Thursday, September 23, 2004

One Week Break  

I'm gonna take care of some stuff around here for the next week.

Meanwhile, be sure to check out Robert Cole's terrific article on The Disease of Right-wing Framing.

And here's an excellent Times editorial that blasts Bush's assault on Social Security.

Finally, if you don't have it already, and chances are you don't, splurge a little and get Howlin' Wolf's Early Memphis Recordings. Performances that go not to 11, but to 12. Unbelievably great music making.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Perle, One Year Ago Today Extended Director's Cut  

Everyone else is blogging this. So I guess I should.

Exactly one year ago today, Perle was euphoric about his little war. So I'll excerpt a little bit more than most of my colleagues from what Perle said at AEI on September 22, 2003:
You get better at crises when you have more of them.
I guess he'd know a lot about that.
It's a pity that Turkey wasn't alongside us going into Iraq, not least of all because there are such important Turkish interests next door. I think it might have been different if it had been understood in Turkey that this was a war that would be over in three weeks with hardly any casualties, hardly any Iraqi casualties.
Perle said this when "Mission Accomplished" meant something a lot different than it does now. Back then it meant, well, you know, "The war is over. Mission Accomplished."
There is a great deal to do in Iraq, and I will come to that in a moment, but very little damage from the military action that liberated 25 million people after three decades of tyranny. So we've seen what can be done, and there were undoubtedly those who feared a very different kind of war, and so it's perhaps understandable that the polls were so heavily weighted against military action. Had people understood what was coming, we might have seen a different result...
Frankly, Mr. Perle, I think people did understand what was coming.
We've pretty much now restored electrical power to pre-war levels and have done that despite the acts of sabotage, desperate acts of sabotage that are intended to assure that we will not succeed, acts of sabotage undertaken by the bitter-end remnant of Saddam Hussein's regime...
Tauscher, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said that 18 months after the invasion of Iraq, the war had left security a shambles, failed to improve such basic services as electricity and water, cost the lives of more than 1,000 American service personnel and largely isolated the United States from other nations.

If Bush and his aides were heads of a corporation, "not only would they be forced out, they'd be indicted for malfeasance,'' she said.
And now, Perle CYA's:
We haven't done everything perfectly. We've been much too slow to empower Iraqis to give them responsibility for their own future and their own destiny. And that's regrettable.
Translated: Since Bush didn't follow my advice to the absolute letter, hey, don't blame me things are so lousy now.
Prospects in Turkey are looking very bright. Do you remember the predictions about how awful it would be for the Turkish economy if we went to war with Iraq? Anybody notice a change in the Turkish economy since this war? Is it worse? Better? It looks to me to be a lot better and the prospects to be a lot better.
Not because of the war, apparently:
Turkey, hit by a severe financial crisis in 2001, is currently implementing a tight recovery program, backed by multi-billion-dollar loans from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Now, Perle gives his expert opinion on Turkish/Iraqi trade prospects:
It was an absurd and unnatural situation for Iraq to be isolated and sanctioned as it was and for anyone to think that was in the interest of any of Turkey's neighbors. I never understood how anyone could have thought that there was anything but a brighter future with Saddam Hussein out of the way. Well, now he's out of the way. And if we meet again next year at about this time, I expect there will be a really thriving trade in the region, and we will see rapid economic development, not only in Iraq but in Turkey, working closely with Iraq.
Sadly, Turkish/Iraq trade is not exactly thriving:
Officials of Turkish construction company VINSAN A.S. announced yesterday that it was halting operations in Iraq to save the lives of 10 of its employees being held captive.
Back to Mr. Perle:
The problems in Iraq are ahead of us, but we're doing better than people think. And a year from now, I'll be very surprised if there is not some grand square in Baghdad that is named after President Bush.
There is no doubt that, with the exception of a very small number of people close to a vicious regime, the people of Iraq have been liberated and they understand that they've been liberated. And it is getting easier every day for Iraqis to express that sense of liberation...
...let me just say that the Iraqi people must choose their next government, their leaders. If they choose Ahmed Chelabi, I think they will have a very bright future.

I've known Ahmed Chelabi for more than a dozen years. He is a man, in my experience, of absolute integrity and courage, and he would be a great Iraqi leader...
I don't believe that we need additional troops in Iraq. In fact, I think it would be a mistake to send additional troops to Iraq. What we need to do is turn the security function over to Iraqis as soon as possible, and if we send--if we internationalize this and bring in large numbers of outside troops, it will probably delay the date at which we ask the Iraqis to take responsibility for their own security.
And here's some interesting fodder for the tinfoilers, perhaps:
Let me be clear about the relationship between democracy and our own security.

Democratic countries, by and large, do not allow terrorists to operate freely on their territory. It is also true that some dictatorships restrain terrorists, but a lot less reliably. They often cut deals with terrorists.

I wouldn't be shocked to discover that there was a quite understanding between the Saudi royal family and -- [tape ends].

-- the United States in which they agreed to behave themselves in Saudi Arabia, and the Saudis agreed to ignore their activities.
That day, the host at AEI summed up the impact of Perle's talk for the audience:
I think we really have to thank Richard Perle, both for his insights, which are, as usual, extremely on the mark...


Insight into how the mind of George Bush works.
President Bush, determined to put an optimistic face on deadly conditions in Iraq, said on Tuesday that the CIA was just guessing when it said the war-racked country was in danger of slipping into civil war.

"The CIA laid out several scenarios. It said that life could be lousy, life could be OK, life could be better. And they were just guessing as to what the conditions might be like," Bush told reporters during a picture-taking session with Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi.
Just guessing. The CIA was just guessing that things might be somewhere between bad to really really awful in Iraq. How could Bush make such a claim with a straight face?

Here's why:
The classified document, known as a National Intelligence Estimate, predicted three possible scenarios ranging from a tenuous stability to political fragmentation and civil war.
Get it? It's called an estimate. And we all know what "estimate" means, right?

Therefore the CIA was just guessing. QED.

Iraq Resources  

Metafilter collects lotsa links about Iraq, as it really is.

Bush, The United Nations, And The Birch Tree  

The Times today has a good editorial on Bush's flop at the UN, a campaign speech that "seemed to fall flat in a room full of stony-faced world leaders" who are "acutely aware of the true state of affairs" in Iraq. What caught my attention was this comment:
Mr. Bush has never exhibited much respect for the United Nations at the best of times.
Indeed. But what is behind all that disrespect?

Many people, in the blogosphere and elsewhere, have written intelligent analyses about the highly complex issues that crop up regarding the effectiveness and desirability of a supra-national body with the power to administer international law. However, the Bush administration's ill-disguised contempt for the UN falls far outside this discourse. Rather than being a new tack in a thoughtful, centuries-long debate about the rights of a sovereign state and its interaction with others, the Bush administration's position is based solely on a philosophy and worldview that is directly traceable to the ideas of one Robert Welch, the founder of The John Birch Society. Essentially, the Bush administration has dropped the more conspiratorial (or "speculative") parts of Welch's writings on the UN, but has worked systematically to achieve the Birch Society's main goal: to discredit, bypass, ignore, and ultimately eliminate the UN.

The John Birch Society arose in the late 50's and rapidly grew to considerable prominence. (The Birch Society doesn't get much attention these days, but the group is still around.) It is worth noting that the Birchers and Welch were thought to be so extreme that William F. Buckley himself denounced them in the pages of National Review. Among their goals were:

1. The abolition of the graduated income tax.
2. The repeal of social security legislation.
3. The impeachment of various high government officials,
4..The end to busing for the purpose of school integration.
5. The end to U.S. membership in the United Nations.

As you can see, these goals, which were, 40 years ago, the platform of an extremist group on the fringes of American politics, are the all but spoken platform of the Bush administration and the modern Republican party. We have seen numerous attempts to eliminate the income tax; Bush has proposed changes to Social Security that will send it down the road to extinction; Bill Clinton was impeached and Governor Gray Davis of California removed from office; the busing issue has morphed into an intense focus of the easier-to-frame affirmative action; and the Bush administration, on the issue of Iraq and in many other ways, great and small, has worked assiduously to bypass the United Nations and make the actions of the UN worthless.

