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Saturday, April 03, 2004

What's a sock puppet without a hand? 

So, aWol and Dick "Dick" Cheney are going to "visit" with the 9/11 Commission together. Touching.

The arrangement confirms Bush’s inability to articulate anything without a script--or a tutor by his side. There’s a reason lawyers don’t take testimony in groups. The whole idea is to get individual recollections and then compare stories to uncover contradictions. Try thinking about it this way: can anyone imagine Bush’s father in a similar situation bringing his vice president? (For those who need a refresher course, the elder Bush was a rocket scientist compared to his son, and the vice president was Dan Quayle.)
Even President Reagan testified alone on the Iran-contra scandal. He didn’t insist on having Vice President Bush sit beside him.
(via TBogg from Eleanor Clift here)

Heh. A Republican strategist calls the letter of agreement on this goofy arrangement "the Wizard of Oz" letter—Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!

Speak for yourself, George! Or can't you?

UPDATE From alert reader MJS:

GEORGE: Take your hand out of my ass.

DICK: What, and give up Show Biz?

[Applause. Laughter.]

Hey, is there any reason to believe the Fallujah mercs were really delivering food? 

I know that's how the story reads, but is there any evidence it's true?

UPDATE Apparently not. See Body and Soul.

TROLL PROPHYLACTIC Nobody deserves to die, and the mercs didn't deserve what happened to them.

Bring back marital capture! It's in the Bible! 

Allen at The Right Christians quotes a nice take on Bible authority and gay marriage:

Many are now lifting up the Bible to prove that God does not want loving people of the same sex to enjoy the privileges of marriage, though an argument might be mounted on biblical grounds that marriage is a spiritual union of two people who are dedicated each to the other. Or not.

Perhaps we can mount a crusade in favor of marriage by capture, a form popular for centuries in the ancient biblical world, or the habit of powerful biblical characters to have a house full of both wives and concubines.

Or should we pursue marriage by purchase? Neither Rachel or Leah seemed to appreciate it, charging their father with selling them.

A form of marriage very popular among some groups then and now is the patriarchal, where the wife is subservient to the husband. In the most extreme forms, the wife becomes chattel property of the husband. Even in the Ten Commandments the wife is listed along with the house, slaves, donkeys, oxen, or anything else owned by the husband.
(via The Right Christians)


Jobs report: 300,000 down, 2,700,000 to go 

Remember, Bush promised us 300,000 jobs a month a year ago, and he's lost 3,000,000 since being in office. And a lot of the 300,000 is California grocery workers coming back from their strike.

(Perspective from Oliver WIllis.)

FTF [draft] 

Vulgar. "Fuck the Fundamentalists."

Usage example: "My tax dollars are paying for a book in the Grand Canyon gift shop that claims the earth is 6000 years old. FTF."

See also "Campaign Against Fundamentalism," here

Republican donors giving to Nader 

I wonder why?

In February, the first month of the Nader campaign, it received generous donations from 11 people who had previously given money to Mr. Bush or to the Republican Party.
(via The Times)

Being Republicans, they've all got a plausible deniability thing going for them, but... Come on.


Productivity is how much work for how much money. And the employers have been stealing the money! 

No wonder the productivity numbers are high!

Experts on compensation say that the illegal doctoring of hourly employees' time records is far more prevalent than most Americans believe. The practice, commonly called shaving time, is easily done and hard to detect — a simple matter of computer keystrokes — and has spurred a growing number of lawsuits and settlements against a wide range of businesses.

Another reason managers shave time, experts say, is that an increasing part of their compensation comes in bonuses based on minimizing costs or maximizing profits.

"The pressures are just unbelievable to control costs and improve productivity," said George Milkovich, a longtime Cornell University professor of industrial relations and co-author of the leading textbook on compensation. "All this manipulation of payroll may be the unintended consequence of increasing the emphasis on bonuses."

In the punch-card era, managers would have had to conspire with payroll clerks or accountants to manipulate records. But now it is far easier for individual managers to accomplish this secretly with computers, payroll experts say.
(via Times)

Why? Like so much else in Bush's America: As the punchline to the old joke goes, "Because they can!" Sounds like the old punch cards protected us just like mechanical voting machines did. When computers came in, everything got easier to fake.

Because Bush guts our protections, those who can steal from us, do. Yech.

Flashmob supercomputers 

AP here.

Wonder what a supercomputing flashmob could do at the RNC ... Probably simulate the whole thing, since it's going to be very predictable anyhow.

Or provide a central nexus for hundreds of bloggers doing "live play by play" and cell phone sending live pictures...

Surely more interesting than breaking windows and giant puppets? Just a thought....

You'll never win the NASCAR dads without Merle Haggard 

And what is the WhiteWash House going to do? Threaten to fire him?

Country singer Merle Haggard says he's as red, white and blue as they come, but has been disappointed by how President Bush responded to the panel probing the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Haggard, 66, has been critical in songs and in interviews of the Iraq war and of what he views as an erosion of individual freedom. ...

On Thursday he cited the administration's flip flop on National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice's requested testimony to the Sept. 11 panel as another example of poor leadership.

"There have been some things, like saying no with (Condoleezza Rice) to begin with and then having a White House reversal," Haggard said in a telephone interview from California. "I don't think a White House reversal looks good anytime."
(AP via The Chicago Tribune)

Funny, you'd think an "outlaw" like Merle Haggard would identify with Bush. Maybe Haggard is mellowing...

A vision of the liberal body politic at the Reading Terminal Market 

The Reading Terminal is one of Philadelphia's great institutions. It's a combination of a Central Market and a food court—except, unlike at a mall, none of the restaurants and stands are chains, they all sell real food, and because they're local, the money stays in Philly. And it's right in Center City, so you can walk or take the train to it. And now the Reading Terminal has free WiFi.

So this morning, I've been blogging from the Reading Terminal ($2.00 home-made ginger snaps described, of all places, in the Times).

All around: Tommy Dinic's Roast Beef and Pork. Johnny Yi's Fish Market; in neon: "Eat Fish, Live Longer." Famous Philadelphia Hoagies (run by Koreans). Food for the Skin (Bath - Body - Spirit) by Terralyn. Mezze Mediterranean Foods. Martin's Fancy Meats and Sausages.

And lots of Philadelphians—old, young, black, white, rich, poor, local, out-of-town—sitting down at the smae table and happily chowing down the food of their choice. You want lean? We got lean. Cholesterol bomb? We got that too. Kosher? No problem.

This is, I think, a paradigm of the body politic as a liberal conceives it. People get to choose their own food, and all sit down together. Also, a lot of small businesses making it on a playing field that the government makes sure is level by providing the right infrastructure.

This is, I think, also the opposite of how the Fundamentalists conceive the body politic. If they had their way, there would be only one kind of food, and only those who wanted it would sit down together. Everyone else would be out in the cold. "They only have one book, and it tells them to burn all the other books," as Neil Stephensen observed in another context in The Diamond Age. FTF ...

Bush leaks more selective intelligence—and it doesn't even help him! 

I thought KaWen would have gotten these guys all straightened out by now. Apparently not; the WhiteWash House just isn't on top of its dirty game right now. Probably too busy getting themselves lawyered up for the criminal investigations....

The Bush administration has released a previously classified document about its plan to attack Osama bin Laden in an effort to protect its beleaguered National Security Adviser, Condoleezza Rice, against claims that she failed to recognise the threat posed by al-Qa'ida.

After a week of damaging allegations that the administration failed to heed warnings that al-Qa'ida was planning to attack the US, the White House released information which showed that a week before 11 September 2001, President Bush ordered his military planners to draw up plans to strike the terror network.
(via IIndependent)

And that's the point! This "defense" of Condi proves Clarke's point! He had plans to strike AQ ready from Day One. It took him eight months to get a meeting. And it took them nine months to give the order even to draw up a plan.

Some defense of Condi. I guess they really are going to heave her over the side.

And, oh yeah, it's OK to declassify intelligence if it helps the Bush election campaign, and it isn't, when it doesn't. So there are rules. Now I feel better.

Times editors pen the most thumbsucking headline ever, bar none. Wait for it... 

"The Mystery Deepens"
Here's what the brainiacs on the editorial board of The World's Greatest Newspaper (not!) can't understand:

The Bush administration's handling of the bipartisan commission investigating the 9/11 tragedy grows worse — and more oddly self-destructive — with each passing day. Following its earlier attempts to withhold documents from the panel and then to deny its members vital testimony, we now learn that President Bush's staff has been withholding thousands of pages of Clinton administration papers as well.

This latest distressing episode followed the White House's pattern of resisting the commission in private and then, once the dispute becomes public, reluctantly giving up the minimum amount of ground.

it is astonishing that it would still withhold anything that did not pose an immediate and dire threat to national security. The American people would like to know that they have a government that freely gives information to legitimate investigations on matters of grave national interest, not one that fights each reasonable request until it is exposed and forced to submit. The White House is serving no public purpose by acting less interested than the rest of us in having this commission do its vital work. Its ham-handed behavior is also gravely damaging the entire concept of executive privilege.
(via The Times)

Tut tut!


For shame!

Readers, can anyone help the Times editors solve this mystery?

NOTE: FWIW, my speculation is that the heart of the mystery is in the PDBs (Tom, back). My guess: Condi passed on a PDB, probably when Bush was on vacation, which said that AQ would use airplanes as missiles (a well-known fact anyhow, back), and that Bush either initialled the PDB or added some annotation that would prove that he read it. This would explain why Bush won't even give the commission copies of the PDBs.

Why doesn't anyone ever ask Bush if he thinks the earth is only 6000 years old? 

Scientists, of course, know differently.

Fossil Illuminates Evolution of Limbs from Fins

The discovery of a 365-million-year-old forelimb is helping scientists better understand how ancient creatures made the transition from water to land. A report published today in the journal Science describes the fossil, which represents an intermediate stage in the evolution of fish fins into vertebrate limbs.

Neil H. Shubin of the University of Chicago and his colleagues recovered the bone, which was encased in a brick-size piece of red sandstone, from the side of a highway in north central Pennsylvania.
(via Scientific American)


And make up your own jokes. Of course, the obvious one would be along the lines of the wingers not needing limbs, since they're still crawling in slime... But that is the sort of cheap shot that we here at Corrente pride ourselves in not taking.

A Republic of Mercenaries: Why billions for planes and tanks but no body armor for troops? 

Why is it that Bush hasn't gotten the troops their body armor yet? You'd think a war preznit could arrange that kind of thing with a stroke of the pen through an Executive Order. After all, just because John Kerry says to do it doesn't make it a bad idea.

Why is it that Bush screws up their payrolls, screws up their combat pay, screws up their health care, and screws up their benefits? Why does he send troops who aren't combat-ready into combat? (Guardian)

The answer came to me this morning: I think it's a variant of Starve the Beast. This may seem counter-intuitive, but hear me out.

Under Bush, the big defense contractors will never be privatized, in the sense of being forced to compete—and a great power does need weaponry (though perhaps not so very much, and it would be nice if it all worked).

However, the work that the troops, the grunts, do can be privatized, and is being so. The strategy is to keep wages and working conditions lousy (see above), keep turnover high, and cream off a percentage of those who leave the military into mercenary armies, like Blackwater. The mercenary armies are (a) doubtless large Republican contributors and (b) allow the President to make war whenever and however he wants, without being subject to all that pesky Congressional oversight.

Needless to say, that's not the kind of military a Republic can have, and stay a Republic. Praetorian Guard, anyone?

Now, Blackwater brings me to the events in Fallujah. In my original post on this, (Gruesome pictures, back), I wrote that I doubted that the contractors knew what they were really signing up for. Several alert readers wrote in to say that the victims were from Blackwater, and that they knew exactly what they were signing up for.

Those readers were right, though nobody deserves to be burned to death and hung from a bridge, whether it's a risk they knew they were taking or not.

But I think the distinction I tried to draw still has force. When a citizen joins the military, he or she takes an oath (ibid) to protect and defend the country. When an employee joins a mercenary army, he or she signs a contract. It's wrong to confuse an oath to defend the country with a contract to perform certain services for money, and to give both equal status.

In fact, to say that the oath which the troops take is the moral equivalent of the contract which mercenaries sign is to open the door to a privatized military: A Republic of Mercenaries. Mercenaries are now the third largest international force in Iraq, after the US and the UK. So Kos (thanks to alert reader Ricky Vandal) has this one exactly right.

Of course, the SCLM is behaving even worse than usual on this. As Kos points out, the deaths of contractors got more coverage than the deaths of the troops. That's wrong, and the SCLM was clearly (despite the handwringing) driven to push the story because of the photos which were, indeed, gruesome. So the SCLM is contributing, in its own way, to a Republic of Mercenaries as well.

You know, every so often a hiker gets lost in the woods, and the government has to spend tens of thousands of dollars to helicopter them back to civilization and treat them for exposure. The story is then generally treated by the wingers as a little parable of moral hazard, since if the hiker had known they would die if lost in woods, instead of being rescued, they would have taken care not to get lost in the first place.

Isn't using the full force of the US military to rescue or avenge mercenaries exactly the same case of moral hazard writ large? Shouldn't we be seeking to "pacify" Fallujah (if such a thing is possible) because the country has foreign policy goals it undertakes on behalf of its citizens, as opposed to "responding" on behalf of mercenaries who knew what they were getting into?

So, the future: Big Defense pocketing billions, mercenary armies pocketing billions, no democratic oversight, and all for the buck. After lying, looting is what Republicans do best!

UPDATE Kos to the wingers on this issue: Bring it on! Steve Gilliard has some heated commentary on the issue here.

Why do they hate America? 

The reaction to Bush's stonewalling tactics:

A CBS News poll taken this week said seven in 10 Americans believe the Bush administration is either hiding something or lying about what it knew before the Sept. 11 attacks about possible terrorist attacks against the United States.
(via AP)

It's the coverup that kills you. Either these people haven't learned anything from Nixon, or too much power makes you stupid. I wonder which it is?

Friday, April 02, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

Tomorrow is another day.

Bush "release" of Clinton files to 9/11 Commission: I knew there'd be a catch 

"All" never means "all" with these guys, does it? (back)

But even as the White House tried to convince the panel that it was not withholding valuable information, administration officials refused to make a commitment to let the commission have copies of the Clinton-era documents.

So what is the Commmission supposed to do? Use shorthand? Memorize them?

And the officials suggested that similar, highly classified Bush White House documents might also have been withheld from the panel.

Well. Now the Commission doesn't really know what it has, does it? And Kean traded away the right to recall witnesses. Smart move!

The disclosure by the White House on Thursday that it had withheld thousands of classified national-security documents gathered by the National Archives from the files of the Clinton White House drew protests from members of the commission, Democrats and Republicans alike, as well as Congressional Democrats.

Mr. Lindsey said he had reviewed many of the 10,800 documents gathered by the National Archives, where Mr. Clinton's files are stored, and found them to be valuable to the commission's work. He said they included many documents about Al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden and the government's counterterrorism policies.

But the final decision on whether the documents could be handed over was left to the Bush White House, which decided to block transfer of three-quarters of the nearly 11,000 pages of material, said former Clinton aides who say they were concerned that so many documents had been withheld.
(via The Times)

Just more stonewalling.

Why do the 9/11 families stand for it? And Lindsey must be able to make an educated guess about what Bush is withholding, and why—why doesn't someone just ask him?

More burglaries from The Goon Squad 

First Kerry's FBI records, now this. Anyone sensing a pattern?

Scottsdale Democratic Party officials feel targeted after a computer hard drive with donors' information and mailing list was stolen last month and the office was vandalized Wednesday.

"The fact that we've had two in the last three weeks is very, very suspicious," said Leon Chusid, District 8 treasurer, headquartered at 8350 E. McDonald Drive. "And it's also very terrifying."

The only thing taken in the first incident was a computer's hard drive with information about precinct committee members, mailing lists and fund-raising.

The computer monitor and keyboard were left behind and there were no signs of forced entry in the burglary, said Detective Sam Bailey, a spokesman for the Scottsdale Police Department.
(The Arizona Republic via Pandagon)

Actually, first (that we know of) the theft of the Democratic files on the Judiciary, then Kerry's FBI records, now this.

Oh, and Arizona is a swing state. Of course.

Yawning Boy to be on Letterman tonight! 

See Tyler Crott here (back)

Hey, I wonder if his Pioneer Dad prepped him better this time!

Readers, I don't have a TV.... So if any of you can fill us in on how it goes, that would be great. Thanks!

UPDATE The Orlando Sentinel has the video.

Bush caves on Clinton documents he sought to hide from 9/11 commission 

Of course, with Bush, "all" is a very elastic term.

The Bush administration gave the federal panel reviewing the Sept. 11 attacks access Friday to thousands of classified counterterrorism documents from the Clinton administration.

Bush officials granted the Sept. 11 commission's request to review the material after Bruce Lindsey, former legal adviser to President Clinton, said the administration failed to turn over all of Clinton's records to the panel.

