Saturday, July 12, 2003

WaPo to Dean, Kerry: "Let's you and him fight"

Here.

This year, of all years, the Democrats cannot afford to form their usual circular firing squad. They should compete on positive core values and on dragging Bush and his gang screaming to the duck pit.

Reagan's 11th commandment was: "Thou shalt not speak ill of another Republican." It worked pretty well, didn't it? The Dems should learn from it.

Robust discourse is all well and good, but as I recall, it was Bradley who tagged Gore first with the -- false! -- liar meme that clung to Gore all through election 2000, when the SCLM picked up on it.

As Benjamin Franklin once said: "Gentleman! We must all hang together, or most assuredly we will all hang separately."

What did he know and when did he know it?

MoDo on the "National House of Waffles":

The Bush administration has known all along that the evidence of the imminent threat of Saddam's weapons and the Al Qaeda connections were pumped up. They were manning the air hose.

Mr. Tenet, in his continuing effort to ingratiate himself to his bosses, agreed to take the fall, trying to minimize a year's worth of war-causing warping of intelligence as a slip of the keyboard. "These 16 words should never have been included in the text written for the president," he said, in 15 words that were clearly written for him on behalf of the president. But it won't fly.

It was Ms. Rice's responsibility to vet the intelligence facts in the president's speech and take note of the red alert the tentative Tenet was raising. Colin Powell did when he set up camp at the C.I.A. for a week before his U.N. speech, double-checking what he considered unsubstantiated charges that the Cheney chief of staff, Scooter Libby, and other hawks wanted to sluice into his talk.

When the president attributed the information about Iraq trying to get Niger yellowcake to British intelligence, it was a Clintonian bit of flim-flam. Americans did not know what top Bush officials knew: that this "evidence" could not be attributed to American intelligence because the C.I.A. had already debunked it.

Ms. Rice did not throw out the line, even though the C.I.A. had warned her office that it was sketchy. Clearly, a higher power wanted it in. And that had to be Dick Cheney's office.

Dick Cheney as a "Higher Power"... Now that is a truly frightening concept.

Bogosity

Here.


bogosity: /boh·go´s@·tee/, n.
1. [orig. CMU, now very common] The degree to which something is bogus. Bogosity is measured with a bogometer; in a seminar, when a speaker says something bogus, a listener might raise his hand and say “My bogometer just triggered”. More extremely, “You just pinned my bogometer” means you just said or did something so outrageously bogus that it is off the scale, pinning the bogometer needle at the highest possible reading (one might also say “You just redlined my bogometer”). The agreed-upon unit of bogosity is the microLenat.

2. The potential field generated by a bogon flux; see quantum bogodynamics. See also bogon flux, bogon.

We've learned some new words today! Let's see if we can use them in some sentences!

UPDATE: Alert reader artful dodger points to another entry in the Jargon file:
Here:

SNAFU principle: /sna´foo prin´si·pl/, n.
[from a WWII Army ac­ro­nym for ‘Situation Normal, All Fucked Up’] “True communication is possible only between equals, because inferiors are more consistently rewarded for telling their superiors pleasant lies than for telling the truth.:” — a central tenet of Discordianism, often invoked by hackers to explain why authoritarian hierarchies screw up so reliably and systematically. The effect of the SNAFU principle is a progressive disconnection of decision-makers from reality. ...

Seems pretty close to what's happening with The Smoking Sentence -- the "progressive disconnection of decision-makers from reality." Assuming Bush and his gang ever had any such thing.

Republican Tactics 101: Change the subject

Here's a "captured documents" story from the Daily Tennessean, now being flogged by the Weekly Standard via Glenn Reynolds.

Gosh, captured enemy documents.... Brings back those Viet Nam memories...

Anyhow, the captured document purports to be a list of the 600 closest people in Iraq to Saddam Hussein, published by Saddam's crazy son Uday and showing -- wait for it! -- the long-sought-for-but-never available AQ link. Nice timing!

The story is by a 67-year old judge, not a journalist, so we can't really hold him responsible for his credulousness regarding the "unusual set of circumstances" that caused him to be the recipient of the list.

Interesting if true, but it doesn't let Bush off the hook for the 5 words of dubious provenance in the SOTU on AQ.

Tenet sets the standard: "rise to the level of certainty." The intelligence on AQ available to Bush at the time didn't do that.

"Faith-based intelligence," once again. Whether the faith is justified in retrospect or not is no reason to send hundreds of our soldiers and thousands of Iraqis to their deaths. Especially now, since after The Tenet Affair the intelligence agencies are now 100% politicized.

Don't Get Too Excited

Here's another poll, this from Newsweek, probably from next week's issue:

More than half of those polled, 53 percent, said the Bush administration did not purposely mislead the public about evidence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction in order to build support for the war, while 38 percent said the administration had misled the public.

