Saturday, September 25

How amusing to watch Andrew Sullivan and Christopher Kitchens (both Brits and Republican-leaning) on CNBC's Tim Russert Show discussing the Swifties. Who would have imagined a year ago that Sully would be disparaging "the chutzpah" of Bush and his cronies in attacking Kerry's war record when Bush was so clearly a slacker/AWOL in his own self-serving Guard service?

Florida State (did I mention that our oldest son is a student there and that 72 members of my extended family are alumn-i/ae?) is avenging last year's loss to Clemson. Miami must be a creation of Satan.

Ha ha.

My apolitical oldest daughter (one of three, two sons) asked me just now what was the point of my posting on this blog.

Fair question. Here's MY answer (I won't speak for youngest son Silmarill): It keeps me from throwing the remote control at the TV.


One of my personal favorites, Eugene Oregon of Demagogue:

A Simple Point: Politics is Complicated
Stanley Fish has an interesting op-ed in today's New York Times.

"In an unofficial but very formal poll taken in my freshman writing class the other day, George Bush beat John Kerry by a vote of 13 to 2 (14 to 2, if you count me). My students were not voting on the candidates' ideas. They were voting on the skill (or lack of skill) displayed in the presentation of those ideas."

He goes on to analyze Bush's rhetoric versus Kerry's rhetoric and concludes that Bush is succeeding because his arguments are simple and easy to understand, while Kerry's rhetoric is circular and difficult to follow.
He concludes

If you can't explain an idea or a policy plainly in one or two sentences, it's not yours; and if it's not yours, no one you speak to will be persuaded of it, or even know what it is, or (and this is the real point) know what you are.

I realize that this is all very true, but I find the idea that complex ideas ought to be made simple so that people can understand them infuriating.

Kant and Wittgenstein are considered two of the greatest philosophers Western philosophy has ever produced, yet their writings are nearly impossible to comprehend. And it is hard to comprehend because the topics they are analyzing are complicated and difficult. Their attempts to clarify and understand complex topics is itself extremely complicated (care to provide your own analysis of how synthetic a priori judgments are possible, anyone?) but it is the complexity of their philosophy that makes it so important.

Hell, even the books that seek to simplify Kant's and Wittgenstein's philosophies so that laymen can understand them are extremely difficult to comprehend (or maybe I am just an idiot.)

Anyway, I'm not comparing Kerry to Kant or Wittgenstein. I'm simply trying to point out that making complicated things seem simple just ends up glossing over all the important details that are the source of the actual problem.
Providing simple, easy-to-understand solutions to complex problems does no good if those solutions are made simple by totally ignoring the complex nature of the problem.

Americans seem to want their politics to be simple so that they can understand it. But domestic and foreign affairs are complex issues and can't, and shouldn't, be overly simplified for easy consumption. Doing so only undermines our ability to find genuine solutions to these problems.

In short, nobody should vote for the candidate who can provide easy answers to difficult questions because those easy answers are usually misleading and dangerous.

Or, as H.L Mencken said, "There is always an easy solution to every human problem - neat, plausible, and wrong."

Kevin Drum :

DO THE RIGHT THING....From Laura Rozen, after reprinting a piece about the popularity of beheading DVDs amid the ever growing chaos and anarchy in Baghdad:

"This is almost unspeakably grim. Bush has turned Iraq into Lebanon, and he's running his election on this masking-taped Potemkin village of a liberated Iraq heading joyfully for elections that's all coming apart at the edges.

"....You should hear the total condemnation of Bush's national security team I am hearing from Republican foreign policy hands I am interviewing for a forthcoming piece."

I'm looking forward to Laura's piece, of course, but why do I have to wait? Why aren't these Republicans loudly and publicly condemning George Bush's national security team now if that's the way they feel?

Criticizing your own side isn't easy, but I think there are an awful of Republicans who are going to have a hard time living with themselves a few years down the road if they don't speak up now. Time is running out to do the right thing.

An interesting commenter to Kevin's post stated that Republicans Lugar, McCain, and Hagel have already spoken out. Was Kevin expecting Frist or Santorum to do likewise? My sentiments exactly.

Wow. I thought I understood because I was aware of the news at the time. Big John busted the "terrorists' favorite bank." You've got to read this. What a president he will make.

I find it interesting that the only Kerry supporters I can find at work are:

(1) my secretary (a 39-year-old female who's just become a mom by virtue of adopting her niece)
(2) my assistant (a 28-year-old mother of two whose father and husband are both union members)
(3) others in relatively the same positions (all female)
(4) me (mother of five young adults and grandmother of two toddlers)

What's this nonsense about "security moms"?

Incidentally, all of the above are devout Christians who would fight to the death if the Bible was banned. (Hat tip to Mark Kleiman.


From The Left Coaster -- If I missed this, maybe you did too:

"Star Wars" Is Bush's Highest Priority? Yep, He Said It

Remember how the Bush Administration ignored Al Qaeda and terrorism in general in the months leading up to 9/11 to focus instead on the typical Cold War wet dreams of conservatives, namely missile defense? Well, it seems that despite 3000 deaths and a terrible and wasted war, nothing has changed with the Bush Administration.

He (Bush) said protecting America from ballistic missiles was "my highest priority as commander in chief, and the highest priority of my administration."

My highest priority as commander in chief, and the highest priority of my administration? What happened to Mr. "Dead or Alive"? What happened to the war on terrorism? After three years in office, how committed to the war on terror are these guys if they still place a Star Wars defense against no known enemies as the "highest priority"?

Oh, I know. Mr. Moral Clarity must have simply misspoke once again, or had a failure of that vaunted Bush Administration message discipline. Or, heavens help us, this could just be a case of a, well, you know, a flip-flop?


"I'm too old for this." Having lived through the Vietnam conflict and all the ridiculous rhetoric then ("love it or leave it"), I just can't believe "everything old is new again." What they said:

It is fair game for the president to claim that toppling Saddam Hussein was a blow to terrorism, to accuse Mr. Kerry of flip-flopping and to repeat continually that the war in Iraq is going very well, despite all evidence to the contrary. It is absolutely not all right for anyone on his team to suggest that Mr. Kerry is the favored candidate of the terrorists. And at a time when the United States is supposed to be preparing the Iraqi people for a democratic election, it's appalling to hear the chief executive say that loyal opposition gives aid and comfort to the enemy abroad.

The general instinct of Americans is to play fair. That is why, even though terrorists struck the United States during President Bush's watch, the Democrats have not run a campaign that blames him for allowing the World Trade Center and the Pentagon to be attacked. And while the war in Iraq has opened up large swaths of the country to terrorist groups for the first time, any effort by Mr. Kerry to describe the president as the man whom Osama bin Laden wants to keep in power would be instantly denounced by the Republicans as unpatriotic.

Are we supposed to believe that the patriotic thing to do is to let a terribly mismanaged and misguided administration conduct a terribly mismanaged and misguided war that results in thousands of innocent lives lost (ours as well as theirs) and nets not one single advantage or benefit to our nation without RAISING A PEEP of dissent? Silly me. I always thought that was the way of dictatorships, not democracies.

I'll be watching the FSU Seminoles play Clemson for the next few hours. Bowden v. Bowden reported by Bowden! Triple threat fun for a devoted fan.


Kerry's hot:

The Democratic nominee promised to destroy terrorist networks by going after their arms and financing; to revamp and enhance the intelligence apparatus to ferret them out; to build up an overstretched military by 40,000 troops; to support Middle Eastern democracies; and to increase funding for homeland security and for more intense cargo inspections at ports and other points of entry.

"The Bush administration is spending more in Iraq in four days than they've spent protecting our ports for all of the last three years," Kerry charged.

Kerry assailed Bush for alienating longtime U.S. allies, pledging as he has before to rebuild global relationships. "I have news for President Bush: Just because you can't do something doesn't mean it can't be done," Kerry said. "It can be. My friends, it's not George Bush's style that keeps our allies from helping. It's his judgment." [emphasis mine]
Vice President Cheney weighed in from Lafayette, La., telling supporters: "John Kerry is trying to tear down and trash all the good that has been accomplished."

Somebody please explain it to me "like I was a four-year-old." What exactly is all the good that has been accomplished in Iraq? Does anyone seriously believe that our missionary-like repainting of schools and passing out chocolate bars to Iraqi kids has significantly improved Iraqi lives when bombs are exploding all around them, women and girls are now subject to the same suppressive Islamofascist rules and laws that govern in Iran and Saudi Arabia, electrical power is an on-again, off-again experience, there is NO CLEAN DRINKING WATER in the entire country, and hospitals are so busy treating the war wounded that they have little capacity for ordinary illness? Does "all the good" include the fact that the only available job opportunities are to enlist in the Iraqi army or police force where they will have the choice of either being targeted for death by their countrymen or turning their weapons on their countrymen themselves?


Once again, Bush's rhetoric and actions are at odds:

In his convention address in New York, President Bush announced a new $1 billion initiative to enroll "millions of poor children" in two popular government health programs. But next week, the Bush administration plans to return $1.1 billion in unspent children's health funds to the U.S. Treasury, making his convention promise a financial wash at best.

