Thursday, September 09, 2004

One Credit Card Receipt For Swedish Made Penis Enlarger Pump...Signed By....  

As the Bush administration spreads disinformation like manure, and tries to avoid owning up to the truth about Bush disobeying a direct order, then walking away from his NatGuard commitments, once again, I am reminded of this immortal scene:

Austin has just been un-frozen and is leaving the freezing center with Liz Hurley. The quartermaster clerk starts to hand over the items that have been kept for him since the 60's. He is delighted to see his old Burt Bacharach LP. And then, the clerk hands him the final item:
Quartermaster Clerk: One Swedish made penis enlarger pump.

Austin: That's not mine!

Clerk: One credit card receipt for Swedish made penis enlarger.....signed by Austin Powers.

Austin: I'm telling you baby, that's not mine!

Clerk: One warranty card for Swedish made penis enlarger pump...filled out by Austin Powers.

Austin: I don't even know what this is! This sort of thing ain't my bag, baby!

Clerk: One book..."Swedish Made Penis Enlarger Pumps and Me: This Sort of Thing Is My Bag, Baby!", by Austin Powers.
Gotta take a few days off for personal stuff. Will not be back until next Monday. Do something special for 9/11: turn off the tube, turn off the computer, and spend the day with your own thoughts.

Cheney's Remarks Fit A Pattern  

Everyone, except the voters Cheney specifically targeted, is appalled at the Vice President's remarks. Apparently, some right wingers are even claiming the comment was taken out of context. After what Cheney did with the word "sensitive," I suppose they're experts by now on identifying remarks taken out of context.

In any case, this is part of a longstanding Republican slime campaign to link the Democrats with al Qaeda, even to the extent of claiming, in National Review Online that Democrats are prepared to take political advantage of another terrorist attack in order to impeach Bush (oh, if only it were true!). The GOP's scheme is quite sophisticated: far right memes get processed and massaged for mainstream American consumption. Dave Neiwert has been on top of this for years, and Cheney's "elect us or die" remarks are simply the latest droppings from this ongoing effort.

Cheney's Remarks Fit A Pattern  

Everyone, except the voters Cheney specifically targeted, is appalled at the Vice President's remarks. Apparently, some right wingers are even claiming the comment was taken out of context. After what Cheney did with the word "sensitive," I suppose they're experts by now on identifying remarks taken out of context.

In any case, this is part of a longstanding Republican slime campaign to link the Democrats with al Qaeda, even to the extent of claiming, in National Review Online that Democrats are prepared to take political advantage of another terrorist attack in order to impeach Bush (oh, if only it were true!). The GOP's scheme is quite sophisticated: far right memes get processed and massaged for mainstream American consumption. Dave Neiwert has been on top of this for years, and Cheney's "elect us or die" remarks are simply the latest effort.

Whistling In The Dark  

Regarding Iraq.

Lt. General Bernard Trainor (Marine Corps, ret.):
Well, I think, Margaret, that anybody that tries to put a good face on this situation-- that they're desperate-- I think that they're just whistling in the dark.
Lt. Colonel Sam Gardiner, Air Force (ret.)
[T]he number of attacks per day, last October it was around 20.

At the hand-off, it was 35. This month it was 87 -- numbers of attacks on the oil pipeline -- January and February, less than five; June, 16; August, 20; September, high already. The numbers aren't good. The numbers show that the insurgency is getting worse. We seem to have turned the corner, and it's getting worse.
As for Bush's Plan, Colonel Gardiner said:
COL. SAM GARDINER: The fix is, I think, the fix administration has picked, which is to get it off of the newspapers. The strategic communications objectives right now, as I read them, are to take this off of the radar screen of the American people.

In July, you can... we were seeing roughly 250,000 articles in the world press per day about this. It's now down to 150.

MARGARET WARNER: What about the fix on the ground?

COL. SAM GARDINER: There is no fix on the ground. As one goes into a situation like this, every decision you make not to do something gives up a strategic option.

We've given up lots of them-- not relying on the army, not getting rid of the militia. When you get down to the point we are now, you're into tactical defense.

Let's not have casualties. Let's hope this thing somehow finds a solution. I don't hear anybody with a solution.

I Like You Too, David Corn!  

Tristero, 9/02/04
Cheney simply has no idea how seriously flawed is his ability to digest information and respond in a sensible, realistic fashion. He doesn't pull stuff out of context deliberately. He is compelled, by his brain's failure to process information properly, to misunderstand nearly everything that he hears and reads. Thus, deficits are proven not to matter, the Bush tax cuts are growing the economy, invading Iraq is a smart idea, and Kerry said he wants us to wage a sensitive war to impress al Qaeda.
From Corn's Nation column 9/08/04
there is every reason to assume that the vice president believes what he is saying about the damage that will befall the land if he and his minions are not working the levers of authority.

Few figures in American politics maintain a world view that is so consistently apocalyptic as does Cheney. Fewer still have allowed petty fears and profound ignorance to so dramatically warp their actions and public pronouncements.

60 Minutes Transcript  

The compete interview with Ben Barnes, the the guy who pulled the strings to get Bush into the Guard has been posted by CBS News.


During Bush/Dukakis, the Bush I campaign attacked service of Bentzen's son.
And spokesmen for Bentsen accused Republicans of a "dirty trick" after a senior adviser to Vice President George Bush accused Bentsen of helping his son get into the National Guard.