And in an indication of how the controversy over an incorrect assertion by Bush in his January State of the Union address that Iraq was trying to acquire uranium from Africa was playing to the public, 72 percent said they had not heard about it.

No, I don't mean too excited, upset, I mean too excited, hopeful.

Because in spite of the knowledge gap expressed by that 72 % of those polled:


Bush's approval rating for his handling of the military operation in Iraq fell to 53 percent among those surveyed on July 10-11, from 65 percent in a May 29-30 poll, and a high of 74 percent in an April 10-11 poll taken just after Saddam Hussein was ousted from power in Iraq, Newsweek said.

And astonishingly:

The president's overall rating slipped to 55 percent from 61 percent in the May poll.

(edit)

Among registered voters, 50 percent said issues of the economy and jobs would be more important than terrorism and homeland security in determining their vote in next year's presidential elections. Twenty-two percent said terrorism and homeland security would be more important issues.

The registered voters surveyed were split on whether they wanted Bush to serve another term, with 47 percent saying they would like to see Bush re-elected and 46 percent saying they would not, while 7 percent were undecided.

Okay, it's just one poll, although others seem to be "trending" in the same direction. I'm generally skeptical of polls, but I've reluctantly come to accept that quite aside from any value they have in telling you accurately where the rest of America stands, they influence the opinions of the opinion-makers. In Eric Alterman's priceless trop, polls are another way to "work the refs."

Anyone with a more nuanced understanding of statistics is invited to comment.

No! Look! Over there!

North Korea...

Probably a worse threat than Iraq, right? Then again, after what we know now about Iraq, maybe not. Anyhow, here's the money paragraph:

Sources said this month that American surveillance satellites identified a North Korean site about 25 miles (40 kilometers) northwest of the Yongbyon complex that "may or may not" be a testing facility for the development of a nuclear weapon small enough to be put atop a missile.


Well, there you have it! "May or may not be..."

Now that's an evaluation any intelligence professional can get behind. And after what Bush did to George "Plank Boy" Tenet, the analysts are going to be in CYA mode 24/7. Our intelligence process is now 100% politicized.

Too bad Bush sunk half our troops in the Iraqi quagmire, stiffed the UN, and alienated our allies. Do these guys know how to do anything with our assets but loot them and trash them?

Our CEO President passes the buck

Ever had a boss like that? I have. It's not a pretty sight . (Click through for detail.)

Where does the buck really stop?

Former White House advisor David Gergen, who was a major player in crafting State of the Union adresses under Presidents Reagan and Clinton, told CBS News Correspondent Jim Acosta it's not enough for Tenet to take the blame.

"Somebody in the administration, not in the agency, not at the CIA, wanted to put this in the speech and got the CIA to sign off on it, even though everybody knew within the U.S. government that there were real doubts about the validity of the report. And that's what constitutes the misleading quality of it."


I can understand the President's desire to "move on" -- I sure would, if I'd used false statements in making the case for war to the American people -- but wouldn't be best to find out where the buck stops before we do that?

UPDATE: For comparison purposes. (From alert reader michael in dc)

Calling Them on It

Jon Stewart talks to Bill Moyers:
MOYERS: What do you see that we journalists don't see?

STEWART: I think we see exactly what you do see but for some reason don't analyze it in that manner or put it on the air in that manner. I can't tell ya how many times we'll run into a journalist who will go, "Boy I wish we could be saying that. That's exactly the way we see it and that's exactly the way we'd like to be saying that."

And I always think, well, why don't you?....

MOYERS: Which is funnier? CROSSFIRE or HARD BALL?

STEWART: CROSSFIRE or HARDBALL? Which is funnier? Which is more soul-crushing, you mean? Both are equally dispiriting in their the whole idea that political discourse has degenerated into shows that have to be entitled Crossfire and Hardball. ...

Crossfire, especially, is completely an apropos name. It's what innocent bystanders are caught in when gangs are fighting. And it just boggles my mind that that's given a half hour, an hour a day to-- I don't understand how issues can be dissected-- from the left and from the right as though-- even cartoon characters have more than left and right. They have up and down....

These years are upsetting because I feel like we're being gas lit as a country in that what we see going on is just being described as the opposite relentlessly by you know the administration. ...

MOYERS: Friday, front page headline: War's Cost Bring Democratic Anger. I mean these are the guys who voted for the war.

STEWART: You don't want to get the Democrats angry, because then they'll maybe meet in private....

MOYERS: And what is the media doing to help us sort us out?

STEWART: Oh. they're not. They sat this one out. Yeah, they're not getting involved. It's very tiring. And they have weather reports to give....

