Tuesday, September 30, 2003

The typo that sells Nitpicker

I was checking the referring pages and someone got to Nitpicker by typing the following into Google:

A Bible Verse for people who teat you badly

For my money, it's hard to be badly teated.
Laura Bush, prison librarian of Camp Delta

OK, maybe that's a little harsh, but you know that Ann Coulter would have been screaming for Ashcroft to lock up Hillary Clinton if she had gone overseas to disrespect the flag and badmouth American children.

Matt Drudge wants you to know full well that this Valerie Plame stuff is all speculation. Reuters' headline reads:

White House Rejects Independent Counsel for Leak

But check out Drudge's version of the headline, which links to the same story:

White House Rejects Independent Counsel for 'Leak'

Monday, September 29, 2003

Very busy day

So I may not write for some time today. I urge you, if you haven't been already, to visit Atrios and read his numerous posts about the Valerie Plame affair.

Friday, September 26, 2003

Clark fever!

I know that I've covered a lot of Clark stuff here in the past couple of weeks, but Drudge must have to burn candles in front of his monitor to get the full effect of a shrine like this.
A guy walks into an office

"Sir, you're wearing the flight suit again."

(Link via TBogg.)
Clark not partisan!

Drudge is gleefully trumpeting the newest Wesley Clark smear and it's the worst one yet:

During extended remarks delivered at the Pulaski County GOP Lincoln Day Dinner in Little Rock, Arkansas on May 11, 2001, General Clark declared: "And I'm very glad we've got the great team in office, men like Colin Powell, Don Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice... people I know very well - our president George W. Bush. We need them there."

A video of Clark making the comments has surfaced, DRUDGE can reveal.

Thanks for all the revealing, Matt. But what has been revealed seems even more damaging to Republicans that it does to Clark. The fact that Clark gave the Bushies the benefit of the doubt would, in my opinion, help him deflect complaints of partisanship down the road. Also, he was a moderate voice during the war -- praising its execution at the hands of (Clinton CENTCOM-appointee) Gen. Tommy Franks, but questioning whether it needed to be done before diplomatic efforts had been exhausted.

All of this puts Clark in the best position possible. He gets to say "I supported them, but they failed. I gave them the benefit of the doubt and they gave me only reasons to doubt them." Thanks again for all that revealing, Drudgie.

(Of course I know that Republicans are trying to taint Clark in the primaries, but they forget that smears only stick with independents and those in the opposition party. Remember Clinton in 1992? I think Democrats want to hear the man's message and then decide whether they'll vote for him.)

Thursday, September 25, 2003

Welcome to "Talk Like Bill O'Reilly Day"

The problem with you guys on the left, you know on the far left, not the moderates like Joe Lieberman, and Zell Miller, but, you know the real vile idiots like Hillary Clinton, Al Franken and this guy Atrios, um, the problem with you guys is you are just following an ideology. What we try to do on this show, instead, is to follow the directions that are given directly to President Bush and myself by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who meets us every Thursday night after midnight in East Potomac Park and gives us his plan for the week, written in code with ketchup on a Burger King Chicken Whopper wrapper. But, because your ideology won't allow you to read these signs, you on the left are never going to understand why we must build a mile high fence along our Mexican border that's topped with broken glass and the skulls of Guantanamo detainees and the car keys of people who want to remove God from the public sphere completely by outlawing the placement of gigantic statues of Jesus kicking a Muslim in the groin in public bathrooms. It's also why rap singers are terrible role models. Tell me how that could be wrong. I'll give you the last word.

The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day: The little people who think that they can take on the "rich and powerful" O'Reilly are going down. It's a matter of honor that I have our lawyers (who, because they're lawyers I hate) savage these people in the courts. That goes double the pinhead who thinks software can imitate yours truly. That would just be ridiculous.
Krauthammer loses it

There are days when I so envy Charles Krauthammer. Living in his world must be like living on a holodeck all the time. He just wishes the world was a certain way and, presto, it is. In his mind. *Sigh* Poor the rest of us, who must deal with the workaday world of facts and history.

You don't think he's got it easy? Well read about the world he's made for himself today:

A year ago Bush was riding high. He decided nonetheless to put at risk the great political advantage he had gained as a successful post-9/11 leader -- an advantage made obvious by the Republican gains in last year's elections -- to go after Saddam Hussein.

Politically, the war promised nothing but downside. There was no great popular pressure to go to war. Indeed, millions took to the streets to demonstrate against it, both at home and abroad. Bush launched the war nonetheless, in spite of the political jeopardy to which it exposed him, for the simple reason that he believed, as did Tony Blair, that it had to be done.

You can say he made a misjudgment. You can say he picked the wrong enemy. You can say almost anything about this war, but to say that he fought it for political advantage is absurd. The possibilities for disaster were real and many: house-to-house combat in Baghdad, thousands of possible casualties, a chemical attack on our troops (which is why they were ordered into those dangerously bulky and hot protective suits on the road to Baghdad). We were expecting oil fires, terrorist attacks and all manner of calamities. This is a way to boost political ratings?

Whatever your (and history's) verdict on the war, it is undeniable that it was an act of singular presidential leadership. And more than that, it was an act of political courage. George Bush wagered his presidency on a war he thought necessary for national security -- a war that could very obviously and very easily have been his political undoing. And it might yet be.

To accuse Bush of going to war for political advantage is not just disgraceful. It so flies in the face of the facts that it can only be said to be unhinged from reality. Kennedy's rant reflects the Democrats' blinding Bush-hatred, and marks its passage from partisanship to pathology.

If he can make a world where Bush was "riding high" a year ago, instead of being about 25 points below his post 9/11 approval ratings and falling, I'll bet he can make the sky any yummy color he wants.

If he can forget that the President's buddy Karl Rove told Republicans to "focus on the war" in the campaigns of November 2002 and, instead, believe that "(p)olitically, the war promised nothing but downside"... Well, let's just say I want to party with that guy. If you know what I mean.

And I think you do.

I mean, to believe that, you'd have to believe that our military, the finest fighting force ever assembled, might lose the war against the world's military junior varsity B team. Then you could believe that the war might have a political downside. But that's just kookoo.

I guess you could believe that those who pushed the war for ostensible policy reasons -- Rove, Wolfowitz, Perle -- and those who stood to profit from it -- like Dick Cheney with his stock options and the President's buddy, Joe Allbaugh, who's currently a middle-man for companies who want to take advantage of "opportunities evolving in Iraq" -- didn't really believe that Iraqis would accept us as liberators. However, those seem like guys who had more certainty than knowledge so that doesn't seem very likely, either.

Heck, even the polls taken after the November, 2002, elections told us that Iraq tied with the economy as the voters' most important issue. And we all know what happened in those elections, right?

So there's no way that Bush looked down the road and saw Iraq as a political albatross, but Charles Krauthammer doesn't have to look down our roads. He has a world all to himself. It's nice that he drops by, though, to tell us what it's like from time to time.

Lucky bastard

Oh. And I just love the eyebrows, too.
Unfortunately for McClellan the Rohypnol wore off

And the White House press corps realized what had been happening to them for three years:

Q Since the President -- since it's pretty clear the task force, the Kaye task force can't find any weapons of mass destruction, why did the President invade Iraq?

MR. McCLELLAN: Did you see the report?

Q No, I didn't. But all the leaks indicate that he hasn't found anything yet. Are you denying that?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, first of all, let me go to your first question about why we went to war. Because in a post-9/11 world, in a post-September 11th world, the threat posed by Saddam Hussein became even more real --

Q What's the threat?

MR. McCLELLAN: The threat was spelled out by the United Nations, by the intelligence agencies across the world, and by the United States -- three administrations here in the United States.

Q And we went based on that --

MR. McCLELLAN: Saddam Hussein possessed and used chemical and biological -- or used chemical weapons against his own people. He had a history of possessing and using --

Q Thirteen years before --

MR. McCLELLAN: -- using weapons of mass destruction. He had a history of invading his neighbors. He had large, unaccounted-for stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons. He defied the international community for 12 years and some 17 resolutions. Remember, 1441 gave him one final chance to comply, or there would be serious consequences.

[Tweet Nitpicker Timeout. Let us all remember, everytime this is said, that Greenstock told the rest of the Security Council that 1441 contained no "automaticity." "If there is a further Iraqi breach of its disarmament obligations," he said, "the matter will return to the Council for discussion as required in Operational Paragraph 12." The Security Council did not authorize us to go to war under 1441.]

MR. McCLELLAN: The President believes in following through on what you say, and the President acted, and America is safer because of the action we took. The world is safer and better because of the action that the President --

Q You don't deny the President --

MR. McCLELLAN: -- that the President took.

Q -- told the American people that there was an imminent, direct threat?

