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saturday, july 30, 2005

How to Fake News: A Primer
 
It's fun to check in with Memeorandum now and then to see what the righties are linking to. Yesterday they were gathering like flies to a carcass to a story that appears to be phony.
 
I say "appears"; maybe it isn't. It's hard to tell, for reasons that I hope become apparent as you read this post. The point of this post is not to prove or disprove certain allegations, but to illustrate how, shall we say, uncritical reading and writing can create a lot of smoke without there necessarily being a fire.
 
So, here we go: 
 
An editorial in the Washington Times (link above) claimed that Radio is stealing money from poor children and sick old people.
Did Al Franken's liberal radio network Air America divert city money for the elderly and inner-city children to itself? That's the question people should be asking this week after the revelation that the New York Department of Investigation is looking into whether hundreds of thousands of dollars were illegally transferred from a Bronx community center to Air America.
Now, this may be true, but it can't be verified through the Department of Investigation web site. And as I examined various other stories it seems no one has verified this claim with the D of I directly. So how does the Washington Times know about this outrage? From "sources quoted anonymously by the Bronx News," it says.
 
I live about a ten minutes' drive from the Bronx and wasn't aware there is a Bronx News. Nor can I find mention of a Bronx News through Google. There is a Bronx Times, and the Bronx Times recently carried a story about the legal difficulties of this same community center, the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club, but there was no mention in that story of Air America.
 
OK, so forget about the Bronx News, which may or may not exist. What about the other sources? "The New York Daily News buried an item at the end of a column of news briefs," says the Washington Times. I will return to the Daily News in a moment. The Washington Times also says,
We only found out about it through the reporting of Brian Maloney, who pieced a story together on his blog "The Radio Equalizer" which was picked up by syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin.
OK, now we're getting somewhere. So I googled for Brian Maloney--A talk host since 1993, Time Magazine compared Brian Maloney to Rush Limbaugh--and found Maloney's version of the story--"Air America's Dirty Dough."
What happens when the mainstream media, after years of seething over conservative talk radio's success, discover its alternative got diverted public funds, earmarked instead for inner-city youth and seniors?

The answer, with one key exception: they pretend it didn't happen.

Yes, only because of a New York Daily News
tidbit do we know that Bronx-based Gloria Wise Boys and Girls Club nearly shut down major programs recently, because almost $500,000 in governmental grant money was instead diverted to Air America's liberal radio network.
I'm sure the Air America gang would be astonished to find out they are "mainstream media's alternative" to conservative talk radio, but let's go on ... Here's the "tidbit":

In its initial announcement, the DOI said it was probing allegations that program officials "approved significant inappropriate transactions and falsified documents that were submitted to various city agencies."

According to published reports, the allegations involve Charles Rosen, the founder of Gloria Wise who has stepped down as executive director, investing city contract funds in Air America Radio, the liberal talk radio network.

Evan Cohen, Air America's former chairman, had served as Gloria Wise's director of development.

I emphasized the "published reports" line because we're going to investigate what those "published reports" are.
 
If you were to read this paragraph carelessly, you would think that the Department of Investigation is investigating Air America. But that's not what it says; it says the D of I is investigating the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club. In addition, published reports (from where?) say that Air America is involved.
 
On the hunt for the "published reports"-- in this paragraph, Maloney provides his chief source of information:
On July 5, for example, a community newspaper called the Gotham Gazette published a story by Michael Horowitz that laid out the evolving scandal in detail. Why wasn't this on the AP wire straightaway?
Maloney's link leads to a blank page, but I'm reasonably sure this is the story he's talking about. In "Youth Funds Diverted to Liberal Radio Station," Michael Horowitz of the elusive Bronx News explains what he learned from "two unidentified informed sources."
The Bronx News has learned, through informed sources, that the diversion of hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club in Co-op City to the liberal Air America Radio is at the center of the city’s probe of corruption at the local club.
Informed sources from where? The NYC Department of Investigation? The Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club? The bar across the street? A ouija board? Michael Horowitz's butt? Horowitz never says. However, Horowitz continues,
At the center of the investigation, in addition to Charles Rosen, the charismatic leader of the local club for the last 15 years, is Evan Cohen, who resigned, under fire, as chairman of Air America Radio shortly after its start as an alternative to conservative talk radio.

Cohen, at the time the alleged transfers of funds from the Gloria Wise Club to Air America took place, was also the director of Development for the local boys’ and girls’ club, the News has learned.
You can read more about Evan Cohen at Wikipedia. According to Wikipedia, Cohen resigned from (or was forced out of) his association with Air America Radio because Air America believed Cohen's numbers weren't crunching. So, it is possible (unlike rightie bloggers, I like to make a distinction between conjecture and evidence) that Air America and the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club were both victims of money mishandling by Cohen. Cohen, Wikipedia also says, has a long history as a Republican political operative.
 
Remarkably, the most damning bit of evidence I've found so far comes from Air America itself. This statement says the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club gave money to Progress Media, Evan Cohen's company. And here's what Wikipedia says about that:
Air America was started as part of Progress Media, which said it had amassed $30 million in venture capital prior to its debut, a claim which later turned out to be untrue (only $6 million was initially collected). Two individuals from Guam, Rex Sorensen and Evan Montvel Cohen, were involved in raising the capital but denied any wrongdoing. Cohen had an unusual history for his position in a progressive-left radio network since he was a Republican political operative in Guam and former chief of staff for Republican Governor Tommy Tanaka. Cohen dismissed concerns by saying he was a committed "progressive" and that Republicans in Guam "are left of Paul Wellstone." It was reported that Cohen had unpaid business debts in Guam, although Cohen denies this. Tommy Tanaka pleaded guilty to corruption charges in 2003.
What appears to have happened--and, note, this is conjecture again--is that the execs at Gloria Wise funneled money into Progress Media that they shouldn't have funneled. And what the righties and Michael Horowitz seem to have done is treat "Progress Media" and "Air America Radio" as synonyms, even though the two entities parted company over a year ago. Since everyone is a bit vague as to when this alleged funneling occurred, I can't tell whether it happened while AAR was still part of Progress Media, or after. And even if it was while, since AAR was (I believe) a subsidiary of PM and not the entire company, it doesn't necessarily follow that funds received by PM went to AAR.
 
As I said at the start of this post, I'm not attempting to prove or disprove the allegations. I'm just trying to track down where the allegations are coming from and how solidly they are sourced.
 
Hugh Hewitt is all over this story and provides a number of links. For example, in this post Hewitt links to a Form 990 filed by the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club for the period ending June 2003. I looked at every page; nothing about Air America. But, by golly, it's a link to a real document. That Hewitt is one crack investigator.
 
In this post, Hewitt writes,
The Philly Inquirer did have this story on AA last month, and note that it does not distinguish between the Air America of spring 2004 and Air America of today. That's because it doesn't matter who "borrowed" the money from the kids and the Alzheimer's patients. It matters where the money went --which was into Al Franken's already well lined pockets, as well as the pockets of everyone else receiving Air America paychecks at the time of the diversion.
It took some doing to get through the Philly Inquirer's highly annoying registration firewall, but I finally did. The story, posted on July 28 by Beth Gillin, Inquirer Staff Writer, is all about Air America's struggle to establish itself and grow ratings, and about how it isn't anywhere close to beating out rightie Big Mouths like Rush Limbaugh. But there's nothing in this story about Progress Media, the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club or any other possibly illegal misuse of money.
 
In other words, Hewitt links to something that one might assume supports what he says, but it doesn't.
 
Mr. Hewitt continues,
Here is the web site for the Gloria Wise Community Center. Here's the link to the Center's Camp Air America. What do campers learn? Creative accounting.
Hewitt doesn't actually link to Camp Air America, btw. But here is the link.  You can see an announcement that Morning Sedition would be raising money for the camp this June and July. Air America says,
We at Air America Radio strongly believe in the mission of Boys and Girls Clubs to provide a safe and nurturing place for young people to learn and grow. As a result, we recently allowed the same club, Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club, to use our name in a fundraising effort for a summer camp for children in their community.

The funding for Camp Air America was raised and collected entirely by the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club, and Air America promoted the camp on air and urged support for it. A link on our web site sent those interested in contributing to the camp to the Gloria Wise web site. Regrettably, the camp did not survive the closure of the Gloria Wise organization. We have offered any individuals who contributed to the camp as a result of Air America's promotion the option of a refund paid for by Air America Radio and the Club offered the alternative option of having their donation redirected to
Kip's Bay Boys and Girls Club.
Not exactly a smoking gun; more like an empty water pistol.
 
BTW, the camp also claimed to be partnered with Coca Cola, Microsoft, and a whole lot of other organizations and foundations that (I assume) donated money or something. By Hewitt's logic, all of these companies and organizations are also under investigation.
 
Here's Hewitt's trump card: 
CNN's "Inside Politics" blog sp[ecialists [sic] Abbi Tatton and Jacki Schechnerspent the entire second segment of today's show on Air America's woes.  
And here's the bit of CNN transcript Hewitt finds significant (emphasis added by me):

JOHNS: Air America Radio is attracting a lot of attention from bloggers today. For more on that, let's check in with CNN political producer Abbi Tatton, and Jacki Schechner, our blog reporter -- Jacki.

SCHECHNER: Hi, Joe.

