Saturday, May 29


Via The Smirking Chimp:

By a 4:1 margin American historians have already rated W. "a failure." More than one in ten surveyed in the recent George Mason University History News Network Poll also rate Bush as "the worst president ever."
But ultimately, this Bush has no peer among US presidents. Let's look at three likely matches.
Richard Nixon trained Dick Cheney and Karl Rove as Dirty Tricksters. Nixon is Bush's role model for corruption, cynicism and personal psychosis. But Nixon was also a skilled, literate global diplomat who opened doors to China and the former Soviet Union and supported environmental protection. Bush has trashed all that.
Herbert Hoover callously presided over the beginnings of America's worst economic depression. Bush is right there. But Hoover was also a skilled, literate bureaucrat, and a Quaker-raised foe of war. Not exactly Bush.
Warren G. Harding was astonishingly corrupt. Bush, Halliburton and Enron have more than matched him. But Harding also hated repression and brought the anti-war socialist Eugene V. Debs straight from a federal prison cell to meet him in the Oval Office. Bush might well have had Debs executed.


For a single moment, all eyes were on the finger, left index, pale and slender as a flower stem. Brandon Mayfield held it up for all his family to see, and even he gazed at it with amazement.
For two weeks, that finger, and the man who owned it, was implicated in a terrorist attack 8,000 miles away, in Madrid, Spain, a series of train bombings that killed nearly 200 people.
The FBI was convinced that a print from Mayfield's finger was found on a plastic bag of detonators left near the scene.
Mayfield, who hadn't traveled outside the country in more than a decade, was arrested May 6 and held as a material witness for two weeks until Spanish police announced that the print belonged to an Algerian.
In his first in-depth interview, Mayfield talked with restrained anger about his ordeal. He was held in solitary confinement for the first week, was handcuffed, forced to wear leg irons and subjected to regular strip searches. In the second week, he was put in with the general prison population. Mayfield, who was told by a guard to "watch your back," feared for his life.
The FBI, greatly embarrassed, apologized to Mayfield and his family. It was all a big mistake. Investigators blamed it on a bad copy of the print.
"I'm so happy. To be home. To be with my family," he said. "Two weeks ago, I was on a track to a death sentence."
As for the FBI apology, Mayfield said he accepted and commended it, but that it didn't fix his life or the lives of others whose civil liberties have been violated. When asked why he doesn't show more anger, he said, "I feel anger. But I'm trying to be gracious. As much fear as they put into me, I have more faith in God."

How many more Brandon Mayfields are out there, I wonder? How can we know, with secret proceedings in secret courts, secret interrogations in secret detention facilities? This isn't the America we were brought up to believe in. It's not even America at all. It's George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, John Ashcroft, Robert Mueller, George Tenet, Don Rumsfeld, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, et al. They elicit the worst in us, in our people, in our institutions.

At this point, all we can do is VOTE KERRY and "Let America be America again." Or if you will, let freedom ring. Or "take back America." Whatever. Just throw the bums out.


Sen. John F. Kerry indicated that as president he would downplay the promotion of democracy as a leading goal in dealing with Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, China and Russia, instead focusing on other objectives that he said are more central to the nation's security.

Kerry, in a one-hour interview Friday night, also rejected the idea of setting a date for the withdrawal of U.S. soldiers from Iraq. Though the notion is gaining favor in more liberal parts of the Democratic Party, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee said "it is not a good idea just in a vacuum" because the timetable for reducing U.S. troops must be dictated by success in holding elections and establishing security and stability.

In many ways, Kerry laid out a foreign-policy agenda that appeared less idealistic about U.S. aims than President Bush or even former president Bill Clinton, a fellow Democrat. While Kerry said it was important to "sell [democracy] and market it" around the world, he demurred when questioned specifically about a number of important countries that suppress human rights and freedoms. He said securing all nuclear materials in Russia, integrating China in the world economy, achieving greater controls over Pakistan's nuclear weapons or winning greater cooperation on terrorist financing in Saudi Arabia trumped human rights concerns in those nations.

"Sometimes we are dealt a set of cards that don't allow us do everything we want to do at once," he said.

During the interview, he eschewed the soaring rhetoric on freedom and democracy that are commonplace in Bush's speeches or news conferences. At one point, he stumbled over his words when he tried to emphasize his interest in promoting American values: "The idea of America is, I think proudly and chauvinistically, the best idea that we've developed in this world."

Kerry said that "how fast you can do that [promote democracy overseas] and how rapidly others can embrace it and what can be expected over a period of time varies from place to place." Emphasizing his interest in setting realistic goals, he added: "Beware of the presidential candidate who just sort of says with a big paint brush we're going to make everything all right overnight."
Last Thursday, Kerry outlined what he called his "foreign-policy architecture": rebuilding alliances; modernizing the armed forces; deploying diplomacy, intelligence, economic power and American values to overcome threats; and freeing the United States from its dependence on Middle East oil.

On Tuesday, he will give a speech outlining proposals on preventing a terrorist attack using nuclear and biological weapons, which include creating a new high-level White House coordinator to oversee his plan to secure nuclear material around the world and accelerating efforts to secure such materials in the former Soviet Union. Then, on Thursday, he will present his proposals for overhauling the armed forces.

Bush's campaign ads have sought to portray Kerry as a dangerous leftist who would undermine the war on terror, and the Massachusetts Democrat has countered with a foreign-policy critique that mainly challenges Bush on tactics, not fundamentals. Challenged in the interview on how his approach differed from Bush in certain areas, Kerry would often cite either more attention to detail or greater urgency -- in other words, competence over ideology.
He said he would aim to set clear priorities after deciding what was most important and achievable in dealing with other countries. He also said he would balance those goals so no single objective overwhelmed the administration or left other concerns festering. He accused to the Bush administration of having an "Iraq-centric preoccupation" that left little opportunity to deal with other pressing problems.

"Do you think they know where Latin America is? It is all part of the same problem," Kerry said. "It is the distinction between what is cosmetic and what is real. In the 20 years that I have been here I have learned to distinguish between the two. This stuff going on is mostly rhetoric."
Kerry said, "I think the first priority is keep those [nuclear] weapons" out of the hands of radical Islamists in Pakistan, with the secondary objective of crushing al Qaeda through better intelligence sharing with Pakistani security services.

Kerry evinced little concern about the possibility that Islamic parties could sweep elections in Middle Eastern nations if open elections were permitted. He said he would not try to thwart the results if it appeared Islamic parties might win.

"The last time I looked, except for Florida, an election is an election," Kerry said.

Gawd, can you imagine George W. Bush being able to conduct such an interview? Kerry's my main man. The more I know, the more pleased I am with his candidacy.

Link here.


This breaks my heart:

Pat Tillman, the former Arizona Cardinals football player, was probably killed by allied fire as he led his team of Army Rangers up a hill during a firefight in Afghanistan last month, the Army said Saturday.

Link here.

I know it doesn't change the fact of Tillman's bravery or willingness to sacrifice himself for his country, but it does somehow illustrate the whole nature of this CF, doesn't it?


I have been asked lately by my mother and some friends how I "knew," even way back when Bush first started beating the Iraq war drums, that the invasion was a bad idea, that there probably were few or no WMD's, that Iraq posed no threat to the U.S., that we'd all bitterly regret the whole grand neo-con adventure.

It might be because I feared diverting our focus from Afghanistan and Al Qaeda to Iraq would weaken the "war on terra." It might be because I put more stock in the WMD analyses of Scott Ritter and Hans Blix than in the Defense Dept. and the CIA. I wasn't impressed by Colin Powell's presentation to the U.N., and I remembered that in early 2001 he was confident that Saddam had been contained. I certainly was more struck by the assessments of Generals Shinseki, Zinni and Wesley Clark than by those of Rumsfeld/Wolfowitz. I was informed enough to realize that Saddam and Bin Laden were mortal enemies and thus unlikely confederates in the attack on the World Trade Center. I know I worried at the time about how a preemptive strike against a non-aggressing sovereign nation would alter the perceptions of America throughout the world. I've always read a lot, and since I've long been concerned about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that includes a number of books about the Middle East -- so I was dismayed by the "cakewalk" predictions, which only tipped me off as to the chickenhawks' ignorance and naivete. At any rate, my Christian faith and the experience of living through the Vietnam era have taught me to place more confidence in peacemaking and diplomacy than in bullets as sources of conflict resolution. And I always oppose putting our military personnel in harm's way unless there is no alternative.