Lindsey said Thursday that the commission isn't getting a full picture of Clinton's terrorism policies because the Bush administration had only forwarded 25 percent of the 11,000 records it wanted to provide the panel.

(via eh Guardian AP)

Ha. I wonder if Lindsey has given them any clues about where to look?

Does anyone feel safer yet? 

Three years on, the busses and trains aren't safe. Of course, the shadow government has its bunkers, so they're OK....

Bombs hidden in luggage could be used in a plot to attack buses and railways in major American cities this summer, U.S. security authorities said on Friday.

"We assess that buses and railways could be targeted," the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security said in a bulletin issued to law enforcement agencies, local governments and the transportation industry.

"The plot calls for the use of improvised explosive devices possibly constructed of ammonium nitrate (fertilizer) and diesel fuel concealed in luggage and carry-on bags to include duffel bags and backpacks," according to the bulletin.

It said, "al Qaeda and other groups have demonstrated the intent and capability to attack public transportation with conventional explosives, vehicle-borne bombs and suicide bombers."
(via Reuters)

Interesting that little mention of "other groups"... Sounds like the FBI has been reading their Orcinus, who has consistently pointed out how Bush and the FBI ignore the home-grown right wing threats—heck, they might need the militias to kill liberals!—and will reap the whirlwind if the wingers ally themselves with AQ, as they are showing signs of doing.

Impeach Bu$h - Now More Than Ever 

April 2, 2004
John Dean Tells Bill Moyers that Bush Should Be Impeached

NOW with Bill Moyers - PBS tonight, April 02, 2004
BILL MOYERS: Let me go right to page 155 of your book. You write, quote, "The evidence is overwhelming that George W. Bush and Richard B. Cheney have engaged in deceit and deception over going to war in Iraq. This is an impeachable offense."

JOHN DEAN: Absolutely is. The founders in the debates in the states-- I cite one. I cite one that I found -- I tracked down after reading the Nixon impeachment proceedings when-- Congressman Castenmeyer had gone back to look to see what the founders said about misrepresentations and lying to the Congress. Clearly, it is an impeachable offense. And I think the case is overwhelming that these people presented false information to the Congress and to the American people.

BILL MOYERS: John, I was, as you know, in the Johnson White House at the time of the Gulf of-- Tonkin when LBJ escalated the war in Vietnam on the basis of misleading information. He said there was an attack in the Gulf of Tonkin. It subsequent turns out there wasn't an attack.

Many people said then and have said that LBJ deceived the country and concealed the escalation of the war. You even say in the book that he hoodwinked Congress. Are you saying that that was not an impeachable offense but what is happening now is?

JOHN DEAN: No. I'm saying that was an impeachable offense. In fact, it comes up in the Nixon debates over whether the secret bombing would be an impeachable offense. That became a high crime or offense because Nixon had, in fact, told privately some members of the Congress. Johnson didn't tell anybody the game he was playing to my knowledge.

And these are probably the most serious offenses that you can make-- when you take a country to war, blood and treasure, no higher decision can a President of the United States make as the Commander-in-Chief. To do it on bogus information, to use this kind of secrecy to do it is intolerable.

Impeach Central: Petition / Articles of Impeachment


When hell freezes over! 

Nancy Pelosi:

"The president should stand tall, walk in the room himself and answer the questions."
(via AP)

But what's sock puppet without a hand?

Hey, maybe Kerry could debate both Bush and Cheney at the same time! 

It's a tag team concept! And that way, Bush and Cheney could keep their stories straight! Just like Bush and Cheney "visiting" with the 9/11 Commission together....

Jobs numbers finally improve, despite Bush policies 

For all the people who were finally able to get jobs this month, I'm happy.

For Bush, who will now claim, based on one month's numbers, that he's made his numbers for his whole term, I'm happy.

For the millions who have left the work force entirely because they don't feel they can ever get jobs, I'm not happy.

For the millions of US citizens working on the minimum wage ($10,000 a year), I'm not happy.

For the millions who depend on overtime to pay their bills, and who Bush is still trying to screw, I'm not happy.

For the millions who are putting in more hours and working harder for the same money because of "the lash," (back), I'm not happy.

When will the total number of jobs under Bush gets back to where it was under Clinton? When that happens, maybe Bush can claim some success. Note that unemployment is at the same high rate as it has been, since people who were formerly discouraged have returned to the jobs force.

As it is, we're still in "the operation was a success, but the patient died" mode.

UPDATE An interesting final paragraph from the AP article touting Bush's elation:

West Virginia had the lowest labor force participation rate in the United States last year, 54.6 percent. Many people simply stopped looking for work and were no longer counted among the unemployed.

Like Edwards said: Two socities.

Gary Hart also warns White House, prior to 9/11 

Thanks to Elvis56 for pointing me to this article in by David Talbot. [excerpt and link follows]

Condi Rice's other wake-up call - Former Sen. Gary Hart says he, too, warned Rice about an imminent terror attack on two occasions before 9/11. ~ By David Talbot [ ]

Also, noticed this interview Hart gave to Australian radio program PM. Excerpts follow.

This is a transcript from PM. The program is broadcast around Australia at 5:10pm on Radio National and 6:10pm on ABC Local Radio. You can also listen to the story in REAL AUDIO and WINDOWS MEDIA formats.

US national security commission terror warnings pre-September 11
PM - Friday, 26 March , 2004 18:30:00
Reporter: Geraldine Doogue


Gary Hart was a Democrat Presidential candidate in the 80s. More recently he's been the co-chairman of the US Commission on National Security for the 21st Century. The Commission issued strong warnings throughout 2001 about America being at risk of a terrorist attack, including one just five days before September 11.

Geraldine Doogue asked Gary Hart if the Commission's warnings were the kind that the Bush administration could reasonably have acted on.

GARY HART: Well, yes and no. There were specific enough, and I quote our first report in September 1999:

"America will be attacked by terrorists using weapons of mass destruction, and Americans will lose their lives on American soil, possibly in large numbers", end quote.

[...] [more at ABC Online Australia HERE

Backtrack February 2002 Five months after 9/11, VP Cheney addresses a Council of Foreign Relations gathering:

Throughout the time that I've been a member of the council, most of our debates were defined by the Cold War. When America's great enemy [Soviet Union] suddenly disappeared, many wondered what new direction our foreign policy would take. We spoke, as always, of long-term problems and regional crises throughout the world, but there was no single immediate, global threat that any roomful of experts could agree upon.

All of that changed five months ago. [9/11] The threat is known and our role is clear now. ~ [Vice President Dick Cheney speaking to a Council of Foreign Relations benefit in February 2002.] - Source: CFR transcript - Earlier reference: Flower of the Lupine


I'm with you, Tyler! 

This is before Acting President Rove left the horse's head in his bed, of course.

(via Wonkette)

Hey, wasn't it child abuse to leave a horse's head in The Yawning Boy's bed? 

The Yawning Boy is, well, the boy (Tyler Crotty) who yawned during a Bush campaign speech (fancy!). Krugman summarizes:

On Monday, Mr. Letterman ran a video clip of a boy yawning and fidgeting during a speech by George Bush. It was harmless stuff; a White House that thinks it's cute to have Mr. Bush make jokes about missing W.M.D. should be able to handle a little ribbing about boring speeches.

CNN ran the Letterman clip on Tuesday, just before a commercial. Then the CNN anchor Daryn Kagan came back to inform viewers that the clip was a fake: "We're being told by the White House that the kid, as funny as he was, was edited into that video." Later in the day, another anchor amended that: the boy was at the rally, but not where he was shown in the video.

On his Tuesday night show, Mr. Letterman was not amused: "That is an out and out 100 percent absolute lie. The kid absolutely was there, and he absolutely was doing everything we pictured via the videotape."

But here's the really interesting part: CNN backed down, but it told Mr. Letterman that Ms. Kagan "misspoke," that the White House was not the source of the false claim. (So who was? And if the claim didn't come from the White House, why did CNN run with it without checking?)
(via The Times)

Well, now the control freaks in the WhiteWash House have take control of media access to the poor kid (and God knows what else. They'd better get him to sign a contract he'll never write a book). Probably the same team that handled the Jessica Lynch thing so well...

The White House, trying to get out in front of the Yawning Boy story, is now in charge of media access to the young man who was seen on David Letterman's show this week yawning his way through one of President Bush's less robust speeches.

OK, the horse's head got left at that point. Now we hear this:

"He's a young person who strongly supports the president and is excited about getting a chance to talk about it," White House assistant press secretary Reed Dickens told The TV Column yesterday.

But of course, there's no problem. After all, the Bush campaign is famous for being able to take a joke!

Dickens says the Bush campaign was tickled about the whole thing: "We think it's all in good nature, very good-humored."

That's certainly what the boy's Dad thought (not!):

[The elder Crotty, Richard, Orlando Sentinel columnist Scott Maxwell] says, "was anxious when I first talked to him; he was deadly serious about this, saying, 'I accept full responsibility; I should have prepared him better.'

"Maybe he thought the wrath of the Bushes was going to come down on him.... Then he started to loosen up."

"I think whatever problems the Bushes might have had with the [Crotty] son they got over with pretty quick as soon as Dad reached 'Pioneer status,' " Maxwell says.

Yes, money talks. Letterman's reaction:

"This whole thing just smells. Doesn't it smell a little bit?" Letterman asked his audience last night.

"I mean, it just seems all just a little too tidy, just a little too neat. And now, the guy, the kid in Florida -- and his old man -- was really upset in the beginning. . . . Well, now everybody down there loves it. Everybody couldn't be happier; everybody thought it was hilarious. So you see, it's just a little too tidy. Stuff like this never ends happily, certainly not happily for me. I was waiting for the lawsuit, I was waiting to be arrested, I was waiting to be beaten to a pulp, and now, oh . . . we couldn't be happier."
(via WaPo)


An Open Letter To 

Dear MoveOn,

Richard Clarke is right.

I refer to that ad you've made that makes use of Clarke's words and voice in a frontal attack on the Bush administration. Mr Clarke's discomfort was predictable and is entirely understandable. Not that there's anything wrong with being partisan; those of us who remain unpleased with our current President's performance in office are and should be proudly partisan.

My disagreement with your position takes nothing away from my admiration and support for MoveOn as a uniquely hopeful organization that is reviving American democracy from the grass roots up.

But Richard Clarke is about something else. He has taken pains to be clear that he is not a "partisan," that in writing his book and testifying before the 9/11 Commission he has acted without personal rancor, his single purpose, to inform, to enlighten, and not to take sides anywhere but in the voting booth. And since he clearly had some idea of the kind of personal attacks his going public was bound to unleash against him, I don't think it's excessive to view him as heroic.

Not that your ad claims him for our side. It doesn't. But let's be honest with ourselves; unfairly or not, your ad is bound to undermine his credibility, the maintenance of which, for the time being, is a far more important goal for us partisans than is the dissemination of his views, especially in thirty second soundbites. Hey guys, it ain't worth it. Nor is it fair to Richard Clarke.

The counter arguments you’ve made in response to his wish you withdraw the ads are good ones, both legally and ethically. But when all is said and done, aren’t they really beside the point?

This story isn't over. Let it play out. There will be time enough to use intelligently what we've learned from Mr. Clarke, and without drawing his ire, or giving such ready ammunition to those determined to attack his integrity.

As noted at TAPPED, this was the week that the SCLM seems to have discovered those four young 9/11 widows from New Jersey who're are the main reason there is a 9/11 Commission. One of them, Kristin Breitweiser, appeared last Thursday on Hardball (scrowl down) and made this statement about her response to the commission hearing at which Clarke appeared:

BREITWEISER: Frankly, the commissioners, I think, need to do a self-examination and determine who they‘re really representing on this commission. Are they representing the interests of the families and the rest of the nation? Or are they representing certain Washington individuals?

And I think that they really need to make that decision prior to their writing of the final report. The families want a transparent definitive comprehensive final report removed from politics.

It is such an insult to sit through hearings that we have waited two and a half years to have and have to bear witness to such partisan politics.

When Chris Matthews tried to get her to attack the Republican commission members to whom she was clearly referring, she refused to take the bait. But that didn't keep her from saying this about Condi Rice in regards to her statement that in the summer of 2001, no one could have imagined a terrorist attack using airliners as missiles.

You know, Chris, the families would like Dr. Rice to testify under oath in a public hearing. She made a very public statement and I think one of two things. Either she flat out lied or she‘s incompetent, because the historical record is replete with instances of planes being used as missiles.

I can hold up the joint inquiry report. You see all the post-its on here, indicating instances of planes being used as missiles, of al Qaeda being interested in using plane as missiles of attacks in the homeland.

It's sting is directly proportional to Kristen Breitweiser's insistence on a stance of strict non-partisanship.

"A transparent definitive comprehensive final report removed from politics..." Isn't that what we all want? That the White House appears not to want that, whatever they claim, says everything about how they view in whose genuine interest such a document will prove to be.

Kristen Breitweiser's articulation of what should be the goal for all of us gives you a graceful way to withdraw the ad. May I respectfully submit that this is not only the right thing to do, it's the smart thing to do.

As ever, your loyal MoveOn member

More loot for the insiders? 

Were those (good) job numbers leaked (Atrios)? If so, it would sure have meant a big windfall for whoever had advance notice and put money into the market before it jumped....

UPDATE WaPo was a very detailed story about the BLS Process, which indicates that the figures are to be released at 8:30AM, exactly. So (as Atrios asks) how was Reuters able to release them at 8:28AM?

Looting the 9/11 sites: FBI to restore Tiffany globe looted by underling, says nothing of Rumsfeld's looting 

I guess this is one looted item the FBI didn't give to "dignitaries" (back, Pioneers and Rangers?)

The Justice Department is looking for the owner of a Tiffany globe paperweight at the center of an investigation into FBI agents taking rubble from the World Trade Center.

An investigation by Fine concluded that an FBI agent improperly removed the globe from a debris collection site at the Fresh Kills landfill in Staten Island, N.Y. In all, the probe found that 13 agents improperly took items ranging from chunks of concrete to pieces of New York fire trucks, leading the FBI to adopt a new policy barring agents from taking anything from crime scenes.

The Tiffany globe, which wound up on the desk of an FBI secretary in its Minneapolis field office, was the item that sparked the initial investigation into removal of Sept. 11 debris. Tiffany sells the globes for about $350, but officials estimated that as a Sept. 11 artifact it could be worth $5,000 or more.
(via AP)

So, have the agents been discisplined?

And if they have, why hasn't Rumsfeld, who looted aircraft parts from the 9/11 site, which is a felony for which others have been prosecuted?

Could it be that under Bush, there is one law for high administration officials, and another law for everyone else?

Plame Affair: It's the coverup the gets you 

Bush officials? Lie? Huh?

Prosecutors investigating whether someone in the Bush administration improperly disclosed the identity of a C.I.A. officer have expanded their inquiry to examine whether White House officials lied to investigators or mishandled classified information related to the case, lawyers involved in the case and government officials say.

The broadened scope is a potentially significant development that represents exactly what allies of the Bush White House feared when Attorney General John Ashcroft removed himself from the case last December and turned it over to Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the United States attorney in Chicago.

Republican lawyers worried that the leak case, in the hands of an aggressive prosecutor, might grow into an unwieldy, time-consuming and politically charged inquiry, like the sprawling independent counsel inquiries of the 1990's, which distracted and damaged the Clinton administration.
(via The Times)



With one exception, of course. In the Plame Affair, laws could actually have been broken, and the whole thing isn't ginned up by The Goon Squad attack machine. Other than that....

The suspicion that someone may have lied to investigators is based on contradictions between statements by various witnesses in F.B.I. interviews, the lawyers and officials said. The conflicts are said to be buttressed by documents, including memos, e-mail messages and phone records turned over by the White House.

That's because the FBI wouldn't let them be interviewed together, so they could keep their stories straight! Bush and Cheney aren't going to make that mistake again...

At the same time, Mr. Fitzgerald is said to be investigating whether the disclosure of Ms. Plame's identity came after someone discovered her name among classified documents circulating at the upper echelons of the White House. It could be a crime to disclose information from such a document, although such violations are rarely prosecuted.

Funny how the WhiteWash House threatens to prosecute Clarke and O'Neill, but when they release classified information, there's never a peep. Why is that?

UPDATE Josh Marshall has a very interesting posting and memo that suggests why Acting President Rove may want to get himself lawyered up.

WhiteWash House supppressing Clinton-era documents from 9/11 commission 

I wonder why? Could it be they are trying to protect Clinton? Joke, son.

The White House confirmed on Thursday that it had withheld a variety of classified documents from Mr. Clinton's files that had been gathered by the National Archives over the last two years in response to requests from the commission, which is investigating intelligence and law enforcement failures before the attacks.

Scott McClellan, the White House spokesman, said some Clinton administration documents had been withheld because they were "duplicative or unrelated," while others were withheld because they were "highly sensitive" and the information in them could be relayed to the commission in other ways. "We are providing the commission with access to all the information they need to do their job" Mr. McClellan said.
(via NY Times)

The icing on the cake for the latest cover-up is Scott "Sucka MC" McClellan's statement—surely it is up to the 9/11 Commission to determine what it needs, not the WhiteWash House? Wouldn't that be why the Commission has subpoena power?

