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saturday, february 14, 2004

Memorable Hot Links
 
Newspapers around the country are headlining the story of John Calhoun, the retired officer who claims he saw George W. Bush report for duty in Alabama in 1972. I'm sure the story is getting similar play on television news, which I rarely watch any more because it's too depressing.
 
The headline writers are playing Calhoun's testimony against yesterday's White House document dump of what is claimed are Bush's complete military records. More on that below.
 
The problem with Mr. Calhoun's memories is that they are a little too good. Mr. Calhoun "remembers" Bush reporting for duty at times when even Bush's scattershot documentation (and everybody else who served in the Alabama Guard unit in question) says he wasn't there. (Billmon at Whiskey Bar has good commentary on this.)
 
Notice that even the White House has reservations about Mr. Calhoun: 
The dates Calhoun said he saw Bush at the air base do not correspond with the dates on payroll records released by the White House this week to show that Bush attended training in Alabama. The White House could offer no explanation Friday.
 
"You would have to talk to Mr. Calhoun. I do not know him," White House press secretary Scott McClellan said when asked about the discrepancy. [Dave Hirschman, Moni Basu, "Memories Place Bush in Alabama if Records Don't," The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, February 14, 2004]
Three comments: First, a great many people will only see or hear the headline and assume the AWOL charge has been answered. They won't pay attention long enough to notice the discrepancies. And, of course, the hard right will use Mr. Calhoun's testimony as ideological earplugs -- la la la I only hear what I want to hear la la la.
 
However, the fact that the White House is keeping Mr. Calhoun at arm's length must indicate the President doesn't remember Mr. Calhoun, and they have no idea where Mr. Calhoun is coming from, and they aren't sure what to do about him.
 
Is Calhoun lying? Maybe, but I think it is very possible Mr. Calhoun suffers from false memory syndrome, which in my unprofessional opinion is a real thing and fairly common. Mr. Calhoun may want so badly to believe in the goodness and virtue of President Bush that he "remembers" things that never happened. As time goes on, Mr. Calhoun's memories will become more and more detailed and more and more estranged from documented reality. Watch for this.
 
On to the document dump. According to Dana Milbank and Mike Allen of the Washington Post, the documentation released by the White House yesterday pretty much proves, Mr. Calhoun's "memories" notwithstanding, that Bush just plain skipped out on his Guard obligations.
The records show Bush was an eager fighter pilot who said he wanted to spend a lifetime in aviation. But they provide no evidence that he did any military service in Alabama, to which he had requested a transfer in May 1972 to work on a Senate campaign that ended in November 1972.

And the records show officials from Bush's home base in Texas declining to provide details of his activities between May 1972 to April 1973, even though such documentation was requested by National Guard headquarters. ...

... the tone of Bush's military file changed abruptly, and with no documented explanation, in May 1972, when Bush sought to transfer to Alabama. That began a period of months in which, the documents suggest, Bush did not actively pursue Guard service and the Guard did not actively pursue him.  [Dana Milbank and Mike Allen, "Many Gaps in Bush's Guard Records," The Washington Post, February 14, 2004]

See also comments by Billmon and David Corn. And if you haven't seen transcript of yesterday's duel between a reporter (I understand the reporter is Helen Thomas) and Scott McClellan, click here.
 
One more item: The White House is still playing games with Bush's medical records from the period. Citing a need to protect the President's "privacy," the White House did not release 44 pages of medical records, but instead allowed a select group of reporters to paw through them for 20 minutes.
 
But even as the President's staff so zealously guards his privacy, Bush's Department of Justice has no such consideration for women who have had abortions.
In an attempt to bolster its defense of the unconstitutional Partial Birth Abortion Act of 2003, the Bush administration has gone beyond its campaign to destroy women's reproductive rights and has attacked the privacy rights of all Americans.

This assault is being conducted through subpoenas the Justice Department has issued demanding that at least six hospitals in New York City, Philadelphia, Illinois and elsewhere turn over hundreds of patient records for certain abortions. This egregious intrusion on patients' privacy is being pursued in the name of defending lawsuits against the abortion ban. Not only is the information not needed to do that, but it is also a flagrant example of why Congress and the attorney general have no business second-guessing sensitive medical decisions made by individuals and their doctors. ["Privacy in Peril," The New York Times, February 14, 2004]

Indeed.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

8:33 am | link

friday, february 13, 2004

Hot Links, Friday the 13th Edition 5:53 am | link

thursday, february 12, 2004

You Can't Make This Up
 
Word has come down from the Chemically Altered One himself, Rush Limbaugh, that the Kerry "bimbo" story came from Bill Clinton.
 