But the real bottom line is that I didn't trust George W. Bush, Dick Cheney or their minions. I'd read and been alarmed by the Project for a New American Century. I'd lived in Texas throughout Bush's tenure as governor and before, when he lied about Anne Richards and his own resume. I'd seen his administration begin almost immediately after being handed the presidency by the Supremes to sell government to the private sector. I knew he was in the pocket of ideologues, fundamentalist fanatics, and big oil (among others). I recognized him as an opportunist, a non-thinker who likes to view himself as an action figure. I never believed for one minute that he gives a flip about anyone except GWB. I viewed him as the incompetent, lying, hypocritical, arrogant, selfish, vengeful piece of arrested-development slime that he is. I trusted my own judgment a hell of a lot more than I trusted his, and was inclined to be skeptical of just about anything the man said or did.

It amazed me when co-workers would ask me in the weeks and months after 9/11, "Aren't you glad now that Gore didn't get elected? Don't you think Bush will make us safer?" I'd think (and say), "Wait a minute. You were with me in the Board Room the morning of September 11, 2001, when we watched on the big screen as the two towers came down. We all wondered where Bush was, and when we found out, what the heck he was doing flying around instead of in D.C. running things. We watched him, stunned-looking, continue with his photo op reading to little kids after he'd been told about the attack. Did he make you feel safer then?"

In the film A League of Their Own, Tom Hanks' character says, "It was made very clear to me what my role is. I'm to come out of the dugout once every game and wave my little hat." That's the role Bush was best at, and our family used to enjoy watching him at Rangers games. Our sympathetic attitude (we're charitable people) was, "Oh how nice. He finally got a job he can do." It certainly wasn't our bright idea to put such a man in charge of our armed forces and the fate of the nation.

No, "everyone didn't get it all wrong." Some of us got it right. And I suspect that others, like me, got it right because we got the character of George Bush right.


Billmon is back:

So this is what failure looks like – and, realistically, it’s much too late to look to the UN or NATO or our Arab “allies” to save us from the consequences of the administration’s folly.

Strategic failure on such a grand scale is obviously going to have huge repercussions, not just in Iraq, not just in the Middle East, and not just for the war against Al Qaeda. Much more than 9/11, a U.S. defeat in Iraq (or, at least, an outcome that is perceived as a strategic defeat both at home and abroad) has at least the potential to change, if not everything, then lots of things -- from the U.S. political balance of power, to the future of NATO, to the health of the global economy.

Old debates – about the limits of U.S. power and the consequences of U.S. decline – may be resurrected. America’s attractiveness as a destination for foreign investment – the main prop beneath our current prosperity – could be undermined. But the ultimate consequences of the Iraq fiasco are really almost impossible to predict. In other words, while we may not be looking into the abyss (to borrow Gen. Hoar’s phrase) we are certainly peering out over a dark and fog-covered landscape.
Still, we do what we can. So over the next few weeks, I’m going to try to detach a bit from the daily diet of conservative stupidity and administration incompetence (Whiskey Bar’s usual fare) and focus on these unknowns – Rumsfeld’s unknown unknowns, so to speak. The most critical of these, of course, is Iraq itself, and the U.S. position in the Middle East (the most immediate casualty of Shrub’s boneheaded play). This sucking chest wound - and what, if anything might be done to heal it - should be the topic of my next post.

Friday, May 28


With apologies to Reese Witherspoon's character in Legally Blonde. John Kerry just keeps rolling up important endorsements. Add to the list the Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA), the union that represents most of the nation's airline pilots:

"The evidence is clear that President Bush's record adds up to an unending string of actions that have hurt pilots, other working Americans, and the unions that represent them. It is time for a change," said Capt. Duane E. Woerth, president of ALPA.

Thanks to Jerry Bowles of Best of the Blogs for the link. Their bloggers do seem to read everything -- add them to your must-check list.


Last night John McCain appeared on the Conan O'Brien show, and when asked if he would consider accepting the position of running mate to John Kerry, he replied, (from memory, not transcript) "I spent several years in a Vietnamese prison camp, in the dark, being fed on scraps. Do you think I want to do that again as Vice President of the United States?"

Very witty. Let's hope this ends this endless, futile speculation.


On Memorial Day, we honor soldiers. Not this year. We will honor, this holiday weekend, an entire generation.

This generation now has its own monument, the new National World War II Memorial. The 16.1 million Americans in uniform who fought—and won—World War II didn’t win the war alone, the new monument’s creators remind us. They had help from the home front. Housewives pounded rivets. Kids collected aluminum. Families went without staples at the dinner table. During World War II, everyone seemed to be making contributions. Everyone, at some level, seemed to be making sacrifices.

Even the rich. All Americans were asked to pay more in taxes during World War II, and the wealthy were asked to pay the most of all, more in taxes than any Americans had ever before paid. In 1943, America’s most affluent households faced a 93 percent tax rate on all their income over $200,000. The next year, 1944, the nation’s top tax rate would rise even higher, to 94 percent on income over $200,000—the highest rate in American history.
Today, by contrast, we are waging a war amid what have become the least progressive tax years in modern U.S. history. Pulitzer Prize-winning tax analyst David Cay Johnston estimates that our nation’s wealthiest households are now paying federal income taxes at a mere 17.5 percent rate, after exploiting all available loopholes. America’s richest households in 1943, after exploiting all available loopholes, paid nearly 78 percent of their total incomes in federal tax.
At the new World War II Memorial dedication, the American Battle Monuments Commission will be asking us to celebrate the “high moral purpose and idealism” of an entire generation. We ought to do that honoring not just by cheering, but by remembering. We ought to be remembering just how the “Greatest Generation” became great. Our parents and grandparents shared sacrifice, from the top down. We should, too.

Read the rest of the article here at Tom Paine.


Via Sisyphus Shrugged, this New York Times article describes the habits and motivations of some bloggers. Got me to thinking about why I started blogging less than two months ago but have gone at it so hot and heavy ever since.

I've always been a politics junkie, and since the advent of the Web I've been a devotee of on-line news and eventually blogs. I can get pretty crazy about some things I read and drive my family and friends crazy trying to tell them everything they've missed and what my reactions are. It finally dawned on me one day that if I just put my thoughts down it would probably save me time in the long run (fewer repetitious conversations). Also, I felt that sometimes I might have something valuable to add to the public discourse since we all have unique perspectives -- mine being that of a former hippie who's also a Christian, a mother of five married to the same great guy for more than two decades, and a public relations/marketing executive for a Fortune 250 company (I'm the token progressive).

I don't think I'm pathological although I'll admit to an addictive personality. And I'll probably give this up after we elect John Kerry president and I don't feel like throwing my shoe at the TV (or the radio, or my laptop -- I prefer damaging inanimate objects to hurting people). But for now, I'm here.


I bought a Honda Hybrid a few months ago, before gas prices began to soar but after warnings that they would. Money savings aside (and that's not inconsiderable for someone with a long Dallas-area commute), I'm crazy about the little bug. I ran out of gas one day but didn't notice until I got home. I kept not noticing (or remembering) for three days, but my little car never stopped running! It runs more quietly than any car I've ever had (including my formerly much-loved Infiniti J30), makes me feel good to do my little bit for the environment, and has a neat dashboard display. Although it's the smallest car I've ever owned, I feel safer in it because of the steel reinforcements in the door and side airbags.

I've really been talking it up to family, friends and co-workers. So now you're included.


