The Mahablog: Truth and the Bush Administration

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Blame Bush for North Korea's Nukes
America -- What Went Wrong?
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Lies, Damn Lies, and Bush
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War and Profit
Remember September 11
Homeland Insecurity
Peaceniks of the Past
Is It Too Late?
Abe Lincoln, Peace Activist
What Are We Fighting For?
Better Than Teapot Dome!
Forgetting the Alamo
The Killer Mothers
Anti-Bush Graphics to Go
Bush Barf-O-Rama!
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August 29
Partial Transcript, Abrams Report, April 5, 2005

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saturday, october 9, 2004

News in the News
This is from the President's Radio Address, today:

And to make sure America is the best place in the world to do business and create jobs, we will cut regulations, end junk lawsuits, pass a sound energy policy and make tax relief permanent. Senator Kerry takes a very different approach to our economy. He was named the most liberal member of the United States Senate, and that's a title he has earned. Over the past 20 years, Senator Kerry has voted to raise taxes 98 times. He opposed all our tax relief, and voted instead to squeeze an extra $2,000 in taxes from the average middle class family. Now he's running on an agenda of higher taxes and higher spending and more government control over American life. My opponent wants to empower government. I want to use government to empower people.

Since September the 11th, 2001, I have led a global campaign to protect the American people and bring our enemies to account. We have tripled spending on homeland security and passed the Patriot Act to help law enforcement and intelligence stop terrorists inside the United States. We removed terror regimes in Afghanistan and Iraq, and now both nations are on the path to democracy. We shut down a black-market supplier of deadly weapons technology, and convinced Libya to give up its weapons of mass destruction programs. And more than three-quarters of al Qaeda's key members and associates have been detained or killed.

In the middle of a war, Senator Kerry is proposing policies and doctrines that would weaken America and make the world more dangerous. He's proposed the Kerry doctrine, which would paralyze America by subjecting our national security decisions to a global test. He supports the International Criminal Court, where unaccountable foreign prosecutors could put American troops on trial in front of foreign judges. And after voting to send our troops into combat in Afghanistan and Iraq, he voted against the body armor and bullets they need to win.

For all of Senator Kerry's shifting positions on Iraq, one thing is clear: If my opponent had his way, Saddam Hussein would be sitting in a palace today, not a prison, and Iraq would still be a danger to America. As chief weapons inspector Charles Duelfer testified this week, "Most senior members of the Saddam Hussein regime and scientists assumed that the programs would begin in earnest when sanctions ended, and sanctions were eroding." Instead, because our coalition acted, Iraq is free, America is safer, and the world will be more peaceful for our children and our grandchildren.

I will keep this nation on the offensive against terrorists, with the goal of total victory. I will keep our economy moving, so every worker has a good job, quality health care and a secure retirement.

Let's put the content, which is junk, aside. People, this is a campaign speech. Your tax dollars pay to make this speech available on the White House web site. I don't know how many radio stations carry it, but I'm sure a great many do, and as a public service. And what about Armed Forces Radio?

This stinks. And there are three more Saturdays before the election.

What stinks even more is Sinclair Broadcasting's latest hijink. Sinclair has ordered its stations to pre-empt regular programming -- prime time -- in order to run a film slamming Kerry's activism during the Vietnam War. Jay Rosenof PressThink and BOPNews (and professor of journalism at NYU) believes that Sinclair should be able to skirt around what's left of the fairness doctrine fairly easily.

The film, by a former "reporter" who recently was employed by the Bush Administration in their Homeland Security media operation, is essentially a 90-minute "swift boat" ad.

According to the Sinclair Broadcasting Group's web site, their stations reach approximately 24 percent of U.S. television households.

This past week, the Bush campaign hoodwinked CNN and MSNBC by announcing the President would deliver a "major policy address" -- which turned out to be his usually Kerry-bashing stump speech. No new policy. But CNN and MSNBC broadcast the entire speech -- a free, hourlong campaign ad for Bush.

Yet hope remains. Via Kevin Drum -- ABC News Political Director Mark Halperin wrote in a memo to his staff:

The New York Times (Nagourney/Stevenson and Howard Fineman on the web both make the same point today: the current Bush attacks on Kerry involve distortions and taking things out of context in a way that goes beyond what Kerry has done.

Kerry distorts, takes out of context, and mistakes all the time, but these are not central to his efforts to win.

We have a responsibility to hold both sides accountable to the public interest, but that doesn't mean we reflexively and artificially hold both sides "equally" accountable when the facts don't warrant that.

He to whom I will not link, Drudge, is spinning this as a scandal. It's been clear for a long time that the Right doesn't care about truth. Or, rather, they don't understand there is any truth outside of ideology. Glenn Reynolds apparently hasn't heard this one yet because I didn't see anything about it on his web site. This should give him fits 

7:56 pm | link

Consensus in last night's debate is summed up in this headline on Bloomberg News:
Bush Fails to Stem Kerry Momentum in Second Debate, Polls Show
The pundits and overnight polls are calling the debate a tie. I agree with Josh Marshall that, for Bush, a tie wasn't good enough. Says Mr. Marshall,

First, momentum seems clearly to be on Kerry's side. The president needed to arrest that momentum and I don't think he did.

The other reason turns on something I said last week. The basis of President Bush's resurgence in late August and September was based less on confidence in him than in his campaign's effective effort to portray Kerry as not an acceptable commander-in-chief. Kerry's strong performance in the first debate undermined that impression and knocked the race back to parity. I don't think anything happened in this debate to change that.

But the post-debate spin is what's really critical. It's sad that spin has a bigger impact on the election than the candidates' perormances, but I think it does. It's not what the viewers saw in the debate, but what the spinners can persuade them they saw, that prevails.
Of  course, it's also true that most voters didn't watch the debate and will make their judgments on what they hear about the debate.  I understand the audience was smaller for the second debate than for the first.   
And there were plenty of pundits who were less-than-complimentary about Bush's performance. Bush's obvious anger is still tripping him up.
James Poniewozik wrote in Time ("Round Two: Bush Versus Bush"):

In this uneven fight, second-debate Bush defeated first-debate Bush. This, of course, is the way Bush and his handlers want the media to spin this debate—"Bush improved, therefore Bush won" —since, after all, it was a fight the President was bound to win. All he had to do was avoid kicking over his stool, shouting "No fair!" and storming off stage. ... Bush defeating himself, though, is not the same as Bush defeating Senator John Kerry. The second debate—a "town hall," with questions offered by undecided voters in St. Louis, Mo.—was a format that was supposed to play more to Bush's strengths in connecting to people. The fact that the candidates were not tethered to the podium eliminated the President's problem, from debate one, of hunching at the podium while he spoke; he had an audience to smile and wink at; and simply being able to move around the stage made him appear less physically besieged. ...