First, go read the transcript to Rush's commentary and tell me that boy ain't still on drugs. Rush's rhetoric foams at the mouth. But as near as I can tell, what Rush says comes down to this: the Clintons ordered the hit on Kerry because they don't want a Democrat to win in 2004, because Hillary! plans to run in 2008. Got that?
 
Outside of tabloids, right-wing blogs, and the more virulent VRWC-owned media, nobody in the media seems to be rushing to report on the "infidelity" story.  Curiouser and curiouser.

7:53 pm | link

Smoking Bimbos?
 
Drudge, he to whom I will not link, claims that John Kerry has a bimbo problem. Drudge alleges that John Kerry was involved in a marital "infidelity" with a woman who once worked for the Associated Press.  Drudge says this story was being investigated by the AP, The Washington Post, Time magazine and ABC network. 
 
According to Atrios, Fox News picked the story up from Drudge, but I could not find it on their web site. Hesiod calls it the "John Kerry version of the Gennifer Flowers story." Both bloggers imply that the story likely is a Karl Rove plant.
 
According to Editor and Publisher:
The Drudge site also declared that General Wesley Clark, in an off-the-record chat with reporters earlier this week, predicted that the Kerry campaign would soon implode due to an "intern." It would seem strange, however, if he really believed that, that he would drop out of the race, as he did yesterday.

Sean-Paul Kelley posts at The Agonist:

A few more very random thoughts on this issue. First, do the Republicans really want to go the sex route again? If so, my first suggestion is finding Larry Flynt again and asking him to sponsor another of his investigations--you know the guy who uncovered Newt's affair with an intern during the impeachment hearings, among others. Also, if the Republicans go down this path again, playing dirty politics likes this, I say we take the gloves off. Everything, and I mean everything becomes fair game. We are fighting for the soul of this country, so, as George is so fond of saying: Bring it on.

And good advice for the Kerry Team from The Note, probably posted before the Drudge accusations broke:

We WERE going to have today's Note summary anchored by "Political dynamics to watch," a regular feature here, but there's actually only ONE dynamic to watch in the presidential race right now.

Political dynamic to watch:

1. How is the Kerry communications team (and the candidate himself) dealing with the stepped-up dredging/Drudging of his past?

Did the campaign know in advance about the Jane Fonda picture? How about the old Harvard Crimson interview? How about the gay marriage letter?

Leaving aside the merits of these matters (like the merits of a flag factory . . . .), there are the basic questions of knowing what's out there and being ready to respond to kill these things before they take on a life of their own and define John Kerry for a public that still mostly doesn't know him.

Everything else -- the Mankiw flap; Bob Novak's mindset; Howard Dean's mindset; John Edwards' mind; House special elections; the President's dental records; Joe Allbaugh's memory; the Massachusetts legislature; Fred Hochberg's lunch -- all these things are at most secondary, and, in many cases, tertiary.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Note also points to today's Bob Novak column, and The Note is right -- it's atomic.  

The ''Meet the Press'' performance raised disturbing questions for Republicans. How could Bush be put out to confront the most feared questioner in Washington without a careful scenario? How could he face Russert without precise answers on the decision to go to war in Iraq and on his National Guard service? The suspicion is that his 2004 campaign organization, a fund-raising juggernaut, is otherwise inadequate.

The Bush White House is cloistered, where even Bush aides seem restrained from debating strategy even behind closed doors. The belief in Republican circles is that Bush, tired of battering by Democrats and alarmed by his descent in the polls, asked for an hour on television. This questions how it could be possible for a president who claims to neither read newspapers nor watch television.

In any event, no aide dissuaded Bush from embarking on this course or devised a plan to make the most of it. [Novak, 2/12/04]

My impression of the Bushies is that this whole governing thing is way over their heads. They've bumbled along by distracting us with war and making promises they can't keep for the future. Maybe the future is about to arrive.