MR. McCLELLAN: The President made it very clear that we need to act to confront threats in a post-September 11th world before it's too late, before those threats reach our shores and it's too late.

Q Let me follow up on that, Scott. The President has said that since the war, America is safer. And not just America, but our allies are safer, as well, because Saddam Hussein will never be able to use weapons of mass destruction.

MR. McCLELLAN: That's right.

Q Well, if you can --

MR. McCLELLAN: Or give those weapons of mass destruction to terrorists.

Q Precisely. So if it -- if you are unable to account for Saddam Hussein or for the weapons of mass destruction or the materials of mass destruction, how can you make such a claim?

An awesome question. If only someone had asked it months ago.

There's more. Read it all.

Also: Atrios says that they even asked Bush a tough one today. Expect no press conferences from here on out.
Nitpicker wins the first ever Nitpicker Award!

What? I thought it was a trend.


Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Trying to be cool about this

But this really kind of bugs me a bit.

One of them, Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, said in a news conference that General Clark would have to explain why he had supported Republicans like Richard M. Nixon and Ronald Reagan. Mr. Kerry spoke after being endorsed by the International Association of Firefighters.

Howard Dean, in an appearance on ABC, also said he was surprised that General Clark had voted for the two Republicans. Asked if the general was a true Democrat, Dr. Dean said, "I think that we have to find out about that."

No, I'm not really bugged that Clark supported Republicans. I think the comments he's made over the past few years show that he's left of center and, in some areas, further left than Dean. What bugs me is that Clark says honestly who he voted for and people try to make a case out of it.

But, hey, look at the facts people. I was only one year old at the time, but even I know that McGovern, good guy that he was, got his ass kicked by Nixon in 1972 as had Humphrey in 1968, though not as severely. Does anyone believe that his wins would have been possible without at least some Democratic support?

And, hey, Reagan had his own name brand line of Democrat to help his walk over Carter. Plenty of Dems have voted for Republicans and plenty of Republicans voted for Clinton. I think the fact that the guy isn't a partisan helps him in the long run (as long as the issues are there for Dems in the primary).

Even funnier, though, is Kerry trying to punk Clark as a "faux Democrat." Kerry's political stances are fine, but does he think that we won't remember this bit from "Meet the Press"?

MR. RUSSERT: But there’s a lot of discussion in the ’90s about you trying to cast off some of the orthodoxy of the Democratic Party, being described as a New Democrat. What caught a lot of people’s attention was the 1994 election, when the Republicans won both houses of Congress, Newt Gingrich became speaker of the House, and this is what you told the Boston Herald: “Sen. John F. Kerry broke from Democratic Party ranks, saying he was ‘delighted’ by the GOP election purge and laying the blame on the doorstep of President Clinton and arrogant House leaders. ...‘I want this change. I’m delighted with seeing an institutional shakeup because I think we need one,’ Kerry said in a Herald interview. ‘The Democrats have articulated in the last two years a very poor agenda. It’s hard for me to believe that some of these guys could have been as either arrogant or obtuse as to not know where the American people were coming from.’ Kerry deliberately set himself apart from Kennedy...He said Kennedy and Clinton’s insistence on pushing health care reform was a major cause of the Democratic Party’s problems at the polls. When told his calls for ‘change’ did not match Kennedy’s re-election rhetoric, Kerry smiled and said: ‘I’m amazed people didn’t pick up on it.’”

You were clearly separating yourself from Clinton and from Kennedy on the issue of health care...

SEN. KERRY: I was upset, Tim.

MR. RUSSERT: ...and delighted by Newt Gingrich?

SEN. KERRY: No, I was upset at what had happened in 1994.

Click the link if you want to really read why he said he was mad, but I don't think he really has room to be chastising other Democrats for supporting Republicans in the past. I'll support Kerry if, in the end, he gets the nod, but he really needs to keep his Pot v. Kettle testimonies to himself.
A question for my California friends

Is there anything in your state constitution/laws that says you must wait until someone's elected to begin circulating petitions to have that person recalled? I mean can't the "Recall Governor Schwarzenegger" movement start now?
Weekly Standard says George Will is full of shit

I noticed yesterday that Matthew Continetti, in his idiotic attempt to spin a Wesley Clark comment into a scandal, finally admitted something that the Washington Post wouldn't: George Will is a filthy, filthy liar. Of course he did it while lying himself:

This isn't the general's first whopper. Last June, the latest Democratic candidate for president implied that he "got a call" on 9/11 from "people around the White House" asking the general to publicly link Saddam Hussein to the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. Last August, Clark told a Phoenix radio station that "The White House actually back in February apparently tired to get me knocked off CNN and they wanted to do this because they were afraid that I would raise issues with their conduct of the war."

Like his other two statements, Clark's latest tale bears little resemblance to reality. While it turns out Clark did receive a call "on either Sept. 12 or Sept. 13," the call wasn't from the White House. It was from Israeli-Canadian Middle East expert Thomas Hecht, who told the Toronto Star that he called to invite Clark to give a speech in Canada. As for Clark's accusation that the White House tried to have him fired from CNN--well, the general admits he has no proof. "I've only heard rumors about it," he said.

Again, let's point out that, in his original statement, Clark did not say he got a call from the White House. Continetti has twisted the words and gotten them, unsurprisingly and intentionally, wrong. As I pointed out here, Clark says from the very beginning that his call was from people connected to "Middle East think tanks," but that all kinds of people were trying to connect Saddam to 9/11, including the White House and people around it. Liberals got it wrong and so did conservatives, but, you know, they should know the truth by now.

What's funny is that George Will, as I reported again and again, said that Clark was lying about the Canadian Middle East think tank. "There is no such Canadian institution," he wrote. But, note that, in all the lying, Continetti has to admit not only that there is such a Canadian instituion, but that a man from one of those institutions actually admitted calling him. Let's hear from the Toronto Star:

As Clark kicked off his campaign yesterday in Little Rock, Ark., Thomas Hecht, founder of the Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies, told the Star he placed the call to Clark and drew his attention to a potential link between Saddam and the Al Qaeda suicide hijackers.

Thanks, Matt, for proving that Will's a lying liar.

As for whether or not Clark called Karl, I'm not sure, but I'm willing to believe it's a joke. However, Continetti's got bigger problems. You see, two Democrats I know told me that Continetti called a farmer I know to ask if he could have sex with the man's sheep. The farmer, though, has checked his records and says Continetti made no such call. Despicable.

What? If you don't believe me, then why would you believe three Republicans trashing a Democrat?
How will history view Dubya

From Tom Spencer, who is, like, a historian.
Sadly, No! tracks down the truth about Clark and Haitian immigrants

Yesterday, I talked about the attack from Wesley Clark's left-flank and showed that, according to his command bio, there's no way it could be true. (My own links are bloggered, so just scroll down to "Now Clark's getting it from the left.") The even more industrious Sadly, No! was intrigued, however, and checked with the Haitian Embassy.

Sadly's e-mail:

To whom it may concern:

I hope the following email can be forwarded to Ira Kurzban, or that you can let me know how to reach him.

Thank you.

Dear Mr. Kurzban:

My name is [snip] With the announcement by (ret.) Gen. Wesley Clark that he would seek the Democratic nomination for presidential candidate in 2004, a number of stories have circulated that allege that:

"Ira Kurzban, attorney for the Haitian Refugee Center, managed to pry free government documents via a lawsuit on behalf of the refugees. These contained the startling information that prison officials had ordered the refugees sprayed repeatedly with highly toxic chemicals never designed for such generic use. The officer in charge of the refugee camp? None other than Gen. Wesley Clark, chief of operations at the US Navy internment camp at Guantanamo..." http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/COH309A.html

I wonder if you can confirm or deny these allegations, and/or provide any additional information as to the documents you are reported to having acquired?

I thank you in advance for your kind consideration and attention.

[Sadly, No!]

The reply, from Ira Kurzban:

Dear Mr [Sadly, No!],

Here is Mr Kurzban's reaction to your missive:

"This story is inaccurate. As you know, Wesley Clark was the person at the Pentagon who worked with the Government of Haiti on the military intervention preceding the President's return. The events in regard to the spraying of Haitians at the detention camps occurred at Krome, not at Guantanamo. It also occurred in 1981 not 1991 when the Haitians were at Guantanamo. I have no knowledge as to whether or not Clark ran the Guantanamo camp in 1991-94 (Nitpicker does, and he didn't. See aforementioned post). There were an number of horrible things that happened at the Guantanamo camp, but I never met Clark in connection with the camps. My only dealings with him were related to the military preparations for Aristide's return. Although he was not particularly friendly toward me, I found him to be bright, competent, enlightened and relatively easy to deal with."