Bentsen's Son 'Furious'

Bentsen's son, Lloyd Bentsen III, said in an interview with The Times Monday that he was "absolutely furious" about the charge, which New Hampshire Gov. John H. Sununu, co-chairman of Bush's campaign, made Sunday in a television interview...

Dukakis was also critical of Sununu's charge that Bentsen had used his connections to assist his son in getting into the Texas National Guard. The charge, made on ABC's "This Week With David Brinkley," was "unfortunate and inaccurate," Dukakis said.

The younger Bentsen, now a venture capitalist in Houston, used stronger words, calling Sununu "a desperate man grasping for straws."

Bush Son in Same Unit

The younger Bentsen served in the 147th Fighter Group of the Texas National Guard along with George W. Bush, the vice president's son. Both men enlisted in the late spring of 1968. At the time, the senior Bush was a congressman and the senior Bentsen, who had served in Congress in the 1940s, was a private businessman, although one who remained politically well connected.

According to the younger Bentsen, he got into the Guard as a result of a chance meeting at a party with the then-commander of the 147th Fighter Group, Brig. Gen. Walter (Buck) Staudt. Bentsen had recently been graduated from Stanford University's business school and Staudt was looking for a financial officer for his unit.
You can visit Atrios for the punchline to this story...

Served Or Not?  

A friend sent me the following list of politicians and others who served in the Armed Forces when they had the chance and those who didn’t. Makes for interesting reading.


* Richard Gephardt: Air National Guard, 1965-71.
* David Bonior: Staff Sgt., Air Force 1968-72.
* Tom Daschle: 1st Lt., Air Force SAC 1969-72.
* Al Gore: enlisted Aug. 1969; sent to Vietnam Jan. 1971 as an army journalist in 20th Engineer Brigade.
* Bob Kerrey: Lt. j.g. Navy 1966-69; Medal of Honor, Vietnam.
* Daniel Inouye: Army 1943-’47; Medal of Honor, WWII.
* John Kerry: Lt., Navy 1966-70; Silver Star, Bronze Star with Combat V, Purple Hearts.
* Charles Rangel: Staff Sgt., Army 1948-52; Bronze Star, Korea.
* Max Cleland: Captain, Army 1965-68; Silver Star & Bronze Star, Vietnam.
* Ted Kennedy: Army, 1951-1953.
* Tom Harkin: Lt., Navy, 1962-67; Naval Reserve, 1968-74.
* Jack Reed: Army Ranger, 1971-1979; Captain, Army Reserve 1979-91.
* Fritz Hollings: Army of?cer in WWII, receiving the Bronze Star and seven campaign ribbons.
* Leonard Boswell: Lt. Col., Army 1956-76; Vietnam, DFCs, Bronze Stars, and Soldier’s Medal.
* Pete Peterson: Air Force Captain, POW. Purple Heart, Silver Star and Legion of Merit.
* Mike Thompson: Staff sergeant, 173rd Airborne, Purple Heart.
* Bill McBride: Candidate for Fla. Governor. Marine in Vietnam; Bronze Star with Combat V.
* Gray Davis: Army Captain in Vietnam, Bronze Star.
* Pete Stark: Air Force 1955-57
* Chuck Robb: Vietnam
* Howell He?in: Silver Star
* George McGovern: Silver Star & DFC during WWII.
* Bill Clinton: Did not serve. Student deferments. Entered draft but received 311.
* Jimmy Carter: Seven years in the Navy.
* Walter Mondale: Army 1951-1953
* John Glenn: WWII and Korea; six DFCs and Air Medal with 18 Clusters.
* Tom Lantos: Served in Hungarian underground in WWII. Saved by Raoul Wallenberg.


* Dennis Hastert: did not serve.
* Tom Delay: did not serve.
* Roy Blunt: did not serve.
* Bill Frist: did not serve.
* Mitch McConnell: did not serve.
* Rick Santorum: did not serve.
* Trent Lott: did not serve.
* Dick Cheney: did not serve. Several deferments, the last by marriage.
* John Ashcroft: did not serve. Seven deferments to teach business.
* Jeb Bush: did not serve.
* Karl Rove: did not serve.
* Saxby Chambliss: did not serve. “Bad knee.” The man who attacked Cleland’s patriotism.
* Paul Wolfowitz: did not serve.
* Vin Weber: did not serve.
* Richard Perle: did not serve.
* Douglas Feith: did not serve.
* Eliot Abrams: did not serve.
* Richard Shelby: did not serve.
* Jon Kyl: did not serve.
* Tim Hutchison: did not serve.
* Christopher Cox: did not serve.
* Newt Gingrich: did not serve.
* Don Rumsfeld: served in Navy (1954-57) as aviator and ?ight instructor.
* G.W. Bush: six-year Nat’l Guard commitment (in four).
* Ronald Reagan: due to poor eyesight, served in a non-combat role making movies.
* B-1 Bob Dornan: Consciously enlisted after ?ghting was over in Korea.
* Phil Gramm: did not serve.
* John McCain: Silver Star, Bronze Star, Legion of Merit, Purple Heart and Distinguished Flying Cross.
* Bob Dole: an honorable veteran.
* Chuck Hagel: two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star, Vietnam.
* Duke Cunningham: nominated for Medal of Honor, Navy Cross, Silver Stars, Air Medals, Purple Hearts.
* Jeff Sessions: Army Reserves, 1973-1986
* Colin Powell: Long career in military manager.
* Wayne Gilchrest: USMC in Vietnam; wounded in action.
* Don Nickles: Biography does not list military service.
* Dana Rohrabacher: did not serve.
* John M. McHugh: did not serve.
* JC Watts: did not serve.
* Jack Kemp: did not serve. Knee, although continued in NFL for 8 years.
* Dan Quayle: Journalism unit of the Indiana National Guard.
* Rudy Giuliani: did not serve.
* George Pataki: did not serve.
* Spencer Abraham: did not serve.
* John Engler: did not serve.
* Lindsey Graham: National Guard lawyer.
* Arnold Schwarzenegger: AWOL from Austrian army base.
* G.H.W. Bush: Pilot in WWII. Shot down by the Japanese.
* Tom Ridge: Bronze Star for Valor in Vietnam.
* Sam Johnson: Combat in Korea and Vietnam, POW in Hanoi.
* Ted Stevens: WWII pilot, DFCs, two Air Medals.
* John Warner: Served in the Navy during WWII as a RM3
* Heather Wilson: Air Force 1978-1989
* Gerald Ford: Navy, WWII