[Update] And speaking of Bob Novak --

Two government officials have told the FBI that conservative columnist Robert Novak was asked specifically not to publish the name of undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame in his now-famous July 14 newspaper column. The two officials told investigators they warned Novak that by naming Plame he might potentially jeopardize her ability to engage in covert work, stymie ongoing intelligence operations, and jeopardize sensitive overseas sources. [Murray S. Waas, "Plame Gate," The American Prospect, February 12, 2004]

1:45 pm | link

Hot Links 6:23 am | link

wednesday, february 11, 2004

Today's Press Briefing
 
Of course, it's worth browsing the whole thing ...

Q Coming back to John's question real briefly. One of the questions that remain after the release of the documents yesterday involves the President's physical in 1972. Are you guys talking about what happened there and why he didn't take --

MR. McCLELLAN: I think this was all addressed previously. I think that, again, this goes to show that some are not interested in the facts of whether or not he served; they're interested in trolling for trash and using this issue for partisan political gain.

Q What was the answer previous to this?

MR. McCLELLAN: What's the question?

Q On the question of --

MR. McCLELLAN: See, I mean, there are some that want us to engage in gutter politics. I'm not going to engage in gutter politics. I'm going to focus on what we're doing --

Q But you were suggesting you'd answered the question previously.

MR. McCLELLAN: -- to address the priorities for the American people. We went through this in 1994, I believe again in '98, 2000. Now some are trying to bring it up again in 2004.

Q Scott, can I ask, in 2004, just again, why did the President miss his physical?

MR. McCLELLAN: I'm sorry?

Q Why did the President miss his physical?

MR. McCLELLAN: Are you talking about when he -- whether or not he -- I put out a response to that question yesterday, about whether or not he was rated by his commanders as a pilot.

Q Can I just ask you today, in 2004 --

MR. McCLELLAN: No.

Q -- why he missed his physical?

MR. McCLELLAN: Elisabeth, there are some that -- again, this is a question of whether or not he served. That question has been answered through the documents that were released yesterday, and released previously.

Q I just want to hear from the White House Press Secretary --

MR. McCLELLAN: I'm not -- no, there are some -- Elisabeth, we've already addressed this issue. I'm not going to engage in gutter politics. I'm going to focus on what we're doing to make the world safer, to make the world a better place, and to make America more prosperous. If others want to engage in gutter politics, that's their choice. But I think that --

Q How is asking that question engaging in gutter politics?

MR. McCLELLAN: But I think the American people -- I think the American people deserve better.

Q Scott, how does that engage in gutter politics if I ask that question?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we've been through these issues. I wasn't accusing you. I'm accusing some -- (Laughter.) But, you see, we went through --

Q -- the answer to that question today?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, we went through these -- no, we went -- we've already addressed this issue. We went through it previously. We went through it four years ago, for sure.

You didn't, Scott, but thanks for playing ...

3:40 pm | link

Read It Read It Read It!
 
You must read Gail Sheehy's article in the New York Observer on the September 11 investigation. Or, I should say, the non-investigation. We learn what the FCC knew, and a lot of what Bush was told, and what he did (or, rather, didn't) do, and what is not being investigated.

1:52 pm | link

Reporters' Revenge?
 
According to Dan Froomkin's Washington Post column, the National Guard issue is consuming Washington.

The White House released a handful of records yesterday in an attempt to quell the controversy over whether President Bush shirked his duty as a National Guardsman during the Vietnam War.

But the documents, one of which had already been circulated on the Internet for days, did not exactly clear things up.

As Charlie Gibson put it on ABC's "Good Morning America" today, the subject "seems to be consuming Washington."

Still stinging from unusually rough treatment in yesterday's press briefing, Scott McClellan said today that Democrats who continue to demand more proof that the president reported for National Guard duty in Alabama are "trolling for trash." He also pulled back from the White House pledge to release all documentation regarding the President's National Guard service.
Bush said in a television interview over the weekend that he would be willing to open up his entire military file, and would "absolutely" be willing to authorize the release of anything that would settle the controversy over his service in the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War.

White House press secretary Scott McClellan appeared to step back from that pledge, telling reporters: "If there is new information that comes to our attention we will let you know - if it's relevant to this issue."

"I think what you're seeing is gutter politics," McClellan said. "The American people deserve better. There are some who are not interested in the facts. They are simply trolling for trash" for political gain. [Deb Reichmann, "Spokesman Defends Bush's Military Service," Associated Press, February 11, 2004]

I agree that the American people deserve better, mainly Anybody But Bush as President. If the National Guard issue puts some chinks in his armor, let's use it.
 