MOYERS: Why is it that President Bush has to go to South Africa to be asked a critical question about nuclear weapons of mass destruction?

STEWART: Because in the United States he doesn't see anybody in the press. He's in a small room, with a treadmill, that he runs on. And a little "brush-to-clear" diorama. He is not exposed in any way.

You know what's great? Watch a Bush press conference, and then turn on Tony Blair and Parliament. Where he literally has to sit in front of his most vociferous critic. And that critic will say, "Sir, on the 13th, the dossier of the French, not the nuclear. You were hiding things. How do you answer, sir?"

"The distinguished gentleman is wrong. I can prove it in this way." Contrast that with the press conference that Bush had on the eve of war [Dull, robotic voice]: "Uh, okay, the next question is-- Jim. Is there a Jim here? Yeah. You got the next one. [Pause.] That is not the agreed-upon question. We're gonna move on. Ralph, you got something?"

It an incredibly managed, theatrical farce. And it's incredible to me that people are playing along with it. And they say that they're playing along with it because they're afraid of losing access. You don't have any access! There's nothing to lose!...

What the representatives have done over 200 years is set up a periphery, I think they call it the Beltway-- that is obtuse enough that we can't penetrate it anymore, unless we spend all of our time. This is the way that it's been set up purposefully by both sides. And the financial industry, as well.

They don't want average people to easily penetrate the workings. Because then we call them on it.

Lucky Duckies Of Color

As we all know but probably wouldn't have, were it not for the heroic work of people like David Horowitz, Pat Buchanan, Abigail and Stephen Thernstrom, to name but a few, it's minorities who've been getting all the real breaks in this society, tragically, whether qualified or not, none more so than African-Americans.

One more example:

Blacks Lose Better Jobs Faster as Middle-Class Work Drops

Unemployment among blacks is rising at a faster pace than in any similar period since the mid-1970's, and the jobs lost have been mostly in manufacturing, where the pay for blacks has historically been higher than in many other fields.

Nearly 2.6 million jobs have disappeared over all during the last 28 months, which began with a brief recession that has faded into a weak recovery. Nearly 90 percent of those lost jobs were in manufacturing, according to government data, with blacks hit disproportionately harder than whites.

Because of having been crippled by all those preferences, no doubt. They're been made incompetent by liberal condescension, and now expect everything handed to them on a silver plater. Oh, wait a minute, maybe not.

At the same time, jobless black Americans have been unusually persistent about staying in the labor force. Having landed millions of jobs in the booming 1990's, they have continued to look for new ones in the soft economy, and so are counted now as unemployed; if they gave up trying to find work, they would not be counted.

Forgive me, but some things bear repeating.

At the same time, jobless black Americans have been unusually persistent about staying in the labor force. Having landed millions of jobs in the booming 1990's, they have continued to look for new ones in the soft economy, and so are counted now as unemployed; if they gave up trying to find work, they would not be counted.

And repeating and repeating; but don't worry, I'm not going to.

Here's where you can read the rest of this disturbing article.

Does This Take Crust, Or What?

Looks like that sword Tenet fell on was made of rubber.

President Asserts He Still Has Faith in Tenet and C.I.A.

A day after the director of central intelligence, George J. Tenet, took responsibility for approving the use of unsubstantiated information about Iraq's nuclear program in the State of the Union address, President Bush said today that he retained confidence in Mr. Tenet and that he considered the matter closed.

Another example of compassionate conservatism.

Is it going to work? Will the matter stay closed? Perhaps not. From the same NYTimes story:

Mr. Bush's comments followed a strikingly open effort by the White House on Friday to place the blame on Mr. Tenet for not stripping from the State of the Union speech a line, later found to be based on unreliable intelligence, asserting that Iraq had tried to acquire uranium in Africa for a nuclear weapons program.

Speaking to reporters here at the conclusion of a five-nation tour of Africa, Mr. Bush said he "absolutely" had faith in Mr. Tenet and in the Central Intelligence Agency generally.

(edit)

Mr. Fleischer said that the White House had corrected the statement in March, when the International Atomic Energy Agency concluded that documents that had provided much of the basis for the claim about Iraq's attempts to purchase uranium were forged. But White House officials had said throughout the spring that there was other evidence to back up the claim.

(edit)

The White House acknowledged only this week that the evidence that Iraq had tried to acquire uranium in Africa was not solid enough to have justified citing it in the State of the Union address.

Even today, the administration continued to suggest that the information about Iraq's activities in Africa might ultimately be proved correct.

Huh? Let me try that again:

Even today, the administration continued to suggest that the information about Iraq's activities in Africa might ultimately be proved correct.

Well, I guess that does take cojones of a sort.