Barbie and that "friend" of Barbie's 

Via Reuters: "Barbie Is a Lesbian......."

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York City public schools will allow students to wear clothes with political slogans after settling a lawsuit with a teen-age girl who was suspended for wearing a T-shirt that said "Barbie is a Lesbian," her lawyer said on Thursday. LINK

Well duh. Like thats some surprise? Like ain't it pretty obvious that Ken is a lesbian too. Sheesh.

Team B 43? ~ Redux 

This post is essentially an addendum to one of Digby's recent posts titled There He Goes Again. The "He" in this case is Jim Wilkinson, deputy national security adviser for communications, who is attempting to defy the laws of empirical physical evidential reality by claiming that the Bush administration's primary foreign policy priority upon seizing the White House, and bolting the doors and drawing the shades, was the delicate task of crushing the al Qaeda menace. Not, as critics claim, selling defrosted Star Wars/NMD fantasias, stomping the Anti-Ballistic Missile Teaty to death, and chasing Saddam Hussein down a hidey hole. Heavens no.

So, before you read the rest of this post you probably should read Digby's post first, if you haven't already, because it essentially provides the background for what will follow here. Read: There He Goes Again

Digby cites a June 2002 Jason Vest article titled "Why Warnings Fell On Deaf Ears" which appered in The American Prospect. (See link to Jason Vest article available via Digby's post which is linked above).

Vest also wrote an earlier piece titled Darth Rumsfeld which appeared in the Feb. 26, 2001 issue of The American Prospect and also goes right to the point with respect to the designs Rumsfeld and the neocons had in mind long before they entered the White House in 2000. And those objectives and agendas have everything to do with trotting out rogue-state nuclear threat scare scenarios and reanimating space based missle defense programs and disposing of the ABM Treaty as a necessary step in realizing such objectives. Everything to do with what they were unboubtably focusing on prior to 9/11 when they should have been listening to guys like Richard Clarke who were emphasizing the dangers and threats posed by global terrorism networks such as al Qaeda in particular. See: Darth Rumsfeld

For example - Vest notes:
In 1998 Gaffney [Frank Gaffney - Center for Security Policy] gave Rumsfeld CSP's "Keeper of the Flame" Award for producing the document that revitalized the Reagan Star Wars concept.

That document was "The Rumsfeld Report" (1998). No surprise, Gaffney's CSP was funded by defense contractors who profit from those very same NMD programs being shined up by the Rumsfeld Report.

With respect to the ABM Treaty Vest relates:
Perhaps worst of all, for missle defense to become a reality, the landmark Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty needs to be amended-something the Russians are not eager to do. No matter, says Rumsfeld; at his confirmation hearings, he dismissed the ABM treaty as "ancient history" and said he had no compunction about abrogating it.

In July of last year I posted a long item to Eschaton called Team B 43?. It is essentially a summary of this same information - Vest's Darth Rumsfeld article mentioned above - so, if anyone wants to look at it, to glean any additional info you may find there, heres the link. Team B 43?" It's also mirrored here for some reason: Team B 43?

Just above my Team B 43? post, on the same Eschaton archive page, is a post written by Leah which details the increase in threat assessments as they relate to Iraq.
The January-June 2002 report, however, raised alarm at unprecedented levels rhetorically, though it provided little new evidence of increased capability. This report, which moved the nuclear program from the last program mentioned to the front of the assessment, devoted six long paragraphs to the nuclear weapons, mostly detailed narrative of Iraq's nuclear history and the IAEA inspections and dismantlement process. [See: Antidote to Instacrap Eschaton archives, July 2003]

Another article by Vest which can be found at The American Prospect, and details the "Rumsfeld clique" thinking on national defense and security as it relates to the above, can be found here: Punch-Drunk on Hardball: Online Sidebar to "Darth Rumsfeld" -- Vest writes:
While Rumsfeld's clique is hot on missile defense, weaponizing space, demonizing China and funding the Iraqi opposition, there are career officers and civilians leery of weapons programs with a ridiculous burn rate, who don't see a need to create additional enemies. Their views are closer to Powell's, and how they interface across bureaucratic lines will be interesting to watch. "If Powell and Rumsfeld come together and say, 'Let's use the collective capability of Defense and State and the power of the CINCs to do cohesive and coherent things in the service of sound policy,' it could be pretty awesome," the Pentagon veteran says. "But that depends on a lot of factors that aren't clear yet, and the picture could be much more fractured. Because one of the problems with defense modernization figuring out who the fuck the enemy is. Expect Rumsfeld and his people to create enemies."

So, as I said. This is just an addendum to what Digby posted. Just more reminders from the memory hole for anyone who wants to go back and take a second look at what the Bush cronies were really bothering about prior to 9/11.

And, as an added timely reminder, as it relates to the upcoming Dick and "W" one show only performance before the 9/11 Commission, consider this prediction by Vest in Feb 2001:
Conventional wisdom holds that the Bush administration will be unlike any other, with Bush as president and Cheney as CEO, or Bush as president and Cheney as prime minister (with oversight of the defense and diplomacy portfolios). In a sense, Ford all over again: Rummy back at the Pentagon, Cheney as the sitting president's right hand man, and a secretary of state who's potential trouble. [Darth Rumsfeld]

Ther ya have it. Jason Vest restoring the wise to the conventional wisdom.


What will the 5:00 horror be today? 

As we know, Bush tends to release information that's really for for him on 5:00 Friday, in the hopes that we'll all ignore it and he'll have plenty of time to get it spun by the talking heads on Sunday.

I have to say, the atmosphere inside the WhiteWash House must be getting more and more crazy and bunker-like.

First, the concept that Cheney and Bush are going to "visit" the 9/11 Commission together. Truly, truly weird. Bush can't speak for himself? They're worried the earpiece will get jammed?

Then, there's the whole Letterman thing: A kid yawns during one of Bush's campaign speeches (the Dad, a Pioneer, says he should have "prepped" the kid better). Letterman runs the tape. Bush says Letterman faked the tape (!!). It goes on from there, but isn't that weird enough already? I mean, as if Letterman had to do it, when Letterman can and does nail Bush whenever he wants. (Started by Atrios, but now it's made it to Krugman.)

And then, there's the whole sick jokes about WMD things.

I tell you, weird. I think these guys think they've already won, and they're giddy, and think they can do and say anything. It's up to us to prove them wrong.

What will the 5:00 horror be, this week?

"A" is for Alpha - "W" is for Weenie 

Steady Cheerleadership in Times of Change. Rah rah rah, sis boom bah...G. Weenie Bush, hah-hah-hah!

Gimme a "W"! (one for the yearbook)


Thursday, April 01, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

A good day, yes? And tomorrow the unemployment figures.

The Boston Globe gets letters 

A reader stands up for liberal, enlightenment values:

There was a Bush campaign ad on TV recently in which the president, facing the camera, gave a list of problems facing the country and in each case said, "I know" how to deal with these issues. The message given was that he had the answers.

Several months ago President Bush stated the the United States had a "calling" to bring freedom and democracy to Iraq. In Bush's fundamentalist Christian world, that word has a special meaning. It is something preordained, not action taken after investigation and sober reflection of facts and alternatives. It is something dictated by a higher power.

Add this to his frequent statements that there is no middle ground between good and evil, his administration's plan for "faith-based initiatives," and his opposition to freedom of choice and his attempts to define "marriage." Do we not have a government moving toward decision-making based on someone's interpretation of certain religious teachings and beliefs?

How does this differ, except by degree, from the message of the imams and ayatollahs that government exists not to carry out the will of the people, but the will of the prophet as they choose to interpret it?

Dover, N.H.
(via the Boston Gblob)

We don't need a War on Terror. We need a Campaign Against Fundamentalistm—at home and abroad.
(See back here for WOT versus CAF analysis.)

Bush guts IRS power to track down AQ funds 

Is there something I'm missing?

So I'm catching up at Jerome Dolittle's fine blog, and I come upon this astonishing question:

Did you know that Bush just turned down an IRS request for 80 more criminal investigators to block the flow of funds to Al Qaeda?

No Jerome, and surely you jest, I think to myself. How could that possibly be true? Now? In the midst of what Richard Clarke has to say about their less than vigorous anti-Al Qaeda efforts? Not even this crowd would dare....and why would they risk...Risk? Risk what? When have they ever been called to account for anything, any outrage? Good God, the questions begin to answer themselves.

Turns out that Mr. Dolittle has sharp eyes indeed, because the NYTimes story he's discussing, by one of the paper's most trustworthy reporters, David Cay Johnson, whose book on the astounding tax iniquities the Reagan/Bush revolution hath wrought you shouldn't miss, appeared on page C3.

It's Jerome's catch, so go visit his excellent blog, Bad Attitudes, and do take his advice to read the actual NYTimes article carefully, twice if necessary. The White House response is especially amusing; yes, the eighty positions were zeroed out, but that doesn't take away from the "robust" increase in funding that demonstrates the President's "robust" committment to disrupt the financing of terrorism. That's so Bush & Co, isn't it? Every policy, with the possible exception of waging a war, is essentially symbolic, a shell without actual substance, an indicator of what you are supposed to believe about this President, because all actual policies, what actually gets done, is driven exclusively by politics, by the will to acquire and maintain power. And they're good at it, their sooo damn good at it.

Why is Bush afraid to debate Kerry? 

Does he think he'll have to take a medical exam first? Does he think someone will jam his earpiece? Funny what money can't buy, isn't it?

Saying it's time to "raise the level of dialogue," Sen. John Kerry's presidential campaign called on President Bush's re-election campaign Thursday to agree to six debates in key battleground states.

"Democrats in Pennsylvania, Arizona, Washington, Ohio, Missouri and Florida plan to hold press conferences over the next several days to highlight the importance of a substantive discussion on issues affecting all Americans -- national security, homeland security and veterans' issues; education; environment and energy policies; the economy; health care; and equal opportunity for all," said campaign chair Jeanne Shaheen in a written statement.

Bush campaign spokesman Taylor Griffin told CNN Thursday, "The Bush-Cheney campaign looks for a vigorous debate at the appropriate time. But John Kerry should finish the debate with himself first -- being on both sides of each issue."
(via CNN)

That would be "a" debate as in "one"? Kinda like the "one" hour Bush was going to give to the 9/11 commission?

As for the "flipflops"—more winger projection! See back here.

Say, why doesn't someone ask Bush if he thinks the earth is 6000 years old? 

Or if there's some kind of question that it isn't?

Today researchers announced their discovery of a 365-million-year-old fossil limb bone of an ancient tetrapod. Tetrapods, including humans, are four-limbed animals with backbones. The fossil was found during road construction that revealed an ancient streambed.

Scientists say the find will help shed light on how early animals evolved limbs from fins. This crucial adaptation enabled Earth's animal life to crawl from water to land.
(via National Geographic)

Although, I grant you, not all wingers walk upright...


Thanks, Ralph 

Small difference isn't the same as no difference.

An Idaho lawyer nominated to the federal appeals court won narrow approval Thursday from the Senate Judiciary Committee despite fierce opposition from environmentalists.

The committee voted 10-9 along party lines in favor of President Bush's nomination of William G. Myers III to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. A straight-party line vote likely means that Democrats will attempt to make him the seventh Bush judicial nominee to be blocked in the full Senate.

Democrats cited Myers' opposition to environmental protections while Interior Department solicitor from 2001-2003 and as a private lawyer and lobbyist for cattle and mining interests.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said she was disturbed by his "extreme" comments, including when Meyers wrote that environmental groups are "mountain biking to the courthouse as never before, bent on stopping human activity wherever it may promote health, safety and welfare."

Myers acknowledged during his confirmation hearing of sometimes using a "poor choice of words." He didn't immediately return a message for comment Thursday.
(via AP)

What a load of bollocks. As if environmental protections didn't make jobs too.

Bush losing the Beltway vote? "Dean" Broder's slightly stale CW on Bush flipflops 

Broder seems surprised that Bush would heave Condi over the side. Where has he been?

For nine days the White House and its allies did everything in their power to discredit Clarke, while trying to shield his old boss, Rice, from the commission's unanimous request that she give sworn public testimony in response to Clarke's stunning indictment.

When the effort to shoot the messenger failed to halt the political erosion, Bush did what he never should have done: He threw Rice to the commission. And, worse, he failed to do what he could have done long before: Offer the American people and the world a clear, coherent and detailed account of his own activities and state of mind in the months leading up to the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Instead of acting as the man in charge and saying to the commission, "No, you may not put my national security adviser on the mat, but I will answer to the public for what happened," he did just the opposite. He gave up Rice and then turned on his heel and walked out of the briefing room even as reporters were trying to ask him questions.

At a time when the American people -- and the world -- desperately need reassurance that the government was not asleep at the switch, Bush has clenched his jaw and said nothing that would ease those concerns. Instead, he has arranged that when he answers the commission's questions in a yet-to-be-scheduled private session, he will not face it alone. He and Vice President Cheney will appear together. It will be interesting to learn who furnishes most of the answers.
(David Broder via WaPo)

Of course, MoDo has the answer to that one. And to think that I thought Bush's letter to the Commission was beyond parody:

The Commission must agree in writing that it will not pose any questions directly to the President. Mr. Bush's statements will be restricted to asides on Dick Cheney's brushoffs, as in "Just like he said," "Roger that" and "Ditto."

(MoDo here)

Pass the popcorn!

Bush losing the Beltway vote? WaPo's O'Neal on Bush flipflops 

Of course, "flip flop" is a little polite for what Bush does. I prefer "cave" or "wuss out."

This week, President Bush, who is bashing Massachusetts Sen. John F. Kerry on the campaign trail as a typical politician who lacks principle and changes his mind often for political expediency, reversed his decision on allowing National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice to testify under oath in public before the 9/11 commission.
(via WaPo)

Bush flipflops? Film at 11! Here, I think it's a good time to reprint Kos's list of Bush flipflops here:
  • Bush is against campaign finance reform; then he's for it.

  • Bush is against a Homeland Security Department; then he's for it.

  • Bush is against a 9/11 commission; then he's for it.

  • Bush is against an Iraq WMD investigation; then he's for it.

  • Bush is against nation building; then he's for it.

  • Bush is against deficits; then he's for them.

  • Bush is for free trade; then he's for tariffs on steel; then he's against them again.

  • Bush is against the U.S. taking a role in the Israeli
    Palestinian conflict; then he pushes for a "road map" and a Palestinian

  • Bush is for states right to decide on gay marriage, then he is for changing the constitution.

  • Bush first says he'll provide money for first responders (fire, police, emergency), then he doesn't.

  • Bush first says that 'help is on the way' to the military ... then he cuts benefits

  • Bush-"The most important thing is for us to find Osama bin
    Laden. Bush-"I don't know where he is. I have no idea and I really
    don't care.

  • Bush claims to be in favor of the environment and then secretly starts drilling on Padre Island.

  • Bush talks about helping education and increases mandates while cutting funding.

  • Bush first says the U.S. won't negotiate with North Korea. Now he will

  • Bush goes to Bob Jones University. Then say's he shouldn't have.

  • Bush said he would demand a U.N. Security Council vote on
    whether to sanction military action against Iraq. Later Bush announced
    he would not call for a vote

  • Bush said the "mission accomplished" banner was put up by the sailors.  Bush later admits it was his advance team.

  • Bush was for fingerprinting and photographing Mexicans who enter the US. Bush after meeting with Pres. Fox, he's against it.

  • Flip flops? I'd say Bush is a "Black Belt" flipflopper! (image source).

    More proof that we're winning 

    What to say?

    A roadside bomb injured three American troops on Thursday near Fallujah, a day after the grisly killing and mutilation of four American contract workers in the city. The top U.S. administrator in Iraq aid the deaths would not go unpunished.

    [Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt] said U.S. troops would hunt down those who carried out the killings.

    "We will pacify that city," he said. "We will be back in Fallujah. It will be at the time and place of our choosing."

    (via AP)

    "Cakewalk," anyone?

    Why do these people hate America? 

    The poll by the Los Angeles Times found that 52 percent of Americans agreed with charges by the former official, Richard Clarke, that Bush "failed to take the threat of terrorism seriously enough" before the attacks, while 40 percent disagreed.

    An even larger share, 57 percent, agreed with Clarke that Bush placed a higher priority on invading Iraq than on combating terrorism.
    (via Reuters)

    Drip, drip, drip....

    UPDATE Polling results from the LA Times. Very interesting. Looks like that money-driven bounce Bush got from all those ads isn't reflected in this poll...

    Those gruesome pictures... 

    Well, what happened to those contractors shouldn't happen to anyone.

    But it also makes me think that maybe the Republican idea to privatize war as much as possible isn't all that fair to the people actually doing the work. Our service men and women take the oath of enlistment. But these guys were contractors—did they really know what they were signing up for, and does this country have a right to ask that of them? Even the Blackwater guys, I don't think they asked for this...