But although Bush's face conveyed a studied unflappability, it sometimes seemed that his voice didn't get the memo. Especially in the first half, on foreign policy, he practically bellowed his answers; when Kerry ended a critique of the Iraq war by saying that, if Bush had chosen differently, "Osama bin Laden might be in jail or dead," Bush's head popped up, and he seemed like he was about to ask his taller challenger to take this outside. At one point, moderator Charles Gibson tried to ask a follow-up when Bush wanted to rebut Kerry, and Bush simply steamrollered over him, barking his answer until poor Charlie gave up. Earlier, Gibson had promised to hold the candidates to the rules "forcefully but politely." You're one for two, Charlie.

Along with the temper and slips of factual accuracy, Bush's refusal to admit to mistakes continues to alarm. And I don't think anybody bought the claim that he keeps Canadian drugs out of the country because they might not be safe. (Is this the "Blame Canada" argument?).
See also Eric Boehlert, "Bush Did Better, But He Needed More" in Salon.
9:13 am | link

friday, october 8, 2004

President Kerry

My question: Who's more stupid -- Chris Matthews or Wolf Blitzer?  I don't know which post-debate show I want to watch least. The answer is -- Animal Planet. Retriever puppies. Cute.

There is jubilation on the Left Blogosphere -- they're dancin' in the aisles on Kos and Eschaton. The "pundits" are declaring Bush the winner, but they did last week, also. In any normal world, Kerry would be the winner. I think Bush was losin' it halfway through, nearly hysterical. although he got himself under control by the end.

However, I was relieved that Bush is opposed to the Dred Scot decision. I just hate it when people take slaves into the free-soil territories. (WTF??)

But it's not over yet. We've got to win the post-game spin, so be sure to hit the online polls. Kos has a list. Also, we've got to win the fact check war. There's work to do, people.

8:36 pm | link

It's make or break time, I believe. Consider:
  • Kerry's got the Big Mo; this week's polls show him gaining.
  • Events -- Iraq, jobs, oil prices -- are breaking against Bush.
  • The Dems have prevailed in the spin war after the two previous debates.

I think a strong win tonight could make Kerry unstoppable.

Contraindications: Steve M. of No More Mister Nice Blog sees signs the press wants to write a "Bush Bounces Back" story. If Bush is able to speak English sentences they'll say he's reversed the bad mojo of the last debate.

Surely, Bush has seen videos of his performance and realizes the facial grimmaces weren't working for him, and he won't make that mistake again. On the other hand, this is Bush we're talking about -- the man who doesn't make mistakes. 

From Liberal Oasis:

Even if he does put on a different face, it is still questionable if he will put on the right one.

If Wednesday's speech -- hyped as "major" by the Bushies -- is a preview of tonight's performance, the answer will be no.

As LO argued last week, Kerry's debate victory showed that the 2004 electorate is interested in substance, details, and most importantly, solutions.

Bush's speech was substance-free, nothing but a string of sarcastic attacks.

(Amazingly preceded by Bush's claim that he's "looking forward to coming down the stretch with a positive, strong message.")

Apparently, according to the NY Times, Bush's advisers think the mistake of the first debate was that he didn't hammer Kerry hard enough on flip-flops.

OK. Let 'em think that.

We'll find out tonight if Bush is capable of anything but cheap insults of Kerry. I believe that if he doesn't offer up more substance tonight than he did last time, he's toast.

And my reading of the I Ching says Kerry's gonna kick ass.

I'm going to join the group liveblogging on Open Source Politics and, if I can keyboard fast enough, may put some comments up here as well. But feel free to add your thoughts, worries, predictions, recipes, whatever, to the comments below.

See also: Bob Sommerby suspects NBC's coverage of the veep debate was fixed. That would explain a lot.


5:25 pm | link

Lynne Cheney's Ministry of Truth
The Education Department this summer destroyed more than 300,000 copies of a booklet designed for parents to help their children learn history after the office of Vice President Dick Cheney's wife complained that it mentioned the National Standards for History, which she has long opposed. [Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and Jean Merl, "Booklet that Upset Mrs. Cheney Is History," The Los Angeles Times, October 8, 2004]

I had to read this story twice to wrap my head around it. You'll remember that every time Hillary Clinton so much as hiccupped while her husband was president, the wingnuts would scream about power hunger and the "co-presidency." Yet the wife of a vice president can order 300,000 books burned, and hardly anyone notices.*

According to the LA Times, the 73-page booklet was a new edition of a 10-year-old how-to guide called "Helping Your Child Learn History." The booklet, published by the Department of Education, offered such controversial advice as taking children to museums and visiting historical sites.

Apparently Mrs. Cheney's only objection to the booklet was that it mentioned the National Standards for History, about which Mrs. Cheney has had a bug up her rectum for many years. Thus, 300,000 copies of a booklet already paid for by our tax dollars were trashed. A new version will be written and printed. Another drop in the Ocean of Deficit.**

So what are the National Standards for History? And why do they upset Lynne Cheney so?

Originally released in 1994, the National Standards for History were written by teachers, administrators, scholars and parents, with help from organizations such as the American Association of School Librarians. Development of the standards was administered by the National Center for History in the Schools at the University of California, Los Angeles under the guidance of the National Council for History Standards. Funding was provided b the National Endowment for the Humanities and the U.S. Department of Education during the Bush I administration.

By some coincidence, Lynne Cheney was chairperson of the National Endowment of the Humanities during most of this time, from 1986 to 1993. Whatever role she played in the creation of the standards, if any, is not clear.

One week before the original standards were released, Cheney (who had resigned from the NEH by then) wrote a blistering op ed for the Wall Street Journal ("The End of History," October 20, 1994) accusing the standards of extremist revisionism.

Jon Weiner wrote in The New Republic:

Cheney said the issue was simple: not enough white men. Harriet Tubman, the African American who led slaves to freedom before the Civil War, was "mentioned six times," while George Washington "makes only a fleeting appearance," and Thomas Edison gets ignored altogether.

A few days after Cheney's article appeared, Rush Limbaugh had it on the air. Limbaugh yelled that the standards were the work of a secret group and should be "flushed down the toilet."

Thereafter, more respectable journalists began picking up the story. The New York Times ran an Associated Press article on October 26, the day the standards were officially released. (Headline: "plan to teach u.s. history is said to slight white males.") The story did not describe the standards or give examples. Instead, it reported on Cheney's laments: "They make it sound as if everything in America is wrong and grim." [History lesson. (Lynne V. Cheney's baseless attacks on the National Standards for History)
, The New Republic, 1/2/1995]

And, of course, the usual Echo Chamber crew -- e.g., Charles Krauthammer, the Washington Times, etc., along with the aforementioned Wall Street Journal and Limbaugh -- took up Cheney's claims and repeated them through every possible medium. The public became well conditioned to believe the standards were were "developed in the councils of the Bolshevik and Nazi Parties, and successfully deployed on the youth of the Third Reich and the Soviet Empire" [Wall Street Journal, "The History Thieves," November 8, 1995].