Responding to former Vice President Al Gore's May 26 speech (sponsored by and delivered at New York University), in which Gore called for the resignation of six top Bush administration officials, right-wing pundits seemed to read from the same anti-Gore script: resorting to satirical speculation about his psychiatric state -- in one case, attacking the speech itself as "hate speech" and, in another case, as eliciting "the biggest cheers ... from caves in Afghanistan and diehards in Fallujah."

If you're in the mood to get really angry or really hysterical, read the rest.

The Problems with the Modern Evangelicals

Easter Lemming points us to a must-read by a former Evangelical Christian pastor.


I don't often get a good laugh from listening to Sean Hannity (I'm usually too angry at the lies and obfuscations), but yesterday was one of the good days. Sean got all excited when he spotted a Naval lieutenant standing at the studio window and invited the fellow in. Sean asked the guy who he was, how long he'd been in the military, had he been in Iraq, etc. The young lieutenant answered politely, said yes, he'd be re-enlisting at the end of his tour, that he is a "lifer," and then Sean made his boo-boo: he asked for the officer's opinion of George Bush. Total silence for a couple of seconds. Then the guy said something like "I can't say" -- I couldn't make it out well because Sean interrupted him with, "He's your Commander In Chief." "Yes sir, he is," was the reply. Sean's voice changed markedly, and he asked, "What are you doing here?" (He was accompanying his admiral, who was being interviewed on another show.) Sean thanked him for his service and got him off the air quickly.

What a moron. He actually thinks everyone in uniform is a big Bush-backer. I checked his site (never been there before), but couldn't find a transcript. What I DID find was even funnier -- a poll asking, "Who are you going to vote for in the presidential elections [sic]?" (I didn't know there was more than one, did you?) I voted, got the results, and laughed again. Out of 25,000+ votes cast, Kerry is leading Bush 75% to 23%, with 1% going for Nader. I have to believe none of his staffers have been paying attention to the results or that poll would have disappeared off the site by now.


Hesiod has an interesting thought:

POSTER BOY: Anyone notice who's missing from the United States' "Most Wanted Terrorist" list?

UPDATE: This is another piece of a puzzle that indicates to me that Zarqawi is in fact an American agent.
He's being pumped up as part of a disinformation campaign by the CIA in order to gather intelligence against terrorist operations. He's got to be given credibility in the eyes of terrorists, so he's credited with all sorts of evil deeds.
That would explain his "letter" to Bin Laden offering an alliance, and complaining about how successful the U.S. was in Iraq.
It would explain why his terrorist camp wasn't bombed before the Iraq war.
It would explain why his name was grafted onto the Nick Berg video, and why other people unaffiliated with Al Qaeda were arrested for the crime. (How did they even know who these people were?)
It explains why, despite his being terrorist bogeyman number one right now, he's not listed on the most wanted list. And it cannot be because he's dead. They still list Mohammed Atef, even though he was supposedly killed in Afghanistan.
I may be crazy, but this smells.


Test your knowledge on some of the most important issues confronting us today.


``Every vote should count.''

-- Jeb Bush, upon signing into law a measure doing away with witness signatures for absentee ballots

Our governor -- what a kidder!

If we counted every vote in Florida, Jeb's brother would be spending all of his time -- and not just some of his time -- falling off his bicycle on his Texas ranch.

The only thing the bill Jeb signed Tuesday guarantees, is that Florida's elections will continue to be a joke. By taking away the witness requirement, the governor and the Legislature not only made it easier for corruption to take place -- which in itself is a fairly amazing feat -- but they have also made it more difficult to catch.

Article here.

It is ''extremely unlikely'' that Florida voters in November will be able to check their machine-vote ballots against a paper printout before leaving the polls, the head of the state's election process told the Legislature on Wednesday.

But the official, Secretary of State Glenda Hood, insisted that voters have every reason to remain confident in electronic voting machines, despite rising worries across the nation that such machines are susceptible to computer hackers who could possibly alter the outcome of an election.


My native state had better wake up to the machinations of Jeb Bush, and fast. Otherwise, it won't be the people who determine the outcome of the presidential race in November, it'll be Jeb and his new Katharine Harris. And to think, Jeb was the Bush family's first choice to run for president. Well, he's proved at least one thing -- he's as unscrupulous as the rest of the clan. But you have to say one thing for them -- they don't hide all their underhanded actions; their arrogance is so great, they often come right out in the open with them. The bewildering thing is how they get away with it...or how they're ALLOWED to get away with it.

Stalin once quipped that power resides not with those who cast the votes, but with those that count them.


It is horrifying to contemplate that U.S. interrogators have tortured and killed foreign prisoners and that their superiors have ignored or covered up their crimes -- and yet that is where the available facts point. Pentagon officials say they will pursue investigations vigorously and that those guilty of crimes will be brought to justice. It is essential to the preservation of this country's fundamental values that they do so. It is essential also to examine the consequences in the field of policy decisions made by the most senior officials in Washington. But the sorry record of the Bush administration -- and the president's own refusal to speak the truth about it -- suggests that justice will require vigorous and sustained intervention by outside parties, beginning with Congress.

You can read the rest here.

Thursday, May 27


General defends Chalabi

Thursday's raid appeared to be a final break between Mr Chalabi and his former US patrons.

But Gen Myers defended the INC, saying its military intelligence had been "useful and accurate" during the year-long occupation.

"The organisation that he is associated with has provided intelligence to our intelligence unit there in Baghdad that has saved soldiers' lives," he told a congressional committee.

How, I would like to know? Granted that it might not be possible to relate specific intelligence, but surely he could give us a broad-brush account. He'll have to convince me.


Listen, people. We have got to stop the hemorrhage of confidence that threatens to lose us this election. Repeatedly I hear media and pundits speculating on whether or not Democrats would like to dump Kerry as our candidate. This benefits absolutely NO-ONE except the Republicans and George Bush. If WE don't support our own candidate, what does that say about him? So he doesn't match my checklist or yours 100%? If he comes in above George Bush, that's good enough for me. The alternative is too bleak to contemplate. THAT MAN is a fraud and disgrace to the office, and the nation simply cannot afford one minute more of his ignorant, arrogant non-leadership than required by law.

Democrats must spread the word as quickly and as forcefully as possible to all reaches of the party: present an absolutely unified front to the media. Of COURSE we're not interested in replacing Kerry as candidate. Why should we be? He hasn't changed a single item of his agenda since the primaries, where he was selected overwhelmingly. He plays extremely well against George Bush, and he's steadily moving up in the polls. The key to this election is DEMOCRATIC UNITY.

The Republicans and the media don't know quite what to make of this newfound Democratic unity. They're suspicious of it; they think it won't last; they want to be on-scene to report the first fissures. Our message has to be presented consistently and with great insouciance. When the subject comes up, the Democrat being queried must laugh it off -- don't take it seriously for a minute! -- as simply a ploy by the Republicans and the media to try to get us Democrats to mix it up. Our position is that we've never been so unified because the nation has never been so threatened by its leadership; and John Kerry is exactly the man to pull all factions of the party together. He's a uniter. He's a man we can all trust. He gives us confidence that not only will we win in November, the nation will have a chance to recover from four years of inept, out-of-touch leadership that has resulted in disastrous policies at home and abroad.


The White House put government agencies on notice this month that if President Bush is reelected, his budget for 2006 may include spending cuts for virtually all agencies in charge of domestic programs, including education, homeland security and others that the president backed in this campaign year.
But the cuts are politically sensitive, targeting popular programs that Bush has been touting on the campaign trail. The Education Department; a nutrition program for women, infants and children; Head Start; and homeownership, job-training, medical research and science programs all face cuts in 2006.

"Despite [administration] denials, this memorandum confirms what we suspected all along," said Thomas S. Kahn, Democratic staff director on the House Budget Committee. "Next February, the administration plans to propose spending cuts in key government services to pay for oversized tax cuts."
Even homeland security -- a centerpiece of the Bush reelection campaign -- would be affected. Funding would slip in 2006 by $1 billion, to $29.6 billion, although that would still be considerably higher than the $26.6 billion devoted to that field in 2004, according to an analysis of the computer printout by House Budget Committee Democrats.

