Thursday, July 31, 2003


Let me clear my throat


I'd love nothing more than to see a rebound in the economy, but I think that the cheering I hear from Wall Street seems a little premature:

Stirring from months of stubborn listlessness, the economy pushed ahead in the second quarter at the fastest pace since last summer. That, coupled with another drop in new claims for unemployment benefits, raised hopes that America's economic health is on the mend.

The broadest barometer of the economy's shape, gross domestic product, expanded at an annual rate of 2.4 percent in the April to June quarter, the Commerce Department reported Thursday. The improvement came after two straight quarters of lousy economic growth. GDP increased at just a 1.4 percent pace in the final quarter of 2002 and the first three months of this year.

Ahem!

Another big factor behind the rise in second quarter GDP: a stunning 44.1 percent growth rate in government defense spending, the largest increase since the third quarter of 1951.

Considering that job growth still seems stalled (even though "only" 388,000 people lost their jobs last week), I don't think we're going to just bomb our way out of this economic morass.

The weird thing is, I thought that Bush and the Republicans were cutting defense spending. Oh, wait. That's right. They're just trying to cap the pay and cut the benefits of our service members; to block laws that would keep promises to our veterans; to kick vets out of the VA health system; and cutting education funding to soldiers' children after he sent them overseas. So where's all that money going?

Oh. It's going to Bush's daddy and other Republican war profiteers.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003


No wonder Bush doesn't do press conferences often


People might hold him responsible for the things he says:

Q Saddam Hussein's alleged ties to al Qaeda were a key part of your justification for war. Yet, your own intelligence report, the NIE, defined it as -- quote -- "low confidence that Saddam would give weapons to al Qaeda." Were those links exaggerated to justify war? Or can you finally offer us some definitive evidence that Saddam was working with al Qaeda terrorists?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. I think, first of all, remember I just said we've been there for 90 days since the cessation of major military operations. Now, I know in our world where news comes and goes and there's this kind of instant -- instant news and you must have done this, you must do this yesterday, that there's a level of frustration by some in the media. I'm not suggesting you're frustrated. You don't look frustrated to me at all. But it's going to take time for us to gather the evidence and analyze the mounds of evidence, literally, the miles of documents that we have uncovered.

Condi, September 25, 2002:

(T)there were in the past and have been contacts between senior Iraqi officials and members of al Qaeda going back for actually quite a long time... We know that Saddam Hussein has a long history with terrorism in general. And there are some al Qaeda personnel who found refuge in Baghdad. There clearly are contacts between al Qaeda and Iraq that can be documented.

Rumsfeld, September 26, 2002:

We have what we consider to be credible evidence that al Qaeda leaders have sought contacts in Iraq who could help them acquire weapons of mass destruction capabilities.

Bush, State of the Union Address:

Evidence from intelligence sources, secret communications, and statements by people now in custody reveal that Saddam Hussein aids and protects terrorists, including members of al Qaeda.

Hey, George! If we had all this intelligence before? Why do we have to look through "miles of documents" to find a link? I'm frankly more interested in what you thought you had before you sent troops into war than what we find after.





Bush: Those damn journalists


Today:

Q I wanted to ask you about Iran, one of your other countries in the axis of evil. One of the things we learned from that march to war is that when you start warning countries, they better pay attention. Are we now in the early stages of a march to war in Iran? Or are they more like in the category of North Korea?

THE PRESIDENT: No, I -- look, Hutch, I remember right after Iraq the first thing that happened out of -- out of some writers' pens was that, oh, no, they're getting ready to attack either Syria or Iran. You know, the march to war is just a campaign that's just going to march everywhere.

April:

Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz - regarded as the real architect of the Iraqi war and its aftermath - said on Thursday that 'the Syrians have been shipping killers into Iraq to try and kill Americans', adding: 'We need to think about what our policy is towards a country that harbors terrorists or harbors war criminals.

'There will have to be change in Syria, plainly,' said Wolfowitz.

February:

"Change is needed in all those three countries (Iran, Syria and Lybia), and a few others besides," Richard Perle told the London-based author and analyst Amir Taheri.

Is Bush blaming Fox News for the economy?


Sure sounds like it:

Q Thank you, sir. Since taking office you signed into law three major tax cuts -- two of which have had plenty of time to take effect, the third of which, as you pointed out earlier, is taking effect now. Yet, the unemployment rate has continued rising. We now have more evidence of a massive budget deficit that taxpayers are going to be paying off for years or decades to come; the economy continues to shed jobs. What evidence can you point to that tax cuts, at least of the variety that you have supported, are really working to help this economy? And do you need to be thinking about some other approach?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. No, to answer the last part of your question. First of all, let me -- just a quick history, recent history. The stock market started to decline in March of 2000. Then the first quarter of 2001 was a recession. And then we got attacked in 9/11. And then corporate scandals started to bubble up to the surface, which created a -- a lack of confidence in the system. And then we had the drumbeat to war. Remember on our TV screens -- I'm not suggesting which network did this -- but it said, "March to War," every day from last summer until the spring -- "March to War, March to War." That's not a very conducive environment for people to take risk, when they hear, "March to War" all the time.

Get that? it wasn't the war, but it was the media saying we were going to go to war that made people less likely to invest.

Could he possibly believe any of his own crap?


Tuesday, July 29, 2003


Hmmm...


This reminds me of someone... Wait... It's on the tip of my tongue...

"To me, this is one part of our history where we almost lost our democracy," said Dash, now a Georgetown University law professor. "We had a president who thought he was above the law, and we had a system of government that worked. That story has to be told and retold. I think one of the most dangerous things in the world is an American presidency and an administration that so misunderstands the nature of our country and our Bill of Rights that dissent is seen as un-American."


Terrorist betting pool idea scrapped


From the Times:

The Pentagon office that proposed spying electronically on Americans to monitor potential terrorists has quickly abandoned an idea in which anonymous speculators would have bet on forecasting terrorist attacks, assassinations and coups in an online futures market.

Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today that program was being "terminated."

...

Those statements signaled the end of a program that was met with astonishment and derision almost from the moment it was disclosed.

Under the discarded plan, traders bullish on a biological attack on Israel, say, or bearish on the chances of a North Korean missile strike would have had the opportunity to bet on the likelihood of such events on a new Internet site established by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

The Pentagon called its latest idea a new way of predicting events and part of its search for the "broadest possible set of new ways to prevent terrorist attacks." But two Democratic senators who disclosed the plan on Monday called it morally repugnant and grotesque. The senators said the program fell under the control of Adm. John M. Poindexter, President Ronald Reagan's national security adviser.

The real reason they shut it down? "The President gets drunk and chokes on another pretzel" was running even odds.


Ronald Reagan hated his kids


Hey, don't jump on me about it. Maggie Gallagher's the one who, in her argument against gay marriage in The Weekly Standard, suggests that the only reason people really get married is because marriage "is designed to bridge the male-female divide and sustain the idea that children need mothers and fathers." She goes on to suggest that anyone who doesn't believe in keeping a marriage together through thick and thin, then, is failing his or her children. "Do adults, or do they not, have a basic obligation to control their desires so that children can have mothers and fathers?"

You could ask Patti and Michael Reagan that question, I guess. Or the young children Newt Gingrich left with his first wife. Or, I guess, his first two wives. Or Marvin Olasky's first wife. Or twice-divorced serial philanderer and deadbeat dad Bob Barr.

Maggie does have some interesting questions to ask, though, even though she doesn't know it:

How can Bill and Bob's marriage hurt Mary and Joe? In an exchange with me in the just-released book "Marriage and Same Sex Unions: A Debate," Evan Wolfson, chief legal strategist for same-sex marriage in the Hawaii case, Baer v. Lewin, argues there is "enough marriage to share." What counts, he says, "is not family structure, but the quality of dedication, commitment, self-sacrifice, and love in the household."

Family structure does not count (italics Maggie's). Then what is marriage for? Why have laws about it? Why care whether people get married or stay married? Do children need mothers and fathers, or will any sort of family do? When the sexual desires of adults clash with the interests of children, which carries more weight, socially and legally?

The real question here isn't "what is marriage for," but, honestly, why do we have laws about it? I mean, marriage wasn't, as Maggie suggests, instituted to protect children. It was instituted as a bond between two people, sealed by an agreement with God. That's it. Hell, Gideon had many wives, over seventy sons and concubines on the side. God seemed to like him just fine, even though I doubt he had much use for the idea of "mutual caretaking and shared parenting," Maggie's two big reasons for wedlock. In Deuteronomy it even says that rebellious sons should be taken by their parents to be stoned to death. Child-rearing, apparently wasn't the point of marriage, because, if you screwed up, you could just have the kid rubbed out.