Mr. McClellan must wonder what bit the press corps. They were actually holding his feet to the fire and making him answer questions. They weren't meekly taking whatever handouts he gave them and slinking off.
 
I'm wondering if the press corps, seething from months of ill use by the White House, is finally rebelling. And, really, this is a reasonably straight-up story. Bush ought to be able to document exactly what National Guard service he performed in 1972. Given the resources of the White House staff, not to mention the Republican Party, one would think they could put this to rest if they tried -- unless, of course, they had something to hide.
 
Maybe the White House Press Corps has finally seized upon this issue as a means to fight back.
 
But, really, what was McClellan thinking, releasing that half-assed documentation with the same old gaps in the record? Alert Mahablog reader Anne DeVille wrote that this episode reveals "the Bush team doesn't know how to gather and interpret intelligence." Well, geez, no wonder they decided to invade Iraq!
 
So when, do you think, Peter Jennings will apologize to General Wesley Clark? Hmmmmm?

In other news -- most of you may not care about Amtrak, but here on the East Coast it's the only civilized way to travel from city to city. Now we learn that Bush is cutting so much of Amtrak's funding it will have to shut down. This is a seriously bad thing. My daughter, who is a big fan of Amtrak, blogs about this here.

12:36 pm | link

Hot Links
 
I read in the Washington Post (although it isn't exactly news) that the Prez plans to endorse a marriage amendment to make gay marriage unconstitutional.
 
Republicans must think they've got a winning wedge issue, since Massachusetts is now the central front of the gay marriage issue, the Democratic nominee-presumptive is a Massachusetts senator, and the party's convention will held in Boston.  
 
However, I suspect that if the Pugs try Willie Horton-style ads to smear Kerry, this year it could backfire. Where the hard right might see a defense of traditional "values," the rest of the country would probably see gay bashing. And I don't think swing voters will be won over by gay bashing. 
 
Further, I think the Dems can defuse this issue for most people by evoking states' rights. It's a state issue, not a federal issue. Dick Cheney himself said this during the 2000 campaign. That's the ticket.
 
The smoking military record. Last night I listened to a number of TV talking heads "analyze" the Bush National Guard service issue. It was gratifying to see this issue finally get some national media exposure, but it also revealed the gap between the web and "professional" media.
 
The media version of the story is that the National Guard issue emerged only at the very end of the 2000 campaign and died quickly because "people" were not interested. Then the story went to sleep, and is bubbling up now because of the presumed face-off between war hero John Kerry and war shirker Smirk.
 
We know, of course, that the National Guard story raged on the web throughout 2000 and never died after. And I think the story has "legs" now because bloggers are finally gaining some influence over "normal" media. Just a theory. Anyway, please see this editorial in today's New York Times, and keep up with recent updates on Calpundit.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

5:56 am | link

tuesday, february 10, 2004

John Kerry, Juggernaut
 
We're waiting for the TV clowns to announce that John Kerry won the Tennessee primary. And while we're waiting, here's a bit from a nice blog called Art Machine, originating in Tennessee:

Snapping a shot of Clark as he spoke proved to be a fruitless task for your fearless ArtMachine. I was stationed on the second floor, and the first was so packed that I had to fight even to get to the door. There was no way I could get an angle to pick up a picture of Clark. So when the General finished his speech (by the way - the camera doesn't lie. The man can speak. He's good. He's Bill Clinton good) we dashed out the side door and I managed to catch a picture as he made his way back to the bus.

We don't hear much about Clark these days - and that's sad. Clark has come a long way from when he entered the race. Clark is no longer the man who shows up at the end of the picnic with a big ol' Tupperware of soup - he's now the man who shows up with the Tupperware, then laughs and says, "Just kiddin'! Who wants ice cream? Everybody into the van!" He's smart, quick as a whip, and has some amazing ideas for how to put the country back on track.

Yes. I have to admit. I liked Clark.

Clark made his way back to the van and sat in the van signing placards for some of the fans and supporters standing around outside. As the bus pulled out, he waved to the crowd and snapped off a cheerful salute. He's got a busy schedule ahead of him - and a media to prove wrong.

Rock on, General.

Sigh. Secretary of State, maybe? The TV tells me Kerry takes Tennessee, but they won't project second place. Kos says it's Edwards.
 