The whole article is here.


And while Jayson Blair was being crucified for his journalistic sins, veteran Times national security correspondent and best-selling author Judith Miller was filling The Times' front pages with unchallenged government propaganda. Unlike Blair's deceptions, Miller's lies provided the pretext for war. Her lies cost lives.

If only The New York Times had done the same kind of investigation of Miller's reports as it had with Jayson Blair.

Amy and David Goodman here.


Greg Palast, one of my super-favorite journalists. Read the latest on the man whom Katharine Harris called "twisted and maniacal."

His tour into the heart of American darkness began with the regime’s most pressing current debacle: Iraq. Holding a copy of a thick document pinched from the U.S. State Department (he’s a magician at appropriating important papers), Palast detailed the U.S. plan for the post-conflict re-building of Iraq—one that was written “about a year before we were told there was going to be a conflict.” The plan—privatization of six of the top state banks, zero tariffs, flat taxes and 100-percent foreign ownership of industry—amounts to a democratic nightmare, he said.

“Not only a free-fire zone, but a free-trade zone as well,” Palast quipped.
We talked about the conservative climate of post 9/11 America—of the pendulum that’s swung to the right with nationalistic fervor. Despite the chilled climate of censorship in the country and all the dishonesty and sleaze he’s uncovered, Palast remains upbeat. “It swings back,” he says. “You can only land on the aircraft carrier so many times. You can only go ‘Boo’ so many times [and] ‘they’re coming to get you,’ so many times, before you say, ‘How come they’re still coming to get us, asshole, I thought you’re supposed to prevent that instead of foment it.’”


The CIA and other US agencies had long ago decided that Chalabi was a charlatan, so their dismissive and correct analysis of his lies prompted their suppression by the Bush White House.

In place of the normal channels of intelligence vetting, a jerry-rigged system was hastily constructed, running from the office of the vice president to the newly created Office of Special Plans inside the Pentagon, staffed by fervent neocons. CIA director George Tenet, possessed with the survival instinct of the inveterate staffer, ceased protecting the sanctity of his agency and cast in his lot. Secretary of state Colin Powell, resistant internally but overcome, decided to become the most ardent champion, unveiling a series of neatly manufactured lies before the UN.

Last week, Powell declared "it turned out that the sourcing was inaccurate and wrong and, in some cases, deliberately misleading. And for that I'm disappointed, and I regret it". But who had "deliberately" misled him? He did not say. Now the FBI is investigating espionage, fraud and, by implication, treason.

A former staff member of the Office of Special Plans and a currently serving defence official, two of those said to be questioned by the FBI, are considered witnesses, at least for now. Higher figures are under suspicion. Were they witting or unwitting? If those who are being questioned turn out to be misleading, they can be charged ultimately with perjury and obstruction of justice. For them, the Watergate principle applies: it's not the crime, it's the cover-up.


Wednesday, May 26


Via Digby of Hullabaloo

Only 27?

If it seems that there have been quite a few rationales for going to war in Iraq, that’s because there have been quite a few – 27, in fact, all floated between Sept. 12, 2001, and Oct. 11, 2002, according to a new study from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. All but four of the rationales originated with the administration of President George W. Bush. The study also finds that the Bush administration switched its focus from Osama bin Laden to Saddam Hussein early on – only five months after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States.

A summary is here.

This is really fascinating stuff. "I can't believe I read [almost] the whole thing." Tracking the public pronouncements of the Bush administration, Congress, and the media, the author demonstrates how the focus of public discourse changed from Osama bin Laden to Saddam and Iraq, and when that focus changed for each of her three subject categories. Bush, of course, led the change, and the media switched back and forth before finally settling on Iraq.

At the very least, read the executive summary.

Intelligence failure Bushtoon

Need a good laugh.....or a good cry? Check the bushtoonIntelligence Failure


All my adult life I've surprised people when they first get to know me. I don't look like a wild-eyed hippie liberal (I work as an executive of one of the 10 largest publicly held companies in Dallas); I'm the third of four daughters of a career military officer; I'm a happily married wife of more than two decades to my college sweetheart and the mother of our enchanting five children; we moved to Dallas so my husband (The Sage) could attend the largest theological seminary in the world (Southwest Baptist Theological in Fort Worth); most of our family and friends are hide-bound Republicans; and I spent a year of my late teens as a cast member of Up With People. I was a "good girl" all my life, a good Baptist, an almost-straight-A student and class officer in high school and a scholarship student at university, a sorority girl, a beauty pageant winner and (gasp!) an anti-war activist in the early seventies.

I had the best parents and sisters a girl could wish for. They often disagreed with me, but they supported my choices and beliefs because they knew they came from thoughtful, informed deliberation and because my family knew my first priority for decision making was ensuring that whatever I was doing aligned with our Christian faith. My excellent mother did me the honor of being as influenced by my political persuasions as she was by my also-excellent father. I had planned all through my childhood and youth to become a public-interest lawyer, but during my college years I became so agitated about current events that I decided life was too short to be angry and depressed all the time. So I discarded that youthful ambition and dedicated myself to personal growth -- spiritual, intellectual and emotional -- instead.

Lambert, of the super-terrific blog of four -- Corrente -- has questioned whether anyone else is having trouble sleeping at night. Yes, I am. I find myself plunged back into the dark days I experienced during the Vietnam/Nixon years. It may be hard for those younger or for those who conveniently forget the lessons of history to understand how people of conscience can be tormented by events beyond their control. Though I was a Howard Dean adherent, I feel an affinity for John Kerry that only one who has traveled the same corridors of time and experience can feel. We were not rebels as most youths are rebels. We were serious young people who faced serious questions about morality, war, the role of government, tough choices that didn't necessarily align with those of our peers or backgrounds. We were (and are) greater lovers of our country than those who spout rhetoric about "love it or leave it" but have never wrestled with how best to love it. We concluded that true patriots (like good parents vis a vis their children) have enough confidence in our American system to work to amend its wrongs while championing its achievements and taking pride in its glories.

Young people who face the big questions and find their own answers are more likely, I believe, to develop inner strength and become what we like to call "grownups." Contrast that with George W. Bush, who didn't grow up (if he ever did) until nearly forty.

John Kerry, on the other hand, was already a grownup in his twenties. That's a man I can have confidence in, even when (like my family's attitude towards me) I don't always agree with him.

And maybe after November, Lambert and I will be able to sleep better.


It was always first about oil...

Via a link from Atrios, comes this quote from Midge Decter:

2003 National Humanities Medal winner, Rumsfeld hagiographer and neoconservative beauty queen Midge Decter has never been so lucid:

"We're not in the Middle East to bring sweetness and light to the world. We're there to get something we and our friends in Europe depend on. Namely, oil."
--Decter on the Warren Olney show, 89.9, Los Angeles, 5/21/04

Remember the Robert Redford film Three Days of the Condor? At the end of the picture, CIA honcho Cliff Robertson tells the naive Redford, "When that day comes [when the U.S. needs more foreign oil to continue its heady lifestyle], the people won't want us to ask them -- they'll just want us to get it." In my idealism, I refused to accept that premise. I still do. Yes, we like our lifestyle -- but there are other ways to provide it than by a cynical war under the guise of "liberation of an oppressed people" or a bogus energy bill that glosses over conservation and alternative energy sources in order to champion the status quo and thereby enrich the oil and gas industry.

I believe in America. And as John Kerry is now saying, "Let America be America again."

The first step for the U.S. to get out of the woods is to get out of the Bushes.