Also, if Maggie and her buddies really believed in the right of religion to be exercised without the interference of the state, she and her friends would tell the state to get out of the way and just let churches decide who gets married. It ought to be painfully obvious to all concerned that the only justifiable reason a state has to oversee marriage is because the state is the ultimate enforcer of contracts. The state, though, is not a religious institution and should have no interest in wedlock as a "sacred institution." The sacramental nature of an act should be left up to churches only. (This wouldn't, no matter what Santorum says, make marrying an animal or your a child legal, because neither are legally able to consent to legally binding contracts. It also wouldn't legalize polygamy, because, if we treat marriage just like any other legal contract, then we would see that we are making an agreement with the other person to be legally committed to one another. I can't sell my house to two separate parties, why would I be allowed to legally give my life to two different people?)

There is also a hypocrisy inherent in any argument that argues for keeping gay marriage illegal in order to protect a "social ideal," but doesn't, at the same time, argue for the criminalization of divorce; the closing of quickie Vegas-style wedding chapels; legally forbidding cohabitation; or the outlawing of out of wedlock births. What Maggie's saying is that two people who love each other and what to commit to that love aren't allowed because of their sex, but it's just fine if Joe marries Mary after a single night of drining in Tahoe, divorces her later, leaving her to move in with Bill and get pregnant. Where is the ideal represented in that completely legal burlesque?

Finally, though, there is a problem with the very argument Maggie is espousing. She's saying it's necessary to have a mother and a father to raise a child. I agree with her to the point that I don't think one person can raise a child completely on his or her own -- not well, anyway -- but I would argue that the reasons that children who come from homes with heterosexual married parents are somewhat happier has less to do with the home itself than it does to do with what happens when they leave that home. Recently, Bill Bennett argued that there must be something wrong with homosexuality, because so many gays say they wouldn't choose that lifestyle if the choice was theirs to make. Bill didn't realize, as Maggie doesn't, that gays don't usually have a problem being gay, but dealing with assholes like Bill Bennett. The son of a friend tried to commit suicide in high school when he realized he was gay. He didn't try to die because of a personal shame, but because he knew he was going to have to deal with all sorts of Bennett clones who would love nothing more than to make his life a living hell. So, if Maggie and Bill really gave a damn about kids, they would work not on trying to enforce stigmas, but by helping to erase them.

Monday, July 28, 2003


Comments at the Dole Institute dedication


I was lucky enough to attend the dedication of the Dole Institute of Politics in Lawrence, Kansas, last week. I've always admired Dole for his courage after being wounded in battle, for his humor and for his willingness to do the right thing, even if it wasn't the "right wing" thing -- hell, if not for Gingrich and others trying to force him to the right in 1996, the old boy might have beaten Clinton.

Not only did I get to see Bob Dole, but I also got to hear Jimmy Carter, George McGovern and Condi Rice speak. When Carter spoke, there was a huge round of applause in one particular part of his speech that I thought I would share with you here.

And now we are at a time of assessing some of the changes taking place in our country. None of them would ever have contemplated so called "pre-emptive war" unless there was a very clear, proven and direct threat to the security of our nation. In fact, when Thomas Jefferson left office, he said that the greatest achievement in his term of office was the fact that the United States of America had not engaged in military action against any enemy because we had resolved our problems and met our challenges through peaceful means. (Huge applause here. - Nitpicker)

More people have been concerned lately about the so-called Patriot Act, designed with very good intentions to deal with the threat of terrorism in our own country. I'll just say this is a potential threat to civil liberties, reminding us of McCarthyism in the early '50s.

...

Ours is the greatest nation. And I don't think there is any doubt that the principles that describe a great nation are justice, truth, peace, freedom, democracy, civil and human rights, protection of the quality of the environment and alleviation of the suffering of others.

Tom Brokaw has identified my generation, because of my age, as the "Greatest Generation." I'm not sure. We did fight in an enormous war combat when our country was directly attacked, but maybe the greatest generation has been the ones who have preserved peace and have demonstrated the other attributes of a nation, in addition to its military prowess. History will ultimately judge.

I watched Rice through my camera lens as Carter said this. She looked like someone had dipped here entire face in Botox. (It should be remembered that, on the same day, Stephen Hadley was taking a political bullet for her.)

Even Bob Dole seemed to be thinking of Bush (and Rick Santorum and Tom Delay) when he talked about why he shared the stage with Carter and McGovern:

By his presence here this morning, President Carter honors us all. He reminds us how honorable a profession public service can be. I'll never forget something my friend George McGovern said. It was 10 years ago, and we had just come from Pat Nixon's funeral in California. Reporters were curious about George's presence. In response to their questions, he expressed his admiration for Mrs. Nixon. When the reporters persisted, thinking that he must still hold a grudge against the man he opposed for the presidency in 1972, George said one of the classiest things I've ever heard. He told them, "You can't keep campaigning forever."

That's the kind of politics I hope we can encourage here -- where conviction co-exists with civility, and the clash of ideas is never confused with a holy war.

Nice.

Whaa?


In the stupidest column ever (below), William Kristol repeatedly says that George Bush is a genius. Here's the genius today in Philly:

You see, if you believe every child can learn, then you ought to be asking the question to those who are spending our money: are you teaching the child? That's what we ought to be asking all across America. And now there's accountability plans being put in place in 50 states, plus Puerto Rico and the District. I know people are concerned about testing. I've heard this debate a lot. They say it's discriminatory to measure and compare results. I say it is discriminatory not to measure. I think it's important to know whether or not our schools are succeeding. We simply have got to stop shuffling our children from grade to grade without asking the question, have they been taught to learn to read and write and add and subtract?

I believe it is those who believe certain can't learn that are willing to shuffle them through.

Note the absence of public speaking skills in the President's list of things children should learn.

The stupidest column ever


Oh.

My.

God.

Republicans are getting so desperate it's funny. Read Bill "Bush=McCarthy" Kristol's latest and you'll see just how desperate they are:

Almost two weeks ago, the president ordered his White House staff to bollix up its explanation of that now-infamous 16-word "uranium from Africa" sentence in his State of the Union address. As instructed, and with the rhetorical ear and political touch for which they have become justly renowned, assorted senior administration officials, named and unnamed, proceeded to unleash all manner of contradictory statements. The West Wing stood by the president's claim. Or it didn't. Or the relevant intelligence reports had come from Britain and were faulty. Or hadn't and weren't. Smelling blood, just as they'd been meant to, first the media--and then the Democratic party--dove into the resulting "scandal" head first and fully clothed.

Get that? Bush ordered his staff to look stupid! He was just leading the Democrats into a trap!

As he sits back and chuckles at what Kristol calls "his nefarious scheme," I wonder what "nefarious" purpose he might have had in allowing his approval ratings to drop like a stone.

Note to Kristol: Considering your recent "outing" as a pater plagiarist, you may want to look into seeing a therapist, since your latest column displays either your first brush with real honesty or a major Freudian slip. Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines nefarious as "flagrantly wicked or impious" or "evil" from the Greek word nefas, meaning crime.

Lest we forget...


Lawyer: DNA clears man on death row since '82

DNA evidence proves that a man on death row since 1982 for rape and murder is innocent, a defense attorney said today.

Nicholas James Yarris, 42, of Philadelphia, who is on death row for the murder of Linda Craig, 32, of Boothwyn, was convicted based on unreliable forensic evidence and witness testimony that put him at the scene of the crime, attorney Christina Swans said.

Recently completed testing shows that Yarris' DNA did not match physical evidence left on the victim's clothing and under her fingernails, said Swans, of the Federal Defender Association of Philadelphia.

The Texas Clemency Memos
Gonzales's summaries were Bush's primary source of information in deciding whether someone would live or die. Each is only three to seven pages long and generally consists of little more than a brief description of the crime, a paragraph or two on the defendant's personal background, and a condensed legal history. Although the summaries rarely make a recommendation for or against execution, many have a clear prosecutorial bias, and all seem to assume that if an appeals court rejected one or another of a defendant's claims, there is no conceivable rationale for the governor to revisit that claim. This assumption ignores one of the most basic reasons for clemency: the fact that the justice system makes mistakes.

A close examination of the Gonzales memoranda suggests that Governor Bush frequently approved executions based on only the most cursory briefings on the issues in dispute. In fact, in these documents Gonzales repeatedly failed to apprise the governor of crucial issues in the cases at hand: ineffective counsel, conflict of interest, mitigating evidence, even actual evidence of innocence.