Kind regards,
John C. Kozyn, Consultant
Embassy of Haiti, Washington, D.C.

Kudos to Sadly, no! for his efforts.

And, while I'm at it, kudos also to Fantastic Planet for updating readers on this issue.

(I should mention that Sadly, no! sent me these e-mails saying that he thought Nitpicker was "really the best place to mention it." Again, I give him full credit for going the extra mile and checking with primary sources. I owe him a beer.)
The problem with pundits

Here's, here's the bottom line on this for every American and everybody in the world, nobody knows for sure, all right? We don't know what he has. We think he has 8,500 liters of anthrax. But let's see. But there's a doubt on both sides. And I said on my program, if, if the Americans go in and overthrow Saddam Hussein and it's clean, he has nothing, I will apologize to the nation, and I will not trust the Bush Administration again, all right? But I'm giving my government the benefit of the doubt. - Bill O'Reilly, March 18, 2003

If (Saddam) doesn't have any weapons, then we are doing the wrong thing. - Ibid.

Hans Blix had five months to find weapons. He found nothing. We've had five weeks. Come back to me in five months. If we haven't found any, we will have a credibility problem. - Charles Krauhammer, April 22, 2003

If there are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, this is very bad news for the country. America loses credibility, people who hate us have more ammunition, there is no question the USA will be damaged in worldwide opinion. - Bill O'Reilly, April 29, 2003

(I)t 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, June 8, 2003

Former international weapons inspector David Kay, now seeking Iraqi weapons of mass destruction for the Pentagon, has privately reported successes that are planned to be revealed to the public in mid-September.

Kay has told his superiors he has found substantial evidence of biological weapons in Iraq, plus considerable missile development. He has been less successful in locating chemical weapons, and has not yet begun a substantial effort to locate progress toward nuclear arms. - Robert Novak, August 10, 2003

David Kaye is not going to be done with this for quite some time. And I would not count on reports. I suppose there may be interim reports. I don't know when those will be, and I don't know what the public nature of them will be. - Dr. Condoleezza Rice, September 22, 2003

No weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq by the group tasked with looking for them, according to a Bush administration source who has spoken to the BBC.

The source told the presenter of BBC television's Daily Politics show, Andrew Neil, this was the conclusion of the Iraq Survey Group's interim report, which the source said was due to be published next month.

Mr Neil said the draft report says it was highly unlikely that weapons of mass destruction (WMD) were shipped out of the country to places like Syria before the US-led war on Iraq. - BBC Report, September 24, 2003

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Get this...

Not five minutes ago, Bill O'Reilly just asked Newt Gingrich if he'd ever seen the kind of partisan attacks as the Democrats are inflicting on President Bush. O'Reilly swore that he just couldn't remember such a disgraceful show.

I can. So can Molly Ivins:

You may have forgotten Newt's advice to Republicans before the 1994 congressional elections, but I haven't. That was the infamous memo from his political action committee, GOPAC, saying that the R's should describe their D opponents — no matter who they were or what their records — as "sick," "pathetic," "bizarre," "twisted" and "traitor." If you want to know when and why civil political discourse in this country broke down, try that memo.

And remember philanderer and fatherer of illegitimate children, former Indiana congressman Dan Burton?

A self-described "pit bull" of the political right, Burton made headlines last April when he told the editorial board of the Indianapolis Star: "If I could prove 10 percent of what I believe happened, he'd [Clinton] be gone. This guy's a scumbag. That's why I'm after him." The comment earned him a mountain of rebuke from colleagues and the press. "Dan Burton is a crude, crass man who is a disgrace to his district, his state, his party and the House," the Chicago Tribune editorialized. Burton refused to apologize.

Senator Robert Bennett (R-UT):

(Bill Clinton is) The most accomplished, polished liar that we have ever had serving in the White House.

How about, more recently, former Bush speechwriter and current National Review columnist David Frum who wrote, just last week:

(M)aybe (General Wesley Clark) figures that military defeat plus baby-burning is an unbeatable platform in a Democratic primary.

There's much, much more.

Bill O'Reilly is not only a dishonest prick, but he also thinks you're stupid.
Now Clark's getting it from the left

I never intended for this to be the site of the Wesley Clark Defense League, but these lies are pissing me off. I found this over at Fantastic Planet. It's from an article declaring Clark a "war criminal" by Mitchel Cohen, a green.

Gen. Wesley Clark was in charge of refugee camps in the 1980s and 1990s where Haitian refugees who were fleeing first Baby Doc Duvalier (and later the new regime installed by the US following the overthrow of the elected Aristide government in the early 1990s), were packed, under appalling conditions condemned by the Center for Constitutional Rights, among many others. In the 1980s, many Haitian male refugees incarcerated at Krome (in Miami), and Fort Allen (in Puerto Rico) reported a strange condition called gyneacomastia, a situation in which they developed full female breasts.

Ira Kurzban, attorney for the Haitian Refugee Center, managed to pry free government documents via a lawsuit on behalf of the refugees. These contained the startling information that prison officials had ordered the refugees sprayed repeatedly with highly toxic chemicals never designed for such generic use. The officer in charge of the refugee camp? None other than Gen. Wesley Clark, chief of operations at the US Navy internment camp at Guantanamo, and later head of NATO forces bombing Yugoslavia. The documents go on to say that lengthy exposure to the particular chemicals can cause hormonal changes that induce development of female breasts. Medical studies of female Haitian refugees in New York revealed that they had a much higher rate of cervical cancer than the rest of the female population.

That's terrible. But untrue.

Honestly, I have no idea whether or not people were sprayed with chemicals in Guantanamo Bay, but I do know that Clark had not a damn thing to do with it. Look at his assignment history:

  • February 1980-June 1982: Commander, 1st Battalion, 77th Armor, 4th Infantry Division

  • July 1983-July 1984: Pentagon, in staff positions

  • August 1984-January 1986: Commander Operations Group, National Training Center

  • April 1986-March 1988: Commander, 3rd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division

  • October 1989-October 1991: Commander, National Training Center

  • October 1991-August 1992: Pentagon

  • August 1992-April 1994: Commander, 1st Cavalry Division

  • April 1994-June 1996: Pentagon

  • June 1996-July 1997: CINC, US Southern Command

  • July 1997-2000: Supreme Allied Commander, NATO

  • There are a couple of gaps, but anyone who has actually served in the military can pretty much chalk them up to school time. Otherwise, no officer leaves command time off of his biography.

    The problem here is that the only time Clark might have had any control over Guantanamo was from 1996-1997, when he was the Commander-in-Chief of SOUTHCOM, when he would have been stationed in Panama, far away from the base and its detention center. However, the Haitian refugees were long gone from Guantanamo by then, having been returned to Haiti by the end of 1994. There is no way that Clark had any effect on the alleged spraying of chemicals on refugees.

    Think I'm wrong? Let's look at the source here, too. This article was run on a site that also says that the WTC towers were rigged to fall, suggests that Bob Graham and Porter Goss were connected to terrorism and that the CIA also had something to do with it. Very trustworthy.

    A smear's a smear, people, whether it comes from the right or the left.
    Impressed with Hackworth

    I have mentioned here before that I have not been a fan of David Hackworth, but I may have to re-think my position on the man somewhat. Today, he does something I never thought he would do, admit error. He interviewed Wesley Clark for Maxim and he's impressed:

    No doubt he’s made his share of enemies. He doesn’t suffer fools easily and wouldn’t have allowed the dilettantes who convinced Dubya to do Iraq to even cut the White House lawn. So he should prepare for a fair amount of dart-throwing from detractors he’s ripped into during the past three decades.

    Hey, I am one of those: I took a swing at Clark during the Kosovo campaign when I thought he screwed up the operation, and I called him a “Perfumed Prince.” Only years later did I discover from his book and other research that I was wrong – the blame should have been worn by British timidity and William Cohen, U.S. SecDef at the time. (Link via Daily Kos.)

    I owe Hackworth another look.
    Stealing from the best

    Michiko Kakutani blasts a new Clinton biography today as "sleazy"; "a pasted-together compendium of recycled news"; "trashy"; as well as "melodramatic, reductive and foolish." That may be true, but the author, Nigel Hamilton, at least knows enough to swipe ideas from the best authors.

    Christmas 1989 thus saw an amazing epiphany as Bill Clinton, arch-narcissist, self-centered monster, seducer of women, and oral sex addict, found his selfish heart melting.

    Doesn't that sound like this other Christmas story?

    The Grinch hated Christmas! The whole Christmas season!
    Now, please don't ask why. No one quite knows the reason.
    It could be that his head wasn't screwed on quite right.
    It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were too tight.
    But I think that the most likely reason of all
    May have been that his heart was two sizes too small.