Cool. Columbia Journalism Review's Campaign Desk references one of our posts:

At No More Apples, Motherlode agrees with Josh Marshall that Kerry is far from a "weak candidate ... running an awful campaign." The 'lode asserts: "The Shrub is so incompetent and has surrounded himself with such incompetents, they will hang themselves." Playing the unpaid advisor, Motherlode opines that "Kerry's best position is to present himself as 'presidential,' exhibiting a sorrow, not a pleasure, that the US has been so ill-served by the current administration, and a confidence that he has a 'better way.'"


I am so appalled and angered by this: "American Forces Radio fires a daily barrage of Rush Limbaugh at its million uniformed listeners. So why are liberals kept off the military's airwaves?"

Well now, I heard Rush explain on his radio show just last week why this might be so. In response to a caller who challenged his characterizations of liberals, Rush responded, [not a transcript, just my excellent memory] "I'm often attacked because I don't have liberals on my show. My answer to that is, I don't need to have liberals. I know the liberal mindset, so I can speak FOR them myself."

Heck, if Rush can speak for us, why do we need to speak for ourselves? No wonder the military resented/hated the Clintons so much -- Rush has told them that Hillary is a murderer, Bill a rapist, and his sponsorship by Armed Forces Radio proves that it's true. And as for events in Iraq, why, liberals are using the Abu Ghraib abuses to undermine our fine fighting men and women by making a big deal of what was essentially a fraternity prank, didn't you know? or haven't you been listening to Rush? My husband, The Sage, would be surprised to hear that. He's a fraternity man himself, and our recollection of typical fraternity pranks/hazing at our alma mater is limited to being forced to run a gauntlet of wooden paddles wielded by upperclassmen and having to recite the Greek alphabet five times before a match burns out (ouch! burnt fingers). While we're at it, at least three of the accused MP's were women. Clearly not sorority women, but let's use Rush's analogy. As a sorority woman myself, the worst things my pledge class were told to do included: my shy self having to travel to the "top five" fraternities on campus and asking their presidents to loan me their fraternity pins for a week; my pledge classmate, niece of the president of the Florida Senate, being told to dress as a hippie and sell popcorn out of a Kotex box on the steps of the Senate building. Now maybe guys being guys, the fraternity pledges didn't feel they could protest without ostracizing. But I assure you that we girls could have refused with no consequences. I've heard of much worse in more recent years, but usually in the context of the frat/sorority facing criminal charges for such.

But I digress. This revelation, of Rush being aired for our soldiers, is part and parcel of this cynical administration's agenda, to attribute to the pronouncements of Bush and assorted right-wing conservatives, even wackos, the seal of approval by the U.S. government while discrediting any dissenting voices. To suggest that a single hour of NPR, nuanced beyond the abilities of many soldiers to comprehend, is sufficient to balance the diabolical influence of Rush Limbaugh is laughable, especially in light of the recent study that reports that the top seven contributors to NPR are Republicans.


North Texas' own Bob Ray Sanders, columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:

Many were surprised at my answers, and as I gave them examples of my own battles with Jim Crow, I tried to tell them how important it was to have had support from many people who encouraged me to achieve in spite of him.

I also wanted them to understand the significance of nonviolent protest and how those of us who adhered to that philosophy had to be prepared to go to jail for our beliefs and to resist retaliating against those who hurled stones and epithets at us.

At one point an African-American student asked, "If someone hauled off and slapped you, you wouldn't hit him back?"

I asked him to stand and repeat the question to the group, as I thought carefully how I should reply.

"No, I wouldn't," I said, "especially not if I were involved in a nonviolent protest."

Explaining that in some cases one may be forced to defend himself or herself, I re-emphasized that participants in the civil-rights movement had to learn to refrain from fighting back. They had to take whatever was dished out -- literally, sometimes having drinks and food poured over their heads as they sat at lunch counters waiting to be served.

Had they fought back, I said, they would have set the movement back.

"I would hit them back," the student said bluntly.

"You would?"

"Yeah, I would hit them back," he repeated.

I was taught, I told him and his classmates, that if you fought every time someone called you a name or wanted to fight you, all you would be doing is fighting. And if you were fighting all the time, there would be no time for you to achieve -- to accomplish those goals you set for yourselves.

The questioner still had a puzzled look on his face.

"Just do this for me," I said, as I prepared to take another question. "Just think about it."

In this (I hope) short-lived era where hitting back is purported to show "spine" and "strong leadership," there are still some who have their eye on the big picture and not immediate gratification of the Revenge Factor...


Via the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:Lawyer falsely accused of role in bombing describes jailing

For those who are looking for an example of abuse of the Patriot Act, the Brandon Mayfield case could be a smoking gun...

More here, here, and here. Oh yes, also here.


Mama, now pay attention:


Digby of Hullaballoo has so much good stuff I can't even catalogue it. Take my word for it, my few friends who are reading this (I know you count on me, SA and BS, to keep you up with what I'm reading), just go there and absorb.

Tuesday, May 25


I have long viewed Ann Coulteras one of the scariest people I have ever seen/heard. But this woman, clearly the closest (she ties with Rush Limbaugh) thing I have seen to an American fascist, is persistently visible on "mainstream" television news programs (so much for the so-called liberal bias). An example of her vitriol:

Coulter on Higher Learning

The nation's colleges and universities have become a Safe Streets program for traitors and lunatics. 6/11/03

Coulter on the Democratic Party

After last week's drubbing in the midterm elections, the Abortion Party (formerly known as the Democratic Party) is looking for direction. 11/14/02

Now that the Bush tax cuts have already started to kick in and boost the economy, it was beginning to look as if the Treason Lobby would have nothing to run on. 11/20/03

The Democratic Party has got to go away. 1/14/03

Coulter on Liberals

The only people whom liberals absolutely refuse to hold accountable for anything are their friends, the Islamofascists. 8/28/03

The myth of "McCarthyism" is the greatest Orwellian fraud of our times. Liberals are fanatical liars, then as now. 6/26/03

Liberals don't care about the environment. The core of environmentalism is a hatred for mankind. 5/29/03

Coulter on Bill Clinton

Clinton also lied every time he said "God bless America," though he doesn't believe in God or America... 7/24/03

Coulter on Traitors

And liberals will continue unabashedly invoking a lie in order to shield their ongoing traitorous behavior. 6/26/03

...Conservatives have not yet persuaded liberals to give up on socialism and treason... 3/13/03

Coulter on Religion

Being nice to people is, in fact, one of the incidental tenets of Christianity (as opposed to other religions whose tenets are more along the lines of "kill everyone who doesn't smell bad and doesn't answer to the name Mohammed.") 3/4/04

The only Democrats who go to church regularly are the ones who plan to run for president someday and are preparing in advance to fake a belief in God. 1/8/04

Coulter on Muslims

We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity. 9/14/01

Muslims feel humiliated now? We'll show them humiliated. 6/7/02

Coulter on Muslims and Liberals

Inasmuch as liberals are demanding that Americans ritualistically proclaim, "Islam is a religion of peace," Muslims might do their part by not killing people all the time. 11/28/02

Coulter on Muslims, the French, and Liberals Who Love Them Both

Liberals have finally found a people even more worthy of their admiration than the adulterous French: synagogue-burning, genital-mutilating, terrorist-cheering Muslims. 5/3/02

Coulter on Feminism, Liberals, and Silverware

Liberals persist in thinking about feminism and "women's issues" as if they have something to do with women's interests, rather than the exclusive and rather sigle-minded obsession with sticking forks in babies heads. 8/17/00

Coulter on the Democrats, Terrorists, and Non-Sequiturs

Instead of longing to crush and humiliate the enemy, they believe true patriotism consists of redoubled efforts to expand the welfare state. 6/7/02

Coulter on Compassion and Howard Dean's Brother

Charlie Dean went to Indochina in 1974 to witness the ravages of the war he had opposed. Not long after he arrived, the apparently ungrateful communists captured and killed him. Hey fellas! I'm on your s-- CLUNK! 11/20/03

Coulter on Hateful Ideas

Liberals always hate freedom and want to jam their hateful ideas down the entire nation's throat.