For a spine-chilling archive of what "journalists" did to the standards, including Ms. Cheney's above-mentioned Wall Street Journal op ed, click here.

Naturally, Cheney's accusations were all lies. Jon Weiner got hold of the original standards and read them, and reported that white men were represented on every page.

Flip to page 76: for the revolution of 1776, "Analyze the character and roles of the military, political and diplomatic leaders who helped forge the American victory." If you don't discuss George Washington, you flunk. Page 138: for the period 1870-1900, "How did inventions change the way people lived and worked? Who were the great inventors of the period?" If you don't discuss Edison, you're in trouble.

What about Cheney's claim that "not a single one of the thirty-one standards mentions the Constitution"? Well, page 84 says students should be able to "analyze the fundamental ideas behind the distribution of powers and the system of checks and balances established by the Constitution." And, it turns out that the person mentioned most often is not Tubman, but Richard Nixon. Ronald Reagan comes in second.

So what's Cheney's problem with the standards? Here's a clue from an educational journal:

Cheney charged that the standards were a loaded document whose "authors save their unqualified admiration for people, places, and events that are politically correct," and that the standards offered heavy doses of multiculturalism and obsession with such things as McCarthyism (19 references), racism (the Ku Klux Klan is mentioned 17 times), and mistreatment of indigenous peoples but give little attention to some of the core developments and figures of American history. [ National Standards for United States History: the storm of controversy continues. ]

Ooo, the evil of multiculturalism. We can't let children learn that not everything important in history was carried out by a white male elite (with an occasional assist from white females), can we?

But there's more to Cheney than old-fashioned racism. Jonathan Chait wrote in The American Prospect:

Scratch slightly below the surface of her polemics and you find the basic work of political coalition building. Her stories of innocents betrayed by the academic establishment usually reflect the fears of the Christian right. She takes this raw material, applies a sheen of respectable intellectual neoconservatism, and connects it to a larger ideological and legislative purpose. So we have the predicaments of Stacy and Joey and poor Mrs. McDaniel, followed by Cheney somberly pointing the finger at the usual liberal villains. [Jonathan Chait, "Lynne Cheney, Policy Assassin," The American Prospect vol. 10 no. 43, March 1, 1999 - April 1, 1999]

The authors of the National Standards for History said they were created to move students past passive absorption of dates and facts and toward the analysis of historical issues, i.e., critical thinking. (Thinking does make the righties nervous, doesn't it?) They were never meant to be a mandated curriculum. Instead, the scholars hoped (and still hope, I assume) that textbook publishers and school boards would voluntarily apply the standards as a guideline toward developing curriculum.  

It is probably the case that the wingnuts could not understand that the standards were not the exhaustive list of everything kids should be taught about history. They'd skim through it counting the number of times George Washington's name came up, without noticing that a suggestion to discuss the leaders of the Revolution would necessarily include Washington.

Whatever. Lynne Cheney doesn't want you to know about the standards. Hence, the burning of 300,000 books that merely mentioned them.


While researching this article, I stumbled on this revealing factoid: In 1995, Mrs. Cheney and Senator Joe Lieberman co-founded the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA).  These days, ACTA is busily squashing campus dissent for the "war on terra." Aren't you glad we didn't nominate Joe?

Also, I stumbled across this article from 1997 about how House Republicans nixied a bill that would have applied national testing standards on American public schools. Isn't that what No Child Left Behind was about? And is that a flipflop?


*Note to righties: I mean "burning" figuratively, not literally; if in fact the booklets were shredded it's beside the point.*** Also, although Mrs. Cheney says she did not order the booklets destroyed, according to the LA Times they were destroyed only because she wanted them destroyed.

** The new version, on the Department of Education web site, includes a plug for the President in the Foreword:

Through the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, President George W. Bush has made clear his commitment to the goals of raising standards of achievement for all children and of providing all children with highly qualified teachers and with instruction that is based on scientific research. Helping Your Child Learn History is part of the president's efforts to provide families with the latest research and practical information that can help them to support their children's learning at home.

***Righties tend to be rigidly linear thinkers, and you have to explain everything to them very carefully.

9:33 am | link

This Day Will Be History
We've got a big day ahead of us, don't we? Tom DeLay and Judith Miller are smoked out and runnin', although probably not together. Josh Marshall is on a roll (thanks, js) about fallout from the Duelfer Report and UNscam and Paul Bremer and Ahmed Challabi and flawed intelligence, etc. etc., and notes that Dubya is postponing his annual physical until after the election. Hmmmm. And as we anticipate "Wilting Dubya: The Sequel," Dave Lindorff writes in Salon that maybe the bulge on Bush's back really was a microphone. Also, Kevin Drum writes about Dubya's bad week, Dave Neiwert has the next installment of "The Rise of Pseudo Fascism: Part III, The Pseudo-Fascist Campaign," and Fafnir and Giblets hunt big game.
So that should keep you busy while I write about Lynn Cheney's burning of books. Check back later.
Update: One more thing to read -- "Consumer Confidence Dips on Prices, Jobs."
9:03 am | link

thursday, october 7, 2004

Blame France
As Baghdad burns, "President" Bush is on television explaining to the world that the Duelfer Report, which says there were no WMDs in Iraq and haven't been for a long time, confirms that he was right to order the invasion of Iraq.
Kinda horribly awesome, ain't it? Who could make this shit up?
The spin, as near as I can reconstruct it, is that Saddam Hussein was gaming the system. He had corrupted the UN food-for-oil voucher program and this would somehow lead to the removal of sanctions, and when those sanctions were removed he was gonna build weapons of mass destruction and new-cue-lar weapons and attack Amurrica because he hates our freedoms. Therefore, it was absolutely essential that Iraq be invaded in March 2003, and not one minute later, because there was no time to wait until this scheme was carried out and Saddam Hussein had reconstituted all of his weapons of mass destruction and became a threat to world peace. Therefore, we had to start a war right away.
There's a fellow on television saying that as a member of the UN security council, the US could have blown the UNscam open to the world and put a stop to it at any time, and that the US has known about it for awhile, but it couldn't say anything because it might have pissed off France. Yeah, that makes sense. No, wait, the reason the United States had to stay mum about UNscam is that if we had pissed off France the UN might have lifted sanctions on Iraq. Oh, yes, that makes so much more sense.
Update: A rare bit of good news.
1:37 pm | link


I’m watching CNN, and I’m watching a firefight at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Baghdad. Lots of journalists stay there. Still, this is distressing news.