Well, many of the conservative bloggers are talking about a New York investigation into the possible diversion of funds from an inner city Boys and Girls Club to the liberal radio station Air America. This started with Brian Maloney over at TheRadioEqualizer.blogspot.com.

He picked up a small mention as part of a larger article in the "New York Daily News." And as part of that article, it turns out that the former CEO of Air America was also on the board of that Boys and Girls Club. And that's where the investigation continues right now into what sort of diversion of funds may have taken place.

TATTON: Working with Brian Maloney on the store is Michele Malkin at MicheleMalkin.com. She's been really pushing it. This is a blogger driven story that she feels is not getting enough coverage in the mainstream media.

Michele has been linking to statements put out from Air America on this case. What they're essentially saying is the funds in question that are being investigated were to previous business owners of Air America, that they have nothing to do with those preview business owners and so they are not responsible for what's going on here.

The debate carrying on at DailyKos.com, whether webmaster of Air America, that's Adam Mordecai, is posting the most recent statement saying that they have no obligation to the previous business owners, but their still working with the Boys and Girls Club. And very much the Boys and Girls Club very much has the support of Air America.

SCHECHNER: That did not stop the conservative blogs from posting all sorts of headlines like "Al Franken Steals Money From Kids and Old Folks" or things like JackLewis.net, "Liberals Stealing From Poor Kids." They really, you could take your pick of blogs on this one. That sort of vein.

But over at the larger blogs like WhizbangBlog.com, they're doing what Michele Malkin and what Brian are doing, and they're looking deeper into the statement from Air America saying whatever the answers are at this point, it's not enough for them. And they are going to continue to push the investigation.

Joe, we will send it back to you.

Let's recap. What do we have so far? All allegations that the allegedly pilfered Gloria Wise money went to Air America Radio are based on one, and only one, source: Michael Horowitz in the prestigious, if ephemeral, Bronx News. And Horowitz got his information from "informed sources" of undetermined origin.
 
And, folks, that's it. Brian Maloney picked up Horowitz, and Hewitt and Michelle Malkin picked up Maloney, and by means of much huffing and puffing and overheated rhetoric (Malkin:  "Will Air America's self-proclaimed champions of the poor and downtrodden--Franken? Garafolo? Springer?--touch this story with a ten-foot pole?") the righties manage to create much smoke without any visible fire. The rightie bloggers link to each other's allegations as "proof"; they link to anything they can find that mentions Air America in a negative light as "proof"; but in fact nothing has been made public that supports Malkin's claim ...
Air America is being investigated in New York for diverting federal/local funds--possibly "hundreds of thousands of dollars"--meant for inner-city kids and senior into the station's coffers.
...other than the "informed sources" quoted by Michael Horowitz in the Bronx News.
 
The Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club is being investigated, yes. I infer that Progress Media is involved. But no authoritative source has said that Air America is being investigated.
 
Here is another part of Air America's response to the allegation:
If the allegations of mismanagement and corruption at Gloria Wise Boys and Girls Club are true, it is absolutely disgraceful.

As reported in the Wall Street Journal and the HBO Documentary, Left of the Dial‚ the company that the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club officials gave money to, Progress Media, has been defunct since May 2004.  That company was run at the time by Evan Cohen who has not had any involvement in Air America Radio since May 2004.

The current owners of Air America Radio have no obligation to Progress Media‚s business activities.  We are very disturbed that Air America Radio's good name could be associated with a reduction in services for young people, which is why we agreed months ago to fully compensate the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club as a result of this transaction.
The literacy challenged Brian Maloney interprets the statement above as an admission of guilt. And if AAR washed their hands of the mess entirely, I'm sure Maloney would be whining that AAR was shirking its responsibilities. 
 
Can we say this allegation is "undersourced"? I believe we can.
 
Yesterday a number of rightie bloggers linked to the Washington Times editorial quoted at the beginning of this post, creating quite a buzz. Let's check in with The Anchoress: 

If you have not been following the story of how Air America sayed on the air by apparently using money meant for children and the elderly well, where have you been?

I admit when the story first broke, I figured it would be yet another story wherein the liberal/left perps get a free ride from the press (ala Sandy Berger) as the story disappears. And that may still happen…as it stands right now, the MSM has NOT covered any of this. But right now I’d say a blogswarm is begun, and that Al Franken (who is considering running for public office) has a few questions to answer along the “what did he know and when did he know it” lines.

Go-to bloggers on this are Brian Maloney (just keep scrolling down) who Hugh Hewitt says “owns” the story, along with Ed Morrissey, Michelle Malkin, Macho Nachos, Mark in Mexico, (who has a MAJOR link compilation) Wizbang, LaShawn and, of course, Hugh Hewitt.

But if you follow the Anchoress's links, what you find is that they're all linking back to the same stuff, and that's all based on the one, single, lamely substantiated solitary source--Michael Horowitz of the Bronx News.
 
So, I'm fixing to send a story to one of those "newspapers" full of coupons that get stuffed into my mailbox every week about how Karl Rove is an Iranian counterspy, and we leftie bloggers can all link to that and each other and call it a "swarm." And maybe we'll get mentioned on CNN! Whatta ya say?
 
[A slightly updated version of this story is posted to The American Street.]
 
UPDATE: The disappointingly pathetic Commissar of The Politboro Diktat has called me a "liar" because he was able to find the Bronx News by googling. Not that the Bronx News has it's own web site, mind you, because it doesn't, and that was my point. He found the Bronx News in some online directory.
 
Some people on Kos Diaries found the same thing yesterday. One of them called the phone number. Nobody there. Real newspapers have staff in the office on Saturday.
 
I still haven't gotten my hands on a copy of The Bronx News, but that will be one of my projects next week. I suspect strongly it's a glorified advertising circular.
 
But this just exemplifies the misdirection technique Righties are so good at. The Commissar does not address or disprove my point, which is that this entire "swarm" is based on the word of ONE writer, published in a very minor "newspaper," and this one writer says he got the information from two anonymous "informed sources" of unspecified origin. All other news stories that claim Air America is under investigation are basing this claim on the Horowitz article.
 
Lordy, righties get more and more pathetic every minute, don't they?

12:19 pm | link

friday, july 29, 2005

Recess Games
 
Knight Ridder's William Douglas and James Kuhnhenn write that President Bush is fixin' to make John Bolton the UN Ambassador through a recess appointment. This surprises me, especially considering today's news that the State Department admitted that Bolton lied to Congress 

The acknowledgment came after the State Department had earlier insisted nominee John Bolton's "answer was truthful" when he said he had not been questioned or provided information to jury or government investigations in the past five years.

"When Mr. Bolton completed his form during the Senate confirmation process he did not recall being interviewed by the State Department inspector general. Therefore his form as submitted was inaccurate in this regard and he will correct the form," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said.

Lordy, people in Washington sure do have awful memories, don't they? Must be somethin' in the water. Or else they all live in Bizarro Faux Nooz World, in which everything is just the opposite of what it is here.

It does make one wonder why the White House is so determined to send a loser like Bolton to the UN. According to the Knight Ridder report, Bush mouthpieces Norm Coleman and Condi Rice insist that upcoming UN conferences make it imperative that the U.S. have their "permanent" ambassador in place. But if appointed, Bolton wouldn't be "permanent," but "interim," and could serve only until January 2007 when a new Congress is sworn in. Plus, Bolton would arrive at the UN as damaged goods.

"I think we're dealing with trouble having a recess-appointment U.N. ambassador," said Leon Panetta, the White House chief of staff under President Clinton, who made more than 56 recess appointments during his two terms. "To have someone who doesn't even enjoy the confidence of the U.S. Senate is not going to instill confidence or lend credibility."

[Sen. Trent] Lott said Bolton would be "weakened and temporary."

"He could serve what, 17 months, unless he was subsequently confirmed, which I don't see any chance of," Lott said.

Plus, if we find out this fall that Bolton really was a player in the Rove-Plame leaks, it would set the White House up for even greater embarrassment.

Surely Bush could find a less odious toadie than Bolton that the Senate would confirm quickly. Perhaps (dare I say it?) they might find someone who would be, unlike Bolton, competent at something. But this is the Bush White House we're talking about, so that's unlikely.

So what's the deal? Trent Lott says of Bush appointing Bolton,

"I suspect he will, but I do think it's a little bit of a thumbing of the nose at the Senate, which will cause you more problems down the road," Lott said. "We are a co-equal branch; he doesn't get to make his choices in a vacuum."

Little Georgie is trying to get back at the Senate for rejecting his nominee? George seems pissed off about a lot of things these days, doesn't he? And a Bolton recess appointment would mightily please the extremist Right base.
 
Plus, there may be all sorts of reasons the Bushies want a capo at the UN--someone loyal and already committed to other Bush family, um, business.
 
[UPDATE: The Paul Hackett campaign still needs donations! And the word is that we've got a shot at winning! Let's do it! DONATE NOW!] 

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7:23 am | link

thursday, july 28, 2005

Jean Schmidt and Me
 
[UPDATE: The Paul Hackett campaign still needs donations! And the word is that we've got a shot at winning! Let's do it! DONATE NOW!] 
 
Tuesday I wrote about Paul Hackett, U.S. Marine and Iraq War veteran, who is running for a congressional seat against a right-wing opponent, Jean Schmidt, in Ohio.
 
What I didn't realize until yesterday is that I used to know Jean Schmidt. This was a long time ago, but I've done some checking and I'm sure this is the same Jean Schmidt.
 
