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Saturday, March 27, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

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

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

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

Republicans funding Nader 


Here via Kos.

And one of the all time great headlines:

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

Wow. I never thought they would do that!


The kind of publicity Mel Gibson doesn't need 

The war of fundamentalisms picks up a notch:

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Army prosecuting AWOL conscientious objector for desertion 

Looks like we have our first refusenik.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conspiracy theorist [draft] 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I disagree, both in principle and on the specifics.

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

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

Thank you.

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

Authored by none other than Judith Miller!

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

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

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

Thank you.

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

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

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

RIght. Thanks. I think.

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

Rapture index closes up 2 on Financial Unrest and Beast Government 

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

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

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

Bush Urges Iraqis To Pass Amendment Banning Gay Marriage 

Fooled ya! It's The Onion:

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

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

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

The Boston Globe, viaAP:

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

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

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

Poetry Corner: Winger haikus 

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

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

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

Poetry Corner: "Chickenhawks with Rice" 

Alert reader JoXn Costello points us to this gem:

Chicken hawks with Rice

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


Read the whole thing..

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

"Crooks": Goon squad steals Kerry FBI files 

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

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

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

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

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

NOTE From alert reader Phred at the essential Atrios.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo Phunnies: It takes two hands to handle a whopper 

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

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

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

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

Talk to Mr. Hand! 

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

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

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

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

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

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

UPDATE See the original post back here for medical information.

Musical interlude: Condi goes ballistic. 

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

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

Condi Goes Ballistic

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

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

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

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

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

Elvis has left the building!

Friday, March 26, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Billionaires for Bush 

Latest antics covered here.

Their website is here.

Republicans for Kerry 



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

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

NOTE From a post by ElectroLite.

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

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

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

Hmmm.... Whose orders, we wonder?

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UPDATE Alert reader Adrienne suggests the following:

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


More proof that we're winning in Iraq 

What a mess.

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

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

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

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

Aren't CEO Presidents supposed to know?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Kenya Plans Massive Relocation of 400 Elephants" 

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

Oh... Make up your own jokes.

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

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

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


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


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

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

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


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

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

[Tom Flocco | March 24, 2004]

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

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

See also back here.

This Is What Autocracy Looks Like 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UPDATE Alert reader Sovreign Eye comments:

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

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

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

Remember Sibel Edmonds? 


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

By Eric Boehlert
March 26, 2004 |

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

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

Full story: Boehlert /

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

Just asking.

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

But apparently, it's not happening.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hiring freeze at DHS 

Oh, I really feel safer now!

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

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

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

Sing along with aWol! 

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

Bush's Favorite Things

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

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

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

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

Funny ha ha?

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

David Corn was there, and describes it:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UPDATE The transcript is here.

The 5:00 horror 

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

What will the 5:00 horror be today?

UPDATE From alert reader catalexis:

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

And it will be manned.


By Richard Clarke.

All Fascism is Local 

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

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

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

Attend church weekly. Without fail. No excuses.

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

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

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

Resistance is futile!

More from: Harpers Magazine/Stations of the Boss


Thursday, March 25, 2004

Goodnight, Rove 

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


Goodnight, moon 

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

The sickest part of Bush's sick joke on WMDs 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Need I say more?

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

The Wreckovery: Cooking the books again? 

Missed this one in all the excitement:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Interesting, if true...

The Right Christians on gay marriage 

Excellent post from Allen. Go read.

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

What the Sidster said 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UPDATE Hobson asks: Where do we write?

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

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

Missed this one in all the excitement this morning.

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

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

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

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

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


With, as they say, a bullet. Here.

Anyone else read it? Got any thoughts?

UPDATE All Clarke, all the time:

Road to Surfdom (start here and read back)

The Agonist

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

Profiles in Bush League courage  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Well, shoot.

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

Now, Condi wants to appear before the commission 

Get this!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is it because she's lying?

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

Daschle slams Bush slime and defend on Clarke 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It could be an effective rhetorical device.

"Just the facts, George!"

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

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

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

Dean gives "spirited" endorsement to Kerry 

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

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

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

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

UPDATE From alert reader paradox:

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

Wrong answer.

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

Bush tries to change the subject 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yes, there are tapes of the CSGs 

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

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

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

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

Ha ha.

That George Bush—what a kidder!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Welcome to 1,000 lucky duckies!

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

Say, is Ashcroft out of rehab yet? 

Just asking.

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

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

Pass the popcorn!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Clarke nailed that one too. Read the transcript:

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

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

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

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

UPDATE Froomkin rips Condi a new one:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

"Reluctantly concluded" is rather fine, I think.

A good summation of Clarke's testimony 


Kaplan is right. It was a home run.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10 questions for Al Franken 

Here's one of them:

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

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

What Al said.

Brits take cuisine to new heights 

Better than passing the popcorn!

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

Democrats still successfully protecting your overtime pay 

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

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

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

Bev Harris's book on electronic voting machines is out 

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

It takes a village to stomp a weasel™ 

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

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

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

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

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

FUX screws the pooch 

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

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

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

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

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

Clarke asks: Who let the dogs out? 

The Salon interview with Joe Conason here:

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

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

[rim shot. Laughter. Applause].

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

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

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

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

Tinfoil hat time: Is Clarke signalling that Bush might not run? 

[CLARKE:] So let me say here as I am under oath, that I will not accept any position in the Kerry administration, should there be one -- on the record, under oath.
(transcript Times)

Well, I thought, that disposes of the "it's just politics" angle.

Then again...

Parse those words, since Clarke strikes me as a man who chooses his words very, very carefully

Clarke voted Republican in 2000....

Would he serve in a Republican administration... If Bush were not the head? Suppose Bush pulled an LBJ, as an act of statesmanship, chose not to run, handed the $170 million to.... Who? The Arnis™ can't run yet...

Well, we can dream, can't we? It's late....


Of course, we'll never really know, will we? Because she won't testify, under oath, in public (not just "visit").

GORELICK: You have talked about a plan that you presented to Dr. Rice immediately upon her becoming national security adviser, and ... you said elements of that plan, which were developed by you and your staff at the end of 2000 -- many elements -- became part of what was then called NSPD-9, or what ultimately became NSPD-9. When Dr. Rice writes in the Washington Post, No Al Qaida plan was turned over to the new administration, is that true?

I think what is true is what your staff found by going through the documents and what your staff briefing says, which is that early in the administration, within days of the Bush administration coming into office, that we gave them two documents. In fact, I briefed Dr. Rice on this even before they came into office.
(the transcript Times)

Of course, this all presumes that Condi would recognize a plan if it was handed to her.

UPDATE Poor Condi. They're laughing at her!

BEN-VENISTE: I just wanted to say that having sat in on two days of debriefings with you, Mr. Clarke, and having seen excerpts from your book, other than questions you weren't asked, I have not perceived any substantive differences between what you have said to us and what has been quoted from your published work. Having said that, I'll cede my time to Congressman Roemer, if he'll give me his time with Condoleezza Rice. (LAUGHTER)

CLARKE: That may not be a good deal. (LAUGHTER)
(the transcript via the Times)

When they started laughing at Ari during the 16 words fiasco, you could feel the world turning under your feet. Same here. Everything is starting to change.

Incidentally, Condi is either being hung out to dry on this one, or hanging herself out to dry. In Washington, if you aren't at the meeting, you get screwed. And she is so very, very not at this meeting. That's really what these insiders are laughing about. I won't mention the words "duck pit" but feel free to think them...

New Kerry ad 

"Bush is attacking John Kerry with a mountain of money."— that's the opening line of the new Kerry animated ad right next to the transcripts (smart buy).

I like it (especially after that DNC Flash abomination) but I'm not hip, and not an artist. Can anyone clue us in as to the quality of Kerry's new ad?

If Bush had been able to say these words 

he wouldn't be Bush, would be?

We tried hard, but that doesn't matter because we failed. And for that failure, I would ask -- once all the facts are out -- for your understanding and for your forgiveness.
(Richard Clarke, via Times transcript)

UPDATE No, he wouldn't be Bush if he could admit he was wrong and apologize.

BEN-VENISTE: And before I get to that and before I forget doing so, I want to express my appreciation for the fact that you have come before this commission and state in front of the world your apology for what went wrong. To my knowledge, you are the first to do that. (APPLAUSE)
(transcript via Times)

Readers: So how did Clarke do? 

I don't have a TV. So, how did he do?

UPDATE Alert reader Jesse says Clarke is "Kool-Aid" free!

Sad demise of a once-great newspaper 

Yes, the Times. Parts are still great ("Metropolitan Diary"), but where the skin of the Times apple touches the Beltway barrel, it's started to shrivel and rot. And New Yorkers know it. In a wonderful review of a biography of the late, great columnist, reporter, and writer A.J. Liebling, David Remnick writes:

Liebling was an indifferent stenographer. He had no future at the Times.
(via The New Yorker)

Could Remnick have had Judith "Kneepads" Miller in mind? (back) I like to think so.

UPDATE Howell Raines defends himself in the latest Atlantic (NY Daily News via the Kansas City Star. Funny thing. I keep hearing "Jayson Blair" but I never hear "Jeff Gerth" and "Whitewater." The Times sold its soul with those stories, long ago. It's a sadness.

I want my / I want my / I want my PDBs 

What Tom said (back) about getting the President's Daily Briefings. You know, the ones Bush only wants to give the commission in summarized form? (Which Kean rolled over for). You know, the ones that might show that AQ chatter wasn't idle, and we really did have intelligence that might use airplanes as weapons? Just like the AWOL issue: It's easy to settle the question; show us the money!

And what Tom said (back) on the CSGs too—the actual minutes that Clarke summarizes in his book. Just like AWOL and the PDBs: show us the money!

Heck, I own a piece of the PDBs and the CSGs—I'm a citizen, and (to misquote a famous President) "I paid for those PDBs!" So why shouldn't I see what's mine?

From drip, drip, drip to splash, splash 

You know they're getting desperate when the "really, we're all to blame" meme starts circulating.


Faux Democrat Zell Miller embarrasses his party again 

The Bush-Cheney campaign Wednesday unleashed its most famous Democratic booster, Georgia Sen. Zell Miller, to make the case that presidential candidate John Kerry (news - web sites) advocates policies inconsistent with some of history's most popular Democratic presidents.

Miller, a Georgian who is the lone Democratic senator to back publicly President Bush (news - web sites)'s re-election bid, criticized Kerry in a speech announcing his leadership of a national "Democrats for Bush" effort. He was joined by a handful of lesser-known Democrats, but the campaign said it would release a more comprehensive list in the coming weeks.

The popular former governor cited the policies of Democratic Presidents John F. Kennedy and Harry S. Truman while contending that Kerry, not Bush, is outside the mainstream on issues ranging from tax cuts to war.

"John F. Kerry has the same initials as John F. Kennedy," Miller said, "but he has a far, far different view of what the government can do to help families prosper. John Kerry's spending and tax plan would stifle our economy and stall our recovery at the worst possible time."

(via AP)
Isn't it about time to strip Miller of all his leadership posts and treat him like a pariah?

UPDATE Miller is also the co-sponsor of the "Constitution Restoration Act of 2004," and even accustomed as we are to Orwellian names for legislation from the Republicans, this one is a real beauty. Here's the money paragraph:

Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, the Supreme Court shall not have jurisdiction to review, by appeal, writ of certiorari, or otherwise, any matter to the extent that relief is sought against an element of Federal, State, or local government, or against an officer of Federal, State, or local government (whether or not acting in official personal capacity), by reason of that element's or officer's acknowledgement of God as the sovereign source of law, liberty, or government.

Read the ever excellent Orcinus for the noxious details.

Say, is Zell any relation to Judy? They both seem to be moving in the same mysterious way.


Well, so much for "terrorism transcending politics", as Izvestia on the Hudson would have it 

The Republican members of the commission are now impugning Clarke's credibility.