The voiceover is saying something about urban warfare unfolding before our eyes. What’s Bush been saying about conditions in Iraq getting better and better? Lordy, there’s tracer fire whizzing across the screen. This is Baghdad, mind you.

Now the reporter is saying it was a rocket attack.

No WMDs. No connection between Zarqawi and Saddam Hussein. No connection to 9/11. Edwards met Cheney before this week. Wow.

Just how far can cognitive dissonance be stretched?

12:34 pm | link

Rightie blogger Professor Bainbridge chronicles incidents of intimidation of Bush-Cheney campaign workers and vandalism against Bush-Cheney campaign offices. Severity of incidents ranges from teens trashing yard signs to battery -- somebody punched a Republican committee chairman. Bainbridge writes,
If this sort of thing were happening to Democrats, both the Michael Moore-types and the mainstream media would be screaming about Republican stormtroopers directed by Reichsführer-SS John Ashcroft. Since it's happening to Republicans, however, it is mostly covered just by local media. In any event, it cerainly gives one pause about putting up a Bush yard sign or putting on a Bush bumpersticker.
This sort of thing has happened to Democrats, of course, but I don't know if anyone is keeping tabs. I did a news google and came up with a few recent incidents:

Vandals set fire to signs and wrote pro-George W. Bush messages on the front of the Democratic Party Headquarters of Lafayette, Louisiana. A mixture of ash from the fire and what appeared to be motor oil was used to smear "4+ GWB" across the front windows and "W" on the headquarters' door. This is the second time the office was hit by vandals.

In Pennsylvania, a man ran out of a Republican office building and attacked Kerry demonstrators across the street.

A little after noon, a man who looked to be in his 50s ran out the front door of the Republican office building, crossed the four-lane Main Street, and grabbed Lainie Maloy's big blue Kerry banner.

"He was screaming like a lunatic, obscenities mostly," said the Greensburg woman, who sported peace-sign earrings.

"He told us he hopes al-Qaida kills us all," said Thor Strong. "He grabbed the banner and took off back across the road, dragging [Maloy] with him."

"He pulled me right out into the traffic," Maloy said. "Then he finally let go and ran away, back into the Republican building over there."

Workers in the Republican office denied knowing who the man was.

Democratic headquarters in Lawrence, Kansas, vandalized -- somebody spray-painted "Bush" and some profanities (I assume the profanities were not modifying "Bush") on windows and signs.

In Oregon, Kerry-Edwards signs were stolen or damaged. Some cars with Kerry bumper stickers were vandalized.  

In Galveston County, Texas, vandals broke a window of the Dem campaign office and left behind a tire iron and a Bush-Cheney bumper sticker. (The county Republican chairman denied that Bush supporters could have done such a thing.)

As I said, the examples above are just the ones that turned up in a news google this morning. I'm sure this is just the tip of the iceburg.
Vandalism and assault are wrong. I'm not excusing it because "they do it too." I'm just saying that people from both sides are doing it.
Professor Bainbridge wants to wallow in vitimhood, a common rightie practice (see Thomas Frank, What's the Matter with Kansas). He wants Kerry to put a stop to it, as if the vandalizers [sic] are taking orders from the Democratic party. He believes the news media is covering up reports of assaults on Republicans. I guess the news media is really burying assaults on Democrats, since Bainbridge hasn't heard of them. 
Anyway, please send me tips on assaults and vandalism of Democrats, and I'll try to maintain a list.
8:39 am | link

wednesday, october 6, 2004

Another Lying Liar Heard From
Via Diana Moon at Letter from Gotham -- Remember John O'Neill? He recently got into an altercation at a book signing with another Vietnam Vet, and the ever-unswfit O'Neill defended himself by smearing the other guy.

As O'Neill autographed books for admirers, veteran Bobby Muller approached in his wheelchair, shook the author's hand, then asked repeatedly if O'Neill would debate him on Kerry's record.

After the two bickered for a few moments, O'Neill's wife, Anne, intervened, telling Muller to stop while nudging him away in his wheelchair.

"Tell her about the wreath you laid on Ho Chi Minh's grave," O'Neill said derisively, apparently in reference to a 1981 trip Muller made to Vietnam as a representative of the Vietnam Veterans of America, a group he formed in 1978 with Kerry.

A representative for Muller said the 1981 trip was part of an effort to get information on POWs and MIAs, and that Vietnamese soldiers, not Muller, laid the wreath at the gravesite.

O'Neill is pathological. Is he capable of telling the truth? Is smearing all he can do?

O'Neill continues to bravely defend himself from a guy in a wheelchair:

"Come on, open it up, John," Muller told O'Neill. "Stop ducking me. Let's go head to head. Let's debate."

Organizers called in security and threatened to throw Muller out, but he was allowed to stay for the luncheon. Several times during O'Neill's speech, Kerry supporters in the audience jeered or shouted "that's not true" as O'Neill laid out the basis of his book.

Later when former Swift Boat captain and Kerry supporter Skip Barker asked a question, O'Neill dismissed him and others as Democratic Party plants.

In fact, the pro-Kerry vets were from a group called Truth and Trust.

Members of said they organized to challenge O'Neill's claims that Kerry did not deserve his three Purple Hearts or military awards. Several members of the group, including Rich McCann, served with Kerry in Vietnam.

"It's time for us to bury Vietnam," McCann, of Cleveland, said before the City Club event. "It's time for us to move on to other issues." ...

Jim Wasser of Kankakee, who served with Kerry, said he joined the new group in part because he felt O'Neill and the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth were unfairly damaging the reputations of the men who served with Kerry.

"When you're lying, you're lying," Wasser said before the luncheon. "That's why we're drawing a line in the sand today."

So, per John O'Neill, people who defend the truth are "Democratic Party plants." OK. Anyway, the Truth and Trust guys have some good stuff on their web site. It's well worth a visit.

2:34 pm | link

Blogger Debate Roundup
Brad DeLong names last night's big loser: George W. Bush. "George W. Bush was: clearly outclassed by all three of the others. What's he doing on any major party ticket, anyway?" (See also Tom Curry, MSNBC, "Real Contest Is Bush vs. Cheney.")
Fafnir and Giblets comment on Dick's "gravitas." You gotta read it.
Digby says "Cheney's pants spontaneously immolated."
Matthew Yglesias says Edwards owned Cheney on domestic issues.
Kos has a roundup of comments from this morning's editorial pages.
Josh Marshall on the importance of post-debate spin:

Purely on the basis of this evening's debate, Cheney has a mammoth credibility problem. Again and again he said things that were simply false. In the case of the Iraq-9/11 tie, I think there's no question but that he simply lied when he claimed there was never a connection.