 

6:55 pm | link

Hot Links
 
Primaries today in Virginia and Tennessee, and it looks like two more wins for Kerry. In other campaign developments, Howard Dean has changed his mind about quitting the race if he loses Wisconsin.
 
The White House is still blaming the bad economy, the one they claim is booming (where?), on the Clinton Administratrion.

In the annual Economic Report of the President, the White House said economic activity peaked in the fourth quarter of 2000, several months earlier than the March 2001 recession start cited by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

"While some arbitrariness in determining the date on which a recession began is inevitable, revisions since the NBER made its decision for the most recent recession strongly suggest that the business-cycle peak was before March 2001," the Bush administration said in the report.

Bush's economic team has long argued he inherited the recession from the Clinton administration. Some 2.2 million jobs have been lost since Bush took office in January 2001, and the jobs issue looms large in Bush's quest to be re-elected in November. ...

A spokeswoman for the NBER said there was no plan "at this time" to change the date of the recession, and shrugged off the White House's assertion that the slump began earlier. [Reuters, February 9, 2004]

Oh, those pesky peasants and their jobs. And they want health care, too. What a bother. Anyway -- Billmon at Whiskey Bar has a must-read commentary on this little development here. And click here for an analysis of the Bush track record at predicting job growth. Great blogging.
 
And then go read today's Paul Krugman column -- "Jobs, Jobs, Jobs."
 
More reviews of Bush's tap dance act on last Sunday's "Meet the Press": Andrew Sullivan says Bush appears to have attention deficit disorder on economic matters. (What can I say about Andrew Sullivan that hasn't already been said? Maybe someday he'll tire of being a Bush cabin boy.) Spencer Ackerman says Bush's comments on Iraq amount to "breathtaking ignorance." Today's Daily Mojo at Mother Jones says that the Russert interview failed to energize Bush's base supporters. A New York Times editorial accuses Bush of factual revisionism -- instead of changing policy to conform to facts, the Bushies fudge the facts and keep the failing policies. (David Brooks of the NYT also discusses the MTP interview today, but I haven't had the nerve to read the column yet. Click here if you think you can stand it.)
 
Marie Cocco writes in New York Newsday that the MTP interview gave viewers a glimpse of Bush's inner autocrat. "No wonder he does not believe there's the slightest possibility Americans will vote him out of office," she writes. "Bush cannot imagine a set of facts, a change of circumstance, a shift of mood that might overtake the electorate and influence its choice. This is because he is not influenced by facts, or changing circumstance or shifts of mood." Carla Marinucci of the San Francisco Chronicle writes,

With political analysts and observers hitting the "replay'' button, the White House must now relive the sound bites and the lackluster reviews from even some normally supportive Republicans who were left ruing the decision to put the president front and center so early in the campaign.

Indeed. Can't let the voters get a really good look at him. They might not like what they see.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

6:43 am | link

monday, february 9, 2004

Hot Links 7:04 am | link

sunday, february 8, 2004

Meet the Press, Part Trois

Daschle says Bush is the most partisan president we've ever had. Exit polls in South Carolina showed that independents didn't like Bush. But the boy just does not know why people think he's a partisan divider. He's trying so hard to bring people together. He's citing the Medicare Bill as an example of how he works hard to bring people together. That's worth five blogs right there.
 
He says he doesn't attack people. Unfavorable ratings all over the world. He's claiming to be the next Ronald Reagan.
 
He's trailing John Kerry in the polls. Attacks against him are just "politics." He's not gonna lose. He knows exactly where he wants to lead the country and the world. He's gonna win again. Losing not an option.
 
Biggest issue in the campaign is how to use America's power to make the world a better place. Must win the heart and soul of the American people. He can sit in the Oval Office when times are tough and make good decisions. Like the decision to go to war in Iraq? Sure.
 
This interview must seem slightly tougher than one of Bush's scripted press conferences, but of course Russert didn't push the really hard questions.
 
Comments?

11:24 am | link

Meet the Press, Part Deux
 
This is part II of the Tim Russert interview with the "President."
 
Now we're talking politics. AWOL! Didn't show up when he should have showed up.
 
I served in the National Guard, I flew airplanes, I was honorably discharged, I've heard this story since I started running for office. I would be careful about denigrating the Guard, he says.
 