9/11 commission member John Lehman challenged former counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke's credibility in hearings today, pointing out that Clarke's statements about the Bush administration in his new book differ from his testimony. Clarke responded that he hadn't been asked about the U.S. invasion of Iraq and that by invading Iraq, the president "has greatly undermined the war on terrorism."
(via CNN)

Funny thing, Drudge is spreading the same meme at the same time: "[Clarke] Under Pressure" is Drudge's headline. Coincidence? You be the judge...

My God, have these guys no shame? Clarke was at a potential Ground Zero in the White House on 9/11, knowing the planes could be coming right at him, running the country's response to the attack, and Drudge has the nerve to talk about "pressure."


If you're watching Clarke's testimony... 

you know why W and the boys are, er, omorashi and launching these shrill and insanely uncoordinated attacks on Clarke's character.

You get the idea that Clarke has forgotten more about counterterrorism than anyone on Bush's national security team knows at present.

This is devastating stuff folks.

UPDATE I'm with Hesiod. There's a simple way to figure out who's telling the truth. George Tenet admitted today there are minutes of the CSG meetings. I think it's time to press the White House to release the minutes of the 2001 CSG meetings.

On another Clarke testimony-related topic, did you see his hard hit back of Thompson's question about the transcript of the background briefing?

Not surprisingly, W's sycophants at Fox are the only ones who have released these transcripts. Josh Marshall has a good post on this little episode here.

If this is the best the White House can do, they're in big trouble.

EU: Microsoft an abusive monopoly 

Who knew?

European Union (news - web sites) regulators ordered U.S. computer software giant Microsoft Corp on Wednesday to pay a record $606 million fine for violating EU antitrust law and change its business model fundamentally to stop crushing rivals.
(via Reuters)

And they aren't going to support IE5 anymore? Now that everyone's using it? WTF?

George, it isn't enough just to kill them, because you can't kill them all! 

I promised to let you know how Clarke's book Against All Enemies comes out. Here's the next to the last paragraph on the last page of the body of the book:

President Bush asked us soon after September 11 for cards or charts of the "senior AQ managers," as though dealing with them would be like a Harvard Business School exercise in a hostile takeover. He announced his intentions to measure progress in the war on terrorism by crossing through the pictures of those caught or killed. I have a disturbing image of [Bush] sitting by a warm White House fireplace drawing a dozen red Xs on the faces of the former AQ corporate board, and soon perhaps on OBL, while the new clones of AQ are working the back alleys and dark warrens of Baghdad, Cairo, Jakarta, Karachi, Detroit, and Newark, using the scenes from Iraq to stoke the hatred of America even further, recruiting thousands whose names we will never know, whose faces will never be on President Bush's little charts, not until it is again too late
(print version of Against All Enemies, page 287, with Corrente AQ and OBL abbreviations)

We've already drawn your attention to the truly creepy picture that drawing X's through the photos of dead men gives of Bush's character (back here), so I'm glad to see this character issue going mainstream in an authoritative insider's account. Somehow, I don't think this behavior is the answer to the question that "WWJD" poses....

However, what Clarke does not say is that Bush's approach to the WOT in general and AQ in particular is the same approach Bush uses against those he considers enemies domestically, in politics. I can also imagine Bush putting red X's through photographs of John McCain, Max Cleland, Joseph Wilson, Paul O'Neill, and he's trying to draw red X's through pictures of Richard Clarke and John Kerry right now. True, domestically, Bush only uses the tools of character assassination (we hope), instead of actual assassination, as internationally, but the mentality is exactly the same.

But Clarke's bottom line is this:

Bush's kill 'em all and let God sort it out approach IS NOT WORKING. Hopefully, Clarke will hammering that home at the 9/11 commission later this afternoon; Kerry's shadow Secretaries of Defense and State should take notice....

Finally, Bush's approach kill 'em all isn't going to work domestically in 2004 or after. He can't assassinate all of us, either.

The results are in: The most irritating cliche 

"At the end of the day," according to AP.

What, not "out of the loop"? Or "deeply irresponsible"?

Corretta Scott King supports gay marriage as a civil rights issue 

Good for her!

The widow of Martin Luther King Jr. called gay marriage a civil rights issue, denouncing a proposed constitutional amendment that would ban it.

Constitutional amendments should be used to expand freedom, not restrict it, Coretta Scott King said Tuesday.

(via AP)

Talking the talk, walking the walk. Not all do.

Saletan on Clarke: Slamming the oven door on the Texas soufflé 

Even though Clarke is a Republican.

It seems like the famously disciplined Bush team is starting to crack. Of course, they do have all those criminal investigations to worry about. Here,. Rummy and Condi achieve the notable result of lying and contradicting each other at the same time. Quite a feat!

Clarke's distinction, of course, is that he was the ultimate insider—as highly and deeply inside, on this issue, as anyone could imagine. And so his charges are more credible, potent, and dangerous. So, how has Team Bush gone after Clarke? Badly.

To an unusual degree, the Bush people can't get their story straight. On the one hand, Condi Rice has said that Bush did almost everything that Clarke recommended he do. On the other hand, Vice President Dick Cheney, appearing on Rush Limbaugh's show, acted as if Clarke were a lowly, eccentric clerk: "He wasn't in the loop, frankly, on a lot of this stuff." This is laughably absurd. Clarke wasn't just in the loop, he was the loop.
(via Slate)

I wonder who the first one to turn on Bush will be? It's not looking good for the Boy Emperor. If Waura can't prop him up, it may be time for Babs to get involved. Things could start getting ugly...

I love you, you love me, we're a happy family 

Barney Frank on gay marriage here.

What is it these guys have with the word "visit"? 

Scott "Sucka MC" McClellan:

MR. McCLELLAN: I don't know anything about replacing. One, Dr. Rice was pleased to sit down and visit with the 9/11 Commission and answer all the questions that they wanted to bring up. The meeting went for well over four hours, even though it was scheduled, I think, for maybe half that time. And she looked forward to visiting with them. And if they want to visit further, then we'll be glad to talk to them about that.
(via WhiteWash House)

Visit, forsooth? Bush used the same word in his interview with Wussert (back here): "[BUSH]: I will be glad to visit with [the commission]."

Visit?! Kind of a rocking-chair-on-the-porch, "Drop on by anytime" thing? Like I'd like to see Kenny Boy Lay "visit" the inside of a court room? Like the wingers made Clinton "visit" with Ken Starr's "career prosecutors"? Like you or I would welcome a "visit" from the FBI or Homeland Security?

Does "visit" have some Texan or SIC connotation that I'm not getting? Readers?

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

Paul Harrington and Andrew Sum of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University give some analytical perspective:

According to one of the two leading sources for such data -- the current employment statistics, also known as the payroll survey -- the number of wage and salary workers on employer payrolls fell by more than 620,000. But according to the other leading source -- the current population survey of households -- employment in the nation increased by nearly 2.3 million over the same period. Not only do these numbers -- both of which are drawn from monthly surveys -- move in opposite directions, they represent a staggering gap of 3 million jobs, a gap between the two surveys that is 10 times greater than that observed after the previous five recessions.

When properly interpreted, the two surveys together reveal the real emerging story line: Unable to find regular payroll employment, many workers are accepting second choice self-employment, contract labor, or off-the-books work arrangements. In other words, the growth in nonformal payroll employment over the past two years has acted as a labor market safety valve. American workers are finding that for now, their best and maybe only alternative lies somewhere between a regular wage and salary job and unemployment.

Maybe this is their choice. Or maybe state and federal wage and hour law enforcement has become so lax that employers flout payroll requirements. Or maybe the reason is that firms are able to take advantage of short-term excess labor supply conditions.

We don't really know, which is why we need a more informed understanding of what is taking place in US labor markets.

(via the Boston Glob)

Reminds me of the start of Snow Crash, where former IT professional Hiro Protagonist is living in a shipping container with a fine view of LAX. "Second choice," well, yes ....

This is the story that the Times, in its shallow way, is missing when it says that manicurists are doing just fine. in today's economy, thank you. Probably a world of servants living on tips figures largely in the Bushogarchy's vision of all the good things a flatlined jobs market can do for them.

Chop-Shop Wheels 

Dick Cheney's loopy "loop"; manufacturing the BIG LIE.
Cast of characters include: Paul Wolfowitz, Bruce Feith, Richard Perle, Harold Rhode, the American Enterprise Institute, Michael Rubin (AEI), David Wurmser (AEI), F. Michael Maloof, Lewis Libby, Ahmad Chalabi (INC), Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, George W. Bush, William Luti, John Bolton, Abram N. Shulsky, Colonel William Bruner, Youssef Aboul-Enein, Newt Gingrich, Francis Brooke (Rendon Group),...

This piece from the January/February 2004 Issue of Mother Jones by Jason Vest and Robert Dreyfuss, titled The Lie Factory, is a complete guide to the players and swindlers who ran the intelligence chop-shop called the Office of Special Plans.

The purpose of the unnamed intelligence unit, often described as a Pentagon "cell," was to scour reports from the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, and other agencies to find nuggets of information linking Iraq, Al Qaeda, terrorism, and the existence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction (WMD). In a controversial press briefing in October 2002, a year after Wurmser's unit was established, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld acknowledged that a primary purpose of the unit was to cull factoids, which were then used to disparage, undermine, and contradict the CIA's reporting, which was far more cautious and nuanced than Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and Feith wanted.

Read the whole article if you haven't already. On the eve of Richard Clarke's testimony before the 9/11 Commission this report is one of the best lowdowns I've seen with respect to the whole secretive ideologically driven Pentagon based operation that sold us the deceptions and propaganda that led to the war in Iraq.

Also, from the same article, excerpted comments from others who similarly reflect Richard Clarke's recent conclusions:

Daniel Benjamin, co-author of The Age of Sacred Terror, was director of counterterrorism at the National Security Council in the late 1990s. "In 1998, we went through every piece of intelligence we could find to see if there was a link between Al Qaeda and Iraq," he says. "We came to the conclusion that our intelligence agencies had it right: There was no noteworthy relationship between Al Qaeda and Iraq. I know that for a fact." Indeed, that was the consensus among virtually all anti-terrorism specialists.

Kwiatkowski, 43, a now-retired Air Force officer who served in the Pentagon's Near East and South Asia (NESA) unit in the year before the invasion of Iraq, observed how the Pentagon's Iraq war-planning unit manufactured scare stories about Iraq's weapons and ties to terrorists. "It wasn't intelligence‚ -- it was propaganda," she says. "They'd take a little bit of intelligence, cherry-pick it, make it sound much more exciting, usually by taking it out of context, often by juxtaposition of two pieces of information that don't belong together."

Edward Luttwak, a neoconservative scholar and author, says flatly that the Bush administration lied about the intelligence it had because it was afraid to go to the American people and say that the war was simply about getting rid of Saddam Hussein.

Please read The Lie Factory

It makes for one of those moments when you just want to open a window and yell out: praise the Great Possum (or whatever) for real investigative journalism!
But you don't because, well, that would be kind of weird. And because thats what blogs are for.

PTGP (praise the great possum)


Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Times finally publishes transcript of 9/11 hearing 

here—on very the day when, according to Newsday, "the panel gave Bush two priceless gifts". They really are in the tank for Bush, aren't they? (Lovely headline: "For a Day, Terrorism Transcends Politics") Since Judith "Kneepads" Miller was still on the Clarke story, as of this morning anyhow.

Readers, look at the transscript and make up your own jokes.

Oh, and the questions the families want answered are here. Think they've been asked?

Could 9/11 have been prevented? There was a chance 

Julian Borger interviews Clarke in the Guardian:

Julian Borger: If there had been meetings on terrorism in that first eight months, do you think it would have made a difference?

