with precise recollection about dates, people and events."

She told the Morning News, "I remember very vividly when Bush was there and all the yak-yak that was going on about it."

In the memos, the author complained he was being pressured to "sugar coat" the future president's performance evaluations and that Bush failed to meet performance standards, including getting a required physical exam.

The author also wrote that Bush -- whose father was a Texas congressman at the time -- was "talking to someone upstairs" to get permission to transfer to the Alabama National Guard to work on a Senate campaign.

So, on substance, game over.

The legitimacy of the memos came under fire almost immediately as people posted doubts on a conservative Internet bulletin board. Soon, a number of document experts suggested the memos were not written on a typewriter in the 1970s but generated on a computer at a later date.

Knox told Rather that Killian was "upset" that Bush did not obey his order to have a physical, and she said the young lieutenant showed disregard for the rules to a degree that irritated other pilots.

So, Bush did disobey a direct order. Again, on substance, game over.

Knox said the information about Bush in the memos was familiar and that she had typed documents for Killian with similar complaints. She also said the colonel did keep private "cover your back" files.

So, it's possible that Killian typed the memoes himself, for CY"B" reasons, and carefully didn't involve his secretary in something that, even back then, must have been politically charged? The case for forgery, therefore, still remains unproven (and it's the wingers job to prove it.)

But, she said she did not type the memos that were aired by CBS because they were written in a format she didn't use and there was Army terminology not used in the Air National Guard.
(via CNN)

This is, however—depending on the terminology used—consistent with Killian typing the memos himself for his private files. He wouldn't have known the format.

Bottom line: The substance of the memos is true, and the memos could still be genuine.

Which should come as no surprise, since every bit of it has already (back) been independently confirmed many times over.

And that's the way it is. Frankly, I think keeping the story alive to this point is a triumph for the blogosphere, especially in the face of the awesome power of the winger attack machine.

Goodnight, moon 

I can think of two, no three, character-based reasons to vote for Kerry.

1. Kerry will reason from facts to come to a solution.

How different from Bush and the neo-cons, who went to war based on ideology, and when ideology failed them, had nothing to fall back on but trying to hide what they did and blame others.

2. Kerry is a prosecutor.

There are going to be an awful lot of rocks to lift, and a lot of creepy-crawlies scuttling out from under them. Kerry's prosecutorial mindset and experience (BCCS, the Contras) will be a great help.

And—this will be really un-PC, so forgive me as I to think it through:

3. Kerry knows what it means to take life.

Meaning: Kerry's been a soldier, and has killed people in battle, personally.

Bush, despite the strut, has killed people by signing off on their execution warrants, or through negligence and arrogance in planning for the Iraq war. He's a killer by proxy.

So I think Kerry, in defending the country, will take his duty seriously in a way that Bush never has. Putting on the flight suit is one thing; being shot at, and shooting back, is entirely another.


The Translation Department: "Ownership Society" 

Translation: You get left holding the bag.

Bush AWOL 

Nice summary by Kevin Drum.

One of the reasons I'm annoyed by the whole Killian memo fiasco is that even if they're real they don't really add much to the story. ... What we know for sure is that Bush began having problems flying in 1972; refused his physical; was grounded; disappeared for five months; probably disappeared for an entire year; failed to sign up with a unit in Boston for his final year of service; and got an honorable discharge anyway.

And he's never come clean about it. We don't need CBS's memos to remind us of that. We already knew it.

Yep. Sigh....

"Towering Moral Witness" 

No, not the swift boat vets for mendacity. Not CBS, who says the documents are real. Not Laura Bush, who says they aren't. And not the secretary, fine woman though I'm sure she is, who says the documents aren't "genuine," but their content is.

The "towering moral witness" in question belongs to those young widows of 9/11, sometimes known as the Jersey Girls, which is almost appropriate when you force yourself to realize how terribly young they were when they lost their husbands, but whose status as women/widows/citizen activists is becoming a great American story. No one has explained it better than the great Charles Pierce, writing at Eric Alterman's Altercation: (Sorry, no link, can't find it at MSNBC; but I had copied the text at the time into notes I keep of the really good stuff.)

The truly great thing about these 9/11 hearings remains the towering moral witness of the 9/11 widows -- and shame on Bob (Coiffure By Vespasian Of The Appian Way) Kerrey for shushing them. They are doing more than standing up for their loved ones, and that surely would have been enough. They are glorious in their casual disdain for the "Intelligence Community." They are blissfully unimpressed by the Great Men who presume to tell them what the Great Men decide they should know. They leave the pundits gaping at their heedless disregard for the Governing Class. Almost alone, they have insisted that information be brought to light that will enable us to judge our leaders and hold them to account, and that's what this whole silly experiment was supposed to be about -- the "most dreaded kind of knowledge," according to that impossible old blatherskite, John Adams. God save these wonderful women. They are being citizens -- in the most complete sense possible -- for the rest of us.