    And what happened then...?
    Well...in Who-ville they say
    That the Grinch's small heart
    Grew three sizes that day!
    Flirt Fest 2003

    Last night:

    HUME: How do you get your news?

    BUSH: I get briefed by Andy Card and Condi in the morning. They come in and tell me. In all due respect, you've got a beautiful face and everything.

    Somewhere in the distance, a banjo played...

    Monday, September 22, 2003

    Ratko Mladic and Doubting Thomas

    In comments to this post, Nitpicker visitor "Thomas" told me that I was wrong, that Ratko Mladic was named "as a perpetrator of 'crimes against humanity'" in 1992 by the United States. I couldn't find any such situation where the US had declared any such thing, but I was damn sure that Novak was wrong (and knew it) when he tried to say that Clark met with an indicted war criminal. I said as much.

    Thomas said that I should look for Lawrence Eagleburger and Mladic, etc. And, he said, I could hang my defense on "legalisms" if I wanted, but Clark's judgment was suspect. Those legalisms being that, you know, Mladic actually wasn't indicted (as Novak claimed) and wasn't indicted for events that occurred before Srebrenica until last year, when an amended indictment was produced. I appreciate Thomas letting me hide behind those kinds of flimsy "legalisms." I'm sure he just trounced Condi Rice for saying that Bush's 16 word lie in the State of the Union was "technically accurate."

    But what, exactly did Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger say in 1992? Did he say "Ratko Mladic is a war criminal who must be brought to justice"? Nope.

    Leaders such as Slobodan Milosevic, the President of Serbia, Radovan Karadzic, the self-declared President of the Serbian Bosnian Republic, and General Ratho Mladic, commander of Bosnian Serb military forces, must eventually explain whether and how they sought to ensure, as they must under international law, that their forces complied with international law. They ought, if charged, to have the opportunity of defending themselves by demonstrating whether and how they took responsible action to prevent and punish the atrocities I have described which were undertaken by their subordinates. - Lawrence Eagleburger, Statement at the International Conference on the Former Yugoslavia, Geneva, Switzerland, December 16, 1992

    So, not quite the overt labeling that Thomas would have us believe, no? Clearly not the "US" branding Mladic a "war criminal"?

    Regardless, I still think it was beneficial for Clark to meet with Mladic at the time and plumb the man's psyche. I mean, Patton read Rommel's book, right? Jack Ryan met Capt. Ramius. Clark, as director of plans and policies for the Joint Chiefs, might very well have had to plan actual combat operations against Mladic, so knowledge of the man's character was essential. Here's ClarK:

    Meeting with Mladic was especially useful... How many people, I reflected at the time, have the opportunity to size up a potential adversary face-to-face? He carried a reputation among the UN forces for cunning and forcefulness, I found him coarse and boastful. He knew far less than he thought about NATO, airpower, and the capabilities of the United States.

    And, no matter what Novak says, Clark says that the visit didn't take place "against the State Department's wishes." In other words, we just caught Novak in yet another lie.

    The story ran in the next morning's paper: "Despite Warning, US General Met With Serb War Crimes Suspect." This was untrue -- there was no warning -- but the story generated several phone calls and a couple letters from people disapproving of the visit, as well as a letter to the Presidnte from two members of Congress calling for my dismissal...

    The fact was that I had not received instructions not to visit. Fortunately, I had strong support within the Defense Department, the National Security Council staff, and at State for having visited both sides to lay the basis for a proper policy analysis. I heard that the President sent a letter back to the Congress in my defense, and, after a few meetings with Congressional staffers, the controversy died. -Waging Modern War, Pages 40-41

    He also met with Milosevic but, just last week, was being castigated by conservative crazy people for having supposed ties to "Muslim terrorists" because he shook hands with the leader of the KLA. How the hell can a man be both a supporter of a dictator and the people he oppressed? The right wingers are going nuts.

    On the other hand, as someone who spent nine months in Brcko, Bosnia (the one city so contentious its ownership couldn't be decided in the Dayton Peace Accords), I have a little bit better perspective on what Clark was dealing with. Every other day I would go out with a unit in the field and either patrol, demolish mines or just meet the people (depending on the unit). Often, when clearing mines, we would enlist the aid of either the Serbs or the Croats or the Bosnian Muslims who had laid the mines in the first place. Many times, while sharing a coffee or an MRE or a cigarette with the locals, I would look at them and wonder: Are you one of the people who tortured children? Did you join in the "rape camps"? Did you force family members to murder one another for your entertainment? (There are much worse stories I heard, but I'm busily trying to forget ever having heard them.)

    The point is, you could look forever in Bosnia and never find a man with clean hands. So, we needed to know these people as much as we could, because, in the end, we needed their help. We weren't going to need Mladic, but we did need to know what kind of man he was. Yes, we tried to bring to justice the men who led these terrible actions, but we couldn't lock up every male from three countries who happened to be between the ages of 15 and 50 during the war. I think Clark (and Holbrooke and Albright) had to deal with people who were far beneath them in character. It is the way of diplomacy and, yes, it saved the lives of several hundred thousand people.

    But what of Clark's judgment? I say that you have no grounds on which to judge Clark harshly for doing the odious work of chatting up Ratko Mladic until you are just as comfortable judging George W. Bush, who met just last year with a man whose idea of "loving freedom" is to boil his political enemies alive. Rumsfeld, as has been pointed out again and again, gladly gave aid and comfort to Saddam, knowing full well what a bastard he was. And, if it was so terrible for Clark to have met with this guy, what about the judgment of the Republican senators and congressmen, whose opposition to American peace efforts would have allowed Mladic to continue the kind of campaigns he inflicted on the innocents of Srebrenica?

    "I have no confidence in the Clinton-brokered peace deal, and I will oppose sending American troops into Bosnia," said Phil Gramm.

    Floyd Spence opposed it because, he said, ""The administration still does not appear to have a credible exit plan."

    Hell, not only that, these geniuses wanted to actually "lift the U.N. arms embargo and arm and train the Bosnians to defend themselves." Apparently, the NRA has actually convinced Republicans that tossing more weapons into a war might actually end it. Brilliant!

    Republicans can try to impugn Clark's judgment all they want. I think that, again, they're trying to pick the speck out of Clark's eye while blinded by the logs in their own. Oddly enough, it's their hindsight which seems the most affected.

    Update: Public Nuisance has more.

    Doesn't this make you want to stand and sing "The Star Spangled Banner"?

    Democrat Wesley Clark, in the presidential race for less than a week, is tied with President Bush in a head-to-head matchup, according to a poll that shows several Democratic candidates strongly challenging the Republican incumbent.

    Clark, a retired Army general, garnered 49 percent support to Bush's 46 percent, which is essentially a tie given the poll's margin of error. The CNN-USA Today-Gallup poll was conducted Sept. 19-21, beginning two days after Clark announced he would become the 10th Democratic candidate for the party's nomination.

    Hell, when we're done with our national anthem, let's all sing a round of "La Marseillaise" just to piss of Tom Friedman.

    Update: And there's this at the Daily Kos:

    The Gallup poll has always been friendly to Bush. Nothing ideological or nefarious. But whatever methodology they used always gave Bush some of his highest numbers amongst the various polling outfits.

    So it's amazing to see a 9-point drop in Bush's approval numbers over the past three weeks. That's no typo. The floor is collapsing under the Bush presidency.

    Sep 19-21
    Approve: 50
    Disapprove: 47
    Goddammit! Revisited

    The lying liars are still at it. Robert Novak wrote today that:

    Clark attributed one comment to a Middle East "think tank" in Canada, although there appears to be no such organization.

    They keep trumpeting the same, disproven lies, which leads me to believe that they're having a hard time finding any real dirt on the man.

    Novak also tries to paint him as a buddy to evil shits by pointing out that Clark met with Ratko Mladic, the Serbian general who is considered responsible for the Srebrenica massacre. Look at what Novak says:

    Clark was a three-star (lieutenant general) who directed strategic plans and policy for the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington. On Aug. 26, 1994, in the northern Bosnian city of Banja Luka, he met and exchanged gifts with the notorious Bosnian Serb commander and indicted war criminal, Gen. Ratko Mladic. The meeting took place against the State Department's wishes and may have contributed to Clark's failure to be promoted until political pressure intervened. The shocking photo of Mladic and Clark wearing each other's military caps was distributed throughout Europe.

    Wow. I guess we just have to forget about Clark, huh? I mean, he met with an indicted war criminal, right?

    Not exactly. Novak makes it sound as if Mladic had already been indicted by the time Clark met with him, but Mladic wasn't indicted until more than a year after their meeting. Even more telling is that the event for which Mladic was indicted -- the Srebrenica massacre -- didn't happen until eleven months after Clark met with him!