It is useful to read Bircher literature because, if for no other reason, it will give you insight into what underlies some -perhaps a lot - of the secular components of Bush's worldview.

Welch believed that "an elite international seeking to establish a world tyranny." In the U.S., that cabal was centered in the Council on Foreign Relations. Of course, Welch and his followers were convinced that Franklin Roosevelt was a communist and that the New Deal was pure socialism. But the Birchers went further. Some of the abettors of the vast communist conspiracy Welch saw as an imminent danger to freedom were President Dwight D. Eisenhower and John Foster Dulles.

But there is more, much more, to the Birchers than just this. At one point, the Birchers had "a minimum of 6,600 corporate-financed anticommunist broadcasts, carried by more than 1,300 radio and television stations at a total annual budget of about $20 million," which was an enormous sum in the early 60's.

Important Birch Society members were close to the Bush family and the close relationship between the families has continued to the present. The Birchers had major sponsors among Texas oilmen, of course, men like H.L.Hunt and J. Howard Pew. President George H. W. Bush was close enough to the Hunt family to say that H.L. Hunt's wifewas "one of the loveliest human beings I have ever encountered." The current ambassador to Saudi Arabia is James C. Oberwetter; he was appointed by Bush II, and he was a high ranking member of the oil company founded by H.L. Hunt.

In short, the intellectual tradition, if you can call it that, that underlies Bush's assault on the United Nations (and many of the people around him, eg Cheney), is a branch of the conservative movement that's grown directly from the trunk of a crackpot tree. Since the 60's, the heirs to the Birchers dropped the more bizarre claims (no one's talking too much anymore about Eisenhower being a communist), and learned ways to disguise what they say (Dave Neiwert has written brilliantly on this; for a start, download his "Rush, Newspeak, and Fascism"). But they haven't lost sight of their end goal: to create an America fully in sync with Robert Welch's core vision.

As mentioned earlier, the role that an international organization might have in world affairs is a complex and subtle topic. However, the criticism and contempt Bush heaps on the UN does not address any of the real issues involved, nor can it, because it descends not from a serious intellectual engagement with the concepts, but from paranoid rumination.

The Bush administration's view of the UN and and the views of their apologists are directly analogous to the creationist assault on evolution. In both cases, there are serious issues and differences to be hashed out (how to respond to genocide/whether the punctuated equilibrium model fits the evidence for evolution). And in both cases, the people who are heaping the most scorn and garnering the most attention are completely unqualified for a serious, useful discussion.

Today, most scientists refuse to "debate" evolution with creationists and IDiots as it simply provides onlookers with the illusion that creationist ideas have equal status with science. One hopes that someday, when the neo-Birchers who are systematically attacking this country's core values are no longer in power, the extreme right wing can also be similarly marginalized.

To thoughtfully discuss, as Matt Yglesias does every once in a while, the ins and outs of political science within the framework of a position that derives from the John Birch Society is just plain silly. It's like trying to discuss race and ethnicity by treating something Trent Lott said about African Americans as an acceptable starting point for thoughtful, meaningful discussion. It degrades genuine intellectual discourse.

[UPDATE] Two links were added (to Victor Davis Hanson and Wired Magazine) after original posting.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Preparing For the Return Of Thomas Friedman  

Readers of the NY Times have not had Tom Friedman to kick around for quite a while. He's been writing a book (can't wait), but the Times assures us he'll be back in October.

So I think it's high time to remember what we've had to forgo during Tom's extended absence.

Here's Tom's lead from a story dated May 7, 2003, only a few days after Bush made his speech in fighter pilot drag under a banner proclaiming "Mission Accomplished." This is one of my personal favorites as it succinctly illustrates Tom's sympathetic and astute grasp of the entire Iraqi situation, and his infectious boyish enthusiasm:
"It isn’t often you get to see a live political science experiment..."
Here's Tom on March 19, 2003, published just as the stupidest foreign policy blunder in American history was officially starting:
But here we are, going to war, basically alone, in the face of opposition, not so much from "the Arab Street," but from "the World Street." Everyone wishes it were different, but it's too late — which is why this column will henceforth focus on how to turn these lemons into lemonade. Our children's future hinges on doing this right, even if we got here wrong.

The president's view is that in the absence of a U.N. endorsement, this war will become "self-legitimating" when the world sees most Iraqis greet U.S. troops as liberators. I think there is a good chance that will play out.
Opportunities to turn "lemons into lemonade." What a trenchant insight into the options facing US and the world in March of '03! Pity that Tom's faith that lemonade would flow from a self-legitimating lemony war didn't play out. Nor do his metaphors, but that's cruel. It's really not Tom's fault that the yellow stream of prose he publishes isn't lemonade. They do have editors at the Times to catch this stuff, don't they? ...Guess I was wrong.

Another favorite! Here's Tom wrassling a huge straw man to the mat: The date is October 30, 2003 and things have been going south in Iraq for quite a while.
What to do? The first thing is to understand who these people are. There is this notion being peddled by Europeans, the Arab press and the antiwar left that 'Iraq' is just Arabic for Vietnam, and we should expect these kinds of attacks from Iraqis wanting to 'liberate' their country from 'U.S. occupation.' These attackers are the Iraqi Vietcong.

Hogwash. The people who mounted the attacks on the Red Cross are not the Iraqi Vietcong. They are the Iraqi Khmer Rouge — a murderous band of Saddam loyalists and Al Qaeda nihilists, who are not killing us so Iraqis can rule themselves. They are killing us so they can rule Iraqis.
Did you notice that no one, except Tom Friedman himself, makes the claim that "the attackers" are the Iraqi Vietcong? I'll bet you thought that all those naysayers actually made that preposterous claim, but they didn't, that's Tom's idea! Read it very closely if you don't believe me.

Lemonade, phantom VC, live poli-sci experiments - what else bubbles up in the champagne of Tom's bubbly imagination? Why yes, Bubbles! It's April 20, 2003, and Bush's mad invasion is only about a month old when Tom is moved to compose:
The stock market bubble we're all too familiar with. When it burst three years ago, millions of people all over the world were made more sober investors. The second bubble was the corporate governance bubble -- a buildup of ethical lapses by management that burst with Enron and Arthur Andersen, producing a revolution in boardroom practices.

But there was a third bubble that had built up over the 1990's -- the terrorism bubble...

[Bush and Blair] were implicitly saying: "This terrorism bubble has come to threaten open societies and all they value. So, we're going to use Iraq -- because we can -- to demonstrate to you that we'll come right into the heart of your world to burst this bubble. Take note."
Oh, the images that crowd the brain - Bush and Blair, two cute frolicky little boys in short pants and white socks, dashing about an open field. In their hands, we glimpse their little pins raised to the heavens, poised to start pop-pop-popping a big fat bubble with bin Laden's face on it...I'm sorry, I meant Saddam's face on it... Well, whatever, someone's evil face gotta be on that damn bubble or Tom'll be forced to rewrite the column.

Sometimes, Tom gets a little testy when the politicians don't act like he thinks they should. On February 20, 2003, in the middle of the UN deliberations to talk some sense back into the American government, Tom vents his frustration at the Bushies and exhorts them:
Tell people the truth. Saddam does not threaten America today. He can be deterred. Taking him out is a war of choice - but it's a legitimate choice. It is because he is undermining the United Nations, it is because if left alone he will seek weapons that will threaten all his neighbors, it is because you believe the people of Iraq deserve to be liberated from his tyranny, and it is because you intend to help Iraqis create a progressive state that could stimulate reform in the Arab/Muslim world, so that this region won't keep churning out angry young people who are attracted to radical Islam and are the real weapons of mass destruction.
That's the case for war...
I'd be laughing if, well, if... if...ahem...