From about 1978 to 1983 or so I (and my now ex) lived in a suburb of Cincinnati, and the two houses next door were occupied by twin sisters (Jean and Jennifer) and their husbands. The twins' father owned several acres of the neighborhood--former farmland--and had built most of the houses, including the twins', who'd been given the houses as gifts.
 
I remember the twins as friendly, very pretty, about my age, and pleasant people to live near. We were never chummy, mostly because I found their interests (clothes, money, and the Indianapolis 500) not entirely compatible with mine, plus neither was the sharpest tack in the box. But friendly girls, they were, and I don't recall anything scandalous about them.
 
I've been wondering whether I should even mention that I once knew the twins, but then I read this at AMERICAblog...
American vets from Iraq war not qualified to serve in public office, GOP US House candidate says in Ohio
by John in DC - 7/28/2005 06:10:00 PM

This is bad, seriously. Paul Hackett is running as the first Iraq war vet to run for Congress, and now his GOP opponent, Jean Schmidt, just said that being an American vet from the Iraq war is the wrong kind of experience for a member of Congress. I kid you not.

The Swift Boaters started it last year with Kerry, and Bush did the same thing to McCain in 2000. Slur a guy because he's a vet. And now we have a GOP candidate for Congress saying that service in the Iraq war apparently disqualifies you for being a member of Congress.

Any US service members watching? This is what I'm talking about. You think the Republicans are automatically your friends? Ask yourself why the only ones upset about all of you guys getting killed, maimed, sent to war based on a lie, not being given any plan to win the war, not even being given body armor three years after hostilities commenced - why the only people upset about all of that are Democrats? Then listen to this woman.

Any questions?
And I'm thinking, who the hell is that spoiled, lamebrained little snot to say that a U.S. Marine isn't qualified to be a congressman?  
 
So now I'm gonna dish.
 

Today, the farm girl from a traditional German Catholic family who was told early on women could only go so far could very soon become the first woman to represent southern Ohio in Congress.

"In our very German family, boys were held in higher esteem,'' said the 53-year-old Republican candidate for the 2nd Congressional District seat. "I never really understood it, but that's the way it was.''

She was the daughter of Gus Hoffman, a man born in poverty who worked his way to success in business and to almost legendary status as the owner of a car racing team that ruled the region's sprint car circuit for decades and ran in the ultimate race, the Indianapolis 500.

Gus and Jeanette Hoffman, both of whom are deceased, raised four children on the family's Miami Township farm in Clermont County - two sons, Jean and her twin sister Jennifer, all of whom still live within a mile of one another.

If Schmidt is a farm girl I'm Lance Armstrong. I know exactly where the "farm" is, because my home was on the edge of it, and when I lived there 25 years ago it hadn't been farmed in a great many years. As I remember, Gus never farmed it (somebody should confirm that), but bought the land up cheap and, bit by bit, turned it into a subdivision. And from googling I found that Jean is still living in the same house (on Wards Corner Road, in Loveland), which then was a subdivision, not a farm, and I rather doubt it reverted back to farm status in the years since.
 
And as far as "the boys being held in higher esteem..." maybe so, as I don't remember ever meeting "the boys." But daddy saw to it the twins weren't hurting for anything (like houses).
 
Daddy owned Indianapolis 500 race cars, which was a little detail that tipped me off Jean Schmidt was The Same Jean Schmidt. 
 
I remember at one point the other twin, Jennifer, went on a crusade to stop a property tax increase that would have benefited the local public schools. The school buildings were shabby, and news stories claimed the kids were using 20-year-old textbooks. Both twins believed that public schools were inherently bad, and since anybody who was anybody sent their kids to Catholic schools they didn't see any point in funding them. Property taxes were remarkably low, and the increase would have been less than $200 a year average per household, but Jennifer was on a rampage that she would be ruined if she had to pay that tax.
 
As I recall, the campaign was a success.
 
That same year, the twins got matching full-length mink coats for Christmas.    
 
Annoying, to say the least.
 
[UPDATE: The Paul Hackett campaign still needs donations! And the word is that we've got a shot at winning! Let's do it! DONATE NOW!] 
 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 
For what it's worth...Collective Bellaciao is reporting that Karl Rove and Michael Ledeen procured the forged Niger-uranium document. I am not endorsing this story as gospel truth, but it's entertaining. You are free to make up your own minds.

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6:15 pm | link

A Mess by Any Other Name ...
 
Today Sidney Blumenthal writes in Salon that Bush's antiterrorism "strategy" is all packaging, no substance:
Never before has a president suddenly discarded his self-proclaimed "mission." But after declaring himself the commander in chief in the "global war on terror," President Bush has tossed the catchphrase aside in an elusive search for a new one. The "global war on terror" was his slogan to link the war in Afghanistan to the invasion of Iraq, the battle supposedly being one and the same. The quest for a new slogan is more than a public relations gesture. It reflects not only the failure but also the vacuum of his strategy.
By now you've probably head that the Bushies have instituted a slogan switch:
Since Bush's speech at Fort Bragg, N.C., on June 28, for which the White House asked for and received national television coverage, and in which Bush reaffirmed "fighting the global war on terrorism," mentioned "terror" or "terrorism" 23 more times, and compared this "global war on terrorism" with the Civil War and World War II, his administration has simply dropped the words that more than any others Bush has identified as the reason for his presidency.

Throughout July, administration officials have substituted new words for the old. Instead of trumpeting the "global war on terrorism," Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have sounded the call to "a global struggle against violent extremism." Medals have been awarded to brave U.S. soldiers stamped "Global War on Terror." Will new medals now be minted?

jobsmirking.jpgFrom the beginning, the Bush Administration has been all about packaging. From his meaningless campaign 2000 slogans--"compassionate conservative" and "reformer with results"--through the phony "economic summits" and "town meetings," the "Bush Administration" seems to me nothing but an elaborate pageant meant to represent a presidential administration that does not, actually, exist. Oh, there are plenty of bodies working in the White House. The problem is that what they are working on has little to do with governing.
 
Were it not for the deceit and corruption, the Bush Administration would have no substance at all.
 
The Bush Administration reminds me of a company run entirely by the marketing division, which I have witnessed. The execs are all about packaging and slogans and brand loyalty and positive imagery, not to mention their stock options and bonuses. But they don't concern themselves with the company's products.
 
(Although, as Bob Herbert argues, there is a product, just not the one advertised.)
 
People who go to work for the Bushies who know something about crafting and executing effective policy tend to run out the door, screaming, in a few months. Examples: Paul O'Neill and  John DiIulio.
 
Blumenthal continues,
Myers' change in language involves considerable historical and policy revisionism. He had gone along with Rumsfeld in policies opposed by senior military figures such as former Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric Shinseki, who was publicly derided by then Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz for worrying about invading Iraq with a light force. But now Myers presents himself as a secret dissident. In a speech before the National Press Club on Monday, he claimed he "objected to the use of the term 'war on terrorism' before, because if you call it a war, then you think of people in uniform as being the solution."
In other words, the "war on terror" is just a metaphor, and a confusing metaphor, at that. But get what Bush said last year--
Mr. Bush, speaking to a crowd of about 15,000 in this heavily Democratic northeast corner of Pennsylvania, aggressively painted Mr. Kerry as unable to take the actions necessary to protect Americans from another catastrophic terrorist attack.

    "His top foreign policy adviser has questioned whether it's even a war at all, saying that's just a metaphor, like the war on poverty," Mr. Bush said. "I've got news: Anyone who thinks we are fighting a metaphor does not understand the enemy we face and has no idea how to win the war and keep America secure."
I'm certain that a substantial percentage of the war bloggers did not think that "war on terror" was a metaphor. And as recently as last week, Steven Hadley and Frances Townsend, in a New York Times op ed, compared the "war on terror" to World War II.  
 
To those of us who define "homeland security" as a process by which American citizens are made more secure--as opposed to an excuse to go out an' kick some raghead butt--it's been abundantly clear for quite some time that the Bushies do not understand the enemy we face and have no idea how to win the "war" and keep America secure.
 
But does the slogan revision signal that maybe the Bushies are getting a clue? Of course not. Blumenthal writes, 

It has not just dawned on the Bush national security apparatus that a "war on terror" described a never-ending battle against a tactic. Dropping the signature phrase of the Bush presidency is part of an effort to cobble together some sort of expedient political solution that will allow U.S. troops to be drawn down before disaster strikes the Republicans in the midterm elections of 2006. "Shock and awe" has been replaced by stunned and confused. By stuffing the old slogan down the memory hole, the Bush administration has withdrawn credibility from its neoconservative policy. Unfortunately, ideology has consequences.

The new U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, has arrived on the bloody scene to warn of impending civil war. But U.S. intelligence does not have an accurate sense of either the number of insurgents or their composition. "That would not be a worthwhile metric," Pentagon spokesman Lawrence DiRita said recently. Thus Rumsfeld's assistant secretary for public affairs acknowledges that he doesn't know precisely who the enemy is.

Juan Cole gives the Bushies a little more credit--
I take it this is because they have finally realized that if they are fighting a war on terror, the enemy is four guys in a gymn in Leeds. It isn't going to take very long for people to realize that a) you don't actually need to pay the Pentagon $400 billion a year if that is the problem and b) whoever is in charge of such a war isn't actually doing a very good job at stopping the bombs from going off.
Professor Cole is kinder to the Bushies than Blumenthal. But nearly four years ago, immediately after 9/11, National Guard began patroling Grand Central Station. Today, they are still there, plus now there are backpack searches. And I see from my Sesame Street terror alert graphic in the right column that mass transit is still under orange alert. Some progress.
 
