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tuesday, july 6, 2004

33 Denials About Bush
Kool-Aiders on the Right Blogosphere are touting this site, claiming it reveals 59 deceits in "Fahrenheit 9/11." In actuality, it reveals a pathological degree of psychotic denial.
Right now I'm packing to leave on a short trip tomorrow and don't have a lot of time for research, so I don't mean for this post to be a rebuttal of the 59 deceits, just a quickie off-the-cuff outline. I'm not going to have time to provide links or arguments for the facts, nor do I believe the film is completely flawless. But if readers will suggest some links and arguments while I'm away I'd be most grateful. Most of you probably know this stuff as well as I do.
Denial #1: The Kool-Aiders still deny that the Bushies stole Florida in the 2000 election. (Deceits 1-4)
Denial #2: The Kool-Aiders don't remember that Shrub was floundering as president before 9/11. (Deceit 5)
Denial #3: The Kool-Aiders refuse to acknowledge how much time Bush spent on "vacation" in 2001.(Deceit 6-7)
Denial #4: This one is just plain weird. The Kool-Aiders have twisted the way Moore represented the September 11 attacks as a "deceit" because he chose not to show the planes hitting the World Trade Center. As I said, weird. (Deceit 8)
Denial #5: The Kool-Aiders refuse to acknowledge there was something, well, substandard about the famous seven minutes of reading "My Pet Goat" while the towers burned. (Deceit 9)
Denial #6: The Kool-Aiders refuse to acknowledge that before 9/11 the Bushies ignored warnings about an impending terrorist strike. (Deceits 10-12)
Denial #7: The Kool-Aiders are scranbling the facts about what Moore actually said and what actually happened regarding the flight of the Saudis after 9/11. (Deceits 13-16)
Denial #8: The Kool-Aiders really, really, really do not want to look real close at James Bath and why his relationship with Bush is significant. They get hung up on the fact that his name was blacked out of Bush's military records and why that was not unusual. They also accept at face value Bath's claim that he did not use bin Laden money to fund Bush's first business. (Deceit 17)
Denial #9: The Kool-Aiders really, really, really do not want to look real close at the Bush's relationship with Prince Bandar. "Deceit 18" ought to be renamed "Rationalization 18."
Denial #10: What the Kool-Aiders are saying about Bush's sale of Harken stock in 1990 is just plain wrong.  I wrote about this quite a bit in the early days of The Mahablog, ca. summer 2002, so there ought to be stuff about it on the original site. (Deceit 19-20)
Denial #11: The Carlyle Group. 'Nuff said.  (Deceits 21-23)
Denial #12: This is regarding Saudi investment in the U.S., and this is one area I don't know that much about, so I don't know if the numbers presented in the film are accurate. But the Kool-Aiders are more interested in defending the amount of Saudi investment, saying it is important to the U.S. (Deceit 24)
Denial #13: The Kool-Aiders deny there is special protection of the Saudi Embassy. So what was the Secret Service doing guarding the Saudi Embassy? (Deceit #25)
Denial #14: The Bush-Saudi conspiracy. I don't know what they're up to, but if there weren't something the Bushies didn't want us to know, why were the pages on the Saudis taken out of the congressional report on 9/11? (Deceit 26)
Denial #15: The Unocal pipeline in Afghanistan. I think this was one of the weaker parts of the film. Surely there is an appearance of fishiness in Unocal's history with the Taliban, and Moore's film wasn't the first time I'd heard that Hamid Karzai used to work for Unocal, but if this had been my film I probably would not have included this. (Deceit 27-31)
Denial #16: The Bush relationship with the Taliban. See Denial #15. (Deceit 32)