Pundits & Preachers

* Sean Hannity: did not serve.
* Rush Limbaugh: did not serve (4-F with a ‘pilonidal cyst.’)
* Bill O’Reilly: did not serve.
* Michael Savage: did not serve.
* George Will: did not serve.
* Chris Matthews: did not serve.
* Paul Gigot: did not serve.
* Bill Bennett: did not serve.
* Pat Buchanan: did not serve.
* John Wayne: did not serve.
* Bill Kristol: did not serve.
* Kenneth Starr: did not serve.
* Antonin Scalia: did not serve.
* Clarence Thomas: did not serve.
* Ralph Reed: did not serve.
* Michael Medved: did not serve.
* Charlie Daniels: did not serve.
* Ted Nugent: did not serve.

They Really ARE Stifling Dissent, Kevin  

In his Times review of Arthur Schlesinger's new book, Kevin Drum makes the following jaw-dropping comment:
[T]he fact is that in the three years since 9/11, dissent has been alive and well, and aside from a bit of heavy-handed crowd control at its own campaign events, no one in the Bush administration has done much of anything to stifle it.
Um, Kevin? What matters how much dissent there is if there are no mics and cameras around to broadcast it? Need we remind you of Disney and Fahrenheit 9/11? Or the near total absence of voices on tv urging sanity about Iraq before the war? And who could forget the 6 month delay of Richard Clarke's book and the character assasination that followed, or the investigation of John o'Neill after his book?

And now today, the ever-resourceful Atrios points to yet another example:
A representative of the White House recently called Neal Shapiro, president of NBC News, to discourage that network from broadcasting interviews with Ms. Kelley about the book on its "Today'' program and on its MSNBC cable program "Hardball With Chris Matthews,'' a network executive said.
Until I read this, I had zero interest in reading Ms. Kelly's book. But since the White House is wasting my tax dollars trying to prevent people from learning about it, I've just ordered The Family : The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty and I suggest you do the same.

What Kerry's Iraq Plan Should Be  

1. Clean up the awful, unnecessary mess the Bush administration created due to its incompetent policies.

2. Work with Iraqis and the international community to establish an Iraqi government that fairly represents the Iraqi people.

Need specifics? Here's how to do it.

Start by defining Bush's mess. Next, make it clear that step 1, the most important step is replacing Bush with a competent Commander-In-Chief which Kerry's experience proves him more than capable of being. Until that happens, no plan has a chance of working.

As for step two, Bush's well-honed capacity for screwing up makes it impossible to predict the state of Iraq in January when, hopefully, he will return to Crawford to pretend to clear brush. So it makes sense to keep one's options open until Bush is out of power.

Finally, An Honest Headline  

Bush's Guard Record Raises Credibility Questions


Amazing that they found some more Nat Guard docs:
The White House claimed they had released ALL the documents, now tonight, conveniently after 60 Minutes shows the NEW documents on TV, the White House somehow releases the very documents it said it never had? Where did the documents come from, and why didn't the White House release them BEFORE 60 Minutes exposed their existence? And finally, what else is the White House hiding?

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

I'll Match Atrios's Offer  

I will match what Atrios sez here:
$100 to the RNC if anyone can find [Cliff] May saying Clinton should invade Afghanistan during his presidency. I'll even do $25 if anyone can find May discussing al Qaeda or bin Laden as a genuine threat during that time.

Calif. to Sue Diebold Over False Claims  

California Attorney General Bill Lockyer said on Tuesday he would sue electronic voting machine maker Diebold Inc. (NYSE:DBD - news) on charges it defrauded the state with false claims about its products.

1,000 Dead US Soldiers? It's Clinton's Fault They Didn't Die In Afghanistan.  

I just heard something amazing on CNN. Cliff May said that if the US had invaded Afghanistan in the 90's, 1000 soldiers may have died but there may not have been a 9/11 and -read closely, now, watch how he drops the "maybes"- "we would have killed al Qaeda long before it became the menace it's now become."

It truly is breathtaking how many lies and distortions even a third rate Republican spokesman like Cliff May can pack into two sentences.