Blumenthal concludes-- 

The undermining of democracy by sacrificing credibility to justify endless war was early described by the historian Thucydides in his "History of the Peloponnesian War": "The meaning of words had no longer the same relation to things, but was changed by them as they thought proper. Reckless daring was held to be loyal courage; prudent delay was the excuse of a coward; moderation was the disguise of unmanly weakness; to know everything was to do nothing. Frantic energy was the true quality of a man."

Now the Bushies are frantically trying to tweak the packaging and revise the ad campaign, but they still don't have anything resembling coherent policy. And I bet not a one of them knows the difference.

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NY Times Stonewalls Its Own Reporter?
 
Yesterday I asked, "Am I the only one who thinks the Times's coverage of this issue [Traitorgate] has been a tad limp?" Coverage of Traitorgate by the Washington Post has been way better. And this seems odd to me because it was the New York Times who published Joe Wilson's July 6, 2004, op ed, and it's a New York Times reporter sitting in jail.
 
So today the New York Times is running a story by Douglas Jehl offering clues of a third Bush administration leaker, other than Rove and Libby, who was pushing the Plame story to reporters after the publication of Joe Wilson's famous New York Times op ed.
 
New York Times reporter Jehl picked up the clues from comments made by Washington Post reporter Walter Pincus. 
The first two episodes, involving the columnist Robert D. Novak and the reporter Matthew Cooper, have become the subjects of intense scrutiny in recent weeks. But little attention has been paid to what The Post reporter, Walter Pincus, has recently described as a separate exchange on July 12, 2003.

...Mr. Pincus has not identified his source to the public. But a review of Mr. Pincus's own accounts and those of other people with detailed knowledge of the case strongly suggest that his source was neither Karl Rove, Mr. Bush's top political adviser, nor I. Lewis Libby, the chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, and was in fact a third administration official whose identity has not yet been publicly disclosed.

Mr. Pincus's most recent account, in the current issue of Nieman Reports, a journal of the Nieman Foundation, makes clear that his source had volunteered the information to him, something that people close to both Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby have said they did not do in their conversations with reporters.

(Nieman Reports doesn't seem to be available online in html format, but you can download PDFs of issues to read. Be my guest.)

I was glad to read Mr. Jehl's article, because I've been worried that I'm becoming obsessive-compulsive about combing through news stories looking for any new hints about what Patrick Fitzgerald might be investigating. But now New York Times reporters are doing this, too.

And may I say that, if Mr. Jehl jazzed up his rhetoric a bit and tossed in some WTF?s and LOLs, he might have a future in blogging.

Then Mr. Jehl discusses his imprisoned colleague, Judy Miller:

Ms. Miller never wrote a story about the matter. She has refused to testify in response to a court order directing her to testify in response to a subpoena from Mr. Fitzgerald seeking her testimony about a conversation with a specified government official between June 6, 2003, and June 13, 2003.

During that period, Ms. Miller was working primarily from the Washington bureau of The Times, reporting to Jill Abramson, who was the Washington bureau chief at the time, and was assigned to report for an article published July 20, 2003, about Iraq and the hunt for unconventional weapons, according to Ms. Abramson, who is now managing editor of The Times.

In e-mail messages this week, Bill Keller, the executive editor of The New York Times, and George Freeman, an assistant general counsel of the newspaper, declined to address written questions about whether Ms. Miller was assigned to report about Mr. Wilson's trip, whether she tried to write a story about it, or whether she ever told editors or colleagues at the newspaper that she had obtained information about the role played by Ms. Wilson.

The Times stonewalls its own reporter. Weird.

Mark Kleiman points to more weirdness "Second-weirdest item in the story: Pincus, who has testified to the grand jury about his conversation, after his source had testified about it, still refuses to make public the name of the source."

I'm starting to wonder what I will do with myself when all the names are named. Maybe there will be a new Deep Throat; someone central to the story whose identity can be speculated about for years to come. One can hope.

More Traitorgate: Kevin Drum writes

Arianna Huffington says that hallway gossip at the New York Times places Judith Miller at the center of Plamegate. Her story: after Joe Wilson's op-ed appeared on July 6, Miller went ballistic, checked out Wilson with her CIA contacts, found out about his wife, and then passed along the information to Scooter Libby in the White House.

Hmm. Is Miller, as Avedon speculates, pleading the First because she doesn't want to plead the Fifth?

And in the How Pathetic Can They Get? department, Natasha at Pacific Views (via Daou Report) writes,

Man, they got nothing. Fox News is having to resort to looking at at Valerie Plame's 2004 political contributions to make their case that, ... well, what? You know, if I was a CIA agent and someone seeking elected office blew my cover, I'd borrow the money to donate the maximum to their opponent. Plame, otoh, bought some Springsteen tickets:

WASHINGTON — Outed CIA spy Valerie Plame last fall gave a campaign contribution to go toward an anti-Bush fund-raising concert starring Bruce Springsteen, it was revealed Tuesday night.

... The $372 donation to the anti-Bush group America Coming Together (search), first reported by Time magazine's Web site, was made in Plame's married name of Valerie E. Wilson and covered two tickets. ...

And they're still trying to peddle the lie that she set up the trip and jump on a claimed discrepancy in the contribution form she filled out. Because if there's one thing everybody can agree on, it's that CIA employees should always tell you they work there.

I don't know why Faux even bothers to find actual facts they can spin around and misrepresent. They might's well just make shit up wholesale; the Kool Aiders will believe it. (They believe Rush, don't they?) I know--Valerie Plame Wilson is Hillary Clinton's clone. Space aliens--no, wait, Nazi space aliens--cloned Clinton from cells taken from one of her six stomachs as part of a plot to populate the world with Hillaries and destroy America! Bwahahahahahahaha

Stonewall that, Bill Keller!

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wednesday, july 27, 2005

Predictions
 
New York Governor George Pataki announced last night he would not seek a fourth term. I was disappointed to hear this, because I was looking forward to watching Eliot Spitzer wipe the floor with Pataki's ass next year.
 
There are rumors Pataki wants to run for president in 2008. I suspect he would be a long shot. L-o-o-o-o-o-ng shot. Pataki is not one of your more dynamic politicians. As governor, Pataki was mostly invisible. 
 
There are other rumors Pataki might try to take Hillary Clinton's Senate seat, but I 'spect Hillary would wipe the floor with his ass.
 
But back in 2000 when Hillary and Rudy Guiliani were contending, the rumor was that Rudy really wanted to be governor, not senator. I bet Rudy's at least thinkin' about that now. 
 
But if Rudy does run, I predict Eliot Spitzer will wipe the floor with Rudy's ass. Rudy is, like, persona non grata in New York City now.  The boy went to the well a few too many times with the 9/11 schtick. He sold out to the Dark Side and turned into a real Republican, which he wasn't when he was hizzoner da mayor. He might still get votes upstate, but that wouldn't be enough. 
 
I predict that Pataki will fade into the woodwork of some right-wing think tank, or else he'll take on some GOP party function. And I think Rudy had better not quit his day job. And Eliot Spitzer will be the next governor of New York.  

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Spooks vs. the Slime Monsters
 
Better and better ... in today's Washington Post, Walter Pincus and Jim VandeHei write that Patrick Fitzgerald  "has interviewed a wider range of administration officials than was previously known."  
Prosecutors have questioned former CIA director George J. Tenet and deputy director John E. McLaughlin, former CIA spokesman Bill Harlow, State Department officials, and even a stranger who approached columnist Robert D. Novak on the street.
 
 In doing so, special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald has asked not only about how CIA operative Valerie Plame's name was leaked but also how the administration went about shifting responsibility from the White House to the CIA for having included 16 words in the 2003 State of the Union address about Iraqi efforts to acquire uranium from Africa, an assertion that was later disputed.
We can only speculate about where Fitzgerald is going with his investigation. However, it's becoming clear that, as Digby puts it, "The turf war between the White House and the CIA is now open warfare." The career spooks have had it with this White House.
 
I suspect that, for the CIA, this war isn't only about betraying an undercover agent or making the agency take the blame for White House mistakes. Certainly, career CIA members are deeply concerned about the betrayal of trust and the damage to intelligence operations that Traitorgate represents. But the new Bush-appointed CIA director Porter Goss and his staff escalated the conflict last year, adding fuel to an already simmering fire.  
 
According to an article in by Jason Vest in the December 14, 2004 issue of The Nation, "Destabilizing the CIA,"

...  the newly appointed DCI told CIA employees in a memo that "we support the Administration and its policies in our work...we do not identify with, support or champion opposition to the Administration or its policies." One of the most insightful analyses of the memo came from Jon Stewart's Daily Show; correspondent Rob Corddry explained it as reflective of the Administration's desire to deal only "with intelligence that's been vetted to support decisions they've already made. They're tired of having to repeatedly misinterpret information the CIA gives them, so from now on intelligence will arrive at the White House pre-misinterpreted." In addition to heralding a likely continuation of the intelligence "stovepiping" process that reformers agree has to change, Goss's memo was a stunning and unparalleled articulation of CIA fealty to the White House. It was also tantamount to a declaration of war by Goss and his Capitol Hill cronies against career civil servants--and necessary intelligence reform--that shows a remarkable lack of judgment and competence.