As you may or may not have heard:

WASHINGTON (AP) - Five outspoken Sept. 11 widows today will publicly endorse John Kerry for president, throwing their weight behind the Democratic challenger in a heated campaign debate over who is best suited to defend the nation from another terrorist attack.

Some, including Kristen Breitweiser of Middletown, N.J., and Monica Gabrielle of West Haven, Conn., also have agreed to make campaign appearances for the Democratic senator, campaign sources said.

"We will be speaking from the heart, and speaking from our conscience," Breitweiser said Monday. She would not elaborate.

Breitweiser is by far the most visible and outspoken of the Sept. 11 family advocates, and has been highly critical of the government's reform efforts to date.

The move highlights the widening political divide among the nearly 3,000 Sept. 11 families.
At the Republican National Convention two weeks ago, two widows and the sister of another Sept. 11 victim offered moving tributes to their departed loved ones. The somber appearances offered no direct endorsement of President Bush, but their message of support was unmistakable.

I didn't see much coverage of this yesterday, just Kristen on CNN; she hasn't been on an airplane since that first 9/11; even catching sight of one of them in the skies above triggers immdiately the horrifying image of that jumbo jet hurtling straight into the building where her husband worked. Apparently, she's prepared to face down those demons if plane travel is required to campaign for Senator Kerry.

I'm sure this was a difficult decision for all of these young widows; up to now they have been rigorously non-partisan. Here's a sample of them responding on Hardball to that day's testimony in front of the 9/11 Commission last April by Condi Rice, whose reluctant appearance testifying under oath was largely the work of the 9/11 families refusing to take "no," for an answer.

MATTHEWS: What about the July briefing that was on domestic agencies?

MINDY KLEINBERG, WIDOW OF 9/11 ATTACK: You know, what’s unbelievable about that is that nobody followed that up. I mean they say that they told the FAA and they told the FBI, but nobody at the FAA did anything.

Nobody stepped up the protocols and procedures during that threat period. Nobody at the FBI knew that this threat was there.

And I would have liked them to continue to ask her, because apparently, she didn’t feel that was her responsibility.

MATTHEWS: You once said that she was either lying or she’s incompetent. What do you think of her now? Do you think that’s still a fair judgment, I mean if it ever was one?

BREITWEISER: I have to say, with a laundry list of questions that that Commissioner Lehman asked her, she said she didn’t know a lot of things. And I would question what exactly did she know? And if she didn’t know it, who else would know it?

It’s her job to know that information. It’s her job to relay that information to the president and to actually, in our opinion, inform the public.

If the public was better informed in the summer of 2001, lives would have been saved. Maybe the attacks wouldn’t have been prevented; but lives would have been saved.

My husband was in Tower II. If he knew that it was a terrorist attack, he wouldn’t have stayed in the building.


PATTY CASAZZA, WIDOW OF 9/11 ATTACK: And it’s also disingenuous for the national security advisor to say she couldn’t have imagined planes being used as weapons.

In July, the president, Condoleezza Rice, Ari Fleischer, Karen Hughes, and Karl Rove attended the general summit in Italy. The national security advisor of that nation was aware of an assassination attempt to be committed upon our president and the leaders attending that G8 Summit in July.

How do you forget, two months later, the threat of your life, the president’s life, and not think that that threat could actually follow you home to the United States?

MATTHEWS: Were you surprised at the lack of attention during the last couple of hours on what the president knew and what he did? It seemed like the questions did not get to the commander in chief. I mean I’m just noticing that. Have you noticed that, Mindy?

KLEINBERG: Well, you know what -- it seemed, whether someone not telling us, whether they didn’t ask the appropriate questioning, but, yes, it seemed like he wasn’t getting the information that he should have been getting. This commission was created so that we could take a look at the vital flow of information and decide where the breakdowns are and then fix them. Somewhere along the way, you could see that people were not getting the information they needed to get-- whether it was the field agents, whether it was the airline security personnel, or whether it was the president of the United States.


VAN AUKEN: Yes, well, we’ve known for a long time that that was the title of that briefing. They’ve been trying to keep that a secret from the public. They tried to keep it secret in the joint intelligence committee report. You know, that pretty much says it all.

If that strikes you as less than non-partisan that's because you, like all of us, have been exposed to a non-stop campaign on the part of the administration and its considerable echo chamber on the right to conflate all pointed questioning of this President's performance in office, before and after 9/11, with the narrowest kind of partanship - exactly the kind which animates pretty much every decision made by Bush & co.