Yet Cheney is well-liked within the Washington establishment so it will be interesting to see whether the the big TV shows and major dailies are willing to call him on it.

It will be key for the Democrats to force the matter and tie it to the broader issue of the president's lack of credibility and fear of levelling with the American people.

Amy Sullivan writes at Political Animal that the MSNBC pundit crew was on drugs. Atrios says they were smokin' crack. However, James Wolcott says it was just junk food:

Matthews, hopped up on Cheetos and Nehi orange, crowned Cheney the victor in the debate and within ten seconds of his fight-night wrapup was tossing out conspiracy theories as to why the liberal press would be too chicken to acknowledge that Cheney had crushed his opponent. The MSNBC panelists were as giddy as Matthews, Joe Scarborough claiming Edwards had been obliterated, Andrea Mitchell all aglow at this demonstration of raw authority, and so many references to "the stature gap" that it was as if they were trying out a new catchphrase. But Matthews' record on catchphrases isn't the most stellar. After the Kerry Bush debate, he excitedly said that "mixed messages" would be the "fuzzy math" of this campaign, a bullseye painted on Kerry's back. Only Matthews could get that worked up about something that mundane. 

I couldn't look at all the post-debate news commentary by myself, and my television is equipped with an an automatic shutoff if it's tuned to Faux News for more than two minutes. But from my own limited channel surfing, MSNBC was by far the worst. The other channels' pundits were very carefully saying that both candidates did well. MSNBC's (Ron Reagan a possible exception) gave the debate to Cheney by a knockout. What is wrong with these people? Eric Boehlert may have the answer at Salon.  
More good blogging:
11:03 am | link

Lies and the Lying Liar ...
"Dick Cheney spent 90 minutes lying." -- Don Imus on MSNBC this morning.
When I clicked out last night the MSNBC pundit crew was spinning a Cheney victory, but this morning Imus was putting that to rest. Not that he was crazy about Edwards, either. But the central message was: Cheney lied. About everything
Glenn Kessler and Jim VandeHei of the Washington Post provide documentation. Last night, for example, I remarked on Cheney's claim that he had never made a connection between Saddam Hussein and 9/11. Kessler and VandeHei write,
Early in the debate, Cheney snapped at Edwards, "The senator has got his facts wrong. I have not suggested there's a connection between Iraq and 9/11." But in numerous interviews, Cheney has skated close to the line in ways that may have certainly left that impression on viewers, usually when he cited the possibility that Mohamed Atta, one of the hijackers on Sept. 11, 2001, met with an Iraqi official — even after that theory was largely discredited.
(For an example of Cheney's repeating the "Atta in Prague" tale, see The Mahablog for September 17, 2003, "Six Degrees of al Qaeda.")
Cheney may have stopped telling the Atta story, but he hasn't gotten over lying about Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. From last night:

CHENEY: Gwen, the story that appeared today about this report is one I asked for. I ask an awful lot of questions as part of my job as vice president. A CIA spokesman was quoted in that story as saying they had not yet reached the bottom line and there is still debate over this question of the relationship between Zarqawi and Saddam Hussein.

The report also points out that at one point some of Zarqawi‘s people were arrested.  Saddam personally intervened to have them released, supposedly at the request of Zarqawi

But let‘s look at what we know about Mr. Zarqawi.

We know he was running a terrorist camp, training terrorists in Afghanistan prior to 9/11.  We know that when we went into Afghanistan that he then migrated to Baghdad.  He set up shop in Baghdad, where he oversaw the poisons facility up at Kermal (ph), where the terrorists were developing ricin and other deadly substances to use.

We know he‘s still in Baghdad today.  He is responsible for most of the major car bombings that have killed or maimed thousands of people.  He‘s the one you will see on the evening news beheading hostages. 

He is, without question, a bad guy.  He is, without question, a terrorist.  He was, in fact, in Baghdad before the war, and he‘s in Baghdad now after the war.

The fact of the matter is that this is exactly the kind of track record we‘ve seen over the years.  We have to deal with Zarqawi by taking him out, and that‘s exactly what we‘ll do.

There is no question Zarqawi is a really bad guy. And he's one of Dick the Dick's favorite bad guys, because he's a bad guy who helped make the case that Saddam Hussein was a bad guy. In fact, Zarqawi is such a useful bad guy that the Bush Administration deliberately passed on opportunities to "take him out" in the past. Fred Kaplan wrote in Slate last May:
Apparently, Bush had three opportunities, long before the war, to destroy a terrorist camp in northern Iraq run by Abu Musab Zarqawi, the al-Qaida associate who recently cut off the head of Nicholas Berg. But the White House decided not to carry out the attack because, as the story puts it:

[T]he administration feared [that] destroying the terrorist camp in Iraq could undercut its case for war against Saddam.

The implications of this are more shocking, in their way, than the news from Abu Ghraib. Bush promoted the invasion of Iraq as a vital battle in the war on terrorism, a continuation of our response to 9/11. Here was a chance to wipe out a high-ranking terrorist. And Bush didn't take advantage of it because doing so might also wipe out a rationale for invasion.

And if Zarqawi is in Baghdad today, as the Veep claims, why aren't we picking him up today? Is this an admission that we don't really control Baghdad all that well?
The Bushies needed Zarqawi because his terrorist camps were the only tangible evidence they had of terrorist activity in Iraq. But, as Kaplan says, before the invasion Zarqawi had terrorist training camps in northern Iraq. This was in the area controlled by the Kurds, not Saddam Hussein. A recent CIA report found no conclusive evidence of any connection between Zarqawi and Saddam Hussein.
Gwen Ifill brought up this report in the first question:
IFILL: Donald Rumsfeld said he has not seen any hard evidence of a link between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein.  Was this approved—of a report that you requested that you received a week ago that showed there was no connection between Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and Saddam Hussein?
Cheney didn't mention Zarqawi in his answer, although he did manage to work in "weapons of mass destruction" and "terrorists smuggling a nuclear weapon." The boy doesn't give up.
Kessler and VandeHei document that Cheney told several more big, whopping, bare-ass lies, while Edwards's misstatements were more modest. For example, Edwards said Bush had proposed a protection-of-marriage amendment, whereas in fact Bush had just endorsed one. Yeah, big difference.
One Cheney lie was outed by Tim Russert on "The Today Show" this morning. During the debate, Cheney said,

Now, in my capacity as vice president, I am the president of Senate, the presiding officer.  I‘m up in the Senate most Tuesdays when they‘re in session.

The first time I ever met you was when you walked on the stage tonight.