But let's not get distracted from taking some time to admire what Tom's up to here. Don'cha just love the logic he employs? Tom's saying:

Saddam not a threat. We can deal him just fine. There's really no compelling immediate reason to go to war. But hell, let's go to war right now, anyway!

Oh, and did you also notice that Tom, writing in February '03, strongly suspects Saddam has absolutely NO WMD? Read what he wrote again and it well nigh jumps out at you.

And did you see that Tom goes even further and suspects Saddam doesn't even have the intention to acquire WMD until some improbable future time when the world isn't watching the bastard 24/7 ? But did you notice that Tom goes even further than that and makes it very clear that even if Saddam ever does get those weapons he is not presently even intending to seek, Tom doesn't even believe Saddam will ever threaten the US, only his neighbors?

Irregardless and notwithstanding, Tom concludes there really, really is a case for war and it's to prevent the production of the real WMD's, not the phony nuclear, biological, or chemical kind. We must eliminate an environment that increases the number of "angry young people who are attracted to radical Islam." ....


Oh well. When Tom's wrong, which is always, he is badly wrong. You really can't blame 'im, can you? I mean, it was a strange time, February of 2003, wasn't it? No one could really know what might happen. But if I ever meet Tom Friedman, I'd like to ask him just one question:

Mr. Friedman, would you please repeat those pretty arguments you made in favor of war again, for the benefit of the 1,037 grief-stricken American families who lost a loved one to Bush's "war of choice," a war you pimped so avidly even though you knew goddamm well it had nothing, nothing at all, to do with any legitimate pressing American interest?

Welcome back, Tom.


One more horrible, pointless death:
A group loyal to terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has beheaded a second American, according to a report posted Tuesday on an Islamist Web site.

The report said that the victim was Jack Hensley, a resident of a suburb near Atlanta, Georgia.

Hensley's wife Patricia had made repeated pleas for her husband's life and the lives of his two colleagues also kidnapped in Iraq.

Another Republican Jumps Ship  

Scott Knapp, Republican House candidate:
Much to the distress of many of my fellow Republicans, I must make the following observation - George W. Bush does not deserve reelection [sic]. Being that I am the Republican candidate for the 5th congressional district this statement carries an extremely high political price for me.

Iraq clearly was not the threat the White House made it out to be. He knew the evidence for Saddam's nuclear weapons program was extremely tenuous at best. Bush went to Iraq because he wanted to, not because he had to.

The President continues to claim his invasion to be a stabilizing force within the Middle East. Nothing could be further from the truth. Conditions in Iraq are steadily spiraling downward. Civil war is inevitable. Despite all the good intentions, hard work and spilled blood from our military, chaos will spread throughout the Middle East.

Domestically his administration has done no better. He has cut taxes without reducing spending, thereby guaranteeing a tax increase on a future generation. His Medicare prescription drug bill cost much more than he claimed and in the end will net billions for the pharmaceutical industry while offering no real relief for senior citizens. The federal debt is skyrocketing. Good paying middle class job continue to be replaced with minimum wage jobs. His energy policy does not acknowledge the fact that fossil fuels are a finite resource that must be replaced by renewable resources. He continues to ignore the financial calamity facing the social security system.

Crazy Ross Perot?  

Via a quote from a biography of Ross Perot, Digby reminds us that Perot made some very, very weird -but distressingly familiar - allegations when he dropped out of the 1992 presidential race which, you will recall, included a Bush as one of the contestants:
IN JULY 1992, Ross Perot hastily called a press conference to announce he was dropping out of the presidential race. He reentered the race on Oct. 1 and, through infomercials and solid performances in the presidential debates, soon approached 20% in the polls. Then he made a decision that stopped his momentum cold: he agreed to a 60 Minutes interview to present the "real reason" for his earlier withdrawal.

On Sunday, Oct.25, he told startled viewers he had pulled out after receiving "multiple reports" that there was a Republican plot to embarrass his daughter by disrupting her summer wedding, and that there was also a plan to distribute a computerized false photo of his daughter. After the show Perot was widely ridiculed, and many believed his reasons were bogus.

Some aspects of this scandal have long been known, yet the details were always murky. The full account, now available, reveals that while Perot did have some basis for his bizarre charge, he appears to have relied on sources of dubious credibility. The episode provides insights into the behind-the-scenes intrigue of political campaigns, as well as painting a disturbing portrait of FBI incompetence.
You might want to follow up on Dig's link, too.

What Was, And Is Still, Ignored  

That's enough attention to Fox "reality" shows, like the Rather story.Here's reality:
After the Iraq debacle, calls for regime change without substantial evidence of weapons of mass destruction are not likely to gain a lot of traction. But if the allegations are correct, Iran is only one of the countries whose secret nuclear programs hummed along while America waged a single-minded hunt for WMD in Iraq. Another is North Korea, which hasn't stopped claiming that it's turning a stockpile of spent fuel rods into a doomsday arsenal. And arms-control specialists are increasingly alarmed by Brazil's efforts to do precisely what Iran is doing: use centrifuge cascades to enrich uranium—with a couple of key differences. Unlike Iran, Brazil has never signed the NPT's Additional Protocol, which gives expanded inspection rights to the International Atomic Energy Agency. And unlike Iran, Brazil is not letting the IAEA examine its centrifuges. If the Brazilians go through with their program, it's likely to wreck the landmark 1967 treaty that made South America a nuclear-free zone. But the White House has shown scant concern about the risk.

The Iran crisis is more immediate in the eyes of the Bush administration...
And what happens if Bush invades Iran? Well, what would you do if you were the megalomaniacal ruler of a country on the verge of going nuclear?

That's right. You'd quadruple your efforts to get a working nuke. And guess what, that's exactly what NoKo's gonna do.

DeLay: Good News Soon?  

One can hope:
Grand jurors reviewing the activities of Texans for a Republican Majority, the political committee associated with U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, were meeting again Tuesday. Some defense lawyers expected the panel to take action.

The panel has been investigating whether corporate funds were illegally used to help Republican candidates win elections that gave the GOP a majority in the Texas House for the first time since Reconstruction.

The Travis County grand jury's last meeting was scheduled for Tuesday, with its deadline for action on Sept. 30. Although the panel could schedule another meeting, attorneys said they believe that is unlikely.

'There are a lot of folks who believe an indictment will be returned today against somebody,' Austin lawyer Terry Scarborough told the Austin American-Statesman in Tuesday's online edition.
UPDATE:Political action committee leads to indictments but not for DeLay

Not yet, that is.


Here's an interesting thought experiment for you. Atrios very kindly posted an extended transcript of the Hemmer/Lockhart interview in which Lockhart responded to charges that the Kerry campaign was in collusion with CBS. Please read it now. Done? Ok.

Now, what if Lockhart had answered Hemmer using the style and techniques of Bush Spokesman Scott McClellan?


NOTE: Every word was spoken by Joe Lockhart and Bill Hemmer. I have removed all comments and follow-through that would not exist had Lockhart answered Hemmer as McClellan would. I have added nothing.

HEMMER: It's my understanding you talked to Bill Burkett just days before the CBS story aired. What was the content of your discussion, Joe?

LOCKHART: You know, the interesting thing is, you know, you can always tell when people are worried by how whipped up they get. And the White House is real whipped up on this, and they're making -- throwing a bunch of charges up there that are, you know, pretty meaningless and without foundation.

HEMMER: And what details of the National Guard story came out during that three to four-minute discussion?

LOCKHART: There was never any discussion.

HEMMER: Let me get to the whole White House claim for a second here.


HEMMER: Did CBS work together with the Kerry campaign on this story?

LOCKHART: No. Listen, CBS did their story. I think they've been very open about answering the questions.

Listen, you know, this isn't about this phone call. This is about a White House that's desperately spinning.

You know, I looked this morning at the White House Web page and found out that Scott McClellan, the man who says we ought to have answers to these questions, has held two White House briefings in the last two months. Now, that is a White House that doesn't want to answer questions.