(The Vest article provides a lot more details about the hostile relationship between the Bush appointees and the career agents. If you find it is locked behind a subscription wall, see if you can get in with BugMeNot. If that doesn't work let me know, and I'll post more of the article.)
 
From Pincus and HandeHei, regarding former CIA spokesman Bill Harlow--  

Harlow, the former CIA spokesman, said in an interview yesterday that he testified last year before a grand jury about conversations he had with Novak at least three days before the [Novak] column was published. He said he warned Novak, in the strongest terms he was permitted to use without revealing classified information, that Wilson's wife had not authorized the mission and that if he did write about it, her name should not be revealed.

Harlow said that after Novak's call, he checked Plame's status and confirmed that she was an undercover operative. He said he called Novak back to repeat that the story Novak had related to him was wrong and that Plame's name should not be used. But he did not tell Novak directly that she was undercover because that was classified.

Busted.

In a column published Oct. 1, 2003, Novak wrote that the CIA official he spoke to "asked me not to use her name, saying she probably never again will be given a foreign assignment but that exposure of her name might cause 'difficulties' if she travels abroad. He never suggested to me that Wilson's wife or anybody else would be endangered. If he had, I would not have used her name."

It cannot be more obvious that Bob Novak deliberately ignored the truth and instead published the lie the White House wanted him to publish. As Josh Marshall says, Novak knew what he was doing.
 
Josh finds this part of the Pincus-VandeHei story especially significant:
Wilson unleashed an attack on Bush's [Niger uranium] claim on July 6, 2003, appearing on NBC's "Meet the Press," in an interview in The Post and writing his own op-ed article in the New York Times, in which he accused the president of "twisting" intelligence.

Behind the scenes, the White House responded with twin attacks: one on Wilson and the other on the CIA, which it wanted to take the blame for allowing the 16 words to remain in Bush's speech. As part of this effort, then-deputy national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley spoke with Tenet during the week about clearing up CIA responsibility for the 16 words, even though both knew the agency did not think Iraq was seeking uranium from Niger, according to a person familiar with the conversation. Tenet was interviewed by prosecutors, but it is not clear whether he appeared before the grand jury, a former CIA official said.

On July 9, Tenet and top aides began to draft a statement over two days that ultimately said it was "a mistake" for the CIA to have permitted the 16 words about uranium to remain in Bush's speech. He said the information "did not rise to the level of certainty which should be required for presidential speeches, and the CIA should have ensured that it was removed."

 A former senior CIA official said yesterday that Tenet's statement was drafted within the agency and was shown only to Hadley on July 10 to get White House input. Only a few minor changes were accepted before it was released on July 11, this former official said. He took issue with a New York Times report last week that said Rove and Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, had a role in Tenet's statement.

Josh's comment:

Here we have some of the cobweb of lies, large and small, brushed back, ones the falsity of which has remained somehow unspeakable in high political debate despite all their transparency.

As Pincus and Jim VandeHei rightly say, twin attacks -- one aimed at Wilson for blowing the whistle, the other at the CIA, an elaborate fraud perpetrated upon the American people (and perpetuated through last year's SSCI report) in which the CIA, which had repeatedly tried to prevent the president from publicizing and validating the bogus Niger uranium claims, was forced to take the blame for not warning the president of their falsity. (As this ball of yarn unravels, remember the name Alan Foley.)

And all of this, of course, meant to cover up the big lie -- the administration's knowing use of bogus WMD reports to convince the country to go to war.

As Frank Rich put it so aptly less than two weeks ago, "the administration knows how guilty it is. That's why it has so quickly trashed any insider who contradicts its story line about how we got to Iraq, starting with the former Treasury secretary Paul O'Neill and the former counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke."

But be warned: There is much speculation on the Blogosphere that the real purpose of the hearings by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence I mentioned yesterday is to grant everyone involved (Rove, Libby, etc.) blanket immunity.
 
It might not be a bad idea to look up the names of committee members and suggest to them through letter, email, or fax--don't even think about it.
 
Other Traitorgate items--a Los Angeles Times editorial says "It's a good bet that there has already been some lying under oath." Hmm, the Right thought lying under oath was bad while Clinton was in the White House. If it turns out Bush administration honchos lied under oath, I wonder how many excuses the righties will spin out, and how fast? I'm betting at least a couple will be posted on NRO within ten minutes after we learn somebody fibbed. Maybe faster.
 
In the New York Times, Anne Kornblut focuses on the role played by Ari Fleischer, but suggests the Fitzgerald investigation is less interested in Fleischer now than it was earlier. (Am I the only one who thinks the Times's coverage of this issue has been a tad limp?)
 
The Dallas Morning News says the Traitorgate episode bears the "mark of Rove." The author, Wayne Slater, is careful not to say that Rove is guilty of anything, mind you; just that Traitorgate follows the pattern of past Rove operations.
 
The Atlanta Journal Constitution says that the GOP should probe Rove (significant pause) ... but won't.

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tuesday, july 26, 2005

Crumbling
 

If Texas had icebergs, this would be the tip of one. I'm not talking about Karl Rove's adulterous behavior.

I'm talking about the stinging defeat suffered by the Texas GOP on the floor of the state House today. GOP leadership, helped to election by illegal corporate contributions, watched helplessly as the Democratic minority and a few frightened Republicans voted down bills that 1) raised taxes on the middle class; 2) Cut taxes for Big Insurance and other special interests involved in the scandal; 3) Stiffed school children and teachers under the guise of education reform.

And over on EDM, Ruy Teixeira says that a sea change of voter loyalty is happening even as I keyboard; white voters are leaving the GOP in droves. (Via Avedon and Susie).

Chris Bowers at MyDD says that the public isn't buying the Republican spin on Rove-Plame.

The VRWC echo chamber is still fully operative, and the true believers still live in the "dear leader" fantasy castle. But beneath the surface there are myriad signs that the extremist Right is growing more and more isolated from majority public opinion as well as reality. 

This is no time to be complacent, but I do think there's hope.

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I Like This Guy
 
Today Salon is running a feature by Bill Frogameni on Ohio congressional candidate Paul Hackett. And I do hope Hackett wins. I like this guy.
Paul Hackett remembers being in Kuwait, waiting to be shipped home after a seven-month tour of duty in Ramadi and Fallujah, watching CNN America with his fellow Marines. What he saw enraged him. "All I saw on TV was Terri Schiavo," he says. "The federal government and the Florida state government came screeching to a halt to intervene into the private lives of this family during this tragic time ... Like that scene out of 'Network,' I felt like the guy who stood in the spotlight and said, 'I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore.'" Not long after he returned to Ohio, he decided to run for Congress.
The special election, to be held one week from today, will fill a seat in the U.S. House vacated by Republican Rob Portman, who's now serving as the U.S. trade representative. And Paul Hackett is not just a war hero; he's also a real progressive alternative to his right-wing opponent, Jean Schmidt.

On the issues, the candidates both describe themselves as fiscal conservatives, but on the Iraq war and the so-called moral values questions, they stand in stark relief. Hackett is a critic of Bush's Iraq war policy and believes America was led to war unnecessarily. Schmidt is a strong backer of Bush's handling of the war. Hackett is pro-choice. Schmidt is president of Cincinnati Right to Life. Schmidt voted against gay marriage in the Ohio House of Representatives, while Hackett's take is: "Gay marriage -- who the hell cares?"

Hackett, who is married, says he doesn't feel the need to defend his marriage through the national Defense of Marriage Act, or any other anti-gay marriage legislation. "If you're gay you're gay -- more power to you," he said. "What you want is to be treated fairly by the law and any American who doesn't think that should be the case is, frankly, un-American."

Like I said--I like this guy.
 
I got a kick out of this part of the article:

Schmidt commends Hackett for his service, but believes Hackett should "stand with the president" by "supporting the Iraqi war effort and our troops that are over there," her campaign manager Joe Braun said. (Through Braun, Schmidt declined to speak with Salon.) When asked to answer that charge, Hackett is blunt: "The only way I know how to support the troops is by going over there." He doesn't hesitate to criticize Schmidt's support of the war: "All the chicken hawks back here who said, 'Oh, Iraq is talking bad about us. They're going to threaten us' -- look, if you really believe that, you leave your wife and three kids and go sign up for the Army or Marines and go over there and fight. Otherwise, shut your mouth."

Oooo, I really like this guy.   
 
Schmidt is also struggling with some ethics issues, such as accepting tickets to a Bengals game from a lobbyist and then claiming the tickets were a gift from former Bengals quarterback "Boomer" Esiason. The Schmidt campaign also accepted $10,000 from Tom DeLay's ethically challenged PAC. 
 
Hackett doesn't have the money for polling and Schmidt isn't talking about her polling, but the GOP must be worried. They've brought out some swifties to attack Hackett. Schmidt campaign adviser Eric Minamyer is spreading dirt about Hackett's military service:
I understand that Hackett did not participate in combat at all. It is still dangerous over there as I can personally attest. Let's just not act as though we led marines in combat if we did not, okay?
 
I have asked the question time and again, what role did he actually play?
 