Richard Clarke: Well let me ask you: Contrast December '99 with June and July and August 2001. In December '99 we get similar kinds of evidence that al-Qaida was planning a similar kind of attack. President Clinton asks the national security advisor to hold daily meetings with attorney-general, the CIA, FBI. They go back to their departments from the White House and shake the departments out to the field offices to find out everything they can find. It becomes the number one priority of those agencies. When the head of the FBI and CIA have to go to the White House every day, things happen and by the way, we prevented the attack. Contrast that with June, July, August 2001 when [Bush] is being briefed virtually every day in his morning intelligence briefing that something is about to happen, and he never chairs a meeting and he never asks Condi rice to chair a meeting about what we're doing about stopping the attacks. She didn't hold one meeting during all those three months. Now, it turns out that buried in the FBI and CIA, there was information about two of these al-Qaida terrorists who turned out to be hijackers [Khalid Almidhar and Nawaf Alhazmi]. We didn't know that. The leadership of the FBI didn't know that, but if the leadership had to report on a daily basis to the White House, he would have shaken the trees and he would have found out those two guys were there. We would have put their pictures on the front page of every newspaper and we probably would have caught them. Now would that have stopped 9/11? I don't know. It would have stopped those two guys, and knowing the FBI the way they can take a thread and pull on it, they would probably have found others.

JB: So might they have stopped the September 11 attacks?

RC: I don't want to say they could have stopped the attacks. But there was a chance.

JB: A reasonable chance? A good chance?

RC: There was a chance, and whatever the probability was, they didn't take it.

Read the whole thing.

Now is the time once again to ask this question: 

Just what, do you suppose, was in the President's Daily Briefings in August of 2001?

I mean, I try my best not to be too "tinfoil hat" in my analysis of this but, heck folks, we all now know that the president was told that the intelligence services were concerned that al-Qaeda might hijack aircraft.

However, and I've said this before, I've always had my suspicions that one of the PDBs in August raised the possibility that these airliners might be used as weapons.

If that were true then the administration would be absolutely open to the criticism that they stood idly by, that the president "cleared brush" for a month in Crawford I remind you, even after being told these airliners could be used as terror weapons.

This revelation would completely destroy the administration's argument that "we did everything we could" to prosecute the war on terror before 9/11. It would destroy, once and for all, the "no one could have foreseen the 9/11 attacks" argument that they've so often repeated.

This is just the sort of revelation that W's sycophants would want to softpedal in their "executive summary" of the August 2001 PDBs -- which is, I remind you, what the 9/11 commission has ultimately agreed to accept in lieu of access to the raw PDBs of August 2001.

I'm not suggesting that this revelation is what is contained in the raw PDBs from August of 2001 -- but it certainly would explain just why the administration has been so reticent to allow the commission access to them, right?


UPDATE In response to this post, Atrios suggests there's a simple solution to this controversy: release the relevant portions of the raw PDBs.

I agree. What's in them that they don't want us to see?

Got That Right 

Juan Cole reminds us of something all too readily forgotten:

Sharon has done nothing for the US effort in Iraq. Has Israel offered any monetary aid to the US for the effort? The Israeli per capita income, at $17,000 a year, is higher than that of Spain, but the Spanish managed to contribute. Actually what I remember is that when the Israelis heard there was going to be a war, they came trooping to Washington with their hands out, asking for an extra $4 billion. Yes, folks, the US taxpayer was asked to fork over $4 billion to Ariel Sharon. Why? Because US men and women from Nebraska and Missouri and the other states were being put in harm's way in part to protect Israeli interests in the Middle East? We had to tax ourselves for the privilege of contributing to Israeli security?

(via Juan Cole)

A colleague at work today asked, "When was the last time there was a discussion about the policies that got us attacked?" Indeed. Even less-asked than questions about Administration competence, are those about the state that, at least as much as any other, is responsible for the violence that's engulfing Middle East today. Maybe after we get the Mayberry Machiavellis out of the White House, something can be done about the other gang of criminals that are robbing us of blood and treasure.

Conversation in an Indian Cafe 

Well, I bought Clarke's book, since one should always have something sensational to read on the train.

And so I go to an Indian restaurant for dinner, a tiny hole-in-the-wall place, and naturally I'm reading at dinner. From the next table:

"[Person at other table]: It really worries me that DHS is an all-Windows shop."

"[Me, to their table]: They really don't know what they're doing, do they?"

"No, they don't."

I then held up Clarke's book so they could see the cover.

We all laughed. Oh, and they saw Clarke on Charlie Rose and thought he was very credible.

This thing may be getting some traction. Granted, it's a Blue spot in a Blue city, but still... Public outrage is starting to go pretty deep.

Anyhow, the book reads like I understand that a Tom Clancy book reads. I'll let you know how it comes out.

So where'd Tom DéLay get that cute accent in his name from, anyhow? 

Believe it or not, the uniters not dividers over in the WhiteWash House are actually accusing Kerry of being, well, French (here).

Ha ha! Next thing you know, they'll be saying "McCain had a nigger baby!"[1] Oh, wait...

And you know the great, great thing about this latest smear? Milbank nails it, though he doesn't know it, when he writes: "The Republicans are trying to turn John Kerry into a frog."

It's a classic, classic case of winger projection. Because, as we all know, Bush has, shall we say, boyhood issues with frogs. (See "Having a beer with a nut job"; farmertoon).

[1]Since that's what the WhiteWash House did, I feel no compunction about using the N word in this clinical fashion.

Tinfoil hat time: How Clarke could have been "out of the loop" after all 

As we noted in our roundup last night (back), Josh Marshall remarks that "Clarke, as we've said, was the counter-terrorism coordinator at NSC. That means he ran the inter-agency process on terrorism issues. Cheney says Clarke wasn't in the loop; but that means that he actually ran the loop."

Sure that nails Cheney... But what if...

What if Josh wasn't being cynical enough...

What it there was a lie within the lie (We are, after all, dealing with POTL.)

What if .... We already know there is a shadow government (AP, though the story is, oddly, mostly about President Eisenhower). And in the nature of the case, we can't really know when the shadow government is running the real government, can we? And we've also been reading (here at Corrente, and via Harpers, though not, oddly, in the mainstream media) about CEO COM LINK (here, and here), which is a secure, exclusive telephone system that allows CEOs to speak directly with Tom Ridge, and which has already been activated four times (that we know of).

What if the covert WOT—that is, the non-Iraqi part that involves wholesale assassination of AQ operatives, a la Operation Phoenix (back)—has been privatized—contracted out by the shadow government and run through CEO COM LINK or its equivalent?

If this is true, Clarke would then be, indeed, "out of the loop," but left in place for show, to conceal where the real action is: the shadow government and whatever private armies it's running.

No! They would never do that!

One small fact that would support this idea is that Clarke is the one who, on 9/11, ordered the President into Air Force One on its trip to Louisiana and then Omaha. Clarke's book hints that Bush didn't take kindly to that, and as we all know, Bush takes things very, very personally. It would be entirely typical of Bush to leave Clarke in place, and to leave Clarke thinking he was doing real work, and bypassing him all the while.

Readers? A late night paranoid fantasy? It's dark under the table, so I've got to go to bed.

You wanna know how bad it is? 

Boy, you can smell the sweat now, can't you?

These guys have been trying to avoid getting caught lying about 9/11 and now they've had it all come unraveled -- at the most inopportune time I might add.

The illogical ferocity of their response tells you that they are, if you'll excuse the language, shitting their pants.[1] Or, as Josh Marshall puts it, W's sycophants, like a pitiful medieval army, lack "organization or discipline."

For goodness sakes folks, the Vice President of the United States screwed the pooch today. Cheney claimed that Clarke, the chief of counterterrorism, was "out of the loop" on the administration's counterterrorism policy. The potential story lines Cheney's statement provides for the administration are not good. Either W and the boys were incompetent and left the counterterrorism czar "out of the loop" or Clarke was a voice howling in the wilderness in an administration that was more worried about the horrible dangers of brothels in New Orleans than terrorism. Either choice is not good for the administration.

Of course, whether the public, which often suffers from attention deficit disorder in the spring, is paying attention yet is a rather important question. If they are, W's goose is probably cooked. If they're taking a Spring Break, like they did during the run-up to last year's fool's errand of a war in Iraq during which they swallowed unsubstantiated statement after unsubstantiated statement from W, Dick, and Colin like it was an order of jumbo Potato Oles from Taco John's, then maybe this whole thing won't have the desired effect at all.

How long is it going to take before people start realizing that these guys have screwed up EVERYTHING they've touched and that they lie about EVERYTHING?

I just don't know folks.

[1]Here at Corrente we tackle the hard job of finding the right words for the job—even if the job is an ugly, ugly one. One term of art for when your sphincters go AWOL is omorashi.

George Bush omorashi!

It's Rummy who's flashing gang signs now? 

What's with all the Republican funky hand gestures lately? First The Bush Waggle (back), now this:

(via Canoe.

Looks like some kind of weird '70's dance move, doesn't it? "Bang bang shoot shoot"? Have these guys lost their minds?

(It's Rummy before the 9/11 commission, by the way.)

Il dolce stil novo? [Update] 

McCain's campaign manager remembers facing one of Rove's smear campaigns:

It didn't take much research to turn up a seemingly innocuous fact about the McCains: John and his wife, Cindy, have an adopted daughter named Bridget. Cindy found Bridget at Mother Theresa's orphanage in Bangladesh, brought her to the United States for medical treatment, and the family ultimately adopted her. Bridget has dark skin.

Anonymous opponents used "push polling" to suggest that McCain's Bangladeshi born daughter was his own, illegitimate black child. In push polling, a voter gets a call, ostensibly from a polling company, asking which candidate the voter supports. In this case, if the "pollster" determined that the person was a McCain supporter, he made statements designed to create doubt about the senator.

Thus, the "pollsters" asked McCain supporters if they would be more or less likely to vote for McCain if they knew he had fathered an illegitimate child who was black. In the conservative, race-conscious South, that's not a minor charge. We had no idea who made the phone calls, who paid for them, or how many calls were made. Effective and anonymous: the perfect smear campaign.
(Richard Davis in The Glob)

Now, my tendency is to castigate the Dems for continually bringing a knife to a gunfight (see back here) and reader comments. Others (seem to agree). So, Democrats, or at least some of them, need to learn to hit as hard and fast and low as Republicans do.

But Ezra at Pandagon has another perspective, and he could be right:

[In wrestling,] I need to hit [my opponent] where he's weak, not attempt to beat him where he's strong. It was the former strategy that people seemed to yearn for in my post about political civility. The Republicans are vicious and dirty and low and ruthless and we can beat them by being dirtier and lower and ruthless squared and vicious cubed. And though I exaggerate, that has been a recurrent theme in the election so far (see Dean, Howard). Democrats want someone who can fight really hard, someone who won't wimp out. But we've got that. Now it's time to start figuring out what style they should use.

In fairness, I think Sun Tzu would agree with Ezra. Readers?

UPDATE For people who came in late... I thought the readers did a great job in the comments section, so I thought I'd move it up so newcomers can add on, if they want. Also, here are alert reader TidyCat's comments re: Sun Tzu:

Sun Tzu says:

- It is best to thwart people by intelligent planning.

This would favor Ezra' approach. He also says:

- In battle, confrontation is done directly; victory is gained by surprise.

This might be construed to point to Lambert's style.

But I like this best:

- It is not advantageous to attack an enemy on a ground of contention; what is advantageous is to get there first.

Stake out the territory, ruthlessly frame the debate - that will help Kerry win.

One more to think about:

- Victory is not repetitious, but adapts its form endlessly

Mars had water! 

A moment's pause from the implosion of the Bush regime:

Mars had a shallow pool of briny water on its surface long ago, NASA said Tuesday in announcing what could be the strongest evidence yet that the now-dry Red Planet was once hospitable to life.
(via AP)

It probably wasn't so shallow until the Martians privatized it ....

"Delusional aides fail to see Bush's genius" 

A nifty column from Richard Cohen.

Pity poor George Bush. For some reason, he has been beset by delusional aides who, once they leave the White House, write books containing lies, exaggerations and -- this is the lowest blow of all -- do not take into account the president's genius and all-around wisdom. The latest White House aide to betray the president is Richard Clarke, who was in charge of counterterrorism before and after the attacks of 9/11. He says Bush ``failed to act prior to September 11 on the threat from Al-Qaida.''