    UPDATE More from the Times of London on what to expect over the long, hot, Iraqi summer:

    "Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, the deputy director of the United States coalition force in Iraq, has just given a press conference to explain why US Marines didn't react immediately to yesterday's attacks on four American contractors. He's said that any response from the United States would have made a bad situation worse.

    "The General was today defending the decision not to go in to retrieve the bodies. He has told reporters that the it was established that the four contractors were dead, and that charging in could have resulted in more bloodshed.

    "It seems that there was also concern that the insurgents were patrolling the bodies and there was a genuine fear that there may have been some kind of boobytrap to kill more US troops had they gone in during or immediately after the attacks.

    "A Marine that a I spoke to today, who is based just outside Fallujah, said that the violence had not deterred American troops. He said that they were not afraid to go back in to the city. The Marines are gung-ho about that. They believe that these troubles are the result of a small minority of the people.

    "But many people in this city that I have spoken to are unrepentant. They say that American forces have threatened them ... and they want revenge.

    "There is a lot of hatred in Fallujah. They have had no aid, no assistance, there's major unemployment and the people have had enough. They're fighting back.

    "There's very much a feeling that this will be a blood vendetta. But the American coalition has laid down the gauntlet. They've said that the cycle of violence can end when those who perpetrated yesterday's acts are handed over to the authorities; or it can continue until they are found out.

    "General Kimmitt was quite firm and has said that there will be a response from the United States and in his words that response would be 'deliberate and precise and overwhelming'.

    Jobless claims fall very slightly while Bush lackies push Tinkerbelle theories on job creation 

    Wow. What a surprise.

    WASHINGTON -- The number of U.S. workers filing first-time applications for unemployment benefits declined slightly last week, signifying little improvement in the country's long-battered job market.

    Initial jobless claims fell by 3,000 to a seasonally adjusted 342,000 in the week ended March 27, the Labor Department said Thursday. The four-week average was unchanged at 340,250, the lowest level since the week after President Bush was inaugurated.
    (Dow JOnes Quicken)

    Look for Bush to puff the figures up, of course. Wonder if they've threatened to fire any Labor Department statistiticans yet?

    And here's the (faith-based) CW:

    "Two-and-a-half years into the economic recovery, the pace of job creation in the United States has been distressingly slow," Federal Reserve Governor Ben. S. Bernanke said this week. Still, he said, "I continue to believe [With Tinkerbelle?—Lambert] that steady improvement in the labor market over the remainder of this year is the most likely outcome."

    We don't.

    The labor market is flatlined for the very good reason that Bush and the Pioneers, Rangers, and CEOs who own him want it that way. (See "Jobs flatlined under Bush—a touch of the overseer's lash", back.

    Poll: Bush mishandling WOT 

    "You can fool some of the people some of the time..."

    Fewer than half of all Americans think the country is safer now than it was on Sept. 11, 2001, and more than three-quarters expect the United States to be the target of a major terrorist attack at home or abroad in the next few months, according to a new poll.

    The survey findings come at a time when national security is a central issue in the presidential campaign, and after the Bush administration waged wars in Afghanistan and Iraq in the name of fighting terrorism and making the United States safer from foreign threats. The findings follow by one year the creation of the Department of Homeland Security to better focus government resources on the task of keeping Americans safe at home. And they exist in an environment in which numerous buildings and airports have been fortified with security checkpoints to ward off potential attacks.

    "These numbers present a big challenge," said Patricia McGinnis, president of the council, "because less than 50 percent feel more safe today than they did after September 11, after all that's happened."

    A spokesman for the Bush administration's National Security Council declined to comment on the record on the survey results.

    The council commissioned the poll by Hart/Teeter Research as part of a larger homeland security initiative that included a series of town hall meetings and will result in recommendations on what government, citizens and businesses can do to improve the fight against terrorism.

    The survey numbers show that the country is making progress, McGinnis said.

    Ivo H. Daalder, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who specializes in homeland security issues, said despite the progress, President Bush and other policymakers should not find much comfort in the poll results.

    "If I were in the White House, I would be worried because the essence of what I'm arguing is that I am now safer than I was before," Daalder said. "The total money that we have spent on the war on terrorism writ large is well over $200 billion. And if I can't get people to see that we're safer, that either means that I'm not spending the money well or my message is not getting out or, in fact, they've given up. They don't think we can actually do much about it."
    (via WaPo)

    Looks like our war preznit has some 'splainin' to do....

    It would be interesting to have a red/blue breakdown of this, given that the big blue cities are the ones actually in danger, from a loose nuke or a dirty bomb, for example. What would the averages in this poll conceal?

    "Important but not urgent" 

    On 9/11, the very day Condi-lie-zza was scheduled to give a speech on that winger boondoggle, missile defense. You know, that faith-based program Bush wants to throw billions at without actually testing?

    On Sept. 11, 2001, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice was scheduled to outline a Bush administration policy that would address "the threats and problems of today and the day after, not the world of yesterday" -- but the focus was largely on missile defense, not terrorism from Islamic radicals.
    (via WaPo)


    It's great this information has come out, and of course the sleepy Times newsroom missed it, but why didn't this information come out when it was news?

    WhiteWash House seeking to pull Republican strings on 9/11 Commission through "ex parte" contacts 


    President Bush's top lawyer placed a telephone call to at least one of the Republican members of the Sept. 11 commission when the panel was gathered in Washington on March 24 to hear the testimony of former White House counterterrorism chief Richard A. Clarke, according to people with direct knowledge of the call.

    White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales called commissioner Fred F. Fielding, one of five GOP members of the body, and, according to one observer, also called Republican commission member James R. Thompson. Rep. Henry A. Waxman, the ranking Democrat on the House Government Reform Committee, wrote to Gonzales yesterday asking him to confirm and describe the conversations.

    Waxman said "it would be unusual if such ex parte contacts occurred" during the hearing. Waxman did not allege that there would be anything illegal in such phone calls. But he suggested that such contacts would be improper because "the conduct of the White House is one of the key issues being investigated by the commission."
    (via WaPo)

    Naturally, the topic of conversation was how to attack Clarke.

    I'm only surprised it took so long to come out. Are these guys clumsy, or what?

    Sad Realities of Cheap Labor Conservatism 

    "They said that President Bush's war in Iraq has cost the former Spanish Prime Minister his job. So President Bush isn't losing American jobs anymore, he's branching out to other countries."
    - Jay Leno

    "President Bush is now focusing on jobs. I think the one job he's focusing most on is his own. The White House is now backtracking from its prediction that 2.6 million new jobs will be created in the U.S. this year. They say they were off by roughly 2.6 million jobs." - Jay Leno

    Ha Ha! Funny. But really fuckin' sad too. And Rick Perlstein of the Village Voice explains why:

    Outsourcing and the sad little movement to stop it
    The Jobs of the Future Are a Thing of the Past

    Then there is garden-variety apathy. Recently an angry thread broke out on a listserv of tech workers in North Carolina after a company called Keane (slogan: "We Get IT Done") began boasting, on the underwriting ads it broadcasts on National Public Radio stations around the country, of its prowess at helping American companies move jobs overseas. A letter-writing campaign was proposed, and it shouldn't have been hard to achieve. NPR invites listeners to e-mail ombudsman Jeffrey Dvorkin front and center on its website; Dvorkin receives some 4,000 such missives a week. He's gotten all of five complaints about Keane's underwriting on NPR.

    The ancient, everyday anxieties of workers suddenly finding themselves dispensable in a "dynamic" economy may finally be making it onto the cover of Time magazine; but the kind of people who read Time are turning out not to be very effective advocates for their own anxieties. Part of the problem is structural. Unions could be doing more to help. But the way the law works in the United States, you can't join a union if you serve in a "managerial" capacity. Service-oriented companies respond by classifying more and more of their workers as "managers"—where Charlene used to work, the official ratio of "managers" to "managed" is an unlikely 20 to one. [ Much more to read: Read the whole article ]

    Unleash the missives! Fire away at NPR.

    "In his annual economic report to Congress President Bush said that the transfer of American jobs overseas is actually part of a positive transformation that will enrich the U.S. economy over time. So basically, losing your job to someone else can be a good thing. Of course we'll see how he feels about that in November." - Jay Leno

    Screw the Cheap Labor Laissez Faire Conservative Swindle!
    Unionize it!


    Wednesday, March 31, 2004

    Good night, moon. 

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

    Oh. And after two glasses of wine at Cosi: "F.T.F."

    My equivalent of "Carthago delenda est." Readers, can you expand the acronym I have in mind?

    The Wreckovery: So where are the jobs? 

    Hey, "the economy" is doing great—it's just my personal economy that's screwed.

    Anyhow, the numbers don't look good for aWol:

    Job creation stalled surprisingly in the U.S. Midwest in March, a report showed on Wednesday, tempering optimism that Friday's national employment report will show hiring at last picking up.
    (via Reuters)

    Who's surprised? Not us.

    Why is it that every month for this entire recession, all the experts keep being surprised?

    See "Jobs flatlined under Bush—a touch of the overseer's lash", back.

    Bush is the new Nixon 

    Except that Nixon was altogether a better, braver man, and probably history will judge him a better President. Anyhow, "executive privilege" worked so well for Nixon, it looks like Bush is going to try it, too:

    Citing executive privilege, the White House refused to allow President Bush's chief health-policy adviser, Douglas Badger, to testify Thursday before the House Ways and Means Committee about early administration estimates that the new Medicare prescription-drug benefit would be far more costly than many lawmakers believed when they voted for it.

    White House spokesman Trent Duffy said the decision not to let Badger testify was justified by the longstanding principle that exempts assistants to the president from testifying before Congress.

    Executive privilege, while not mentioned specifically in the Constitution, has been recognized by the Supreme Court as necessary to, as Duffy put it, "preserve the White House's ability to get the best information possible and to speak candidly."

    Knight Ridder reported on March 11 that former Medicare administrator Thomas Scully threatened to fire his chief actuary, Richard Foster, if Foster shared the far higher estimate with members of Congress. The alleged firing threat, which Scully contends was not serious, sparked sharp bipartisan criticism from lawmakers, editorial writers and interest groups, as did the administration's effort to keep the higher cost figure out of the congressional debate. Lawmakers in prior years had free access to Foster's estimates.
    (via the San JoseMercury News)

    I love it when Republicans do things like claiming "I was only joking!" when they threaten to fire people. I mean, come on, where's your sense of humor? I know when my boss threatens to fire me, I just laugh along! Sheesh.

    And I really love it when the Bushies claim they want to "get the best information possible." Since they already know what they want to hear (faith-based intelligence on WMDs, cost of the Iraq, et cetera et cetera), what more information could they possibly need?

    And the best part of all is, Bush made all the same arguments on Condi, and then wussed out. So let's roll him on this issue too!

    Bush-pere Fights The Power 

    Words fail me:

    An emotional former President George H.W. Bush on Tuesday defended his son's Iraq war and lashed out at White House critics.

    It is "deeply offensive and contemptible" to hear "elites and intellectuals on the campaign trail" dismiss progress in Iraq since last year's overthrow of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein the elder Bush said in a speech to the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association annual convention.

    "There is something ignorant in the way they dismiss the overthrow of a brutal dictator and the sowing of the seeds of basic human freedom in that troubled part of the world," he said.

    The former president appeared to fight back tears as he complained about media coverage of the younger Bush that he called "something short of fair and balanced."

    "It hurts an awful lot more when it's your son that is being criticized than when they used to get all over my case," said Bush, who has often complained about media coverage of both Bush presidencies.


    The former president, who waged the first Gulf War (news - web sites) against Saddam in 1991, described progress in Iraq as "a miracle."

    "Iraq is moving forward in hope and not sliding back into despair and terrorism," he said.

    If you doubt that this is an actual story, as opposed to a spoof, here's the Reuters' link.

    There is much to be said about the ex-President Bush's emotions, and I intend to say them.* But not today. Not on a day when this happened.

    In fairness, Mr. Bush spoke yesterday, but the juxtaposition is still something of a cheap shot, I admit. Other possible cheap shots I could have taken but will refrain from can be found here, and here, and here, and here. Together, they suggest the train wreck toward which our occupation is steering the Iraqi people.

    So, no cheap shots, but how about an expensive one? Not costly to me, of course; costly beyond any of the easy measures by which we ordinarily count up pluses and minuses to the Iraqis whose experience it describes. It's a story that also involves tears.

    From Riverbend:

    At precisely 5 p.m., yesterday afternoon, my mother suddenly announced that we were going to go visit a friend of hers who had recently had a minor operation.


    Just as we were settling down, a figure sitting at the other end of the living room rose in a hurry. "Where are you going?!" cried out my mother's friend, Umm Hassen. She then turned to us and made a hasty introduction, "This is M.- she's a friend of the family… she's here to see Abu Hassen…"


    "How old are you,M. ?" My mother asked kindly. "Nineteen." Came the reply. "And are you studying? Which college are you in?" The girl blushed furiously as she explained that she was studying Arabic literature but postponed the year because… "Because she was detained by the Americans." Umm Hassen finished angrily, shaking her head. "She's here to see Abu Hassen because her mother and three brothers are still in prison."

    Read the whole thing to find out some part of what it means to be an occupied people.

    But don't think it's meant, by me, as an attack on the US military. It isn't. Our military personnel on the ground in Iraq are also victims of the maddening internal contradictions of both President Bushs' Iraqi policies, also a subject I intend to address in the near future.*

    An alternate title for this post - A Tale Of Two Sets of Tears?

    By the end of her tale, M. was crying silently and my mother and Umm Hassen were hastily wiping away tears. All I could do was repeat, "I'm so sorry... I'm really sorry..." and a lot of other useless words. She shook her head and waved away my words of sympathy, "It's ok- really- I'm one of the lucky ones... all they did was beat me."

    For what it's worth, not much I know, I'm sorry, too, Riverbend, I'm so sorry...

    *An apology: I've previously referred to coming installments on specific topics that have never been posted; that has been due almost entirely to technological problems associated with my initiation into the world of the DSL connection. Though the problem is not entirely solved, I should be able to maintain a more regular presence and will try to make good on this and previous promises.

    Family Valuables 

    Bu$h Dynasty war profiteers roll in the loot.

    All in the (Profiteering) First Family
    By Margie Burns

    St. Louis-based Engineered Support Systems Inc. (EASI), where William H.T. Bush, an uncle of George W. Bush, joined the board of directors in 2000, is a major military contractor. Following the 2000 election and 9/11, the company, which declined to comment for this article, has seen its federal contracts, revenues, and stock price increase.

    Engineered Support Systems receives contracts from all branches of the military. The Defense Department listed EASI in its top 100 contractors in 2001, with $330 million in contracts; and in 2002, with $380 million in contracts. Estimates for 2003 are over $380 million.

    As luck would have it, company products include "Field Deployable Environmental Control Units" (FDECUs) to deal with weapons of mass destruction. On Jan. 17, 2003, the company announced orders from the Air Force and the Marines for these units, complete with Nuclear Biological Chemical Kits, in preparation for secret arsenals of WMDs hidden, the White House insisted, by Saddam Hussein.

    More on Bush family members profiting from war in Iraq. Full article HERE

    $$$ Update $$$

    Receives $16.3 Million Contract for Up-Armoring of Military Vehicles - 03/02/2004

    ST. LOUIS, March 2, 2004 -- Radian Inc. (Radian), a subsidiary of Engineered Support Systems, Inc. (Nasdaq: EASI), has been awarded a $16.3 million, firm-fixed-price redetermination contract to provide 272 armor protection kits for the U.S. Army's Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles (FMTV). The U.S. Army Program Executive Office, Combat Support and Combat Services Support (PEO, CS&CSS) awarded the contract through the Tank-automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM) in Warren, Michigan, for Operational Unit Force Protection.


    The current order is expected to be completed by June 2004. The Company's Systems & Electronics Inc. facility at West Plains, Missouri, will be providing packaging for and shipment of the kits.



    Bush AWOL: $10,000 reward for eyewitness account still not claimed 

    Or if it has been, we haven't heard about it. Funny how this isn't a story, isn't it? (Back.)

    We didn't hear a peep on Bush's oddball Alabama dental records, either, did we? (Back, also) Now there's an unanswered question for the tinfoil hat crew....

    UPDATE Oh, and lest anyone (you know who you are) think this is a "Bush-hating" site, here is the link (back) that gives the Top 10 Reasons Not to Hate George Bush.

    So why a joint Bush/Cheney appearance in front of the 9/11 commission 

    There's no constitutional reason for it. In the midst of the furor over Condi-lie-zza, Josh Marshall asks the key questions:

    [1] The first -- and most generous -- explanation is that this is simply another way to further dilute the Commission's ability to ask questions.

    [2] Explanation number two would be that this is a fairly elementary -- and, one imagines, pretty effective -- way to keep the two of them from giving contradictory answers to the Commission's questions. It helps them keep their stories straight.