In other words, May's saying that if only Clinton had sent sent 1000 soldiers to die in Afghanistan, George Bush and the Republicans wouldn't be so embarassed right now by the US casualties in Iraq. And absolutely, there'd be no al Qaeda.

That's right. The 1000 dead soldiers killed because Bush ordered them into Iraq are dead not because of Bush's actions, but because of Clinton's.

Jeebus, the gall of these people.

But, let's not forget something, folks. The Republicans weren't talking about Afghanistan in the 90's. The biggest threat to America was a blowjob. The neocons weren't talking about Afghanistan. They were obsessed with getting Saddam to make a clean break and strengthen Israel.

The only people who understood the real threat al Qaeda posed were in the Clinton White House, supported by a few troublemakers like O'Neill in the intelligence agencies. When Bush took over, not even a professional pain in the ass like O'Neill could get Bush's attention about bin Laden. When Bush took over, Clarke was pushed aside within months, "out of the loop" as Cheney phrased it.

And anyone who remembers that time knows that even if the Republicans hadn't spent the 90's sniffing the president's crotch, there was no way Clinton, or any other person who might have been president, could ever have rallied the country, let alone the international community, to support a full preemptive invasion of Afghanistan.

And let's not forget one more thing: al Qaeda is an ideology as much as it is a group. You can't kill an ideology 'cause it doesn't have a structure. The fight against al Qaeda is, ultimately, a hearts and minds fight, but it is also a fight that will benefit most by drying up Saudi funding of radical Islamists like bin Laden. Sure, the bang bang shoot shoot of an Army may pick off some terrorists but the collateral deaths of civilians will inevitably swell the ranks al Qaeda's followers and sympathizers. And who says so? Not just people who thought the war was a stupid idea from the beginning. Even Rumsfeld says so.

[Update] Since I wrote this post, Atrios has a transcript of the relevant May remarks.
If we'd gone into Afghanistan in the 1990s we probably would have lost this many lives but we would have prevented 9/11 and we would have killed al Qaeda long before it became the menace it has become.
Atrios' interpretation of what May said is more precise than mine was above. He writes that May is making a cost/benefit argument. To quote Atrios' interpretation:
[I]f Clinton had invaded Afghanistan then the cost/benefit (1000 soldiers + $X < 3000 lives + $X on 9/11) would have justified it.
Of course, if this is May's argument, it is a fallacious one, and he knows it (20/20 hindsight). May's point is not to advance a valid argument but to propagate the sleazy Republican lie that that Clinton's to blame for 9/11, not Bush. Another point: by phrasing his answer the way he did, May also seems anxious to move the responsibility of sacrificing American lives to the Democrats, presumably so that Republicans wouldn't have to when they're in power.

Again, it is useful to remember that it was the Bush administration that deliberately refocused the government's attention on Star Wars, Iraq, and elsewhere, causing, the 9/11 plot to reach its final operational stages. In the US government, a sidelined Clarke requested a transfer and O'Neill resigned in disgust. Bush downplayed the warnings from the bin Laden experts, failing to take serious action in spite of warning after warning from Tenet and others. The dreadful mess that resulted is described in Chapter 8 of the 9/11 report, which summarizes what happened in the spring and summer of 2001. That is Bush's fault and no one else's.

[UPDATE] My correspondent DCS recalled a May, 2001 column by Rober Scheer which describes Bush's attitude towards Afghanistan
Enslave your girls and women, harbor anti-U.S. terrorists, destroy every vestige of civilization in your homeland, and the Bush administration will embrace you. All that matters is that you line up as an ally in the drug war, the only international cause that this nation still takes seriously.

That's the message sent with the recent gift of $43 million to the Taliban rulers of Afghanistan, the most virulent anti-American violators of human rights in the world today. The gift, announced last Thursday by Secretary of State Colin Powell, in addition to other recent aid, makes the U.S. the main sponsor of the Taliban and rewards that "rogue regime" for declaring that opium growing is against the will of God. So, too, by the Taliban's estimation, are most human activities, but it's the ban on drugs that catches this administration's attention.

Never mind that Osama bin Laden still operates the leading anti-American terror operation from his base in Afghanistan, from which, among other crimes, he launched two bloody attacks on American embassies in Africa in 1998.

Sadly, the Bush administration is cozying up to the Taliban regime at a time when the United Nations, at U.S. insistence, imposes sanctions on Afghanistan because the Kabul government will not turn over Bin Laden. [Emphasis added.]
I guess in May, 2001, Bush didn't see much reason to invade Afghanistan but instead thought it appropriate to reward the Taliban for good behavior.

9/11 - It's Bush, Stupid.  

Thomas Powers:
Hijacked planes, Osama's knowledge of the millennium attack planned for Los Angeles airport, his patient planning for years before operations are carried out, the existence of seventy FBI field investigations of al-Qaeda activity inside the United States, even a reminder of the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center—it would be hard to imagine the system blinking red more vividly than it does in the PDB of August 6. One can imagine the terrible frustration of George Tenet over the following two years, criticized for 'failing' to prevent the attacks on September 11, and forbidden by circumstance and loyalty to the President from bursting out with the obvious question—what more did he need?
Read the whole thing.


1001 US Soldiers Killed in Bush/Iraq War as of early this morning.

U.S. Conceding Rebels Control Regions of Iraq

So it looks like Bush flew in the Guard, ranking #22 out of 53 (a C+ Guardsman, I suppose) but the new records don't resolve the deserter gap in Bush's record in '72/'73.