The loss of $1.1 billion in federal money means six states participating in the State Children's Health Insurance Program face budget shortfalls in 2005; it is enough money to provide health coverage for 750,000 uninsured youngsters nationwide, according to two new analyses by advocacy organizations.

"If the Bush administration really cared about covering uninsured children, one of the things it could do immediately is make sure this $1 billion is used for SCHIP," said Debra Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women and Families. "The irony is this president talks constantly about not leaving any child behind and how he is going to cover so many kids. In truth, that ended up being false. He's just moving money around."

When will people GET IT? The man is an inveterate liar. No, I don't mean something "nicer" as in "he mis-spoke," I mean LOW DOWN DIRTY LIAR.


Rep. Porter Goss (R-FL) wins confirmation as DCIA despite failing the test:

During a discussion of how to improve operations at the agency that President Bush has nominated him to direct, Goss grumbled, "The absence of proof of adequate intelligence oversight should not be considered proof of the absence of forthcoming intelligence reforms." [emphasis mine]

The problem with that statement, of course, is that Goss was the guy responsible for intelligence oversight when he served in the House.

As chairman of the House Intelligence Committee for the past eight years, he was the member of Congress who was supposed to be in charge of monitoring the agency - and of prodding it to address the increasingly obvious flaws in its operations.

It is not unreasonable to suggest that Goss failed in his intelligence oversight duties as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. Yet, instead of trying to explain that failure, he simply told the Senate Intelligence Committee that its members should not see his failure to organize adequate intelligence oversight as evidence that he would fail to develop adequate intelligence reforms.

Shades of Don Rumsfeld's "The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence"?

Talk about doublespeak. And these guys keep getting away with it.

Friday, September 24


Just listened on the radio to an amazing episode of Sean (Hannity) and Dick (Morris)'s Excellent Adventure into looney land. Dick is sure that Kerry's new emphasis on the Iraq war is a huge mistake and is (possibly/probably) the result of Paul Begala and James Carville's influence WITH THE OBJECT OF MAKING KERRY LOSE so Hillary can run in '08. Morris stated that no-one could beat Hillary except (it's okay to laugh, but don't have a heart attack) Condi Rice. Dick's "excellent opinion" is based on his assessment that Clinton "did it right" in his DNC speech -- it was "all about the economy," which is the Democrats' only viable issue. Morris projects a 2-3% win by Bush.

What is it with Hillary and the Right? She's just a hard-working woman who's devoted to making a better world, raised a superior daughter and held her marriage together.

Don't right-wing family values appreciate that?

UPDATE: Also heard Greg Napp dissecting the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's interview with Bill Burkett. Apparently, there was an initial report in the S-T's reporting that was confusing concerning a quote from Burkett: "They tried to convince me as to why I should give them the documents." The earlier S-T post indicated that Burkett was referring to Joe Lockhart of the Kerry campaign. The corrected item reported that Burkett was referring to conversations with CBS. Napp interpreted this as that CBS was trying to convince Burkett to give the Kerry campaign the documents.

Now, I may be stupid (I'm not), but it seems obvious me that, with the context, Burkett was saying that CBS was trying to convince him that he should give the original documents to CBS, not the Kerry campaign (since Burkett merely gave copies to CBS and never even discussed the documents with Joe Lockhart, per both their statements). Napp tried to use his interpretation to prove a so-called-liberal-media point: that CBS was coordinating with the Kerry campaign. Anyone who's been keeping up with this story is aware that both Burkett and Joe Lockhart have both said they never discussed the disputed documents. Burkett is upset with CBS, not the Kerry campaign.

I just returned from a small luncheon (about 100 people) celebrating the 30th anniversary of D (for Dallas) Magazine. Also attending were Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), Rep. Martin Frost (D-TX), Dallas Democratic Mayor Laura Miller, developer Ray Nasher, real estate magnate Ellen Terry, along with D publisher Wick Allison (ex-editor of the National Review) and Bishop T.D. Jakes, pastor of The Potter's House. Gene Street, restaurateur (of Black-Eyed Pea and Good Eats chains fame and owner of III Forks) and raconteur, and his wife sat at my table along with a trio of long-time Dallas reporters and D editor Nancy Nichols.

It was a bizarre event. My invitation read, "Wick Allison cordially invites you to a luncheon celebrating 30 years of D Magazine. Guest speaker Bishop T.D. Jakes." I thought, you know, that there'd be a lot about Dallas over the past 30 years, some tributes to the magazine, a preview of their new book, D Magazine's Dallas: The 30 greatest stories ever told.

Instead, there was about 10 minutes of that and 30 minutes of Bishop Jakes telling about many of his and his ministry's accomplishments (they're considerable!) and the plans of one of his FOUR for-profit businesses (nothing to do with the Potter's House) to develop a community in south Dallas of mixed-use housing from multifamily to cottages to mini-mansions -- and a school, which will help; no one of any race while in his right mind would ever buy a house in South Dallas since there are lousy, rundown schools, no shopping, and no employment opportunities. The speech rambled in so many directions, from domestic abuse to Bishop Jakes' new movie (Danny Glover is one of the backers) to his recent appearances on Oprah to faith-based initiatives and "strategic alliances" between religious bodies and government.

He explained how African-Americans consider the church the hub of their culture and community, which I understand having spent my entire life in the South, but I was a little nervous about where this was going since I'm a firm believer in separation of church and state. He indicated that he expects (or has gotten, I was confused) a $22 million grant from the Federal Government for some kind of abuse and/or drug programs (again, it was a confusing talk) because he and his people can achieve better results with the needy than can professionals who are strangers. I have to admit, although this seems logical in a sense, it also raised my antennae as he continued to cite examples of other faith-based initiatives. It seems to me that by funneling taxpayer dollars and benefits through church organizations, church leaders gain even more power over their communities and could be tempted to bestow largesse or patronage as they see fit. It seems an invitation to corruption to me. I don't know quite what the answer is, but I'm uncomfortable with the whole government/church partnership thing. I guess it goes back to my Bible training, "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God the things that are God's." In other words, don't confuse the two. Both operate better separately.

At the end, Mayor Miller spoke a tribute to Bishop Jakes and presented him with a city proclamation, which explained why both Republicans and Democrats were in attendance. They were there to honor the Bishop, I presume, and not the magazine.


Via BuzzFlash, a searing article in the London News Review charging that "the Republicans are using simple Neuro Linguistic Programming techniques to baffle and control a nation."

The 2004 American presidential election is a terrifying spectacle. If – and God preserve us all from such an outcome – if President Bush should win, then we will have witnessed an astonishing and chilling hoodwinking of an entire nation.

In their quest to be re-elected, Bush and Cheney have left rationality far, far behind. They’ve boiled down their message into a single emotive appeal: that America should be afraid, very afraid, and the only person who can hold the fear at bay is President Bush.
Basically, in boiling down their message to this single point of fear, and constantly associating this fear with the flimsiness of the flip-flop, the Republicans are using simple Neuro Linguistic Programming techniques to baffle and control a nation.

NLP is all about implanting ideas through suggestion, through patterns of speech – anchoring emotions and forcing thoughts. Bush and Cheney are not trying to reason with the electorate, they are programming them using fear, using keywords, repetition, reinforcement, and threats. Their message is explicitly this: stick with us or bad stuff will happen; stick with us or die: “if we make the wrong choice then the danger is that we'll get hit again and we'll be hit in a way that will be a devastating from the standpoint of the United States."

Cheney here, (like Bush when he said: “If America shows uncertainty and weakness in this decade, the world will drift toward tragedy”), is using a form of words very similar to the most loathsome of all NLP patterns: “the Door Pattern.”

The Door Pattern is an extreme NLP technique – referred to fondly in the NLP community as “the ‘bad boy’ of all patterns” which (in the words of an NLP seduction site) works by “playing on the fears and deep insecurities of women.” It involves talking about tragedy and death, and anchoring feelings of loss and abandonment in the slamming of a door:

"...then get back into the door and say, "you know, God, still you know, about life's tragedies… I mean, I just keep on thinking how…" At this point you can already see that this is starting to make her feel uncomfortable. You want to create that sense in her that you can walk out and she'll feel terrible for the rest of here life. You want to anchor that response.

"Having anchored that sense of loss and pain to the door, you can trigger it whenever needed. Whatever negative behavior may come up that you want to stop, the first time you just get up and slam the door."

This is precisely what Cheney is doing: anchoring the response of fear, threatening danger, suggesting that Bush and he will make the danger go away, and using Kerry as a trigger. This is the flip-flop pattern.

And it seems to be working.

Yeah, it's working, all right. Millions of Americans (pray God not a majority) are scared to death that if we don't have Bush and Cheney to cling to in our "time of need," the big bad terrorists will rain down nuclear fire on our family farms and suburban homes.