    So, at the time Clark met with the man, Mladic wasn't a war criminal and, as someone who worked in strategic plans and policy for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Clark would have been remiss if he hadn't taken an opportunity to get to know an influential commander in an army our nation might have soon faced in battle.

    But I would give Novak some credit if he would chastise some people who dealt with evil bastards and knew it.

    Rick Francona, an ex-army intelligence lieutenant-colonel who served in the US embassy in Baghdad in 1987 and 1988, told the Guardian: "We believed the Iraqis were using mustard gas all through the war, but that was not as sinister as nerve gas.

    "They started using tabun [a nerve gas] as early as '83 or '84, but in a very limited way. They were probably figuring out how to use it. And in '88, they developed sarin."

    On November 1 1983, the secretary of state, George Shultz, was passed intelligence reports of "almost daily use of CW [chemical weapons]" by Iraq.

    However, 25 days later, Ronald Reagan signed a secret order instructing the administration to do "whatever was necessary and legal" to prevent Iraq losing the war.

    In December Mr Rumsfeld, hired by President Reagan to serve as a Middle East troubleshooter, met Saddam Hussein in Baghdad and passed on the US willingness to help his regime and restore full diplomatic relations.

    Mr Rumsfeld has said that he "cautioned" the Iraqi leader against using banned weapons. But there was no mention of such a warning in state department notes of the meeting.

    Update: Still more here.
    The neighborhood

    What's happening:

    Mary at Naked Furniture welcomes a new, Democrat-friendly green group and then catches me coming to her site.

    Jesse at Pandagon says that Tony Snow needs a new ruler.

    Blah3 brings us yet another quote that Dick Cheney may regret.

    Julia at Sisyphus Shrugged brings us a rundown of Judith Miller's journalistic atrocities. Go read it. (And, while you're there, drop her a nice note. She really needs a hug today.)

    UggaBugga catches Andrew Sullivan saying that Bush lied to us because the UN made him do it.

    The Farmer tells a little tale over at Corrente about a man, a plan and a fabricated James Madison quote.

    Kos says that the AP remembers a different speech than he does.

    There's no specific post that I'd like you to read over at Suburban Guerilla today (and I think Susan's a little hard on Clark with scant reason). I just like the picture at the top of the page. Is that so wrong?

    Jo Fish, Democratic Veteran, suggests that we might actually see very little drop in military enlistment in the next few years, but the quality of our forces could suffer.

    Atrios shows us the inner workings of the Republican mind. Their mantra: I only care about my own safety.

    Hesiod found some more evil, French-loving America-haters: The Iraqi Governing Council!

    Sunday, September 21, 2003

    William Safire: I want to "Gore" Clark, too!

    William Safire piles on today with the same, tired old lie about Wesley Clark.

    He began by claiming to have been pressured to stop his defeatist wartime CNN commentary by someone "around the White House"; challenged, he morphed that source into a Canadian Middle East think tank, equally fuzzy.

    First, Clark said that he was called by someone asking him to link 9/11 and Iraq. Only in Safire's world (you know, the one where Nixon was defeated by "nattering nabobs of negativity" and not by his own crooked impulses) is calling someone to tell them to say something based on no evidence at all the same as being asked to not be defeatist. It does explain, though, how he can feel good about the triumphant lies of the Bush administration.

    That Clark claimed to have been pressured by the White House to do anything is just a lie. Spinsanity has already covered this, as have I, but let's look one more time at what Clark actually said:

    GEN. CLARK: I think it was an effort to convince the American people to do something, and I think there was an immediate determination right after 9/11 that Saddam Hussein was one of the keys to winning the war on terror. Whether it was the need just to strike out or whether he was a linchpin in this, there was a concerted effort during the fall of 2001 starting immediately after 9/11 to pin 9/11 and the terrorism problem on Saddam Hussein.

    MR. RUSSERT: By who? Who did that?

    GEN. CLARK: Well, it came from the White House, it came from people around the White House. It came from all over. I got a call on 9/11. I was on CNN, and I got a call at my home saying, "You got to say this is connected. This is state-sponsored terrorism. This has to be connected to Saddam Hussein." I said, "But--I'm willing to say it but what's your evidence?" And I never got any evidence. And these were people who had--Middle East think tanks and people like this and it was a lot of pressure to connect this and there were a lot of assumptions made. But I never personally saw the evidence and didn't talk to anybody who had the evidence to make that connection.

    Look. He doesn't say that the White House told him to say anything. He actually says in that paragraph that the call came from people who were connected to Middle East think tanks right here in his very first mention of the call. It never morphed into anything, because the man's been saying the exact same thing all along.

    I don't usually do the "short version" thing. That's really best left to experts. However, I think the Shorter William Safire would read:

    I am just as willing to lie about Wesley Clark as I was to lie about Bill and Hillary Clinton and, when possible, I'll do both at the same time.

    Update: Josh Marshall knows what I'm talking about.

    Update: The experts come through. See BusyBusyBusy. (And, as a side note to my busy friends, doesn't it seem that Iraq is being set up as a theocracy, but that the religion is Bokononism: "Let us start our Republic with a chain of drug stores, a chain of grocery stores, a chain of gas chambers, and a national game. After that we can write our Constitution.")

    Saturday, September 20, 2003

    Ashcroft breaks his Ninth Commandment

    Being Catholic, it would be "my" Eighth, but who's counting?

    Well, supposedly, Ashcroft was counting, but he came up with zero. Zero times, that is, that the DOJ had invoked Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act. And, after releasing that info, he got pissy.

    The attorney general followed with a sarcastic harangue of critics of the Patriot Act. "The charges of the hysterics are revealed for what they are: castles in the air," he scoffed. "Built on misrepresentation. Supported by unfounded fear. Held aloft by hysteria." And he continued: "Allow me to take a moment to clarify who should, and who should not, be worried about these tools in the hands of law enforcement. If you are spending a lot of time surveilling nuclear power plants with your al Qaeda pals, you might be a target of the Patriot Act. If your idea of a vacation is two weeks in a terrorist training camp, you might be a target of the Patriot Act. If you have cave-side dinners with a certain terrorist thug named bin Laden . . . if you enjoy swapping recipes for chemical weapons from your 'Joy of Jihad' cookbook . . . you might be a target of the Patriot Act."

    Yuk. Yuk. Yuk.

    Unfortunately for AG Ashcroft, one of his own employees has already said that those hysterical castles might have a bit more solid foundation than he would like us to believe. The Liquid List reminds us that the Assistant Attorney General, Viet Dinh has already said that it was used 50 times.

    But wait, say librarians. It was actually at least 85 times, and that was over a year ago!

    My question is this: Since Ashcroft has declassified this number, then are libraries still gagged by the PATRIOT Act? Can they come out and tell us how many times they've been asked for info? Or does Ashcroft just get to lie and hold the threat of prosecution over the heads of the only people who can really call him on it?

    As Atrios says, get this man under oath. And pronto.

    (Links to Liquid List and TalkLeft via Atrios.)

    Friday, September 19, 2003

    Still not getting it

    So Bush goes on television, takes a little "time to keep you informed of America's actions in the war on terror" and America decides, finally, that he's full of it. His poll numbers continue to drop.

    Republicans are in a tizzy and Nitpicker wondered what they think the problem is. Are Republicans asking themselves if Americans losing faith in the competence of the Bush administration to actually achieve a lasting democracy in Iraq? Are Republicans asking themselves if they should tone down their "with us or against us" rhetoric? Are they wondering if they should just come clean and lay all the cards on the table about what they really knew and when they really knew it?


    They're blaming aesthetics:

    But there was widespread agreement among these Republicans that the speech did little if anything to help steady his standing, which had been hurt by a stream of bad news from Iraq and disclosures about the administration's handling of prewar intelligence.

    Several of these Republicans complained about the decision to have Bush stand and read from a TelePrompTer instead of showing him seated and speaking more conversationally.

    "Can you find anybody on Capitol Hill who thinks, 'Boy, that really gave us momentum?' " one presidential adviser asked. "The setting was a failure. The linguistics were bad. The language was off. It wasn't typical Bush language, and he should have been in front of a group. He isn't at his best discussing the appropriations process."

    It's good to know that they're really trying to focus on the important things, huh? Now were could we get him some style and setting tips?

    Apply Now to be on Queer Eye for the Straight Guy!

    We're looking for straight guys, both single and married, of all ages and backgrounds to help become more stylish, more cultured and more desirable straight men.

    If you live in the greater New York City area and have a big event coming up where you want to reveal a "new and improved" you to your wife, girlfriend, family, friends or co-workers, download and complete our preliminary candidate questionnaire and email it with a recent digital photo to info@thequeereye.com.

    Well, I'm sure they'd make a Washington trip for the president, right? And pretty soon he's going to want to reveal a "new and improved" George to America or he'll have to go back to getting money from his dad's friends.