Respect for the flag


Drudge (shudder) is reporting that Bush violated the United States Code by signing a flag in Livonia, Mich. It's true, of course, but why hasn't anyone busted Fox News yet for slapping the flag all over their commericals yet? The U.S.C. clearly states that the "flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever."

Update: Some great writing on the issue from Matt Bivens at The Nation:

Is this nitpicking? Yes and no. On the one hand, it's more a faux pas than a crime, and certainly not that important in the grand scheme of things. The Republic will survive. On the other hand, our leaders reveal their true selves in small things. Signing one's autograph on something -- a baseball, a photograph, a scrap of paper -- is supposed to make that inconsequential something more valuable. But the flag of democracy was long ago consecrated far above a mere president's poor power to add or detract. A true patriot would understand that instinctively -- particularly if he also happened to be the US president at a time of war -- and would recoil if offered a flag and asked to scribble his name on it.

Wonderful.

He also gives a different link to the photo, for those who just can't stomach visiting Drudge.

From the "I guess there is such a thing as a dumb question" file


From the Los Angeles Times:

(Issa campaign manager Scott) Taylor also took a shot at Michael Huffington, the 1994 Republican nominee for U.S. Senate. Huffington, a wealthy former congressman who lives in Brentwood, released a statement Friday that he might run for governor as a moderate. Taylor said Huffington, who is openly gay, was not a serious candidate.

"I just have the feeling voters aren't going to embrace the first bisexual gubernatorial candidate," Taylor said. Minutes later, Issa's communications director, Jonathan Wilcox, said Taylor's remark about Huffington had been "reckless."

"Might I ask you not to print that?" he asked.

Jonathon Wilcox: Funny guy.

Bill Thomas, Asshole


I was reading the New York Times article on Rep. Bill Thomas (R-CA) today and I found something that should have had people calling him an asshole long before he called the cops on Democrats:

The portly and bespectacled Mr. Thomas, 61, represents the southern end of California's Central Valley, the cradle of one of the richest farm belts in the nation. He grew up poor — his father was a plumber and his family lived in public housing for a time — put himself through college and then taught political science at a community college in Bakersfield.

So, despite the fact that big, bad government helped out the Thomas family when it was in a bind, this bastard then happily signed off on this year's Omnibus Spending Bill, which cut the housing subsidy by 10 percent, all to help fund that tax cut, which goes mostly to the rich.

Like Newt Gingrich before him -- who railed against the big, bad government which had supported him all of his life -- Bill Thomas is a hypocritical bastard. Don't let his sad puppy dog eyes fool you.

Answers


Quite a few people joined in the Nitpicker's First Ever "Win a Partisan Fruitcake Competition," but, suprisingly no one got all the answers right. In fact, there was one trick quote which I would have let slide, but no one even came close.

To recap, I asked people to see if they could name the Bush/Republican Congress critics, who, by the very fact they had questioned the President and his buddies, had proven that they were evil partisan liberals. It was all bullshit. Here are the answers:

  1. Right now the deficit is 4.2 percent of GDP that they're projecting for this year; that's about normal when you are running a recession. Then it's supposed to come down according to projections to about 1.8 percent of GDP, which would be great. My question is will it really? One of the things we've learned is that Democrats are better at controlling spending than Republicans. Bill Clinton's growth domestic spending was a lot lower than George W. Bush's or George H. W. Bush's were. And so I have a feeling the Republicans are going to spend. - David Brooks, Editor, Weekly Standard


  2. Thus, in (the Congressional Republicans’) view, once someone is elected president, he or she faces no legal or political constraint. The president doesn't need congressional authority; Washington doesn't need UN authority. Allied support is irrelevant. The president needn't offer the public a justification for going to war that holds up after the conflict ends. The president may not even be questioned about the legitimacy of his professed justification. Accept his word and let him do whatever he wants, irrespective of circumstances.

    This is not the government created by the Founders. This is not the government that any believer in liberty should favor. - Doug Bandow, Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute and former special assistant to Ronald Reagan


  3. Federal spending is soaring at every level. The first three years of the Bush administration have given us three of the five biggest increases in government spending in US history; the other two were during World War II… And the United States is on the road to France in terms of how big our government is, and President Bush has done nothing to get us off that road. - Kevin Hasset, American Enterprise Institute Scholar


  4. We have a department now, a national focus on homeland security. We've got some more money coming out.

    But the depressing reality is that, when you look at the range of threats that we have out there, many of them from terrorist attacks -- others as well, just because of the nature of the modern world like SARS and monkeypox that can spread like crazy just around the world -- that we just do not have the resources ready or a plan in place or communications available to deal with them.

    We're far away from it and we've been inching towards a goal to which we should have been sprinting…

    We need a number of things. We need to put a plan in place. It's inertia in the process as much as anything. We need to have standards set nationally that we can apply to the local level.

    Congress has moved very, very slowly to create its own integrated process here. We have a department -- excuse me, a committee on homeland security that's only a select committee in the House. Nothing that's been done in the Senate so we can provide overall oversight.

    And frankly the administration, while it has inched towards this goal, really hasn't given the kind of drive to homeland security that they've given to dealing with these threats abroad. - Norman Ornstein, American Enterprise Institute


  5. Our government has kept us in a perpetual state of fear -­ kept us in a continuous stampede of patriotic fervour ­- with the cry of grave national emergency. Always, there has been some terrible evil at home, or some monstrous foreign power that was going to gobble us up if we did not blindly rally behind it. - Gen. Douglas MacArthur, 1957


  6. Mr Bush could have asked Congress to pass new anti-terrorism laws. Instead, he is setting up a shadow court system outside the reach of either Congress or America's judiciary, and answerable only to himself. Such a system is the antithesis of the rule of law which the United States was founded to uphold. In a speech on July 4th, Mr Bush rightly noted that American ideals have been a beacon of hope to others around the world. In compromising those ideals in this matter, Mr Bush is not only dismaying America's friends but also blunting one of America's most powerful weapons against terrorism. - Editorial in The Economist


  7. We have interrogated a lot of people and we haven't found a single person who said he participated in disposing, destroying the stock of weapons of mass destruction. Or in hiding them… But it is fair to say that if we don't find serious weapons of mass destruction capabilities, the case for urgency, which Bush and Blair certainly articulated, is going to be undercut to some degree. - William Kristol, editor of Weekly Standard, on Fox News Sunday, June 8, 2003


  8. There's a cloud hanging over this administration… We had the vice president and his office involved -- Rumsfeld, Condi Rice, Powell's people. This wasn't just a one-man show. And this is too serious here for this country to not know what happened. - Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE), also here


  9. We should not march into Baghdad. To occupy Iraq would instantly shatter our coalition, turning the whole Arab world against us and make a broken tyrant into a latter-day Arab hero. Assigning young soldiers to a fruitless hunt for a securely entrenched dictator and condemning them to fight in what would be an unwinnable urban guerilla war, it could only plunge that part of the world into ever greater instability. - George H.W. Bush, A World Transformed

Now, my point in listing all these instances of Republicans and other conservatives bashing the President is to show that there are valid reasons that the President needs to be kept in check. Note that none of these attacks is really a "wingnut check" -- a swipe at a Republican from the right in order to keep him true to ultra-conservative values -- but they are, instead, the very same complaints that are coming from the so-called-liberal-Democratic-presidential-candidates. How, then, can they be so easily brushed off as partisan? I suggest you print this list of quotes, clip it out and keep it in your wallet like a Get Out Of "These Are All Just Partisan Democrat Attacks" Argument Free Card.

Thursday, July 24, 2003


If it was good enough for Joey it's good enough for Georgie



Eric Alterman catches William Kristol defending Bush with the same words his daddy used to defend McCarthy. Hilarious!

In this morning’s Washington Post, Kristol writes, “But the American people, whatever their doubts about aspects of Bush’s foreign policy, know that Bush is serious about fighting terrorists and terrorist states that mean America harm. About Bush’s Democratic critics, they know no such thing.” In the journal Commentary, during the McCarthy era, Irving Kristol wrote, “For there is one thing that the American people know about Senator McCarthy; he, like them, is unequivocally anti-Communist. About the spokesman for American liberalism, they feel they know no such thing.”

Go see what Eric, astutely, says it means.


The First Ever "Win a Partisan Fruitcake" Contest!