I used to -- you know, listen, I went through some pretty tough times as the White House press secretary, and I got myself during impeachment, during scandal, and I stood up there every day and answered the questions because I think the public has a right to know what's going on with the president, what's going on around the world. This White House has had two White House briefings in the last two months.

You know, it's a government job, but it pays pretty well. You know, that's a lot of money for one briefing a month.

HEMMER: But when the suggestion for a source comes your way, I mean, here we are 42 days away from a presidential campaign, many would think that's probably not that usual after all. How would you phrase it?

LOCKHART: I think that's a question for journalists. You know more -- more about how common that is than I do.

HEMMER: What did Mary Mapes tell you, the producer for Dan Rather, when she called you?

LOCKHART: This isn't about this phone call. This is about a White House that's desperately spinning.

HEMMER: But the issue is, regarding this phone call, whether or not there was collaboration ultimately between the campaign and the network. What can you say about those who raised that possibility today?

LOCKHART: I can say two things. One, you have to question the motives of those people who are raising these questions. And two, is the campaign had nothing to do with these documents, nothing to do with this story.

The White House is raising questions about this because they don't want to answer questions. I mean, the guy has held two briefings in two months. These guys don't want to answer questions about the National Guard story.

They even don't want to answer questions about what's going on in Iraq, what's going on in the economy. And I think it's time for them to step up and stop posing questions and start answering them, because that's what -- that's what the public wants.

HEMMER: I apologize for interjecting again. But you knew Bill Burkett has a long history of a fight with the National Guard. And also for several years he's had his own fight with George Bush.

LOCKHART: You're basing this on what maybe some other people were telling you. I didn't know who the guy was. I talked to him on the phone for three or four minutes. That's the beginning and the end of the story.

HEMMER: So let's be clear. You did not know about the history about Bill Burkett before you talked to him Saturday night?

LOCKHART: I did not. I did not.

HEMMER: What has Senator Kerry said about all this, Joe?

LOCKHART: He's focused on the issues that, you know, Americans are worried about.

HEMMER: So you have not talked to him about this matter?

LOCKHART: I have not. I have not.

HEMMER: Do you plan on it?

LOCKHART: I don't have any intention of using a lot of the valuable time we have left in this campaign to talk about this.

HEMMER: Valuable time, indeed. In fact, six weeks from today, 42 days and counting. Is this the distraction again for the Kerry campaign?

LOCKHART: No. The quagmire that this president has created in Iraq, a miserable economy, the worst in 72 years, and a White House that won't answer questions. I mean, the fact that we've gone two months with two White House briefings should say everything to the American public.

I've been open. You know, I talked to reporters yesterday. I talked to them, you know, well into the night. And, you know, I'll be happy to talk.

You know, I'll be glad to give up this chair to Mr. Bartlett or Mr. McClellan to start answering some questions for a change.

HEMMER: Joe Lockhart, Kerry adviser down in D.C. Thanks for coming on and talking with us today, Joe.

LOCKHART: Thanks, Bill.

An Example Of Great Framing  

When Ronald Reagan announced his plans for an anti-missile shield, he promised total protection against military attack via lasers from satellite, smart anti-missile missiles, and unusual technology like "brilliant pebbles." The plan was soon dubbed Star Wars. The name stuck.

Now, that is pitch-perfect framing of an issue. It captured the essence of Reagan's plan - its distance far, far away from any semblance of reality - in a pithy phrase everyone knew and understood. Even better, the phrase itself, with its association to the first modern popcorn movie, inspired a gently mocking smile whenever you heard it.

Liberals and Democrats need to find some contemporary frames of equal wit and power. And fast.

More Lakoff Thoughts  

Paperwight agrees with my general take on Lakoff. His post inspired some more thoughts on the subject:

We're all grownups. Grownups in a democracy govern themselves on the fundamental principle that all citizens have equal rights.

That is where liberalism and a liberal philosophy begins. Not in the nursery.

The Nice Mommy/Strict Daddy stuff he talks about, tho, simply has major, major problems:

1. It does not in any way, shape, or form describe the fundamental mindset of any thoughtful liberal I know. I have no desire to nurture anyone. I have no desire to be nurtured. My liberalism simply does not fit such a simple-minded metaphor. When I relate to my fellow citizens in a free society, I am not a child, nor am I a parent. Nor would such relationships be desirable.

2. On a practical level in devising a workable political strategy for liberals, nice mommy/strict daddy is, not to mince words, one of the stupidest fucking ideas I've ever heard. Paperwight elucidates with precision many of the reasons why this is so.

3. A nice mommy/strict daddy explanatory frame is far from helpful in generating frames that will persuade others. Again, not to mince words, frames that are based on such a model will invariably sound paternalistic, in the Kipling White Man's Burden sense of paternalistic.

If American liberalism needs an overarching explanatory frame (obviously, I think most "meta-theories" in the social sciences are a waste of time), I would suggest looking at Common Sense and the Declaration of Independence for inspiration, as well as other documents that discuss the nature of the state's obligations to its citizens, the individual citizen's' obligations to the state, and every citizen's obligation to each other. They are not entirely apropos today, but there are very astute things said that are.

Advice For John Kerry Re: Debates  

Dear Senator Kerry,

Right now, many people are providing their expert advice about how you should or shouldn't act during the debate, what you should say, what you should avoid saying.

Don't listen to them.

Tell the truth. Be yourself.

That is more than enough.



You Go, Clare!  

Kickee may take kicker to court:
The female protester who was kicked at the Republican Youth Convention in New York is considering taking legal action against her attacker.

While the attacker was unidentified when the footage was shot, several Penn students have since identified him as Wharton junior Scott Robinson, based on a digital file of a video circulating on the Internet.

Clare Martin, 26, of Berkeley, Calif., said yesterday that she has not ruled out any options against the young man who kicked her while she was being detained by Secret Service and security detail at Madison Square Garden on the morning of Sept. 1.

"We're considering our options," Martin said. "Pressing charges is definitely one of them."

Martin was part of a group of AIDS activists who attended the event to protest the president's policies toward poor African countries.

Much of the incident was captured by a local ABC television camera. The footage shows a blond-haired attendee helping to drag Martin to the ground and then making a kicking motion toward her while she is lying on the ground.

P.A.T.R.I.O.T Act At Work  

A government censor rarely displays a highly refined sense of irony. Consider the reaction to a lawsuit filed earlier this year by the America Civil Liberties Union to have part of the U.S.A. Patriot Act declared unconstitutional. In Manhattan federal district court, the A.C.L.U. i challenging a provision that allows the F.B.I. to obtain a citizen’s personal records—say, which Web sites he visits—without notice to him an without judicial oversight. “The existence of the lawsuit was gagged for nearly a month,” Ann Beeson, an A.C.L.U. lawyer on the case, said th other day. “We had to get the Justice Department’s approval even to disclose that we had filed the case, and then we had to fight with them ove every line in our legal papers. They used a big black Magic Marker to censor stuff on almost every page.

Curiously, one of the passages that the Justice Department censors blacked out, in a letter from the A.C.L.U. to Judge Victor Marrero, was a quotation from a 1972 decision by the United States Supreme Court: “The danger to political dissent is acute where the Government attempts to act under so vague a concept as the power to protect ‘domestic security.’ Given the difficulty of defining the domestic security interest, the danger of abuse in acting to protect that interest becomes apparent.” In a case about the abuse of government power, how could the government censor the Supreme Court’s warning about the abuse of government power?

Monday, September 20, 2004

Chafee Spoils Great Headline  

Dang! When I read that Senator Chafee said he might not vote for Bush, I assumed he had seen the light at last and jumped ship for Democratic pastures. Suddenly, I had a wonderful brainstorm: The Headline Of The Week!!! I got set to post:

Republican Party No Longer Party Of Lincoln

But the lousy so-and-so tricked me and he did it on purpose!
Republican Sen. Lincoln Chafee said Monday he plans to support his party in November but may write in a candidate instead of voting for President Bush.
The Rhode Island lawmaker, known for moderate views that often run counter to the Bush administration, said he was going to vote for a member of his party even though he disagrees with the president on many issues.