As with former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, another fool who had somehow risen to become chairman of Alcoa, Clarke's account of his more than two years in the Bush White House was immediately denounced by a host of administration aides, some of whom -- and this is just the sheerest of coincidences -- had once assured us that Iraq was armed to the teeth with nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. Among them was Condoleezza Rice, who insists in a commentary on this page that Bush not only did everything just right, but so, really, did Bill Clinton.
(via the San Francisco Chronicle)

That's the part that makes my head explode—Condi Rice thinks The Clenis™ did a good job in the WOT.

I wish these guys could get their stories straight; it's embarrassing when they don't, and bad for the credibility of the country.

Clarke answers Cheney on WWCD 

That is, What Would Clinton Do? A lot. Unlike Bush.

"[CHENEY]: The question that has to be asked is, 'What were they doing in those days when he was in charge of counter-terrorism efforts?'"

Clarke answered Cheney's question Tuesday. During the Clinton administration, he said, al Qaeda was responsible for the deaths of "fewer than 50 Americans," and Clinton responded with military action, covert CIA action and by supporting United Nations sanctions.

"They stopped al Qaeda in Bosnia," Clarke said, "They stopped al Qaeda from blowing up embassies around the world." (Clarke transcript)

"Contrast that with Ronald Reagan, where 300 [U.S. soldiers] were killed in [a bombing attack in Beirut,] Lebanon, and there was no retaliation," Clarke said. "Contrast that with the first Bush administration where 260 Americans were killed [in the bombing of] Pan Am [Flight] 103, and there was no retaliation."

"I would argue that for what had actually happened prior to 9/11, the Clinton administration was doing a great deal," Clarke said. "In fact, so much that when the Bush people came into office, they thought I was a little crazy, a little obsessed with this little terrorist bin Laden. Why wasn't I focused on Iraqi-sponsored terrorism?"
(via CNN)

Looks like The Clenis™ was doing a pretty good job. Then Bush comes in, and we get amateurs who take a year to figure out what they're doing, and operate on the premise that whatever Clinton did was wrong. And thousands of dead Americans, civilian and soldier, paid the price.

Preliminary findings of 9/11 commission 


Earlier, a commission report said the Bush administration had agreed on a plan one day before the attacks to combat bin Laden, which moved only gradually from diplomatic pressure to military action.
(via Reuters)

Sure doesn't sound like they were in any rush, does it? No matter what poor old Colin Powell says:

"We wanted to move beyond the roll-back policy of containment, criminal prosecution and limited retaliation for specific terrorist attacks. We wanted to destroy al Qaeda," Powell said.
(via CNN)

Sure. Except it took them a year to get around to working out the policy. And watching how these guys can turn on a dime to destroy anyone they consider a domestic enemy, the slow pace to figure out a policy on AQ speaks for itself about their true priorities.

9/11 Commission: Condi should appear 


The Boston Herald.

It seems to the panel that, since she's appearing everywhere else, she might as well appear before them.

Since everyone knows a Bush administration official only takes an oath as a matter of form anyhow, what's the big deal?

In Bush's own words, as quoted by his hagiographer, Woodward 

And quoted by Clarke:

Clarke, a 30-year White House veteran who served under Presidents Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Clinton before the current president, referred to Bush's own comments to Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward, author of "Bush at War," in which the president said he "didn't have a sense of urgency" about Osama bin Laden or al Qaeda.

"He is saying that," Clarke said. "President Bush said that to Bob Woodward. I'm not the first one to say this."
(via CNN)

So, what's the difference? Oh, I get it! Woodward's book was hagiography; Clarke's is not.

From Drip, Drip, Drip to Splash, Splash, Splash.... 

Maybe if enough people are willing to tell the truth, even the SCLM will start printing it.

O'Neill (Republican) ... David Kay (Republican) ... Hans Blix... Richard Clarke (served Republicans and Democrats)...

"The administration can huff and puff but if there are enough bricks in the structure, they can't blow the house down any more," said American University historian Allan Lichtman.

"Right now, you have quite a number of bricks. It's not just scaffolding any more," he said.

The administration response has usually been to try to destroy the reputations of its critics. It suggested O'Neill had illegally used classified documents and said he was motivated by sour grapes after having been forced to resign from the Cabinet. A Treasury probe has cleared him of misusing documents.

Similarly, White House aides said Clarke was bitter about having been denied a promotion and "out of the loop" in the administration. They also said he was a closet Democrat working as a proxy for Bush's presidential opponent, John Kerry.

"This administration has shown a tremendous ability to demonize its opponents. But at some point, people start to ask themselves, could all these people be pathological liars? At some point, they can't all be liars," said Democratic consultant Michael Goldman.
(via Reuters)

Hey, after lying and looting, demonizing is what the Republicans do best!

My goodness... 

Howie Kurtz is such a hack he can't even get Kevin Drum's name right.

And this so-called "journalist" is supposed to be critiquing other journalists for accuracy, right?


Hey, don't they have a gummint to run? 

And criminal investigations to prepare for?

Half a dozen top White House officials, departing from their policy of ignoring such criticism, took to the airwaves to denounce Clarke as a disgruntled former colleague and a Democratic partisan. In addition to Cheney's radio appearance, Rice was a guest on all five network morning shows, and by 11 a.m. the White House had booked more than 15 interviews on cable news channels, as well as numerous talk-radio appearances, over the next nine hours.
(via WaPo)

Oh, wait. I forgot. The WhiteWash House is all politics, no policy. This is what they do.

Funny that Condi can find the time to go on all the talk shows, but can't find time to testify, in public, and under oath, before the 9/11 commission. Heck, the Democrats are, and they're supposed to be wussy. None of them have oil tankers named after them! C'mon, Condi! Show 'em what you're made of!

Shorter 9/11 Commission 

The Clinton Administration didn't do everything to eliminate the threat from al-Queda, while the Bush Administration didn't do anything to eliminate it. So there's equal blame on both sides. Time to move on and put recriminations behind us.

What is the mission of CEO COM LINK? 

Here's the press release from the Business Roundtable on CEO COM LINK, the system that could "allow for a kind of ad hoc governance by the Roundtable and its unelected CEOs" (see back here). It has one interesting little detail. See if you can spot it:

The hallmark of the Roundtable's efforts to protect and defend America is the development of CEO COM LINK(SM), a secure telecommunications bridge that helps top government and business leaders exchange information in the event of a threat or crisis. CEO COM LINK(SM) enables companies to mobilize private resources as part of the national response and has been expanded to include the banking, chemicals and water industry sectors.
(via PRNewswire)

The little detail is this: "in the event of a threat or crisis."

Interesting. In the original post (see back here), we saw CEO COM LINK in "threat" mode. I'd classify a second 9/11 as a threat, certainly. So what else are these guys thinking of using the system for? In other words, what do they think of as a "crisis," beyond a threat like 9/11? Could it be, well, something like a Florida 2004? Say an major electronic voting machine failure in a battlegound state like Ohio and an ensuing loss of legitimacy by the government? I know, tinfoil hat time, but after Florida 2000 (which was stolen, remember, well before election day when Jebbie had the voter rolls purged of likely Democratic voters), and after the lying that got us into Iraq, it really seems that anything's possible.

Readers? What does "crisis" mean to you, in this context?

Republican court packing starting to come unstuck 

Why? Conflict of interest, of course. It seems that Fat Tony isn't the only one.

A law firm filed ethics violation charges Monday against three federal judges who sit on the governing board of an organization that favors business-based solutions to environmental issues.

Community Rights Counsel, or CRC, alleged that the judges' service on the board of the Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment created an appearance of impropriety.

The judges include Douglas Ginsburg, chief judge of the Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, who served on the board with Edward Warren, an oil industry lawyer fighting an air pollution case being considered by Ginsburg's court. Ginsburg eventually co-wrote the 1999 ruling striking down a portion of the Clean Air Act.

"Participating on FREE's board gave Warren the opportunity to spend days at a time with Chief Judge Ginsburg at Montana resorts with a very small group of other board members," CRC wrote.

Warren also lectured to judges at FREE seminars while the case was pending.

Ginsburg knew that his service with Warren on the FREE board would raise questions about his impartiality, but he did not recuse himself, CRC said. The Supreme Court reversed the appeals court ruling in American Trucking Associations v. EPA.

Ginsburg's co-author in that case, Circuit Judge Stephen Williams, participated with Ginsburg in a FREE seminar while the case was pending, CRC said in a report that used judges' financial disclosure forms and tax records from FREE.

A call to Ginsburg's chambers was referred to the court clerk's office, where Deputy Clerk Marilyn Sargeant declined to comment.

Ginsburg is a Republican appointee, as are the other two jurists on the FREE board, 6th Circuit Chief Judge Danny Boggs and 3rd Circuit Judge Jane Roth.
(via the San Jose Mercury News)

"FREE". Love the acronym! Free for who, exactly? And free from what?

Clarke revelations: Truth Squad in the blogosphere nails Bush operatives by mastering the facts, and using humor 

WhiteWash House flak Dan "Mr. Quotations" Bartlett falsely claims "suspicious timing" on the publication date of Clarke's book. The ever-essential Atrios nails him: It was the White House that held the book up for three months while clearing it for publication.

Dick "Be still my beating heart" Cheney falsely claims Clarke was "not in the loop". Josh Marshall nails him: "Clarke, as we've said, was the counter-terrorism coordinator at NSC. That means he ran the inter-agency process on terrorism issues. Cheney says Clarke wasn't in the loop; but that means that he actually ran the loop."

CalPundit (now turned pro, the lucky guy, even if for the in-it-for-the-glory Washington Monthly) gives pointers to what the wingers are saying. The botttom line: "confusion." Weird. You'd think the fabulously financed and ruthless VWRC would be doing better than they are, especially seeing that they've been sitting on Clarke's galleys for a month and had all the time in the world to prepare. Could it be that $170 million makes you stupid? Are they distracted by the series of ongoing criminal investigations? Or do they simply have nothing to say?

And Judy "Kneepads" Miller must have aches and pains tonight; the Howler gives her a glancing blow; once again the Man in the Gray Turtleneck puts in the boot; as does Josh Marshall; and, though I say it, we do some fabulous work ourselves here and here, including the address of the Times ombudsman). (Use it. Putting Miller on this story is just too much.)

Meanwhile, Steve Gilliard supplies an annotated transcript of Scott "Sucker MC" McClellan's news conference. It's not a pretty sight, but the ugliest part is where he calls Whiney Joe (back) a "Democratic leader." Well, at least he didn't say "Democrat leader."

And The Road to Surfdom seems to be going through Clarke's book chapter by chapter (via Pen Elayne. Oh, man. I just got the joke there, Elaine.)

Finally, points to The Right Christians for the Dylan cite we all should be using: "But even the president of the United States / Sometimes must have / To stand naked."

Monday, March 22, 2004

I know Bush lied through his teeth, but I didn't know he lied about his teeth 

While I was at Gary Trudeau's site (via Orcinus), I was reading the submissions of the runners up in the "Win $10,000 by Proving that Bush Actually Served in the Alabama Guard" contest. And I noted this comment by a dentist:

I can't verify Bush's presence in Alabama, but as a dental professional I am intrigued with his dental records. Generally, an individual with a large bank account doesn't have any missing permanent molars without receiving a fixed bridge (#3 is missing, yet no bridge is placed between #2-4, #2 has a crown, but #4 only has a three surface restoration). The American public needs to see his posterior bitewings from 1973 and a current series of bitewings to better judge the authenticity of the information provided.
-- Barbara Vanderveen, Galt, CA

The dental records in Bush's military records are fake? Nah. They couldn't be that crude and clumsy, could they?

Hmmm. I guess Bush did say his records were "complete" (except for the crucial DD215 discharge papers, of course (back). But he didn't say they were completely true, did he? So I guess we have to let him off the hook for that one.