Texans for Truth release an ad in which a former Guard member of Bush's unit cannot recall Bush being there during the deserter gap period.

US Economy's 'Soft Patch' to Linger according to the UCLA Anderson Forecast. Times reports the study warns that "the U.S. economy will linger through a 'soft patch' for the foreseeable future and a pullback in consumer spending could trigger a recession within the next two years."

Not to mention that Senator Bob Graham's new book will reveal that Bush covered up the 9/11/Saudi connection, Seymour Hersh's new book will collect and extend his reporting about Abu Ghraib and other Bush failures, and Kitty Kelly's new book will deal directly with the Bush family character and Bush's drug abuse.

Et cetera. Ad nauseum.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Michael Bérubé And The Art Of Postmodern Blogging  

No question about it. Michael Bérubé is one of the most original and creative bloggers around. To encounter his blog is to be treated to a delightful postmodern toying with text and layers of hidden meanings, for often his posts are Not What They Appear To Be. Let's take a look at one of his most recent works.

Here, in cyber-homage to the great modern masters Jorge Luis Borges and Vladimir Nabokov, he goes to the enormous trouble of faking a right wing screed and then commenting upon it.

In his post, Bérubé discusses an op-ed improbably entitled "Bush's Greatness," composed, Michael tells us, by Yale Professor David Gelernter, a real person known for his unusual opinions. To provide an extra frisson of versimillitude, Michael even hacked up a very convincing simulation of the Weekly Standard website upon which Bérubé has embedded the complete text of "Bush's Greatness." Ars longa, vita brevis, you betcha!

When we encounter this forgery in situ as it were, it really appears to be genuine, totally serious, loony cant. "Professor Gelernter" avers that Bush has already earned his "Great President badge" - just the clunky, gawky kind of phrase you'd expect a computer scientist like the real Professor Gelerntner to write when in a fugue state approximating creative self expression. Equally convincing are the passages where the "Professor" scrapes off some standard issue Klan boilerplate and flings it, all red and nidorous, at the hapless reader: "Reactionary liberals" are engaged in "racist attacks" on "uppity white conservatives." Seems real to me.

And then, we encounter a particularly nice touch that illustrates Michael's exquisite sensitivity to the most delicate stylistic nuances in the genre. It's so perfect, the thought of parody never occurs to us. "Professor Gelernter" opines that Bush is a "progressive president in the best sense." And we smile knowingly to ourselves. For this is precisely the kind of faux-thoughtful construction that the right simply revels in. What "Gelernter" is getting at - who knows? But it sounds so....considered. And so utterly true to the right's rhetorical voice.

But then, alas...

The article becomes too clever by half. "Professor Gelernter" slips into a rant, devoting paragraph after mind-boggling paragraph to an elaborate comparison of the country of Iraq to... Kitty Genovese.

The senses reel at the weird, unexpected juxtaposition of images. A woman bleeding to death and screaming, her only witness the immaculate lawns of Forest Hills. Superimposed over her horror-struck features we perceive an hallucination of Islamists, of fascists, of mercenaries, of American neocons, of God knows what else, all of them clamoring for power, all of them crawling on their bellies in an oil rich Hobbesian landscape.

And thus slips Our Satirist's mask.

For 'tis a fact: No rightwing nut, no matter how deranged, no matter how clever, would ever come up with such a completely original (albeit idiotic) comparison. In conceiving the Bosch-like Genovese/Iraqi comparison, the engine of Michael's imagination, fueled by the enthusiastic ingestion of such masters of hyperbole as Pynchon and Rushdie, - his thoughts most likely carburetored by Pynchon's own famous pastiche, "The Courier's Tragedy" from Lot 49 - has run slightly amok. And the illusion of the real is made visible.

In short, Michael got too, too carried away. We, the readers, notice the hand of The Wizard. No, no way! we exclaim. "Gelernter's" article can't be real. "Bush's Greatness" could only be a hoax, a hoax of genius to be sure, but nevertheless just a hoax.

But what a tour de farce! The perfectly faked Weekly Standard site, the pitch-perfect rhetorical parodies, the properly amazed and bemused comments from the "real" Michael Bérubé, blogger... For a while there, I was totally sucked in. I really thought Gerlernter had actually gone completely off his rocker.

Texans for Truth  

MoveOn sent out a call to donate to Texans for Truth so they can run this ad.
The ad features Robert Mintz, one of many who served in Alabama's 187th Air National Guard -- when Bush claims to have been there -- who have no memory of Bush on the base.
I donated. You should, too.

To Visitors From GOPUSA  

Dear GOPUSA visitor,

Apparently, someone using "Tristero", my nom de blog, has been posting to your site.. I have no idea who that could be. It is not me or anyone I know.

With all due respect, I would not trouble your commenters with a post, as I know that our views are very far apart and I doubt anyone could convince the other.

One brief comment. The person who linked to my blog called me a communist, presumably a joke. As a lifelong anti-communist who personally helped get people out of Prague in the 80's, I fail to see the humor. I am a liberal, card carrying ACLU member. I'm sure many of you find that just as worthy of derision. But for the intellectually and historically challenged among you, I suggest you will be only be embarassing yourselves by riposting that one political viewpoint equals the other. You have no idea how wrong you are and I have neither the time nor the interest to correct the rightwing propaganda you've ingested and never taken the trouble to question.