"I'm a Republican," said Chafee...
See what I mean? Even when they're gonna do the proper thing, Republicans end up doing the totally wrong thing. It's like a nervous tic or something.

My great headline...ruined, ruined!!! Oh, the humanity!

Pop Quiz!!!!  

It's quiz time, everyone!

Can you guess the missing sentence from this long NY Times overview of the young Bush entitled Portrait of George Bush in '72: Unanchored in Turbulent Time

Hmm... Bush was "unanchored in [a] turbulent time." Makes you feel downright secure to have Bush in charge today, during such less turbulent times, doesn't it?

But I digress. Here's the question for you:

Can you, astute reader, guess what sentence got dropped -surely by accident - from this section of the Times's story?
[A] portrait [emerges] of a young man like many other young men of privilege in that turbulent time - entitled, unanchored and safe from combat, bouncing from a National Guard slot made possible by his family's prominence to a political job arranged through his father.

In a speech on Tuesday at a National Guard convention, Mr. Bush said [article continues]
I've italicized a clause which should serve as all the clue you'll need.

Still can't, haha! "connect the dots," as the cool kiddies say? Times up! (no pun intended, I swear!)

Here's how that section should have read, with dropped sentence fully restored and boldified so that you won't miss it:
[A] portrait [emerges] of a young man like many other young men of privilege in that turbulent time - entitled, unanchored and safe from combat, bouncing from a National Guard slot made possible by his family's prominence to a political job arranged through his father.

If Mr.Bush was the norm, John Kerry was a notable exception during the same tumultuous period: Mr. Kerry graduated from Yale with good marks and then, unlike nearly every one else who shared his wealthy, influential background, Mr. Kerry volunteered for hazardous duty in Vietnam.

In a speech on Tuesday at a National Guard convention, Mr. Bush said [article continues]
Y'see? A pretty glaring omission yes? Totally unintentional, like the amazing fact that Kerry, past or present, isn't mentioned once in the entire, incredibly loooooooong, article.

Anyway, someone should write the Times and request a correction.

Missing The Story  

Almost every news outlet has carried the Kerry masterpiece with a spin similar to Salon's:
'Colossal failures of judgment'

Drawing on the passionate activism of his youth, John Kerry delivers his most comprehensive and withering assault on Bush's disastrous handling of the war.

The important lead is that Kerry offered a detailed, workable plan for Iraq.

In addition, Kerry showed that everything Bush proposed was precisely the wrong thing to do at every turn in the war.

But we knew that. Kerry's plan, a practical one which is geared to the here and now of Iraq, not some unknowable future, has never been reported in a prominent fashion.

Digby Does Lakoff  

Boys and girls, I swear to you, I either did not read Digby's takedown of Lakoff when he first posted it or I don't remember reading it.

He said almost exactly what I said below, but in much less histrionic language. Digby also critiques Lakoff's Big Idea in more detail.

I disagree with Digby, however that the liberal world view is necessarily based on the notion that human beings are intrinsically good at heart. A perfectly coherent liberal philosophy can be constructed merely by ignoring the notion of whether humankind has an innate moral polarity. You can start off simply saying, "People are neither good or bad, but sometimes behave in good ways, sometimes not." And that holds true for most of them, most of the time, and that's good enough for the inevitably "non-scientific" foundations of so-called political and social science. (Attempts at deploying in poli-sci the empircal precision required by, say, biologically have typically led to ludicrous theories, so why bother?)

Someone at Kos posted an objection to my saying Lakoff is talking about nice mommy/strict daddy. I misundestood: it's supposed to be nurturant parent/strict daddy.


Anyway, here's my longer response to that poster:

"Nurturant parent" is like "vertically challenged." It's a politically correct wuss-phrase for when you want to say "mommy." Let's not kid ourselves.  It is a terrible, terrible idea to "metaphorize" the differences between libs and cons this way.

And it doesn't have the virtue of even being close to accurate. Liberals aren't cows, for crissakes. Liberalism isn't about offering teats to blind, hungry child/citizens.

The nail in the coffin for this metaphor: the fact that it is so easily and maliciously reframed as mommy party/daddy party by liberals themselves is exactly the point I'm trying to make. Imagine the havoc that someone who's not sympathetic to liberalism will do.

Give it up. The party's not emasculated. Lakoff's frame is.

(His emphasis on the importance of rhetoric is quite sound, however.)

The Kerry Plan For Iraq  

Great Speech:
To win, America must be strong.  And America must be smart.  The greatest threat we face is the possibility Al Qaeda or other terrorists will get their hands on a nuclear weapon.  

To prevent that from happening, we must call on the totality of America’s strength.  Strong alliances, to help us stop the world’s most lethal weapons from falling into the most dangerous hands.  A powerful military, transformed to meet the new threats of terrorism and the spread of weapons of mass destruction.   And all of America’s power – our diplomacy, our intelligence system, our economic power, the appeal of our values – each of which is critical to making America more secure and preventing a new generation of terrorists from emerging.  

National security is a central issue in this campaign.  We owe it to the American people to have a real debate about the choices President Bush has made… and the choices I would make… to fight and win the war on terror...

[T]he administration’s own official intelligence estimate, given to the President last July ... totally contradicts what the President is saying to the American people.

So do the facts on the ground.

Security is deteriorating, for us and for the Iraqis. 

42 Americans died in Iraq in June -- the month before the handover.  But 54 died in July…66 in August… and already 54 halfway through September. 

And more than 1,100 Americans were wounded in August – more than in any other month since the invasion. 

We are fighting a growing insurgency in an ever widening war-zone.  In March, insurgents attacked our forces 700 times.  In August, they attacked 2,700 times – a 400% increase. 

Falluja…Ramadi… Samarra … even parts of Baghdad – are now “no go zones”… breeding grounds for terrorists who are free to plot and launch attacks against our soldiers. The radical Shi’a cleric, Moktada al-Sadr, who’s accused of complicity in the murder of Americans, holds more sway in the suburbs of Baghdad...

[M]ost Iraqis have lost faith in our ability to deliver meaningful improvements to their lives.  So they’re sitting on the fence… instead of siding with us against the insurgents.

That is the truth.  The truth that the Commander in Chief owes to our troops and the American people. 

It is never easy to discuss what has gone wrong while our troops are in constant danger.  But it’s essential if we want to correct our course and do what’s right for our troops instead of repeating the same mistakes over and over again. 

I know this dilemma first-hand.  After serving in war, I returned home to offer my own personal voice of dissent.  I did so because I believed strongly that we owed it those risking their lives to speak truth to power.  We still do....

The first and most fundamental mistake was the President’s failure to tell the truth to the American people.

The President also failed to level with the American people about what it would take to prevail in Iraq. 
Oh, Senator, how long we have waited for someone with influence to say this:
The President now admits to “miscalculations” in Iraq. 

That is one of the greatest understatements in recent American history.  His were not the equivalent of accounting errors.  They were colossal failures of judgment – and judgment is what we look for in a president.

This is all the more stunning because we’re not talking about 20/20 hindsight.  Before the war, before he chose to go to war, bi-partisan Congressional hearings… major outside studies… and even some in the administration itself… predicted virtually every problem we now face in Iraq. 

This President was in denial.  He hitched his wagon to the ideologues who surround him, filtering out those who disagreed, including leaders of his own party and the uniformed military. The result is a long litany of misjudgments with terrible consequences.

The administration told us we’d be greeted as liberators.  They were wrong.

They told us not to worry about looting or the sorry state of Iraq’s infrastructure.  They were wrong.

They told us we had enough troops to provide security and stability, defeat the insurgents, guard the borders and secure the arms depots.  They were wrong.

They told us we could rely on exiles like Ahmed Chalabi to build political legitimacy.  They were wrong.

