Saturday, October 18, 2003

Meditations With Rant On A Review By Josh Marshall  

This, ahem, got a bit long... Hopefully someone will find some ideas of interest and be briefer about it all. Apologies to Josh Marshall up front if you think I'm coming down hard on you personally. You really are not to blame in any big way, and probably not in any meaningful way either. You are just one of many people who simply didn't understand what was going on with Bush until it was way too late to stop him. And you're, alas, only marginally more important than a normal blogger. Those with the power to have stopped Bush - the major congresspeople, the editorial heads of great news organizations, the social/cultural/financial movers and shakers in America - those people were all silent. And they certainly knew better. On them, as well on Bush and his administration and enablers, lies the heaviest burden for the terrible shame and tragedies (with more to come, unfortunately) of the Bush/Iraq War.

Here is the review in question. The book Josh discusses describes the making of, as the subtitle describes it, "The Bush Revolution in Foreign Policy."

Based on his review, the main issue I have with America Unbound is this: Where was this book when we bloody needed it? This, from my viewpoint is truly a "dog bites man" kind of insight:
The book's central argument is simple and, by now, familiar: the president's unilateralist policies have produced quick victories in Afghanistan and Iraq but have also fractured the nation's alliances, and as a result the world system is more chaotic and unfriendly, and the United States is less secure. [Authors] Daalder and Lindsay are concerned about more than the truculent face the administration sometimes shows abroad. "The deeper problem," they write in the book's concluding chapter, is that "the fundamental premise of the Bush revolution -- that America's security rested on an America unbound -- was profoundly mistaken."
Indeed. So now they figured it out? Heck, I knew this in the first months of the Bush administration, when they started pulling out of treaties, and I'm a musician, not a policy wonk at a think tank, fer heaven's sake. It was confirmed to me in the buildup to Afghanistan, when Bush pushed everyone aside, foregoing a true multilateral mission for a cowboy-style roundup - which, of course, failed when the main varmints slipped through Bush's lasso. Any slight doubts I had vanished when I first heard that the new foreign policy of the US included the right to launch unilateral preemptive strikes against nations that were not merely an imminent threat (oh, those words!) but against any nation that the president thought might, possibly, become a threat.

What more could anyone want? Were large piles of dead bodies actually really needed to realize how "profoundly mistaken" Bush's foreign policy was?

Indeed, "profoundly mistaken" is a gross understatement. "No basis in consensual reality" comes closer to describing it.

Inadvertently, Josh may have given us some insight to how the terrible disaster of Iraq wasn't nipped in the bud. A reality distortion field - far stronger than any that Steve Jobs could ever possibly conjure up - seriously messed with even responsible reporters' minds. Consider this anecdote with which Josh begins his review (the well-known intellectual most likely is Perle or Wolfowitz):
Days before the United States launched Operation Iraqi Freedom this past March, a well-known intellectual close to the White House walked me through the necessity and promise of the coming invasion. Whatever rancor it caused in the short term, he said, would pale in comparison to the payoff that would follow. In the months and years to come, Iraqis who had suffered under Saddam Hussein's tyranny would write books and testify to the brutality of the regime, the bankruptcy of the Arab nationalism that stood idly by while they suffered, and the improvement of their lives. That testimony and the reality of an Iraqi state where basic human rights were respected would shatter the anti-Americanism that fills the Muslim Middle East and start a wave of change that would sweep over the region.

It was a breathtaking vision, and one that was difficult to dismiss out of hand.
No. It was easy to dismiss out of hand. This was the reasoning of a crazy person.

For every book published in the west about Saddam's brutality, there would be three published in the Muslim world about the atrocities of the infidel conquest.

The bankruptcy of other Arab states standing by while Saddam brutalized? How could anyone even think that would become the story line Arabs would tell themselves, let alone embarass themselves by speaking it out loud? Pan-Arab nationalism could only increase with a war spearheaded by the Great Satan regardless of who won (and a traditional style military victory for the US was a done deal, everyone everywhere knew, including Saddam). Wouldn't the most likely story line be something like: "Christian Crusaders and their Zionists colleagues viciously brutalized Arabs and Muslims from Guantanomo Bay to Indonesia?" Well yes, that was a lot more likely, come to think of it. And that is exactly what is all over al Jazeera and, I presume, every other halfway mainstream to lunatic Arab media/Muislim media outlet. It's even the story on every respectable news organization everywhere else as well.

As for improvement in the lives of the conquered, well, tell that to the desperate Afghanis or even Karzai in Kabul where anarchy is so widespread that not even he was safe from having his bodyguard infiltrated by assassins (now that US bodyguards are assigned to him, perhaps today he is somewhat better off, but the countryside still is in the hands of warlords just as brutal and misogynist as the Taliban, according to news reports).

Why didn't Josh see that he was the victim of a total snow job? Well, Perle/Wolfowitz's reality distortion field was set to stun. Josh, an intellectual himself and a good man, was fed exactly the reasons that would cause him to think twice and give the crazies running foreign policy a break. Josh, like many Americans, wants to leave this world having done some good for it. What could be gooder than liberating an entire country and transforming the Middle East into a land of milk, honey, and 70 virgins for every hard working Muslim man? Josh, looking wistfully to fulfill his best intentions, blinded by the seemingly impressive academic credits of the Wolfowitz Gang, and not fully believing the evidence of his own eyes that the neocons were out of their minds fell for the neocon conjob.

He fell for the most fallacious of poli-sci fallacies, that things will work out as crisply as an intellectual imagines they will. That the fiendishly complex reality of the Middle East conforms in some real way to the simplistic declaratives offered up, not only by the Bush administration, but by professional policy wonks like those at Foreign Affairs.

Bush's foreign policy, the too-late-to-save-us release of "America Unbound" and the bamboozling of Joshua Micah Marshall just before the war point to a very serious crisis. It is an intellectual crisis that gives credence to obviously terrible and self-destructive ideas. It makes them seem fit not only for academic debate, and not only for public discussion, but - incredibly -also fit for adoption as policy by the most militarily powerful country the world has ever known. It is an intellectual crisis that permits such long-discredited siren calls as America's "manifest destiny" to sing out once again and seduce nearly every class in this country into believing the clearly delusional notion that by prosecuting a clearly unnecessary war we could ensure peace.

How could this crisis have happened? I don't have a clue. I don't know how anyone could have heard what Josh heard and not think that the person who said them was a candidate for involuntary psychiatric hospitalization. I don't know how anyone as smart and eloquent as Nicholas Lemann could understand the neo-con fairy tale so well and claim it was "breathtakingly ambitious" instead of screaming yellow bonkers.

But we are going to have to find out how it happened. Not to punish Wolfowitz, Perle and the rest of the self-described Cabal (although what they did was surely criminal) and certainly not to punish the media which, to be kind, fucked up royally for two years. No, we must figure out how this crisis happened so that we can prevent it ever happening again.

While it is too early to tell for sure, I think we dodged a major bullet or two. Our country does not look like it will be taken over by the extreme right, despite every indication that they were poised to and would have done so had Bush/Iraq gone "well." And the gates of hell did not immediately swing open in the middle east - no chemo, no bio, no nukes were used, or even found. But the next time crazy ideas like pre-emptive unilateralism rise to the level of national policy, the world may not be so lucky.

So I say to Josh Marshall and Nick Lemann and anyone else in the media who is both honest and smart: the next time you want to do the world some good, don't think you can do any good at all by imagining a world transformed for the better by radical ideologues whose interest in a country is confined merely to the desire to transform it into a model for their ideology. You want to do some good? Do your job - report. And for God's sakes, keep a cool head on your shoulders: the world will never be "improved" in the ways that Perle thinks it can be.

Most importantly, don't mince words. Don't describe an insane idea as "bold." Rip it apart. That will do all of us, including you and your children if have any, far more good than "imagining a world without evil in it," an idea which is - trust me on this - total doo-doo.