Do we have any dentist readers who can shed light on this?

Bush AWOL: The story that will not die, though the SCLM is trying to kill it 

The crucial Orcinus informs us that nobody has claimed the $10,000 reward Gary Trudeau posted for any National Guard veteran who could step forward and prove that he had served with Bush in Alabama.


So the money is going to the USO, which will support the troops.

Gimme an A!
Gimme a W!
Gimme an O!
Gimme an L!
What's that spell?
What's that spell?
What's that spell?
Yeah, come on all of you, big strong men, Uncle Sam needs your help again....

Oops, little flashback there. It's getting late. Sorry folks.

Heh heh heh... Condi-lie-zza Rice says White House rejected Clarke terror proposals—wait for it— 

because Clinton rejected them.

Words fail me.

Her voice trembling with anger, the normally calm and collected Rice vehemently denied Clarke's assertion that she had seemed unaware of the al Qaeda threat. ...

Rice said she had implemented some of Clarke's ideas - such as preparing an unmanned drone for an attack on bin Laden and providing money to the Northern Alliance, an anti-Taliban rebel group in Afghanistan. But she said other ideas were rejected because they were old proposals that President Bill Clinton's team had rejected.
(via Scripps Howard)

Wow. That's certainly a first! The Clenis™did something right. The WhiteWash House gang is rattled, aren't they?

But this is actually good news, isn't it? Since Condi sees no problem with her conduct before or after 9/11, she should be happy to testify, in public and under oath, before the 9/11 commission, right?

More Clarke money quotes: Bush lost OBL, botched the 9/11 response, and died for Bush's agenda 

No wonder Bush and his gang are sliming and defending so furiously.

"We should have put U.S. special forces in immediately, not many weeks later," Clark told ABC. "U.S. special forces didn't get into the area where bin Laden was for two months, and we tried to have the Afghans do it. You know, basically the president botched the response to 9/11. He should have gone right after Afghanistan, right after bin Laden. And then he made the whole war on terrorism so much worse by invading Iraq."

Clarke added: "U.S. soldiers went to their deaths in Iraq thinking that they were avenging 9/11, when Iraq had nothing to do with it. . . . They died for the president's own agenda, which had nothing to do with the war on terrorism. And in fact, by going into Iraq, the president has made the war on terrorism that much harder. He's diverted resources from protecting our vulnerabilities here at home, like our railroads. He's inflamed the Arab world and created a whole new generation of al Qaeda terrorists."
(via FT)

The emperor has no clothes... And it's a terrorism expert who served Reagan, 41, Clinton, and 43 who's saying so.

Kerry needs a shadow cabinet 

So saieth Kos.

Kerry goes on vacation, and suddenly the wingers, the knuckledraggers, the mouth breathers, and Whiney Joe own the echo chamber again.

If Kerry wants to win the White House, then he—or, better yet, one of shadow cabinet surrogate—needs to have something better to say on Clarke's explosive book than that he's asked his staff to xerox portions of it. We can't do it all in the blogosphere!

When people start getting a taste of the truth, they just can't get enough, can they? 

Clarke's book: #5 on Amazon.

Funny how we don't hear any wingers saying they'll eat their hats when liberal books do well. Eh, Tucker?

Say, why is it that Martha Stewart goes to jail for lying about $50,000 when Bush lied us into a war and is walking the streets? 

Just asking.

No, not "walking the street" that way. Sheesh.

Say, it's been a long time since we've heard about the criminal investigation of The Plame Affair, hasn't it? 

Just asking.

Wonder why Rush didn't ask Dick Cheney about it, when Cheney was doing his bit in the WhiteWash House disinformation campaign against Richard Clarke?

Fabulous Judy and the Medicine Show 

Sulzberger flys a fabulous kite.

At one point, a college reporter asked Sulzberger a pointed question about one of his newspaper's star writers, Judith Miller, who has been widely criticized for misleading coverage of alleged weapons of mass destruction in Iraq last year. The publisher defended Miller, saying he had known her "for decades," adding that she "has fabulous sources."

Yep..."fabulous" is certainly an excellent word for it.
As in: fabulous 1. Barely credible; astonishing.

I guess that would make Judith Miller one fabulous fabulist wouldn't it?

Then he added: "Were her sources wrong? Absolutely. Her sources were wrong. And you know something? The administration was wrong. And when you're covering it from the inside like that you're going to get things wrong sometimes. So I don't blame Judy Miller for the lack of finding weapons of mass destruction." This produced a few laughs from audience members. "I blame the administration for believing its own story line," he continued, "to such a point that they weren't prepared to question the authenticity of what they were told." [see: Sulzberger on Blair, Miller, Getting a Job at the 'Times']

Of course as we all know Judith Miller moonlighted as international swindler Ahmad Chalabi's cheery house minx charge d'affaire and special envoy for all things fabulous when it came to serving up a noisy endless clatter of INC boo-stories concerning all things I-Racky terra-bull.

And now lassie Miller is off again. This time assigned the task of intercepting Richard Clarke's doomsday missile. Neato. I can hardly wait for her latest round of fabulous conclusions to come fluttering down from the empyrean like so much chaff from a decoy flare.

Yeah well whatever - off ya go Judy, and uh, always remember to use a condom. (Just a short public service reminder.)

Anyway, meantime, what's kind of altogether creepy with respect to this entire unfolding trajedy is the realization that the Cult of the W - and their entire medicine show of incompetent liars, dissemblers, apologists, and potted GOP media plants - will continue attacking Clarke's character and credibility. Thereby attempting to define Clarke as some kind of washed up disgruntled crank who's now attempting to foil the emperors glorious war-circus maximus for his own personal and partisan political gain. In other words, a "shill" for John Kerry and the Democrats. In other words, .....look, over there, sour grapes! son et lumiere!

Expect the usual jumble of CNN and MSNBC punditry to go chasing off after that rabbit like so many blind spaniels in a berry bramble. Count on it.

Yet, oddly enough, these same noisy wagtails will never question the motivations of the Bush congregation with regards to, say, international swindler Chalabi, who, it appears, may have held more sway within the walls of the Bush cult compound than Clarke himself. Which begs the question: why was the Bush administration discounting the intelligence expertise of someone like Clarke (and the FBI and the CIA as well) while simultaneously hustling the wares of a shady opportunist like Chalabi and the INC? What was the Bush administration doing giving more credibility to the claims and designs of some devious runaway grifter, who was feeding them so-called credible intelligence, often from his cozy little nest in Iran, than to a long time trusted anti-terrorism foreign policy expert like Richard Clarke? Think about it. A suspected international fugitive bank robber was one of the key persons influencing decisions about our post 9/11 anti-terrorism efforts while a credible veteran public servant like Richard Clarke was being swatted away like a bothersome housefly. Why it sounds almost treasonous doesn't it? Someone tell me again why this current administration is a reliable steward of our national security interests.

For more on Chalabi published a very interesting take on his relationship to Iran, the Bush administration, Petra Bank, and the run up to the war in Iraq -- and asks this question:

As we consider the intelligence failures in Iraq, Chalabi's role in those failures and his relationship with senior Iranian officials of all factions, a question needs to be raised: Who was whose stooge?

Read the entire stratfor article here, its very interesting: Ahmad Chalabi and His Iranian Connection

"Opportunity Rover Slips Back as It Tries to Leave Mars Crater" 

But Bush knows how to solve the problem! A tax cut for the rich!

Opportunity has encountered previous problems with slippage inside the crater but never as severe as those that stymied it Sunday, Cook said.
(via AP)

Man, "slippage in the crater" sounds like a discouraged worker in the Wecovery....

WhiteWash House response to Clarke: Sound and fury signifying nothing 

Barton Gellman of WaPo boils it down:

I have not seen a significant factual challenge to the content of Clarke's book.
(via WaPo)

There you have it, folks! And, oh yeah, it wasn't The Clenis™:

[Clarke's] criticisms of Clinton are milder, mainly that Clinton stopped short of maximum effort. He generally describes that as a product of constraints Clinton couldn't overcome, including his political weakness in the last two years of the presidency.

He says Clinton did make terrorism a top priority, and it's clear that Clinton's national security cabinet was deeply, even consumingly, engaged in the problem. The Bush administration had different priorities, and the issue worked over eight months through middle and upper middle levels of the bureaucracy.

"Good country people are the salt of the earth" and cognitive dissonance 

Waura held a Writer's Conference at the WhiteWash House for Southern writers, one of whom was the great Flannery O'Connor. And since the story Good Country People reminds me strongly of the religiosity of the Bush administration, I thought I'd give an extract of it here:

"Okay then," he said, letting her go. "Prove it."

She smiled, looking dreamily out on the shifty landscape. She had seduced him without even making up her mind to try. "How?" she asked, feeling that he should be delayed a little.

He leaned over and put his lips to her ear. "Show me where your wooden leg joins on," he whispered. ...

Very gently, he began to roll the slack leg up. The artificial limb, in a white sock and brown flat shoe, was bound in a heavy material like canvas and ended in an ugly jointure where it was attached to the stump. The boy's face and his voice were entirely reverent as he uncovered it and said, "Now show me how to take it off and on."

"Put it back on," she said. She was thinking that she would run away with him and that every night he would take the leg off and every morning put it back on again. "Put it back on," she said.

"Not yet," he murmured, setting it on its foot out of her reach. "Leave it off for awhile. You got me instead."

She gave a little cry of alarm but he pushed her down and began to kiss her again. ...

Her voice when she spoke had an almost pleading sound. "Aren't you," she murmured, "aren't you just good country people?"

The boy cocked his head. He looked as if he were just beginning to understand that she might be trying to insult him. "Yeah," he said, curling his lip slightly, "but it ain't held me back none. I'm as good as you any day in the week."

"Give me my leg," she said.

He pushed it farther away with his foot. "Come on now, let's begin to have us a good time," he said coaxingly. "We ain't got to know one another good yet."

"Give me my leg!" she screamed and tried to lunge for it but he pushed her down easily.

"What's the matter with you all of a sudden?" he asked, frowning as he screwed the top on the flask and put it quickly back inside the Bible. "You just a while ago said you didn't believe in nothing. I thought you was some girl!"

Her face was almost purple. "You're a Christian!" she hissed. "You're a fine Christian! You're just like them all - say one thing and do another. You're a perfect Christian, you're..."

The boy's mouth was set angrily. "I hope you don't think," he said in a lofty indignant tone, "that I believe in that crap! I may sell Bibles but I know which end is up and I wasn't born yesterday and I know where I'm going!"

The "boy", of course, is Bush.

And the Woman with the wooden leg? The Beltway Dems—and all those others duped by Bush.

No wonder they find their situation hard to recognize and admit.

And the cognitive dissonance part: How could anyone claiming to be a Christian steal my wooden leg while trying to f*ck me? And how could I fall for it? I better not think about it....

9/11 firestorm: Bush is the goat as all his lies catch up with him. Baaaah! YABL! 

Judy Miller blows the story (back here), but WaPo's Froomkin seems to get it.

The White House is in massive damage control mode today after another searing, book-length indictment from a former insider.

Richard A. Clarke, Bush's former counterterrorism director, says that the Bush White House failed to take the al Qaeda threat seriously before Sept. 11, 2001, and by Sept. 12 was trying to pin the attack on Iraq.

The charges go right to the heart of Bush's reelection campaign as a war president whose vision and leadership have made the country safer.
(Dan Froomkin in WaPo)

All the analysis Judy Miller left out. Now some money:

[CLARKE:] "Well, the president wanted us to look to see if Iraq was involved," Clarke said. "Now, the White House is trying to say he very calmly asked me to do due diligence and see who might have done it, to look at all the possibilities. That wasn't it. And the White House is also saying maybe the meeting didn't take place. And there are witnesses who have said the meeting took place," Clarke said.