They told us we would quickly restore an Iraqi civil service to run the country and a police force and army to secure it.  They were wrong.

In Iraq, this administration has consistently over-promised and under-performed.  This policy has been plagued by a lack of planning, an absence of candor, arrogance and outright incompetence.  And the President has held no one accountable, including himself.

In fact, the only officials who lost their jobs over Iraq were the ones who told the truth. 
And then this, so perfectly clear:
The President’s insistence that he would do the same thing all over again in Iraq is a clear warning for the future.  And it makes the choice in this election clear: more of the same with President Bush or a new direction that makes our troops and America safer.  It is time, at long last, to ask the questions and insist on the answers from the Commander-in-Chief about his serious misjudgments and what they tell us about his administration and the President himself.  If George W. Bush is re-elected, he will cling to the same failed policies in Iraq -- and he will repeat, somewhere else, the same reckless mistakes that have made America less secure than we can or should be...

This is stubborn incompetence.  
You want a plan? Here's a plan:
First, the President has to get the promised international support so our men and women in uniform don’t have to go it alone.  It is late; the President must respond by moving this week to gain and regain international support.

The President should convene a summit meeting of the world’s major powers and Iraq’s neighbors, this week, in New York, where many leaders will attend the U.N. General Assembly... He should offer potential troop contributors specific, but critical roles, in training Iraqi security personnel and securing Iraq’s borders. He should give other countries a stake in Iraq’s future by encouraging them to help develop Iraq’s oil resources and by letting them bid on contracts instead of locking them out of the reconstruction process.

Second, the President must get serious about training Iraqi security forces.  

Last February, Secretary Rumsfeld claimed that more than 210,000 Iraqis were in uniform.  Two weeks ago, he admitted that claim was exaggerated by more than 50 percent.  Iraq, he said, now has 95,000 trained security forces.

But guess what?  Neither number bears any relationship to the truth.  For example, just 5,000 Iraqi soldiers have been fully trained, by the administration’s own minimal standards.

Third, the President must carry out a reconstruction plan that finally brings tangible benefits to the Iraqi people ... The President should look at the whole reconstruction package…draw up a list of high visibility, quick impact projects… and cut through the red tape.   He should use more Iraqi contractors and workers, instead of big corporations like Halliburton.  He should stop paying companies under investigation for fraud or corruption.  And he should fire the civilians in the Pentagon responsible for mismanaging the reconstruction effort.

Fourth, the President must take immediate, urgent, essential steps to guarantee the promised elections can be held next year.

This is what has to be done.  This is what I would do as President today.  But we cannot afford to wait until January.  President Bush owes it to the American people to tell the truth and put Iraq on the right track.  Even more, he owes it to our troops and their families, whose sacrifice is a testament to the best of America.
And a great race to close:
The President often says that in a post 9-11 world, we can’t hesitate to act.  I agree.  But we should not act just for the sake of acting.  I believe we have to act wisely and responsibly. 

George Bush has no strategy for Iraq.  I do. 

George Bush has not told the truth to the American people about why we went to war and how the war is going.  I have and I will continue to do so.  

I believe the invasion of Iraq has made us less secure and weaker in the war against terrorism.  I have a plan to fight a smarter, more effective war on terror – and make us safer.

Today, because of George Bush’s policy in Iraq, the world is a more dangerous place for America and Americans.

Cut The Crap, Mr. Bush  

Another American beheaded.

Mostly, I've tried to avoid the sarcastic when talking about deaths here (I'm sure you can find exceptions, but I've tried). Is it healthy to remind anyone, after every death, that Bush actually invited the slaughter, by goading cold-blooded murderers to "bring it on"?

But how are you supposed to react when he spouts bullshit like "freedom is on the march" while hundreds of people die, are beheaded, are tortured, are orphaned, are radicalized into hating all Americans? For no reason at all except in a nihilistic prelude to civil war.

And it's happening because of one man's lies, distortions, and spectacularly wrongheaded decisions. A man who doesn't have the courage and humanity to accept even the slightest responsibility, let alone blame, for any of it.

The US has much to be proud of in its fairly short history; great inventors, artists, even a great leader or three.

And it has its share of blots on its collective soul: slavery; the trail of tears; the Japanese internments; Vietnam/Cambodia/Laos. The Bush/Iraq War II is already in such ugly company. Could this country be so morally obtuse, so blinded to the truth behind Bush's lies in the face of beheadings, for God's sakes, that it would willingly choose to be ruled (not governed, but ruled) by such a man?

For the sake of all of us who live here, man, I hope not. Because if Bush gets a second term, we will hemorrhage grace.

James Wolcott vs. UberWuss  

Yesterday, C-SPAN II, as part of its regular weekend books coverage, ran a reading/q & a with Ben Ferguson, the young conservative author of It's My America Too. The plaintive whimpering of that title --in particular that "too"--is typical of the phony underdog position conservatives insist on taking to make themselves look like insurgents. Republicans control the presidency, the Senate, the House, and much of the judiciary, Fox News is #1 in cable news, the rightwing rules talk radio, and yet here's little big Ben, who at the age of 22 hosts his own rightwing radio show, pouting about feeling like an outsider in his own country, boo hoo.

He wears his hair as if he's in the fourth grade, and I gather he has a chapter in his book about being a virgin. It's considerate of this baby whale version of Rush Limbaugh to be saving himself for some lucky gal, but I fear that when he finally does mate with Woman he may explode from years of self-denial in a spermatic supernova. I'd hate to be the person who'd have to tidy up afterwards.

It's easy to make fun of little big Ben--so why not?--and yet underneath his pudgy exterior is a pudgy interior soaked in loathing and ignorance.

At one point in his talk, he made light of John Kerry's war medals and wounds, snickering that Kerry's decision to go to Vietnam to be shot at was pure "opportunism," and that if he'd been wounded as badly as all that he'd be in "a real nice wheelchair" now. Of course, if Kerry had been crippled and reduced to a wheelchair, that wouldn't spare him further mockery, as Max Cleland has learned.

Now at this point a certain type of liberal will quote Joseph Welch's famous question to Joe McCarthy at the Army-McCarthy hearings of 1954, "Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?"

But I won't. The question is no longer worth raising, even rhetorically. Because we know the answer.
Now, that's entertainment.

It's Tom Frank Week!  

Michael Bérubé starts it off:
The real question about what happened to Kansas (as Siva points out) has to do with the past 10-15 years, as the Kansas GOP of Nancy Kassebaum and Bob Dole became the fire-breathing Kansas GOP of Sam Brownback and Todd Tiahrt.  That’s a chilling tale, full of post-Wichita anti-abortion extremism and some rather passionate intensity over the conviction that the universe is six thousand years old.  For his rendering of that narrative, Frank’s book is more than worth the price of admission.  Clueless Democrats and quasi-liberal journalists (you know, the kind who think they’re still dealing with reasonable, old-school prairie Republicans like Everett Dirksen out there) need to read this part of the book-- and it’s the major part of the book-- right now.  At least by dinnertime today.
He's right, you know. And unlike the Gelerntner piece, Frank's book, What's the Matter with Kansas? is quite real with much to ponder, some of it shite, some of it more like shinola.

CBS Dodges Document Authenticity  

The story shouldn't have run, they're sorry, but they still are not sure whether they are forgeries.

My faith in CBS' factchecking was misplaced and I'm sorry for that. For now, the most scandalous parts of the Nat Guard story, that Bush disobeyed a direct order and got his dad to cover for him, are not entirely proven.

That Bush didn't complete his service has been established beyond doubt. And I suspect, as noted below, that the farce is far from over, or completely understood. Could McDougald been tipped off after Bartlett spoke to Rather? That would go a long way towards explaining the freeper and Republican operative's suspiciously rapid questioning of the docs' authenticity.