Most of you have probably seen these before, but I thought that, putting these quotes all in one place might shed some light on just how partisan our country has become and how desperate liberals are to attack President Bush.

Let's try to make this fun, though. Try to see if you can guess who leveled these despicable charges at the President and his policies. The first person who sends me the correct answer gets a fruitcake (or, at least, an e-mailed picture of one) and a "Way to go" mention on this blog. Here we go!

  1. Right now the deficit is 4.2 percent of GDP that they're projecting for this year; that's about normal when you are running a recession. Then it's supposed to come down according to projections to about 1.8 percent of GDP, which would be great. My question is will it really? One of the things we've learned is that Democrats are better at controlling spending than Republicans. Bill Clinton's growth domestic spending was a lot lower than George W. Bush's or George H. W. Bush's were. And so I have a feeling the Republicans are going to spend.


  2. Thus, in (the Congressional Republicans’) view, once someone is elected president, he or she faces no legal or political constraint. The president doesn't need congressional authority; Washington doesn't need UN authority. Allied support is irrelevant. The president needn't offer the public a justification for going to war that holds up after the conflict ends. The president may not even be questioned about the legitimacy of his professed justification. Accept his word and let him do whatever he wants, irrespective of circumstances.

    This is not the government created by the Founders. This is not the government that any believer in liberty should favor.


  3. Federal spending is soaring at every level. The first three years of the Bush administration have given us three of the five biggest increases in government spending in US history; the other two were during World War II… And the United States is on the road to France in terms of how big our government is, and President Bush has done nothing to get us off that road.


  4. We have a department now, a national focus on homeland security. We've got some more money coming out.

    But the depressing reality is that, when you look at the range of threats that we have out there, many of them from terrorist attacks -- others as well, just because of the nature of the modern world like SARS and monkeypox that can spread like crazy just around the world -- that we just do not have the resources ready or a plan in place or communications available to deal with them.

    We're far away from it and we've been inching towards a goal to which we should have been sprinting…

    And frankly the administration, while it has inched towards this goal, really hasn't given the kind of drive to homeland security that they've given to dealing with these threats abroad.


  5. Our government has kept us in a perpetual state of fear -­ kept us in a continuous stampede of patriotic fervour ­- with the cry of grave national emergency. Always, there has been some terrible evil at home, or some monstrous foreign power that was going to gobble us up if we did not blindly rally behind it.


  6. Mr Bush could have asked Congress to pass new anti-terrorism laws. Instead, he is setting up a shadow court system outside the reach of either Congress or America's judiciary, and answerable only to himself. Such a system is the antithesis of the rule of law which the United States was founded to uphold. In a speech on July 4th, Mr Bush rightly noted that American ideals have been a beacon of hope to others around the world. In compromising those ideals in this matter, Mr Bush is not only dismaying America's friends but also blunting one of America's most powerful weapons against terrorism.


  7. We have interrogated a lot of people and we haven't found a single person who said he participated in disposing, destroying the stock of weapons of mass destruction. Or in hiding them… But it is fair to say that if we don't find serious weapons of mass destruction capabilities, the case for urgency, which Bush and Blair certainly articulated, is going to be undercut to some degree.


  8. There's a cloud hanging over this administration… We had the vice president and his office involved -- Rumsfeld, Condi Rice, Powell's people. This wasn't just a one-man show. And this is too serious here for this country to not know what happened.


  9. We should not march into Baghdad. To occupy Iraq would instantly shatter our coalition, turning the whole Arab world against us and make a broken tyrant into a latter-day Arab hero. Assigning young soldiers to a fruitless hunt for a securely entrenched dictator and condemning them to fight in what would be an unwinnable urban guerilla war, it could only plunge that part of the world into ever greater instability.

Good luck!


Wolfowitticisms, Part II



July 23, 2003:

But in addition to the fear of the regime, there's a certain fear of us of a different kind, that we will repeat the performance of 1991 and we will leave and Saddam will come back. And we heard quite a few times that the rumor that is being spread by the Ba'athists, believe it or not, is that: "We have a deal with the CIA." And in the Middle East, people will believe almost anything.

He added, "I even heard one guy say he believes that 'there is no God but Allah and Mohammed is his prophet.'" He then made the circling finger motion near his temple and mimicked the sound of a cuckoo clock.

It gets better, though.

Here's how Wolfie "clarified" that statement a few minutes later:

It's a comment on how we are seen as a country that can do anything, that can restore power overnight. Sometimes it's nice to have the reputation for being almost godlike, but frankly, I think it produces this phenomenon that if something isn't happening, it must be because the Americans don't want it to happen; and they begin to invent the most elaborate reasons to explain it. And the fact is -- you know it -- we often just make mistakes. We do stupid things. And then people spend years and years afterwards with elaborate explanations of not, "Gee the Americans are stupid," but, "There must be some very ingenious plot here."

The man's a genius. Middle Easterners will believe anything and we do stupid things. Thanks, Paul, for clearing that up.

(Wolfowitticism I)

Wednesday, July 23, 2003


Bleeding heart


I'm no pacifist and I know that Uday and Qusay were evil bastards, but I just can't see my way clear to celebrate the deaths of anyone. Call me a bleeding heart liberal if you want. I'm fine with that.

Everyone, I think, should remember the words of Captain Jack Philip -- a sailor who fought for our country in the Spanish-American War, but was so devout that he convinced his fellow captains not to attack on a Sunday. As his ship, the USS Texas, passed the burning wreck they had made of the Spanish cruiser Vizcaya, his men began to cheer. Philip silenced them, yelling "Don't cheer men. Those poor devils are dying."

Stephen Hadley: Liar



Does this presidential sin eater really expect us to believe that he just forgot -- until now -- that he had been told that information about Iraq getting uranium was weak? How stupid are we supposed to be?

Honestly, I can't imagine that someone who, according to the New York Times, "has a reputation for fanatical attention to detail" just tossed these memos aside. He didn't recall them when, just a few weeks after the State of the Union address and a few days after Colin Powell didn't mention the "evidence", he wrote: "Iraq has an active procurement program. According to British intelligence, the regime has tried to acquire natural uranium from abroad"? He just has all the other information he used in his head at all times, but can't remember that he was given a memo that said we don't know that this stuff is true? Even when those memos and CIA objections are what kept Bush from using the same language in October?

My God this bullshit is getting deep.


An expert speaks


As I've mentioned before, I contacted Prof. Mark Stoler, author of an excellent biography of George C. Marshall, once I heard that Ann Coulter's new book was badmouthing that great general and humanitarian. He commented at the time that anyone who would attack Marshall must have their facts wrong, but he would need to read the book before commenting further.

So, as guilty as I feel about his having to wade knee-deep in rhetorical crap, I'm glad to report that he has expanded his comments and sent me this:

Yesterday I read the section on Marshall in Coulter's new book and thus can now respond to your previous query. I found just about every sentence to be factually incoorect and/or the type of smear McCarthy himself would have been proud to author. Listed below are a few examples:

1) McCarthy did not call Marshall a traitor, communist or coward, Coulter argues--"He simply detailed Marshall's record." I have read McCarthy's 60,000 word diatribe and he implicitly calls Marshall all three;

2) Coulter claims that Marshall believed Mao was merely an agrarian reformer. I have never seen any evidence to support that conclusion and have seen plenty to counter it;

3) Coulter claims Marshall won the Nobel Peace Prize for "losing China." That is incorrect on two grounds. First, Marshall won the Nobel prize for the European Recovery Program (i.e. Marshall Plan), not for China. Secondly, neither Marshall nor any other American "lost" China, as none of them ever had China to lose;

4) Coulter also claims that Marshall opposed the Marshall Plan--which is of course an absurd statement. What she really means and says a few sentences later is that Marshall never envisioned it as a weapon in the Cold War. That is simply and factually incorrect and reveals her ignorance of the documents available on this subject. Her "evidence" consists of Marshall's public statement regarding the meaning of the Marshall Plan and the fact that he wanted to include the USSR within it. Again, she reveals her ignorance of the internal State Department and White House memos on all of this--inviting the Soviets was a propaganda ploy used with the knowledge that the Soviets would turn it down and thus be blamed for the division of Europe. Many if not most of Marshall's public statements were similarly propaganda ploys designed to win public support for the program. If Coulter truly believes such public relations statements, I have a bridge to sell her.

Beyond these specifics, the entire section on Marshall is a smear and diatribe unsupported by any facts. Indeed, the comments I made about McCarthy's attack in the middle paragraph on page 189 of my Marshall biography unfortunately hold true for Coulter's comments. Since she thinks so highly of McCarthy, that is far from surprising. I remain flabbergasted that some of the most absurd charges from one of the worst episodes in American history would surface again in 2003--and within a best-seller no less!