Russert remembered Cheney and Edwards meeting and shaking hands while off-camera during a 2001 taping of "Meet the Press." A couple of other prior meetings are documented here. (This little tidbit is getting pretty good coverage this morning. It's a small, clearly defined episode that the pundits can manage to explain in a couple of sentences, making it a good TV issue. Trying to explain Abu Musab al-Zarqawi takes more effort.)

The good news: CBS News reports that uncommitted voters judged Edwards to be last night's winner. Dems can still win the post-debate spin game if we hammer on all of Cheney's lies.

8:39 am | link

tuesday, october 5, 2004

Debate Now
Headline on ABC News: "GOP Campaign Urges Post-Debate Spin." And there's water in the ocean and sand on the beach.
I'm watching the debate on CSPAN2. Feel free to comment on the debate. I may add comments to this post if anything significant happens.
Update: Did Dick the Dick just claim he never made any connection between Saddam Hussein and 9/11? I believe he did.
Oh, we did too let up on al Qaeda, you creep.
One thing's for sure -- Senator John Edwards is no Joe Lieberman.
Dick the Dick is including Iraq in the "coalition." Did the Iraqis agree to that?
Dick is looking a tad perturbed, methinks.
More of the same!
Dick is not as much of a cartoon as Dubya is, and the evil news media is probably scoring this a tie, which means it'll be spun as a Cheney win. But John Edwards is not giving an inch. I don't know if Edwards will win swing voters, but I don't think he's losing any of 'em, either. He's not letting Dick the Dick take anybody back.
Halliburton! Halliburton! No-bid contract! Business with Libya and Iran! Bribing foreign officials!
Senator Edwards is giving his summation to the jury.
Dick the Dick is telling one lie after another. Edwards has been pretty much dead on as near as I can tell. But the news media won't deconstruct the lies; they'll just score Cheney on his ability to speak in persuasive sentences. And, as I've said before, Cheney is brilliant at sounding as if he knows what he's talking about. I doubt this will be the clear-cut win that the Thursday night debate was. But I think Edwards is doing very well overall. You can see how the guy won court cases.
Where's George? Bush isn't talking about his "boss," Little Dubya. The Dems should spin this hard.
Remember, it's going to be really important to hit the online polls and vote for John Edwards. I know the polls are stupid, but the results can contribute to the Big Mo.
Keith Olberman, a man who had the unique privilege of interviewing me on national TV, has a good play by play blog.
I can't believe Big Time made the "they attacked us first" claim again. That was just stupid.
IMO Dick's closing remarks are a bit flat. He's repeating his talking points, trying to frighen us, but I think he's lost some of the old magic.
Right now, Chris Matthews is asking if the liberal press can admit that Cheney won. The CNN chatterers are more measured, calling it a draw.
I am very tired and need to hang it up for tonight. Be sure to vote in all the online polls you can find. G'night.
9:03 pm | link

Why We're Screwed
Bush's years as a good-time Charlie and heavy drinker may actually help him draw a contrast to Kerry. Bush led a more "normal" life as a young man, spending his college and postgraduation years partying, chasing women, and raising hell, while Kerry sought academic excellence, positioning himself to be a leader of his generation. Kerry's devotion to high-minded pursuits, first through his combat service in Vietnam and then as an opponent of the war, may have impressed some, but it now is often portrayed by adversaries as opportunistic and self-important. Those accusations are rarely made against Bush, who showed little interest in leadership as a younger man. [U.S. News and World Report]
We've come a way from George Washington and the cherry tree, huh?
5:59 pm | link

Outing the Insider
Lots of oddities are breaking loose and floating to the surface these days. For example: 
Rummy yesterday: ''To my knowledge, I have not seen any strong, hard evidence that links the two [Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda].''
Rummy today: "I have acknowledged since September 2002 that there were ties between al-Qaida and Iraq. This assessment was based upon points provided to me by [the] then CIA director George Tenet to describe the CIA's understanding of the al-Qaida Iraq relationship."
Who wants to bet this is the last public statement Rummy will make before the election?
dickspider.jpgDick the Dick probably wishes he did not have to speak in public this evening, so just showing up for the debate tonight should win him a couple of points in the expectations game. You know that John Edwards's staffers have smoked out every single "I know where the WMDs are" and "I know Saddam Hussein plans to nuke St. Louis" and "I know Saddam and Osama are thick as thieves" statement the veep has ever made. And you know that John Edwards has memorized every one of them. And you know that Dick the Dick knows this, too.
(I'd say that Dick the Dick is tangled in his own web except that Dick is not of a species that builds webs. His kind lives underground in undisclosed locations.)
But the timing is grand, ain't it? By now the lies are so far removed from reality that even Condi can't fake it any more.
This is not to say that John Edwards should expect a cakewalk.  Dick Cheney is a genius at being credible. There is something about him that just oozes authority. He could probably claim he has clear evidence the Democratic Party is being controlled by radio transmissions from humpback whales and people would believe him. For a split second, I bet even you would believe him. He's that good.
This aura of competence is the basis for Cheney's success. People listen to him talk, and they want to put him in charge. That's how he got to be the insider's insider. But if you look at his actual record, you see that it's, um, not that good.
For example, as CEO of Halliburton, Cheney's role was to use his connections to win contracts, not run the company. Day-to-day operations were handled by Halliburton president and chief operating officer, Dave Lesar.
Even so, "we now know that as CEO, Cheney got snookered into a disastrous merger that has since sent Halliburton's stock price plummeting," wrote Josh Marshall in 2002, "while signing off on dubious balance sheets that have sparked a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation."
Josh Marshall has written some revealing articles on Our Veep. See, for example, "Confidence Men" (Washington Monthly, September 2002), "Vice Grip" (Washington Monthly, January/February 2003), and "At the Start of Each of Bush's Bad Ideas Is Dick Cheney" (The Hill, October 22, 2003). Read these, and you'll wonder if Dick is qualified to be assistant floor manager of the Casper, Wyoming, Wal Mart, much less a heartbeat away from the presidency. Only in comparison to the current officeholder is the idea of a President Cheney not downright startling.
But when he speaks, only the most steadfast are not seduced. He seems so authoritative. He must know what he's talking about.
That explains Dick the Dick. I'm still wondering how Paul Wolfowitz stays employed. Pheromones?
10:30 am | link

monday, october 4, 2004

True to form, Little Green Footballs is whining about how awful it is that Kerry got away with cheating in the Thursday debate. This post is followed by 273 comments as of this writing, and these are nearly unanimous in their agreement with the post. One person admitted that he really couldn't see anything for certain in the video, but since Kerry is a Democrat he is expected to cheat. Another individual asked if anyone could prove Bush hadn't used notes also. He was told to shut the bleep up.
These are the same people who crucified Dan Rather for being careless and biased, mind you.
Apprently drudge promised that "jacketgate" would be at least mentioned in the New York Times today, although I couldn't find it. Could drudge have been mistaken?
Meanwhile, Digby has some actual evidence of "earpiecegate."  See the photograph showing a mysterious bulge in the back of Dubya's jacket. Hmmmm. Although it looks like a hammer to me. Perhaps Bush expected to do some carpentry.
Update: A commenter on Political Animal speculates that Bush's jacket bulge is evidence of a bullet-proof vest. This is a sensible hypothesis, and most likely true, but it's much less fun than the earpiece hypothesis.
Update Update: Via Hesiod via Atrios: Bush had a cheat sheet?
9:34 am | link

Bob Herbert discusses Bush v. Reality in today's New York Times:

The political problem for Mr. Bush is that while he is offering a rosy picture of events in Iraq - perhaps because he believes it, or because he wants to bolster American morale - voters are increasingly seeing the bitter, tragic reality of those events. A president can stay out of step with reality only so long. Eventually there's a political price to pay. Lyndon Johnson's deceit with regard to Vietnam, for example, has never been forgiven.

