Thursday, July 15


Addressing the crowd in West Virginia—while standing on tiptoes so she can reach the microphone—she speaks with quiet, articulate passion, and quotes from a favorite poem by Seamus Heaney: "History says, Don't hope on this side of the grave. But then once in a lifetime, the longed for tidal wave of justice can rise up, and hope and history rhyme.'' Edwards and Kerry can be that wave, she promises, "the kind of wave that brings a ship to shore.''

A lovely profile of Elizabeth Edwards.


Darn that Arianna Huffington. She's got all the great lines:

"Sen. Kerry has been in Washington long enough to take both sides on just about every issue," chided Bush at a spring fundraiser. "My opponent clearly has strong beliefs, they just don't last very long." Ba-da-boom! (Incidentally, how is this consistent with Bush's other contention, that Kerry is a rock-ribbed liberal?)

Or as Dick "Not Peaches and Cream" Cheney ominously put it at a Republican fundraiser: "These are not times for leaders who shift with the political winds, saying one thing one day and another the next."

I couldn't f---ing agree more, Mr. Cheney. But it's your man George W. who can't seem to pick a position and stick to it. He's reversed course more times than Capt. Kirk battling Khan in the midst of the Mutara Nebula. Gone back on his word more times than Tony Blundetto. Flip-flopped more frequently than a blind gymnast with an inner-ear infection.

The list of Bush's major policy U-turns is as audacious as it is long. Among the whiplash-inducing lowlights:

In September 2001, Bush said capturing bin Laden was "our No. 1 priority." By March 2002, he was claiming, "I don't know where he is. I have no idea and I really don't care. It's not that important."

In October 2001, he was dead set against the need for a Department of Homeland Security. Seven months later, he thought it was a great idea.

In May 2002, he opposed the creation of the 9/11 commission. Four months later, he supported it.

During the 2000 campaign, he said that gay marriage was a states' rights issue: "The states can do what they want to do." During the 2004 campaign, he called for a constitutional ban on gay marriage.

Dizzy yet? No? OK:

Bush supported CO2 caps, then opposed them. He opposed trade tariffs, then he didn't. Then he did again. He was against nation building, then he was OK with it. We'd found WMD, then we hadn't. Saddam was linked to Osama, then he wasn't. Then he was ... sorta. Chalabi was in, then he was out. Way out.

In fact, Bush's entire Iraq misadventure has been one big, costly, deadly flip-flop:

We didn't need more troops, then we did. We didn't need more money, then we did. Preemption was a great idea -- on to Syria, Iran and North Korea! Then it wasn't -- hello, diplomacy! Baathists were the bad guys, then Baathists were our buds. We didn't need the U.N., then we did.

And all this from a man who, once upon a time, made "credibility" a key to his appeal. (Well, in his defense, he's never lied about oral sex.)

Now, God knows, I have no problem with changing your mind -- so long as you admit that you have and can explain why. But Bush steadfastly -- almost comically -- refuses to admit that there's been a change, even when the entire world can plainly see otherwise. He's got his story and he's sticking to it. But that darn Kerry, he keeps shifting his positions!


Due to a tremendous workload and numerous and successive (and very welcome) visits from members of our extended family, posting has been light the past couple of weeks. I hope to catch up some this weekend and pick up the pace again.


Ray McGovern, a CIA analyst for 27 years and co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), analyzes the report of the Senate Intelligence Committee on prewar intelligence. It is a must read. Excerpts:

It is said that truth is the first casualty of war. Sadly, in the case of Iraq, even before the war truth took a back seat to a felt need to snuggle up to power—to stay in good odor with a president and his advisers, all well known to be hell-bent on war on Iraq.
This is precisely the spin that the Bush administration wants to give to the Senate report; i. e., that the president was misled; that his decision for war was based on spurious intelligence about non-existent weapons of mass destruction.

But the president’s decision for war had little to do with intelligence on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. It had everything to do with the administration’s determination to gain control of strategic, oil-rich Iraq, implant an enduring military presence there, and—not incidentally--eliminate any possible threat from Iraq to Israel’s security.

These, of course, were not the reasons given to justify placing US troops in harms way, but even the most circumspect senior officials have had unguarded moments of candor. For example, when asked in May 2003 why North Korea was being treated differently from Iraq, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz responded, “Let’s look at it simply…The country (Iraq) swims on a sea of oil.”

And basking in the glory of “Mission Accomplished” shortly after Baghdad had fallen, Wolfowitz admitted that the focus on weapons of mass destruction to justify the attack on Iraq was “for bureaucratic reasons.” It was, he added, “the one reason everyone could agree on”—meaning, of course, the one that could successfully sell the war to Congress and the American people.

The Israel factor? In another moment of unusual candor—this one before the war—Philip Zelikow, a member of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board from 2001 to 2003 (and now executive director of the 9/11 commission), pointed to the danger that Iraq posed to Israel as “the unstated threat—a threat that dare not speak its name…because it is not a popular sell.”

Last, but hardly least. It was not until several months after the Bush White House decided to make war on Iraq that the weapons-of-mass-destruction-laden National Intelligence Estimate was commissioned, and then only because Congress needed to be persuaded that the threat was so immediate that war was necessary. Vice President Dick Cheney set the main parameters in a major speech on August 26, 2002, in which he declared, "We know that Saddam has resumed his efforts to acquire nuclear weapons." The estimate Tenet signed dutifully endorsed that spurious judgment—with "high confidence," no less.