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
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.
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.
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.
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?).
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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),
But there's more to Cheney than old-fashioned racism. Jonathan Chait wrote in The
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.
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
** 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.
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
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
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.
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?
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 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
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.
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.
Members of truthandtrust.com 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
"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.
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.")
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.
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.
"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
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.
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
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
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.
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,
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?
Dick 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
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,
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.
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,"
Residents said bodies were left in the streets, untended due to the fear of snipers.
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?
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.
"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
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
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
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
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.
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"
"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.