This woman is not an "Average American woman" (is there such a thing?), she's quite possibly a she-demon. She purports to be a Christian, when she shows no evidence of any of the Christian virtues: she's neither chaste (by her own admission), loving, forgiving, or charitable, but is judgmental, full of hate, and an opportunist of the worst sort. I fear she is one of the "goats," and when she tries to justify herself to Christ, she will hear, "I never knew ye."

Her own words and actions will convict (or, unlikely possibility though it is, acquit) her in the hereafter. But meantime, I feel strongly that our society must be protected from her pernicious influence. If you agree, write to the shows that most frequently give a platform -- This Week, Good Morning America, Hardball, Larry King Live, and The Today Show -- and tell them how you feel. If you can identify their sponsors, contact them and convey the same message. I'd look them all up to save you time, but I'm a hard-working executive mother of five, and need some help myself...

Watchdog Group Report: Most NPR Sources are Conservative

NPR sources mostly conservative.

So now we can expect the right-wing talk wackos to stop referring to NPR as "taxpayer-subsidized liberal radio," right?



Judy's Turn To Cry - The New York Times prepares an "Editors' Note" about its prewar WMD reporting. By Jack Shafer

Miller's work on WMD in the Times deserves special scrutiny because so many of her sensational stories never panned out—from a December 2001 piece about now-discredited Iraqi defector Adnan Ihsan Saeed al-Haideri, who claimed inside knowledge about a score of Iraq WMD programs and storage facilities, to a December 2002 scoop about a possible Russia-Iraq smallpox collaboration, to a January 2003 eve-of-war piece reiterating the defectors' stories of Iraqi WMD. Miller's credulous reporting turned absolutely hyperbolic when she joined the search for WMD on the ground in Iraq, embedding with the U.S. military's Mobile Exploitation Team Alpha. In an April 21, 2003, piece, Miller claimed that an Iraqi scientist had led the military to a cache of precursor compounds for a banned "toxic agent." She told The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer the next day that the scientist was more than a "smoking gun" in the WMD search, he was the "silver bullet." But by July 2003, still no WMD had been found in Iraq. Instead of blaming the defectors and inside sources who had led her astray, Miller put the onus on the poor logistics of the weapons search! (See this "The Scoops That Melted," a "Press Box" from last year for more details.)

And from Daily KOS:

NY Times says oops.

But we have found a number of instances of coverage that was not as rigorous as it should have been. In some cases, information that was controversial then, and seems questionable now, was insufficiently qualified or allowed to stand unchallenged. Looking back, we wish we had been more aggressive in re-examining the claims as new evidence emerged -- or failed to emerge.
They wish they had been more aggressive. So probably did 913 allied troops and thousand of Iraqis killed in the war. Not to mention the thousands more wounded in the war.

I spoke at a media conference a few months ago, where scandalized Big Media execs and journalism professors expressed outrage that people would read the blogs. "How --" they asked, "Can readers trust what they read in the blogs?" Didn't the public know they needed media execs to filter out the news from the chaffe?

I launched into one of my tirades --

"How can you claim to be the rightful gatekeepers of news when you have failed the American public so fully? You feed them Michael Jackson, Kobe Bryant, Martha Stewart, and every single WMD lie the administration has fed you, with nary an attempt to learn the truth. And we are supposed to trust you? You've had your chance. You failed."

Idiots. The editors, Judith Miller, and every other journalist who helped enable the administration's lies have blood on their hands.

I'm sure the chickenhawk warblogging cabal (or, as TBogg calls them, the 101st Fighting Keyboarders) will be more than happy to share some of that blood on their hands. And if there's ever a shortage, there's barrels of it in the offices of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Perle and Powell, etc.

Digby, of Hullaballoo, as usual, says it better than I.

UPDATE: The Washington Post takes a more nearly honest look at the Miller/NYTimes WMD coverage than the newspaper-of-record.


I couldn't believe my ears. This afternoon on the Hugh Hewitt show, I heard conservative columnist Frank Gaffney say, "If he [Bush] hadn't been a successful businessman, he wouldn't be president now." SUCCESSFUL BUSINESSMAN????? The only business Bush was ever involved in that didn't go bust and require bailing out by his daddy's business cronies (including Saudis and even the bin Laden family) was his association with the Texas Rangers ballclub, a deal that finally made his fortune. But let's not forget that he bought his single-digit interest (less than 3%) in the club with the money he made by (illegally) selling his stock in Harken Energy.

For more details, see this.

Have these people no shame, that they can lie so facilely? What a question -- of course not.


It becomes increasingly clear that in order to protect what slim chance the president has left to be elected to the office instead of selected, he's going to be advised to lay the blame for all the failures of his war policy at the doors of the Department of Defense -- maybe he won't dump Rumsfeld, but he'll surely have to jettison Wolfowitz and Feith, etc. Bush wouldn't dare try to govern without his earthly father, Dick Cheney -- he wouldn't know how to try, and besides, it might interfere with his vacation schedule.

The only question is, will his supporters swallow this or will at least a few finally see him for the spoiled, lazy oaf he is? (I won't characterize him as so many do, a frat boy and cheerleader, since my intellectually aggressive, principled husband was both, and it didn't do him any harm.) Wingers still laud his "strong leadership," but how many of them can honestly continue to do so in the light of his refusal to take any responsibility for ANYTHING? At the very least, they should stop pretending to admire John Kennedy and Harry Truman, both of whom took responsibility for EVERYTHING that happened on their watch, even if it truly wasn't their fault.

I am sick of listening to otherwise courageous and outspoken critics like Gen. Zinni ascribing Bush's actions to "bad advice" from the civilians in Defense or "bad intelligence" from the agencies. If Bush had exercised any kind of leadership he would have demanded to hear a diversity of opinions, probed and examined all reports, questioned all sources. Instead, he has performed as president pretty much the way he did when governor of Texas. In Texas the governor's is largely a ceremonial office, with the lieutenant governor running most of the machinery of government. As governor Bush picked a couple of pet projects and pushed them forward, spending the rest of his time fundraising and making personal appearances, while Democrat Bob Bullock took care of the real business of the state. As president Bush has again selected a few pet causes -- tax cuts for the wealthy, privatizing government agencies and functions, and the "war on terra." But since Cheney has pretty much chosen the same projects, there is no lieutenant president, no Bob Bullock to run the government.

When running for president, Bush often took credit for achievements in Texas that he either had nothing to do with or actively opposed. Running for reselection, he's doing the same thing again. As governor, everything that went wrong was usually Anne Richards' (his predecessor) fault. He received credit for being a "uniter" when, in actuality, it was the ailing Bullock's love of state and citizens that caused him to reach out to the inexperienced Bush and bring the Texas Democratic Party along with him. You'd think that brave example might have taught Georgie Boy the value of bipartisanship, but the arrogant creep instead has run the most partisan White House in recent memory, endeavoring to destroy the Democratic Party and establish a Republican hegemony that will endure for a thousand years. He never learned a thing -- but of course you can't teach anything to someone who despises learning or whose arrogance and sense of privilege tells him there'll always be someone to bail him out or who can be blamed instead.

Take it from this adopted Texan, Bush is as phony a leader as he is a cowboy. "All hat and no cattle," as we say down here. Now let's see if we can get some of his supporters to face the canyon of his ignorance and irresponsibility and echo it.


Teresa Heinz Kerry, on the record

On her spouse: ''I don't think John could be married to somebody who didn't interest him mindwise, intellectually. He'd maybe play around but not marry them.''

On why she doesn't stare adoringly at her husband when he speaks: ''I have a serious face when I'm thinking. I mean I frown. I have a very expressive face. I hear everything he's saying, if that makes any difference.''

On being first lady: ''People are so funny, they're so strange. They say, 'Oh, you're just like Hillary.' I say, 'No, I'm not at all like Hillary. I'm totally different from Hillary.' They say, 'Oh then, thank God you're not Laura Bush.' I say, 'Why you say that? Laura Bush is a nice lady. You don't know Laura Bush. I don't know Laura Bush. Leave her alone.' People come in with these preconceived notions of what you have to be to be accepted.''