    (It's a basic part of any criminal investigation -- which, of course, this isn't -- to interview everyone separately, precisely so that people can't jigger their stories into consistency on the fly.)

    [3] The third explanation is that the White House does not trust the president to be alone with the Commission members for any great length of time without getting himself into trouble, either by contradicting what his staff says, or getting some key point wrong, or letting some key fact slip. And Cheney's there to make sure nothing goes wrong.

    Gee, is the WhiteWash House scared that Bush's earpiece will get jammed?

    Readers, what do you think? 1, 2, 3—or some other explanation? Tinfoil hats optional....

    UPDATE Alert reader Brad points out:

    Hey, when he went on Russert he screwed up and promised to release all his Guard records. They can't trust him alone and unscripted.

    Words of the founders: the United States should not establish any religion 

    We've got to take this back from the enemies of freedom, the Fundamentalists.

    As farmer hammers home (back) the notion that the United States was founded as a "Godly" nation totally pins the bogometer, if we look at the historial record.

    And I wish the Fundamentalists would stop lying about this one. Isn't their faith strong enough to stand on its own? Anyhow:

    Rulers who wish to subvert the public liberty, may have found an established clergy convenient auxiliaries," James Madison argued in 1784. "A just government, instituted to secure and perpetuate" liberty, "needs them not." This future drafter of the Constitution wrote with some urgency. Patrick Henry was pushing a bill in the Virginia legislature that would dip into tax revenues to employ ministers from a variety of churches. The long struggle to determine the place of religion in American politics had begun.
    (via Michael Kazin in The Times)

    So Patrick Henry thought my tax money should pay for ministers, eh? Now I know why the theocon madrassa, Patrick Henry "University," (back) has the name that it does.

    Phew! Not just a slush fund for SICs who are also Republican operatives, like that Faith-based crapola Bush has been peddling, but full-fledged establishment of religion. That's what Patrick Henry wanted, and we seem to be fighting the same battle against ignorance, hypocrisy, and lust for power two hundred years on. Good thing history is on our side. We won then, and we'll win now.

    Al Franken: Tally ho! 

    Not to say Yoicks!

    Here's Al Franken on the launching today of Air America:

    Air America Radio, the new liberal talk-radio network, which, according to our promotional materials, "combines cutting-edge commentary with laugh-out-loud funny political satire."

    The 45 most powerful radio stations owned by the top five station owners broadcast more than 300 hours of conservative talk radio each weekday. They broadcast only five hours of liberal talk. Right-wing talk-radio hosts lie, distort, and bloviate, and nobody calls them on it. Not even Alan Colmes, who provides the aforementioned five hours.

    Today, we will not merely call them on it. We will use their words against them, holding them up to the scorn and ridicule they deserve.
    My show, co-hosted by Katherine Lanpher, will be called the "The O'Franken Factor," a name chosen for a single reason: to annoy and bait Bill O'Reilly. "The O'Franken Factor" will run from noon to 3 p.m., opposite Rush Limbaugh. It will not only be factual, it will be drug-free.

    Republicans are accusing us liberals of being angry. Yeah, we're angry. It's one thing for a president to lie about sex. It's another thing for a president to lie about why we are sending our young men and women into harm's way. And to dismantle our environmental protections. And to expose a CIA agent as an act of political retaliation. And to shift taxes from the children of the very rich to the children of the middle class. And … oh, there's so many other reasons to be mad. Listen to my show for a more complete accounting of them. Plus jokes.

    Yes, we're angry. And yes, we're fighting back. But we're not going to do it like they do. We will be a flaming sword of justice, cutting through the turgid cacophony of right-wing talk with a blade of burnished truth. And celebrity interviews. All on a crisp, clear AM signal.

    The battle begins today at noon on KBLA, 1580 on your AM dial. Before we go to Mars, we must retake our own planet.
    (via the LA Times)

    Air American on your AM dial here:

    Air America will be on WLIB-AM in New York, KBLA-AM in Los Angeles, WNTD-AM in Chicago, KPOJ-AM in Portland and KCAA-AM in San Bernardino, California.
    (via the Bloomberg)

    It takes a village to stomp a weasel™ ....

    UPDATE Alert reader lisa gives us a list of streaming sites.

    No truth to the rumor Greenspan suffered a heart attack 


    The people spreading the rumors weren't thinking.

    How could Greenspan suffer a heart attack?

    YABL: Bush promised to jawbone his Saudi friends on oil prices. Yeah, right. 

    Another flip-flop from the misleader.

    As a presidential candidate four years ago, George W. Bush pledged to use his political influence and "jawbone OPEC" to keep oil prices in check. On Wednesday, when OPEC decided to cut production by 4 percent, the White House said Bush was concerned about rising prices.

    White House press secretary Scott McClellan said the administration would "stay in close contact with major producers from around the world to discuss these issues and make sure our views are known." He said that oil prices should be set by the market [i.e., by big energy at home and abroad].

    Asked if Bush had made any telephone calls, McClellan said, "We keep you posted on his world leader calls."

    In 2000, candidate Bush had pledged a get-tough response to get OPEC to retreat when it hiked oil prices.
    (via AP)

    "Make sure our views are known"?!?! Is that a wussy response, or what?

    Another Bush tax!

    Say, how's aWol coming with the executive order reimbursing parents for the body armor they had to buy their children? 

    Just because it's John Kerry's idea doesn't mean it's a bad one!

    I know there's legislation in the works, but you'd think this is the sort of simple thing a war preznit could authorize with a stroke of his pen.

    Guess they're all occupied with getting themselves lawyered up for the criminal investigations.

    More proof we're winning! 

    How's it feel to be flypaper, I wonder?

    The burst of violence in Iraq on Wednesday assured that March will be the second-deadliest month for U.S. troops since President Bush declared an end to major combat on May 1.
    (via AP)

    Mission Accomplished, my Aunt Fanny!

    Dept. of Unsourced Signs and Wonders 

    The conjuratus over at the Presidential Prayer Team are back at it again with another unsourced (and of questionable attribution) founding father quote. This time with a snip that was more than likely gulped from David Barton's bottled 1989 brew of historical moonshine titled America's Godly Heritage.

    The so-called "Presidential Quote of the Week" - attributed to John Quincy Adams - goes as such: ~ "The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: it connected in one indissoluble bond the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity. From the day of the Declaration...they were bound by the laws of God, which they all, and by the laws of the Gospel, which they nearly all, acknowledge as the rules of their conduct."

    cached link here

    Barton trumpeted this very same alleged quote in America's Godly Heritage, a video concoction of junk history that had actually been shilled off on public schools to instruct students on matters historylike, including, of all things, Middle East History. In 1996 a U.S. District court judge ruled against use of the material; agreeing that it was "little more than a ruse to teach fundamentalist Christianity."

    Alas, in 1995, Barton and Wallbuilders, (the Christian Nationist hokum peddling operation founded by Barton), finally fessed up to the truth and admited publically that his AGH video and 1989 companion book titled The Myth of Separation contained a dozen quotes either patently phony, falsely attributed to founding fathers, or of questionable origin and authenticity. The John Quincy Adams quote being currently cited by the Presidential Prayer Team is one such specimen of questionable merit.

    In other words, the passage does not appear in any sourceable document authored by John Quincy Adams himself, but rather, appears in a book titled The Pulpit of the American Revolution by John Wingate Thornton, first published 1860. Whats more, JW Thornton doesn't even clearly indicate that the passage belongs to Adams, since the words are neither footnoted, dated, or placed in quotations by Thornton, as researcher Jim Allison points out here.

    Allison also notes that the passage does not even appear to belong to Adam's at all, but rather Thornton himself, speculating on what he (Thornton) believed Adam's may have said or thought with respect to such matters of church and state.

    The words attributed to John Quincy Adams appear on page XXIX. None of these words are placed in quotation marks. Rather, the sentence reads as if Thornton is making his own conclusion about what John Quincy Adams believed. Thornton's sentence reads as follows:

    The highest glory of the American Revolution, said John Quincy Adams, was this: it connected, in one indissoluble bond, the principles of civil government with the principle of Christianity (italics in the original). No footnote for these words is given. Nor are the words attached to a date. Hence, if these words are a quotation from Adams, it is impossible to trace them back from Thornton's book to an original source. Elsewhere in the book Adams' father (John Adams) is quoted properly, i.e., with footnotes and quotation marks.

    Not that any of this would make a lick of difference to the web-wowsers at the Presidential Prayer Team or their crusading throngs of enraptured disciples. Hell no.

    In fact, I fully suspect that if I were to scrawl some pronouncement praising the "indissoluble bond" of higher Providence to the temporal supervision of county highway depatment road maintenance projects circa 1800 on the back of a brown paper bag, splash some cold coffee over it, sign it John Adams - PS: Thomas Jefferson is an atheist fruit - and send the whole damn silly thing flapping off to light upon the altar of a Presidential Prayer Team desktop, I would expect it to be plopped smartly, and without haste, onto the glowing PPT billboard under the heading "Presidential Quote of the Week". They'd probably claim that the thing had been dispatched to them by the Great Undisclosed Source hisself, carried aloft by doves and fluttered in through an open window.

    Then again, maybe not. Best not bother with that whole pesky source reference bid'ness.
    And oh, by the way, don't forget to pray for large advance bulk sales of "Ten Minutes From Normal".


    Say, how come I'm not hearing anything about The Goon Squad stealing Kerry's FBI files? 

    Just asking.

    I mean, you'd think the SCLM would be all over this one. Doesn't it remind anyone of a "third-rate burglary" by Nixon's Plumbers?

    Caffeinated Republican operative leaves the meeting notes in a Starbucks 

    This is really too rich:

    Did you hear the one about the guy at Starbucks? No? Okay. A guy walks into the Starbucks at Connecticut Avenue and R Street NW on Sunday to get his favorite latte, and sits down at a table.

    On the table, he spots four pieces of paper. One is stationery with the heading "Office of the Secretary of Defense," and right under that "The Special Assistant."

    It has a penciled map of directions from the Pentagon to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's house in Northwest Washington. Another sheet says, "Eric's Telephone Log." Someone has written "Conf. call" at the top and some notes, some in partial shorthand, on one side. These apparently were taken by Eric.

    The notes say: "Took threat v seriously and then segue to wh we have been doing. Rise above [ Richard A.] Clarke.

    "Emphasize importance of 9/11 commission and come back to what we have been doing.

    "[Commission member Jamie] Gorelick pitting Condi [ Condoleezza Rice] v. [Deputy Secretary of State Richard] Armitage

    "Our plan had military plans to attack Al Q -- called on def to draw up targets in Afg -- develop mil options."

    There's an underlined notation "DR" in the margin and a quotation, apparently from DR, perhaps Rumsfeld, to "Stay inside the line -- we dont need 2 ruff [or puff] this at all. we need 2b careful as hell about it. This thing will go away soon and what will keep it alive will be one of us going over the line."

    A third sheet is dated Saturday, 4:30 p.m., and headed "Possible Q's for Sunday Talk Shows," but there are no answers.

    A fourth sheet describes actions taken to change a policy of treating terrorism as a law enforcement matter to treating it as war.

    Our good citizen, no dummy he, concluded these were significant papers and should be turned over to the appropriate people. So that would be the Pentagon or the White House?

    Oh, no. He turned them over to none other than that most left-leaning think tank, Center for American Progress, headed by none other than former Clinton chief of staff John D. Podesta.
    (via Al Kamen WaPo)

    Well well. "Eric" is certainly a very special assistant, isn't he?

    So, where's the ad from Kerry on this? It practically writes itself, doesn't it? Readers, can you help?

    Let's leave "under God" in the pledge of allegiance 

    As long as the Court re-affirms that the words are there only for the purpose of "ceremonial deism."

    Having the words in there when they don't mean what the Fundamentalists want them to mean, will drive the Fundamentalists even crazier than taking them out would.

    FEC careens down the totalitarian trail 

    "FEC proposed rule changes threatening nonprofit advocacy" LINK

    Discussion and info via: Musings musings
    The Repuglican National Commissariat is pressuring the Federal Election Commission to adopt new rules that would have the effect of redefining many nonprofit groups as political committees, thereby forcing these groups to meet significantly more stringent financial and reporting requirements or to forego many of the advocacy and civic engagement activities at the core of their missions. From all accounts, they are motivated solely by the desire to protect the Dear Leader from any picayune criticism of his divinely inspired policies. [~ more discussion via: Musings musings]

    More discussion and info via: Collective Sigh

    From People For the American Way:
    "On March 4, 2004, the FEC voted 5-1 to consider new rules that would have the effect of redefining many nonprofit groups as political committees, thereby forcing these groups to meet vastly more stringent financial and reporting requirements or to forego many of the advocacy and civic engagement activities at the core of their missions." PFAW

    Date: Tue, 30 Mar 2004
    From: Wes Boyd,
    Subject: Republicans trying to gag nonprofits

    Dear MoveOn member,
    Are you involved in a local or national non-profit or public interest organization? As a leader or board director or member? Please read this message carefully, because your organization could be facing a serious threat.

    The Republican National Committee is pressing the Federal Election Commission ("FEC") to issue new rules that would shut down groups that dare to communicate with the public in any way critical of President Bush or members of Congress. Incredibly, the FEC has just issued -- for public comment -- proposed rules that would do just that. Any kind of non-profit -- conservative, progressive, labor, religious, secular, social service, charitable, educational, civic participation, issue-oriented, large, and small -- could be affected by these rules.

    Operatives in Washington are displaying a terrifying disregard for the values of free speech and openness which underlie our democracy. Essentially, they are willing to pay any price to stop criticism of Bush administration policy.

    We've attached materials below to help you make a public comment to the FEC before the comment period ends on APRIL 9th. Your comment could be very important, because normally the FEC doesn't get much public feedback.[source:]


    Tuesday, March 30, 2004

    Goodnight, moon 

    Another good day.

    Even if Iverson is out for the season with a knee injury. But I gotta say, it would be great if Chris Ford drags them into the playoffs anyhow.

    Nothing more vicious than a disappointed hagiographer.... 

    Woodward to turn on his former master?

    Fit of conniption: I hear that "Plan of Attack," supersleuth Bob Woodward's still-secret study of President Bush's war on terrorism, will be very bad for the Bush reelection [sic] campaign - which is still reeling from gun-toting former terrorism chief Richard A. Clarke's critique of Bush, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and other administration figures in "Against All Enemies."

    Woodward's book, to be released next month, will receive not only a multipart series in The Washington Post, but also the Mike Wallace treatment on "60 Minutes" April 18 - when I am absolutely confident that the common corporate ownership of CBS and Woodward's publisher, Simon & Schuster, will be mentioned.
    (from Llyod Grove in the NY Daily News, via Melanie Node 707 )

    Looks like this "opportunity cost" concept may have legs ....

    And if the conglomerates turn on Bush, so much the better.

    Pass the popcorn!

    Talk to Mr. Hand, part 2 

    Because our alert readers take on the really tough jobs, ESaund did a palm reading for Bush.

    Here's the photo he worked from: It's Bush with what seems to be a red, sticky substance all over his hands. (Details, including the original link and the medical theorizing back here.)

    ESaund's reading:

    The things that pop out are not surprising:

    1. The head and life lines are joined for the longest I have ever seen. This indicates the inability to break away from home.

    2. The set of the thumb is high. This indicates an inability to deal with changing circumstances or think on his feet (no wonder he hates to travel).

    3. The most prominent planet is Mars, again no surprise - see the big bulge on the side of the hand - bullies like making a fist to show this feature off.

    4. Low set of the pinky is common (pinky is Mercury - business & communications - no surprise he did poorly at Arbusto).

    5. Bent thumb (also common) shows that he not exactly a man of iron will.

    Surprising are

    1. The thinness of the first joint of the fingers, especially Saturn (middle finger - duty & obligation) and Apollo (ring finger - arts& finer things in life). This indicates a spartan, no-indulgence regime.

    2. The redness (energy) in luna (imagination) that is lowered (bottom of palm under pinkie). Probably a rich fantasy life?

    I cannot see the lines or dermaglyphs at all - so unfortunately no deeper reading (the lines and glyphs gives me the most material to work with. The shape just gives the general outlines).

    As far as the strange color - well, I wouldn't want to shake hands with the guy!

    Thanks, Esaud.

    Hunting for more snark 

    The old New York Spy magazine popularized the practice of giving nicknames to public figures, notable tagging Donald Trump with "short fingered vulgarian." Constant repetition And we are happy to follow in their footsteps. And Bush does it too, so obviously it's OK, since He as God's Annointed Representative on Earth can do No Wrong. Shudder. Howl.

    In any case, we've worked out a few, and they're fun to invent:

    • Scott "Sucka MC" McClellan

    • David "I'm Writing as Bad as I Can" Brooks (another tribute to Spy)

    • Tom "Frenchy" DéLay

    and of course:

    • Dick "Dick" Cheney

    one of the jokes being that Cheney's going to be, well, redundant.

    There are probably many more to be invented, as we, in our small way, attempt to chip away at the credibility of these people.