There may not be evidence, but I did report. I got an honorable discharge, I got an honorable discharge, I got an honorable discharge. He'd be willing to open his files, and people are lookin' for 'em, but those records just can't be found. Too bad.
 
What I don't like is when people say serving the Guard isn't true service, he says. Straw man, straw man, straw man. Nobody is saying that.
 
I love this -- the thing that troubles him about Vietnam is that it was a political war.
 
Why should the American people re-hire you as CEO of our economy? Well, the stock market began to slide in 2000, the recession began in 2001, the attacks on our country etc. We've been through a lot. But I acted, he said, but cutting taxes on individuals and small businesses, which led to our recovery. But what about the fact that we're increasing jobs? and unemployment is down? Go say that in Michigan, Bunnypants.
 
His policies are creating jobs and helping small business, he says. Sure, in India.
 
If Congress is wise with the peoples' money, he says, we can cut the deficit in half. See, it's just not the boy's fault.
 
And, of course, we're at war. Wars are real expensive. That's one reason you don't have one unless you absolutely have to. And during other wars presidents have raised taxes, Russert says. Bush is saying a tax raise would slow economic growth. I'm more worried about the fella lookin' for a job, Bush says. I think I'm going to barf.
 
Now he says, I can't raise taxes. There are people who want to raise taxes on poor people, and I just won't do that. No follow up on who these people are; no follow up on why Bush won't raise taxes on people making more than $200,000 a year.
 
How can you tell when Bush is lying? When he's moving his lips.
 

11:05 am | link

Meet the Press
 
They jumped right into it, didn't they? Remember, this was taped yesterday.
 
"Intelligence services provide as good a product as possible for future presidents." Bush is framing the intelligence inquiry strictly as an investigation into the intelligence services, not what he did with that intelligence.
 
Now Bush is saying he doesn't want the investigation to be hurried. So what about the 9/11 commission. And he says he looks forward to telling the American people why he made the decisions he did. Will Russert follow up on that? Of course not.
 
The system is ably led by George Tenet. We got people workin' hard in intelligence gathering around the world, he says.
 
September 11 commission -- we have given extraordinary cooperation with that commission, sez the Prez. Sure. But now he's explaining why the President's Daily Briefs should not be made public. Sure.
 
Russert should have followed up with my Bush fought against forming the 9/11 commission for so long, and why he was so reluctant to extend their deadline. But Russert did not follow up. 
 
He sat behind a desk and made a decision to go to war based on intelligence, intelligence he thought was valid and analysts from other countries thought were valid. But, in fact, that was not true at the time. At the time Bush started his war the intelligence community throughout the world had lots of doubts about what was going on inside Iraq.
 
Russert, ask him about the inspectors. Ask him why he couldn't have waited until the UN inspectors had more time to do their job. Hans Blix was begging Bush to give inspection more time. Why didn't he? And why won't Russert ask that question?
 
The CIA data had qualifiers and cautions, but when Bush, Cheney, and Powell spoke to the American people they had no qualifiers and cautions. Saddam Hussein was dangerous because he had the capacity to make a weapon -- WMDRPA. Love that.
 
He's not apologizing for one of the biggest screwups in American history. The buck never stops in this Administrations. It just spins and spins and spins.
 
And he called for the Ghost of Bill -- the previous administration had been in favor of regime change. But the previous administration didn't invade Iraq, and refused to do so when neocons approached him about it.
 
Now he's saying we had to follow through on our threats to act if Saddam Hussein didn't disarm. But as long as the weapons inspectors were there, we could have waited without loss of face or credibility. Why isn't Russert asking him about the weapons inspectors?
 
He took the case to the world, he said. But the world pretty much told him to chill out. So now Russert should be asking him why he had to charge in so fast, without building an international coalition.
 
In North Korea, he says, diplomacy is just beginning. Translation: diplomacy to try to get back to where we were in January 2001, before Bush took over and trashed all the diplomatic efforts that had gone before is just beginning.
 
He's ruled out the possibility that an Islamic extremist regime could possibly take over Iraq. Make a note.
 
"These people are committed to a pluralistic society." In other words, the two or three Iraqis who were allowed into the bubble to speak with Bush are committed to a pluralistic society, or at least they said they did.
 
Will the UN play a central role in reconstructing Iraq? Bush backed off from that, since our tax monies must go to his business cronies. But the UN will play a vital role, he says. In terms of reconstruction, of course we want the international community to participate, he says.
 