Heads Up, Senator Kerry! Marshall Nails It.  

Excellent soundbite, free for the taking::
Simple advice for the Kerry campaign: keep the fire concentrated and tightly focused. The Democrats message on this is simple: the president lied the country into the war and then he screwed it up.

Osama To The Rescue?  

Maybe announcing The Nameless Evil One's capture during Kerry's speech struck someone as a bit tacky, or perhaps they thought that the timing would raise suspicions of politics (imagine that!). Anyway, now that the rumors are once again making the rounds, a thought occurs:

What better way to distract this country from the awful milestone of one thousand troops killed in Iraq that we are about to reach than the spectacle of an imprisoned or dead bin Laden? Stay tuned...

(PS As if those thousand deaths would have anything to do with bin Laden or the "war on terror.")

34 Killed, Including an American, in Sadr City Clashes  

Inching up on 1000 dead Americans, Iraqi civilians uncounted thousands:
American forces battled insurgents loyal to a rebel cleric in a Baghdad slum today, in clashes that killed 34 people, one of them an American soldier and the others Iraqis, the military and an Iraqi Health Ministry official said.

The official, Saad al-Amili, was quoted by The Associated Press as saying that 33 Iraqis had been killed and 193 wounded in the clashes in the slum, Sadr City, in the past 24 hours.

The American military said in a statement that the soldier was killed and two were wounded in a rocket-propelled grenade attack that took place at about 9:30 a.m., in eastern Baghdad, where Sadr City is located.

The fighting came a day after seven marines and three Iraqis were killed by a car bomb near Falluju, a Sunni stronghold 35 miles west of Baghdad.

Monday, September 06, 2004

Just Like Woodward Said  

Oil Eases as Saudi Offers Big Discounts

They Say Imitation Is The Highest Form Of Flattery  

Well, well, the dirty tricks are coming hot and heavy, as TalkLeft reports:
The Kerry attack dogs are about to launch ads reminiscent of the Republican's Willie Horton attack on Michael Dukakis. The name of the group responsible for the ads is was created due to the Bush campaign’s largely timid ads against Mr. Kerry, and will air this first ad starting Tuesday Sept. 7th in the Washington D.C. market and in key swing states beginning Monday September 13th. Since the organization is a “non-connected” committee, the ads will run non-stop until Election Day, and are not subject to the McCain-Feingold ban during the campaign’s final 60 days.
Jeralyn has some good suggestions as to what to do. But frankly, all of this is childish, 'cause when it comes to dirty tricks, Bush is a piker. The Dems got 'em slamdunk beat.

You see, an impeccable source told me that the Democratic candidates have filed papers to have their names legally changed to Abraham Lincoln and George Washington. Imagine the consequences.

The upcoming Lincoln/Bush debates will certainly be decisive, but when Dick Cheney squares off against General "I Cannot Tell A Lie" Washington, the GOP will never be thought credible again.

True, Bush could change HIS name to the Apostle Paul, but he won't. No doubt he would take it as a humiliating, unacceptable, demotion.

Kevin Gets It  

Kevin Drum has developed a rep as being one of the less eager to see ominous import with Bush's every action. Me, all I can say is that having been in the music biz my entire life, I'm way too jaded. I can only envy Kevin's faith in the good intentions of those who are clearly out to screw you.

But Bush has entirely exhausted even Kevin's admirable patience. Here, Kevin discusses No Child Left Behind. He's absolutely right; Grover Norquist and others have clearly admitted that this is exactly what they are up to: They want to ruin public education.
I suspect that a lot of people who supported the worthier goals of NCLB simply didn't realize they were getting snookered: the fact is that the Bush administration wants to see lots of public schools labeled as failures. It's basically a long-term plan to erode the public's faith in public schools and thereby increase support for private schools and vouchers.

This is part of a pattern from conservatives, who realize that their domestic agenda is actually pretty unpopular and can be passed only if people don't realize what they're getting. NCLB is an example of this kind of stealth legislation, and both last year's Medicare bill and this year's "ownership society" are additional examples.

Do You Know This Guy?  

Via TalkLeft, we learn he was video'd by ABC News kicking a woman protester at the RNC in Madison Square Garden when she was already on the ground. The protesters were arrested but he was not.

If you recognize him, go here.

And Speaking of Iraq...  

Anyone seen Rumsfeld? Rice? Powell? Wolfowitz? Perle, outside of the inevitable scandals he leaves in his wake? Negroponte? Bremer? Did Cheney slither back into his undisclosed location? Along with the war itself, they've been disappeared from the news, it seems.

993 US Military Fatalities To Date  

According to Iraq Coalition Casualties, with 15 since the beginning of September alone.

More Neocon Sleaze  

This time with a Perle-y sheen.
Last fall, as the board of Hollinger International prepared to oust its founding executive, Conrad M. Black, the director most protective and supportive of him turned to a friend and balked.

"This is a kangaroo court," a person recalled the director, Richard N. Perle, as saying in defense of Lord Black, who had been accused by investors of improperly siphoning millions of dollars to other companies he controlled.