    However, Allen at The Right Christians has a challenge:

    • George "W.M.D." Bush

    But... What does WMD stand for? Not "Weapons of Mass Destruction," that's far too obvious.

    What, Me D .... ?

    W ... M ... Dermatology

    It's late. Readers, can you help?

    Bush sheds crocodile tears on energy prices while Halliburton laughs all the way to the bank 

    I'm sure that an administration dominated by energy companies is deeply committed to keeping prices low. Ha.

    [Dave Lesar, Halliburton's chairman] also told the conference increased oil and gas drilling activity in the United States appeared to be near the point that it would allow Halliburton's energy services arm to raise prices for the drilling rigs it leases to oil companies.

    "We are about 50 to 75 rigs away from being totally sold out in this segment," he said.

    "As the rig count continues to creep up, our ability to put prices up in this important part of our business will begin to manifest itself", he added.

    The total number of rigs operating in the United States rose to 1,150 last week, according to oil services company Baker Hughes, up 22 from the previous week and 188 from a year earlier.
    (via Reuters)

    Check out Lesar's picture, too. Nasty. Kinda like a taxidermist was practicing on a Bible salesman.

    Say, KaWen's gonna get rich on a book tour at the same time she stumps for Bush. Isn't that profiteering? 

    Please, can't somebody make Zell Miller shut up? 

    Ripping open his shirt on the Senate floor and pounding his chest, closet Republican Zell Miller... Well, read for yourself:

    "It's obvious to me that this country is rapidly dividing itself into two camps - the wimps and the warriors," Miller said. "The ones who want to argue and assess and appease, and the ones who want to carry this fight to our enemies and kill them before they kill us."
    (via AP)

    Actually, the thrust of the Democratic case is that Bush is not only killing the wrong guys, he's making the ones that really want to kill us even more dangerous. (That's the "opportunity cost" argument, back here.)

    Say, maybe the Iraqis hid the WMDs on Mars! 

    Or someplace equally plausible.

    Go read for a few laughs, I can't bring myself to quote it. Basically, now they're concocting a theory as to why they can't find the WMDs they know are there. Well, they're well paid.

    Yawn. Groan. Hollow laughter.

    "This administration is truly scary..." 

    Wanna bet Tim Lahaye's latest dopey bible thumper installment gets far more attention from the dull witted cable TV "news" squawkers than anything John Dean might have to say.

    "Worse Than Watergate," the title of a new book by John Dean, Richard Nixon's White House counsel, is a depressingly accurate measure of the chicanery of the Bush/Cheney cabal. According to Dean, who began his political life at the age of 29 as the Republican counsel on the House Judiciary Committee before being recruited by Nixon, "This administration is truly scary and, given the times we live in, frighteningly dangerous." And when it comes to lies and cover-up, the Bush crowd makes the Nixon administration look like amateurs. As Dean writes, they "have created the most secretive presidency of my lifetime … far worse than during Watergate."

    How long will it take the Smear and Smirk machine at the White House to get that tedious drone Wolf Blitzer on the horn and remind him to tell CNN viewers that "unnamed officials" believe that Dean "wants to make a few bucks, and that ... there are some weird aspects in his [personal] life as well."

    Oh no, wait, thats what bootlapper Blitzer said about Richard Clarke. Hold on, um, um, um... that John Dean guy likes to heave sacks of kitty cats into rain swollen rivers and set a baby carriages on fire! Yesss, thats it! I heard it from an "undisclosed source" while speaking with someone at an "undisclosed location." Back to you Wolf.

    Read what Robert Scheer has to say about John Dean's new book: ...White House 'Scary'


    Kos great Meteor Blades having medical difficulties 

    Via Kos.

    He also said he didn't want anything sent to him. He'd rather you guys spend money on defeating Republicans or donating to the Native American Rights Fund (his favorite cause).

    Say, how are those perjury charges against Clarke coming? 

    Just asking.

    Boy, did that controversy drop out of sight when Clarke said "Bring it on! Release everything!'"

    I wonder why?

    Bush and Dick "Dick" Cheney will, however, "visit" in private 

    More from the text of Bush's letter to the Commission here:

    I would also like to take this occasion to offer an accommodation on another issue on which we have not yet reached an agreement - commission access to the president and vice president. I am authorized to advise you that the president and vice president have agreed to one joint private session with all 10 commissioners, with one commission staff member present to take notes of the session.

    So Condi's under oath and her boss isn't? What kind of sense does that make? What if there's a conflict?

    More fake "conversations" from Bush 

    "Message: I care."

    His handlers think the "conversations" make him look compassionate (Via Reuters)

    But they're just one-way earpiece-driven straight-to-video photo-ops with handpicked audiences, nothing but talking points, and no hard questions. Yawn.

    Can Kerry do better? How?

    Bush winning the air war 

    Bush pumps up his balloon with TV advertising in battleground states.

    A week of hearings on Capitol Hill and criticism from a former counterterrorism aide have eroded President Bush's poll standing on fighting terrorism. But that's nothing compared to the damage that Bush's campaign ads may have done to Democratic candidate John Kerry.

    A USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll shows a remarkable turnaround in 17 battleground states where polls and historic trends indicate the race will be close, and where the Bush campaign has aired TV ads. Those ads say Bush has provided "steady leadership in times of change" while portraying Kerry as a tax-hiking, flip-flopping liberal.
    (via USA Today)

    Money doesn't talk, it swears. How do we counter Bush's money advantage?

    Taking A Moment To Say "Thanks" 

    To Jordan Barab, who is celebrating the one year "blogiversary" of her invaluable and unique "Confined Spaces," which is dedicated to presenting news and commentary on issues of "Workplace Health & Safety," as well as "Labor and Politics."

    One example: her lead post for Monday, 3/29/04, is the essence of what you need to know to understand the Workmen's Comp crises in California, and how the current Gov's prescription for what ails it is just another example of the unfailing instinct of all Republicans to screw workers. Thank you, Jordan.

    Jordan also provides her own one-year anniversary looking back; well worth reading.

    When's the last time you heard or read anything about Hanford Washington, site of a now defunct nuclear power plant. Jog your memory and I'm sure something will flip up about how the town, the state, and the workers themselves insisted on believing the plant was safe, except it wasn't, spectacularly wasn't. Well, Jordan will bring you up to date. I'd forgotten that it was called the Hanford Nuclear Reservation; irony lives. Well, the powers that be, in this case Federal Agencies, the private money having gotten out with its years of profits reinvested, no doubt in coal and gas, are managing to screw up the cleanup, no surprise there, but something that needs keeping track of. Thank you, Jordan.

    Confined Space is one of the places in blogtopia (first coined by skippy) I visit whenever I get a bit down about how much slippage there's been in the American voter's understanding of just how mainstream liberal/left achievements are: the forty-hour week, SS, unemployment insurance, the weekend, public education, civil rights, none of which were the work of elitists, but achieved only after decades and decades of organized pressure from legions of ordinary Americans working together to make government both representative and responsive to the greatest number of the American citizenery. Jordan's blog is the continuation of that tradition, and visiting there always perks me up. Thank you Jordan.

    She has a wonderful quote on her blog from I.F. Stone, who among his other honors, was recently among those whom the ever-playful crowd that hangs out at The Corner, in this case, Jonah Goldberg, viewed as having done great damage to the culture and thus deserved a posthumous "gibetting", a list which included such notable historical figures as Edward Said and Pol Pot, All Soviet Dictators, and both Norman Mailer and Gore Vidal.

    The quote is in the left-hand sidebar; go read it and get inspired (no, not to commit genocide), inspired to commit citizen participation in what is still the world's greatest democracy, because of folks like Izzy Stone and Jordan Barab.

    Thank you, Jordan.

    UPDATE: Text Correction: Jordan Barab is not a woman, though you might have gotten that impression from the pronouns orginally used in this post. Jordan is of the male persuasion. I knew that. Really, I did. Why I used pronouns of the female persuasion is known only to my unconscious. I had just written a post I ultimately decided not to post that made reference to The Great Gatsby, a novel with a famously female, sort of, "Jordan," but that's not much of an excuse, I know. My apologies to Jordan, about whom everything else I said still stands. Thank-you, Jordan.

    "Don't feel so alone, got the radio on" 

    Atrios on Air America!

    We'll just have to imagine the gray turtleneck....

    Things that truly matter .... 

    Bush caves on Rice testimony 

    "Swearing once swearing twice All except for Dr. Rice"? No more!

    Bowing to pressure, the White House will allow National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice to testify in public under oath before the commission investigating the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
    (via AP)

    You see, Bush can be taught fear....

    UPDATE Well, kinda caves.

    The text of Bush's letter to the commission is here.

    The necessary conditions are as follows. First, the commission must agree in writing that Dr. Rice's testimony before the commission does not set any precedent for future commission requests, or requests in any other context, for testimony by a national security adviser or any other White House official.

    Second, the commission must agree in writing that it will not request additional public testimony from any White House official, including Dr. Rice.

    That's weird. Why? What if the Commission is not satisfied with Rice's testimony? What if that testimony would reasonably lead another WhiteWash House official to be recalled? Sounds like a "pig in a poke" to me.

    Flower of the Lupines 

    "The fact of the matter is the administration focused on this before 9/11." – National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, 3/22/04

    February 2002 Five months after 9/11, VP Cheney addresses a Council of Foreign Relations gathering:

    Throughout the time that I've been a member of the council, most of our debates were defined by the Cold War. When America's great enemy [Soviet Union] suddenly disappeared, many wondered what new direction our foreign policy would take. We spoke, as always, of long-term problems and regional crises throughout the world, but there was no single immediate, global threat that any roomful of experts could agree upon.

    All of that changed five months ago. [9/11] The threat is known and our role is clear now. ~ Vice President Dick Cheney speaking to a Council of Foreign Relations benefit in February 2002. Source: CFR transcript

    Golly "Big Time", that sounds an awful lot like this below, but without the room full of experts.
    President Bush and Vice President Cheney's counterterrorism task force, which was created in May, never convened one single meeting. The President himself admitted that "I didn't feel the sense of urgency" about terrorism before 9/11. [Washington Post, 1/20/02; Bob Woodward's "Bush at War"]

    ...and this from Herr Rumsfeld who apparently related to the 9/11 commission that he:
    "did not recall any particular terrorism issue that engaged his attention before 9/11 other than the development of the Predator unmanned aircraft system for possible use against bin Laden." [source: Denver Post]

    Or something like that. Anyway....enter Colin Powell, who remembers things differently even though he can't always remember things.

    [Following transcript excerpts: Face the Nation - Sunday, March 28, 2004 / Sec. of State Colin Powell speaking with Bob Schieffer]

    SCHIEFFER: Well, let me go back to what you said, that first briefing you had. Did he [Richard Clarke] express a sense of urgency about this growing threat at that point? Because now he says he did and nobody was listening.

    POWELL: What does he mean, nobody was listening? I was sitting there listening to him. The CIA, Mr. Cofer Black, who is now a counterterrorism expert at the State Department -- I even brought the fellow who did it from the CIA over to the State Department to now do it for me.

    We were listening. We did respond.

    SCHIEFFER: But did he say it was an urgent threat that had to be dealt with...

    POWELL: I can't remember.

    SCHIEFFER: ... immediately?

    POWELL: It was a threat. We all knew it was a threat. We didn't need just Dick Clarke to tell us that terrorism was a threat. The Cole had been blown up three months earlier. I became secretary of state knowing that two of our embassies had been blown up in 1998.


    SCHIEFFER: What would you say, Mr. Secretary, is the most serious inconsistency that you have found?

    POWELL: In my judgment, it is the charge that somehow the administration that was leaving office, which focused on law enforcement and diplomatic activities, was dealing with this problem with greater energy and urgency and immediacy than the new administration coming in. WaPo/Face the Nation

    Jeepers Mr. Powell, I wonder what could possibly move anyone to such a charge?

    The Cult of the 'W' has entangled itself in a Gordian knot of its own designs and doesn't know who to summon forth to undo the entire twisted mess. Meanwhile the usual predator pundit drones in the nooze-o-musement TV-media will manage to fiddle and fumble and slobber all over the whole hodgepodge like so many servile cringlings groveling at the kinked bootstrings of an oaf King who's lashed his own shoes together. This will go on until some impavid avenger heaves the bootlickers aside or delivers them a swift kick in the haunches and they go loping off squealing, chasing after the next tantara. For the oaf King needs to be restored to former glory - rescued from its own muddle - and no noisy flock of blind sycophants are gonna pull off the great escape this time. That leaves two possibilities.

    One - Some arbusto chevalier tufthunter shows up and frees the fool from its own binds and whisks it away to a secret undisclosed spa where it can gnaw on chitterlings and await Lady Karen of the Bluebonnets, flower of the Lupines, who arrives in a dervish to nurse the boo-boos.

    Two - Deliverance comes in the person of the unknown patriot, better angels of our nature, who doffs from the sheath a deadly filagree sword and hacks the entire drooling loutish tangle into a hundred bloody chunks.

    Now I don't pretend to not favor one scenario over another. I'm clearly in the doffing and hacking and bloody chunks camp - metaphorically speaking of course - but I will say this: when hacking and stabbing and smoting it's always best to bring along an archangel or three. I suggest Michael and Raphael and ultimately Gabriel. ..."lead forth to battle these my sons - Invincible; lead forth my armed Saints -By thousands and by millions ranged for fight."

    Unleash the wild geese.
    And, as always; beware the mist in the garden. :-)


    Monday, March 29, 2004

    Good night, moon 

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

    Though there is bad news for Chaka from Philly:

    Correction: Gorilla Break-Up Story: In a March 28 story about a pair of gorillas being split up at the Philadelphia Zoo, The Associated Press reported erroneously that Chaka, a 19-year-old male, will be going to live with two female gorillas. Instead, his female partner, Demba, will be living with two females.
    (via AP)

    Well, uh, make your own jokes... Or not...


    ABC—Anybody But Chalabi.

    What's Chalabi doing with "tons" of files from Saddam's secret police, anyhow?

    And do any of them mention Dick "Dick" Cheney?

    "Mothers Opposing Bush" 


    A little "mob" action? I love it. And stirring the faint memory of "Mother's Against Drunk Driving" is a nice touch, too.

    But snarking aside—and even though that's hard for me, Leah would want it—MOB is about those positive core values that Democrats stand for. MOB's stance on health care....

    Well, dammit, MOB is snarking too! There's no policy proposal! What about pushing for universal access for health care, as residents of Maine already have? (Back here.)

    Write MOB and tell them to them to accentuate the positive with a real proposal for universal health access!

    "Crooks": Is KaWen dirty after all? Look! It's a bird, it's a Plame .... 

    Good golly.

    No matter how cynical I am with these guys, it's never, never enough. Back here I threw out the naive notion that maybe Bush was turning to KaWen, not only because Babs and Waura told him to, but because she was the only clean one left. My bad. Direct from the Salon war room here:

    Karen Hughes and her actions have fallen under the scrutiny of the prosecutor. The Plame grand jury has subpoenaed records created by the White House Iraq Group in July 2003, the same month Plame was outed in the Novak column. Hughes was a member of the White House Iraq Group, an internal body that coordinated strategy for, among other things, selling the war here at home. Other members of the group were Karl Rove, Mary Matalin, James Wilkinson, legislative liaison Nicholas E. Calio and policy advisers including Condoleezza Rice, her deputy, Stephen J. Hadley, and I. Lewis Libby, Dick Cheney's chief of staff.

    Well well. Very familiar names.

    On her media tour, there are many relevant questions Hughes might be asked: Were Plame or Wilson's names ever mentioned at the meetings of the White House Iraq Group? By whom? What is the relation of that group to any damage control group involving Plame and Wilson? Since Hughes wasn't officially on the White House payroll, did the order by the White House counsel not to destroy records in the Plame case apply to her? Has Hughes retained counsel in this matter? Has she testified before the grand jury or been interviewed by the FBI? Has she discussed Valerie Plame or Joe Wilson with anyone in the White House Iraq Group -- or any other White House officials -- at any time, before or after the publication of the Novak column? With whom has she ever discussed Plame or Wilson? Rove? "Scooter" Libby? Cheney? The President?

    We'll be waiting eagerly for these questions, and the answers to them, to appear in the pages of Pravda on the Potomac and Izvestia on the Hudson. [Pause for hollow laughter.]

    And I'm sorry I was so naive. Readers, can you ever forgive me?

    NOTE Thanks to alert readers from The A1 project for the link. Some steak with the sauce?

    Say, what's up with charging Clarke with perjury? Has that story dropped out of sight, or what? 

    Just asking.

    Yes, it has dropped out of sight, and I'm sure not by chance.

    But we should release all the documents anyhow, right?

    Feels to me like KaWen's back and is thoroughly pegging Acting President Rove even as we speak. So we should start seeing a lot more "kinder, gentler" from the WhiteWash House in the next week or so, and I'd say it would all start with, oh, let me guess, more fluffery from Bumiller. And maybe a nice long interview on FUX. All about "Christian" values.