"[CLARKE:] The president in a very intimidating way left us, me and my staff, with the clear indication that he wanted us to come back with the word there was an Iraqi hand behind 9/11 because they had been planning to do something about Iraq from before the time they came into office."

The release of Clarke's memoir comes just a day before public testimony begins before the independent commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks.

Froomkin also quotes more money from WSJ reporter Paltrow:

White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, who famously whispered in the president's ear, "A second plane hit the second tower. America is under attack," has previously said that Bush left the Florida classroom he was sitting in within seconds.

"But uncut videotape of the classroom visit obtained from the local cable-TV station director who shot it, and interviews with the teacher and principal, show that Mr. Bush remained in the classroom not for mere seconds, but for at least seven additional minutes. He followed along for five minutes as children read aloud a story about a pet goat. Then he stayed for at least another two minutes
, asking the children questions and explaining to Ms. Rigell that he would have to leave more quickly than planned."

[NOISES OFF FROM GOAT:] Baaah! Baaah! YABL! YABL! The implication:

The panel's investigators are looking at questions such as the timeliness of presidential orders about intercepting the jet that at 9:37 a.m. plowed into the Pentagon."

We knew before why Bush wanted to stiff the 9/11 panel. Now we really know: They're preparing a minute by minute timeline of events, and when that is done, Bush's behavior will not stand scrutiny.

Paltrow also writes that Bush could not have been telling the truth when he told a town-hall meeting in December, 2001: "I was sitting outside the classroom, waiting to go in, and I saw an airplane hit the tower -- the TV was obviously on. And I used to fly myself, and I said, 'Well, there's one terrible pilot.' "

There was no such video until late that night, and the TV wasn't even plugged in
, Paltrow writes.


First Santorum's dog, now Bush's goat. What is it with Republicans and animals, anyhow?

W and the boys had "learned nothing and forgotten nothing" 

Josh Marshall makes an excellent historical analogy in this post on the Clarke story:

As Talleyrand said of the restored Bourbons, they had learned nothing and forgotten nothing during their time in exile. So too with the foreign policy coterie President Bush brought back from the cold in January 2001.

One chilling note in this passage is that Paul Wolfowitz, the prime architect and idea man of the second Iraq war, spent the early months of the Bush administration focused on "Iraqi terrorism against the United States", something that demonstrably did not even exist. A rather bad sign.

The bigger point, however, is this.

The first months of the Bush administration were based on a fundamental strategic miscalcuation about the source of the greatest threats to the United States. They were, as Clark suggests, stuck in a Cold War mindset, focused on Cold War problems, though the terms of debate were superficially reordered to make them appear to address a post-Cold War world.

That screw up is a reality -- their inability to come clean about it is, I suspect, at the root of all the covering up and stonewalling of the 9/11 commission. And Democrats are both right and within their rights to call the White House on it. But screw-ups happen; mistakes happen. What is inexcusable is the inability, indeed the refusal, to learn from them.

Rather than adjust to this different reality, on September 12th, the Bush war cabinet set about using 9/11 -- exploiting it, really -- to advance an agenda which had, in fact, been largely discredited by 9/11. They shoe-horned everything they'd been trying to do before the attacks into the new boots of 9/11. And the fit was so bad they had to deceive the public and themselves to do it.

As the international relations expert John Ikenberry noted aptly in a recent essay, the Bush hardliners "fancy themselves tough-minded thinkers. But they didn't have the courage of their convictions to level with the American people on what this geopolitical adventure in Iraq was really about and what it would cost."

To revert again to paraphrases of Talleyrandian wisdom, this was worse than a crime. It was a mistake -- though I suspect that when the full story is told, we'll see that it was both.
That just about covers it, doesn't it?

Now, will the press give this story the attention it deserves?

Either Clarke or Condi Rice is lying about this so, come on folks, do your job and tell us! Don't give us that lame "this is just politics he said-she said" song and dance.

This is too damned important a story to blow off.

As usual, I'm not holding my breath. As Lambert's post below notes, the NYT even gave us the ultimate indignity of assigning administration scribe Judith Miller to write their story on it.

Hearty laughter from readers as Times crudely buries Clarke revelations 

Readers, first thing in the morning on the train I open the Times. And this morning I was eager to see what coverage the Newspaper of Record would give to Richard Clarke's explosive interview on 60 Minutes (back here). Front page? No. A2? No. Strange. Here's a man who served seven Presidents, Republican and Democratic, including Bush, who says "war President" Bush is doing a "terrible job," and the Times doesn't cover the story. Did I somehow get a very early edition? No. Flip. Flip. Flip. Flip. Flip. At last! Page A18 (here) And who gets the byline? Wait for it...
Judith Miller!

[Rim shot. Applause.] And yes, I did laugh. Loud and long. Rather unusual for me in the morning, and even more unusual on the train.

Folks, it's Miller time. The Iraqi Jeff Gerth, who believes that her job as a reporter stenographer is to "report what the government thinks" (back here), is up to her old tricks as Designated Fluffer of Bush officialdom in the Times "news" room. Let's read:

First, Miller repeats Bush flak Dan Bartlett's denial: the book's timing is "more about politics than policy." [Really, is that the best Bartlett can do? We know from DiIulio and O'Neill that there is no policy in the White House; they don't even have the institutional structure for it—It's all politics with them, which would explain why they project their behavior onto others. Besides, it's eight month's 'til the election; does that mean that all books on policy have to be published in the first three years and four months of a President's term?]

Then, after repeating a different set of denials from Rice enabler Steven Hadley (we remember him from the "16 words" fiasco, Atrios, here), and throwing in an "alleged" and an "accused", Miller gets round to the actual substance of Clarke's book. Which is, indeed, explosive:

  1. Condi downgraded the position of counter-terrorism adviser and seemed not to know what AQ was

  2. Rummy advised bombing Iraq instead of Afghanistan on 9/12 "because there were no decent targets in Afghanistan"—even though AQ was in Afghanistan

  3. Wolfie "belittled" the AQ threat, and thought 9/11 was "too sophisticated and complicated" for AQ to have pulled off by itself

  4. Tom Ridge must clear all statements with White House operative Andy Card

  5. Tom Ridge opposed the creation of his own department on the grounds that it would be too costly to integrate with other agencies.

Let's contrast the placement and coverage of the Clarke story in The World's Greatest Newspaper with its placement in The Metro—the little free tabloid with the green logo read by commuters world-wide... And look! The story's on page 02. Fortunately, Metro used Reuters, instead of Judith Miller, and they manage to get the money quote into the second graf:

[CLARKE] Bush ignored terrorism for months"

The Metro editors also get some money into the box quote on the book:

The Bush administration ignored intelligence "chatter" in 2001 about possible terror attacks.

Metro plays fair, and puts the WhiteWash House denials right up front. But their coverage is crisp, incisive, gets the main point right, and is appropriately placed. Contrast this to Miller's labored, Beltway-driven apologia for the administration.

Here are the yawners the Times did place above the fold on A1:

  1. "Delivery delays hurt US effort to equip Iraqis"

  2. "As Europe Hunts for Terrorists, the Hunted Press Advantage"

  3. "Official Killed as Strife Grows in Afghanistan"

  4. "Detective in Corruption Inquiry Was Scrutinized in 1996 Case"

1996, hmmm...

All worthy stories, to be sure. As important? No.

If Clarke is right, the entire CW on Bush's character as a war president, Bush's conduct of the WOT, and the genesis of the war of choice in Iraq, is wrong. And an insider, an expert in the field, who served Democratic and Republican Presidents alike, who knew all the players, and who was at Ground Zero in the White House on 9/11 when Bush was flying round the country looking for a place to hide, is giving us the real story for the first time. And what does Izvestia on the Hudson do? Burying the story is one thing. Burying the story and then assigning it to Judy Miller is another—that's just an outright insult to the intelligence of their (dwindling) readership.

The Times is carrying so much water for Bush on this one you'd think they were waterboys for the Texas Rangers. I guess they want to leave the airwaves clear for Bush while Kerry is on vacation.

Readers, here is the email address of the (very overworked) Times ombudsman. And here is his phone: (212) 556-7652. Please, share your concerns about the placement of the Clarke story, the reporter assigned to it, and future coverage with him. Be sure to mention that the giveaway Metro put the story on page 2; I think that will get under their skin.

UPDATE Okrent responds.

Business Roundtable to run the country via "CEO COM LINK" in case of "national emergency" 

Tinfoil hat time? Nope. Not under Bush!

CEO COM LINK [is] a secure, exclusive telephone system established in November 2001 that allows chief executives to speak directly with Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge and other officials during a terrorist attack.

The exclusive communications network was created by the [Business] Roundtable for use by its members, 150 CEOs from Fortune 500 companies... (The Roundtable's chairman, Henry A. McKinnell, is the CEO of Pfizer, Inc., and recently was named a Bush Pioneer.)

CEO COM LINK has already been activated four times, all at Ridge's request.

Even in an administration notorious for its catering to corporate interests, CEO COM LINK affords the Business Roundtable an astonishing status. No other organization, public or private, has such a secure and open line to the top tier of government during a national disaster. ... No dedicated hot line like CEO COM LINK exists for any other group: not governors, mayors, firefighters, hospitals, or police.

When I asked John Castellani, the Roundtable President, whether CEO's profit motives might conflict with the government's interest in national security, he shot back that the two "were absolutely tied together with the same purpose."

CEO COM LINK is the only system of its kind in America, and as such is could, during a national emergency, allow for a kind of ad hoc governance by the Roundtable and its unelected CEOs.

Secretiveness on such matters seems to suit the DHS, the first U.S. government agency in history that has a separate division dedicated to serving the private sector.

Will the conversations that take place over CEO COM LINK be exempt from FOIA requests? I put the question to [a DHS spokesman], but he wouldn't say.

(via Tim Shorrock in Harper's magazine print edition, pages 81-3, not available online)


Where to begin.

I certainly don't remember voting for to hand over the government to CEOs in times of "national emergency"—especially when Bush is the one to declare an emergency. I've said before (back here) and will say it again: There's no good reason to regard the Bush regime as legitimate.

Sunday, March 21, 2004

Whiney Joe sticks a shiv into Clarke and by extension into Kerry 

Can someone please either gag Lieberman or get him on the reservation? It's almost like he wants to run in 2008.

Sen. Joe Lieberman, D [sic] -Conn., said Sunday he doesn't believe Clarke's charge that the Bush administration was focused more on Iraq than al-Qaida during the days after the terror attacks.

"I see no basis for it," Lieberman said on Fox News [sic] Sunday. "I think we've got to be careful to speak facts and not rhetoric."
(via AP)

Joe, Joe, Joe. Clarke gives you the evidence in his interview and in this book. If you don't want to see the evidence, that's your problem. ("Who you gonna believe? Me or your lyin' eyes?")

And on FUX yet!

Kerry had better come back from vacation soon; otherwise Whiney Joe is going to keep filling the airwaves with his blather; first that load of bollocks about civility (back here) and now this.

The Misleaderton™ claims another victim: Republican Senator Arlen Spector 

First, Senator Spector on Wolf Blitzer's Late Edition:

[SPECTOR:] The Bush administration never made any claim that there was a connection between Saddam and al Qaeda.
(via CNN)

Is Spector telling the truth, or is he lying?

Let's go to the Misleadertron™! And after entering "Al Qaeda" from the handy dropdown, we get a ton of misleading statements, most of them falsely connecting Iraq and Al Qaeda, which includes this one:

Statement by President George W. Bush
"And I also mentioned the fact that there is a connection between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein."
Source: President Condems Attack in Bali, White House (10/14/2002).
Explanation: This statement was misleading because it suggested that Iraq was linked to al Qaeda. In fact, the U.S. intelligence community had conflicting evidence on this issue and was divided regarding whether there was an operational relationship.

Surprise! Spector, a Republican, was lying! The Misleaderton™ claims another victim!

The Bush Response was to let Osama Get Away with Murder 

If Richard Clarke is right, and there is every reason to think he is, the US was days, if not hours, away from letting Osama Bin Laden get away with murder.