The president likes to tell us that "freedom is winning" in Iraq, that democracy is on the march. But Americans are coming to realize that Iraq is, in fact, a country in agony, beset by bombings, firefights, kidnappings, beheadings and myriad other forms of mayhem. The president may think that freedom is winning, but television viewers in the U.S. could see images over the weekend of distraught Iraqis pulling the bodies of small children from smoking rubble - a tragic but perfect metaphor for a policy in ruins.

Over the weekend we heard about the glorious victory over insurgents in Samarra. This morning I read:

In 36 hours of fighting in the city, the US military said it killed 125 guerrillas and captured 88. About 3 000 US troops and 2 000 Iraqi soldiers had stormed Samarra on Friday.

Aid organisations said they were concerned about a lack of water and electricity and the fate of hundreds of families forced to flee.

One man, who said he escaped the city yesterday, reported that civilians had been killed. He said he had seen dogs picking at corpses in the street.
"I swear I saw dogs eating the body of a woman," he said.

Residents said bodies were left in the streets, untended due to the fear of snipers.

Families tried to bury their dead on Sunday but the road to the cemetery was blocked off by US troops, witnesses said.

Overnight, two bombs in central Baghdad killed ten people and wounded at least 70 others. Yeah, peace is at hand.

Meanwhile, the Taliban has vowed to disrupt the elections to be held in Afghanistan this week, and anti-Taliban forces are corrupting the election by pressuring people to vote for certain candidates. And once again the White House has dispatched Condi Rice to go forth and explain that square is round, down is up, and the Administration wasn't really lying about the aluminum tubes.

Their foreign policy in shambles, Bushies everywhere respond by making fun of John Kerry.

If you want a clue to how people can be so oblivious to reality, read yesterday's Frank Rich column in the New York Times. Rich says that a new DVD called "George W. Bush: Faith in the White House" is a must see.

More than any other campaign artifact, it clarifies the hard-knuckles rationale of the president's vote-for-me-or-face-Armageddon re-election message. It transforms the president that the Democrats deride as a "fortunate son" of privilege into a prodigal son with the "moral clarity of an old-fashioned biblical prophet." Its Bush is not merely a sincere man of faith but God's essential and irreplaceable warrior on Earth. The stations of his cross are burnished into cinematic fable: the misspent youth, the hard drinking (a thirst that came from "a throat full of Texas dust"), the fateful 40th-birthday hangover in Colorado Springs, the walk on the beach with Billy Graham. A towheaded child actor bathed in the golden light of an off-camera halo re-enacts the young George comforting his mom after the death of his sister; it's a parable anticipating the future president's miraculous ability to comfort us all after 9/11. An older Bush impersonator is seen rebuffing a sexual come-on from a fellow Bush-Quayle campaign worker hovering by a Xerox machine in 1988; it's an effort to imbue our born-again savior with retroactive chastity. As for the actual president, he is shown with a flag for a backdrop in a split-screen tableau with Jesus. The message isn't subtle: they were separated at birth.

Maybe it's something in the water, or the air. Maybe it's death rays from outer space. Tin foil hats, anyone? 

6:00 am | link

sunday, october 3, 2004

Since George Bush's meltdown on Thursday the Right Blogosphere has been spinning itself about what really happened. Desperate to believe that Bush really won, the righties are grasping at any straw.
Early on, they thought a Kerry misspeak -- he said "Treblinka Square" when he meant "Dzerzhinsky Square" -- would rally opinion back to Bush. When that didn't happen, another blogger hoped that Kerry's statement about New York subways being shut down for the RNC convention would hurt him. However, some subways were shut down at times during the convention, for security reasons, as Kerry said. (Fact checks, m'love, ain't just for CBS News.)
The righties are bitterly disappointed the evil liberal news media didn't jump on these outrageous distortions of fact. Of course, Bush's gross inflation of the numbers of Iraqi soldiers and police officers that have been trained and equipped was perfectly OK.   
Rightie bloggers have followed the lead of rightie "pundits" by snarking at "the Kerry doctrine." As I'm sure you know, this statement by Kerry:
KERRY: The president always has the right, and always has had the right, for preemptive strike. That was a great doctrine throughout the Cold War. And it was always one of the things we argued about with respect to arms control.

No president, through all of American history, has ever ceded, and nor would I, the right to preempt in any way necessary to protect the United States of America.

But if and when you do it, Jim, you have to do it in a way that passes the test, that passes the global test where your countrymen, your people understand fully why you're doing what you're doing and you can prove to the world that you did it for legitimate reasons.

Has been distorted by Bush, thus:

"America has to pass a global test before we can use troops to defend ourselves. Senator Kerry's approach to foreign policy would give foreign governments veto power over national security decisions..."

Only an idiot could misinterpret Kerry's statement that way, so that's what Bush did. But this point needs more blogging than I have time to give it right now.

No, the real knee-slapper is what the technoweenies at Little Green Footballs are calling "Jacketgate." The buzz is that Kerry cheated in the debate by taking something out of his pocket and putting it on the lecturn, and that something must have been notes, which were forbidden by the debate rules.

So now, all over the Right Blogosphere, the wingnuts are enlarging frames of the debate video to see this something. Some see a flash of white, which may be paper, or may be the cuff of a shirt. Or, they see an object that might be a pen (considering Kerry was taking notes, as was Bush, that's a good guess).  

Whatever. What's striking is the near universal assumption on the Right Blogosphere that Kerry did cheat, and the photos prove it, and it's just a matter of time before this outrage is discovered. We can expect "jacketgate" to become solidly embedded in Right Wing mythos next to Clinton's guilt in Whitewater. They will believe it to be true as long as they live. 

Yeah, these are just the guys to lecture Dan Rather about being more careful with facts.