Given all the opportunities he has had to say 'I served in combat' one fair conclusion is that he did not.
"Fair conclusion" my ass; Minamyer never asked the question of Paul Hackett. He's using the ol' Michelle Malkin trick of pulling a false charge out of his/her butt, then innocently reporting that "people are asking question" about it. If Minamyer really cared, he could learn about Paul Hackett's Iraq service on Hackett's campaign web site:
Last year, Paul heard the call to service again. As his Marine Corps brothers fought a half world away, Paul could not sit in the comfort of his home and let others do the work he was prepared to do. After a serious discussion with his wife and children, Paul re-upped and joined his marines for a seven month tour with the 1st Marine Division and served as a Civil Affairs officer in Ramadi, took part in the Fallujah campaign and subsequent reconstruction. 
I'm a little more chary, or is it wary, or is it leery, of encouraging donations to political candidates. In fact, it's my new policy to dissuade my blog readers into contributing to the election campaign of, say, this guy, a Marine reservist who's running for Congress in Ohio's 2nd district as a Democrat and, according to this other guy, is being slimed by the same stripe of Republicans who swam with the Swift Boaties. Just because this Paul Hackett fellow would be an excellent asset in the House, is that any reason to contribute $25, $50, or $100 to support his candidacy, feel a warm glow inside, and improve your karmic odds in the next turn of the wheel? That's a decision only you and your spiritual advisor can make. Really, what's this guy got going for him except--well, golly, it seems as if someone's actually compiled a list of what he's got going for him. So my question's already been answered even before I finished asking it. Things move mighty fast in the blog world.
There's more at stake here than one congressional seat, although certainly every seat matters. A victory for us would serve notice that the public is catching on to dirty Republican slash-and-smear campaigns. And second, since the Left Blogosphere is rallying for Hackett, a victory would remind the Democratic Party that we bloggers a force to be reckoned with. And we bloggers may represent the best hope of taking the party away from the Vichycrats.    
 
Like I said, the election is one week from today. If everyone reading The Mahablog today would donate even $5 each, it would be, um, a lot. (I don't do numbers.)
 
Do it for your country.
 
Update: There's a call for volunteers from the Hackett campaign here.
 
Make no mistake--Hackett continues to be a longshot. This district favors Republicans by around thirty points, and the Post is smaller than the Cincinnati Enquirer, which has yet to endorse. But this is how we become a majority party again. We find good candidates to run in difficult seats. We support those candidates as best we can. We send our message everywhere, and we challenge Republicans everywhere. I don't think anyone expected Hackett would put up this sort of fight against Jean Schmidt, who has now resorted to giving herself money and Swift-boat type smears in order to hang on. Even if Hackett loses, which he probably will, the excitement evident in the local Democratic canvass and the message delivered in the above endorsement shows that this campaign has already been a huge success.

You can still donate to Hackett's campaign (online donations just passed $175K and 3500 donors!), but the time is coming soon where money really doesn't help much anymore. At this point, the campaign is going to need bodies for the final weekend canvass, and for GOTV next Tuesday. IF you are within driving distance, consider traveling to campaign HQ this weekend and helping out. You can find contact info for the campaign here. If you can't do that, considering taking part in one of Tim Tagaris's open-source activities from your computer, such as digging through Schmidt's donor file and free media defense of Hackett against Schmidt's slurs. You can also contact the Cincinnati Enquirer here.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 
Speaking of Ohio ... if you can get your hands on the August 2005 issue of Harper's (three monkeys on the cover), grab it. Pay for it, too, of course. There's an article in this issue by Mark Crispin Miller on the Ohio 2004 vote. The article is titled "None Dare Call It Stolen," and it's the most thorough exposé I've seen yet on how GOP operatives stole the state for Bush. The article will probably be posted on the Harper's web site eventually, but probably not for a few weeks.  

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Rove Watch Watch
 
David Morgan of Reuters tells us that the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence will hold hearings on "potential national security threats posed by leaks, including leaks to the media, and will aim to toughen legislation barring the unauthorized disclosure of classified information."
 
This may or may not have been a response to House Democrats, who "have urged Bush to fire Rove or revoke his classified clearance, stepped up political pressure on Republicans on Monday by calling for a formal congressional investigation of the Plame leak."
 
'Scuse me for being jaded, but where Republicans are concerned I do look for an angle. I expect the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence will be careful not to address the Rove-Plame issue specifically. We'll see.
 
Meanwhile, by now you may have heard that Senate Republican toadie Pat Roberts of Kansas will launch an investigation of the investigation. This is possibly the first stage of a long-anticipated smear campaign against Patrick Fitzgerald. Although seems to me pissing off Fitzgerald is about the last thing the White House ought to be doing now. 
 

The Senate committee, under White House shill Pat Roberts, is going to investigate "the CIA's use of cover," as if it were the CIA that had done something wrong here, and while they're at it try to smear some slime on Patrick Fitzgerald, who is obviously getting too close to the guilty for GOP comfort.

Actually, the news, on balance, makes me happy. The hearings will help keep the story alive until the indictments are ready, and give the Democrats lots of opportunities to ask nasty questions. And the more the Republicans in Congress defend the indefensible, the worse things will be for them in 2006 and 2008.

But now, via Kos and Josh Marshall, I see that Roberts isn't just planning on kicking dirt all over Plame and the CIA, he's going to try to scuff a little on Patrick Fitzgerald's shiny black shoes as well:

Little said the Senate committee would also review the probe of special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, who has been investigating the Plame case for nearly two years.

That's it -- just a terse paragraph buried at the bottom of a much longer story. But enough to indicate that Mr. Capone is finally going directly after Elliot Ness.

Rove: I want this guy dead! I want his family dead! I want his house burned to the ground! I want to go there in the middle of the night and piss on his ashes!

I said awhile back we would know the prosecutors were breathing hard down the back of the gang's neck when the GOP machine stopped harassing Joe Wilson and started going after Fitzgerald. Of course, Rovian gonads aren't nearly weighty enough to take on the DA directly, using the standard media hit men. But an entire Senate investigating committee on the take -- one that can hide behind the facade of national security? That's a sweet deal. Imagine what Nixon could have done with a tool like that.

And now we have the first indication that the Rovians have found their legislative hit man -- in Pat Roberts, the one-stop shopping center for all your GOP coverup needs.

But Fitzgerald is not the only target for smears. Via the Brad Blog, we find our old pal JimmyJeff smearing Larry Johnson and the other former CIA officials who testified at last Friday's joint hearing on Rove-Plame. I understand JimmyJeff gets $200 per hour for the work he does for the GOP.
 
Next up was Gary Schmitt, writing for the Weekly Standard. See Atrios for the antidote.
 
Armando alerts us that the Bushies are trying to frighten us away from Karl Rove by once again raising the horrible specter of a John Bolton recess appointment. Quoting Terrence Hunt of the Associated Press:
Frustrated by Senate Democrats, the White House hinted Monday that President Bush may act soon to sidestep Congress and install embattled nominee John Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations on a temporary basis. White House press secretary Scott McClellan said Bush has used his power for temporary appointments when "he has to get people in place that have waited far too long to get about doing their business." He said that "sometimes there's come a point" when Bush has decided he needs to act.

Bolton's nomination has been stalled for months. . . . Republicans have twice attempted -- and failed -- to break a Democratic filibuster against Bolton's nomination. The White House has ruled out withdrawing Bolton's name, and has called repeatedly for a vote on his nomination.

As Armando reminds us, the White House obstructed its own candidate by refusing to release documents on Bolton requested by the Senate. But we wouldn't expect Mr. Hunt to get the story straight, now, would we?
 
But as this Republican blogger explains (via Daou Report), this doesn't seem to be, um, the best time for the White House to be shoving John Bolton into a spotlight:
 ...as Josh Marshall points out, as part of her confirmation hearings for a State Department public relations position, Karen Hughes was, by law, obligated to answer a questionnaire, that among other things, asked whether there were any legal proceedings to which she might be a be part of: She admitted that she had testified before Fitzgerald's grand jury. Marshall points out, Bolton answered "no" on the questionnaire -- though, it turns out he also testified before the grand jury on the contents of the Plame memo.

If Bolton intentionally misled the Senate in his questionnaire, he's toast. End of story. But, that's relevant to the big picture.

The key is revealed in Clemons'
latest post: He asserts that Bolton was a major source for NYT's Judith Miller, currently incarcerated for refusing to surrender a source's name to the Fitzgerald grand jury. Now, one has to toss in a couple of caveats here: Steve, of course, has to depend on an anonymous source that somehow "knows" that Bolton was an anonymous source for many of Miller's stories.

Still, bringing it all together: DC now has two major players potentially facing legal peril, a reporter in jail -- and the most contentious confirmation process ever for a nominee to the United Nations. But the link of Bolton to Miller -- and thus to the Plame-Rove story -- is what can turn a confusing, "silly summer season" story into Washington nuclear pyrotechnics.
I think we've already gone way past "silly summer season" story status. But I agree that a Bolton recess appointment would amount to pouring oil on a fire that the Bushies would rather put out. I'd be very surprised if Bush makes the appointment.
 
 
Update: Be sure to visit The Left Coaster today. Eriposte continues the great series focusing on the findings about the "uranium from Africa" issue in the Senate SSCI Report. Also, Steve Soto discusses Gonzales, Ashcroft, and sanitized Plame evidence. Right now volume is so high permalinks are unavailable, but just go there.
 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 
In other news: The ghost of Terri Schiavo was spotted on Memeorandum, where the righties still haven't figured out the difference between a coma and whatever you want to call a condition in which the brain has atrophied to half its normal size--I think the medical term is "conservatism." 