Wake up, America, get out of this trance. "Land of the free, home of the brave," remember? You're not free if you're being manipulated and controlled by your leaders. You're not brave if you're cowering in fear of the terrorists and pleading that Daddy tell you it'll all go away instead of taking a deep breath, assessing the threat, coming up with a strategic plan that covers both realistic and workable defense and offense, and effectively allotting your resources to the tactics of that plan. John Kerry knows how to GET THE RIGHT THINGS DONE. George W. Bush knows how to get people to do what he wants. Big difference. Big-time.


E.J. Dionne tackles Bush's chief disability: he's truth-challenged.

A press corps that relentlessly nitpicked Al Gore in 2000 in search of "little lies" and exaggerations has given Bush wide latitude to make things up. I guess the incumbent benefits from the soft bigotry of low expectations...

A very intelligent political reporter I know said the other night that Republicans simply run better campaigns than Democrats. If I were given a free pass to stretch the truth to the breaking point, I could run a pretty good campaign, too.

Great op-ed. Read it all.


Bush Upbeat as Iraq Burns:

George W. Bush was a supporter of the war in Vietnam. For a while.

As he explained in his autobiography, "A Charge to Keep: My Journey to the White House":

"My inclination was to support the government and the war until proven wrong, and that only came later, as I realized we could not explain the mission, had no exit strategy, and did not seem to be fighting to win."

How is it that he ultimately came to see the fiasco in Vietnam so clearly but remains so blind to the frighteningly similar realities of his own war in Iraq? Mr. Bush cannot explain our mission in Iraq and has nothing resembling an exit strategy, and his troops - hobbled by shortages of personnel and by potentially fatal American and Iraqi political considerations - are certainly not fighting to win.

As the situation in Iraq moves from bad to worse, the president, based on his public comments, seems to be edging further and further from reality. This is disturbing, to say the least. The news from Iraq is filled with reports of kidnappings and beheadings, of people pleading desperately for their lives, of American soldiers being ambushed and killed, of clusters of Iraqis being blown to pieces by suicide bombers, and of the prospects for a credible election in January tumbling toward nil.

The war effort has deteriorated so drastically that the administration is planning to take more than $3 billion earmarked for crucial reconstruction projects and shift them to security programs designed to ward off the increasingly deadly insurgency. A classified National Intelligence Estimate prepared for the president contained no really good prospects for Iraq. The best-case scenario was a country with only tenuous stability. The worst potential outcome was civil war.

The intelligence estimate was prepared in July, and the situation has only worsened since then.

Even Republicans are starting to voice their concerns about the unfolding disaster. When asked on CBS's "Face the Nation" whether the U.S. was winning the war in Iraq, Senator Chuck Hagel, a Nebraska Republican, said, "No, I don't think we're winning." He said the U.S. was "in deep trouble in Iraq" and that some "recalibration of policy" would be necessary to turn things around.

Senator John McCain, the Arizona Republican, said on "Fox News Sunday": "The situation has obviously been somewhat deteriorating, to say the least." He said "serious mistakes" have been made and that most of them "can be traced back to not having sufficient numbers of troops there."

These are not doves talking. These are supporters of President Bush who support the war in Iraq and believe it can be won. But they're also in touch with reality.

President Bush does not share their sense of alarm. He acknowledged that "horrible scenes" are being shown on television and the Internet, but he was unmoved by the gloomy intelligence estimates. According to Mr. Bush: "The C.I.A. laid out several scenarios. It said that life could be lousy, life could be O.K., life could be better."

Que sera, sera.

The president said he is personally optimistic and he delivered an upbeat assessment of conditions in Iraq to the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday. Iraq, he said, is well on its way to being "secure, democratic, federal and free."

If you spend more than a little time immersed in the world according to Karl Rove, you'll find that words lose even the remotest connection to reality. They become nothing more than tools designed to achieve political ends. So it's not easy to decipher what the president believes about Iraq.

This is scary. With Americans, Iraqis and others dying horribly in the long dark night of this American-led war, the world needs more from the president of the United States than the fool's gold of his empty utterances.

Perhaps someone can dislodge the president from Karl's clutches, shake him and tell him that his war is a tremendous tragedy with implications far beyond the election in November.

At the moment there is no evidence the president understands anything about the war. He led the nation into it with false pretenses. He never mobilized sufficient numbers of troops. He seemed to believe the war was over in May 2003. And he seems not to know how to proceed now.

The tragic lesson of Vietnam is staring the president in the face. But he'll have to become better acquainted with the real world before he can even begin to learn from it.

Compare Bush with the Emperor Nero: "In character he was a strange mix of paradoxes; artistic, sporting, brutal, weak, sensual, erratic, extravagant, sadistic, bisexual - and later in life almost certainly deranged...Tigellinus was a terrible influence on Nero, who only encouraged his excesses rather than trying to curb them. And one of Tigellinus first actions in office was to revive the hated treason courts.

"Seneca soon found Tigellinus - and an ever-more willful emperor - too much to bear and resigned. This left Nero totally subject to corrupt advisers...The historian Suetonius describes him singing from the tower of Maecenas, watching as the fire consumed Rome. Dio Cassius tells us how he 'climbed on to the palace roof, from which there was the best overall view of the greater part of the fire and, and sang 'The capture of Troy''
Meanwhile Tacitus wrote; 'At the very time that Rome burned, he mounted his private stage and, reflecting present disasters in ancient calamities, sang about the destruction of Troy'.

"But Tacitus also takes care to point out that this story was a rumour, not the account of an eye witness.
If his singing on the roof tops was true or not, the rumour was enough to make people suspicious that his measures to put out the fire might not have been genuine...Nero, always a man desparate to be popular, therefore looked for scapegoats on whom the fire could be blamed. He found it in an obscure new religious sect, the Christians.

"And so many Christians were arrested and thrown to the wild beasts in the circus, or they were crucified . Many of them were also burned to death at night, serving as 'lighting' in Nero's gardens, while Nero mingled among the watching crowds...Meanwhile Nero's relation's with the senate deteriorated sharply, largely due to the execution of suspects through Tigellinus and his revived treason laws.

"Then in AD 65 there was a serious plot against Nero. Known as the 'Pisonian Conspiracy' it was led by Gaius Calpurnius Piso. The plot was uncovered and nineteen executions and suicides followed, and thirteen banishments. Piso and Seneca were among those who died.

"There was never anything even resembling a trial: people whom Nero suspected or disliked or who merely aroused the jealousy of his advisers were sent a note ordering them to commit suicide.
"Further, a food shortage caused great hardship. Eventually Helius, fearing the worst, crossed over to Greece to summon back his master.

"By January AD 68 Nero was back in Rome, but things were now too late. In March AD 68 the governor of Gallia Lugdunensis, Gaius Julius Vindex, himself Gallic-born, withdrew his oath of allegiance to the emperor and encouraged the governor of northern and eastern Spain, Galba, a hardened veteran of 71, to do the same. Vindex' troops were defeated at Vesontio by the Rhine legions who marched in from Germany, and Vindex committed suicide. However, thereafter these German troops, too, refused to furthermore recognize Nero's authority. So too Clodius Macer declared against Nero in north Africa.

"Galba, having informed the senate that he was available, if required, to head a government, simply waited.

"Meanwhile in Rome nothing was actually done to control the crisis."

Thursday, September 23

Washington Post: Despite Bush Flip-Flops, Kerry Gets Label

Where were they when it mattered? That is, before the meme got set in the minds of voters.


Sean Hannity was excoriating Jesse Jackson on the charge that "Republicans are attempting to suppress African-American voting." It wasn't a pretty debate. Hannity insisted that since nobody has been convicted of a crime, it (reports of such suppression efforts) couldn't have happened in 2000 or be happening now. (Shades of "he got an honorable discharge, therefore he fulfilled his duties.")

Greg Napp was having a hissy fit because
- John Kerry is "sending mixed messages to our troops and the Iraqi people" (paraphrase mine)
- John Kerry is emboldening our enemies in Iraq and elsewhere
- the media isn't reporting all the good stuff that is happening in Iraq
- Democrats are unbelievable hypocrites (Kerry said Saddam and WMD were a threat in 2003)

For some reason, I can't remember any more. Maybe I tuned it out? My major impression was that Napp and Hannity were almost hysterical today. Maybe a sign that today's polls showing a dead-heat race have scared them to death.

UPDATE: Okay, Sean, here's an example of the evidence you demanded: Fox TV intimidates students at the University of Arizona at Tucson.


Orcinus has a new forged documents challenge:

"Seems there's another questionable document that's been produced regarding George W. Bush's National Guard records. And we need some help tracking it down.

"The problem was pointed out by that far-left rag, Air Force Times.

Another White House-released document shows a total of 56 points Bush apparently earned during this 12-month period, but it's awarded in one lump sum rather than credited for each training period. But this document also contains an error, listing Bush’s status as “PLT On-Fly” — meaning he was on flight status — when he had not been for a year. This, said retired Army Lt. Col. Gerald A. Lechliter, who has done an in-depth analysis of Bush’s pay records (, makes the form’s authenticity suspect.