But last week, Mr. Perle's view of Lord Black changed. Issuing his first public statements since being heavily criticized in an internal report for rubber-stamping transactions that company investigators say led to the plundering of the company, Mr. Perle now says he was duped by his friend and business colleague.
Gollee! Duped by Lord Black! Duped by Chalabi! Duped even by Saddam! And yes, indeed, he's even been mentioned in connection with the Franklin Mole case.

That's him, Richard Perle , whose c.v. hails him as a "leading authority" on all sorts of very complicated things. Things like national security and defense, that one assumes would require zero gullibility, not a little street smarts and a well-functioning BS Detector.

Richard Perle, leading authority???? More like the world's foremost authority, but without the gravitas or integrity.

Hidden In Plain Sight  

Here's what in store for us in a second Bush term. It was buried smack dab in the center of the Times article mentioned below, so don't feel bad if you missed this part of it:
The group [neocons led by Wolfowitz, Perle, and Feith] has also advocated that the Bush administration adopt a more aggressive policy toward Iran, and some of its members have quietly begun to argue for regime change in Tehran...

To Israel, Iran represents a grave threat to its national security. Pushing the United States to adopt a tougher line on Tehran is one of its major foreign policy objectives, and Aipac has lobbied the Bush administration to support Israel's policies...
Memo to neocons: The last I checked, Israel was neither a state or colony of the US. Whose side are you on, guys?

Aww...The Poor Itty Bitty Babies. Everyone Is Against Them. Aww...  

Here's how the neocons at the center of the mole story view themselves. Makes you weep with pity.

Notice: Not one of them denies that Franklin was illegally passing info to AIPAC. Courtesy of The New York Times, which didn't bother to balance the article with contrary quotes, just general criticism of the neocons towards the end:
Supporters of Aipac have said the organization is being dragged into an intelligence controversy largely because of its close ties to a Republican administration and the Israeli government of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Friends and associates of the civilian group at the Pentagon believe they are under assault by adversaries from within the intelligence community who have opposed them since before the war in Iraq. The Pentagon civilians, led by Paul D. Wolfowitz, the deputy defense secretary, and Douglas J. Feith, the undersecretary for policy, were among the first in the immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks to urge military action to topple the regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, an approach favored by Aipac and Israel...

[S]ome of Mr. Franklin's associates... believe the case is the latest in a series of assaults by intelligence and law enforcement agencies, who they believe are determined to diminish the influence of conservative civilians at the Pentagon.

In their view, there have been other attempts to embarrass them. In May, American officials said that Ahmed Chalabi, the leader of the Iraqi National Congress and a longtime ally of the Pentagon conservatives, had told Iranian intelligence officials that the United States had broken Iran's communications codes...

"I know that this is part of a campaign against us,'' said Michael Maloof, a former Pentagon analyst who worked in a special-intelligence unit created by Mr. Feith after Sept. 11. Mr. Maloof lost his security clearances because of an investigation that he believed was unfair.

He now believes that Mr. Franklin is being unfairly targeted as well. "They are picking us off, one by one,'' Mr. Maloof said.
I feel their pain.

Falluja bomb kills 7 U.S. troops  

My God:
The U.S. military command in Baghdad has confirmed that seven Marines and three Iraqi guardsmen were killed in a car bomb in Falluja.

The attack occurred late Monday morning on the outskirts of the city.

The explosions sent the engine from the car used in the bombing "a good distance" from the site, AP quoted a military official as saying on condition of anonymity.

Two Humvees were destroyed in the attack, AP reported witnesses as saying.

U.S. forces have not patrolled inside Fallujah since April, when U.S. Marines ended a three-week siege, AP said. The city has since fallen into the hands of insurgents who have used it as a base to manufacture car bombs and launch attacks on U.S. and Iraqi government forces.

The last time the Marine Expeditionary Force suffered a large number of casualties was in early April in Ramadi after daylong fighting left 11 Marines dead.
But that's not all:
Two U.S. soldiers died and 16 were wounded Sunday in a mortar attack around 6 p.m. on a logistics support area near Balad, about 70 miles north of Baghdad, the U.S. military said. The soldiers were all members of the 13th Corps Support Command.
Nor is that the end of the carnage in Iraq:
A series of weekend incidents killed at least 40 people.
And I gather that everyone is giving Kerry advice to focus on domestic issues. Insane.


Sunday, September 05, 2004

Calling All Fausts  

Hoo, boy, if this remembrance by Lewis Lapham is true...
It was at Kristol's suggestion that I met a number of the fund-raising people associated with the conservative program of political correctness, among them Michael Joyce, executive director in the late seventies of the Olin Foundation. We once traveled together on a plane returning to New York from a conference that Joyce had organized for a college in Michigan, and somewhere over eastern Ohio he asked whether I might want to edit a new journal of cultural opinion meant to rebut and confound the ravings of The New York Review of Books. The proposition wasn't one in which I was interested, but the terms of the offer an annual salary of $200,000, to be paid for life even in the event of my resignation or early retirement—spoke to the seriousness of the rightist intent to corner and control the national market in ideas.[Emphases added.]
via Seeing The Forest

It's Bush, Stupid  

It looks like almost for sure, trust us, this time we're positive, the Nameless One is about to be captured right in time for his close-up. Meanwhile, a formal investigation of Kerry's medals is apparently about to start (newsmax has the story, but I won't link to them).

In short, Kerry is being slammed as mercilessly as Frances is slamming Florida. But what's come up til now is nothing. Bush has merely been toying with Kerry.