UPDATE: Edited in places for style and clarity after original posting. In addition, typos fixed, link added.

The Lying Bushites vs. Drum and Miller  

Kevin labels the deliberate "botulism" confusion a "technical lie" of the Bush administration. I think it's simply a lie. In Kevin's own words:
Remember that vial of botulism that David Kay's team found in Iraq? Almost immediately we heard from experts who told us to watch out: botulism bacteria is found in nature and is essentially harmless, while botulism toxin is a deadly weapon. Which was it?

Answer: it was the bacteria...

As for why they did this, the answer is obvious: they just wanted to get the word "botulism" into the news reports. Even if the media reported the story 100% accurately with all the appropriate hedges and cautions, it's still a win for the administration. All that mattered is that 300 million Americans heard the word "botulism," and 90% of them didn't hear anything else.
Kevin is a highly intelligent, honest, and excellent blogger who regularly tries to bend over backwards to evaluate fairly whatever the Bush administration says. Partly, I think, this helps attract a wide diversity of comments to his site. He doesn't want to be thought as simply one more knee-jerk liberal blog (as I'm sure many think this site is) and his blog certainly isn't. The Bush adminstration, however, has made it all but impossible for even Kevin to keep giving them the benefit of a doubt.

The bottom line is that opposition to the Bush administration and its spinmeisters is not a left/right thing. It's an integrity/dishonesty thing. Indeed, self-described conservatives are getting fed up, if not with Bush, at least with the lying characters he attracts.
I must say that only once before in my life have I ever felt as utterly shocked as I am at this moment. The time before was when I first realized that my boss at the time, Bill Sizemore, was greedy and dishonest. The foundations of my universe shook. What has utterly shocked me today is Al Franken's latest book, "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right."

I read the book in one sitting. It is an amazing book, and -- if you're a decent, honest, hard-working, patriotic, true-blue conservative who listens to Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly and watches Fox News -- an earth-shattering book.
Exactly. This is about honesty in political discourse, not about political viewpoints. Miller doesn't go so far as to criticize Bush, but she still gets it right: some of Bush's most popular boosters are filthy, stinking liars.

So let me clarify my own position. Time was that "conservative", at least in regular parlance meant a Lieberman or a Powell, "arch-conservative" meant a Goldwater, and "right wing extremist" meant a Delay, an O'Reilly, a Cheney or a Bush. No one, least of all myself, would deny that the conservatives in this kind of definition deserve to be carefully listened to and, while I certainly disagree with much that Powell and Lieberman believe in, I do think that, with the obvious exceptions (like the disgraceful UN speech), they are mainstream voices that are essentially decent ones. Goldwater may have been honest, but his views were often bizarre. But the current crop of "conservatives" that dominate political life are a different kettle of fish; they have hijacked the term, as they have hijacked the Republican party, and the term "Christian" to serve a genuinely radical agenda far out of the mainstream of American beliefs. Genuine conservatives like Becky Miller should continue to cut them loose, as genuine liberals a long time ago denounced their own wingnuts (and should denounce the present ones, like that idiotic Columbia professor who wished a multiple Mogadishus on US troops). That way, a lively but sensible discourse can begin to take place about how to solve the serious problems in this country.

Full credit due to Atrios for the link to Miller's commentary.

UPDATE: For anyone who believes that Miller is not a conservative, go here which describes her as a Libertarian and details some of her work for the Republican right wing anti-tax crusader Bill Sizemore (later sued for fraud; Miller, granted immunity, testified against him). Miller also was quite active in promoting various conservative tax and land use initiatives, from what my googling revealed.

Cable Science Network: What A Great Idea!  

Check it out:
Imagine turning on your television -any time of day or night- and watching a heated debate about the impact of science on your life-from stem-cell research and cloning to the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in your food; from the biology of violence to the chemistry of addiction; from the puzzles of depression to the latest breakthroughs on aging; from the evolution of morality to the complexities of consciousness; from the exploration of space to the discovery of life beyond Earth.

Imagine eavesdropping on scientific meetings and Congressional hearings-getting the background buzz about science and its impact on social issues from education, ethics, and economics to law, psychology and religion.

Imagine a network that delivered the latest lecture by Stephen Hawking on the nature of time or by Jane Goodall on the chimpanzees of Gombe. Or archived footage of the late Richard Feynman mesmerizing an audience with his Nobel-wattage intellect and irreverent humor. Perhaps you would find yourself in the midst of a marathon reprise of landmark television series like Carl Sagan Cosmos or Jacob Bronowski%u2019s The Ascent of Man, rescued from retirement. Maybe a showing of Life Story, the dramatization of James Watson and Francis Crick discovery of the double helix of DNA-or a Nova marathon. You might be taken into classrooms where America%u2019s star science teachers hold young minds spellbound with tales of our continuing odyssey to make sense of the natural world.

Put it all together and you have the Cable Science Network (CSN). A C-SPAN for science.

Diebold Issues Cease And Desist But...  

Diebold, the Republican funded computer voting machine company that has serious people genuinely alarmed about the potential to alter or fix elections has issued a cease and desist against Indymedia because of links to mirrors of leaked docs from the company. Still, if you go here, you should find links to plenty of material to look at.

I downloaded as much as I could find a few days ago. Haven't entirely gone through it yet, but what I have seen is very, very troubling.

Wow! The Democrats Show Some Spine.  

Hardhitting ad from the Dems about Plamegate. If you don't have quicktime broadband, go to Kos who has it in all the other formats and for modem as well.

Kos also has left the rest of us bloggos behind in all his uptodate bloggy goodies. Register with his site and check it out!

David Brooks Practices Civility  

This is the clown who told Democrats to watch their manners. Now, after a few of the most incoherent columns I've ever read in the Times, he's decided to become Safire's cute little poodle:
Saddam Hussein would be jubilant in Pelosi's Iraq. ...

And so in Pelosi's Iraq, there would be little money for children's hospitals, jails, clean water and schools...[Notice that heartbreaking first example that would be starved for cash by the evil Pelosians.]

...the Pelosi Democrats are to the left of Bashar al-Assad.
Yeah, right. Nancy Pelosi advocates an autocracy, pays lip service to pan-Arab nationalist aspirations, and behaves like a garden variety fascist. David, using your critieria of left/right politics which in reality is irrelevant to the complexities of Syrian politics (see here for a useful if somewhat out of date overview), George Bush is to the left of Assad.

Nevermind. Onward with Brooks's "civil" discourse
The Iraqi people have been raped, tortured and left bloodied on the floor. The Bayh Democrats say to them: Here's a credit card. Go buy yourself some treatment, and you can pay us back later.
What do I believe about the $87 billion?

It is wasted money, that's what I believe. But it is pointless to argue over it, because the only real issues are getting Bush out of power and then turning as much as possible of this royal mess over to the UN.

Now I understand that most of the $87 billion doesn't go to Iraq but to the American military over there. One hopes that among the priorities are not only better air conditioning for the commanders but decent body armor for the poor troops who are patrolling in Iraq. My God, that's a scandal of criminal proportions.

Friday, October 17, 2003

Great Moments In Bush Diplomacy  

Bush and Japan's Premier Fail to Agree on Issue of the Dollar.

Oh, and the UN vote? It doesn't matter, 'cause there's no change in the status quo vis a vis troops/money/aid. Probably it was signed as an olive branch for Powell, but the countries are already starting to talk about problems with that resolution.

I Never Said "Imminent Threat." I Said "Eminem's A Threat."  