Here's what Lechliter had to say about the document:

"The WH also released an undated memorandum from a Lieutenant Colonel Albert C. Lloyd (Retired) (Lloyd) who reviewed two Bush F526SPEs to verify Bush met his annual retention/retirement requirement from 27 May 72--26 May 73 by earning 56 points and 27 May 73-–26 May 74 by earning 56 points. Lloyd referred to these simply as AF Form 526 in his memorandum; they will be referenced herein as F526SPE. It evidently replaced the AF Form 712, "Air Reserve Forces Retirement Credit Summary." The WH also provided a summary pay document (SPD),60 together with finance forms, to back up its version of Bush's service after May 1972.

"A major problem with the F190 from May 1973, certifying Bush's ANACDUTRA and INACDUTRA for the previous anniversary year, is its obsolescence: the form had become obsolete at the end of September 1972, some eight months earlier than it was signed. Why was his TXANG using an obsolete form? It should be noted, however, that there were no detailed F190, F40, F40a, or unit schedules, for any INACDUTRA after May 1972. There is no "Special Order" for the ANACDUTRA on May 1-3, 7-9, 1973, for which he received credit, although there was a "Special Order," dated "1 May 1973" for ANACDUTRA on May 22-24, 29-31, 1973, as well as for June 5-7, 1973. There was no "Special Order" for Bush's 13 days of ANACDUTRA in July 1973. No detailed forms, certifying the training was authorized and performed, have been made public to back up the WH-released forms showing all Bush's ANACDUTRA and INACDUTRA in October and November 1972, as well as in January, April, May, June, and July 1973. There was also a glaring error on the obsolete F190 from May 26, 1973: It showed Bush's "Aero[nautical] Rating" as "Plt On-fly," although he had been grounded since August 1, 1972. This error, together with the obsolescence of the form since October 1, 1972, makes the authenticity of this particular F190 suspect."

"Get on it, guys! I'm sure you'll crack this case in record time!"


Astounding facts heard on Lou Dobbs just now:

- Corporate income taxes dropped 17% under George W. Bush.

- 82 major American companies paid NO TAXES for at least one year under Dubya.

- Corporation taxes now account for only 6% of American tax receipts.

- The CEO of Cisco Systems is investing heavily in China ($32 million in Shanghai alone), projecting that it will become "the information technology capital of the world." Cisco is training tens of thousands of Chinese students for jobs.

- Americans buy more than $150 million more Chinese products than they buy of ours.


Via First Draft via Atrios, a great debate answer for John Kerry:

Whenever Kerry confronts him on Iraq Bush keeps coming back with, "I think the world is better off with Saddam out of power." And who can disagree with that, really? So far the Democrats haven't come up with a very succinct response to it, but over at Atrios' crack den today, A Jesus Democrat absolutely nails it:

"Kerry should turn around and say 'Mr. President the world would be better off without Kim Jong-il of North Korea, the Mullahs in Iran, Bashar Assad of Syria, yes and perhaps even Fidel Castro of Cuba.

'So will you re-institute the draft and take care of these evil dictators in your second term, Mr. President?

'Some of these nations and leaders cooperated more with international terrorists and pose a much greater threat to our national security as well as world stability than Saddam ever could or would have even in his wildest dreams before we invaded Iraq.'"

That's exactly what he should say. "Which war do you want next, Mr. President? Iran? Syria? Turkmenistan? Where does it stop, Mr. President? Where does it end? How much do you think the American people are willing to take before you go to the United Nations and ask for the help you should have asked for three years ago? How many American soldiers have to die before you stop and think about this pre-emptive policy of yours?"


The story that didn't run.

A team of “60 Minutes” correspondents and consulting reporters spent more than six months investigating the Niger uranium documents fraud, CBS sources tell NEWSWEEK. The group landed the first ever on-camera interview with Elisabetta Burba, the Italian journalist who first obtained the phony documents, as well as her elusive source, Rocco Martino, a mysterious Roman businessman with longstanding ties to European intelligence agencies.

Although the edited piece never ended up identifying Martino by name, the story, narrated by “60 Minutes” correspondent Ed Bradley, asked tough questions about how the White House came to embrace the fraudulent documents and why administration officials chose to include a 16-word reference to the questionable uranium purchase in President Bush’s 2003 State of the Union speech.
Some CBS reporters, as well as one of the network’s key sources, fear that the Niger uranium story may never run, at least not any time soon, on the grounds that the network can now not credibly air a report questioning how the Bush administration could have gotten taken in by phony documents. The network would “be a laughingstock,” said one source intimately familiar with the story.

Although acknowledging that it was “frustrating” to have his story bounced, David Gelber, the lead CBS producer on the Niger piece, said he has been told the segment will still air some time soon, perhaps as early as next week. “Obviously, everybody at CBS is holding their breath these days. I’m assuming the story is going to run until I’m told differently.”

The delay of the CBS report comes at a time when there have been significant new developments in the case—although virtually none of them have been reported in the United States. According to Italian and British press reports, Martino—the Rome middleman at the center of the case—was questioned last week by an Italian investigating magistrate for two hours about the circumstances surrounding his acquisition of the documents. Martino could not be reached for comment, but his lawyer is reportedly planning a press conference in the next few days.

Burba, the Italian journalist, confirmed to NEWSWEEK this week that Martino is the previously mysterious “Mr. X” who contacted her with the potentially explosive documents in early October 2002—just as Congress was debating whether to authorize President Bush to wage war against Iraq. The documents, consisting of telexes, letters and contracts, purported to show that Iraq had negotiated an agreement to purchase 500 tons of “yellowcake uranium from Niger, material that could be used to make a nuclear bomb. (A U.S. intelligence official told NEWSWEEK that Martino is in fact believed to have been the distributor of the documents.)

Burba—under instructions from her editor at Panarama, a newsmagazine owned by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi—then provided the documents to the U.S. Embassy in Rome in an effort to authenticate them. The embassy soon passed the material on to Washington where some Bush administration officials viewed it as hard evidence to support its case that Saddam Hussein’s regime was actively engaged in a program to assemble nuclear weapons.

But the Niger component of the White House case for war quickly imploded. Asked for evidence to support President Bush’s contention in his State of the Union speech that Iraq was seeking uranium from Africa, the administration turned over the Niger documents to the International Atomic Energy Agency. Within two hours, using the Google search engine, IAEA officials in Vienna determined the documents to be a crude forgery. At the urging of Sen. Jay Rockefeller, vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, the FBI launched an investigation into the Niger documents in an effort to determine if the United States government had been duped by a deliberate “disinformation” campaign organized by a foreign intelligence agency or others with a political agenda relating to Iraq.

So far, the bureau appears to have made little progress in unraveling the case. “The senator is frustrated by the slow pace of the investigation,” said Wendy Morigi, the press secretary for Senator Rockefeller, who was recently briefed on the status of the FBI probe.

One striking aspect of the FBI’s investigation is that, at least as of this week, Martino has told associates he has never even been interviewed by the bureau—despite the fact that he was publicly identified by the Financial Times of London as the source of the documents more than six weeks ago and was subsequently flown to New York City by CBS to be interviewed for the  “60 Minutes” report.

Hey, Florida (land of my birth and youth and still what I consider "home"), have you got the hint yet?


Powerful, moving, true. Via Eric Alterman, novelist E.L. Doctorow on Bush:

I fault this president for not knowing what death is. He does not suffer the death of our 21-year-olds who wanted to be what they could be. On the eve of D-Day in 1944 General Eisenhower prayed to God for the lives of the young soldiers he knew were going to die. He knew what death was. Even in a justifiable war, a war not of choice but of necessity, a war of survival, the cost was almost more than Eisenhower could bear.

But this president does not know what death is. He hasn't the mind for it. You see him joking with the press, peering under the table for the weapons of mass destruction he can't seem to find, you see him at rallies strutting up to the stage in shirt sleeves to the roar of the carefully screened crowd, smiling and waving, triumphal, a he-man.

He does not mourn. He doesn't understand why he should mourn. He is satisfied during the course of a speech written for him to look solemn for a moment and speak of the brave young Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

But you study him, you look into his eyes and know he dissembles an emotion which he does not feel in the depths of his being because he has no capacity for it. He does not feel a personal responsibility for the 1,000 dead young men and women who wanted to be what they could be.

They come to his desk not as youngsters with mothers and fathers or wives and children who will suffer to the end of their days a terribly torn fabric of familial relationships and the inconsolable remembrance of aborted life . . . they come to his desk as a political liability, which is why the press is not permitted to photograph the arrival of their coffins from Iraq.

How then can he mourn? To mourn is to express regret and he regrets nothing. He does not regret that his reason for going to war was, as he knew, unsubstantiated by the facts. He does not regret that his bungled plan for the war's aftermath has made of his mission-accomplished a disaster. He does not regret that, rather than controlling terrorism, his war in Iraq has licensed it. So he never mourns for the dead and crippled youngsters who have fought this war of his choice.

He wanted to go to war and he did. He had not the mind to perceive the costs of war, or to listen to those who knew those costs. He did not understand that you do not go to war when it is one of the options but when it is the only option; you go not because you want to but because you have to.