Denial #17: Here the Kool-Aiders wander off the reservation and blast Moore for opinions he may actually have but which were not expressed in the film. Somehow, in the Kool-Aid mind, because Moore expressed opposition to the invasion of Afghanistan in September 2001, he is not allowed to criticize the U.S. for screwing up in Afghanistan and letting Osama bin Laden get away. Well, I approved of the invasion of Afghanistan, and I agree with Moore that the Bushies screwed up in Afghanistan and let Osama bin Laden get away. (Deceit 33-34) 
(Part of the problem with these "deceits" is that the Kool-Aiders are tone-deaf to Moore's sarcasm. Real 'em and you'll see what I mean.)
Denial #18: The Kool-Aiders refuse to acknowledge that Afghanistan is an unstable place which still has not held elections, in which the opium trade is booming, and in which the Taliban and al Qaeda are re-asserting themselves. (You'll notice they refly a lot on Snitch Hitchens as a source.) (Deceit 35)
Denial #19: They object to Moore's saying the voters of Missouri elected a corpse to the Senate rather than John Ashcroft. Hell, that's what happened. Deal with it, people. (Deceit 36)
Denial #20: This deals with an alleged 800 number to report problems with the Patriot Act. This I know nothing about. (Deceit 37)
Denial #21: I don't remember exactly what Moore said about the murder of Americans by the government of Iraq, but I do remember that when I heard it I knew it would be challenged. However, the Kool-Aiders are using Laurie Mylroie as a source for their rebuttal, which pretty much shoots down their rebuttal. (Deceit 38-39)
Denial #22: The Kool-Aiders are in MAJOR denial about the degree of threat posed by Saddam Hussein to the U.S. in recent years. They're still quoting discredited sources about Saddam's WMD's for pity's sake. (Deceit 40)
Denial #23: The Iraq-al Qaeda connection. THERE WASN'T ONE! I've written about this recently, somewhere. (Deceit 41-42)
Denial #24: Iraq before liberation. The Kool-Aiders object to Moore showing life in Iraq as reasonably pleasant before the invasion. I'm sure it was difficult, but women were actually safer from rape and kidnap, and children were not being blown up by U.S. bombs. (Deceit 43)
Denial #25: I'm not entirely sure what they're complaining about in Deceits 44-45. I think they're upset because Moore shows the damage done by our invasion and does not discuss the damage done by the Baathist government. In other words, they missed Moore's point.
Denial #26: Here's another situation in which the Kool-Aiders don't appreciate sarcasm. I got a good giggle out of Moore's depiction of the "coalition of the willing." The Kool-Aiders cling to the fiction that there was a real international coalition. (Deceit 46)
Denial #27: This is rich. The Kool-Aiders pretend that U.S. news media didn't play along with Buish propaganda regarding the war. (Deceit 47) 
Denial #28: Bush's lack of support for veterans. This is really pathetic. The Kool-Aiders quibble about numbers and totally ignore the larger point. (Deceit 48-50)
Denial #29: Congressional children in war.  the Kool-Aiders absolutely do not acknowledge Moore's larger point, which is that poor families are more likely to send children into war than rich ones. Somehow they've decided family members of congresspersons are more likely to serve in the military than people from other families. This is nonsense, of course. (Deceit 51-54)
Denial #30: The Kool-Aiders are pissed at Lila Libscomb because she lives and speaks. They want her to go away. (Deceit 55)
Denial #31: The Kool-Aiders smear Jim McDermott as "pro-Saddam." (Deceit 56)
Denial #32: The Kool-Aiders are pissed about Britney Spears. Once again, they don't get the joke. (Deceit 57)
Denial #33: They claim Michael Moore supports terrorists and that terrorists are distributing the film. This is just stupid. (Deceit 58-59)
Well, enough. As I said, I'm leaving tomorrow on a short visit to kinfolk and will be out of Internet range. I'll be back Monday. See ya then!