On adding Kerry to her name: ''My legal name is still Teresa Heinz. Teresa Heinz Kerry is my name . . . for politics. Just so people don't ask me questions about so and so is so and so's wife or this and that. Teresa Heinz is what I've been all my growing-up life, adult life, more than any other name. And it's the name of my boys, you know? . . . So that's my legal name and that's my office name, my Pittsburgh name.''

Does everyone just love Teresa the way I do? Contrast this warm, independent, thinking-and-speaking-her-own-mind woman with Stepford Wife Laura Bush. Okay, I'm sure Laura is a perfectly nice woman (Teresa is more charitable than I). But her notions of child-rearing (she didn't want her 18-year-old twin daughters to miss anything other teens experience--such as underage drinking) seem a little off, and watching her on Jay Leno reminded me of nothing so much as my own regrettable youthful beauty-pageant training. Her head turned oh, so carefully so as not to disturb her coiffure, turning first to the audience and then to Jay, her smile and posture never altering one iota, her scripted quips delivered in a properly sweet but puppetlike manner. Teresa, on the other hand, is just as wonderfully feminine, but she is most definitely her own woman and does her own thinking and talking. I can just imagine her response should any PR maven try to tell HER how to behave.

Teresa makes me like and trust John Kerry just that much more. Any man who can be so obviously proud of his wife the way she is and not try to stifle her for politics' sake is a man whose confidence comes from within and is not determined by the opinions of others. I felt that same way about Howard and Judy Dean. In both cases, the couples are obviously true partners. George and Laura (the lump in bed) strike me as a couple where the man is so unsure of his own masculinity the wife is required to subordinate her intelligence and personality (which is a shame since Laura, by many accounts, is much better-read and intellectually curious). That's not a man I could ever believe in, even if I didn't "know what I know."


Keith Olberman just reported that the A.P. just broke a story that there is intelligence that terrorists are in the U.S. and planning attacks this summer. Nothing specific, of course. Just your usual after-a-failed-Bush-speech Fear Factor. Not that I'm doubting it could happen...I'm just skeptical about the timing. Ashcroft and F.B.I. director Muller, of course, will be holding a press conference tomorrow to outline the steps they will take to prevent such attacks.

NBC correspondent Pete Williams pointed out that for the third or fourth time, BushCo is saying "this is the most concerned they've been since 9/11."

Wow, I finally appreciate the pResident's Iraqi adventure -- thanks to Bush, I sure feel safer.

UPDATE: But Ridge, interviewed on NBC's "Today" show, said there are no current plans to lift the national alert status from yellow, where it has stood since January. That's the midlevel alert level on a five-step warning program.


Bush Ignores Sick 9/11 Firefighters & Cops

Over the last month, President Bush has repeatedly recounted how he was inspired by "the courage of the firefighters and the police"1 in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks. He recounted how, when standing atop a pile of rubble at Ground Zero, he was told by a firefighter, "Don't let me down"2. But more than two years later, he continues to ignore the needs of firefighters and police officers who are now suffering adverse health effects from their rescue efforts at Ground Zero. The situation has reached a head: yesterday, 1,700 cops and firefighters were forced to sue in court for the medical help they desperately need 3.

While the President's very first campaign commercial used photos of coffin draped corpses4 being pulled from the rubble, the White House has sought to hide evidence that Ground Zero firefighters and cops were exposed to hazardous toxins. Specifically, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) intervened to doctor EPA press releases 5 that were supposed to warn the public about toxins near Ground Zero. The press releases were modified to claim that the air was safe - despite the fact that there was not adequate scientific evidence to substantiate that claim. The CEQ was headed by James Connaughton, a former asbestos industry lawyer who represented companies in toxic pollution cases6.

When Ground Zero firefighters and cops began getting sick, the White House tried to block $90 million in funding7 for medical treatment. When Congress forced the Administration to accept the $90 million, the Administration then delayed the money8 and threatened to shut down the health-screening program. Even today, the New York Police Department has been denied much needed health grants9.


1. Remarks by the President at Victory 2004 Luncheon, 04/20/2004.
2. Remarks by the President to the American Conservative Union 40th Anniversary Gala, 05/13/2004.
3. "1,700 sue over 9/11 sickness", New York Daily News, 05/24/2004.
4. "President Bush: Don't use my husband as your mascot", Salon, 03/05/2004.
5. "W. House Molded EPA's 9/11 Reports", CBS News, 08/22/2003.
6. "It's public be damned at the EPA", New York Daily News, 08/26/2003.
7. "Cough up 9/11 aid, workers tell Bush", New York Daily News, 01/25/2003.
8. "$90M in WTC aid on hold", New York Daily News, 07/10/2003.
9. "1,700 sue over 9/11 sickness", New York Daily News, 05/24/2004.

Sunday, May 23

Bush Slide in Polls Could Tip Congress to Democrats

From the Los Angeles Times, this is hopeful news: Bush Slide in Polls Could Tip Congress to Democrats


Shorter Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer interview with Rend Al-Rahim, Iraqi ambassador to the United States:

Wolf asks Al-Rahim for a reaction to the CPA contention that this (the raid on Chalabi's home and Iraqi National Congress offices) was an Iraqi decision. The ambassador says that's hard to swallow by the Iraqi people. We are under occupation, we know that the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) is the controlling authority in the country. The Iraqi Governing Council not given any advance notification, and passed a resolution denouncing the action as politically motivated.

She says the way the raid was conducted demonstrates incredible disrespect for the IGC.


Let's take a look at the argument Bill Kristol and Lewis Lehrman make for crushing the insurgents in Iraq (

"The United States will lead, or the world will shift into neutral." Wise words from President Bush on May 20 to congressional Republicans. From the beginning, the president has made clear that we must lead and win the war on terror. To win the strategic war, we must of course win tactical battles. The central battle in the war on terror is Iraq. Unless we win that battle, we will see America itself, and the world, shift disastrously into neutral in the broader war.

In every war there are crucial turning moments, hard to foresee. They often occur in the midst of public despair about war prospects. Today there is considerable despair over the situation in Iraq. But despair existed in Britain and the United States after the fall of Singapore in World War II -- before the U.S. Navy's astonishing destruction of a Japanese carrier force in 1942 at Midway. In August 1864 there was a widespread belief in the North that the Civil War could not be won. President Abraham Lincoln believed that the war stalemate and the terrible casualties could lead to the election of his opponent, George McClellan, who might repudiate the Emancipation Proclamation and sue for peace on the basis of the status quo ante -- a free North, a slave South.

But Lincoln pressed forward. He argued that "no attempt at negotiation with the insurgent leader could result in any good. . . . He affords us no excuse to deceive ourselves. . . . Between him and us the issue is distinct, simple and inflexible. It is an issue which can only be tried by war, and decided by victory."

Then Atlanta fell to Union troops in the late summer of 1864. Lincoln was reelected, with 80 percent of the soldier vote. Shortly thereafter came the 13th Amendment, the abolition of slavery, the surrender of the Confederacy and the beginning of a long process of Reconstruction. Lincoln's war aims were ultimately realized.

What of the war aims of President Bush? He intends passage of sovereignty to an Iraqi government on June 30, and elections in January, followed by the establishment of a representative Iraqi government and the successful reconstruction of Iraqi society.

If a provisional Iraqi sovereign government is to operate effectively from July until the elected government takes power in January, adequate security is necessary. This requires striking a decisive military blow against the armed insurgencies that seek to prevent the Iraqi government from coming into existence. As was the case in 1864, the immediate task is therefore the destruction of the armies and militias of the insurgency -- not taking and holding territory, not winning the hearts and minds of Iraqis, not conciliating opponents and critics, not gaining the approval of other nations. All of these can follow after victory over the violent insurrection.