What a terrible commentary on the state of our nation...

Sincerely,

Mark Stoler

What could I add?

Tuesday, July 22, 2003


Responsible leadership


I havent' blogged much about the shifting of blame from person to person in the uproar over intelligence misuse. Frankly, it saddens me that anyone has to. What have we truly come to when we have to convince people that the president is responsible for his administration -- hell, for the very words that come from his own mouth!

Maybe if Bush had really put in some time in the military he would have learned one of its most important truisms. I first heard it as a sailor onboard (oddly enough) the USS Abraham Lincoln a few years ago from a man who I still admire to this day, then-Captain Robert Willard. He has since gone on to become a two-star and is Commander of the Navy's Seventh Fleet, so, one would think, he knows a little something about leadership. The upshot is that something (I can't remember what) had gotten screwed up and he was giving my lieutenant a respectful dressing down about it when I walked in the office and overheard just a bit of the conversation. Thing was, I was the one who had screwed up and said, "Sir, I heard what you were saying and I want you to know that the problem was my fault, not Lieutenant A----'s."

He could have simply said that it was none of my business. He was a captain, I an E-5. He didn't. He smiled and said, "Petty Officer Welch, I appreciate what you're trying to do and it's not that I don't believe you, but it's important that you learn something now, since you're going to someday lead sailors. You can delegate authority, but never responsibility."

It's the best thing the military taught me. I wish everyone would take it to heart.

Monday, July 21, 2003


Wolfowitticism



Man does this guy crack me up:

"I think all foreigners should stop interfering in the internal affairs of Iraq," said Wolfowitz, who is touring the country to meet U.S. troops and Iraqi officials.

Does he know he's being funny or is just a gift?

Fruitcake


No wonder Republicans want everyone to have guns, they're scared of everything -- including 71-year-olds with attitudes. Go read that story and then call Rep. Scott McGinnis and tell him how embarrassed you are for him that he was afraid of a man who's old enough to be his father. (And check out the look on his face in the picture on the linked page. Is someone calling him a fruitcake?)

Safire: Idiot



Read this:

Drop the premature conclusion that if we can't yet find proof of the destructive weapons, they never existed. That's like saying because we haven't found Osama or Saddam, those killers never existed.

Now, we must first mention that Safire just ripped these words -- uncredited -- from the mouth of Donald Rumsfeld ("Well I like to do my own research so I think what I would say is that we haven’t found Saddam Hussein and I don’t know anyone whose running around saying he didn’t exist.") and the logic behind them hasn't improved with use. Bullshit is not a baseball mitt.

Think about what he's saying here: Saying that something doesn't exist because we can't find it is like saying that something else doesn't exist because we can't find it, either. The difference, obviously, is that everyone's seen Saddam Hussein and no one had to trump up any intelligence to prove he was there. It's that simple. By Safire's logic, you could replace "destructive weapons" with anything -- pixies, the Loch Ness Monster, a Republican with a conscience -- and we have just as much reason to believe they exist as a person we saw on the news last night.

Update: Via (that other) Roger Ailes, I notice that Casper Weinberger has been making the same argument.

That we have not yet located huge deposits of weapons of mass destruction does not mean they do not or did not exist. After all, we have not yet found Saddam Hussein or his remains--but not even Democratic presidential candidates or the New York Times contend that he did not exist.

Dumbasses. They should all really coordinate their use of these appeals to ignorance. If you use them all up on the same weekend, where will you be when the president's poll numbers are in the low 40s? Like October.

Again: Bullshit is not a baseball mitt.

Friday, July 18, 2003


Bush ratings continue slide


Zogby has Bush approval rating at 53% and more people (47%) want someone new than want to keep Georgie Bring 'Em On (46%).


Resignation



How will the Bushies now tarnish the reputation of Isam al-Khajafi?

On July 9, with deep sorrow, I respectfully submitted my resignation as a member of the Iraqi Reconstruction and Development Council to U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz.

...

There was so much euphoria when Baghdad first fell, but the Americans came in and acted with arrogance. While many Iraqis are relieved to see Saddam out of power, and accept the fact that the U.S. is the only power than can secure some semblance of order, they now see the U.S. acting as an occupier.

Sadly, the vision for a transitional government and democratic elections, put forward by Mr. Wolfowitz seems to have been forgotten in the everyday pressures of post-war Iraq. Mr. Wolfowitz is a visionary, but he has not done the work to see the concrete application of his vision. He said he wanted to help bring democracy to Iraq and many of us thought we should support him because we too want to see democracy in Iraq. In practice, however, he is just one player -- albeit a big player -- and there are many others on the ground in Iraq who do not share his vision. Many reports have noted that even the soldiers here bluntly say they take their orders from their general, not from Mr. Bremer. Bitter disputes between the defense department and the state department, which were evident even before the war began and duly reported in the U.S. press, continue to affect the situation. Even though Mr. Bremer has the formal authority within Iraq, it seems like each and every decision must go back to Washington, and we are the victims of indecision.



Perspective



You know, this just pisses me right off:

Public griping by spouses of soldiers from the 3rd Infantry Division in Iraq could hurt the war effort by encouraging Saddam Hussein loyalists to continue their guerrilla war, according to the wife of the division's commander.

"When the Iraqis see media coverage of disgruntled Americans publicly campaigning for the return of our soldiers from Iraq, they are encouraged and believe their strategy is working," wrote Anita Blount in an open letter to spouses in The Frontline. The publication is a community newspaper in Georgia for Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield, home to the 3rd Infantry.

Anita Blount is the wife of Maj. Gen. Buford Blount, commander of the division, who is in Iraq leading his troops.

Excuse me, ma'am, but shut the hell up. Ernie Pyle:

"Them poor dogfaces back home," said one of the ditch-diggers with fine soldier sarcasm, "they've really got it rugged. Nothing to eat but them old greasy pork chops and them three-inch steaks all the time. I wouldn't be surprised if they don't have to eat eggs several times a week."

"And they're so lonely," said another. "No entertainment except to rassle them old dames around the dance floor. The USO closes at ten o'clock and the nightclubs at three. It's mighty tough on them. No wonder they want to get home."

"And they probably don't get no sleep," said another, "sleeping on them old cots with springs and everything, and scalding themselves in hot baths all the time."

"And nothing to drink but that nasty old ten-cent beer and that awful Canadian Club whiskey," chimed in another philosopher with a shovel.

"And when they put a nickel in the box nothing comes out but Glenn Miller and Artie Shaw and such trash as that. My heart just bleeds for them poor guys."

"And did you see where he was?" asked another. "At the Albuquerque Air Base. And he wants to be home by next Christmas. Hell, if I could just see the Albuquerque Air Base again I'd think I was in heaven."

That's the way it goes. The boys feel a soldier isn't qualified to comment unless he's on the wrong side of the ocean. They're gay and full of their own wit when they get started that way, but just the same they mean it. It's a new form of the age-old soldier pastime of grousing. It helps take your mind off things.

Spinning out of control



So this came out today:

The State Department received copies of what would turn out to be forged documents suggesting that Iraq tried to purchase uranium oxide from Niger three months before the president's State of the Union address, administration officials said.

The documents, which officials said appeared to be of "dubious authenticity," were distributed to the CIA and other agencies within days. But the U.S. government waited four months to turn them over to United Nations weapons inspectors who had been demanding to see evidence of U.S. and British claims that Iraq's attempted purchase of uranium oxide violated U.N. resolutions and was among the reasons to go to war. State Department officials could not say yesterday why they did not turn over the documents when the inspectors asked for them in December.

The administration, facing increased criticism over the claims it made about Iraq's attempts to buy uranium, had said until now that it did not have the documents before the State of the Union speech...

"We acquired the documents in October of 2002, and they were shared widely within the U.S. government, with all the appropriate agencies in various ways," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said yesterday...

A senior intelligence official said the agency did not consider the documents revelatory because they contained the same information, from other sources, already in intelligence reports. But in hindsight, the official said, "we failed to see the signals" that would have indicated they were forged.

Another intelligence official said "the documents were such a minor point of analysis for anyone" because the information was not deemed reliable.

On Feb. 4, the U.N. inspectors' Iraq team was called to the U.S. mission in Vienna and verbally briefed on the contents of the documents. A day later, they received copies, according to officials familiar with the inspectors' work.