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monday, july 25, 2005

What Did He Know? When Did He Know It?
 
Fitzgerald's investigation appears to have turned its focus to discrepancies in the testimony of White House senior adviser Karl Rove and vice presidential chief of staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby. Fitzgerald may be trying to determine whether evidence exists to bring perjury or obstruction of justice charges.

And that raises the issue of what -- if anything -- Rove and Libby told Bush and Cheney about their roles.

As I see it, there are only two possibilities: Either Rove and Libby lied to Bush and Cheney about their betrayal of Valerie Plame, or Bush and Cheney knew all along.

Via Froomkin, Richard Stevenson brought up the same question in yesterday's New York Times:

Mr. Bush has yet to address some uncomfortable questions that he may not be able to evade indefinitely.

For starters, did Mr. Bush know in the fall of 2003, when he was telling the public that no one wanted to get to the bottom of the case more than he did, that Mr. Rove, his longtime strategist and senior adviser, and I. Lewis Libby Jr., Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, had touched on the C.I.A. officer's identity in conversations with journalists before the officer's name became public? If not, when did they tell him, and what would the delay say in particular about his relationship with Mr. Rove, whose career and Mr. Bush's have been intertwined for decades?

Then there is the broader issue of whether Mr. Bush was aware of any effort by his aides to use the C.I.A. officer's identity to undermine the standing of her husband, a former diplomat who had publicly accused the administration of twisting its prewar intelligence about Iraq's nuclear program.

Bush has said more than once that he didn't know who might have been responsible for the leak, Stevenson writes.

But Mr. Bush's political opponents say the president is in a box. In their view, either Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby kept the president in the dark about their actions, making them appear evasive at a time when Mr. Bush was demanding that his staff cooperate fully with the investigation, or Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby had told the president and he was not forthcoming in his public statements about his knowledge of their roles.

In case you missed it, another little clue was revealed over the weekend. Froomkin again:

On the evening of Sept. 29, 2003, then-White House counsel Alberto Gonzales gave White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. a 12-hour head start before he officially notified the rest of the White House staff the next morning that the Justice Department had just opened a criminal investigation into the CIA leak -- and that as a result, all relevant records should be preserved.

But Froomkin says this is not news.

For the record: White House spokesman Scott McClellan described precisely this sequence of events to the press corps in his Oct. 1, 2003 briefing.

Some Democrats immediately and publicly asked if that delay resulted in the destruction of evidence, and in a letter to Bush a few days later, four Democratic senators asked why the Justice Department allowed Gonzales such a grace period.

McClellan announced that it was "silly" to suggest that the delay indicated that Justice wanted to shield the White House in any way.

Don't remember any of that? Not your fault. It didn't get much ink.

At least it's getting ink now.

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7:48 pm | link

Dance and Shout and Sing!
 
Many of us on the Left Blogosphere think a little celebration is in order. Sean Paul of the Agonist says, 

One very clear consequence of the filibuster fight and the fight over Bolton's nomination is how chastened the Bush Administration now is. Of course, many in the media are spinning it that Bush pulled one over on the Democrats but just the opposite is true.

The Democrats forced the President to choose someone as anodyne as possible, someone who will clearly play well in the heartland and not provoke people who live on the coasts.

This is a clear victory for Harry Reid and the other Senate Democrats who stood up to the Bush Administration and forced it to contain its most deep down conservative urges. The Democrats won this round. It's nice to see for a change.

IMO Reid and Co. cannot take all the credit. Traitorgate, the escalating debacle that is the War in Iraq, and the failure of Social Security "reform" to gain traction has seriously weakened Georgie's presidency. He can't afford risking another defeat right now.

Also, nobody's exactly thrilled about John Roberts's appointment to the SCOTUS. While the "liberal" media is obediently painting Roberts as the judicial heir of Moses and Solomon, the fact is that he's just a hard right wise guy; a "made man," as Atrios puts it.

But what didn't happen--and would've happened a few months ago--is this: Bush didn't nominate the most atavistic knuckle-dragger who ever passed a bar exam in order to provoke a fight that would have pulled Traitorgate out of the headlines.   

It's a small victory, but I'll take it.

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Meanwhile, clearly working from last week's talking points, Michael Barone tries to put a brave face on getting finessed. "Bush bashing fizzles," the headline proclaims. No, pumpkins, it didn't fizzle. We didn't take the bait.

But get this: Barone says,

But beneath the hubbub, we can see the playing out of another, less reported story: the collapse of the attempts by liberal Democrats and their sympathizers in the mainstream media -- The New York Times, etc., etc. -- to delegitimize yet another Republican administration.

Oh, poor widdle baby! Are those mean old liberals disagreeing with you again? And you dear sweet little righties would never ever try to destroy a Democratic president just for the sheer partisan fun of it, huh?

Fact is, son, we lefties don't have to attempt to delegitimize the George W. Bush administration. The White House is doin' that job just fine.

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1:38 pm | link

Just Call Me the Boogywoman
 
This act of senseless vandalism was bad enough, but what really pisses me off are the hateful rightie twits who jumped to the conclusion (unsupported by the article) that the perpetrators represent The Left in America.
 

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12:23 pm | link

Mark Steyn: Conserving Cognitive Resources
 
I love that phrase, "conserving cognitive resources." I ran across it a few years ago when I was production editor of a social psychology journal. An author defined bigotry as a strategy for "conserving cognitive resources." Instead of trying to understand human cultures and behaviors in their infinite variety, the bigot interprets anything unfamiliar to his limited personal experience by means of crude and uninformed assumptions known as biases. In this way, the bigot manages not to overtax his soft little brain overmuch.
 
That's why we call some people "conservatives." And in that light, let me say that Mark Steyn is a man with a well-rested head.
 
Today, Steyn takes on the topic of multiculturalism. The recent suicide bombings in London combined with other acts committed by Muslim immigrants on continental Europe may, he thinks, be causing a backlash against this multiculturalism nonsense.
Until the London bombings. Something about this particular set of circumstances - British subjects, born and bred, weaned on chips, fond of cricket, but willing to slaughter dozens of their fellow citizens - seems to have momentarily shaken the multiculturalists out of their reveries. Hitherto, they've taken a relaxed view of the more, ah, robust forms of cultural diversity - Sydney gang rapes, German honour killings - but Her Britannic Majesty's suicide bombers have apparently stiffened even the most jelly-spined lefties.
 
At The Age, Terry Lane, last heard blaming John Howard for the "end of democracy as we know it" and calling for "the army of my country ... to be defeated" in Iraq, now says multiculturalism is a "repulsive word" whereas "assimilation is a beaut" and should be commended.
There is no question that when large numbers of people of one culture move to a place with a very different culture, significant stress can result. This is something we've seen over and over again in the United States. For example, "popular" views of history to the contrary, the big "Ellis Island" wave of immigration of the late 19th and early 20th century caused enormous problems--crime, street violence, disease, corruption. Cities in particular found themselves facing massive social upheaval. And, mostly, they didn't handle these challenges well.
 
Frankly, much of the social upheaval caused by immigration that Europe is going through now is mild compared to what America went through then.
 
And, also contrary to what many people seem to believe, a large part of 19th and early 20th century immigrants did not immediately learn to speak English and attempt to adapt to American ways of doing things. In the 19th century in particular it was not at all unusual for a community of immigrants to attempt to exactly replicate the way of life they'd known before. It even was common to forbid "first generation" American-born children to speak English.  In some cases assimilation took three or four generations. 
 
During the Ellis Island period, in fact, there were so many immigrants that American culture assimilated to them as much as the other way around. If immigration had been cut off after, say, the Civil War we'd be living in a very different country today, culturally speaking.
 
Well, actually, not too many of us would be here, would we?
 
But this period of stress doesn't last forever. For example, New York City, the most multicultural place on the planet, these days has lower rates of violent crime than most other cities in the U.S. In the course of an average day, New Yorkers move among people with every variation of skin color in the human epidermal repertoire and overhear conversations in at least a dozen different languages, and it's very rare to see anyone get hassled about this (in Manhattan, anyway). Those that do, usually are tourists.
 
This may be because where everybody is different, nobody is different. And there may be a lesson to be learned there.
 
But what about preserving culture? There is reason to be concerned. When I moved to the east coast from the midwest I was astonished at the number of people I ran into who didn't know what a fruit cobbler was, for example. But back home in the more ethnically homogenous Ozarks, increasing numbers of people have abandoned traditional fruit cobblers in favor of the Bisquick faux cobbler and don't even know there's a difference. So I've come to expect that much of what was will be no more eventually, immigration or no immigration.
 
Stuff changes. Old-time jigs and reels give way to overproduced Nashville country pop.  Arts such as clog dancing, brain tanning (you remember brain tanning, D.R.?), the practice of covering everything in crewel embroidery, the words to "Old Dan Tucker," nights out hunting with coon dogs, and much else that once flavored Ozark Mountain culture is pretty much forgotten, and you can't blame immigration for that. Not much immigration flowing into the Ozarks, near's I can tell. 
 
And if you are unfamiliar with those fine examples of cultural Americana, wassamatta wit CHOO?
 