    Will anything have changed with KaWen's return? Of course not. Will the WhiteWash House be as vicious as ever? Bien sur! Was KaWen around when Max Cleland got Bushwhacked? Yep. 'Nuff said. She's just smart enough lay the real work off on surrogates, an important principle which Rover forgot.

    NOTE Josh Marshall has a nice post on how deeply stupid the WhiteWash House's perjury charge was.

    Are all the wingers sex-obsessed loons, or only some of them? 

    An old friend, anti-abortion "activist" John Burt, is on trial for lewd and lascivious molestation at a women's shelter.


    And the name of the shelter is almost too rich: "Our Father's House." Uh, issues with patriarchy, anyone?

    Oh, and since this is a trial, the story has been in the works a long time. Great to see the SCLM all over this, and the theocons purging their ranks... Oh, wait...

    Say, isn't it amazing that it only took Bush eight months to destroy what it took Clinton eight years to build? 

    Times reviewer on Against All Enemies: Two thumbs up! 

    Welcome aboard, Bill. A little late, though.

    Discounting the possibility that the White House spokesman, Scott McClellan, is secretly a publicist for the Free Press, one must assume that the Bush administration really is angry at its former counterterrorism czar, and isn't simply trying to help him sell more books. But if President Bush and his advisers were hoping that their loud pre-emptive attacks on ''Against All Enemies'' would make this book go away, they were sadly mistaken. Richard A. Clarke knows too much, and ''Against All Enemies'' is too good to be ignored.

    The explosive details about President Bush's obsession with Iraq in the immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks captured the headlines in the days after the book's release, but ''Against All Enemies'' offers more. It is a rarity among Washington-insider memoirs - it's a thumping good read.
    And, finally, someone at the World's Greatest Newspaper got what the book is all about:

    But the key allegation in the book - that the Bush team was obsessed with Iraq even when faced with overwhelming evidence that it was Al Qaeda that was attacking the United States - can't be dismissed by assertions that he was out of the loop. During those early days, Richard Clarke was the loop.

    (via Times)

    If you can't lick 'em, join 'em.

    And still #1. I wonder why?

    UPDATE The utterly essential Howler—does nobody at the Times read him?—has more: "This “press corps” just doesn’t read books. Books are hard, and they take too long. " Hey, I read it! And nobody paid me to do it! Can I have their job?

    Even Terror Has Its Lighter Moments 

    Tony Hendra writing at TAP has the inside dope on who Osama is really rooting for in the November elections, and more importantly, the why behind Al Queda's thinking.

    The document, a computer generated memo to the faithful translated from the Arabic, which was unearthed by Pakistani security forces, at a "hard-line Islamic religious school" during their renewed activity of the last several weeks in the tribal border areas between Pakistan and Afghanistan, also provides a rather salient history of the first two years of the global war on terror, from the enmies point of view, of course. Still, it manages to touch all the bases, in a surprisingly concise manner, leaving aside invocations to Allah, of course. Despite the warped point of view, you may be surprised at how much in the document you agree with.

    WhiteWash House working on Rice "compromise" 

    Yeah, right.

    The White House looked for a deal on Monday with the Sept. 11, 2001, commission under which national security adviser Condoleezza Rice would appear in private before the panel, but it refused to budge in the face of demands she testify in public and under oath.
    (via Reuters)

    I can't resist reposting the already-classic Poetry Corner submission from alert reader JoXn Costello:

    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.

    WhiteWash House: Does too much arrogance make you blind? 

    They don't give an inch, do they? They don't even seem to know how.

    The White House is attempting to rebut accusations by former presidential adviser Richard Clarke that the Bush administration failed to make fighting terrorism an urgent priority prior to Sept. 11. The independent commission, created by an act of Congress, has been pressing the president to allow Rice to testify on the administration's anti-terrorism actions at a public hearing.
    (via Bloomberg)

    Even when, as Clarke points out (CNN), Bush is quoted by his own hagiographer, Bob Woodward, in Bush at War that "I didn't feel that sense of urgency." So when Clarke says it today, it's perjury, but when a court stenographer says it a year ago, Hey, no problemo! Sheesh...

    Let's get on to the real issue: How Bush is losing us the WOT (and the CAF, back here) by sidetracking us into Iraq. We Democrats should welcome that debate, because we can win it.

    Clarke: From drip, drip, drip to splash, splash, splash 

    The word is "traction."

    WASHINGTON The White House may have mishandled accusations leveled by their former counterterrorism adviser Richard Clarke by attacking his credibility, keeping the controversy firmly in the headlines into a second week, political analysts said.

    Clarke's charge that the Bush administration did not regard the threat posed by the al Qaeda organization as an urgent matter in the run-up to Sept. 11, 2001, has been superseded by a secondary issue of whether National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice should testify under oath before the national commission investigating that day's attacks.

    "The administration's attempts to discredit Clarke have backfired. They have merely given the story legs and hurt the administration. The issue of whether Rice should testify should keep the story alive for several more news cycles," said University of Chicago political scientist Robert Pape.

    "The Bush administration and its allies have certainly not helped the story go away," said Howard Opinsky, a Republican operative who ran media relations for Arizona Sen. John McCain during his 2000 presidential bid.

    Opinsky said the White House needed to change the subject and begin talking about what it has done since September 2001 and what it is doing now to make Americans safer.

    "There isn't a good way for them to spin this story. They need to get beyond it," he said.
    (via Reuters)

    And this is a debate that Democrats should be very willing to have.

    It is, in fact, the debate Clarke wished to ignite in his book: the question of the opportunity cost of Iraq (back here). We can begin by noting the fecklessness of the Bush administration both on AQ and on the loose nukes issue for Blue cities (here).

    We can do better! (In fact, under Clinton, we did do better, back here.)

    Universal health access in Maine 

    And as Maine goes, so goes the nation?

    This summer, Maine will begin enrolling people in its health care program, called Dirigo - the state motto and Latin for "I lead." It is aimed at ensuring access to health care for all 1.3 million residents.
    (via AP)

    So what's going to happen? People are going to move to Maine to take advantage of a right every US citizen should have, and that citizens of all other (civilized) western countries do have. And I wonder how long it will be (a) before this happens, and (b) the wingers call it a failure, when in fact, if the playing field was level, and all states had the same program, it would be a massive success.

    Great to see the Democrats and the DNC all over this, pushing the positive core values of the Democratic party.... Oh, wait....

    Clarke: Was pre-9/11 Bush soft on terror? Softer than Clinton? 

    Kevin Drum goes to the tape.

    Long story short: Yes.

    IOW, this "both administrations are equally at fault" meme is a crock. Sure, there's "plenty of blame to go around." The issue is how the blame is distributed.

    And yes, it's amazing how much of Clinton's solid eight years of work Bush could undo in only eight months. But then, when these guys start trashing stuff, they work fast.

    NOTE Drum also has a good review of Clarke's book here.

    Say, how are the criminal indictments coming in The Plame Affair? 

    Google tells me the last story was March 5.

    Maybe they're bringing KaWen back because she's the only clean one left?

    The man who came to dinner 

    not wearing a gray turtleneck. Via Kos.

    Transcript of Condi on 60 minutes 

    Chanting demonstrators surround Rove's house 

    I'm not sure this is a good idea, because of the "blowback" opportunitities. Remember the chanting wingers surrounding Gore's house in election 2000? I don't think it makes sense to launch a frontal assault on people who can use the same tactics against you, except more powerfully.

    Several hundred people stormed the small yard of President Bush's chief political strategist, Karl Rove, yesterday afternoon, pounding on his windows, shoving signs at others and challenging Rove to talk to them about a bill that deals with educational opportunities for immigrants.

    Protesters poured out of one school bus after another, piercing an otherwise quiet, peaceful Sunday in Rove's Palisades neighborhood in Northwest, chanting, "Karl, Karl, come on out! See what the DREAM Act is all about!"

    Rove obliged their first request and opened his door long enough to say, "Get off my property."

    "Seems like he doesn't want to invite us in for tea," Emira Palacios quipped to the crowd.

    Others chanted, "Karl Rove ain't got no soul."

    The crowd then grew more aggressive, fanning around the three accessible sides of Rove's house, tracking him through the many windows, waving signs that read "Say Yes to DREAM" and pounding on the glass. At one point, Rove rushed to a window, pointed a finger and yelled something inaudible.

    Shortly thereafter, sirens shot through the neighborhood and Secret Service agents and D.C. police joined the crowd on the lawn. Rove opened his door long enough to talk to an officer, and the crowd serenaded them with a stanza of "America the Beautiful."

    The protest was organized by National People's Action, a coalition of neighborhood advocacy groups based in Chicago
    (via WaPo)

    Poor Karl. I'd be more sympathetic to him if "Get off my property" wasn't the Bush response to any question to them about how they're operating the government and running the country.

    Though the "America the Beautiful" seranade is clearly good, clean fun.

    We have no problem (back here, yech) with holding Rove accountable. Tactically, is this the best way? Leah the same sort of concern more globally, in her post back here today.


    Great headlines of our time 

    "Rice urged to 'rise above principles'"

    Since when have these guys....

    Oh, make up your own jokes.

    Though for what I consider the right metaphor on the relationships between Republicans and principles, see back here.

    Via MSNBC.

    The Goon Squad to charge Frodo Baggins with perjury 

    Here's the transcript:

    "[FARAMIR:]....I broke off our speech together...not only because time pressed, ...but also because we were drawing near to matters that were better not debated openly before many men.....You were not wholly frank with me, Frodo."

    [BAGGINS:] I told no lies, and all of the truth that I could.

    [FARAMIR:] I do not blame you. You spoke with skill in a hard place, and wisely, it seemed to me."

    NOTE Thanks to alert reader Xan.

    An Arrogance Beyond Thought, Beyond Words 

    For me, the word "chutzpah" has always been the onomatopoeic gold standard for describing sheer, unadulterated, unearned nerve, an audacity not of courage, of valor, of boldness, of daring; instead, a brazen, reckless, heedless audacity, born of self-regard placed unerringly above regard for points of view, or interests not one's own.

    Odd how this Bush administration and its language-challenged Chief Executive continuously challenge the sufficiency of our own language to describe it. As a description of their audacity, "chutzpah" sounds almost quaint.

    What's a better word to describe this, for just one minor instance:

    Remember among those first anti-Kerry negatives ads, the one that faulted Senator Kerry for having voted against the $87 billion off budget (and thus not included in the deficit) supplemental appropriation for our continued occupation of Iraq as well as the initial cost of reconstruction, which in the ads was characterized as if it was a line item budget vote in which Kerry explicitly said "no" to specific items like, for instance, "body armor" for our troops, as the voice-over intoned...well, you remember that one.

    The issue of body armor was their vulnerability, not Kerry's, and not the Democrats. One of the early stories out of the Iraqi war was the one about soldiers and their families buying their own body armor because they'd been sent to Iraq without it. Most administrations would have stayed as far away from that issue as possible in their ads.

    Perhaps you're thinking they thought they could get away with it because that 87 billion had solved the problem. Think again.

    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.

    Body armor distributors have received steady inquiries from soldiers and families about purchasing the gear, which can cost several thousand dollars. Though the military has advised them not to rely on third-party suppliers, many soldiers say they want it before they deploy.

    Last October, it was reported that nearly one-quarter of American troops serving in Iraq did not have ceramic plated body armor, which can stop bullets fired from assault rifles and shrapnel.

    The military says the shortfall is over and soldiers who do not yet have the armor soon will. But many want to avoid the risk.

    "What we hear from soldiers is that they are told that they are going to get body armor just before they leave or just after they get there. But they don't want to take a chance," said Nick Taylor, owner of, an online distributor of body armor in Austin, Texas.


    Reliance Armor in Cincinnati, which makes armored vests for soldiers and police, has nearly doubled in size as a result of the shortage.

    "We're getting people locally who are deployed National Guard and parents, specifically, coming in and buying," said Don Budke, the company's vice president of sales. "The military people don't want to advertise the fact that there are people doing this on their own."

    Dan Britt paid about $1,400 for body armor for his son, a medic stationed in Kuwait who had orders to move into Baghdad. He recently heard his son received it.


    Those that need the armor most are already certain to have it, said Army spokesman Maj. Gary Tallman, and families should not buy the equipment.

    "What we have told family members who have contacted us is that the Army cannot attest to the safety or the level of protection of body armor purchased rather than issued for a soldier," Tallman said.


    Nancy Durst recently learned that her husband, a soldier with an Army reserve unit from Maine serving in Iraq, spent four months without body armor. She said she would have bought armor for her husband had vests not been cycled into his unit.

    Even if her husband now has body armor, Durst said she was angry he was without it at any time. Her husband also has told her that reservists have not been given the same equipment as active duty soldiers. "They're so sick of being treated as second-class soldiers," she said.

    Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who serves on the Armed Services subcommittee, said she knows soldiers who were told by the military to buy body armor before leaving, rather than risk arriving with nothing but their shirts.

    "We lagged far behind in making sure that our soldiers who are performing very difficult and dangerous missions had protective equipment," she said.

    A bill being considered in Congress would reimburse families who bought body armor before the Army asked for increased production to bridge the gap between soldiers who had armor and those that did not.

    Jonathan Turley, a George Washington University law professor who has talked with hundreds of families who bought body armor for soldiers in Iraq, said the military lost the trust of soldiers' families.

    In that regard, it is not surprising that families bought body armor in spite of what military advised, he said.

    "There still is a lingering level of mistrust with some families as to whether there are people thinking about the best equipment and needs of their loved ones," Turley said. "No one that I know of has been truly held accountable."

    Well, not exactly, Professor Turley. John Kerry has. Because he registered a protest vote against the way this administration was combining the financing of the Iraqi occupation with insistance on a huge non-stimulative tax cut, as well as the lack of strict accounting and oversight rules for how the money was to be spent.

    Of course, it might have been nice if any of the commentariat had noticed this rankling hypocrisy. Instead, the immediate conventional wisdom became Kerry's stumble, immortalized just as quickly in another Bush ad, when explaining the reason for his vote, which deprived no soldier of so much as a bullet.

    Richard Clarke has managed to take the bloom off of that budding meme rather quickly, but the challenge will remain, not merely for the Kerry campaign, or for the Democratic Party, but for all of us who want to see the end of all the Bush doctrines, and for the Democrats to make signifigant inroads into Republican control of congress, of how to counter and to undermine the arrogance of this administration, which presents so many targets at once, without seeming to become inordinately negative ourselves; negative ads work, but voters hate naked negativity; sixty percent are already telling pollsters that they dread the coming campaign. I know how they feel.

    Sunday, March 28, 2004

    Blogroll Banderole 

    Finally catching up. I've just added several more bloggers to the sidebar blogroll. Therefore:

    Go visit Jimmy Mac at Angry Finger who has the best Bio page I've read in a long while.

    David Scott Marley at picks apart Robert W. Patterson who produces idiotic musings for the crazy people at Human Events dot compost dot com. Go read what DSM has to say about RW Patterson's recent patterings concerning matrimony; For Christ's Sake

    Spiralsands at Wayward Winds will sweep you off to a special destination called "Fundrace2004" where you can discover which presidential candidates the people in your neighborhood (the people that you meet each day) are backing with generous financial contributions. SEE WHO YOUR NEIGHBORS ARE SUPPORTING LINK

    Damfacrats recalls an interesting article from Sept. 2000 which details previous counter-terrorism efforts. See: CI-21, THE "GANG OF EIGHT" AND THE SPIRIT OF ROME. LINK/Damfacrats

    Above the fold: Visit Michael at Reading A1. As always, keeping an eye on all the news that's fit to print. Watching the front door of the New York Times

    Houston at Dancing with Myself observes the progress (or lack of) surrounding the continuing renovation of Francis Bellamy's celebrated recitation. You know the one - I pledge allegiance to the blah blah blah, one nation under Whatever, and blah blah blah..... see HERE

    Benedict Spinoza at Black Box Notes reminds us that:
    They are paying attention to us!
    Across the nation and across most of our concerns, election supervisisors are in fact listening. Now let's be realistic. We've pissed a lot of these people off. What many of them perhaps initially saw optimisticly as merely a great infusion of federal cash to their operations, they now see as a royal headache. Because we are watching. Because you are watching. And not a one of them wants to be the next "hanging chad" election supervisor.Black Box Notes

    And now - Begging for attention:
    Speaking of fundraising, and the people in the neighborhood, and all that stuff.... Corrente appears to be breaking all records when it comes to collecting donations on behalf of the Kerry campaign. See: Kerry 2004/Dethrone Forty3 graphic link at right. As of March 28, 2004, total donations to the Kerry campaign via this website amount to awe inspiring record shattering big fat shiny goose-egg. $0. None. Nada. Ziperoo. So, unless some primeval magnifico from the Wal-Mart family comes galloping across the drawbridge and deposits what amounts to the gross national product of Argentina onto our collection plate, well, I guess we'll never catch up to Atrios and won't be invited to any Kerry campaign victory 2004 bunny hop mixers or fancy martini belting Beltway chug-a-lugs or even a rubber chicken dinner at the local volunteer fire dept. Sadness. So, if you have any leftover turkee parts laying around the farm please throw em into the can at right. Otherwise, you're only inviting disaster. Flirting with apocalypse. Begging four more years of listening to Robert Novak laughing down upon you from his insular gilded Pecksniffian perch located high in some glowing tower within the jeweled walls of the Fourth Estate. How's that for an ugly guilt trip? Yeeks!