On the Left there's been speculation that Bush wore an earpiece, but most on the Left treat the speculation as speculation -- a hypothesis. Not a proven fact. (I'll be watching for it on Friday, though.)

9:21 pm | link

Frenchie George
"L'etat, c'est Dubya." I've said it before, but I'll say it again. He may pretend to be Andy Jackson, but he's really Louie XIV.
8:21 pm | link

Type Cast III

David Neiwert at Orcinus has written a very important post about the actions of the blogosphere in the recent "typegate' dustup.

Among new developments: Professor David Hailey's research project report on the type used in the Killian memos, which I mentioned last week, has predictably been attacked by the Right Blogosphere, notably Wizbang and, to a lesser extent, Little Green Footballs and other rightie blogs. I've discussed Wizbang and their promotion of patriotic voyeurism in the past.

David Neiwert writes of Wizbang:

You can get a sense of the tenor of the attacks at the original post with multiple updates, as well as at posts dubbing the matter "Haileygate". While commenters at the blog have been even more crude, the blog's authors have hardly been shy in flinging accusations. Their core mantra is that Hailey is "a liar, a fraud and charlatan." Even in its more toned-down recent posts, the blog's authors insist that Hailey has committed "academic fraud."

This is the same blog which, as
I've described previously, fell for a clear hoax from an anonymous Internet poster claiming that Iowa farmer Martin Heldt -- whose FOIA requests uncovered much of what was originally known about Bush's National Guard records -- had tried to sell these documents to various campaigns. Based on the bogus testimony, the Wizbangers decided that Heldt was the "forger" of the documents -- a blatantly wrong and false accusation which it has neither corrected nor apologized for.

They've continued in the same vein with the Hailey report -- openly libeling their subject and accusing him of unethical and potentially criminal behavior, all without the benefit of getting a response from him as well as any consideration of the gravity of the charges. Even their most recent posts continue to assert the "academic fraud" charge.

As a result, Professor Hailey has been swamped with hundreds of hate emails accusing him of being a fascist hack and worse. Utah State President Kermit Hall said that the attackers clearly were trying to intimidate Professor Hailey and Utah State.

(Professor Hailey isn't the only academic to draw the wrath of the wingnuts. Professor Robert Strong of Washington and Lee was mercilessly attacked because he had the same name as someone who supported the legitimacy of the Killian memos.)

The encouraging development here is that Utah State is seriously considering court action against Wizbang. Attacking academic research is a hindrance to academic freedom and an important issue to the university.

I've got my fingers crossed that Wizbang does get sued. But, in the meantime, what about others of us who have been targeted by other blogs? My recent experience as a target of Little Green Footballs was disturbing, especially since some of the brownshirts got my phone number. Eventually somebody's going to get hurt. However unjust it was, however, I'm not willing to spend the money to hire a lawyer and pursue a court case against LGF.

Nor do I want to discourage bloggers from saying snarky things about other bloggers, since I do it all the time. But I have unusually intelligent and cultured readers, IMO, who are not likely to waste their time sending malicious emails to bloggers I have snarked. (You don't, do you?)

There is much to think about here regarding the impact of blogs on politics and journalism, for good or ill, and I'm going to be thinking about it this afternoon.

Also: Paul Lukasiak has more information on proportionally spaced TANG memos released by the Pentagon.

12:41 pm | link

The Vegetable was on the pundit panel on "This Week" and now he's on the pundit panel on "The Chris Matthews Show." If I see him on "Meet the Press" I'm going to scream.
On "This Week" he claimed that Kerry had never made a friend in the Senate, and George S. let that howler go by without comment.
Update: "Meet the Press" doesn't have David Broks, but they managed to find one of the few pundits I dislike even more intensely than David Brooks -- Kate O'Beirne. Gag.
10:05 am | link

As I keyboard, I'm watching George Stephanopoulos grill Condi Rice over the findings in this New York Times report --that a majority of the top nuclear experts in the United States knew that the famous aluminum tubes (sited in the 2003 State of the Union address as a reason the U.S. must invade Iraq) were not suitable for use in uranium certifuges. They not only knew this before the SOTU, they knew it in 2002, and they knew it in 2001. But the Bush administration suppressed this opinion and only listened to those people pushing the centrifuge theory.
The efforts to "prove" Iraq posed a nuclear threat became more and more pathetic. This happened early in 2003:
White House officials who were helping to draft what would become Secretary Powell's speech to the Security Council sent word to the intelligence community that they believed "the nuclear case was weak," the Senate report said. In an interview, a senior administration official said it was widely understood all along at the White House that the evidence of a nuclear threat was piecemeal and weaker than that for other unconventional arms.

But rather than withdraw the nuclear card - a step that could have undermined United States credibility just as tens of thousands of troops were being airlifted to the region - the White House cast about for new arguments and evidence to support it.

Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, asked the intelligence agencies for more evidence beyond the tubes to bolster the nuclear case. Winpac analysts redoubled efforts to prove that Iraq was trying to acquire uranium from Africa. When rocket engineers at the Defense Department were approached by the C.I.A. and asked to compare the Iraqi tubes with American ones, the engineers said the tubes "were perfectly usable for rockets." The agency analysts did not appear pleased. One rocket engineer complained to Senate investigators that the analysts had "an agenda" and were trying "to bias us" into agreeing that the Iraqi tubes were not fit for rockets. In interviews, agency officials denied any such effort.

According to the Intelligence Committee report, the agency also sought to undermine the I.A.E.A.'s work with secret intelligence assessments distributed only to senior policy makers. Nonetheless, on Jan. 22, in a meeting first reported by The Washington Post, the ubiquitous Joe flew to Vienna in a last-ditch attempt to bring the international experts around to his point of view.

The session was a disaster.

"Everybody was embarrassed when he came and made this presentation, embarrassed and disgusted," one participant said. "We were going insane, thinking, 'Where is he coming from?' "

On Jan. 27, the international agency rendered its judgment: it told the Security Council that it had found no evidence of a revived nuclear weapons program in Iraq. "From our analysis to date," the agency reported, "it appears that the aluminum tubes would be consistent with the purpose stated by Iraq and, unless modified, would not be suitable for manufacturing centrifuges."

Condi, of course, lied her ass off. She even said the intelligence community is still arguing about it. Richard Holbrook came on after and expressed amazement at this claim.
The "Joe" mentioned in the quote above is a mechanical engineer (bachelor's degree from University of Kentucky) in the Weapons Intelligence section of the CIA who was a primary proponent of the "uranium centrifuge" theory.
9:09 am | link

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The Loyalties of George W. Bush

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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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My Unitarian Jihad Name is: Sister Numchuku of Reasoned Discussion.

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Copyright 2003, 2004 by Barbara O'Brien

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