    Well he does have something coming up in New York in 12 months. Maybe that will count. Unfortunately, Question 13 on the candidate questionnaire asks whether the candidate has "ever appeared on TV before or taken part in another reality show," leading me to believe they want fresh faces.

    On the other hand, I don't know if a lot of this stuff would qualify as a "reality" show.

    P.S. Also, is it really too much to ask to want a president who can explain pretty much everything his administration's doing? I mean, he doesn't have to come up with answers off the top of his head or anything, but can't a guy be "at his best" about any topic when he's reading from a script?

    Wow, how can I compete with logic like this? I received an e-mail entitled "You probably already knew this":

    But what the hey..........but the piece "George Will embarrasses himself again". Well whoever wrote it...is full of shit himself or herself.  And the person who wrote can't be all that stupid.

    Oh I see.....what was written was just fun and games.  I see how this works.

    (Hometown withheld by Nitpicker)

    Well, James, as you probably already know, it wasn't written for "fun and games," but to highlight an obvious smear against General Wesley Clark, who has served his country faithfully for over thirty years. If you kept reading the blog, you'd see that the Washington Post still hasn't corrected this obvious error and it's being repeated now by others to smear the general.

    Here's the really funny bit in your e-mail, though:

    The information transmitted may contain confidential material and is intended only for the person(s) or entity to which it is addressed.  Any review, re-transmission, dissemination or other use of, or taking of any action by person(s) or entities other than the intended recipient is prohibited.  If you are not the intended recipient, please delete the information from your system and contact the sender.

    As we used to teach military officers in media training, you must get reporters' assurance that you're speaking "off the record" in advance of making comments. Then we told them that you could never assume that anything you said was actually off the record.

    In other words, James: Bite me.
    Krauthammer in context

    Charles Krauthammer is getting pissy because Democrats dare to question Bush's $87 billion check for Iraq.

    The Democrats are not quite prepared to say that we should not be spending any money on Iraq, and they all line up for the $66 billion earmarked for "protecting our troops" (although, as their own Dennis Kucinich points out, the best and cheapest way to protect troops is to bring them home).

    But when it comes to the other $20-odd billion for infrastructure, the Democrats have had a field day blasting the administration. The universal theme is: Why there and not here?

    Sen. John Edwards gave the usual formulation: "This is the same administration who says we can't afford a real prescription drug benefit, we can't afford to invest in our public schools, we can't afford to address the serious health care crisis in America, but the American taxpayer can afford to pay for everything that's happening in Iraq right now." Rep. Rahm Emanuel is more pithy: "[For] Iraq, $2 billion to the electric grid; [for] America, a blackout."

    But Krauthammer very carefully peels every bit of context away from the issue in order to make Democrats look bad. To regain some sense of the bigger picture, let's look at what Krauthammer had to say last week in Time, when he was trying figure out just what it is that makes us "Bush haters" so mad.

    The President's unilateral assertion of U.S. power has redefined America's role in the world. Here was Bush breaking every liberal idol: the ABM Treaty, the Kyoto Protocol, deference to the U.N., subservience to the "international community." It was an astonishing performance that left the world reeling and the Democrats seething. The pretender had not just seized the throne. He was acting like a king. Nay, an emperor.

    On the domestic front, more shock. Democrats understand that the Bush tax cuts make structural changes that will long outlive him. Like the Reagan cuts, they will starve the government of revenue for years to come.

    So, while trying to get to what it is that bothers us about Bush, Charles Krauthammer pretty much lays out the case against the man and the very reason why his numbers need to be checked and rechecked (and no, Charles, very few of us are really all that pissed about Florida anymore): Bush's management of the our country has proven to be completely incompetent. Look at what Krauthammer wrote again.

  • The President's unilateral assertion of U.S. power has redefined America's role in the world. It sure has, Charles. Once, we had allies and could boast diplomats who could reach compromises with those allies, even when the going was difficult. Today, though, we are shouldering most of the burden of a war that is the direct result of the president's "unilateral assertion of U.S. power" and we must go begging for assistance from other countries. Moreover, when France makes what you call an "unserious proposal," you and other neocons just throw up your hands. "There's no talking to those French bastards," you squeal. In the days of Madeleine Albright, it was understood that diplomacy is as much like haggling as buying a rug in a Baghdad market. The first position is only a starting point. Bushies have forgotten that, but, even if they hadn't, they seem to lack the patience and/or talent to bring about compromise. Unilateral action is easy. Finding common ground is difficult. No one thought Bush was acting like an emperor, but, rather, like a spoiled child.

  • As for the Kyoto treaty, the ABM treaty and our supposed "subservience" to the international coomunity, it should be remembered that those were all made in the days when, rather than being subservient, we led the international community and (remember this?) they followed. So, I don't think Republicans ought to be bragging about "going it alone" when, these days, that's about the only way we can go.

  • Bush tax cuts... will starve the government of revenue for years to come. Krauthammer's right here. Why doesn't he see that, with Bush's "bold" foreign adventures, starving the government is a bad thing? Democrats are completely correct in asking why we have to cut funds that help struggling Americans in order to pay for Bush's war and his tax cut for the richest of Americans. We can't afford to fully fund any of the things Bush once praised -- No Child Left Behind, Americorps, getting new funds to first responders to terror -- but, despite their unwillingness to talk about costs of the war prior to its beginning, we are now expected to just shut up and toss money at Iraq. But, considering that only 22 percent of Americans believe Bush has a plan for rebuilding Iraq, only 26 percent think we should give Bush the money he's asking for and only 43 percent think that the war has been worth the cost of human lives and money, Democrats would be remiss if they didn't ask where the money was going.

  • Add to all that the fact that millions of Americans are now out of work, our budget deficit is spiraling out of control and our soldiers are dying on a daily basis, and I think it's obvious that Krauthammer's full of shit. The issue isn't whether or not Bush will get his money. Democrats know we have to finish the job over there or create a new center for terror. The issue isn't whether or not people hate Bush. The issue is this: People who love their country don't want to want to see it led into grief by incompetents. So, like giving a child his allowance, Democrats will make sure Bush gets the money for Iraq, but they just want to make sure it isn't contributing to his further delinquency.

    Update: The Poor Man says we should read Jonathon Chait's article in The New Republic. I've pretty much given up on that magazine, but any article in which the author basically says, "Yeah, I hate George W. Bush" and then explains exactly why ought to be read.

    And: Jeanne at Body and Soul wants to know how we could be expected to trust Bush with $87 billion. She, it seems, wouldn't trust him much less.
    One year

    TBogg turns one today and has a great rundown of the year that was.

    Nitpicker will turn one year old tomorrow. I can add very little to TBogg's year-in-review. It's been fun.

    Thursday, September 18, 2003

    Poor Barb

    Go right now to The Onion and look at the STATshot to see what 6% of us are lying about to Barb.
    Death to Orwell!

    Or, at least, to the use of his name in vain. Fantastic Planet (where America goes for a great haircut), says we should find a new word for the Big Brother Administration. "Orwellian" is getting old.

    My suggestion is to try to tie the word into the current American mindset by using the time-tested techniques of branding. My choices so far:



    Partly Kafka with 35% chance of McCarthy



    Please put your suggestions in comments.
    Foreign policy hindsight

    Does anyone else remember when Bush was "bold" and was going to change the face of the Middle East?

    Michael Kelly, June 27, 2002:

    In the wake of the extraordinary speech George Bush gave in the Rose Garden Monday afternoon, here are several modest predictions: --Yasser Arafat will be gone as the leader of the Palestinian Authority within a year--probably within six months. And he will be gone in the best possible manner: not made a heroic ``martyr" by an Israeli bomb or bullet, nor sent into yet another forced exile to wreak more destruction as a heroic leader-in-exile. No, this time the tired, old, failed, disgraced little tyrant without a country will leave as the loser he is; he will be forced into retirement by his own long-suffering people.

    --The Palestinians will elect leaders who at least credibly promise a representative government of laws, who at least credibly promise to reject terror and murder and war as the means toward statehood, who at least credibly are committed to achieving a workable two-state, side-by-side peace with Israel. The peace process will begin anew, with some (fragile) hope.

    --Israel and the United States will respond by supporting the development of something that has never existed in history, a functioning Palestinian state. While taking heroic measures to protect itself, Israel will support this development with major concessions. The Palestinian people will also support this process. So will the important Arab states. A nascent peace will take hold.

    --In a matter of only a few years, Palestine will be one of two new Arab democratic states. The other neonatal Arab democracy will be Iraq. These unthinkable developments will revolutionize the power dynamic in the Middle East, powerfully adding to the effects of the liberation of Afghanistan to force Arab and Islamic regimes to increasingly allow democratic reforms. A majority of Arabs will come to see America as the essential ally in progress toward liberty in their own lands.