But Alterman begs to differ:
On May 7, 2003, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer was asked, "Didn't we go to war because we said WMD were a direct and imminent threat to the U.S.?" He replied: "Absolutely." On Nov. 14, 2002, a mother of a U.S. soldier told Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld that she was not convinced that Iraq was an imminent threat. He replied: "I would look you in the eye and I would say, go back before September 11 and ask yourself this question: Was the attack that took place on September 11 an imminent threat the month before, or two months before, or three months before or six months before? When did the attack on September 11 become an imminent threat? Now, transport yourself forward a year, two years or a week or a month...So the question is, when is it such an immediate threat that you must do something?"
       The administration also made the "imminent threat" point in other ways. On Jan. 29, 2003, Rumsfeld said: "The president has stated that he considers the Saddam Hussein regime a danger to the United States."And Vice President Dick Cheney said on Jan. 30, 2003 that there was a "grave danger posed by the outlaw regime in Iraq," adding that Saddam"threatens the United States of America."

Is Clark The Most Electable?  

Ruy Teixeira says so. Me, I don't care (although I love my Dean quote at the top of the blog) as long as Bush is defeated, and hopefully by a landslide.

But if Clark is The One, then by heavens, Dean must not be shunted aside. Without Dean, there'd be no Clark. He was the first one to speak out forcefully against the war and directly about Bush. He has run one helluva great campaign.

Either Dean or Clark, or so many others of the Dems, would make candidates I could enthusiastically support. There is a glut of excellent talent there.

9/11 Was Clinton's Fault. Not.  

This canard is gaining more and more credence. Now Matt Yglesias in his new gig over at Tapped reminds us how little attention was paid by the right to bin Laden pre 9/11. One suggestion, Matt, I would reccommend The Age of Sacred Terror as a better source than Franken for the history of Bush's neglect of bin Laden during the first nine months of his regime.

The Good Tom  

Tom Tomorrow, that is. Now is the time to hop on over to The Great Big Book of Tomorrow which has scads and scads of hilarious and scathing political cartoons from all areas of Tom's Career. These cartoons kept from going crazy when the media was ostriched in Bush's trousers. I got my copy the day it came out. It's your turn.

David Kay's Smoking Gun Was "Nothing To Be Concerned About"  

It seems to have fizzled out:
A suspicious sample of biological material recently found by U.S. weapons hunters in Iraq probably was purchased legally from a U.S. organization in the 1980s and is a substance that has never been successfully used to produce a weapon, experts said.

The discovery of the hidden vial of C. botulinum Okra B, which was revealed in an Oct. 2 interim report by chief U.S. weapons hunter David Kay, was highlighted in speeches by President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and other senior administration officials as proof that President Saddam Hussein's government maintained an illicit bio-weapons program before the war.

The significance of the vial is one of several elements of Kay's report that are being called into question by U.S. biowarfare experts and former United Nations weapons inspectors. Although most praised Kay for uncovering numerous cases in which Iraq hid suspicious equipment and activities from U.N. inspectors, they said the report appeared misleading in several areas...

The single vial of botulinum B had been stored in an Iraqi scientist's kitchen refrigerator since 1993. It appears to have been produced by a nonprofit Virginia biological resource center, the American Type Culture Collection, which legally exported botulinum and other biological material to Iraq under a Commerce Department license in the late 1980s.

The vial of botulinum B — about 2 inches high and half an inch wide — was the only suspicious biological material Kay reported finding. It was sealed and stored in the scientist's home with 96 other apparently benign vials of single-cell proteins and biopesticides.

In his 13-page declassified report, Kay said "a biological agent" could be produced from the botulinum sample. Speaking to reporters at the White House the next day, Oct. 3, Bush said the war in Iraq was justified and cited Kay's discovery of the advanced missile programs, clandestine labs and what he called "a live strain of deadly agent botulinum" as proof that Hussein was "a danger to the world."

But Dr. David Franz, a former chief U.N. biological weapons inspector who is considered among America's foremost experts on biowarfare agents, said there was no evidence that Iraq or anyone else has ever succeeded in using botulinum B for biowarfare.

"The Soviets dropped it [as a goal] and so did we, because we couldn't get it working as a weapon," said Franz, who is the former commander of the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Ft. Detrick, Md., the Pentagon's lead laboratory for bioweapons defense research.

"From the weapons side, it's not something to be concerned about," agreed Dr. Raymond Zilinskas, another former U.N. inspector who is now director of the chemical and biological weapons nonproliferation program at the Monterey Institute in California.
Let's see how long the praise of the report lasts, if it was compiled with anything like the diliegence of the Powell report.

LA Times Calls For General Boykin's Resignation  

This is the right wing loon who casts the hunt for bin Laden as a crusade.

Via Cursor, some more links on Boykin are here and here.

3 More Americans Plus 2 Iraqis Killed  

I hate this war.

UPDATE:One more US soldier died this morning.


When this long nightmare is over, it will be difficult to describe the sense of relief one felt upon reading a new Krugman column during the Bush years, the affirmation that in the face of relentless propaganda from the Bush administration,one hadn't gone crazy after all:
George W. Bush is like a man who tells you that he's bought you a fancy new TV set for Christmas, but neglects to tell you that he charged it to your credit card, and that while he was at it he also used the card to buy some stuff for himself. Eventually, the bill will come due — and it will be your problem, not his...

[I]f a Democratic candidate proposes a total rollback of the Bush tax cuts, he'll be offering an easy target: administration spokespeople will be able to provide reporters with carefully chosen examples of middle-income families who would lose $1,500 or $2,000 a year from tax-cut repeal. By leaving the child tax credits and the cutout in place while proposing to repeal the rest, contenders will recapture most of the revenue lost because of the tax cuts, while making the job of the administration propagandists that much harder.

Purists will raise two objections. The first is that an incomplete rollback of the Bush tax cuts won't be enough to restore long-run solvency. In fact, even a full rollback wouldn't be enough. According to my rough calculations, keeping the child credits and the cutout while rolling back the rest would close only about half the fiscal gap. But it would be a lot better than current policy.

The other objection is that the tricks used to sell the Bush tax cuts have made an already messy tax system, full of special breaks for particular classes of taxpayers, even messier. Shouldn't we favor a reform that cleans it up?

In principle, the answer is yes. But an ambitious reform plan would be demagogued and portrayed as a tax increase for the middle class. My guess is that we should propose a selective rollback as the first step, with broader reform to follow.

Will someone be able to find the political sweet spot, the combination of fiscal responsibility and electoral smarts that brings the looting to an end? The future of the nation depends on the answer.  

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Success, George Bush Style  

Via AP:
An explosion damaged part of the main pipeline running from Iraq (news - web sites)'s northern oil fields on Thursday, forcing a reduction in the amount of oil available for export.

In Irbil, 200 miles north of Baghdad, police shot and killed the driver of a car packed with 220 pounds of explosives as he approached the police ministry office, the U.S. military said.

The vehicle did not explode, U.S. officials said. A car bombing in Irbil last month killed three people and injured four American intelligence officers...

L. Paul Bremer, the U.S. civilian administrator for Iraq, has said the country is losing $7 million daily because of the closure of the export pipeline to Turkey. In September, the line reopened for three days for the first time after the war. Three bomb blasts along the line forced its closure...

In Tikrit, meanwhile, a 4-year-old Iraqi girl was killed Thursday when a bomb exploded just outside the main U.S. Army base. Her 12-year-old sister was critically wounded, U.S. officials said.

U.S. officials said they believed the bomb was intended for two U.S. Bradley armored vehicles that had passed down the same road minutes before the blast.

In the southern city of Basra, an Iraqi doctor, Haidar al-Baaj, was shot in the back of the head and killed as he was entering his clinic, hospital officials said Thursday...

A total of 194 U.S. soldiers have been killed by bombings, ambushes and other hostile incidents since President Bush (news - web sites) declared an end to major combat operations May 1...

Brig. Gen. Robert L. Davis told reporters between 600,000 and 1 million tons of Iraqi munitions remain unaccounted for, though he could not say how much of that had been used in attacks against U.S troops...

Meanwhile, Iraqi security officials said a woman with explosives tied to her belt was arrested Tuesday as she tried to enter a Finance Ministry building, apparently to carry out a suicide attack...

On Thursday, troops of the 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment held a memorial service for two comrades killed in attacks this week.
My God...