Nick Confessore Earns His Salary  

This sounds entirely plausible. Not so a set-up as the White House taking full advantage when opportunity came a' knocking:
There's little doubt in my mind that the White House is in posession of every relevant document from George W. Bush's National Guard record, and knew more or less as soon as CBS provided its memos that their authenticity was questionable. Dan Bartlett and Karl Rove knew what they were doing. It was quite smart of the White House to let CBS shoot itself in the foot, because it shifted attention away from the indisputable evidence that Bush pulled strings to get into the Guard and then skipped out on his obligation. Thanks in part to the media's obsession with itself and individual reporters' eagerness to take 60 Minutes down a notch, the controversy over whether CBS relied on fake documents has received far more ink and attention than the rather more interesting questions regarding Bush's Guard duty.

Bush's Vision #5  

Some backup:*

Here's a freshly published book that should have been titled The UN Sucks: Why The Birchers Were Right by Jed Babbins, a Nat Review Online columnist. Perle agrees, of course. In an article at the beginning of Bush/Iraq II, he wrote an article entitled Thank God for the death of the UN. Now, here's a guy from The Heritage Foundation, writing in April 2003 that the UN should not have much to with Iraq. Also, Labor Secretary Elaine Chao has Bircher-like Anti-UN things to say:
President Bush's labor secretary warned a gathering of conservatives that Americans must pay more attention to the United Nations and its related organizations, which she noted were chipping away at U.S. sovereignty and threatening freedoms.

Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, making her charges late Thursday at the Conservative Political Action Conference, explained that powerful tax-exempt organizations were applying pressure through the U.N. to have the world body make decisions for Americans' lives without any input from U.S. citizens.

These efforts are being made without the knowledge of most Americans, she pointed out.


The idea that tax-exempt U.N. and allied non-government organizations would presume to dictate to Americans how they live, work and conduct themselves on their internal business was a major theme late Thursday at CPAC, not only from Secretary Chao but also from panelists who preceded her.

Tom DeWeese, president of the American Policy Center, charged that the goal of this unholy alliance was to "erase national boundaries," redistribute wealth on an international scale and steer decisions on American affairs from representative government to the "global village," with all of us as "global citizens."

He and another panelist, Jeff Gayner of Americans for Sovereignty, called for the U.S. to get out of the U.N. and to force the U.N. to get out of the U.S.
No, Bush hasn't yet acted on the advice to get out of the UN - gotta leave something to do in that second term. But suffice it to say that he doesn't have to. He simply thinks it's irrelevant or useless or only useful as a rubber stamp, most memorably expressed in the run-up to the war:
President Bush has continued to say he has not yet decided whether to go to war. But the message being conveyed in high-level contacts with other council governments is that a military attack on Iraq is inevitable, these officials and diplomats said. What they must determine, U.S. officials are telling these governments, is if their insistence that U.N. weapons inspections be given more time is worth the destruction of council credibility at a time of serious world upheaval.

"We're going to try to convince people that their responsibilities as members of the Security Council necessitate a vote that will strengthen the role of the council in international politics," national security adviser Condoleezza Rice said yesterday.

As for the A-bomb, the photo is an historical picture that illustrates that preliminary preparation for new nuke tests by the Bush administration have begun.
First, instead of eliminating nuclear weapons, the Bush administration is seeking funds to develop two new nuclear weapons, a low yield "mini-nuke" and a robust nuclear earth penetrator or "bunker buster." Second, because the development of these new weapons will require testing, the administration has refused to submit the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty to the Senate for ratification and has instead sought funds to ready the Nevada test site for future testing. In its proposed 2005 budget, the administration has requested $6.8 billion for conducting research and expanding U.S. nuclear capabilities.
There is no doubt that once testing is resumed, "low yield" will turn out to be a very elastic term. (And it goes without saying that the Bush nukes are hardly as useful or clean as he claims.)

*Not that much backup is needed 'cause anyone who's read the papers knows that the Bush's Visions are not really much of an exaggeration. In the future, I may back up some more of the Bush's Vision graphics, but anyone with a computer can find plenty of back up to suppor them by going to this website:

It's really a good place to start your research and if you haven't heard of it, you just might want to give it a try. The internet really is an amazing resource, isn't it?

Kos Belatedly Discovers Lakoff  

On the one hand, I'm glad that Kos is taking political rhetoric seriously. And to that end, George Lakoff has a very important message: The way that we persuade is as important as knowledge of truth, in some cases, even more so.

In truth, a lot of us figured out the importance of political rhetoric, and particularly framing, a long, long time ago. It's an indication of how serious the problem of political discourse is for Democrats that Kos finds himself "blown away" by Lakoff.

As for the Judgemental Dad/Forgiving Mommy dichotomy Lakoff proposes... Well, suffice it to say that Lakoff's language describing the differences between conservatives and liberals illustrates the problem he points to perfectly.

So we damn well better come up with better language to frame liberalism.

First, because the mommy frame does not - repeat, does not - in any way, shape, or form describe anything resembling liberalism as I know it. (I'll leave whether the judging, stern daddy accurately frames conservatives to others).

Second, because, as a practical matter - ie winning elections - framing liberals as nice mommies is just about the stupidest fucking idea I've heard.

In Case You Don't Get It Yet  

Bush, a fully trained pilot since 1970, often flew two-seater training jets in March 1972, shortly before he piloted a plane for the last time. This despite his promise, when he entered the Guard's training program, to serve as a full pilot until 1974.

What is also already known is that in the spring of 1972, with 770 days left of required duty, Bush unilaterally decided that he was done fulfilling his military obligation. Also in the spring of 1972, Bush refused to take a physical and quickly cleared out of his Guard base in Houston, heading off to work on the Senate campaign of Winton 'Red' Blount in Alabama. Referring to that period, one of Bush's Guard flying buddies remarked to USA Today in 2002, 'It was an irrational time in his life.'

It may have been an irrational time for him, but Bush managed to focus intently on not serving in the Guard in any significant capacity again. His public records paint a portrait of a Guardsman who, with the cooperation of his Texas Air National Guard superiors, simply flouted regulation after regulation, indifferent to his signed obligation to serve."
Amazing how consistent personality is over time. A person's character simply doesn't change that much, even if they give up alcohol and dope and carousing.

Notice the word "unilaterally." He has quite a history of unilateral decisions. All of them bad. And some of them may rise to the criminal level, like refusing a direct order to report for duty in wartime.

You Confused "Terrorism" With "Freedom," Mr. Bush. It's Terrorism On the March  

Allawi's a little...concerned, I think:
[Allawi said,] "Terrorists are coming and pouring in from various countries into Iraq to try and undermine the situation in Iraq. They're coming from Afghanistan, Pakistan, from Europe, from Morocco, from Syria and so on.

"Iraq is on the front line of fighting these terrorists. And, God forbid, if Iraq is broken or the will of Iraq is broken, then London would be a target, Washington will be a target, Paris will be a target, Cairo will be a target, as we have seen in the past."

But former British foreign secretary Robin Cook, who resigned from the Cabinet over the Iraq war, disputed that argument.

"There were no international terrorists in Iraq until we went in," he told The Times newspaper.

"It was we who gave the perfect conditions in which al Qaeda could thrive."

Ashcroft Plays Politics With Voter Fraud  

So Ashcroft is a worthless, corrupt hack. I know it's not news, but it needs to be reported nonetheless
Civil rights advocates and many Democrats... complain that the [Justice] department is putting too much emphasis on investigating new voter registrations in poor and minority communities -- which tend to favor Democrats -- and not enough on ensuring that those voters do not face discrimination at the polls. More attention should be given to potential fraud in the use of absentee ballots, which tend to favor Republicans, the critics say.

They also charge that announcing criminal investigations within weeks of an election -- as was done in New Mexico on Sept. 7 -- is likely to scare legitimate voters away from the polls.

"I'm concerned that the Justice Department is being overtly political," said Nancy Zirkin, deputy director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights. "Bells are going off for me because searching for voter fraud has often been a proxy for intimidating voters."