    Within the boundaries of gambling and guessing, I believe all this might really come to pass. The reason I do is that George Bush believes it might.

    Michael Ledeen, September 04, 2002:

    By all indications, the discussion will be about using our irresistible military might against a single country in order to bring down its leader. We should instead be talking about using all our political, moral and military genius to support a vast democratic revolution to liberate all the peoples of the Middle East from tyranny. That is our real mission, the essence of the war in which we are engaged, and the proper subject of our national debate.

    Saddam Hussein is a terrible evil, and President Bush is entirely right in vowing to end his reign of terror. But this is not just a war against Iraq, it is a war against terrorist organizations and against the regimes that foster, support, arm, train, indoctrinate and command the terrorist legions who are clamoring for our destruction. There are four such regimes: in Iran, Iraq, Syria and Saudi Arabia.

    George W. Bush, Sept 12, 2002:

    Events can turn in one of two ways: If we fail to act in the face of danger, the people of Iraq will continue to live in brutal submission. The regime will have new power to bully and dominate and conquer its neighbors, condemning the Middle East to more years of bloodshed and fear. The regime will remain unstable -- the region will remain unstable, with little hope of freedom, and isolated from the progress of our times. With every step the Iraqi regime takes toward gaining and deploying the most terrible weapons, our own options to confront that regime will narrow. And if an emboldened regime were to supply these weapons to terrorist allies, then the attacks of September the 11th would be a prelude to far greater horrors.

    If we meet our responsibilities, if we overcome this danger, we can arrive at a very different future. The people of Iraq can shake off their captivity. They can one day join a democratic Afghanistan and a democratic Palestine, inspiring reforms throughout the Muslim world. These nations can show by their example that honest government, and respect for women, and the great Islamic tradition of learning can triumph in the Middle East and beyond. And we will show that the promise of the United Nations can be fulfilled in our time.

    Today in Gaza:

    Israeli forces killed a Hamas militant during a firefight with gunmen in the Gaza Strip yesterday, hours after Palestinian President Yasser Arafat said he would fight to the death if Israel tried to expel or kill him.

    Israeli helicopter gunships killed Jihad Abu Swerah, 34, a senior activist in the Izz-el-Deen al-Qassam armed wing of Hamas during an attempt to arrest him at his home in Gaza.

    The raid was part of a series of Israeli measures to clamp down on militants behind the killing of 38 people in suicide bombings in Israel over the past month in a cycle of tit-for-tat violence that has derailed a US-backed peace plan.

    Speaking in his partly demolished West Bank headquarters on Wednesday, Mr Arafat pointed to his machine-gun lying on the floor and said he would use it to defend himself.

    Today in Saudi Arabia:

    Saudi Arabia, in response to the current upheaval in the Middle East, has embarked on a strategic review that includes acquiring nuclear weapons, the Guardian has learned.

    This new threat of proliferation in one of the most dangerous regions of the world comes on top of a crisis over Iran's alleged nuclear programme...

    Until now, the assumption in Washington was that Saudi Arabia was content to remain under the US nuclear umbrella. But the relationship between Saudi Arabia and the US has steadily worsened since the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington: 15 of the 19 attackers were Saudi.

    It is not known whether Saudi Arabia has taken a decision on any of the three options. But the fact that it is prepared to contemplate the nuclear option is a worrying development.

    Today in Washington:

    The Bush administration named Syria and Libya yesterday as "rogue states" whose weapons of mass destruction must not just be controlled but must be eliminated by whatever means necessary.

    Syria, it said, is of particular concern because it has been supporting terrorist groups and letting militants cross its border into Iraq to fight U.S. forces.

    Thank god those neocons aren't concerned about little things like the real world or they might be disheartened by all this.
    Alan Colmes rescues Sean Hannity from a real soldier

    I've been waiting for the transcript to pop up on EBSCO for some time now, because I wanted to get this right. It's there now, so I wanted to bring you a bit of the conversation Hannity & Colmes had with executive officer of the 3rd Infantry 2nd Brigade U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Eric Wesley (italics Nitpicker's).

    HANNITY: ...when you hear this criticism of our commander in chief and it is now a daily barrage of ad hominum, mean-spirited low attacks against him, a failure, miserable failure, gang leader, right on down the line, he intentionally lied about the situation in Iraq. How does that make you feel?

    WESLEY: Well, I'll tell you, we get clear guidance from our chain of command, and it has been clear throughout the campaign, and it's been guidance that we've been able to execute relatively freely. And those things, you know, obviously are political issues that I know are out there.

    HANNITY: You hear that. I mean, they're basically saying, "Hey, he's putting you guys in harm's way and he lied to get you there." That was a question said to Senator Graham the other night.

    "Did the president intentionally lie?"


    Frankly, I'm sick and tired of it. I've had it. You know, we work together as a country. And I'm sick and tired of the rhetoric. This is not legitimate criticism of something they disagree with. This is nothing but political attacks by blind, ambitious politicians.

    And you guys are fighting that war, in the meantime. You're over there listening to that commander in chief that they're throwing down the stairs every day.

    WESLEY: I appreciate your concern, Sean. But I guess that's how it works out at the political level. But isn't that the beauty of democracy?

    HANNITY: We have loud-mouthed Democratic politicians?

    WESLEY: That's why we're there and I think that not a lot of that criticism comes...

    COLMES: Thank you for serving our country and thank you for serving us to give us the right for this dissidence we have here in America. That's what America's all about. And I thank you for your service to America, as many Americans do.

    Something very interesting you did there was you would go around and visit people...

    See that? It looked like LTC Wesley, who had already said that dissent was "the beauty of democracy" was about to say that criticism of the president didn't affect soldiers. I could be wrong about exactly what he was going to say, but, when it starts with "that's why we're there," it's clear that whatever he was about to say wouldn't have made Sean Hannity happy. Good save, Alan.

    As for the colonel, I think we all owe him a salute. The rest of his appearance was good, too. He spoke honestly about the difficult nature of dealing with members of a different culture and the excellent quality of his troops. A classy guy.

    Wednesday, September 17, 2003

    What a coincidence!

    Just as it starts to look like Bush's downward spiral in the polls will continue below 50% (and, in fact, has), Lou Dobbs brings us a timely story about how polls are all screwed up.

    DOBBS: Matthew Felling says polls are a crutch for journalists and are often misconstrued. He is the media director for The Center For Media and Public Affairs and joins us now from the Washington studios. Thank you for being here... We should explain, and I neglected to do so, that we were to be joined by Frank Gallup -- Newport -- of the Gallup Organization here to debate this issue. But since only the con side of our pro-con look is here, we thought it would be appropriate, at least, to hear your views. Why do you think polling is so popular if it so invalid?

    FELLING: Well, polling is popular because we watch the results and we listen to the numbers in the same way that we listen to sports scores. There's something tangible that we can actually see and that we can track over time. And they also have the credibility of accuracy, because we like to think that numbers capture something fully. It reminds us of physics class.

    But on all three layers, polls are tremendously flawed. The pollsters can be mischievous. The respondents can be clueless. And the reporters who cover these polls can often misconstrue the findings, or read too much in to them. Which happens on a day to day basis during an election year.

    DOBBS: And we're going to be inundated with polls. This organization will be -- CNN -- be conducting a number of polls and an increasing number of them over the course of the campaign. This broadcast will continue to conduct its polls, but our are basically just our polls, so they are what our viewers make them.

    Those stupid viewers.

    You know, there's the nod toward fairness here, but one has to wonder why this story was even on right now. Why not seven months ago when poll after poll was being taken to see if we should, you know, go kill people! Will there now be a retraction made on the air by Dobbs, in which he says, "I've been calling President Bush a 'popular president' for two years now, but that was based on polls and they're often just so wrong"?

    Judging from his lineup of guests, -- that poll guy, Commerce Secretary Don Evans and Laura Ingraham (CNN is "Fair and Balanced" too!) -- I doubt we'll hear any mea culpas anytime soon.

    For extra credit, go read Dobbs' kiss-ass interview of Laura Ingraham, if you can take it. A tidbit:

    DOBBS: Well, the idea, one of the fascinating things that you brought up in the book, talking about Michael Moore, and the book is how stupid white guys...

    INGRAHAM: Stupid white men.

    DOBBS: You point out that he's one of the elites posing as populist extraordinaire.

    Wow! As hard-hitting as ever, Lou.
    Whoa, Tom!

    I'm going to need you to calm down now. You're frothing up your moustache and I can't really understand your point. Try again.