The NYC Republican Convention 2004 - Will Protests Even Be Permitted In Manhattan?  

As the previous post points out, as does this ACLU press relase about lawsuits against "free speech zones", the Bush administration is not shy about ensuring that no dissent is seen anywhere near Bush. It's blatantly illegal and anti-American, but fully in keeping with Bush's behavior.

Unless lawsuits have already begun or begin soon, it is likely that no protests will be permitted during the 2004 convention within miles of either Ground Zero or the convention center. Indeed, if I were Bush, I would make sure that no one except people already pre-screened as rabid supporters would be anywhere near anything symbolically useful to my opposition. That means, in effect, that Manhattan will be closed to protest.

I do not know if ACLU is already working, even pre-emptively, to stave off the suppression of dissent during the summer of '04 but if not, they must do so immediately. Or another group must. If they start up in the spring, it will be too late because, guaranteed, the silencing of protest was one of the earliest things on Bush's plate for the planning of the 2004 convention and certainly by now, discussions are well under way with Bloomberg's administration to make sure that Bush's NY trip is as flattering as possible to him.

Bush and Protest  

Salon has an article on Bush and protestors, a subject I want to post about as soon as I can spare a moment in reference to 2004 convention planning. Do read the Salon piece and please be a little patient for a longer discussion.

Bush Is Losing It  

How to win friends and influence people:
Bush's attempt to assert himself extends beyond the executive branch. Late Tuesday, in a brief, brusque arm-twisting session with nine senators, the President made it clear that he was not there to answer questions or debate the merits of his $87 billion Iraq and Afghanistan aid package. He demanded that the aid to Iraq be in the form of grants, not loans, as some of the senators have urged.

Present at the session in the Roosevelt Room of the White House were Republicans Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania; Olympia J. Snowe and Susan Collins, both of Maine; Saxby Chambliss of Georgia; Sam Brownback of Kansas; Lindsey Graham of South Carolina; and John McCain of Arizona. Democrats Maria Cantwell of Washington and Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana also attended.

At one point, as he discussed the question of providing some of the money as a loan, Bush slammed his hand down on the table and said: "This is bad policy."

When Collins tried to ask a question, the President replied: "I'm not here to debate it."

One participant told The Inquirer that some of the senators, particularly those who have never been on the opposing side of an issue with Bush, were "surprised by his directness." It was clear he was not there to engage in any give-and-take, the participant said.

Nevertheless, Bush failed to sway any of the pro-loan Republicans.
This is a different excerpt from the story Atrios quotes in which an anonymous senior administration official reports that Bush doesn't want to see any more stories quoting anonymous senior administration officials.

Extremists In The US Government  

Atrios has quotations from General William Boykin, undersecretary of defense and the man in charge. He is the fellow in charge of finding bin Laden. I will also reproduce quotes from boykin below but let me say up front that there is simply no excuse for placing a man so clearly deranged as Boykin in charge of any military mission, let alone one so important as the hunt for bin Laden. Even if you disagree with that characterization of Boykin -and frankly, I think it is indisputable that whatever his mentation was like in the past during a highly decorated career, he has gone hopelessly insane- it is simply beyond the pale for a man who believes the US is on a crusade against Muslims to be placed in charge of hunting them down. This is precisely what everyone, even Bush, has gone to great pains to avoid implying.

I have written all my congresspeople and urged that he be removed from active duty immediately. Below you can learn exactly why and you can find more information about Boykin at this msnbc article from which I (and Atrios) gleaned the quotes:
[SLIDE SHOW, PICTURE OF OSAMA BIN LADEN] “And then we began to see this face…the face of Osama bin Laden. And finally we said, ‘There’s the enemy. That’s our enemy. That’s the man that hates us. And all of those that follow him.”

[PICTURE OF PRESIDENT BUSH] “And then this man stepped forward. A man that has acknowledged that he prays in the Oval Office. A man that’s in the White House today because of a miracle. You think about how he got in the White House. You think about why he’s there today. As Mordecai said to Esther, ‘You ave been put there for such a time and place.’ And this man has been put in the White house to lead our nation in such a time as this.

“But who is that enemy? It’s not Osama bin Laden. Our enemy is a spiritual enemy because we are a nation of believers. You go back and look at our history, and you will find that we were founded on faith. Look at what the writers of our Constitution said. We are a nation of believers. We were founded on faith.”

[PICTURE OF SATAN] “And the enemy that has come against our nation is a spiritual enemy. His name is Satan. And if you do not believe that Satan is real, you are ignoring the same Bible that tells you about God. Now I’m a warrior. One day I’m going to take off this uniform and I’m still going to be a warrior. And what I’m here to do today is to recruit you to be warriors of God’s kingdom.”

“And we ask ourselves this question, ‘Why do they hate us? Why do they hate us so much?’
Ladies and gentlemen, the answer to that is because we’re a Christian nation, because our foundation and our roots are Judeo-Christian. Did I say Judeo-Christian? Yes. Judeo-Christian.

“That means we’ve got a commitment to Israel. That mean’s it’s a commitment we’re never going to abandon.
“Go back and read the history books. Go back and read what the early founders of this nation said about Israel, about the Jews. John Adams wrote extensively of, he called it the Hebrews, the contributions they had made to our concepts of liberty and the importance of their contributions to the founding of this great nation.
“Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin each, independently, when asked to come up with a national symbol for this new nation, both came up with a national symbol that reflected on our Jewish heritage.
“One had Moses standing over the Red Sea with his staff and the water parting.
“The other had the Israelites coming out of bondage in the desert being led by a ball of fire. They recognized the importance of our relationship to the Jews and to Israel. Ladies and gentlemen, we will never abandon Israel, we will never walk away from our commitment to Israel because our roots are there.
Our religion came from Judaism, and therefore these radicals will hate us forever.”

“There was a man in Mogadishu named Osman Atto. You see him in the movie [“Blackhawk Down”], smoking a big cigar and talking philosophically. How many of you have seen the movie? Acting like a big shot. Well let me tell you something. That’s not what Osman Atto did. The reality was Osman Atto was Aideed’s closest ally. He was Aideed’s top lieutenant. He was a multimillionaire financier for Aideed’s clan. And we knew if that if we could capture Osman Atto and take him away, that we could destroy Aideed’s network. So we went after Osman Atto about two weeks before the battle.... We went after Osman Atto. We got into a terrible fight. And I’m sad to say a lot of Somalis were killed as we went after Osman Atto.
But we missed him by seconds. He walked out of the facility that we raided, he walked down the street and blended in with the crowd and we missed him.
“And then he went on CNN and he laughed at us, and he said, ‘They’ll never get me because Allah will protect me. Allah will protect me.’
“Well, you know what I knew that my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God, and his was an idol. But I prayed, Lord let us get that man.
“Three days later we went after him again, and this time we got him. Not a mark on him. We got him. We brought him back into our base there and we had a Sea Land container set up to hold prisoners in, and I said put him in there. They put him in there, there was one guard with him. I said search him, they searched him, and then I walked in with no one in there but the guard, and I looked at him and said, ‘Are you Osman Atto?’ And he said ‘Yes.’ And I said, ‘Mr. Atto, you underestimated our God.’”

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

The Bride Wore...  

Didn't They Arrest Abbie For Wearing An American Flag Shirt?

Image via the absolutely extraordinary blog, Ugly Wedding Dress of the Day. And yes, it's real and by no means the ugliest dress on the site.

Corn Is No Novak  

But he knows the identity of another CIA agent caught up in PlameGate.

Much Better Poll News  

Bush Slipping on Iraq, Economy

It's still not enough.

UPDATE: Joe Conason has a link to another poll with good news for the country.

The NYC Republican Convention 2004 - Will Demonstrations Work?  

Right now, it is is a safe bet to assume that groups large and small are planning to demonstrate their opposition to Bush during the Republican Convention here next year.

I'm as furious as the next American at the awful job Bush has been doing. The major question I have about the demos is this: will they work to bring Bush down or will they backfire and increase support for him?