The widows are aware of the issue of partsanship. Here's a piece of an interview with Kristen Breitweiser by David Brancaccio from Bill Moyer's Now on the Friday of the week Richard Clarke came before the 9/11 Commission to testify. (The first several quotes are from a previous Now interview that was excerpted as an intro to this one):

Condoleezza Rice versus Richard Clarke. How do the 9/11 widows make sense of the commission testimony?

BREITWEISER: If we can't remove politics from it. If they have to go down to that level, then how in God's name can we expect the world to come together.


BREITWEISER: We have no expertise. But what we have is a passion, and a drive to right the wrongs. And to fix the problems. And to find the truth.

KLEINBERG: Please, pick up the phone. Call your senators. Call your congressman. Tell them that you want to be safe. Tell them that you want an independent investigation.


BRANCACCIO: What do you think your greatest disappointment was from those two days of hearings?

BREITWEISER: I think my greatest disappointment was really the commissioners' behavior with regard to lowering themselves to partisan politics. We fought so hard to get this commission created. We wanted an independent commission. We wanted it to be bipartisan. To see them go to that level, really, it was upsetting. It's dishonoring of the dead.


BRANCACCIO: What about the people called to testify during those two days? Should they have mixed it up more? Should it have been a different roster of people in some way?

BREITWEISER: I think that the roster was good. I think the roster was missing a key person, namely National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice.

The biggest question, the elephant in the room, is, you know, how is it possible of being National Security Advisor that you came out with a public statement in May of 2002 that you didn't know planes could be used as missiles? We have an intelligence history and record that clearly is replete with instances of planes possibly being used as missiles. In my humble opinion, it is one of two things. Either she's lying. Or she's incompetent. And in either case, she needs to come before the American people so that we can find out what the case is and hold her accountable and determine whether or not she is fit for her job.

BRANCACCIO: You raise this issue of partisanship. Do you ever worry that you're being used for those purposes? I had the radio on the other day. And there was conservative talk radio host, Rush Limbaugh, going on about some of the 9/11 widows suggesting that you've been coached by the Democrats.

RUSH LIMBAUGH: It sounds to me not only were women coached, but it sounds to me like somebody fed them to the networks.

BREITWEISER: I would have encouraged him to do his homework a little bit better. I voted for President Bush and so did my husband. I believed in him. And I believe when a President takes an oath of office, he takes an oath of office to lead, protect and serve. I think that the least President Bush could do for the families is to come forward and open a dialogue and discuss 9/11.

BRANCACCIO: And you're not seeing in that committee, at those hearings, this working together to making the world a safer place?

BREITWEISER: No, and that's what I'm saying. If we can't even get along on a commission that was set up by the families working so hard, begging to have this commission. We literally begged. If they can't even remove politics from it, if they have to go down to that level, how in the God's name can we expect the world to come together?

As they sought to understand what made 9/11 possible, other than the manical ,suicidal will of the jihadist terrorists to visit unspeakable horror on this country, these young widows developed a sense of what it means to live in a democracy that is not shared by the Bush administration, for whom all information about how the government operates belongs to them, not to ordinary citizens. That the administration had a public responsibility to submit someone like Condi Rice to a public questioning, so that citizens themselves could decide if and how she should be held accountable is still treated like some kind of unpatriotic outrage.

Their decision to endorse John Kerry is the logical outcome of the journey taken by these young widows; it might well have had a different outcome if the Bush administration hadn't been...well, the Bush administration.

They will be an asset to Kerry's campaign; by their mere presence they remind voters on whose watch 9/11 happened and also how reluctant the Bush adminisration was to submit itself to any kind of judgement, even to that of a hand-chosen, non-partisan Commission whose mission was of the highest patriotism - to avoid assigning blame in order to figure out what actually happened to avoid it happening again. As we've heard so often from all those ex-prosecutors-cum-TV personalities, flight is evidence of knowledge of guilt. The Bush administration had good reason for its flight from convening any sort of forum for evaluating how well the government responded on 9/11. This is in contrast to the previous administration;from President Clinton on down, Democrats have been in favor of such a commission. Both Clinton and Gore testified on the record, and Clinton's library had to threaten to sue to get the Bush administration to release all the relevant Clinton files.

No statement has riled the right wing against the widows more than Kristen's "that 3000 people died on George Bush's watch." And not without reason. Her statement, and their response goes exactly to the character issue. Bush and his partisans hear that sentence as laying the blame for 9/11 at the door of the White House. No. Even if big mistakes were made by his administration, Bush would not be to blame for 9/11. Kristen Breitweiser's comment is a statement of fact. 9/11 did happen on Bush's watch; it is an event in all of its many aspects for which he bears a primary responsibility; he is accountable for the day itself, and for what has happened post 9/11, including his reluctance to examine what did happen. Expect these new advocates for Kerry to be attacked. It will be said that they have shown their true partisan colors now. We should all be prepared to defend them from that kind of contemptuous dismissal as exemplified by that venerable battleax of the right, Dorothy Rabinowitz; herewith a small sample.