Yet this president knew it would be difficult for Americans not to cheer the overthrow of a foreign dictator. He knew that much. This president and his supporters would seem to have a mind for only one thing -- to take power, to remain in power, and to use that power for the sake of themselves and their friends.

A war will do that as well as anything. You become a wartime leader. The country gets behind you. Dissent becomes inappropriate. And so he does not drop to his knees, he is not contrite, he does not sit in the church with the grieving parents and wives and children. He is the president who does not feel. He does not feel for the families of the dead, he does not feel for the 35 million of us who live in poverty, he does not feel for the 40 percent who cannot afford health insurance, he does not feel for the miners whose lungs are turning black or for the working people he has deprived of the chance to work overtime at time-and-a-half to pay their bills - it is amazing for how many people in this country this president does not feel.

But he will dissemble feeling. He will say in all sincerity he is relieving the wealthiest 1 percent of the population of their tax burden for the sake of the rest of us, and that he is polluting the air we breathe for the sake of our economy, and that he is decreasing the quality of air in coal mines to save the coal miners' jobs, and that he is depriving workers of their time-and-a-half benefits for overtime because this is actually a way to honor them by raising them into the professional class.

And this litany of lies he will versify with reverences for God and the flag and democracy, when just what he and his party are doing to our democracy is choking the life out of it.

But there is one more terribly sad thing about all of this. I remember the millions of people here and around the world who marched against the war. It was extraordinary, that spontaneous aroused oversoul of alarm and protest that transcended national borders. Why did it happen? After all, this was not the only war anyone had ever seen coming. There are little wars all over he world most of the time.

But the cry of protest was the appalled understanding of millions of people that America was ceding its role as the last best hope of mankind. It was their perception that the classic archetype of democracy was morphing into a rogue nation. The greatest democratic republic in history was turning its back on the future, using its extraordinary power and standing not to advance the ideal of a concordance of civilizations but to endorse the kind of tribal combat that originated with the Neanderthals, a people, now extinct, who could imagine ensuring their survival by no other means than pre-emptive war.

The president we get is the country we get. With each president the nation is conformed spiritually. He is the artificer of our malleable national soul. He proposes not only the laws but the kinds of lawlessness that govern our lives and invoke our responses. The people he appoints are cast in his image. The trouble they get into and get us into, is his characteristic trouble.

Finally, the media amplify his character into our moral weather report. He becomes the face of our sky, the conditions that prevail. How can we sustain ourselves as the United States of America given the stupid and ineffective warmaking, the constitutionally insensitive lawgiving, and the monarchal economics of this president? He cannot mourn but is a figure of such moral vacancy as to make us mourn for ourselves.

Who said THIS: "I live in America where it's nice and safe and secure."

Answer here. The whole thing's just bizarre.

UPDATE: Contrast Bush and Allawi's spin with Juan Cole's reporting.


Holy smokes, how did I miss THIS ONE? Here is a reason for 70 million Americans to vote Kerry-Edwards:

While John Kerry's week has been all about Iraq, John Edwards has been talking tough about the economy. Yesterday in Ohio he delivered a blistering critique of Bush's economic and tax-reform plans, calling it "the most radical and dangerous economic agenda to hit our shores since socialism a century ago."

"Like socialism, it corrupts the very nature of our democracy and our free enterprise tradition. It is not a plan to grow the American economy. It is a plan to corrupt the American economy," he told an audience outside in Cleveland. "We don't know all of the details, but we know that people who inherit hundreds of millions will pay nothing; firemen and waitresses and working people will pay everything. And we know his plan will take away the most important incentive for the single most important form of ownership: it will eliminate entirely the tax deduction for home mortgage interest." [emphasis mine]

That last accusation in particular seems like a winner, in the old-school, they're-going-to-take-away-your-Social-Security vein. Except that it's not just scare-mongering: the Bush administration has genuinely been considering, according to this report unearthed by Ron Suskind and discussed by Tim Noah some weeks back, getting rid of such progressive tax instruments as the Earned Income Tax Credit and other social policy instruments in the tax code on account of how they make the tax code unecessarily "complicated."

The document, prepared for former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, clearly states as part of its explanation of a flat tax -- which conservatives say Bush is still considering for a second term -- that:

"Many of the special deductions, exemptions, and credits allowed under the current tax system are intended to promote widely held social goals, e.g. health care, homeownership, and charitable giving. The basic version of this proposed tax system would eliminate or reduce many of these tax incentives without providing substitute programs."

Another version of the tax reforms O'Neill considered stated that:

"Special credits, including the earned income credit, child credit and education credits, would be eliminated."

A description of the basic proposal noted: "Itemized deductions -- Repealed."

I have difficulty seeing how anyone gets the home mortgage interest deduction revoked in any Congress, regardless of its political make-up, given the popularity of the measure and the record-high levels of home-ownership in this country, which gives most of the voting public a stake in it. But the fact that the Bushies have been considering it seems like the kind of fact that deserves much broader play and maybe even a TV ad or two. Because people really ought to know that this thing they've come to value and rely upon is not as universally valued as they might think. It would be a real shame if an issue like this that could impact more than 70 million people got only cursory national attention during this campaign.

Wednesday, September 22

the bush in a bubble


John King on Lou Dobbs - Transcripts

It's rare to hear actual insight or uncommon sense from anyone on cable news. Yesterday John King broke with precedent and policy to offer this:

DOBBS: John, the president effectively dismissing the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq as guesswork. A rather remarkable position for a president to take, is it not?

KING: It was a remarkable public statement. Aides scrambled afterwards to say the president's tone was perhaps a bit harsher than he intended. They're saying that the report is speculative. It says it could be bad, it could be not so bad. They also said this report was done back in June. Many critics of this president would say that the situation on the ground is a lot worse now than it was just a few months ago in June. Those critics also would say, How did the president have so much faith in the CIA when it came to making the case that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and so little faith in it now, when its recommendations and its assessment runs counter to his own public assessments of what's going on in Iraq?

Nice one John.

DOBBS: Thank you very much, John. John King, our senior White House correspondent.

Thank you indeed.


My brilliant, (but misguided!), popular and beautiful daughter, who will be voting for Bush, just said to me that a few months ago most of the people her age that she knows were favoring Kerry, but lately she's noticed it's gone the other way -- now they've decided to vote for Bush.

Aghast, I asked her, "Why?"

"Because we don't want a pussy in office," she replied.

"What?" I cried. "How can you call Kerry such a name--he's a war hero, a courageous war protester, he windsurfs, for crying out loud, one of the most dangerous sports there is! What has Bush ever done to prove he's tough?"

"He's tough on terrorism, tough on crime, tough on ..."

(I missed the next because I interrupted her in my horror.)

She continued. "I just don't like John Kerry. I don't trust him. He looks and sounds like a weenie. Actually, I don't like either him or Bush, but I feel safer with Bush."

End of story.


Shorter Wolf Blitzer interview of Roger Stone:

WB: Why did you say "no comment" to the NY Post reporter who asked if you were involved in the forged CBS memos?

RS: It was Sunday, I was with my family. This is a cheap shot from Terry McAuliffe.

WB: What about the NY Post accusation?

RS: Categorically false, ridiculous. If Terry has any evidence that I, or any Republican, was part of this, let him put up or shut up.

WB: Well, you should have told the NY Post, "This is ridiculous."

RS: Look, please understand the context. He calls me, says, "There's a rumor going around, and I got a call from a Democratic consultant that it was you."

WB: Doesn't "no comment," Sunday or not, give credibility to the charge?

RS: Look, I went on background and said there was no truth to it.

WB: Then why didn't you just go on the record?

RS: I had no desire to be quoted. This is a smoke screen created by the Democrats.


Will somebody please explain to the mainstream media (and the Bush administration) that there is a DIFFERENCE BETWEEN a goal and a plan?

You probably guessed that I just saw a Bush ad.

UPDATE: See? See? I was right. Eugene Oregon of Demagogue reports:

I was listening to NPR on the way into work today and they have been running a series on the key issues in the campaign and the differences between Bush and Kerry on those issues.

Today the topic was the war on terrorism.

Renee Montagne asked Susan Rice, a senior adviser for national security affairs for the Kerry campaign, what is the most important thing Kerry plans to do to prevent another terrorist attack on the US. Rice responded that Kerry's top priority would be preventing WMDs from ending up in the hands of al Qaeda or other terrorist organizations and securing loose nuclear material around the globe.

Montagne then asked Kiron Skinner, an unofficial foreign policy adviser for the Bush-Cheney campaign, about Bush's top national security priority. Here is her answer

"The overarching objective is to protect and defend democracy and freedom. Within that, one is to defend democracy and freedom around the world against brutal dictatorships like that of Saddam Hussein and terrorist actors. And the connection between them is of great concern to him.

Second is to preserve relations among the great powers who are industrialized nations and even those that aren't democracies.

And three, to extend the zone of democracy around the world."