My recollection of '68 was that the police riots outside the Democratic Convention helped Nixon somewhat. The Democrats, bitterly divided over Vietnam, became associated in the minds of viewers both with the chaos on the streets and the brutal repression of dissent. By contrast, the Republican Convention that year was a bloody bore, as it was intended to be.

If one follows this logic, then it makes sense to protest vigorously in NYC in '04. Hopefully, both the police (and the demonstrators ) will behave themselves , but if they don't and there's violent chaos, then the image of an administration out of control will be enhanced.

(Note to conservatives: Only an idiot would think I am advocating riots here. That's why I'm taking the time to point this out to you as clearly as I can. This will become clearer in the next paragraph. Then read on to find out what I am really suggesting Americans do to defeat Bush.)

However, the reason Nixon won in '68 had much less to do with the Chicago police riots that year than with Nixon's treason: Nixon blocked the completion of a peace treaty then being negotiated by Johnson between South and North Vietnam. As a result of Nixon's betrayal of his country, more than 20,000 American soldiers, and countless Vietnamese, Cambodians, and Laotians died. However, since we didn't know about it at the time, it looked to all the world as if Johnson, and by extension the Democratic candidate Humphrey, were totally ineffective in Vietnam. That was the deciding factor.

Therefore, if the 2004 anti-Bush protests are to be effective, and not simply be irrelevant or (God help us) backfire - which is no doubt the spin Bush will push and may succeed in convincing people if they are out of control -, they must be carefully planned. Naturally it will be impossible, indeed not desirable, to prevent the thousands of people who will descend on New York to express their anger at Bush's anti-American regime. But, in order to capture the attention of the media, who will be under strict orders to ignore or minimize the dissent, I would suggest carefully chosen themes that will be both mediagenic and damning to the Bush administration. In the 60's, Abbie's great pranks grabbed eyeballs. Today, and Abbie would be the first to agree, we need modern tactics for the modern media theater. Three suggestions:

The Silenced Americans: An entirely silent demonstration by ordinary Americans, young, middle-aged and elderly, from all walks of life, dressed in ordinary clothes holding signs like "Bush Wont 'Listen To Me. He Won't Listen To You" and "We Are The Real Silent Majority" etc. A few thousand people bearing silent witness to Bush's dis-empowerment of their needs will send a very powerful message and, if the people who participate refrain from histrionics and funny costumes, those Americans who will decide the election, the middle of uncommitted voters, will see themselves reflected in us.

The Unemployment March: Those who have lost their jobs since January, 2001 will gather and march, holding signs describing their previous income versus their current. Naturally, Bush will counter that the march is padded and fake. Therefore, I would suggest that marchers register their employment status and be provided with badges that verify they are telling the truth. Difficult, perhaps nearly impossible, to organize but again, several thousand unemployed Americans representing the hundreds of thousands who have been financially destroyed by Bush and his friends will send a powerful, unforgettable message to the rest of the country.

New York 911 For New Yorkers who were here on 9/11/01 who are opposed to the Bush regime. In the front, the anti-Bush 9/11 families, dressed distinctively. Behind them, the 9/11 collateral victims - those who lost friends or business associates - also dressed distinctively. The rest of the crowd would be ordinary New Yorkers who were not personally affected but were here that day and who think Bush has made our city and our country more vulnerable to attack since then.

The point of all these demos is to appeal not to people like ourselves or to vent our anger, but to reach out to the normal Americans who are currently undecided or not that interested in politics. It is they who will decide the fate of our country and they will not be swayed by immature pranks. Remember: George Bush in his jumpsuit was supposed to demonstrate his leadership. Americans didn't buy it - they're laughing at him instead over it. We don't want them laughing at us. We want them questioning Bush.

For the ultimate goal is not merely for us to win. Bush must lose. And Bushism must be permanently discredited.

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Another Attack In Baghdad  

And they have the gall to claim things are better than reported:
A vehicle driven by a suicide bomber blew up some 50 yards from the Turkish Embassy here today, killing the driver and slightly wounding at least four other people.

At least two of the wounded were inside the embassy; the others were outside the building.

Kos Has "Under God" Case Nailed  

It will become a bogus campaign issue.

Heather Has Two Mommies AND A Daddy  

Not yet, but soon:
A controversial IVF technique could see babies being born with three parents, scientists have suggested.

Experts in China say they have created embryos using eggs from two women and sperm from one man.

The embryos were implanted into a 30-year-old Chinese women with fertility problems.

While she suffered a miscarriage, scientists believe the technique could help other women.
It's banned here and in Britain. Can't say I quite understand why, but then cloning, etc., doesn't bother me either.

Hear, Hear, Robert Scheer!  

Another liberal against demonizing Limbaugh:
"Limbaugh's experience is the best argument against the demonization of all junkies - this one throughout his addiction held a big job and presumably paid a lot in taxes. The considerable harm he inflicts daily on the larger society can hardly be blamed on his addiction. The drugs may have even tempered his verbal brutishness. In any case, there is no evidence that the drugs caused him to daily savage others - he was equally offensive before and during his drug abuse. To put it another way, his drug use, if it has caused pain to others, is the least of his crimes.

But why be mean about it and wallow in the suffering of another?

Let's hope that Limbaugh emerges from this experience more tolerant of the weaknesses of others. Perhaps he could then prevail upon his buddy, Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft, to end his vicious crackdown on cancer and AIDS patients attempting to use marijuana to manage their pain without running afoul of the law.


In the time of the Grecians, as Bush might say, just before weak potentates were about to entertain a great king, they almost certainly murdered, probably tortured, a common enemy as a sign of good will to the visiting monarch. Apparently, that's happening again today.
PRESIDENT Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo Tuesday denied allegations the country's top terror suspect was executed in cold blood to present a publicity coup ahead of US President George W. Bush's visit.

Opposition politicians have reacted with anger and skepticism to government claims Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) bombmaker Fathur Rohman al-Ghozi was killed in a shoot-out with the security forces on southern Mindanao Island late Sunday.

But Macapagal remained defiant: "I stand by the operational report of the authorities on this case," she said.

Some opposition figures have alleged Indonesian al-Ghozi was killed to prevent him revealing police complicity in his embarrassing escape from the national police headquarters jail in Manila in July.

Senator Aquilino Pimentel said: "It looks like al-Ghozi and others before him were silenced to prevent them from spilling the beans on the authorities who made their escape possible."

The opposition also questioned the timing of al-Ghozi's death, just days before Bush's visit to the Philippines on Saturday.

A statement from the leftist New Nationalist Alliance said al-Ghozi's death "reads like an awfully-crafted script. The timing is just too perfect." It said the killing would be a "nice gift to give US President George W. Bush."

"Killing of al-Ghozi: Shootout or rubout?" screamed the headline of the Philippine Daily Inquirer. "What shootout?" asked the Philippine Star.

The governor of the area where al-Ghozi was killed, Emmanuel Piñol, said residents claimed to have heard no fighting despite police accounts that he had engaged pursuers in a gunbattle.

"There were only two shots, heard. There was no firefight," Piñol said.
On second thought, the ancient Greeks probably didn't practice this kind of stuff. It's too cruel, even for them.

Two Plus Good Ones At the WSJ  

The Wall Street Journal (not available online without a subscription) has a terrific article on the history of Dean's involvement with blogs. Very exciting story.

Normally, the best way to read the Journal is to pick it up then immediately remove and discard the op-ed pages (or use them to line a birdcage). The writing is usually so rabid the op-ed pages make Caligula look rational by comparison. But the rest of the Journal, as everyone knows, has some of the finest journalism in America.

Today, however, the op-ed pages were quite reasonable. In particular, Harold Bloom had a very nice, if slightly hagiographic, paean to Clark, even urging Republicans to vote for him.