Republicans Furious At Bush "Incompetence"  

You read that right:
Leading members of President Bush's Republican Party on Sunday criticized mistakes and "incompetence" in his Iraq policy and called for an urgent ground offensive to retake insurgent sanctuaries.

In appearances on news talk shows, Republican senators also urged Bush to be more open with the American public after the disclosure of a classified CIA report that gave a gloomy outlook for Iraq and raised the possibility of civil war.

"The fact is, we're in deep trouble in Iraq ... and I think we're going to have to look at some recalibration of policy," Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska said on CBS's "Face the Nation."

"We made serious mistakes," said Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican who has campaigned at Bush's side this year after patching up a bitter rivalry.

McCain, speaking on "Fox News Sunday," cited as mistakes the toleration of looting after the successful U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 and failures to secure Iraq's borders or prevent insurgents from establishing strongholds within the country.

He said a ground offensive was urgently needed to retake areas held by insurgents, but a leading Democrat accused the administration of stalling for fear of hurting Bush's reelection chances.

The criticisms came as Bush prepared this week to host Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi and focus strongly on Iraq after stepped up attacks from Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry.

After the CIA report was disclosed on Thursday, Kerry accused the president of living in a "fantasy world of spin" about Iraq and of not telling the truth about the growing chaos.

McCain said Bush had been "perhaps not as straight as maybe we'd like to see."

"I think the president is being clear. I would like to see him more clear," McCain said. He said Congress was expected to hold hearings on Iraq soon.

Sen. Richard Lugar, an Indiana Republican and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also criticized the administration's handling of Iraq's reconstruction.

Only $1 billion of $18.4 billion allocated by Congress for the task has been spent, Lugar said. "This is the incompetence in the administration," he said on ABC's "This Week."
Tom Daschle? It's now time for you to use the incompetence word. You, too, Mr. Lieberman. Etc., etc., etc.

Open Letter To A NY Times Political Reporter  

Dear Rick Lyman:

No one cares in the slightest whether you were bumped from Dick Cheney's private plane, not even your mother.

Get to work.



Pseudo-Fascism In America  

Dave Neiwert at his most intelligent. The beginning of new six-part series that looks like another must read:
Call it Pseudo Fascism. Or, if you like, Fascism Lite. Happy-Face Fascism. Postmodern Fascism. But there is little doubt anymore why the shape of the "conservative movement" [as opposed to conservatism, a style of thought] in the 21st century is so familiar and disturbing: Its architecture, its entire structure, has morphed into a not-so-faint hologram of 20th-century fascism.

It is not genuine fascism, even though it bears many of the basic traits of that movement. It lacks certain key elements that would make it genuinely so:

-- Its agenda, under the guise of representing mainstream conservatism, is not openly revolutionary.

-- It is not yet a dictatorship.

-- It does not yet rely on physical violence and campaigns of gross intimidation to obtain power and suppress opposition.

-- American democracy has not yet reached the genuine stage of crisis required for full-blown fascism to take root.

Without these facets, the current phenomenon cannot properly be labeled "fascism." But what is so deeply disturbing about the current state of the conservative movement is that it has otherwise plainly adopted not only many of the cosmetic traits of fascism, its larger architecture -- derived from its core impulses -- now almost exactly replicates that by which fascists came to power in Italy and Germany in the 1920s and '30s..

[The present behavior of the conservative movement] does replicate, in nearly every regard, the architecture of fascism in its second stage of growth -- the stage at which, in the past, it has obtained power.

All that is needed for a full manifestation of American fascism, at this point, is for a genuine crisis of democracy to erupt. And if that occurs, it is almost inevitable that the differences between fascism and pseudo-fascism will vanish.

Bush's Vision #4  

RightWingers: Does this seem a little bit unfair to you? Did I hurt your sensitive feelings? Think I'm distorting Bush's position on African American education merely because he's opposed to affirmative action, he's trying to bankrupt and discredit the public schools, and he coddles Klan apologists like Pickering?

I don't see why. Y'know Ed Gillespie personally gave me the green light to go ahead with this comparison. He thinks I'm being totally reasonable.

Remember? He had no problem with West Virginia Republicans accusing Democrats of wanting to ban the Bible. Now that was totally baseless and sleazy. At least my graphic has much more substantial backup for asserting that Bush wants the government to stop educating its children, particularly poor black ones.

Not to mention that Bush seems to have no problems with those who burn crosses, or at least support them.

[Update] This Bush's Vision is dedicated to Clubbeaux, who fully agrees with the above, thinks it's great, and is so anxious to live in Bush's kind of America that he moved to Turkey and stopped blogging. Clubbeaux, my friend, truly, no one misses you less than I.

The Proper Response  

Predictably, Hastert disgraced his office, one of the most elevated in the world. Now what, Democrats?

Let's face it, boys and girls, "Take those mean words back, you nasty bully!" just won't suffice. Nor will, "Oh yeah? Al Qaeda really wants Bush, they've said so and that's the truth, you, you... liar, you!"

Democrats, don't you get it, even now? "No more Mr. Nice Guy" should be the baseline of your strategy towards the GOP, especially when dealing with the top thugs, like Hastert. That's the least you can do. Hastert should never have felt emboldened enough to even approach such a remark without the certainty of major, major adverse consequences to his career and comfort.

Of course, they will do the same back, and worse. So?

You think this is a game they're playing? You think that an America systematically undermined and misruled by the likes of Bush and Hastert can long endure? An American government strongly opposed not only by nearly the entire world but also the best educated half of its own population? Do you seriously think the Republicans' present course is sustainable for even another 4 years?

Get real. This country's strong, sure, but it ain't that strong. You are dealing with some seriously dangerous people when you're dealing with the likes of the modern-day Republican party. And they are hellbent on wrecking this great country. And for what?

The Republican party is captive to a psychotic delusion: that America actually can be Rome on steroids, that it need listen to no one, that its clear military superiority gives it the capability, indeed the moral right, to dictate unto eternity the terms under which it will suffer others to survive.

Imagine the Cuban Missile Crisis with LeMay as president of the US and the John Birch Society as the most respected think tank in the country. That's their dream, and they're mighty damn close to it.

An eight year old can understand that though their goal is mad, the Republican leadership believe in it so fanatically they really could destroy the country trying to achieve it. The threat is real, even if the goal is crazy.

You want to stop America's march over a cliff? You can begin by impeaching Hastert and DeLay. And since they seem to be so suspiciously confident about bin Laden's plans for the US election, you also might want to open up both military and criminal investigations to document their connections to al Qaeda and the Saudis.

You won't succeed, at least right now, but by God, you can try. And they've been asking for it for a long time.

Whaddya got t' lose?

[Update] Juan Cole addresses the substance of Hastert's sleazy remarks and says bin Laden couldn't care who wins or loses in the US in November. Of course.

But Professor Cole misses the point. He still thinks that stating the self-evident reality of a thing is self-evidently the hands down way to win an argument in Bush's America.

Sigh. So many naifs. So little time.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

And Iraq Continues To Get Worse  

Turkey confirms 10 kidnappings in Iraq.

And as of this blogging the total US casualties stands at 1032.

And just to add an extra element of grand guignol to the proceedings, 3 Iraqi hostages beheaded in grisly new video.

Mark Danner Has A Cast Iron Stomach  

Danner actually read the explosive reports on Abu Ghraib and US torture elsewhere. Bottom line: the orders came from the top to torture prisoners. Torture is not limited to Abu Ghraib but used in many different locales. The progress of the tortures were monitored at the highest levels of the US government.

Everyone should read Danner's review. We owe it to the victims of our government to give at least that much attention to their treatment.

The Case FOR The CBS Memos  

Dave Neiwert saves me a lot of trouble.

And so, we come back to the main point, which Bush has not disputed:

George Bush disobeyed a direct order during wartime. Then he used his father's connections to avoid responsibility for it.

As usual, Digby has some great advice for how CBS should have done the story.

Bush's Vision #3  

Bush's Vision #2  

Bush's Vision  

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