    Roll Credits: ~ (Angry Finger) ~ (Scratchings - David Scott Marley) ~ (Wayward Winds) ~ (Damfacrats) ~ (Reading A1) ~ (Dancing With Myself) ~ (Black Box Notes)


    Clarke on MTP: Opportunity cost of the war in Iraq is too great 

    Here's the Press the Meat transcript. Let's see if Wussert laid a glove on him. (It's a long post, but the transcript is a lot longer.)

    First, Clarke tells the WhiteWash House to bring it on by releasing "all (back)" his testimony, including the emails about it, and the national security directives the hearings were based on, as well as Condi's testimony before the 9/11 commission, because "the families need to know." Advantage: Clarke.

    The "perjury" (ha) issue

    MR. CLARKE: [I]t's not inconsistent. Let me explain. I was asked by Condi Rice, by the White House press secretary, by the White House chief of staff, to give a press background. Why? Because Time magazine had come out--and this was almost a year after September 11. Time magazine had come out with a cover story, after extensive research, and the cover story was devastating. The cover story of Time magazine was that the White House had been given a plan by me on January 25 and had taken the entire nine months to get around to looking at it, at the principals level, that there had been over 100 meetings of Dr. Rice's committee on subjects involving Iraq, Star Wars, China, but only one on terrorism and that one was on September 4.

    Now, the White House naturally wanted someone to say that things had been going on during that summer. I said, "Well, you know, it's true. Things had been going on. But the plan wasn't approved until September 4." And I was told, "But you can say that it was approved by the deputies. You can say that things were approved in principle." I was told to spin it in a positive way.

    Now, the question is: Why do you do that? I thought Pat Buchanan, a conservative Republican, former White House aide, put it pretty well last night when he was asked the same question. He said, "When you're in the White House, you may disagree with policy." But when you're asked to defend that policy, you defend it, if you're a special assistant to the president, as Pat Buchanan was and as I was. ... And so there's no inconsistency. I said the things that I was told to say. They're true. We did consider these things but no decisions were taken. And that's the point. It was an important issue for them but not an urgent issue. They had a hundred meetings before they got around to having one on terrorism.

    Do what your boss tells you, try to make him look good, and he turns around and threatens to prosecute you. Is The Goon Squad vindictive, or what? Advantage, Clarke.

    Russert tries again:

    MR. RUSSERT: But if you were willing to go forward, and, as you say, "spin" on behalf of the president, then why shouldn't people now think that this book is also spin? Why should people believe you?

    MR. CLARKE: Because I have no obligation anymore to spin. When you're in the White House, you spin.

    Advantage, Clarke.

    The opportunity cost of Iraq to the WOT
    And now to the crucial point, which all the mud thrown by Bush and The Goon Squad is obscuring: Iraq has not made things better in the WOT; it has made things worse (on of the many things about which Howard Dean, God love him, was right). And this is the reason Clarke wrote Against All Enemies:

    This is [Bush's] writing. This is the president of the United States' writing. And when they're engaged in character assassination of me, let's just remember that on January 31, 2003: "Dear Dick, you will be missed. You served our nation with distinction and honor. You have left a positive mark on our government." This is not the normal typewritten letter that everybody gets. This is the president's handwriting. He thinks I served with distinction and honor. The rest of his staff is out there trying to destroy my professional life, trying to destroy my reputation, because I had the temerity to suggest that a policy issue should be discussed. What is the role of the war on terror vis-a-vis the war in Iraq? Did the war in Iraq really hurt the war on terror? Because I suggest we should have a debate on that, I am now being the victim of a taxpayer-paid--because all these people work for the government-- character assassination campaign.

    And Wusser tries to prevent him....

    MR. RUSSERT: We'll get to that particular debate, but let me go back to September 11 and what led up to it.

    And finally gets back to it:

    MR. RUSSERT: Why do you think the Iraq war has undermined the war on terrorism?

    MR. CLARKE: Well, I think it's obvious, but there are three major reasons. Who are we fighting in the war on terrorism? We're fighting Islamic radicals and they are drawing people from the youth of the Islamic world into hating us. Now, after September 11, people in the Islamic world said, "Wait a minute. Maybe we've gone too far here. Maybe this Islamic movement, this radical movement, has to be suppressed," and we had a moment, we had a window of opportunity, where we could change the ideology in the Islamic world. Instead, we've inflamed the ideology. We've played right into the hands of al-Qaeda and others. We've done what Osama bin Laden said we would do. ... We can kill them. But as Don Rumsfeld said in the memo that leaked from the Pentagon, I'm afraid that they're generating more ideological radicals against us than we are arresting them and killing them. They're producing more faster than we are.

    We're going to catch bin Laden. I have no doubt about that. In the next few months, he'll be found dead or alive. But it's two years too late because during those two years, al-Qaeda has morphed into a hydra-headed organization, independent cells like the organization that did the attack in Madrid.

    And that's the second reason. The attack in Madrid showed the vulnerabilities of the rails in Spain. We have all sorts of vulnerabilities in our country, chemical plants, railroads. We've done a very good job on passenger aircraft now, but there are all these other vulnerabilities that require enormous amount of money to reduce those vulnerabilities, and we're not doing that.

    MR. RUSSERT: And three?

    MR. CLARKE: And three is that we actually diverted military resources and intelligence resources from Afghanistan and from the hunt for bin Laden to the war in Iraq.

    MR. RUSSERT: But Saddam is gone and that's a good thing?

    MR. CLARKE: Saddam is gone is a good thing. If Fidel were gone, it would be a good thing. If Kim Il Sung were gone, it would be a good thing. And let's just make clear, our military performed admirably and they are heroes, but what price are we paying for this war on Iraq?

    In other words, the opportunity cost of Iraq is too great. "Opportunity cost" is, I think, the analytical tool to get the discussion of Iraq going in the direction it should.

    UPDDATE Opportunity cost is a standard notion in business. Any CEO who actually ran a business would understand the point at once. It's a CEO's fiduciary responsibility to make the best use of the money the company has entrusted to him—not just a good use, the best use. Opportunity cost is the difference between the actual use of money, and a better use of that same money.

    To use a baseball example: In 1920, the Red Sox traded Babe Ruth, the best player in baseball, for journeyman pitcher Ray Caldwell, whom they promptly shipped to Cleveland. Was it "good" to get Ray Caldwell? Sure. He was of some use to the Red Sox, even in Cleveland. Was it the best use of the Red Sox's money? Of course not. The opportunity cost, to the Red Sox, could be measured in terms of championships lost, revenues lost, and so on.

    And so with Iraq, the key issue that Clarke is raising is being ignored, as the SCLM personalizes the story.

    The key issue is not, was the war in Iraq "good." The key issue is, Is Iraq the best use of our blood and treasure? And here the answer is no. What was the opportunity cost of Iraq? Allowing AQ to metastatize and spread, making the WOT much, much worse (see Madrid; see generally Bush fecklessness on loose nukes, if you want a doomsday scenario, back here).

    Spin Cycle: WhiteWash House to push KaWen's new book as antidote to Clarke 

    Get a load of this cringe-making prose.

    Readers looking for West Wing intrigue will be disappointed by the [Karen] Hughes book; when the subject is the President or Hughes' colleagues in the Administration, Ten Minutes from Normal is all kiss and no tell. Bush is presented as "humble," "wonderful," "tough-minded," "decent and thoughtful," with a "laserlike ability to distill an issue to its core" and "a knack for provoking discussion." Even his tendency to mangle words is a sign, to Hughes, of a "highly intelligent" mind outpacing a sluggish tongue.
    (via Time)

    So KaWen's a fluffer too. Sad. Of course, while the dastardly Clarke is trying to—shudder—profit from his book, Hughes is only trying to set the straight....

    As for "laser-like"—and let me start typing fast here before my head explodes—typing "Bushism" into Google and hitting "I'm feeling lucky" gets you here ....

    Cheney weasels on apology for 9/11 

    From Cheney's interview with Time:

    On whether an apology for failing to prevent Sept. 11 is necessary:
    Without question, we would have liked to be able to prevent that attack. Maybe we'll know after [the 9/11 commissioners] get through with all of their work. They'll come up with some ideas and recommendations about how that might have been done. It's hard at this point to see ... There are clearly some things that could have been done to be more effective. Whether or not there was a way to forecast what was going on here and head it off, I just don't know. Obviously, I think everybody feels bad about the loss of life. If you were at the White House that day, as many of us were, you know it's a moment you'll never forget.
    (via Time)

    Uh, is that a No?

    Most "scholars" can spell, but not Marvin Olasky 

    Martin Marvin (aka: Marty) Olasky is the eminence grise behind the World Journalism Institute, which is working to clandestinely promote "biblical objectivity" in journalism by infiltrating SIC moles into American newsrooms. (From Atrios, who has been driving this story.)

    Let's look at Marty's resumé, here:

    (Copies of asterixed profiles are on disk )
    Via: Univ. Texas

    Uh, Marty? The one on top of the rocks is Asterix. The one to the right is Obelix.

    And best of all, they're both pagan—and French! It's kinda like the return of the repressed... For proper spelling, see here.

    I don't know which is funnier: The fact that Olasky is distributing a resumé with typos in it, or that the people to whom he's sending it haven't noticed it and told him. Must be quite the old boy's network Olasky has going for him.

    UPDATE Thanks, alert readers. Hoist by my own snark!

    Clarke to WhiteWash House: Bring it on! "Declassify everything." 

    Clarke isn't acting like he has anything to hide at all. Contrast Bush!

    From Press the Meat:

    Former U.S. counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke Sunday called on the White House to make public his own testimony to Congress as well as other statements, e-mails and documents about how the Bush administration handled the threat of terror.

    Clarke, center of a firestorm over the level of engagement of President Bush in the issue before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, was responding to Republican allegations that his earlier testimony to Congress contradicted statements he made last week that criticized Bush.

    "I would welcome it being declassified, but not just a little line here or there. Let's declassify all six hours of my testimony", he said on NBC's "Meet the Press."
    (via WaPo)

    Hey, just because John Kerry called for releasing all the documents doesn't make it a bad idea!

    Pass the popcorn!

    Oh, and while we're at it, the PDBs too. You know, the ones both Bush and Condi read, and don't want to show the originals of—not even originals with portions blacked out. I wonder why? Initials? Annotations?

    UPDATE More:

    Sharpening his criticism, former counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke said President Clinton was more aggressive than Bush in trying to confront al-Qaida, Osama bin-Laden's organization.

    "He did something, and President Bush did nothing prior to September 11," Clarke told NBC's "Meet the Press."

    "I think they deserve a failing grade for what they did before" Sept. 11, Clarke said of the Bush's administration. "They never got around to doing anything."

    Clarke said a sweeping declassification of documents would prove that the Bush administration neglected the threat of terrorism in the nine months leading up to the attacks.
    (via AP)

    UPDATE Sadly No has more, including a transcript of Clarke's appearance on All Things Considered.

    "Crooks": The Goon Squad loots 20% of Kerry's FBI files from historian 

    Remind anyone of Richard Nixon and the Plumbers?

    Gerald Nicosia, who spent more than a decade collecting the information, said three of 14 boxes of documents plus a number of loose folders containing hundreds of pages were stolen from his home Thursday afternoon.

    Nicosia reported the theft Friday to the Twin Cities Police Department, which covers Larkspur and Corte Madera in Marin County, where he lives. The police report found no sign of forced entry.

    "It was a very clean burglary. They didn't break any glass. They didn't take anything like cameras sitting by. It was a very professional job," Nicosia said.

    "Was it a thrill-seeker who wanted a piece of history? It could be," Nicosia said. "You'd think there was a very strong political motivation for taking those files. The odds are in favor of that."

    Nicosia, author of "Home At War: A History of the Vietnam Veterans Movement," had obtained about 20,000 pages of FBI documents through Freedom of Information Act requests.

    The documents center on FBI surveillance of Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW), which Kerry represented as national spokesman.

    Nicosia estimated that 20 percent of his documents [4,000 pages] are missing.

    Nicosia showed about 50 pages of the documents to CNN last week.

    Kerry, who obtained his personal FBI files years ago, knew of the surveillance, but the VVAW files obtained by Nicosia detail more extensive surveillance than the senator from Massachusetts might have realized.

    "It is almost surreal to learn the extent to which I was followed by the FBI," Kerry said in a written statement earlier this week. "The experience of having been spied on for the act of engaging in peaceful patriotic protest makes you respect civil rights and the Constitution even more."
    (via CNN)

    Hmmm.... Republicans steal thousands of documents from Democrats on the Judiciary Committee... The Goon Squad steals thousands of documents about John Kerry... I'm sensing a pattern here.... Makes you wonder what other thefts

    From drip, drip, drip to splash, splash, splash 

    A portrait of "Bush Country" in Prescott, Arizona:

    If anyone knows how the new Prescott presidential politics might be eclipsing the old, it's Larry Bowser.

    On Saturday, the retired salesman wore his usual American-flag vest, tie and 15-gallon hat on the town square in an effort to attract voter registration. From what he's seen recently, the Bush supporter says, he's becoming part of a dying breed around here.

    "Most people I talk to are critical of the president," he said. "I think Bush is in for a real battle for reelection, even in a conservative place like Prescott. I've had people change from the Republican Party because they don't like the job he's doing.

    "My stack of conservative voters is getting thin while the Democratic pile is thicker than ever," Bowser said.
    (via LA Times)

    Follow the money! 

    Use this tool. Think the Red/Blue thing is a myth? Think again.

    From the LA Times

    9/11 panel unanimous: is Condi-lie-zza listening? 

    Even the oh-so-reasonable Thomas Kean thinks so.

    The commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks feels unanimously that White House national security adviser Condoleezza Rice should testify in public, [Thomas Kean,] the panel's head said on Sunday.
    (via Reuters)

    That's "testify," as in under oath, and "in public." Heaven knows she's been on the talk shows enough, so this should be easy for her.

    Of course, Kean won't subpoena her, since after he agreed to the limit on the lifespan of the Commission, there's no time to fight it through the courts.

    I just have to quote this from the first Amazon review of Clarke's book 

    Like I said, freeper-infested.

    We know Saddam HAD WMDs, there's no question of that. If you do question that, just do a Google search and find out you're wrong.
    (via here)

    Words fail me. Because my head is exploding.

    UPDATE I think I've been japed by this Amazon reviewer... My irony detector must be on the blink this morning. As everyone remembers but me, type "WMD not found" into Google and then "I'm feeling lucky." Thanks to alert reader tsm_sf.

    Cognitive dissonance on Bush butchering the WOT still strong 

    AP has an instant poll on Clarke, whose book is still #1:

    Two-thirds of Americans say the testimony of Richard Clarke, the former terrorism adviser who has been critical of the Bush administration, hasn't affected their view of the president, says a poll released Saturday.

    However, public views supporting President Bush's handling of terrorism have dipped from 65 percent to 57 percent in the last month, according to the Newsweek poll. (via AP)

    Of course, the poll was taken before anyone had a chance to read the book. Granted, most people watch TV, but the bottom line is that we only need to sway a few thousands in the right states.

    Incidentally, the Amazon reviews section looks like it's been infested by freepers—the "cognitive" part of "cognitive dissonance" doesn't apply to them, of coures.

    She's b-a-a-a-c-k! 

    Looks like Babs and Waura got their way. KaWen Hughes is back. Then again, it looks like she never went away:

    To the surprise of those who predicted that Ms. Hughes's influence would wane in proportion to her distance from the Oval Office — and that Mr. Rove would grow all the more powerful — the reality is that she is returning more powerful than ever. Despite giving up her official capacity as counselor to the president, Ms. Hughes continued to advise Mr. Bush from Austin. They talk several times a week, and the president regularly asks in meetings, the Bush adviser said, "Has anybody asked Karen about this?"

    Good—maybe she won't be able to improve things.

    Incidentally, she's coming out with a book and going on a book tour next week. It will be interesting to see how the Times covers (back here) that book.

    Bush's WMD joke: sicker and sicker 

    Angry Finger has a screen capture of the photo Bush "looking for [WMDs] out a window in the Oval Office" (back). "Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be somewhere. (Laughter and applause.) ...

    Remember when the wingers used to get all feverish about Clinton's blow job defiling the Oval Office?

    What defiles the Oval Office more? A blow job, sending thousands to their death for a lie, or sending thousands to their death for a lie, and then joking about it? All in the Oval Office?

    UPDATE From alert reader Dave: "One place Bush won't be looking". Ain't it the truth.

    "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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