Using the Google Internet search engine, books on Niger and interviews with Iraqi and Nigerien officials, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) experts determined that the documents were fake. (Italics Nitpicker's)

Get that? We had this info for months, it was circulated throughout the administration, it was sloppily forged by someone who didn't even fake the right signature and, if they had even bothered to use Google to check it, the Bushies would have known it was all bullshit. So, either they knew it was crap and kept it from the U.N. in order to use it as a dinner bell for the Pavlovian dogs of war or they're completely, utterly, undeniably incompetent.

Either way, should they be running the country?


Ummm...



What can I possibly say about this?

Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption and abuse, said today that documents turned over by the Commerce Department, under court order as a result of Judicial Watch’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit concerning the activities of the Cheney Energy Task Force, contain a map of Iraqi oilfields, pipelines, refineries and terminals, as well as 2 charts detailing Iraqi oil and gas projects, and “Foreign Suitors for Iraqi Oilfield Contracts.”

Is there any way that the White House could possibly spin this to make it not appear that we wanted Iraq's oil all along?


Teaching for the monkey minds


Julia has some advice to right-wing bandar-blogs*.


*All the talk we ever have heard
Uttered by bat or beast or bird--
Hide or fin or scale or feather--
Jabber it quickly and all together!
Excellent! Wonderful! Once again!
-Rudyard Kipling, "Road-Song of the Bandar-Log"


SCANDAL!



This picture and caption have been circulating around the web for a little while now, showing that the President checked every word of his SOTU speech. Should a president who promised to restore honor to the White House be held responsible for the words that come out of his own damn mouth? Of course. Should he be willing to say so? Of course.

There's another scandal, however, and I didn't find out about it until I saw this photo.

President Go-It-Alone wears (gasp!) French cuffs!

Thursday, July 17, 2003


Family values


Look, does it really need to be pointed out that the Republicans who scream about "family values" the loudest have the most screwed up kids? Now Mitch McConnell's daughter is in the news:

The first sign of trouble came last year when one couple learned their daughter had been strapped into her chair with a leather belt.

Since then, more than a dozen parents have removed their elementary school youngsters amid complaints about disciplinary tactics by one of the teachers at Hawthorne Valley. Punishment included tying the hands of students and taping their mouths shut if they misbehaved.

The teacher who doled it out, Claire McConnell, apologized, saying in a June 24 letter, "I am sorry for my disciplinary misjudgment, very sorry. ... I request your forgiveness."

Her colleagues wouldn't discuss the situation other than to say they are moving to put the furor behind them.

"We're still working on it," said Patrice Maynard, a teacher and mentor to McConnell. McConnell is the daughter of Sen. Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky.

Hey, maybe if my kids were being taught by his daughter, I might favor prayer in schools, too.

I wonder what Chelsea's doing these days...


Ari comes clean



Ari Fleischer told People magazine that:

When a request is from the president, you're not allowed to call it odd.

Does that mean you're not allowed to say, "Mr. President, it seems odd to me that we would include information in your State of the Union address which our own intelligence agency believes to be bogus, even if we attribute it to the British, making it 'technically correct,' but deliberately misleading."

I guess that mystery's solved.

Billmon at it again



He's put up another list of quotes today, this time about the guerrilla war in which we are now engaged.

While it's not directly related, I'd also like everyone to remember this quote from last year:

"My nightmare scenario," Merrill McPeak, the former Air Force chief of staff, told me, "is that we jump people in, seize the airport, bring in the 101st [Airborne Division]—and we can't find Saddam Hussein. Then we've got Osama and Saddam Hussein out there, both of them achieving mythical heroic status in the Arab world just by surviving. It's not a trivial problem to actually grab the guy, and it ain't over until you've got him in handcuffs."

Now can we have investigations?



A day in the lie...

Tenet says official wanted Iraq claim

CIA Director George Tenet told members of Congress a White House official insisted that President Bush's State of the Union address include an assertion about Saddam Hussein's nuclear intentions that had not been verified, a Senate Intelligence Committee member said Thursday.

Source: Tenet admits never seeing final draft of Bush speech

During five hours of testimony Wednesday before the Senate Intelligence Committee, CIA Director George Tenet admitted he never saw the final draft of President Bush's State of the Union address before it was delivered, a source who attended the hearing told CNN.

U.S. soldier killed in Baghdad convoy attack

A U.S. soldier was killed Wednesday in an attack on a convoy in Baghdad, bringing the number of American battle deaths in the Iraqi conflict to 148 surpassing the 147 killed in the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

Thirty-three of those deaths have come in attacks since President Bush declared an end to major combat operations in Iraq on May 1.

Delayed departure takes its toll on morale

At the headquarters of Alpha Company, part of the 4th Battalion, 64th Armored Regiment of the 3rd Infantry Division’s 2nd Brigade, soldiers were called to formation Monday and Capt. Mark Miller broke the bleak news: They would not be going home within days as they had expected.

The announcement was met with silence.

“You could hear a pin drop,” said Wright. “But even though not a word was spoken, you could hear the thunder of their thoughts.”

Disgusting



The Bush Administration appears to have either outed one of our own CIA agents or damaged the career of a civilian. Why? Because her husband told the truth. I'm still waiting for them to return "honor" to the White House.

Mark A. R. Kleiman is pissed.

Wednesday, July 16, 2003


The Bush equation



Every time I hear someone say that Bush's statements on African uranium are "technically accurate," I think of the scene in the Pink Panther movie where Clousseau, looking at a dog on the floor of an inn's lobby, asks the inkeeper if his dog bites. "No," says the innkeeper. "My dog does not bite."

Sure enough, Clousseau reaches down to pet the dog and is bitten. "I thought you said your dog does not bite!" he says.

"That is not my dog," the innkeeper replies.

Technically accurate = deliberately misleading?

Read this letter. Waxman said it first.

Rick follows the rules



Um, is it just me or is it starting to sound like the only thing keeping Rick Santorum heterosexual is the Bible?

In the interview with the magazine GQ, Santorum, R-Pa., was asked what he would do if one of his six children told him of homosexual urges.

"I would treat it like I would any other thing my child comes to me with,'' Santorum answered. "Try to deal with it in a loving, supportive way.''

He continued: "You try to point out to them what is the right thing to do. And we have many temptations to do things we shouldn't do. That doesn't mean we have to give in to those temptations. I have temptations, as we all do, all the time, to do things we shouldn't do.

"Whether we have that disposition because of environmental factors, genetic factors, whatever, it doesn't mean you have to submit. We are people of free will and free choices.''

Hmmm...

Can we deal with this now?



Newsweek reported (in its "Periscope" section -- an odd place to hide a major story) this story February 24th, but it got little play. Now that Bush is finally being asked some real questions about why we went to war, someone should ask him why he withheld information from the American people when he gave this speech on October 7, 2002:

Some ask how urgent this danger is to America and the world. The danger is already significant, and it only grows worse with time. If we know Saddam Hussein has dangerous weapons today -- and we do -- does it make any sense for the world to wait to confront him as he grows even stronger and develops even more dangerous weapons?

In 1995, after several years of deceit by the Iraqi regime, the head of Iraq's military industries defected. It was then that the regime was forced to admit that it had produced more than 30,000 liters of anthrax and other deadly biological agents. The inspectors, however, concluded that Iraq had likely produced two to four times that amount. This is a massive stockpile of biological weapons that has never been accounted for, and capable of killing millions.

We know that the regime has produced thousands of tons of chemical agents, including mustard gas, sarin nerve gas, VX nerve gas. Saddam Hussein also has experience in using chemical weapons. He has ordered chemical attacks on Iran, and on more than forty villages in his own country. These actions killed or injured at least 20,000 people, more than six times the number of people who died in the attacks of September the 11th.

The head of Iraq's "military industries" was Hussein Kamal, Saddam's son-in-law. He did, indeed defect and told UNSCOM that they had produced more weapons than we imagined. Bush touted Kamal's testimony as gospel, as did Tony Blair, Colin Powell and the Big Dick, who said, "we often learned more as the result of defections than we learned from the inspection regime itself." However, they were all lying. I say this without a bit of my usual hemming or hawing, because the info is on the web for all to see.

You see, Hussein Kamal was spreading the gospel, if by gospel you mean the "good news" that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction left. They used to have more than we thought, but they were all destroyed around 1992. Here are quotes from Kamel's questioning by Prof. M. Zifferero of the IAEA, Amb. Ekeus of Jordan and N. Smidovich of UNSCOM:

Page 7

Smidovich: Were weapons and agents destroyed?