Now Skinner may be an "unofficial" advisor, but she ended up on NPR as the campaign's representative and presumably received permission to serve in that capacity from the campaign itself. And she was obviously given talking points, judging by the fact that she had three main points ready to rattle off in response to the question.
So while Kerry's top priority for protecting America from another terrorist attack is to secure WMD's and nuclear stockpiles, Bush's is to "protect and defend democracy and freedom." And apparently, defending democracy is so important that we will ally with non-democratic countries in order to do it while, presumably, we also try to "extend the zone of democracy" into those non-democratic countries.


You heard me. Now go read it and then send to all your Bush-leaning friends and family.


Joe Conason via Working For Change:

If you don’t want to hear a Democrat say that the situation in Iraq is deteriorating dangerously, listen to a Republican.


Alternet's Richard Blow:

The New York Times refuses Michael Moore permission to reprint a story, claiming that it doesn't want to be "part of a political battle."

It's so amusing. While right-wing talk radio and Fox News continue to blast the NY Times as a bastion of liberalism, progressives are disgusted with its Judith Miller-dominated Iraq war coverage, both pre- and during, not to mention its campaign coverage. Ombudsman Dan Okrent is hardly an example of objectivity, and increasingly, its op-ed columnists are pro-Bush or worse, pretend-liberals spouting Repug talking points. Thank God for Paul Krugman and Bob Herbert --


Progressive Christians, don't despair. You are not alone. LIFT EVERY VOICE! A DECLARATION ON CHRISTIANITY AND THE FUTURE OF AMERICA. Excerpt from the manifesto:

To address the challenges we face today we must return to the values upon which this country was founded, including the progressive vision of human thriving enshrined in the best of Christian faith and practice. In our churches and throughout our communities, by means of intentional educational efforts at the grassroots level, we must re-articulate the fundamental American values of justice, equality and the common good. It must become our common mission to elect local and national leaders who demonstrate an unwavering commitment to social and economic justice and who will create the means to achieve that justice.

Social policies must reflect the fundamental value of the common good: fair compensation for labor; access to health care for all; well-funded public education; regulation of industry to protect natural resources and the environment; and oversight of the criminal justice system with ongoing emphasis upon its rehabilitative rather than just its punitive effects. In order to assure that mass communication are indeed fair and balanced, we call for the return to the Fairness Doctrine in all media controlled or licensed by our government. We also call for wider access to the Internet, and we invite our growing networks and our communities of faith to discuss the issues we face at a local level and to nurture democratic groupings centered on creating in a shared future.

We recommit ourselves to the care of the most vulnerable among us, to hospitality toward immigrants and other strangers, to multilateral international institutions that promote peaceful resolutions of conflicts, and to responsible stewardship of the earth's resources. We will hold onto hope, stay strong in our faith, and trust in a common vision for the future based upon the best in our past. We will remember what we struggle against, and for whom we struggle - for the poor, the hungry, the imprisoned, and the marginalized, but not only for them.
We stand and we speak because we are fighting for our future, for the future of our children, and for the soul of a great country, which we will continue to hold in our prayers and whose spirit we will honor through unyielding struggle for liberty and justice for all.


My Kerry-Edwards collar pin continues to draw attention and stimulate discussion around the office (better than a bumper sticker!). Yesterday a stranger (to me) on the crowded elevator said, "You voting for Kerry?" When I replied, "You betcha," he asked, "Yeah, and what kind of car do YOU drive?" (I inferred that because I was getting off on the executive floor, he assumed mine was one of the luxury sports cars or SUV's parked in the reserved exec spaces.) I was happy to inform him that I drive a Honda Civic Hybrid. That started a whole discussion on the merits of hybrids and the benefits attached, economic as well as environmental, which led to a discussion of the presidential and congressional races. By the time I got off (I was last since I work on the top floor) I felt I'd made an impact on the thinking of the seven or eight people who'd been listening.

That's the way we win converts, folks. People-to-people. Texas Democrats hardly make a peep these days, especially at work, because they assume there's no race here. Maybe, maybe not. It's way-more-than-probable that our electoral votes will go to Bush, but it would be a huge satisfaction to see Kerry do better than expected in the popular vote and to thwart Tom DeLay's grand plan for Republicans to hugely dominate our Congressional delegation. And in the latter effort, we still have a chance.

So wear your colors prominently enough that you draw attention and comments. Do your homework on the issues so you're prepared to champion the cause intelligently and forcefully, while not being offensive. Don't neglect local issues -- Kerry will have a harder time WHEN he's elected if he's faced with an overwhelming Republican majority in the Senate and House. And remember, the Shrub and his handlers have a reich-like agenda: they want to see a thousand years of Republican domination in this country -- we have to build right now a credible Democratic challenge to that agenda, and it starts with local races, right now.


Let's spread this around. It's important, it's effective.

Click on each cartoon panel to see the next one.


What the ???

Iraqi authorities together with U.S. forces have decided to free one of only two high-profile women prisoners currently in American custody, a ministry spokesman said Wednesday.

Ministry spokesman Noori Abdul-Rahim Ibrahim, however, denied the decision was linked to a demand by militants who abducted two Americans and a Briton calling for the release of all female Iraqi prisoners.

"The Iraqi authorities have agreed with coalition forces to conditionally release Rihab Rashid Taha on bail", Ibrahim said.

Taha, a scientist who became known as "Dr. Germ" for helping Iraq make weapons out of anthrax, and Huda Salih Mahdi Ammash, a biotech researcher known as "Mrs. Anthrax," are the only two Iraq women held in American custody, according to the U.S. military.

Yeah, right. Tony Blair is probably blackmailing Bush to save his own political hide along with the head of the Brit who's still being held hostage. Let's see how the wingers who love Bush's "resoluteness" spin this one --

UPDATE: AmericaBlog reports that Bush has changed his mind. Flip flop.


US refuses to back world hunger battle:

THE United States faced condemnation today after failing to join more than 100 countries as part of a new campaign to raise an extra $50 billion (£28bn) annually in aid to combat global hunger.

On the eve of the annual gathering of the General Assembly, more than 50 heads of state and government joined a debate at the United Nations that focused on the impact of globalisation and on ways to finance the war against poverty.

French President Jacques Chirac called the pledge to take action "unprecedented".

The declaration also urged governments to seriously consider a report prepared for the conference, setting out a series of options for raising money.

These included a global tax on financial transactions, a tax on the sale of heavy arms, an international borrowing facility and a scheme for marketing credit cards whose users would donate a small percentage of their charges to the cause.

"The greatest scandal is not that hunger exists but that it persists even when we have the means to eliminate it. It is time to take action," said a declaration signed by 110 nations and adopted at the close of a World Leaders Summit on Hunger held at UN headquarters.

But the US poured cold water on the project, with the leader of the American delegation, agriculture secretary Ann Veneman, dismissing it.

"Economic growth is the long-term solution to hunger and poverty," she told the meeting. "Global taxes are inherently undemocratic. Implementation is impossible."

Brazil’s president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva criticised the US for failing to endorse the pledge.

"How many more times will it be necessary to repeat that the most destructive weapon of mass destruction in the world today is poverty?" said Mr Lula. "We must harness globalisation. We must turn it into a positive force."

Mr Chirac predicted the US position could change after the November 2 elections.

"Let’s see when things settle down what their position will be," the French leader said. "However strong the Americans may be, you cannot in the long run emerge victorious by opposing an idea that is backed by 100 countries, creating a new political situation."

Two thoughts.

First. When I was a kid, I remember a time when the American Red Cross announced it was out of money. The whole world reacted -- some Canadian disk jockey released a best-selling record that was a tribute to America's compassion as evidenced by the worldwide actions of the Red Cross. It made me feel so GOOD that my country was known for its Good Samaritan-ism. Guess those days are gone. All my life, the "Communists" were the bad guys, we were the good guys. That's all changed now, AND IT ONLY TOOK ONE MAN AND THREE YEARS TO MAKE IT HAPPEN.

Second. Notice Chirac's last-paragraph observation. When John Kerry suggests a change of administration will result in a difference in attitude among the world's leaders regarding Iraq and other issues, HE'S RIGHT.

Tuesday, September 21

Iraqi prime minister on wolf blitzer

Allawi: "The security situation is not good, definitely"

Wolf: "There have been four assassination attempts on your life. Are you worried about your personal security?

Allawi: "Of course...


Wow! Terry McAuliffe just issued a press release that shows some Democratic Party spine:

Washington, D.C. - In response to false Republican accusations regarding the CBS documents, Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe issued this statement:

“In today’s New York Post, Roger Stone, who became associated with political ‘dirty tricks’ while working for Nixon, refused to deny that he was the source the CBS documents.

“Will Ed Gillespie or the White House admit today what they know about Mr. Stone’s relationship with these forged documents? Will they unequivocally rule out Mr. Stone’s involvement? Or for that matter, others with a known history of dirty tricks, such as Karl Rove or Ralph Reed?”

This has got to be the influence of Carville-Begala. Take that, you little worm, Dan Bartlett:

The White House said CBS' contact with Lockhart was inappropriate. "The fact that CBS News would coordinate with the most senior levels of Sen. Kerry's campaign to attack the president is a stunning and deeply troubling revelation," said Dan Bartlett, White House communications director.