So any armed insurgency opposed to a peaceful transition in Iraq must be destroyed. Fallujah must be conquered and terrorists denied safe haven in Fallujah and other centers of insurrection. Moqtada Sadr's militia must be rendered powerless. This will have to be accomplished primarily by American and British military power -- however useful various political efforts can be, however useful Iraqi and coalition forces can be. Then a sovereign Iraq, with continued U.S. military and other assistance, will be able to move ahead with the task of political and economic reconstruction.

Such decisive military victories in Iraq would be respected by Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds alike. The new Iraqi government could then depend more confidently on Iraqi and American police and military power until it is ready to provide fully for its own police and military security.

Strategic success for the global war on terror depends on a decisive tactical victory over the armed insurgents of global terrorism in Iraq. Decisive military blows struck against violent opposition to the July passage of sovereignty and the January general election in Iraq would permit a supportable outcome at the polls in Iraq and the subsequent successful reconstruction of a democratic nation.

Meanwhile, as after William T. Sherman's victory in Atlanta, the reelection of the president at home would follow -- with a mandate to carry on, and to win, the global war against terror.

First of all, WWII was a battle for survival against known enemy states who had aggressively attacked both the U.S. and Britain, not to mention having conquered and seized control over a number of nations in an imperialist attempt to divide up the world for the benefit of the Axis powers. There was never any robust opposition to fighting those battles because the consequences were clear for the world. Nothing about "Operation Iraqi Freedom" bears a comparison to World War II.

Re their other example: Lincoln was fighting to preserve the United States itself, and thus was justified in putting down what was essentially a civil rebellion. In Iraq, we were told that the Iraqi people posed no threat to the U.S. (although Saddam and his seemingly nonexistent WMD were), and that once freed from Saddam Hussein would welcome the U.S. with flowers. Now, it appears, the administration views the Iraqi people themselves as the enemy. Insurgents, after all, are not foreign fighters (although they may be terrorists), but rebels. Iraq is NOT8 our country, so there is no parallel with the Civil War.

How did native Iraqi militias resisting American control of their country and its assets become "the armed insurgents of global terrorism in Iraq"? "Just because you call a cat a skunk don't make it so." And who said the insurgents "seek to prevent the Iraqi government from coming into existence"? It seems clear that it is an AMERICAN government of Iraq that the insurgents seek not to prevent since it is already in existence, but to keep from continuing. "Violent response to the July passage of sovereignty" is far more likely to be "violent response to the July establishment of a sovereignty controlled by people not selected by Iraqis themselves."

And what exactly defines a "supportable outcome at the polls in Iraq"? A government we can control -- i.e., a proxy for the U.S.?

It's patently obvious to me that one of the prime causes of the Iraqi prison abuses is this insistence on portraying all Iraqis as "terrorists" and "the enemy." Kristol and his ilk have faithfully assisted the Bush administration in promulgating a schizophrenic attitude among the American people. One minute, the pResident is talking about how peaceful and pitiful the poor oppressed Iraqis are and how we are going to rescue them, the next minute his proxies are promoting massive strikes against Iraqi cities (how else do you root out insurgents when by their very nature they are sheltered by their own people?), sure to wipe out hundreds or thousands more of innocent Iraqis.

Yeah, I'm sure that all Kristol and Lehrman advocate will result in "subsequent successful reconstruction of a democratic nation." NOT. These people are fantasists who will not let go of their He-Man Meets Cinderella scenarios. We'll bomb the crap out of the country, kill thousands in their own land, usurp the nation's properties (what we don't destroy), stifle dissent and THEN when we've crushed all opposition, "win the hearts and minds of Iraqis, conciliate opponents and critics, and gain the approval of other nations."

Sounds kinda like the Republican Party strategy for becoming the single power player in U.S. politics, doesn't it? We absolutely HAVE to get rid of this bunch, elect John Kerry, and "let America be America again."


Conservative Group Amplifies Voice of Protestant Orthodoxy

In each denomination, the flashpoint is homosexuality, but there is another common denominator as well. In each case, the Institute on Religion and Democracy, a small organization based in Washington, has helped incubate traditionalist insurrections against the liberal politics of the denomination's leaders.

With financing from a handful of conservative donors, including the Scaife family foundations, the Bradley and Olin Foundations and Howard and Roberta Ahmanson's Fieldstead & Company, the 23-year-old institute is now playing a pivotal role in the biggest battle over the future of American Protestantism since churches split over slavery at the time of the Civil War.
More liberal Protestants argue that the institute's financial backers are interfering with the theological disputes mainly for broader, secular political reasons. "The mainline denominations are a strategic piece on the chess board that the right wing is trying to dominate," said Alfred F. Ross, president and founder of the Institute for Democracy Studies, a liberal New York-based think tank which produced a research report in 2000 on the Institute's influence in the Presbyterian Church.


I think I've just figured out what the Bush/Cheney '04 campaign slogan really means. "Steady leadership in times of change" (the sentiment behind it) -- "The US, since 9/11, is in a time of change, i.e., the greatest threat to our security is now stateless terrorism. But since we don't know what to do about it, we'll just keep on doing what we know best: fighting the New War with Cold War strategies and weapons. And oh yes, another feature of our 'steady leadership' is that it's the same leadership we had in Republican administrations during the Cold War. That's steady, all right.


Susan of Suburban Guerrilla suggests that we need to de-Freep this poll, at, where Bush is leading Kerry 2-to-1 and in all states except three (plus the District of Columbia). Having dutifully visited and prepared to pledge my vote, I think I know why the Chimp is so far ahead. You must give your address in order to vote.

I suspect that Democrats are far more wary than Repugs of voluntarily delivering to any agency under BushCo control their addresses-cum-voting-intentions. Next thing you know, some spook will show up to hassle us. My paranoia showing? Perhaps. But some of us have long memories and aren't willing to put anything beyond these guys. And as The Sage loves to remind me, I said during the LAST unjust war, "I wouldn't be so paranoid if they weren't out to get me."

BTW, Suburban Guerrilla is an always-worthwhile read. I wonder just how many of us female bloggers there are?


Middle Class 2003: How Congress Voted

Among the findings:

The Senate, overall, earned a B grade, but the average obscures disparities: while 96 percent of Democratic senators got an A, a quarter of Republicans got an F "for their failure to support the middle class."
The House, says the report, "did a poor job of voting with the middle class," rating a C overall. Here, too, there were big disparities: 36 percent of House members received an failing grade, while 21 percent got an A. The former group was almost entirely Republican, the latter entirely Democratic.


Zoe Kentucky of Demagogue says what I thought, but didn't blog (last paragraph):

A Democrat with the cajones to speak openly and frankly about Bush's leadership.
Go Nancy Pelosi!

"The emperor has no clothes," Pelosi, D-California, told reporters on Thursday. "When are people going to face the reality? Pull this curtain back."

"The situation in Iraq and the reckless economic policies in the United States speak to one issue for me, and that is the competence of our leader," Pelosi said. "These policies are not working. But speaking specifically to Iraq, we have a situation where -- without adequate evidence -- we put our young people in harm's way."

Asked specifically if she was calling Bush incompetent, Pelosi replied:
"I believe that the president's leadership in the actions taken in Iraq demonstrate an incompetence in terms of knowledge, judgment and experience in making the decisions that would have been necessary to truly accomplish the mission without the deaths to our troops and the cost to our taxpayers."
Guess who is demanding that she apologize for criticizing our Dear Leader?
The World's Biggest Asshole, of course.

"Nancy Pelosi should apologize for her irresponsible, dangerous rhetoric," Tom DeLay, R-Texas, said. "She apparently is so caught up in partisan hatred for President Bush that her words are putting American lives at risk."

Um, no sir, the President has actively put American lives at risk. Pelosi is merely complaining about it.

UPDATE: Kevin Drum points out that three out of four of the most recent CENTCOM commanders have made statements similar to Pelosi's.


Here. Thanks to Hesiod for the link.