Good idea. The point is not only that Bush is a right wing nut who is far removed from the mainstream. The larger point is that he is incompetent. He is no shining example for conservatives of the "rightness" of their cause and should, in the interest of saving this country from more disasters, be rejected by Republicans as well as Dems and Inds.

As an extra treat are several letters that take D'Souza to task for his op-ed last week that praised ignorance over science. The problem with picking on brights, Dinesh, is that they're lots smarter than you, and they've read more, and they can write better.

Apparently, even the WSJ editorial staff manages to get it, when they have a rare lucid day.

Neiwert On PlameGate  

Dave Neiwert has a brilliant, blistering summary of why the Plame affair matters. He believes it reaches impeachment level. I disagree: it far surpasses impeachment level. As Dave himself says, "[W]e're not talking about Ann Coulter's nearly hallucinogenic version of treason, but the Aldrich Ames kind of treason. The real thing that earns people prison terms."

Unfortunately, without tape recordings, there will be no way to prove either criminal behavior or intent. Bush (meaning the administration) will claim that they were told Plame's name by someone at the CIA, probably "innocently." Not realizing it was classified, someone "casually" mentioned it while engaging in spin politics as usual with Novak and other reporters. So if there was criminal behavior it was "only" negligence and it was limited solely to the CIA employee who leaked the name in the first place.

Ok, these bastards will probably get away with it. But remember what they did. If they were caught, they might be charged with treason.

But they have been caught.

Remember, they believe in God. God knows if you've been good or bad. So if they are right about heaven and hell, a very interesting eternal future awaits them.

And so I have a prayer:

Dear God,

I have no idea whether I'm going to heaven and hell. But please, God, wherever you send the people who leaked Plame's name to the press, send me to the other place.

Thanks in advance.

Best wishes,


Letter Forger Identified  

Commander of a battalion misleads American newspapers:
Lt. Col. Dominic Caraccilo, said the "letter-writing initiative" was all his idea.

Caraccilo said he circulated the form letter to his soldiers to give them "an opportunity to let their respective hometowns know what they are accomplishing here in Kirkuk. As you might expect, they are working at an extremely fast pace and getting the good news back home is not always easy. We thought it would be a good idea to encapsulate what we as a battalion have accomplished since arriving Iraq and share that pride with people back home."

Caraccilo wrote that his staff drafted the letter, he edited it and reviewed it and then offered it to the soldiers. "Every soldier who signed that letter did so after a careful read," he said. "Some, who could find the time, decided to send their own versions, while others chose not to take part in the initiative."
Translated: You have three choices. You can sign it now. Or sign it later. Or someone else will sign it for you.

And what's so wrong with forging letters. As I wrote on TalkLeft:

It reflects poorly on the Bush administration if they were involved in any way whatsoever in the forging of those letters.

As to whether the soldiers agreed with them, that is not the issue. The issue is whether the administration forged them. If they did, then it is a major embarassment.

Whether the soldiers agreed or disagreed is an entirely different kettle of fish. The difference is simple: In the first case, the issue is the creation of blatantly false propaganda - letters that did not originate nor were endorsed by their signers. In the latter, the issue is the perception of what it is like in Iraq.

Conflating the two makes it clear that conservatives care less about knowing what is actually going on in Iraq than in pretending to the American public that all is well, regardless of the truth.

Monday, October 13, 2003

Gitmo Guards Convert To Islam  

Well! Here's some news you won't find in the NY Post:
A number of the US troops guarding the 660 suspected al-Qaida and Taliban detainees in Guantanamo Bay have converted to Islam, according to an Algerian mediator.

Hassan Aribi, who chairs his country’s committee on the Guantanamo question, has negotiated the release of 18 detainees from the heavily-guarded detention camp at the eastern tip of Cuba.

He claimed that the freed detainees told him that some of their American guards had converted to Islam as a result of daily interaction with Muslim prisoners for the past two years.

The US military refused to comment when contacted by on Tuesday.

Brooksie's Latest  

Well, it's as incoherent as the previous one but it does contain this:
My friends should remember that the Yankees-Red Sox series is a contest between two Northeastern teams, and while the Northeast is no longer a particularly important region of the country — we haven't sent a person to the White House in 43 years...
Hoo boy. And they say liberals are self-haters.

UPDATE: Descriptive adjective changed to a more precise choice.

A Wile E. Coyote Moment Is Coming  

Krugman explains.
The crisis won't come immediately. For a few years, America will still be able to borrow freely, simply because lenders assume that things will somehow work out.

But at a certain point we'll have a Wile E. Coyote moment. For those not familiar with the Road Runner cartoons, Mr. Coyote had a habit of running off cliffs and taking several steps on thin air before noticing that there was nothing underneath his feet. Only then would he plunge.

What will that plunge look like? It will certainly involve a sharp fall in the dollar and a sharp rise in interest rates. In the worst-case scenario, the government's access to borrowing will be cut off, creating a cash crisis that throws the nation into chaos.

I know: it all sounds unbelievable. But would you have believed, three years ago, that the U.S. budget would plunge so quickly from a record surplus to a record deficit? And would you have believed that, confronted with that plunge, our leaders would offer excuses rather than solutions? 

Three More US Soldiers Dead  

Three more.
Three American soldiers were killed in the volatile area north of Baghdad, the military reported on Monday, and a roadside bomb in this tiny village narrowly missed a provincial governor on his way to work.

Atrios Needs New Laptop  

C'mon, folks. Time to hock your jewelry, sell your co-op, quit smoking for good, and send Atrios money for a new computer. The guy deserves a MacArthur but they don't give them yet to bloggers. So donate now. And Mac freaks, give it a rest. This is Atrios we're talking about and if he needs a VAIO, well, just accept it, ok? (Those of you who know me know that this is a major, major concession on my part.)

It goes without saying I sent him some dough. My only regret is I don't have more to spare.

And Atrios? If you read this I have one request. Please hold on to the broken computer. When our country comes to its senses and Bush is out, I'd like to buy it from you (after you low format the hard drive a few times and wipe the fingerprints off it, of course) and donate it to the Smithsonian. Until it gave up the ghost, that laptop made history and should be preserved.

UPDATE: Ok, someone bought Atrios an entirely new laptop and now he says he has too much cash for what he was planning. No, Atrios, you don't. Take the cash and do whatever the $(*@$^ you want with it. And if tomorrow you stop blogging, that's fine too (Well not really, what I mean is you're not beholden to a soul to slog away into an indeterminate and interminable future. You've done plenty good already.)

Damn! Bush approval rating moves back up  

Going in the wrong direction, folks!

Michael Moore Says "There is no terrorist threat."  

As reported on Buzz Machine. I dropped the following comment on his blog:

It must said up front that any evaluation of the threats to the US from terrrorists must inevitably be complex, contingent, and uncertain. So this post may satisfy very few people, but the facts are accurate, even if you disagree with my conclusions:

Moore clearly meant US terrorist attacks when he said there were none last year.

Technically, he's right but he's wrong. Slightly more than a year ago, on July 4, 2002, there was a terrorist attack on the Los Angeles Airport. Originally downplayed by the Bush administration, although Israel knew it was terrorism from that day, this incident was quietly reclassified as a terrorist attack. I don't have the link but the story I'm quoting from below ran April 12, 2003 on CNN (anyone interested can email me for the pdf):

The FBI and the Department of Justice have agreed with a previous federal conclusion that a shooting at an Israeli airline ticket counter last year fit “the definition of terrorism,” an FBI spokesman said Friday.

In September, federal investigators determined that the shooting at the El Al ticket counter at Los Angeles International Airport on July 4, 2002, was a terrorist act carried out by a lone gunman bent on becoming a martyr. Hesham Mohamed Hadayet, a 41-year old Egyptian national, opened fire at the airport, killing two Israelis and wounding four others before being shot dead by a security guard for the Israeli airline.