Kamal: Nothing remained.

Smidovich: Was it before or after inspections started?

Kamal: After visits of inspection teams. You have important role in Iraq with this. You should not underestimate yourself. You are very effective in Iraq. There was an engine for long range missiles. I didn't want to get involved. It was a lost battel and they chose to stop from using this.

Smidovich: We could not find any traces of destruction.

Kamal: Yes, it was done before you came in. The place where they buried them was found by you.

Page 13

Ekeus: Did you restart VX production after the Iran-Iraq war?

Kamal: We changed the factory into pesticide production. Part of the establishment started to produce medicine.

Page 13-14

Kamal: All chemical weapons were destroyed. I ordered destruction of all chemical weapons. All weapons -- biological, chemical, missile, nuclear were destroyed.

Smidovich asked if there was a report to the President with an inventory of all available proscribed weapons in mid-May 1991.

Kamal: I am not aware...
Smidovich asked way missiles and chemical weapons were kept in part while biological weapons were all destroyed.

Kamal: In the nuclear area, there were no weapons. Missile and chemical weapons were real weapons. Our main worry was Iran and they were against them.

Remember, this is one of the main guys Bushies used to justify this war, but, clearly, they didn't want America's citizens to know the whole story. Now's the time to force this issue.

A last thought: Republicans keep saying that it was up to Saddam Hussein to prove that he had destroyed all the WMDs. Could it be that, after losing Kamal, who had managed the destruction, Hussein simply didn't have anyone left with the knowledge of how, where and when that destruction had occurred?

Update: Bush lied to the UN, too.

In 1991, the Iraqi regime agreed to destroy and stop developing all weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles, and to prove to the world it has done so by complying with rigorous inspections. Iraq has broken every aspect of this fundamental pledge.

From 1991 to 1995, the Iraqi regime said it had no biological weapons. After a senior official in its weapons program defected and exposed this lie, the regime admitted to producing tens of thousands of liters of anthrax and other deadly biological agents for use with Scud warheads, aerial bombs, and aircraft spray tanks. U.N. inspectors believe Iraq has produced two to four times the amount of biological agents it declared, and has failed to account for more than three metric tons of material that could be used to produce biological weapons. Right now, Iraq is expanding and improving facilities that were used for the production of biological weapons.

Why didn't he point out that the same official said that those weapons had been destroyed and their factories turned into pesticide and medicine factories? I wonder.

Tuesday, July 15, 2003


The analogy game


Jonah Goldberg must have slapped his forehead in delight when he came up with this genius analogy:

Historically, radical democrats like Thomas Jefferson have despised the idea that we the living should have our choices limited by the deceased. Why should what a bunch of dead guys decided 200 years ago limit our decisions today? And they're right. Why shouldn't we be able to vote away any rule established by dead white males?

The answer: The rules of the dead keep us free. Imagine you're playing baseball, and all the rules can be changed mid-game. Technically you'd be "freer." After all, you could vote to eliminate strikes and balls. But then again, so could everyone else. In other words, if you don't set the rules in advance you don't get freedom; you get anarchy.

The problem comes when you realize that Jonah, the idiot son of an asshole (where have I heard that before?) has the analogy completely assbackward. The supreme court's recent decision on sodomy isn't changing the rules of the game, but saying that the rules should apply equally to everyone. To follow his analogy, the baseball game Jonah would like us to continue playing is the one where the rules apply differently depending on the team for which you play. Even worse, Goldberg and his buddies want everyone to be forced to play baseball. Soccer and football are right out.

Why is it that so many people are so pissed about something which, ostensibly, has nothing to do with them? Does Rick Santorum really think that gay marriage will "destroy the special legal status of marriage"? (If the "special legal status" is what's important to him, he's got a damn miserable view of marriage in the first place.) Why? These guys never explain exactly what the problem is. They trot out bullshit about marriage being about procreation, but don't suggest laws keeping the old or sterile from getting married. They say that broken homes are terrible for kids, but they don't try to make divorce illegal. (Nor, of course, do they point out that "broken homes" have absolutely not one damn thing to do with gays.) They say that they must protect the "sanctity" of marriage, but don't work to shut down Vegas' drive-through wedding chapels, which are to the sacred institution of marriage what Denny's is to fine cuisine.

This is a question to which I don't have an answer, but I think it's very odd. I, for one, don't give a damn about what goes on in Rick and Karen's bedroom or Jonah and Jess's. I still can't figure out why they care what happens in John and Tyron's.

P.S.: It's good to know where Jonah stands on Thomas Jefferson and all those other guys who decided that it was time to change the rules of the game, no matter what a bunch of dead guys thought.

Contempt of court



The now ironically named Justice Department would love for Leonie Brinkema to just dismiss the case against Moussaoui so they could just pack his bags and ship him off to Guantanamo. However, couldn't she instead hold John Aschcroft in contempt of court for defying her order? I think it would take something like that to get the DOJ under control.

Lawyers? Comments?

Misty watercolor memories



Back when Karl Rove was trying to get Hollywood onboard the War on Terror Train:

"The world is full of people who are discerning, and we need to recognize that concrete information told with honesty and specificity and integrity is important to the ultimate success in this conflict," Rove said.

Just a reminder...


Burden of Proof


J.C. Watts was on TV last night and was using "Fleischer Deflection #4" -- saying that it's not the President's responsibility to prove that Saddam Hussein had Weapons of Mass Destruction, but, if people want to say that he didn't, they're responsible for proving it. Please remind your Republican friends that we are currently not even discussing the weapons themselves, but whether Bush and his buddies had evidence to back up the statements they made. These are two different questions. The answering of one doesn't necessarily equate to the answering of the other.

Monday, July 14, 2003


What country is he talking about?



After trying to pass the buck to George Tenet, President "I Didn't Do It" tried to blame someone else today. All of us:

THE PRESIDENT: Well, let me first say that -- I think the intelligence I get is darn good intelligence. And the speeches I have given were backed by good intelligence. And I am absolutely convinced today, like I was convinced when I gave the speeches, that Saddam Hussein developed a program of weapons of mass destruction, and that our country made the right decision.

When the hell did "our country" make a decision? This is the same guy who said that protests were irrelevant and who, in December, said:

"You said we're headed to war in Iraq. I don't know why you say that," Bush told reporters. "I'm the person who gets to decide, not you."

I don't think our country had anything to do with the decision to go to war, especially when you consider that we were obviously fed nothing but lies.

Update: "Mighty" Joe Conason also points out that Bush went on to say this:

The larger point is, and the fundamental question is, did Saddam Hussein have a weapons program? And the answer is, absolutely. And we gave him a chance to allow the inspectors in, and he wouldn't let them in. And, therefore, after a reasonable request, we (Again with the 'we.' - Nitpicker) decided to remove him from power, along with other nations, so as to make sure he was not a threat to the United States and our friends and allies in the region.

Billmon could be right. We might be living in 1984 after all:

If the Party could thrust its hand into the past and say of this or that event, it never happened -- that, surely, was more terrifying than mere torture and death?

The Party said that Oceania had never been in alliance with Eurasia. He, Winston Smith, knew that Oceania had been in alliance with Eurasia as short a time as four years ago. But where did that knowledge exist? Only in his own consciousness, which in any case must soon be annihilated. And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed -if all records told the same tale -- then the lie passed into history and became truth. 'Who controls the past,' ran the Party slogan, 'controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.' And yet the past, though of its nature alterable, never had been altered. Whatever was true now was true from everlasting to everlasting. It was quite simple. All that was needed was an unending series of victories over your own memory. 'Reality control', they called it: in Newspeak, 'doublethink'

...

This process of continuous alteration was applied not only to newspapers, but to books, periodicals, pamphlets, posters, leaflets, films, sound-tracks, cartoons, photographs -- to every kind of literature or documentation which might conceivably hold any political or ideological significance.

Day by day and almost minute by minute the past was brought up to date. In this way every prediction made by the Party could be shown by documentary evidence to have been correct, nor was any item of news, or any expression of opinion, which conflicted with the needs of the moment, ever allowed to remain on record.

Condi lies


Apparently, the White House doesn't know that their list of lies is online (as gathered by Billmon)? If they did, would Condoleeza Rice say something this stupid?