Read Barbara Ehrenreich's article in The Progressive, "To Catch A Thief":

But no matter how many people we register and drive to the polls, the possibilities for monkey business are numerous and arcane. Among them:

* Computer fraud, especially in places offering touch screen voting without a paper trail (although a paper trail is no guarantee of accuracy if it's generated by the same screwed-up software as the touch screen votes). It's particularly worrisome that at least two of the companies that provide computerized voting machines--Diebold and InterCivic--have strong ties to the Republican Party.

* Selective discouragement of easily identifiable Democratic voters, i.e., black ones, such as occurred in Florida in 2000. Already, John Pappageorge, a Republican state legislator in Michigan, has urged his party to take measures to "suppress the Detroit vote." Plainclothes officers from the Florida state police have been trying to intimidate elderly black voters by going to their homes and interrogating them about their status as voters.

* Relying on the Pentagon to forward e-mail votes from troops in combat zones to their local election offices, as Missouri and North Dakota are planning to do. As The New York Times has editorialized, this creates a situation "rife with security problems."

* And, the most lurid of all, declaring a red alert and postponing the election, a possibility already floated as a trial balloon by Tom Ridge.

But if the preventive measures fail to produce a credible election, don't expect the Democratic Party to lead the fight for democracy. The most painful scene in Fahrenheit 9/11--and there are quite a few contenders for this title--is the one in which members of the Congressional Black Caucus speak to the Senate, one by one, pleading for just one Senator to join them in stopping the Supreme Court's selection of Bush. When faced with a truly revolutionary situation--an electoral coup from the right--Al Gore folded like a lawn chair. As for Kerry: He may have had some backbone thirty years ago, but too many years spent sitting in the Senate have rendered it the consistency of Play-Doh.

All this sounds good to me--local planning for local responses and national coordination by a trusted group like United for Peace and Justice. But we have to get started, well, last week. Democratic voters need to be assured that some of us won't take another coup lying down. And Republican dirty-tricksters need to start feeling the first shivers of fear. If all the people who are saying they're willing to hit the streets actually do so, there won't be a lot of people left indoors to wait tables, teach school, or pay taxes during W's second term.

I do take issue with Ehrenreich's assertion that too many years in the Senate have rendered Kerry's backbone "the consistency of Play-Doh." In fact, I've been impressed over the years with Kerry's willingness to do the hard dirty work that other Senators were loathe to take on either because of the unpopularity and/or political risk or because the possibility of reward in terms of votes or campaign contributions was remote. He'll have to do the "dirty work that others shirk" in Iraq, on the economy and deficit, and other areas Bush has royally screwed up if he's elected. "9/11 changed everything," the Republicans like to say. "The Bush pResidency changed everything," I say. This time, unlike the situation with Gore in 2000, we know just how high the stakes are.


Just posted on the Dallas Morning News web site: "Several linked to DeLay PAC indicted."

A Travis County grand jury indicted three people and eight corporations Tuesday on charges related to alleged illegal donations made to a political action committee formed by Republican U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.

James Ellis, who heads Americans for a Republican Majority, DeLay's national fund-raising committee that helped establish Texans for a Republican Majority, was charged with money laundering, a first-degree felony.

John Colyandro, former executive director of Texans for a Republican Majority, and Warren RoBold, a Washington, D.C., fund-raiser who helped raise money for DeLay's PACs, were charged with unlawful acceptance of corporate political contributions. DeLay was not charged.

The eight companies charged with making illegal political contributions were: Sears, Roebuck and Co., Elmhurst, Ill.; the Cracker Barrel restaurant chain, Lebanon, Tenn.; the Williams Companies convenience store chain, Tulsa, Okla.; Bacardi USA, Inc., Miami; Questerra Corp., Richmond, Va.; Diversified Collection Services, Inc., Union City, Calif.; Alliance for Quality Nursing Homes, Inc., Boston; and Westar Energy, Inc., Topeka, Kan.

Each company donated at least $20,000. Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care donated $100,000.

Those involved with Texans for a Republican Majority did not believe they were doing anything wrong, said Steve Brittain, an attorney for DeLay.

"All of these people felt very comfortable that they were not violating the law, that they were following the rules as they understood them," Brittain said.

Colyandro and Ellis did not immediately return telephone calls Tuesday from The Associated Press. The AP could not immediately locate Robold.

The grand jury has been examining whether Texans for a Republican Majority and the Texas Association of Business illegally funneled $2.5 million in corporate contributions to Republican state House candidates in the 2002 election.

Texas law prohibits the use of corporate money by associations or PACs to pay for any direct political activity.

The grand jury investigation began in January 2003, shortly after Republicans gained a majority in the Texas House for the first time since Reconstruction. That set the stage for the GOP to redraw congressional voting districts last year in favor of Republican candidates in the 2004 elections.

DeLay was not questioned or subpoenaed as part of the grand jury investigation.

This does NOT mean Tom DeLay is out of the woods. You'd have to know Ronnie Earle, Travis County DA, to understand that. Ronnie can be a bulldog when he thinks he's got hold of something. I'm especially suspicious of that last paragraph about DeLay not being questioned or subpoenaed. This would make no sense to me whatsoever since it's DeLay's PAC being investigated except that I know Ronnie Earle. There must be method to his madness.


John Kerry was on David Letterman last night, and his performance was just right. Here's his "Top 10 Bush Tax Proposals":

10. No estate tax for families with at least two U.S. presidents.
9. W-2 Form is now Dubya-2 Form.
8. Under the simplified tax code, your refund check goes directly to Halliburton.
7. The reduced earned income tax credit is so unfair, it just makes me want to tear out my lustrous, finely groomed hair.
6. Attorney General (John) Ashcroft gets to write off the entire U.S. Constitution.
5. Texas Rangers can take a business loss for trading Sammy Sosa.
4. Eliminate all income taxes; just ask Teresa (Heinz Kerry) to cover the whole damn thing.
3. Cheney can claim Bush as a dependent.
2. Hundred-dollar penalty if you pronounce it “nuclear” instead of “nucular.”
1. George W. Bush gets a deduction for mortgaging our entire future.


Via Bad Attitudes, this from the Guardian:

Since 9/11, America has used its victimhood to demand a monopoly on the right to feel and to inflict pain.

The trouble is that the campaign’s message ends with that day also. September 11 has served not as a starting point from which to better understand the world but as an excuse not to understand it at all. It is a reference point that brooks no argument and needs no logic. No weapons of mass destruction in Iraq? “The next time, the smoking gun could be a mushroom cloud!” No United Nations authority? “We will never again wait for permission to defend our country.” No link between Saddam and al-Qaida? “They only have to be right once. We have to be right every time.”

This is the real link between Iraq and 9/11 — the rhetorical dissembling that renders victimhood not a point from which they might identify with and connect to the rest of humanity but a means to turn their back on humanity. They portray America’s pain as a result of 9/11 not only as unique in its expression but also superior in its intensity.
[emphasis mine]


Unbelievable. Atrios brings us an interview with Grover Norquist of the Club For Growth:

When asked about if he thought Democratic Party was coming to an end Norquist told Pablo Pardo of El Mundo that:

"Yes, because in addition their demographic base is shrinking. Each year, 2 million people who fought in the Second World War and lived through the Great Depression die. This generation has been an exeception in American history, because it has defended anti-American policies. They voted for the creation of the welfare state and obligatory military service. They are the base of the Democratic Party. And they are dying. And, at the same time, all the time more Americans have stocks. That makes them defend the interests of business, because it is their own interest. Because of that, it's impossible to bring to the fore policies of social hate, of class warfare."


Heard on the office elevator: two women discussing their rabidly Republican husbands who are going to vote for Kerry. Why? Because they're scared to death that if Bush wins, Hillary will take the presidency in 2008.

Great! Let's turn the Repugs' ridiculous, irrational loathing of Hillary Clinton to our advantage. New Democratic campaign slogan: Kerry in '04 or Hillary in '08 -- we report, you decide.

Monday, September 20

Yahoo! News - Video on Web Site Shows Beheading

World - Reuters
Zarqawi Group Says Beheads One U.S. Hostage

3 minutes ago

By Ed Cropley

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A militant group headed by al Qaeda ally Abu Musab al-Zarqawi said on Monday it had beheaded an American hostage and posted a video of the killing on the Internet.

The video, on an Islamist site, identified the hostage as Eugene Armstrong and showed a masked man sawing his head off with a knife.

The video showed the banner of Zarqawi's Tawhid and Jihad group, which said it had kidnapped the hostage along with another American and a Briton in central Baghdad last Thursday.

The video was the first word on the three men since a 48-hour execution deadline set by the group on Saturday expired earlier in the day.

Tawhid and Jihad said in footage posted on the Internet on Saturday it would kill the three men unless Iraqi women were freed from Abu Ghraib and Umm Qasr jails in 48 hours.

The families of Americans Armstrong and Jack Hensley and Briton Kenneth Bigley have appealed for their release. The men were seized from their house in an upscale neighborhood of Baghdad on Thursday by a group of gunmen.