The earlier report concluded that Hadayet hoped to influence U.S. government policy in favor of the Palestinians. During the extensive worldwide investigation, sources said, investigators found no evidence linking Hadayet to any terrorist group. They characterized the shooting as an act of terrorism because Hadayet espoused anti-Israeli views and was opposed to U.S. policy in the Middle East, the sources said.

But Moore is closer to right than the Bush administration. An incompetent US intelligence service would have stopped 9/11. The problem was that during the first nine months of the Bush administration, US intelligence was allowed to become totally incompetent, an important distinction. It is a matter of record regarding how little interest Bush had in threats about bin Laden, how much they backed off surveillance, and that lack of attention was fatal. (No, Bush didn't cause 9/11 but he was president when it happened, the buck stops with him and he's ultimately responsible for the intelligence failures that permitted 9/11 to happen.)

Now that US intelligence is back to being merely incompetent, it is highly unlikely that we will see anything remotely like 9/11 taking place in this country in the next 2 or three years, if ever.

And almost certainly not wmd's. For as everyone knows who has devoted 5 seconds of dispassionate research to the subject, designing, building, storing, distributing, and deploying NBC weapons is certainly far more difficult than suicide car bombs and hijacked jets. Hence they have not been radical Islamists's weapons of choice so far; you have to be pretty hep on a lot of western technology to use this stuff and they've been studying the Qur'an instead.

A caveat to the above but not enough to have me overly worried or panicked.

Given the sheer blind stupidity of the Iraq invasion, it is more than likely that Bush has created an environment in Iraq and elsewhere that will breed much more terrorism than there already was. More intelligent people might join up with al Qaeda-like groups. [UPDATE: Aside from a somewhat increased chance of terrorism, there are dozens of other reasons why this was as dumb a move as has ever been ordered by an American president, starting with setting a precedent of violating international law.]

So when you add the US invasion of Iraq into the equation, it somewhat increases the chance that we may start to see car bombs here and perhaps ultimately - unless the situation is defused in the next few years by a more sensible US government than the Bush administration - more spectacular terrorist acts from the Middle East and South Asia.

But another 9/11? I'm not going to bet but I highly doubt it.

Even if you factor in the increased risk of terrorism that occurred as a result of the Bush/Iraq war, the fear mongering by the Bush administration is an outrageous and highly dangerous overstatement of the real situation. To anyone who knows the genuine capabilities of the terrorists that have been made public, eg, in Foreign Policy magazine, the administration's rhetoric sounds like nothing more than Bircher-style paranoid "commies under the bed" rabble rousing updated for the 21st Century. It's bogus, but it sure scares the gullible and the stupid. Fortunately, Americans are neither and they've started to realize how utter the garbage is that the administration is spouting.

Are there bad people out to get us? Sure, but the threats are nothing like what the right wingers believe it to be, neither in terms of magnitude or kind. And that means that Bush is fighting the wrong battles in the wrong way at the wrong time.

So we're either wasting our money or leaving ourselves open.Therefore, we need competent leadership. Since the GOP won't provide such in 2004 [in theory, the GOP someday just might proffer a competent candidate but they have not had even a halfway decent one since, and this is arguable, Eisenhower], we need to look on the other side of the aisle where, in fact, there are several excellent choices.

Proof That The Media Doesn't Give Bush A Fair Shake  

Go now. Be sure to read the caption to the picture.

via Kos

PlameGate Documents  

In a hurry and want to catch up on one of the most bizarre and disgraceful acts any US government has done since Watergate? Go here for a comprehensive collection of Plamegate documents. The compiler is Alex Parker and the link is via Kevin Drum.

Daily Mislead Bush Tried to Take Funds from Military School Kids to Pay for Iraqi-Afghan Policies  

Courtesy our buddies at MoveOn who run Daily Mislead:
President Bush attempted to slash money from the program that pays to educate the children of military men and women even while saying, "Our men and women in uniform give America their best and we owe them our support."1

At the same time the President lauded the "great courage"2 of the soldiers he sent to Iraq, he requested major cuts in the Impact Aid3 program that provides funds for the schooling of the 900,0004 children of military families. Bush tried to take $172 million from Impact Aid5 and shortchange its funding by $583 million under the No Child Left Behind Act. The cutbacks would have directly affected children of troops currently deployed in Iraq.6

The cutbacks were part of Bush's budgetary effort to find $87 billion for his policies in Iraq and Afghanistan, which include $40 million for school programs to benefit Iraqi children.7

Congress defied the President on his cutbacks, however. The House added $223 million to Impact Aid, and the Senate slightly less. Apparently, Bush will accept the funding rather than resort to a veto.
The numbers refert to the footnotes that document the assertions. Go to the link above if you have any doubts about this story and follow the footnotes.

Texas Continues To Surprise  

A drug that veterinarians find too painful to use in euthanizing pets is being used to execute people on Texas' death row.
via TalkLeft

Quote of the Day  

"If President Bush developed prickly heat, he'd blame Clinton for stealing the talcum powder."

Rep. Gary Ackerman, Democrat of New York on Wolf Blitzer's CNN show. (Transcript not yet available.)

The End of the American Century  

For Americans, it's a common pastime to imagine what we would do if we were president. This morning, however, I wondered what I would do if I were the leader of a different country, or of the UN, or of the European Union. And I know exactly what I would do.

I would work as hard as possible to ensure that never again would the US be in a position to act militarily in the face of nearly universal opposition. I would work to limit American power in as many ways as possible. Here are some:

1. Strengthen existing but, at present, feeble alliances such as the EU so that in a very real sense the different countries in Europe are thought of as similar to the states of the US. This would enable a pooling of military resources to defend the Union against aggressors, a military that could eventually rival the US. Crucial to this is, of course, separating Britain from the US. So I would make it a priority to strengthen ties with Britain whenever possible, especially at the expense of the US.

2. Create trade alliances that are skewed against US products.

3. Invest heavily in developing countries, specifically China, Russia, and perhaps Africa to offset American aid. Develop genuine alternatives to the thoroughly unfair World Bank/IMF models for financial aid, models perceived as more desirable to the developing countries in order to build up goodwill and open new markets.

4. Invest heavily in creating a society that vastly surpasses the US in quality of life, with superb public schools, world class health care, low crime rates, and a government renowned for its integrity, both domestically and abroad. Among other things, I would guarantee that free religious expression never interferes with the advance of science (a la stem cell research) and that the election of high officials not be distorted by the wealth of a given candidate or his/her party.

In other words, I would work to beat the US at its own game. Given the quality of the present US leadership, that would be child's play.

So what does my little thought experiment bring to mind in terms of reality down here on planet Earth, where Tristero is a mere blogger and not leader of Freedonia? Well, it looks like world leaders are behaving exactly as I imagined I would. It has become abundantly clear that the strategy at the UN and elsewhere (think China's position re: NoKo) is to play for time and give Bush as little help or consideration as possible, under the expectation that both increased foreign and domestic pressure will force a regime change in Washington in 2004.

To the extent that such a strategy helps Bush go down in flames and leads to the election of a competent president, I'm all for it, of course. But let's assume this happens, that Bush is out and somebody sensible is in the White House. Donning my world leader costume again, what would I then do? Would I immediately resume the relatively cordial relationship I had with the US prior to Bush? Or would I assume that it is only a matter a time before the US goes nuts again and tries to set up a worldwide empire ruled by the reckless use of unchecked military power?

Being a cautious fellow, I would assume the latter. Even if the most sensible person in the world was running the US, I would be committed never to permit the US to regain the type of power that would allow a future Bush to create such havoc in the world.

So regardless of who the next president might be, the stench of Bush's presidency will linger over America's future dealings with other countries. Now, there is a whole lot more of the rest of the world than there is of the United States, and viable, thriving democracies that surpass the US in many areas already exist (eg, the Scandinavian countries, Finland, and Canada, among many others). So I think Bush's follies just might signal the beginning of the end of the American Century, the moment when the rest of the world became determined to prevent the US from ever again amassing, let alone wielding, the enormous amount of power - economic, military, and cultural - it now has.