It seems Rumsfeld wanted to bomb Iraq for 9/11, despite ample evidence Al Qaeda was responsible for the deaths of 3,000 Americans. To a rational person, this would have been a war crime. Bombing the innocent for something we knew they didn't do.

Perle and Wolfwowitz, despite all available evidence, would have let Osama sit in Afghanistan untouched just to get Saddam. The fact that no state would have ever launched a 9/11 attack and not expect a B-2 response was beyond them.

Let's keep this in mind, and it's really simple: the Bush response to 9/11 would have let Osama get away with murder, killing thousands of innocent people. Only the professionals of the CIA and FBI prevented this insanity. When Bush was told that "you'll lose the whole world", was he prevented from attacking Iraq.

Their obsession with Iraq is frightening, just as their incompetence in dealing with Iraq is striking. And of course, the White House is trying to smear Clarke as just another Democrat. Of course, anyone who attacks this White House gets smeared. It's all they can do. They accuse him of making of meetings, being too close to Kerry, all manner of nonsense.

The excuses from this White House sounds like a drunk excusing away his failures. If Clarke is telling the truth, Rumsfeld, who claimed Iraq had "better targets" should resign immediately.

[Steve Gilliard via Atrios]

UPDATE Clarke story butchered by Judith Miller up here.

Let em eat cake 

I Don't Bake Cookies ~ Via: Atrios

"I don't bake cookies," Laura Bush says now, after three years of wrestling with how she will define and be defined by the mantle of first lady, a job with pressures but no instructions and a title she says she detests.

From the White
Recipes from Laura Bush

Cowboy Cookies
3 sticks butter
1-1/2 cups sugar
1-1/2 cups brown sugar
3 eggs
1 tbsp. vanilla
3 cups flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tbsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. cinnamon
3 cups chocolate chips
3 cups oats
2 cups coconut
2 cups pecans

Cream butter and sugars. Add eggs and vanilla, Beat. Add dry ingredients until blended. Stir in remaining ingredients. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

NOTE It's like shooting fish in a barrel, isn't it? Both "Bush doesn't read the papers," and "Bush wrote the touching 'lump in the bed' poem" were lies too (back here).

More from the Clarke interview 

Isn't the title of this story funny? Is the Pope polish?

Did Bush press for Iraq-9/11 link? Try this on for size:

"There's a lot of blame to go around, and I probably deserve some blame, too. But on January 24th, 2001, I wrote a memo to Condoleezza Rice asking for, urgently -- underlined urgently -- a Cabinet-level meeting to deal with the impending al Qaeda attack. And that urgent memo-- wasn't acted on.

"I blame the entire Bush leadership for continuing to work on Cold War issues when they back in power in 2001. It was as though they were preserved in amber from when they left office eight years earlier. They came back. They wanted to work on the same issues right away: Iraq, Star Wars. Not new issues, the new threats that had developed over the preceding eight years."

Clarke finally got his meeting about al Qaeda in April, three months after his urgent request. But it wasn't with the president or cabinet. It was with the second-in-command in each relevant department.

For the Pentagon, it was Paul Wolfowitz.

Clarke relates, "I began saying, 'We have to deal with bin Laden; we have to deal with al Qaeda.' Paul Wolfowitz, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, said, 'No, no, no. We don't have to deal with al Qaeda. Why are we talking about that little guy? We have to talk about Iraqi terrorism against the United States.'

"And I said, 'Paul, there hasn't been any Iraqi terrorism against the United States in eight years!' And I turned to the deputy director of the CIA and said, 'Isn't that right?' And he said, 'Yeah, that's right. There is no Iraqi terrorism against the United States."

Clarke went on to add, "There's absolutely no evidence that Iraq was supporting al Qaeda, ever."

When Stahl pointed out that some administration officials say it's still an open issue, Clarke responded, "Well, they'll say that until hell freezes over."
So there you have it boys and girls. 9/11 just provided them with an excuse to pursue their pre-meditated war against Saddam.

Of course you and I knew that. However, it's still pretty astonishing to read it, isn't it?

AQ may have suitcase nukes 

From an interview to be published Monday:

Osama bin Laden's terror network claims to have bought ready-made nuclear weapons on the black market in central Asia, [Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir], the biographer of al-Qaida's No. 2 leader, was quoted as telling an Australian television station.

In the interview with Australian Broadcasting Corp. television, parts of which were released Sunday, Mir recalled telling al-Zawahri it was difficult to believe that al-Qaida had nuclear weapons when the terror network didn't have the equipment to maintain or use them.

"Dr Ayman al-Zawahri laughed and he said `Mr. Mir, if you have $30 million, go to the black market in central Asia, contact any disgruntled Soviet scientist, and a lot of ... smart briefcase bombs are available,'" Mir said in the interview.

"They have contacted us, we sent our people to Moscow, to Tashkent, to other central Asian states and they negotiated, and we purchased some suitcase bombs," Mir quoted al-Zawahri as saying.
(via AP)

The program to control loose nukes in the former Soviet Union was, of course, gutted by Bush. Reckless indifference to loose nukes and dirty bombs in terrorist hands is one of the hallmarks of Bush's policy (back here).

Heck, the nukes threaten cities. Cities vote Blue, so they're traitors, and besides: they got a lot of people in 'em who should be cleansed with the fire from heaven anyhow. Fuck 'em.

Postmodern Journalism 

Apparently truth is whatever the media says it is, even if you know otherwise. Patrick Healy last week:

Transcribing on the bus in Florida, and again on the plane ride to  Tampa, I heard "foreign leaders" rather than "more leaders." Listening  to the audio recorder now, in the quiet of my house, I hear "more  leaders" and I am certian that "more leaders" is what Senator Kerry  said. I am very sorry for this screw-up, and please feel free to hold me  accountable to your editors and higher-ups.
(via Kos)

Healy today:

Yet by the time Kerry flew to Idaho Wednesday, he had inflicted more bruises on his own candidacy than his Democratic rivals had during the months-long primary season. Republicans demanded that he back up his statements that overseas government leaders wanted him to beat Bush,...

Not "alleged statements", or "falsely attributed statements" but "his statements." Again we see cover-your-journalistic-ass sleight of hand at work, wherein the press substitutes a (longer!) paraphrase ("overseas government leaders") for the original misquotation ("foreign leaders"), thereby burying the falsehood while preserving its effect.

Apparently when Healy says "hold me accountable," he means it in the Republican sense of "not at all."

Be sure to watch 60 minutes tonight! 

Richard Clarke, who worked on counter-terrorism for Reagan, 41, Clinton, and Bush, will give detail on what went down in the WhiteWash House before 9/11, and after.

Here's an innoculation against winger character assassination of Clark:

When the terrorists stuck, it was thought the White House would be the next target, so it was evacuated. Clarke was one of only a handful of people who stayed behind. He ran the government's response to the attacks from the Situation Room in the West Wing.(via CBS.)

So when Bush was flying around the country looking for a spider-hole, Clarke was at a potential Ground Zero.

To matters of substance:

After the president returned to the White House on Sept. 11, he and his top advisers, including Clarke, began holding meetings about how to respond and retaliate. As Clarke writes in his book, he expected the administration to focus its military response on Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda. He says he was surprised that the talk quickly turned to Iraq.

"I think they wanted to believe that there was a connection, but the CIA was sitting there, the FBI was sitting there, I was sitting there saying we've looked at this issue for years. For years we've looked and there's just no connection."

Clarke then tells Stahl of being pressured by Mr. Bush.

"The president dragged me into a room with a couple of other people, shut the door, and said, 'I want you to find whether Iraq did this.' Now he never said, 'Make it up.' But the entire conversation left me in absolutely no doubt that George Bush wanted me to come back with a report that said Iraq did this.

"I said, 'Mr. President. We've done this before. We have been looking at this. We looked at it with an open mind. There's no connection.'

"[Bush] came back at me and said, "Iraq! Saddam! Find out if there's a connection.' And in a very intimidating way. I mean that we should come back with that answer. We wrote a report."

Clarke continued, "It was a serious look. We got together all the FBI experts, all the CIA experts. We wrote the report. We sent the report out to CIA and found FBI and said, 'Will you sign this report?' They all cleared the report. And we sent it up to the president and it got bounced by the National Security Advisor or Deputy. It got bounced and sent back saying, 'Wrong answer. ... Do it again.'

"I have no idea, to this day, if the president saw it, because after we did it again, it came to the same conclusion. And frankly, I don't think the people around the president show him memos like that. I don't think [Bush] sees memos that he doesn't-- wouldn't like the answer."

So now we know why Bush is stiffing the 9/11 Commission. Bush used 9/11 as an excuse to do what he wanted to do all along: Go to war with Iraq.

So, while having his mind made up to fight the wrong war, Bush is recklessly indifferent to the right one:

By June 2001, there still hadn't been a Cabinet-level meeting on terrorism, even though U.S. intelligence was picking up an unprecedented level of ominous chatter.

The CIA director warned the White House, Clarke points out. "George Tenet was saying to the White House, saying to the president - because he briefed him every morning - a major al Qaeda attack is going to happen against the United States somewhere in the world in the weeks and months ahead. He said that in June, July, August.

Clarke says the last time the CIA had picked up a similar level of chatter was in December, 1999, when Clarke was the terrorism czar in the Clinton White House.

Clarke says Mr. Clinton ordered his Cabinet to go to battle stations-- meaning, they went on high alert, holding meetings nearly every day.

That, Clarke says, helped thwart a major attack on Los Angeles International Airport, when an al Qaeda operative was stopped at the border with Canada, driving a car full of explosives.

Clarke harshly criticizes President Bush for not going to battle stations when the CIA warned him of a comparable threat in the months before Sept. 11: "He never thought it was important enough for him to hold a meeting on the subject, or for him to order his National Security Adviser to hold a Cabinet-level meeting on the subject."

Finally, says Clarke, "The cabinet meeting I asked for right after the inauguration took place-- one week prior to 9/11."

In that meeting, Clarke proposed a plan to bomb al Qaeda's sanctuary in Afghanistan, and to kill bin Laden.

Clinton was effective, because he focussed on the issue. Bush was not, because he didn't.

And Bush's reckless indifference continues to this day! The main threat is a nuke or a dirty bomb in a Blue city. And Bush has done nothing about that (back here). I wonder why?

Weapons of Medicare Destruction and Bush's credibility 

After lying, looting is what Republicans do best!

First, the looting part:

Sociopolitical events within the last year provide worrisome evidence confirming the existence of stockpiles of WMD. Most recently, the chief actuary of the Medicare program, Richard S. Foster, claimed that he was instructed to withhold his forecast of a significantly higher cost for the new Medicare drug bill prior to its passage.

According to reports in the New York Times, Foster said that Thomas A. Scully, the administrator of the program, threatened him with dismissal if he provided Congress with the higher price tag -- a $500 to $600 billion cost over the first 10 years. Foster's higher estimate was later conceded by the Bush administration, but only after the drug bill had passed, based on a premised cost of "just" $400 billion. Several Republican and Democrat lawmakers who voted for the bill have subsequently declared that they would not have supported it had they known the truth.

The problem remains, however, that we are already set in the crosshairs of this WMD. If Foster's allegations are verified, Scully will have played a major role in destabilizing Medicare, upon which most of us who live to 65 years of age will depend during our most medically vulnerable years.

One wonders about the ability of Thompson's office to investigate the charges against Scully in a fair and objective manner. Looking to May of last year, when a federal ethics law interfered with Mr. Scully's desire to job-seek in the private sector -- all the while that he was designing the Medicare drug law -- Thompson easily solved the problem by approving a waiver exempting Scully from the ethics rule.

Scully resigned from his position on Dec. 15, just seven days following Bush's signing of the drug law. He announced that was joining a private law firm, one that represented drug manufacturers.
(via Kate Scannel, MD in the Alameda Times-Star)

So Scully destablizes Medicare while in government, then leaves to work for a company that will profit from our loss. It's hard to find a clearer and more shameless example of Republican looting.