    You're saying that the war that you advocated -- despite the arguments of several allies who hold vetoes on the UN Security Council and the the fact that most Americans wanted us to wait for their approval -- was actually France's fault, because they wouldn't say that it was OK if we did go to war?

    And you're saying that, even though we said we wanted to hand the country over quickly to the Iraqis and our refusal to follow through is pissing off the Iraqi rank and file, France should want to jump in and bail us out even if we continue to keep the country's reins to ourselves?

    And you're suggesting, even though "America will not be as effective or legitimate in its efforts to rebuild Iraq without French help," that it's a good idea to write columns in our nation's premier newspaper that calls them Saddam-loving obstructionists with whom we're "at war"? In other words, you're saying it's a good idea to yell, "Come help us, you assholes!" Am I getting this right?

    ( ... )

    You're going to have to start again from the top.

    (Friedman link via Atrios.)
    David Frum, Liar or Idiot?

    Today, David Frum says the following about Gen. Wesley Clark:

    Clark has criticized the supposed and alleged errors of U.S. planning in Iraq – notwithstanding that his campaign in Kosovo was based on an unending series of errors, above all his claim that his air campaigns could destroy Serbian military capabilities without harming the Serbian civilian population.

    Where the fuck was David Frum when that war was actually going on? One of the major reasons that Clark was told to step down from his position in Europe was because he didn't like using air power alone and said so.

    NATO's top commander has warned that the Pentagon must "be open to other possibilities," including an invasion of Kosovo in the fall if the allied air campaign hasn't produced a peace agreement with Belgrade by the end of summer, Pentagon officials said Friday.

    Behind closed doors on Thursday, NATO Supreme Commander Gen. Wesley Clark gave Pentagon officials the same upbeat assessment he regularly gives publicly: that the air campaign is working and Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic is losing.

    But Clark also warned U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen and the Joint Chiefs of Staff that given Milosevic's stubbornness, there is no guarantee that punishing bombing attacks alone will force a peace deal and that an invasion should not be ruled out.

    As a real soldier, Clark understood all too well the faults of massive bombing campaigns, but his hands were tied by politicians. Read the man's book, people!

    And David shows that his lack of ancient historical knowledge is just as pitiful as his knowledge of recent history:

    A reader responded to the post above and pointed out that Wesley Clark has appeared on the History Channel's "Time Machine" program to comment on the battles of Hannibal. According to the reader, Clark said that his own campaign in Kosovo was closely modeled on Hannibal's in Italy. Of course, Hannibal lost his war, even despite all the babies he sacrificed to Moloch. You'd think a Rhodes Scholar like Clark would know that. On the other hand, maybe he figures that military defeat plus baby-burning is an unbeatable platform in a Democratic primary ....

    First, the man's scum.

    Second, if Frum knew anything about military history, he'd know that Hannibal's Italian campaign was hugely successful. Often outnumbered 2-to-1, the Carthaginian showed an amazing tactical talent and, if not for her allies' support, Rome would have fallen completely to Hannibal. Frum also doesn't understand, apparently, that the teaching of battle often includes teaching how defeat was snatched from the jaws of victory. Considering Hannibal's 16 years of battle against the greater Roman force, one has only to imagine a few things happening differently for him to have won out in the end over Scipio Africanus.

    Then again, maybe Frum's right and we can't learn anything from those defeated in battle. What could we possibly learn from the man shown retreating in this picture?
    The next lie about Clark

    This time, FAIR jumps on him, suggesting that he waffled about attacking Iraq. Bolo Boffin corrects the record.
    Support the troops

    Like Tim Predmore:

    From the moment the first shot was fired in this so-called war of liberation and freedom, hypocrisy reigned. After the broadcasting of recorded images of captured and dead U.S. soldiers over Arab television, American and British leaders vowed revenge while verbally assaulting the networks for displaying such vivid images. Yet within hours of the deaths of Saddam Hussein's two sons, the U.S. released horrific photographs of the two dead brothers for the world to view. Again, a "do as we say and not as we do" scenario.

    As soldiers serving in Iraq, we have been told that our purpose here is to help the people of Iraq by providing them the necessary assistance militarily as well as in humanitarian efforts. Then tell me where the humanity was in the recent Stars and Stripes account of two children taken to a U.S. military camp by their mother, in search of medical care. The children had been unknowingly playing with explosive ordnance they had found and as a result were severely burned. The account tells how they, after an hourlong wait, were denied care by two U.S. military doctors. A soldier described the incident as one of many "atrocities" he had witnessed on the part of the U.S. military.

    Thankfully I have not been a personal witness to any atrocities, unless of course you consider, as I do, this war to be the ultimate atrocity.

    And LeAnne Duffy:

    This isn't a simple board game of Axis and Allies this is a game people are playing with real people, people with families, not robots, you have college students out here missing over a year of college to sit and get yanked around without explanation. It has been told to the officers I have spoken to that 3rd PERSCOM refers to moving soldiers as "drug deals". You do this for me and I'll make sure your soldiers go home etc.

    Yes, without a doubt I am proud to serve my country. I understand I'm not able to ETS while I am here, that is fine. I am here to serve out of obligation and duty. What I'm wondering is if there are any checks and balances for those who are making decisions here? Everyone keeps saying it is up in the air, including the personnel responsible for deciding who is going where. It feels as if every decision is off the cuff. In this situation there should be plans in place and decisions made before the rubber hits the road. I know there was a conference in Atlanta but nothing has been heard of from that. We are slowly becoming frantic. I hear people saying they are going to begin hurting themselves or others if they can't go home. The helplessness our soldiers are feeling is indescribable, it is past the point of suck it up drive on. We just want somewhere to drive on to.
    Democrats on the rise

    Kicking Ass...

    and taking names.

    (Links via Atrios and To The Barricades, respectively.)

    Update: TBogg expects complaints.

    Tuesday, September 16, 2003

    Presented without comment

    From Nelson Ascher, as approvingly quoted by Instapundit:

    But I have finally discovered the ROOT CAUSE of Saddam's secularism. Islam, like Judaism, has a taboo against the depiction of anything, human images included. By now you may be getting my point. How can one reconcile this puritanical taboo with the narcisism of a guy who wanted his own image, in pictures, statues etc., to be constantly shown everywhere in his country? No way.

    Thus between pictures of Saddam, statues of Saddam, Saddam and more Saddam everywhere on one side, and Islam on the other, it was Islam that had to go.

    From a photo caption in U.S. News & World Report:

    Life on the streets of Baghdad. Saddam's smiling image is everywhere, but there are few smiles on the faces of Iraqis.

    From the National Review:

    One of (Congressman Joe Wilson's) first visits (in Korea) was to a school for gifted children. "The classrooms had no electricity, except to power the computers," says Wilson. Despite all the scarcity, there was no shortage of pictures of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il. They hung from a wall in each room.

    From "Frontline/World":

    It's exactly the same in Iraq, where you see these pictures of the leader everywhere and in every possible guise. You see pictures of Saddam as soldier, philosopher, farmer, photographer, writer, everything. In the north [of Iraq], you see Saddam mostly as an intellectual or a judge or a photographer. In the south, you see Saddam with the traditional peasant headdress on and as a farmer. Well, in North Korea, the Great Leader knows more about farming than all the farmers put together and more about football than all the football players put together. The difference is that in North Korea people seem to accept that idea without question.

    From today's Washington Post:

    State Department types were taken aback last week to find that a longtime diplomatic photo exhibit along a busy corridor to the cafeteria had been taken down. The two dozen mostly grainy black and white shots were a historic progression of great diplomatic moments, sources recalled.

    There was an original political cartoon from the Jefferson era showing Britain and France pick-pocketing the Americans; there were pictures of negotiations with Indian tribes over land; President Woodrow Wilson at Versailles; former secretary of state Elihu Root somewhere; Roosevelt and Churchill signing the Atlantic Charter; former secretary of state James A. Baker III and former Soviet foreign minister Eduard Shevardnadze in cowboy boots at Jackson Hole; a splendid shot of the old State Department building; and a photo of President Ronald Reagan at a meeting with a very young Colin L. Powell seated behind him.

    Then they were gone. And what was put up in their place? What else? A George W. Bush family album montage of 21 large photos of the president as diplomat. He's speaking at the United Nations and meeting with foreign leaders. There are several shots of Bush with first lady Laura Bush -- exiting a plane, touring the Forum in Rome and visiting Japan. (There's one of just Laura Bush and Jordan's Queen Noor at a U.N. conference.) There's one of Bush meeting in happier days with his very good friend Jacques Chirac, president of France, and another with his even better friend, Gerhard Schroeder, chancellor of Germany. There's a fine shot of him yucking it up in Beijing with former Chicom boss Jiang Zemin, aka the Robin Williams of the Middle Kingdom.

    Again, I have nothing to add to this...