The U.S. military says no women are being held in the two prisons specified, but that two are in U.S. custody. Dubbed "Dr Germ" and "Mrs Anthrax" by U.S. forces, they are accused of working on Saddam Hussein (news - web sites)'s weapons programs and are in a prison for high-profile detainees.

Zarqawi's Tawhid and Jihad group has claimed responsibility for most of the bloodiest suicide bomb attacks in Iraq (news - web sites) since the fall of Saddam. It has already beheaded several hostages, including U.S. telecoms engineer Nicholas Berg in May and South Korean driver Kim Sun-il in June.


The group released Filipino captive Angelo de la Cruz in July after Manila bowed to its demands to pull out troops.

The United States has offered $25 million for information leading to the death or capture of Zarqawi, a Jordanian, and has launched a series of air strikes on his suspected hideouts in the rebel-held town of Falluja, west of Baghdad.

The latest strike was on Monday afternoon, residents said. Doctors said at least two people were killed.

Another Islamist group freed 18 Iraqi soldiers it had threatened to kill, but more than a dozen other hostages are still facing death unless demands from their captors are met.

Two French journalists were seized a month ago, and two female Italian aid workers were kidnapped in broad daylight in central Baghdad earlier this month.

A statement purportedly from the group holding the French said at the weekend they were no longer captives but had agreed to stay with the group for some time to cover it. France said on Monday it was preparing for a long wait for their release.

Another group has threatened to kill 10 workers from a U.S.-Turkish firm unless their company stopped doing business in Iraq within three days. Most of the workers seized are believed to be Turkish.

On Sunday a guerrilla group said it had captured 18 Iraqi soldiers and would kill them unless authorities freed an aide to Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, Hazem al-Araji, within 48 hours. Araji was arrested on Saturday night by U.S.-backed forces, Sadr's supporters said.

The release of the Iraqi soldiers -- shown on a video given to Reuters -- followed an appeal by a Sadr aide, Ali Smeisim, for the hitherto unknown group, the Mohammad bin Abdullah Brigades, to free them.

The brief video showed the soldiers, dressed in white gowns and holding Korans to their chests, sitting in a room.

It was not immediately clear if Araji had been released.

One U.S. soldier was killed when guerrillas attacked a U.S. patrol north of Baghdad on Monday, the U.S. military said.

In the northern city of Mosul, a car rigged with explosives blew up killing all three inside the vehicle in what was probably a premature detonation of the bomb, police said.

In a separate incident in the same area, two Turkish journalists and two Turkish Red Crescent workers were wounded after gunmen opened fire on their vehicle, police said.

The Association of Muslim Scholars, an influential Sunni group, said two of its members were assassinated in separate incidents over the past 24 hours, raising concerns guerrillas were targeting clerics to try to spark sectarian war.

More than 300 Iraqis have been killed in a surge of violence over the past 10 days, casting doubt on whether elections can go ahead in January as scheduled.

Prime Minister Iyad Allawi insisted on Sunday the polls would take place as planned. "We definitely are going to stick to the timetable of elections in January next year," Allawi said after talks in London with British Prime Minister Tony Blair (news - web sites).

The U.S. military says it has launched a drive to regain control of rebel-held areas ahead of the elections.

Sunday, September 19


Bush, Cheney, and Rove heads on top of fluttering pigeonhawks

As you can tell I need a laugh every now and again. When you're dealing with as dispair-inspiring a subject as politics laughter becomes a matter of maintaining sanity. That is what much of poilitics consists of after all. As it is much of what men consist of. Madness. This cartoon is not only funny, it is sad. The whole damn mess is pretty de-moralizing when you get downt to it. The idea that the people of this country could elect Bush to another term has it's own many tragedies folded within. It says things about my countrymen I don't want to believe. I can't help but think they deserve the destruction of America as it has always been, should they elect the destroyer to have his way. For who could do such a thing? Knowing what they know? Or if they do not yet know the nature of the threat GW Bush poses to our country and the world, how could they have remained so apathetic to the threats, challenges, and problems facing our country that they did not seek the truth out for themselves??? This election is not only a referendum on GW Bush. It is a referendum on the American People. Will they elect a man that has less care for the middle-class and poor, more easily sends young men to war, than any bastard in the presidency since Nixon? Will they send a man that thinks government should be privatized, that's only economic policy is that of the upper 1 percent, whose only environmental policy is that of those whose agenda it is to grind up America the Beautiful's most precious places and process them into cash, back to Washington to do more damage? Will the American people elect a man that was born with a silver foot in his mouth, avoided combat in Vietnam by joining the National Guard, and deserted his duty, the Guard, and the Nation that trained him, because he didn't feel like it anymore; Rather than a decorated war hero that, afterward, had the courage as a citizen to stand by the good of his nation and stand up for his comrades in arms to end a war that was killing them, when Nixon and his cabinet knew te war couldn't be won. Kerry put his ass on the line for all time to do the right thing then. Stood against the greater forces and helped defeat them. Over thirty years later Americans will be asked which of these men is the more worthy. And their answer terrifies me almost as much for my lingering faith in my countrymen as it does for the future of My country and the world. Sorrow being the secret source of humor, I find this cartoon fitting:

Bush, Cheney, and Rove heads on top of fluttering pigeonhawks - Journalism Under Fire

The world may have moved on, but Bill Moyers will not allow journalistic integrity to go without a fight. He is one of the last knights. A living reminder of the golden age in journalism. A day long thought to last forever passes. Here is what Bill has to say upon reflection: - Journalism Under Fire - Bill Moyers September 11th, 2004

Bill Moyers and Walter Cronkite at the University of Texas flashing the hook em horns sign
Bill Moyers, Walter Cronkite, and others @ UT Austin.
Hoom em Horns!


I've had just about enough of that favorite GOP press shill employed by CNN, Bill Schneider. Unbelievably, I just heard him say on CNN that Dick Cheney is right, Osama Bin Laden certainly wants Bush defeated, ergo he'd very much like to see John Kerry elected. He implied that anyone listening to the relative messages coming from the White House and the Kerry campaign would agree which ones would alarm Osama and which would not.

HOW DOES HE KNOW THAT? Logic says that since Bush is the terrorists' "wet dream" in terms of his policies aiding recruiting efforts, radicalizing moderate Arabs, and wrecking the American economy with his misadventures in Iraq, that radical Islamists would love to see Bush carry on. Schneider is, as usual, conflating Bush's anti-terrorist rhetoric with actual progress in the war against them.


I love a good morality tale, and nobody does it better than Digby:

You know, I don't know why Atrios is so upset about people like Woodruff and Gergen and Carlson obviously spewing RNC talking points about how Kerry has to come up with a plan for Iraq in order to win, but Bush doesn't. The logic is obvious.

Suppose you hired a contractor to put on a new roof and he ended up creating a huge hole in it instead. The contractor simply denies that a hole exists and keeps telling you to relax that your new roof is coming along just fine. The other contractor in town drives by and says he can fix that hole in your roof. You ask him how and he says, "well, I'll have to take a look at it and see how much damage is done but I have years of experience and a lot of good workers and I can get the job done for you. I'll tell you one thing, that guy you've got working on it doesn't know what he's doing. The hole's getting bigger while we stand here looking at it."

Gergen, Woodruff and Carlson would pick the first contractor because they know his work. (And he's a blast to have a beer with at the end of the workday.) The second guy refused to say exactly what he would do without looking at the damage up close so he can't be trusted.

All of these people are very highly paid analysts and they know what they are doing. We should listen to them.

In the roofing business there are established, reputable contractors, who have real offices and records of happy customers, and then there are fly-by-night semi-scam artists who operate their business out of their pickup truck or car trunk and prey on senior citizens and other vulnerable people and say "trust me." I think we all know into which category BushCo falls.


Let's see. Dick Cheney compares our mission in Iraq to the American democracy experiment. Hm. Dick says it took from 1776 to 1789 (i.e., 13 years) for the U.S.A. to win independence and establish an acceptable constitution, so we shouldn't be impatient about our adventure-in-democratic-nation-building in Iraq.

"Soccer moms" (among other women) are now flocking to Bush in droves, women trusting Bush over Kerry 48-to-43 to protect their children from terrorist attacks. In general, a NY Times poll shows voters trust Bush over Kerry 50-to-26 to protect the nation from another terrorist attack.

Over the course of the next 13 years, every one of those soccer moms so anxious about their child's safety will have to face that child's eligibility for a military draft (isn't it inevitable if Bush is pRe-elected?).

Moms, better face the fact that if your child has an exponentially better chance of being killed in one of Bush's neocon-inspired fantasy wars than in a terrorist attack.

UPDATE: Corrente has more.


Here's a political cartoon courtesy of Fred @ Fold, Spindle, Mutilate

Scene: National Guardsmen in a firefight against Iraqi insurrgents.  Television on the floor features a Fox News anchor saying, 'So What Does It Matter If Bush Avoided Combat And Shirked His National Guard Duty?  What Relevance Does That Have Today?'  At the bottom of the screen one of the National guardsmen reads a letter: 'Congratulations: Your national guard unit gets to spend another year in Baghdad' -G.W. Bush