Now, the lying part:

As for Bush himself, there are only two possibilities, both bad. The first is that he never learned the true cost of one of the major policy initiatives of his presidency. If so, he was incompetent. The second, more plausible, alternative is that he simply chose the lower, more convenient number and didn't have any problem with the honest figures produced by the bureaucracy's getting "deep-sixed," as they used to say during Watergate.

You might think this is standard operating procedure in Washington. It is not. Every White House sends the press secretary out to spin the numbers that emerge on a weekly or monthly basis from the Department of Health and Human Services, the Bureau of Labor Statistics and other agencies. But applying political pressure to cook the numbers themselves is a true scandal.

The Bush administration now has an old-fashioned credibility gap. If numbers are released saying that the economy is perking up, why should anyone believe them? After all, it counts hamburger flippers as manufacturing jobs. The context of the election only magnifies the issue. New Bush ads charge that Kerry wants to raise taxes by $900 billion. This is a made-up number; Kerry has no such proposal. But even if he did, voters would not be able to take the Bush campaign's word on it, because its word is no longer good. The challenge for the Democrats is to resist the temptation to make their own phony claims, or to hype the usual petty distortions of politics into "lies." The truth is damaging enough. (Jonathan Alter in Newsweek)

But how to get this message across? Will the "just the facts" approach really work? Has it ever before? Can it now?

NOTE The Misleadertron™ (back here) is a technical answer to getting the facts across, and I wish we could apply the same technology to other issues. But is it a political answer?

Can't we all just get along? 

Pandagon posted the following:

As media becomes more specialized and readers better able to filter out contrary voices, we're becoming trapped in echo chambers of our own making. If all you read is Pandagon, Atrios, Kos, Oliver Willis, and few of the people on our blogrolls, all you get are the stories and rhetoric that attempt to set fire to these officials. Conversely, the Right traffics in its own filth and anger, relating tales of liberal media bias and Clinton's abiding love for Bin Laden.

The end result is that we dehumanize those across the aisle. No longer do they merely disagree with us on policy, now they're evil, there's no good left in them. All their actions are cynical moves designed to maximize profits and human pain. Racism, genocide, election fixing, racketeering; nothing's beyond the pale for these guys, they're terrors. It reminds me of nothing so much as the Right's treatment of Bill Clinton. Forget adultery, this guy was capable of drug trafficking, espionage and flat-out murder. But why? Why did they believe that and we didn't? How could they be so certain while the country simply laughed at their allegations?

Simple. They never heard anything but what supported their arguments and reflected their venom. There were no dissenting voices in their chorus, no reality checks that could pull them out of this spiral of hatred. And I fear some of us are doing the same thing.
(via Pandagon)

A lot of me shares Pandagon's feelings—and as liberals, we ought always to be able to look at views and opinions for themselves, and not for the people who bear them. Even Tom DéLay is capable of having a good idea.

It's a sadness. Orcinus writes in "The Personal and the Political" (read the whole thing):

I've always managed to maintain a substantial number of conservative friends (not to mention all those members of my extended family who are conservative). These are people I go hunting, fishing and camping with; people whose weddings I attend, and whose children I babysit and tend, people I stay with while on vacation. ... And of course, I always voted a split ticket, looking usually to reward moderate and progressive Republicans -- though this has become increasingly difficult in recent years.

But in the past three years, even that has begun to change.

There were two crucial turning points: December 12, 2000, and September 11, 2001.

When the Supreme Court handed down its ruling in Bush v. Gore, it became clear to me that not only had the conservative movement grown into a dogmatic ideology, it had metastasized into a power-hungry, devouring claque of ideologues for whom winning was all that mattered.

I remember rather vividly, like the day JFK was shot, where I was and what I was doing, the evening the ruling came down. I was in a small harbor town in western Washington, staying with the parents of some close friends (who are themselves good friends) while I covered a manslaughter trial in a nearby town. He is an accountant, she a homemaker, good moderate churchgoing Democrats. We all sat together and watched the bulletins come over the newscasts (I think we were tuned to MSNBC).

And I remember she turned to me and said: "I feel sad. Because I can't vote a mixed ticket anymore." He nodded.

What seems to have really ripped things apart, though, was the aftermath of September 11. And this came down not so much to my feelings, but to theirs.

[In painting dissent as treason] the president, his administration and the accompanying pundits (or rather, the choir of sycophants) all have affected us all personally, and badly. Because that view has become the worldview of mainstream conservatives in all walks of life. It's manifested itself not just in nationally prominent scenarios like the attacks on the Dixie Chicks and other entertainment folk, but in other smaller and lesser-known ways, too, like the way conservative officers are driving liberal soldiers out of the military. The clear message in these cases: Dissent is disloyalty.

How is any kind of normative political discourse possible in this environment? How is it possible to be civil to people who constantly are placing you under assault? How can there be dialogue when the normative rules of give and take and fair play have not only been flushed down the drain, but chopped into bits and swept out with the tide? Do the advocates of civility place any onus on the nonstop verbal abuse, and absolutely ruthless, win-at-all-costs politics emanating from the conservative quadrant? And do they really expect liberals to refuse to defend themselves, when even doing so gets them accused of further incivility?

It grieves me to see old friendships and relationships actually damaged by this war. But it was not a fight I or other liberals chose. It was thrust upon us. And until that aggression comes to a stop, I will not stop fighting back. Civilly, of course, but with all the blunt force and passion I can muster.

Because, yes, it is political -- but it's also become personal.

All of which explains why civil in the Lexicon of Liberal Invective is defined as it is.

I share Pandagon's feelings, the yearning for lost innocence. The problem is that the country has already been divided. We are already painted as traitors. The $170 million has already been collected. The paramilitaries (back here) have already been hired.

The issue isn't, How can we be civil. The issue is, How can we win? [And by "winning", I mean defeating Bush, since nothing else is possible until that is done.]

UPDATE Lieberman and McCain have issued a similar call for civility, based, bizarrely, on the that an "uncivil" campaign will depress turnout. It certainly didn't in the Democratic primaries.

Winger haikus! [update] 

Alert reader MJS suggests the following (a little speculation as to the exact nature of Rummy's 9/11 souvenir):

In Rummy's pocket
Next to me is lint and a
lucky human foot

Readers? Other suggestions for winger haikus?

NOTE: Ground rules: A haiku has three lines of five, seven, and five syllables.

UPDATE From alert reader marley:

Lying is so good
Machiavelli told me
And Jesus agreed

who cares what you think?
Scalia and Diebold can
make you disappear

From alert reader Vesicle Trafficker

You lookin’ at me?
I’ll teach you how to be tough!
Once I clean my briefs.

From alert reader Beth:

Autumn colors, mist,
Birdsongs, Diebold-counted votes.
So much is fleeting.

Hidden enemy,
Hard to find, so frustrating.
Let's just bomb someone.

From alert reader Norm Jensen:
Lies lies lies lies lies
Lies lies lies lies lies lies lies
Lies lies lies lies lies

From alert reader pansypoo

i like my bubble
everybody likes me here
it's so nice in here.

UPDATE Lots of good new ones, so I thought I'd move this up and give our Sunday readers a chance.

Bush makes my head explode, part 1 

Bush before the cheering crowd:

"[Kerry] wanted you to pay all that money at the pump and wouldn't even throw in a free car wash," Bush declared.
(via AP)

This is an excellent sound bite. Maybe Dennis Miller isn't the washed up has-been we all thought he was. (The sound bite also neatly preempts the fact that gas prices are rising.)

No question, Bush is good at this, and he has the money to make himself look even better.

What worries me is the sheer effrontery, the level of twistedness implicit in what Bush is doing. The idea that Bush will say or do anything to get elected is not a metaphor or an exagerration—it's the cold truth.

What I'm hearing is not just the lying we are used to. It's completely unhinged demagoguery, delivered with a smile and played for a laugh. And I'm not sure how to counter it, except by somehow changing the rules of the game, but with the SCLM structured the way that it is, I don't see how that is possible either. I don't think the "just the facts" approach has the juice to counter what Bush is unleashing. Street protests won't do the trick either; they'll be a thousand times worse than the Dean scream. Readers?

Bush makes my head explode, part 2 

So Bush goes before a cheering crowd of "Four more year"-chanting.... Floridians and one of his sound-bogosities is this:

"The other day, here in Florida, [Kerry] claimed some important endorsements. He won't tell us the name of the foreign admirers. That's OK. Either way, I'm not too worried, because I'm going to keep my campaign right here in America."
(via CNN)

This on the day when Spain is leaving Bush's laughingly named "coalition," Nicauragua and Honduras already have, Poland says he "misled" them, and the Koreans aren't going to deploy where they said that they would (Reuters).

Let's leave aside the usual not-so-veiled cheap shot that Democrats are traitors. This, we're used to, and we consider the source.

Bush was probably on the phone to all three of the Presidents of Spain, Nicaragua, Honduras, Poland, and Korea pleading with them not to do anything before November 2004, and if he came away with the idea that they "admired" him, he's even more of a narcissist than I thought.

First Bush violence against opponents? 

Since they had tickets, you'd think that it would be OK with a free marketer if they stayed. Maybe Bush should take lessons from his poodle, Tony Blair, on heckling, since Blair has to face it every day. Then again, the UK is still a democracy.

There were a few voices both inside and outside the convention center to counter the support Bush received. A half-dozen anti-Bush college students were escorted from the hall before the president arrived despite holding tickets for the event and three more people were forced out after chanting "No more Bush" as the president made his way across the stage. About 80 protesters demonstrated outside, many gripping red balloons pointing out the expanding national debt under Bush's watch.
(via AP)

Forced out how, one wonders? Are Bush's paramilitaries (back here) on the job already?

The Misleadertron™: Give it a whirl! 

Fun with facts! David Corn introduces the Misleadertron™: an online database produced by Henry Waxman that catalogs "237 specific misleading statements made by Bush, Vice President Richard Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Colin Powell, and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice in 125 separate public appearances."

I typed in "imminent," and got a quote from poor old Colin Powell, which deals nicely with that winger "never said `imminent' meme."

Corn adds this beautfully deadpan disclaimer:

Is the Waxman list complete? Not entirely. Comments made by Ari Fleischer, Paul Wolfowitz and other significant administration figures are not included in the database.

They must have had limited storage space....

Readers! Give the Misleadertron a test drive, and share your favorite hits!

NOTE Waxman is of course far too responsible a stateman to call his web service "The Misleadertron™"—we did that here.

Surprise! The blue-ribbon panel Bush named to "investigate" 9/11 intelligence may never even meet 

We knew the panel was tits-on-a-boar useless, even though McCain is on it, since it has no subpoena powers.

But Time has a good story on exactly how useless it is. After running through all the ties to the Bush Dynasty that the committee members have, we come to this:

Five weeks after being appointed, the group has not met, and it is unclear when it will.

Gee, you'd think with a policy of pre-emptive war, figuring out ...

Oh, heck, Bush will just have everything faked and cherrypicked anyhow. Since we know what will happen, why even bother to investigate? What a relief.

Bush apparatchik: It's OK to fire Federal employees if they're gay 

Well, naturally. Since gay people are the spawn of Satan, it's only natural that they couldn't do the Lord's work in the federal government.

A gay employee who is fired or demoted for attending a gay pride rally would receive protection from the Office of Special Counsel. But the same employee would have no recourse at OSC if he was fired or demoted simply for being gay.

This is new Special Counsel Scott Bloch’s initial reading of a 1978 law intended to protect employees and job applicants from adverse personnel actions taken against them for reasons unrelated to their job performance. In his interpretation, Bloch is making a distinction between one’s conduct as a gay or lesbian and one’s status as a gay or lesbian.

Before he was nominated as special counsel, Bloch was deputy director of the Justice Department’s Task Force for Faith-based and Community Initiatives.
(via Federal Times)

Next up: stoning women caught in adultery!

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


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