I believe that if you look back, Tony, we have never said we thought he had nuclear weapons. This was an issue of reconstitution. How quickly he might be able to reconstitute a vast infrastructure that was still in place. Of the fact that we missed the last time around how close he was to a nuclear weapon. The reconstitution case was based on a number of issues: the procurement, the brainpower of the scientists, the effort to get high quality components for centrifuges. We have found, for instance, with the scientists that we found that he was buring pieces of centrifuges in back yards. - Condi, Fox News Sunday, July 13, 2003 (Via uggabugga)

So they never said he had reconstituted them, but that he could? Bullshit. Tricky Dick Cheney:

Let's talk about the nuclear proposition for a minute. We know that based on intelligence, that [Saddam] has been very, very good at hiding these kinds of efforts. He's had years to get good at it and we know he has been absolutely devoted to trying to acquire nuclear weapons. And we believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons. - Dick, Meet the Press, March 16, 2003

Lies, lies, lies...

More conservatives against Bush


From The Economist:

Since the 2001 attacks, the Bush administration has avoided America's own courts repeatedly. Soon after the attacks, Mr Bush issued his executive order permitting military commissions outside the purview of the courts. Since then, his administration has imprisoned some 680 people at Guantanamo Bay precisely because it believed that the naval base, held on a perpetual lease, is outside the reach of anyone's courts, including America's. It has also claimed the right to arrest American citizens, even on American soil, as “enemy combatants” and to imprison them without charge until the war on terrorism is over. Appeals by civil libertarians to America's court system have been resisted at every stage.

Mr Bush could have asked Congress to pass new anti-terrorism laws. Instead, he is setting up a shadow court system outside the reach of either Congress or America's judiciary, and answerable only to himself. Such a system is the antithesis of the rule of law which the United States was founded to uphold. In a speech on July 4th, Mr Bush rightly noted that American ideals have been a beacon of hope to others around the world. In compromising those ideals in this matter, Mr Bush is not only dismaying America's friends but also blunting one of America's most powerful weapons against terrorism.


One soldier a day


Remember, one soldier means a lot, even in a just war. Or is this just one of those blame-America-first-fifth-column-liberal-journalists.

The unburdened mules moved off to their olive orchard. The men in the road seemed reluctant to leave. They stood around, and gradually one by one I could sense them moving close to Capt. Waskow's body. Not so much to look, I think, as to say something in finality to him, and to themselves. I stood close by and I could hear.

One soldier came and looked down, and he said out loud, "God damn it." That's all he said, and then he walked away. Another one came. He said, "God damn it to hell anyway." He looked down for a few last moments, and then he turned and left.

Another man came; I think he was an officer. It was hard to tell officers from men in the half light, for all were bearded and grimy dirty. The man looked down into the dead captain's face, and then he spoke directly to him, as though he were alive. He said: "I sure am sorry, old man."

Then a soldier came and stood beside the officer, and bent over, and he too spoke to his dead captain, not in a whisper but awfully tenderly, and he said:

"I sure am sorry, sir."

Then the first man squatted down, and he reached down and took the dead hand, and he sat there for a full five minutes, holding the dead hand in his own and looking intently into the dead face, and he never uttered a sound all the time he sat there.

And finally he put the hand down, and then he reached up and gently straightened the points of the captain's shirt collar, and then he sort of rearranged the tattered edges of his uniform around the wound. And then he got up and walked away down the road in the moonlight, all alone.

And that's just the soldiers. What about the family at home?

It should never be forgotten that Iraq was "elective surgery," as Wesley Clark calls it.

Friday, July 11, 2003


Democracy: It isn't for the weak

The best servants of the people, like the best valets, must whisper unpleasant truths in the master’s ear. It is the court fool, not the foolish courtier, whom the king can least afford to lose. -Walter Lippman

Watching Ann Coulter on TV a while back, it finally struck me why it is that her brand of Republicans are the way they are: They just can't handle democracy. For example, Coulter has written a book recently which suggests that all Democrats are either overtly or accidentally treasonous. All of them. Her reasoning is that because some of them were "weak on communism" in the 50s and some didn't support Bush's war in Iraq they're traitorous. "Whenever the nation is under attack, from within or without, liberals side with the enemy. This is their essence," she writes.

What she is really saying, though, is that there is only one way to see the world and to support the country and that way is Republican. She can't, however, point to any Democrats who have ever actually said that America is bad and deserves to be attacked (although here are some conservatives who said Sept. 11 was "probably what we deserve"), but can only point you to Democrats who have tried to either calm fears or to explain situations. She brings up Patty Murray's statement that bin Laden was popular because he built schools, roads and day care centers, saying that, "One year after Osama bin Laden staged a massive assault on America, a Democratic senator was praising bin Laden for his good work in building 'day care centers.'" While it's an obvious misstatement -- Murray wasn't praising, just explaining -- Coulter can't deny that Osama did those things and people loved him for it anymore than she could deny the same worked for Pablo Escobar, who built schools and hospitals for Colombians who couldn't get the same from their government. (The same theory also works for Republicans, it should be said, who bitch about high taxes and then go home and hand out pork barrel money like it's candy. Don't believe me? Check this chart.)

As for Democrats' "siding with the enemy," I've seen no one on the left doing this, but I've seen plenty trying to protect our interests. When Democrats step in and say that we must stop to consider our actions before we run off attacking foreign countries, it's not "aiding the enemy." It's like breaking up a bar fight between your best friend and a total jerk. You might not care whether the jerk in question gets his face popped inside out, but you don't want to see your friend do anything he might regret or, worse, get hurt.

So, does an honest explanation of a problem make someone a traitor? It does in Coulter's book and here's why: Republicans can't accept that people should think differently than they do. My response: Democracy is fucking hard. Democracy is the national-level equivalent of someone yelling in you're face, screaming, "You're stupid! You stink! You're a moron!" That's tough to take, so Republicans have simply refused to take it.

They seek to destroy the means of information. They scream "liberal media!" every time someone says their emperors have no clothes, but, when the media wastes reams of paper on investigations of Clinton (which were clearly motivated by nothing but political desire), they quote that same media, well, liberally. They create groups that do polling designed to elicit a certain response, knowing that, whether or not someone believes the polls, they've done their part to destroy the idea that polls themselves are useful, so their work is done. They say schools fail our children, so let's pay people to send their kids to "our schools." They say the government -- even while they're running it -- can't be trusted, so let's take its money away. They remove evidence that they might be wrong from scientific reports. They give bills name that are in direct opposition to the bill's contents. They either suppress economic information or use the "fuzziest" math you've ever seen to justify their economic policies. They simply will not abide dissent, so they seek to make every form of public discourse suspect. In a country where no one can believe anything, they figure, then whatever they say, no matter how false, can be touted by their supporters, but not investigated by the media.

They simply are not cut out for democracy. When they refuse to lay out their ideas and then confront criticism, instead opting for name-calling and misrepresentation, they debase the very idea of democracy.

I recently e-mailed Prof. Mark Stoler, whose excellent biography of George C. Marshall I read a few years ago, and asked him what he thought of the fact that Marshall was again being represented as a traitor to our country in Coulter's book. He said he hadn't read the book, but was "flabbergasted someone would resurrect these charges against Marshall." He added that "Marshall himself may have had the best reply in the early 1950s when he said that if at this point in his life he needed to explain that he was not a traitor, then it was not worth doing!"

I know what Marshall meant. That a man who built our war machine to fight the Second World War and then created a plan which is the very essence of the "better angels of our nature," as Lincoln put it, could possibly be labeled a traitor is unfathomable. Yet, 50 years latter, someone has reached down to those unknown depths and said it again. That a person like this and the branch of conservatives who support her aren't shunned is incomprehensible to me.

Here's the tricky part, though. Ann Coulter does have her mirror image on the left. Whereas Ann says that half the country are either traitors or idiots, Ralph Nader says that 97 per cent of Americans are. He's still saying it today:

Mr. Nader hammered away at what he described as corporate greed, unfair treatment of third-party candidates by the Federal Election Commission and the indistinguishable differences between Democrats and Republicans. (Nitpicker's italics)

Get that? Nader, who won three per cent of the vote in 2000 (enough to hand the election to Bush), is saying that everyone who votes for either a Republican or a Democrat wasted their vote, because they're the same thing. Does he really believe that this country would be at exactly the same place if Gore were in office? No. He just can't accept that anyone could possibly disagree with him, therefore they're in bed with his enemies. Those who understand the compromise inherent in democracy are traitors to the country's ideals. It's the same logic Coulter uses and its just as flawed when used by someone on the left.

I'll say it again, people. Democracy is fucking hard. People who disagree with you aren't your enemies. They just disagree with you. This should be obvious. I shouldn't have to say it. I hope, however, that Marshall was wrong and it's worth doing.