As an American citizen - and a very proud one, albeit one who is mortified by the behavior of the Bush administration - I come to this viewpoint with a combination of relief and a tiny dollop of regret. The relief part is easy: if America declines in influence, it will be less of a target for nutty groups, or even legitimate groups, with a grudge against our actions. In personal terms, this means my daughter is safer.

The regret is a bit harder to quantify, but I'll try. I think that for many years the US was a genuine leader in terms of culture. I'm not only thinking about pop culture, but also high art. In both areas, it is clear that other cultures are, if not surpassing our achievements, giving us a bloody good run for our money. So I'll regret the decline of influence in American culture to the extent I'm an American working in an American milieu. But I'll regret it only a little bit, because the new art and ideas that are developing elsewhere are so exciting that there won't be too much time to linger in the past.

One More US Soldier Dead In Iraq  

If you can survive 'til March, you're safe until November. Because Bush has ordered that all the deaths stop after March so that they won't interfere with his election.

Can William Safire Read?  

I don't think so. Dean denies he ever said, in regards to the death of the Hussein brothers, that the end doesn't justify the means. Safire digs up a quote from Dean in which he says "It's a victory for the Iraqi people."

That would seem to end it. But later in the conversation, clearly referring to the war in general, NOT the death of the Hussein brothers, Dean says, "...but it doesn't have any effect on whether we should or shouldn't have had a war." And THEN Dean says, "I think in general the ends do not justify the means."

From this, Safire concludes that Dean is parsing words and denying the undeniable. This from a man who will go to any extreme to justify Bush's out and out lies.

They must be desperate if Dean's quote, clearly torn from its original context by John McCain as a way of scotching talk that he and Dean hold similar views, is the worst thing they can find against a major Democratic candidate.

But of course, that's not the point. The point of the article is to goad Dean into an angry response because "the word" is that Dean has a mean temper when dealing with the press. Unlike Bush, of course, who coddles the press, like when he ignored Helen Thomas at the bizarre news conference just before the war.

Dean can easily defuse this, of course. All he needs to say is, "What I said then was the killing of the Hussein brothers was a victory for the Iraqi people."

End of controversy. Which, of course, is exactly what Dean said.

Sunday, October 12, 2003

Now That It's Safe, Senators Gang Up On Bush  

But not half as much as he deserves.
President Bush has lost control of Iraq policy because of infighting among administration officials, the leaders of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said Sunday...

"The president has to be the president, over the vice president and over these secretaries," the chairman, Sen. Dick Lugar, R-Ind., said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

Added the committee's top Democrat, Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware: "There's no clear articulation within this administration of what the goals, what the message is, what the plan is. You have this significant division within the administration between the Powells and the Rumsfelds."

Since early in the administration, Secretary of State Colin Powell has counseled a generally more moderate line than Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. Even before the Iraq war in the spring, tales of tension and turf battles between their departments were widespread...

Lugar also predicted American forces might have to be in Iraq in some capacity for eight years or more. Both he and Biden said the country's recovery would cost at least $50 billion more than the $87 billion, including more than $20 billion for the recovery, that Bush has requested and is pending in Congress.

Bush's Poll Numbers Still Not Low Enough  

But it's the right direction.
A rising number of US voters would replace US President George W. Bush in the 2004 elections, a new poll said, while Bush is in a statistical dead heat with Democratic hopeful Wesley Clark.

Fifty percent of voters would replace Bush, according to the Newsweek poll, up three percentage points from 47 percent in a similar poll conducted September 25-26.

Clark was preferred by 44 percent of registered voters and Bush by 47 percent -- a dead heat in a poll with a three-percentage-point margin of error.

PlameGate Update  

Josh Marshall has a great analysis of the latest WaPo article on PlameGate.

Here's what Bush's fallback will be, now that all the cover-up lies have been decimated:

Someone at CIA unintentionally told someone at the White House Plame's status who told someone else. The person at the White House didn't realize the info was classified and made a big oops in telling Novak and, before Novak, six other reporters about Plame.

If you believe any of this when it starts to meme its way into the world, you win the Nixon/Brezhnev Prize for gullibility above and beyond the call of reason.

Schwarzenegger Starts California On The Road To Republican Apartheid  

California voters who bought the slick media garbage that their Hitler-loving governor-to-be was a really nice guy are about to get a rude awakening. Atrios links to this superb post by LeftCoaster that tells them what they're in for on their electrical bills for starters, but for their school systems and social services later on. The two-step plan of the Republicans is now clear as a bell:

1. Completely destroy all social services, including schools, electrical infrastructure, national parks and so on. ALL social services.

2. Sop up the money the middle class and poor will still be paying in taxes and give it to the wealthiest members of the country to spend on themselves.

The question Americans need to ask themselves is this: Do you you want to live in a country that behaves like this towards its citizens?

If the answer is yes, then the next question is: How much are you prepared to spend on gates, expensive anti-burglary systems, and bodyguards for your children when your local neighborhood and your malls - in short, your country's public spaces - become more dangerous than a slum in Johannesburg? After all,it would be cheaper in both the short and long run simply to raise taxes and treat the unrich like human beings.
Consumer groups already are warning that the proposals made by Schwarzenegger during the campaign would expose electricity users to greater fluctuations in prices while limiting state oversight of power trading -- a combination that could allow the type of market manipulation that plagued California during the state's energy crisis in 2000-01.

Under the new plan, large users would be allowed to leave the current utility supply system and buy their power from private generators and suppliers. This would leave small business and residential rate payers with the tab for paying off the debts of the utilities, who under the new Schwarzenegger plan could pass along their full price increases to their ratepayers instead of being responsible for their bad decisions themselves. In other words, it’s a plan that Ken Lay would love, and one that he probably sold Arnie on when they met back in early 2001.

Schwarzenegger is also going to push a typically Republican idea for dealing with the state’s current structural gap between revenues and expenses. Instead of having the courage to raise taxes, Arnie like Bush will just say "Charge it, please." The state GOP adamantly opposes any tax increases and in fact will be attempting to roll back existing taxes. The GOP doesn’t want to specify what cuts they propose to make up for the gap between revenue and expenses, so Arnie has decided to borrow his way out of the entire $20 billion current and budget-year gap with one huge bond measure.

You read that correctly: Arnie will be proposing a $20 billion bond measure and then bash the Democrats on top of that to still cut spending to bring the insufficient revenues in line with spending. The GOP base will love that all of this happens without them paying any more, and in fact they will probably get tax cuts. And future bond measures for schools and parks will be adversely affected by this monster indebtedness.

Well, that certainly is bold , isn’t it?


PR will not be able to wish this way. Ten people, so far, are reported dead. This hotel was a known residence for US - read CIA - officials. Unless I'm mistaken, this one also seems timed with the 1st anniversary of the Bali bombing.

The fact that, so far, the attacks are taking place in Iraq and not here could indicate a few things:

1. A tactical decision to focus on getting Bush out of Iraq.

2. It is easier to plan and implement attacks outside the US.

3. Propaganda: potential supporters can see the results of their actions.

4. Propaganda: wearing down the morale both of US soldiers and their families at home.

5. Propaganda: By focusing attacks on a specific target -military presence in Iraq - the implication is that attacks will stop when they leave.

All in all, it should be clear that the fiendishly complex situation of two years ago has been made impossibly complex. There are no good options now. If Bush stays, US soldiers will die for no reason whatsoever. The Iraqis have no incentive to play nice. They want their country back. If Bush leaves, it could simply shift the focus of Islamist militancy to other US targets, including attacks in the United States itself.

Again, however, the beginning of a solution is clear: Bush must no longer be president. The UN must take charge of Iraq. Both must happen. Therefore the earliest possible date to see a genuine turnaround in US fortunes in Iraq is January, 2005. If Bush should win election, the world will have to wait 'til 2009 at the earliest. However, by that time, a right wing takeover of the US might be completed, in which case Bush's successor would be just as bad.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?