8:46 pm | link

John Edwards: The Un-Cheney
Juan Cole has a good analysis of John Edwards as the anti-Cheney.
Josh Marshall critiques CNN's coverage of the veep announcement.
Kevin Drum reveals the most desperate attack on Edwards so far.
The New Republic has a roundtable discussion of the veep choice. I haven't read it yet, so I can't say if it's worth reading.
Wonkette reveals that the RNC had attack sites ready: takes you the slam sheet. But so does and

Not surprising. But check out the longshots they also bet on: and

Escaping their notice? and (guess Drudge didn't get the memo), (so sad!), and, perhaps not even wishing to consider it,

Sean of nosey online says the KerryPicksEdwards site is registered to Tim Griffin of Little Rock, Arkansas, who is possibly the same Tim Griffin who worked as a research director for the RNC in 2002.

3:43 pm | link

It's Edwards
As always, the Fafblog provided the most cutting edge pre-announcement commentary:
Well there are tons a rumors flyin an it seems like John Kerry's gonna announce his Vice President pick tomorrow. Wow! Who can Kerry find to spice up his already excitin ticket? Will it be political rockstar Dick Gephardt? Beloved bathroom chronicler Bob Graham? Some guy named Vilsack? ...

There are some who say it is either gonna be Dick Gephardt or John Edwards. Yknow I can see this would be a pretty tricky decision. John Edwards gives you that youthful dynamic energy while Dick Gephardt gives you that youthful dynamic energy in the form of an old beaten rundown party machine crushed under the weight of its own obsolescence. So you gotta weigh the pros and cons for a while.

Fafblog beats any TV pundit you can name, every day of the week and twice on Sunday.

Matt Stoller at BOP News provided another interesting pre-announcement comment:

The despair among progressives at the potential choice of Gephardt is interesting, mostly because of what it suggests about progressives. Why is Kerry the only candidate that matters? Why does any agenda have to be pushed by the President? We live in a federalized system, but the massively imperial Presidency this attitude implies is relatively new. With all the talk about technology, it's important to remember that the internet is distributing power, not just information (go read Trippi's book, by the way). This means that Congress will reawaken to its power, and the focus on the VP is speculation living in another age, an age where the Presidency is all that mattered.

I agree that the role of the president is much more "imperial" and presidential powers much expanded from the powers given by the Constitution. I also agree that we liberals need to step back from our focus on the White House and put more energy into electing progressives to Congress.

On the other hand, vice presidential choices have been made for reasons of political strategy nearly since the 12th Amendment (1804) required the electoral college to vote separately for president and vice president, instead of just giving the vice presidency to the guy who came in second. For exzample, in 1836 the Democrats nominated Richard Mentor Johnson to run with Martin van Buren (who had been Andrew Jackson's veep) to "sex up" the ticket -- Johnson was believed to have killed the Indian warrior Tecumseh.

In 1864 the Republicans retired Lincoln's first vice president and instead nominated a Tennessee Democrat, Andrew Johnson, to make the Republican ticket more palatable to pro-Union Democrats.

A more recent change in veep selection is that the veep candidate is chosen entirely by the presidential candidate instead of by the party convention. The last time a convention chose the veep nominee was 1956, when Eses Kefauver beat John Kennedy to be Adlai Stevenson's running mate in a tough convention fight.

Four years later Kennedy picked Lyndon Johnson, whom he disliked, purely to broaden the appeal of his ticket. Thus it has been since.

I anticipate that the Talking Heads will say Edwards is weak on national security and doesn't add enough "gravitas" to the ticket, not to mention that he's one of those evil trial lawyers. Well, bleep that. Edwards will bring a touch of firebrand populism to the ticket, which it sorely lacks. I look forward to slapping a Kerry-Edwards bumper sticker on my car as soon as I get my hands on one.

Fun Fact: The New York Post jumped the gun a bit a proclaimed Dick Gephardt the Veep choice. Heh.

8:35 am | link

monday, july 5, 2004

Expendable Women
Via BOP News -- here's a must-read editorial in today's New York Times.
One of the uglier aspects of the Bush administration's assault on women's reproductive rights is its concerted undermining of the United Nations Population Fund based on the false accusation that it supports coerced abortions in China. ...

In truth, the administration's targeting of the Population Fund is not really about abortion. It is an attack on comprehensive family planning and women's sexual and reproductive autonomy, driven largely by right-wing ideologues unswervingly opposed to all forms of family planning and contraceptive use. As a result, the United States is helping to deny vulnerable women living in isolated rural areas essential information and services needed to avoid pregnancy and disease.

Please read the entire editorial. It's unusually blunt for the Times.

6:36 am | link

sunday, july 4, 2004

Nanny-Statism v. Pointy-Headism
Today "President" Bush told a cheering crowd of West Virginians, “We still believe, on America’s 228th birthday, that freedom has the power to change the world."
As he spoke, two people wearing anti-Bush T-shirts were "removed" from the crowd.
Yesterday Glenn Reynolds complained that laws restricting the sale of fireworks are examples of "creeping nanny-statism." Does it bother Glennie that American citizens are losing their freedom to speak? 