Was it worth the lost of 500 plus American lives simply to remove Saddam Hussein? Um, every life is precious, every person who is willing to sacrifice for his country deserves our praise -- he's trying to explain this to parents of those who lost their lives. Saddam Hussein was dangerous. He might have made weapons. We're at a war against these terrorists. He's not answering the question, is he? A free Iraq will change the world. It's all about the PNAC vision of remaking the world in our image, isn't it?

10:34 am | link

Hot Links
 
John Kerry won two big caucuses yesterday, Washington and Michigan. And he's looking good for Virginia and Tennessee on February 10. No brokered convention this year, kiddies.
 
The Big Event for today will be the Tim Russert interview of President Bush on "Meet the 'Press.'" (The interview actually took place yesterday and will be shown on tape.) For pre-game commentary, go to uggabugga and BOP News.

You see, even with that weird State of the Union speech, the American people still have not connected their vague feelings of anxiety, fear, and unease to the figure who is in charge - Bush is still well-liked, and basically trusted. Will this be the moment when America stops saying about its political system, 'Beuller, Beuller?' Is the moment when people stop trusting the man who led them into Iraq, and start holding him accountable for leading us into Iraq? ...

Each person has a different breaking point on Bush, the moment when he or she severs his or her bond of trust and decides that it is simply impossible to do business with him, the point at which he or she decided Bush must be removed. For my Dad, it was early; it was Clinton's impeachment - a lifelong GOPer, he'll never vote Republican again. For some, it was the 2000 election. For others, it was the Iraq war, or the tax cuts, or the weapons of mass destruction. For one woman I spoke with voting in the NH primary who hadn't voted since she was 18, it was his grand pronouncements about Mars. She just couldn't believe how out-of-touch he seemed, and how his priorities were actively working against hers. For some right-wingers, it's Bush's increased funding for the NEA, or his rampant spending on the budget he just submitted. It is not easy to change the mind of a nation, but Bush is doing it, one voter at a time. [Matt Stoller, "MTP: The End of Reagan Era Politics?" BOP News, February 7, 2004]

So don't say the boy never accomplished nothin'. I may blog the event live, as I don't know of anyone else who is, so check back later.
 
I've been wanting to write about the "President's" newly appointed commission to investigate prewar intelligence, but right now I'm swamped (did I mention I'm writing a book?). Naturally, there is much about this commission that doesn't pass the whiff test. Please see Josh Marshall's comments here and here.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Ben Merens, "Conversations with Ben Merens,"
September 9, 2004, WHAD Milwaukee, 90.7 FM

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The War Prayer

I come from the Throne -- bearing a message from Almighty God!... He has heard the prayer of His servant, your shepherd, & will grant it if such shall be your desire after I His messenger shall have explained to you its import -- that is to say its full import. For it is like unto many of the prayers of men in that it asks for more than he who utters it is aware of -- except he pause & think.

"God's servant & yours has prayed his prayer. Has he paused & taken thought? Is it one prayer? No, it is two -- one uttered, the other not. Both have reached the ear of Him who heareth all supplications, the spoken & the unspoken....

"You have heard your servant's prayer -- the uttered part of it. I am commissioned of God to put into words the other part of it -- that part which the pastor -- and also you in your hearts -- fervently prayed, silently. And ignorantly & unthinkingly? God grant that it was so! You heard these words: 'Grant us the victory, O Lord our God!' That is sufficient. The whole of the uttered prayer is completed into those pregnant words.

"Upon the listening spirit of God the Father fell also the unspoken part of the prayer. He commandeth me to put it into words. Listen!

"O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle -- be Thou near them! With them -- in spirit -- we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe.

"O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with their little children to wander unfriended through wastes of their desolated land in rags & hunger & thirst, sport of the sun-flames of summer & the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave & denied it -- for our sakes, who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet! We ask of one who is the Spirit of love & who is the ever-faithful refuge & friend of all that are sore beset, & seek His aid with humble & contrite hearts. Grant our prayer, O Lord & Thine shall be the praise & honor & glory now & ever, Amen."

(After a pause.) "Ye have prayed it; if ye still desire it, speak! -- the messenger of the Most High waits."

ˇ   ˇ   ˇ   ˇ   ˇ   ˇ

It was believed, afterward, that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said.

[Mark Twain, 1905]

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