Fact is, eventually this culture we're living in now will be the subject of museum displays, and our descendants will be astonished by it. And, fact is, the best of western culture--especially the great music and art--is no longer supported by our culture but is mostly preserved by grants and donations from both the public and private sectors. So if preserving culture is really important to you, support the national and state arts councils.
 
Oh, wait ... in Rightieworld, taxpayer support of the arts is bad. Never mind.
 
Responding to the problems caused by immigration is hard. I 'spect lots of Europeans, who for years have been tut-tutting American struggles with internal bigotries, are just now getting a clue how hard it is. And I 'spect lots of people who genuinely tried to treat the newcomers with tolerance and kindness are feeling snakebit now. There are no simple solutions to these problems. My only suggestion is that Europeans make a real proactive effort to prevent ethnic minorities from being isolated in ghettos. Ghettoization may seem to be a "solution," but in truth it makes the problems more entrenched, prolonged, and extreme. 
 
Please note that I am not saying nations shouldn't put limits on immigration. Any nation that allows in more immigrants than can reasonably be expected to find suitable employment and housing is asking for trouble, for example. Really big waves of migration can cause existing institutions to break down, which isn't helpful to anybody. And we need to keep a close watch for persons with likely ties to terrorist organizations. 
 
But the righties seem to think that "multiculturalism" is some newfangled thing that can be stopped, which is nuts. Our species has a long-established pattern of migrating to parts unknown. And some of the best parts of human culture happened when two previously unaquainted cultures collided. Think of jazz. Think of the Renaissance, which was ignited when European crusaders were exposed to diverse cultures and more advanced sciences in the Middle East. Think of what resulted when tomatoes from the New World ran into noodle recipes imported from China to Italy--pasta and marinara sauce.
 
Speaking of China, you might remember that for centuries confucian China isolated itself to keep its culture pure of outside influence. In the long run it left them vulnerable to the meddlings of Europeans with more advanced technology.
 
And speaking of meddling Europeans, this part of Steyn's little essay is a real knee-slapper:
That's the great thing about multiculturalism: it doesn't involve knowing anything about other cultures - like, say, the capital of Bhutan or the principal exports of Malaysia, the sort of stuff the old imperialist wallahs used to be well up on.          
Here Steyn reveals, first, that he's unclear about what "culture" actually is, never mind "wallahs." More important, he seems blissfully unaware that a large part of the social, cultural, and political upheaval raging about in large parts of the world today--Africa, the Middle East, and Asia in particular--began when the exploitative policies of imperialist Europeans and Americans undermined established institutions and social orders. When the imperialist overlords eventually cleared out, they left chaos behind. But that's a huge subject I don't have the energy to go into today
 
Hmm, maybe the immigration problems of today are just karmic payback. But let's go on ...
 
tolerance.jpgFinally, Steyn touches on the touchy matter of tolerating intolerance, which he has decided is wrong. I'm glad to see Steyn coming around to my point of view, which is that intolerance is not to be tolerated. In American history there have been many problems caused by the toleration of intolerance, and when the Gubmint eventually cracked down, the Right got all huffy about it and screamed about how their "rights" were being violated. Some of them still whine about it, actually. But maybe they're beginning to understand why more liberal citizens finally decided enough was enough, and cracked down. You think? 

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7:25 am | link

sunday, july 24, 2005

Rove Watch Watch
 
In addition to the Frank Rich column linked in the last post, besure to read Mark Feldstein in today's New York Times. Feldstein illuminates the role of the press in the Rove-Plame leaks:
Reporters, who as a class are usually the biggest blabbermouths in town, have for the most part been uncharacteristically silent. Still, enough has come out about the behind-the-scenes maneuvering to illustrate how the system works: Administration officials reportedly first peddled their goods on Wilson to the top-tier media companies -- The Washington Post, the New York Times, and Time magazine. Only after reporters at these influential mainstream news organizations failed to publish the story did it end up in a column by Novak, whose reputation as a conservative ideologue may have made him a more obvious and therefore less credible outlet for conveying administration spin. Even with first-rung publications, high-level sources apparently laid down conditions. Time's Matt Cooper, for example, sent his editors an e-mail stating that White House adviser Rove's leak was provided only "on double super secret background . . . don't source this to rove or even WH [White House]."
Remember, Rove and Novak are long-time partners in crime. Rove was caught leaking to Novak in 1992 and was then fired by Bush Sr.
 
Feldstein doesn't say much about Judy "Stenographer to Power" Miller, however.
 

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11:22 am | link

Smokin'
 
Remember the post-9/11 days when President Bush boasted how we would deal with the perpetrators--"smoke 'em out, git 'em on the run and bring 'em to justice"?
 
Well, right now the ones smellin' the smoke are in the Bush Administration.  
 
The hot link this morning is the new Frank Rich column, "Eight Days in July." Many dots are connected. Among other things, Rich argues persuasively that the real reason Alberto Gonzales didn't get the Supreme Court nomination is that he's up to his elbows in Traitorgate.
As White House counsel, he was the one first notified that the Justice Department, at the request of the C.I.A., had opened an investigation into the outing of Joseph Wilson's wife. That notification came at 8:30 p.m. on Sept. 29, 2003, but it took Mr. Gonzales 12 more hours to inform the White House staff that it must "preserve all materials" relevant to the investigation. This 12-hour delay, he has said, was sanctioned by the Justice Department, but since the department was then run by John Ashcroft, a Bush loyalist who refused to recuse himself from the Plame case, inquiring Senate Democrats would examine this 12-hour delay as closely as an 18½-minute tape gap. "Every good prosecutor knows that any delay could give a culprit time to destroy the evidence," said Senator Charles Schumer, correctly, back when the missing 12 hours was first revealed almost two years ago. A new Gonzales confirmation process now would have quickly devolved into a neo-Watergate hearing. Mr. Gonzales was in the thick of the Plame investigation, all told, for 16 months.
Rich doesn't mention John Bolton, but you might have noticed that his much-anticipated recess appointment as UN Ambassador has not materialized, either.
 
I liked this part: 

... for half a year White House hands made the fatal mistake of thinking they could get away with trashing the Wilsons scot-free. They thought so because for nearly three months after the July 6, 2003, publication of Mr. Wilson's New York Times Op-Ed article and the outing of his wife in a Robert Novak column, there was no investigation at all. Once the unthreatening Ashcroft-controlled investigation began, there was another comfy three months.

Only after that did Patrick Fitzgerald, the special counsel, take over and put the heat on. Only after that did investigators hustle to seek Air Force One phone logs and did Mr. Bush feel compelled to hire a private lawyer. But by then the conspirators, drunk with the hubris characteristic of this administration, had already been quite careless.

 It was during that pre-Fitzgerald honeymoon that Scott McClellan declared that both Karl Rove and Dick Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis Libby, had personally told him they were "not involved in this" - neither leaking any classified information nor even telling any reporter that Valerie Plame worked for the C.I.A. Matt Cooper has now written in Time that it was through his "conversation with Rove" that he "learned for the first time that Wilson's wife worked at the C.I.A." Maybe it all depends on what the meaning of "telling," "involved" or "this" is.

I also liked this part: 

The second narrative to be unearthed in the scandal's early timeline is the motive for this reckless vindictiveness against anyone questioning the war. On May 1, 2003, Mr. Bush celebrated "Mission Accomplished." On May 29, Mr. Bush announced that "we found the weapons of mass destruction." On July 2, as attacks increased on American troops, Mr. Bush dared the insurgents to "bring 'em on." But the mission was not accomplished, the weapons were not found and the enemy kept bringing 'em on. It was against this backdrop of mounting desperation on July 6 that Mr. Wilson went public with his incriminating claim that the most potent argument for the war in the first place, the administration's repeated intimations of nuclear Armageddon, involved twisted intelligence.

Mr. Wilson's charge had such force that just three days after its publication, Mr. Bush radically revised his language about W.M.D.'s. Saddam no longer had W.M.D.'s; he had a W.M.D. "program." Right after that George Tenet suddenly decided to release a Friday-evening statement saying that the 16 errant words about African uranium "should never have been included" in the January 2003 State of the Union address - even though those 16 words could and should have been retracted months earlier. By the next State of the Union, in January 2004, Mr. Bush would retreat completely, talking not about finding W.M.D.'s or even W.M.D. programs, but about "weapons of mass destruction-related program activities."

As Lambert says: "First, hubris. Then, nemesis."
 
And Frank Rich reminds us, "The real crime here remains the sending of American men and women to Iraq on fictitious grounds."
 
About that war--Thom Shanker writes in today's New York Times writes that Bush's tough talk about being "a nation at war" is wringing pretty hollow to the troops actually fighting that war. 

"Nobody in America is asked to sacrifice, except us," said one officer just back from a yearlong tour in Iraq, voicing a frustration now drawing the attention of academic specialists in military sociology. ...

The military is feeling increasingly isolated from the American public, the article says. There's also a sense among the troops that "support" for them is all rhetoric.

"They say, 'I'm going to support those people, I believe in those people and God bless those people,' " he [Morton Ender, professor at West Point] said. "By doing that, they can wash their hands of it."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 
 
If they really do “hate us because we’re free,” the Bush Administration’s approach to civil liberties constitutes “appeasement” of the first water.  
 
Shakespeare's Sister has an informative post explaining the current status of the Patriot Act.

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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

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The War Prayer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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