9:39 pm | link

Here Come Da Judge
Jurisprudence in the news:
They've been out of sight and mostly out of mind, but now the detainees at Guantanamo have the right to an attorney and a day in court. This might lead to more embarrassing revelations for the Bushies, assuming the detainees find out about their rights.
Australian David Hicks was probably the first detainee to learn of the victory that he and the 594 other captives at Guantanamo Bay naval base in Cuba won last week when the Supreme Court ruled they had the right to petition U.S. courts for their freedom. His father phoned him the news. But being in solitary confinement, Hicks could not tell his fellow inmates, held for their suspected ties to al-Qaeda or the Taliban. Few if any of the other captives have Hicks' privilege of a rare phone call from home, and U.S. officials have not decided whether, when or how to tell them about the court's decision. [Viveca Novak, Time, July 12, 2004]
Still, lawyers representing the remaining Brits in detention will be filing habeas corpus lawsuits this week, according to the Guardian. Also, says the Guardian,

...the International Bar Association, based in Washington, issued an opinion by two leading international lawyers. It says the administration's repudiation of the Geneva conventions was a breach of the conventions themselves, while its attempts to justify torture and degrading treatment during interrogations, set out in a series of formerly classified memos, amount to a grotesque misreading of the law.

Some of their contents, said Oxford University professor Vaughan Lowe, were of the standard that he might expect from 'a below-average student'.

Meanwhile, the Senate passed an amendment to a Pentagon budget bill that requires the President to abide by the Geneva Conventions. Five Republicans resisted White House pressure and voted with the Dems. Now the bill goes on to the House; 'twill be interesting to see what happens to it.

Thomas Oliphant writes about the legitimacy of Saddam Hussein's trial:

 Saddam will be tried in a forum that is technically Iraqi but with gigantic American footprints all over it. He will be tried under rules that have yet to be clearly formulated under American "guidance" on the basis of testimony and documents that have yet to be located, much less digested, and under laws whose applicability to his crimes is open to technical question. The transfer of "legal" custody of Saddam from the former occupation authority as a prisoner of war to the appointed, interim government of Iraq as a future criminal defendant was about as meaningful as the transfer of "sovereignty" earlier in the week.

Oliphant compares Saddam's impending trial with that of  Slobodan Milosevic:

The judgment that awaits him [Milosevic] will not only be accepted internationally as just, it will be part of the never-ending struggle to establish parameters for acceptable conduct with some hope for legal retribution if they are exceeded.

That outcome will be 100 times more difficult to achieve in Iraq. The decision to invade in a 90 percent American operation stopped a UN inspections operation that could have evolved into a kind of occupation without war. It is now clear that Saddam needed the impression that he might still possess unconventional weapons to help maintain his domestic position on top of a failed state. There were many ways he could have been toppled without the loss of nearly 1,000 American lives, five times as many injuries, and the expenditure of more than $150 billion.

Instead, an American-dominated investigation and an American-arranged trial will give him a forum from which to shout venom at an America-hating Arab world. It did not have to be this way.

One suspects the Bushies would have preferred to keep Saddam Hussein under wraps until after the November elections. They painted themselves into a corner with the late June "transfer" of "sovereignty." Still, we can be certain that the Bushies hope to keep the "sovereign" government of Iraq on a short leash -- for the next four months, at least.

There Go Da Judge. Here's a fascinating story from yesterday's New York Times on Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist:
It is too soon to say for sure, but it is possible that the 2003-2004 term may go down in history as the term when Chief Justice Rehnquist lost his court.... the Guantánamo case found him silently joining Justice Antonin Scalia’s dissenting opinion as Justice John Paul Stevens explained for the 6-to-3 majority why the federal courts have jurisdiction to review the status of the hundreds of foreigners detained there. In the case of Yaser Esam Hamdi, the American-born Saudi taken from the battlefield in Afghanistan and held since 2002 in a military prison, Chief Justice Rehnquist was among the eight justices who found the open-ended detention improper for either constitutional or statutory reasons. But his was not among the several voices with which the court spoke. He was a silent member perhaps even a late-arriving one of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s plurality opinion.

The implication is not that Chief Justice Rehnquist, who turns 80 on Oct. 1, has lost a step. ... Rather, it appears that while he has stood still, the court’s center of gravity has moved away from him.

So, be of good cheer. The infamous Rehnquist-Scalia-Thomas axis may be rendered even more ineffectual if President Kerry is able to appoint new justices in the next few years.


6:55 pm | link

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"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public." --Theodore Roosevelt, 1918


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."

·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·

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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