Kerry and the Democrats genuinely underestimate the nature of the threat. The Bush campaign is not trying to smear Kerry or discredit him. They are trying to exterminate him. Knowing full well that Kerry's instinct is to defend himself when attacked rather than attacking back, they are assaulting him more rapidly and more violently and on even more fronts than even Nixon's thugs could muster. Kerry thought he was running for president. The convention and the negative ads have made it clear that in fact, Kerry is running for his life. ( Note to metaphor-challenged rightwingnuts: physically, he's safe, no one's saying Bush is gonna send a Predator drone after him, but Kerry's well-earned reputation will be so badly ruined he couldn't be elected dogcatcher. If the use of the word life metaphorically bugs you, just substitute "reputation" and you'll be happy.)

For a moment there, before the polls came out, we all breathed a sigh of relief at Kerry's midnight press conference: he's fighting back! Oh, puhleeze! Kerry still thinks this is politics while Bush knows what he needs to do to hold on to his present address: restage the Valentine Day's Massacre. Kerry is being slaughtered. Unless he realizes that literally his life (wingnuts: please substitute reputation here) is in danger, it is over.

What to do? Before listing some suggestions, let's remember what this campaign is really about. It's not 9/11, stupid. And it's not the economy, stupid, either. And it isn't both 9/11 and the economy, stupid, for heaven's sake!

The only issue is Bush. His incompetence, his extremism, his lies, his failures. His proven incapacity to lead this country in any direction except catastrophe and danger. Everything else, every other issue, is subordinate to Bush himself. It is child's play to demonstrate that Bush is a world-class disaster of a president and if the Democrats don't immediately re-focus their strategy squarely on that insight, they stand a good chance of losing.


Bush's disgraceful military service during Vietnam must become the dominant issue in the campaign. The Democratic Party -that means Edwards, Mcauliffe, Clinton, Daschle, and all the other first tier leaders, but not Kerry - should start calling Bush what he is: a coward and a deserter for what he did during Vietnam. In public. When the Republicans start howling, the Democrats should howl back. This is not a civil time, and reasoned debate about prescription drugs will get you...2002 redux. The key to Bush's character lies in the story of his desertion from the Guard: his laziness, his incompetence, his narcissism, his his desperate cover-ups, his overblown sense of entitlement, and most importantly, his cowardice, are all on display.

Kerry himself must hammer home the worst Bush failure of all: 9/11 happened mainly because the Bush administration failed to pay attention. There is nothing to be gained by pussyfooting around this any longer. Bush failed to heed the advice from the Clinton-era officials, he marginalized al Qaeda experts, heeded advisers who told him bin Laden wasn't as big a threat as Iraq, and then there's the August 6 PDB. And the other things, like The Pet Goat, Cheney's illegal orders to shoot down civilian aircraft, his utter disregard and disrespect for the 9/11 widows, his cover-up of Saudi/Qaeda connections, that make 9/11 a bottomless sinkhole for Bush.

Kerry must never let the country forget:Bush lied to Congress and the American people so he could invade Iraq. Nearly 1000 US soldiers have died and countless civilians. We are in a quaqmire now, a situation that is anarchic at best, where the chances of an Islamist Iraqi state increase every day. A situation that is a recruiting ground for the kind of hate that could actually lead to something as far fetched as a terrorist nuclear attack that succeeds.

The party must not mince words: The Democrats should ream Bush on his wholesale theft of taxpayers' money. Bush has not given the country "tax relief," or "tax cuts." No, he has systematically looted the financial infrastructure of the US Government to benefit Halliburton, drug companies, logging interests, oil companies and a lot of other rich, undeserving bastards. And y'know who's getting screwed the worst? Why none other than all those pious, lower middle class and middle class families that are fighting Bush's wars and nodding along with him about how they share the same values. The party needs to make it clear. Bush has only one set of values: to enrich his friends and anyone with an income less than $5 million is not his friend.

Ugly? Yes. Shrill? Indeed. Uncivil? Absolutely. But it's the truth. And as long as Democrats avoid the real truth about Bush, they are trying to win a naval battle in a dinghy using peashooters.

One final thought: Contrary to much conventional wisdom, this election is not a referendum on Bush. The verdict is in: He's a total failure as president, as he was in his Guard Unit, as he was as a businessman, as he has been at nearly everything he touched, except the exploitation of his father's connections. Nor is it really a referendum on Kerry. He is clearly a great man who has excelled in many areas, as a Navy man, as an activist, as a lawyer, and as a Senator. No, this election is a referendum on the Democratic Party. Bush's unbelievably bad presidency, far worse than Nixon's, is an enormous, if inadvertent, gift to the Democrats.

Provided, of course, the Dems look this country straight in the eye and tell us the truth about the Bush presidency, despite the vitriol of the inevitable counterattacks. Let's go, folks! This country is counting on you.

[Update: edited after posting to clear up typos, insert further admonitions to wingnuts, add more links, and intensify some language.]

[Update: Folks at The Left Coaster are having some similar thoughts. Ditto the merry bloggers at at Kos.]

Pentagon Mole Update  

Laura Rozen's got the latest. Apparently, Franklin was flipped a while ago and has been helping gather evidence on his associates.

Incredible. A CIA agent was outed, and now this. This is patriotism?

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