The venerable status accorded this group of widows comes as no surprise given our times, an age quick to confer both celebrity and authority on those who have suffered. As the experience of the Jersey Girls shows, that authority isn't necessarily limited to matters moral or spiritual. All that the widows have had to say--including wisdom mind-numbingly obvious, or obviously false and irrelevant--on the failures of this or that government agency, on derelictions of duty they charged to the president, the vice president, the national security adviser, Norad and the rest, has been received by most of the media and members of Congress with utmost wonder and admiration. They had become prosecutors and investigators, unearthing clues and connections related to 9/11, with, we're regularly informed, unrivalled dedication and skill.

Judge for yourself how just is this characterization by listening to Kristen in front of a Senate committee wrapping up the business of the 9/11 Commission, courtesy of Columbia/Union, which has the link up as part of its sidebar.

We're all used to it by now - the way any person who doesn't toe the entire right wing line is an immediate target for character assassination. And note the angry disdain for the Commission itself. Like William Kristol, a great nation conservative we're told, really wanted to get to the bottom of what happened on 9/11. Instead, maximum contempt is drummed up against any American whose total output of energy is not focusd on rage against "Islamofacists." For instance, here's Mark Styn, writing in April:

Stop whimpering, we're in a battle

"This is the way the world ends / Not with a bang but a whimper." I'm saving the end of the world for my final column, but T S Eliot's words seem at least as pertinent to the present war - or "war", according to taste. It will be decided not by the bangs - whether in Fallujah or Bali or elsewhere - but by the whimpers. And, although the bangs have got a little louder in recent weeks, it's the whimpers that have become deafening.

Whimpers, whimpers everywhere. On American TV, the network sob-sisters tut sympathetically with the "Jersey Girls", four media-savvy 9/11 widows who've decided that metaphorically speaking George W Bush was at the controls of the planes that slammed into the World Trade Centre. Beltway reporters are a-twitter about the biennial doorstopper from


The biggest whimpers of all come from the 9/11 Commission. Have you been watching it? Me neither. But, when I catch the odd 10 minutes, I begin to feel as anti-American as Margaret Drabble and Harold Pinter. In its ghastly exhibitionist ersatz-legalism, it represents all the most malign features of American life. Tony Blair should have offered to loan Lord Hutton. Instead, a mélange of hacks and has-beens mugs for the cameras round the clock, and any piece of government paper from the summer of 2001 containing the words "plane" and/or "Muslim" is taken as evidence of Bush's complicity.

In fact, the so-called incriminating memo is notable mainly for its confirmation of the woeful state of US intelligence. The mention of "media reports" in the first sentence is a sly admission that you could have found out all the stuff in this "classified" briefing by reading the papers. If you'd read a piece by Kenneth Timmerman in the July 1998 Reader's Digest, you'd have been much more informed. Bush would have been better off spending half an hour in a well-stocked dentist's waiting room than reading CIA briefings, and the ensuing root-canal surgery would have been a lot less painful than listening to the Commission poseurs.

The only thing everyone seems to agree on is that counter-intelligence was severely hobbled by the so-called "wall" erected between the CIA and FBI. Who put up this "wall", or at any rate extended it several feet higher than previously? Why, former Clinton-era Deputy Attorney-General Jamie Gorelick. Has she testified before the Commission? Well, no, because she's on it. That would seem to be a prima facie conflict of interest. But instead she's huffing indignantly about being a victim of "partisan rancor". "Partisan rancour" is wholly improper unless directed at Bush and Ashcroft.


The other bombshell revelation from the hearings was trampled into oblivion in the stampede to Woodward's book and other flim-flam. Commissioner John Lehman remarked that "it was the policy [before 9/11] and I believe remains the policy today to fine airlines if they have more than two young Arab males in secondary questioning because that's discriminatory."

Remarkable, isn't it, how badly past columns by propogandists fare upon re-reading? The statements about Gorelick and about the rule that kept airlines from asking questions of two muslims at a time are both incorrect

The mega-best seller status of the Commission's book-length report is some indication of how out of whack the righties really are with the American mainstream.

So, let's encourage the Kerry campaign to use these precious American citizens, to whom everyone owes a debt of gratitutde, well and often. Without even saying a word, they force their fellow citizens to take a hard look at the Bush administration.

The best preparation defending the honor of the 9/11 widows is to read this post by Tim Dunlop at The Road to Serfdom, which takes on and quickly vanquishes all their rightwing critics. It's a fun, and enormously satisfying read.

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