It's just possible that this President's simple, direct, visceral inability to admit not merely error, but even the need to rethink one's position based on new evidence, may be his undoing.

Can't you just hear Howard Fineman saying, "the irony is that it's this President's greatest personal and policy strength that may turn out to be his biggest political liability. Hey, I'll settle for that.

Edited for spelling error.

Well, it did break on 6:00 PM on a Friday...

Tenet's mea culpa, that is.

Kinda like clockwork, though a lot messier than usual...

The media manipulation
Benjamin Healey of Slate has good press coverage of the carefully orchestrated frenzy, as does Daily Kos, and our own alert reader tECHNIDA (Republican tactics 201: Extinguish your own arson. Advanced stuff -- maybe even a graduate-level course.)

Anyhow, tying a few posts together --

Even "16" is a lie
There are 19* additional words of, well, equally dubious provenance in the speech: the long-debunked aluminum tubes. Who didn't take those words out? More importantly, who put them in?

* Or twenty, if you count "high-strength" as two.

UPDATE: The Bush Fiction Index has now reached 16 + 19 + 5. And I'm bullish!

Bush, Condi, and Cheney knew, not just Tenet
aWol's flacks and the usual suspects in MWdom are now busy propagating the 16 words lie and chanting "case closed" since George "Plank Boy" Tenet issued a mea culpa for a mistake that wasn't his responsibility. But Condi had known about since the previous October. Cheney knew too, through Ambassador Wilson. And so did Bush himself. (One notes that CBS has changed the headline from "False" to "Dubious", no doubt because Unka Karl threatened to put a horse's head in some executive's bed.)

Tenet's basic story makes no sense
The idea that it's all the fault of The Tenis™ doesn't hold water.

The Niger uranium "intelligence" that lit the fuse on all this was an easily detectable, crude forgery. Really, really crude. So, after the only intelligence professionals on the game are beaten about the head and ears for a year by neo-cons, Rummy's own parallel intelligence arm, and the White House itself, we're supposed to believe that the CIA bears the brunt of the blame? Feels like a story concocted after the fact to me.

Where does the buck stop?
We know -- or at least we've been told -- who didn't take the Niger uranium lie out. But who put it in? Our CEO president declines to answer. Surprise! The Times editorializes today:

Now the American people need to know how the accusation got into the speech in the first place, and whether it was put there with an intent to deceive the nation. The White House has a lot of explaining to do.

aWol, you got a lot of 'splainin' to do... What did you knoW and When did you knoW it? (The Times also has a nice new synonym for lie: "fiction.")

A pattern of deceit
Despite all the Republican efforts at damage control, let's remember to put "The Smoking Sentences" into the big picture: it's the pattern of deceit that matters, not the "16 words."

That's exactly what Howard Dean does here:

So this is a serious credibility problem, and it's a lot deeper than just the Iraq-Niger deal, it has to do with assertions by the secretary of defense that he knew where weapons were that turned out not to be there, it has to do with assertions by the vice president there was a nuclear program that turned out not to exist, and assertions made by the president himself, not just about the acquisition of uranium, but also about the ability of [deposed Iraqi President] Saddam [Hussein] to use chemical weapons on the United States.

Give 'em hell, Howard!

"Rise to the level of certainty..."
Bush's gang wants to have you believe that the issue is whether the 16 words were a lie. The real issue is whether the administration hyped the war with every piece of dubious intelligence they could lay their hands on.
So this quote, from Tenet's mea culpa is key to the debate:

"This did not rise to the level of certainty which should be required for presidential speeches, and the CIA should have ensured that it was removed."

Did the 16 words on Niger uranium "rise to the level of certainty"? No. The 19 on the aluminum tubes? No. The 5 on AQ? No.

Bush should have made the case to the American people for war based on what was known, not on what he thought he could get away with.
NOTE: Sorry, readers, I botched something in blogger on this one.

16 + 19 + 5 = 38 and counting

Smoking Sentence #1: the 16 ...

Smoking Sentence #2: the 19 from the aluminum tubes we know about ...

Now, Smoking Sentence #3: these 5:

Bush in the SOTU:

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.

Let's not parse the "aid and protect" weasel words, eh? After all Bush is no Clinton.... The clear implication is that Saddam and AQ were working together. That was dubious then, and it's dubious now.

Matt Kelley of the AP gives lots of good detail here:

Before the war, Bush and members of his cabinet said Saddam was harboring top al-Qaida operatives and suggested Iraq could slip the terrorist network chemical, biological or even nuclear weapons.

Critics attacked those assertions from the beginning for being counter to the ideologies of Saddam and al-Qaida and short on corroborating evidence. Now, two former Bush administration intelligence officials say the evidence linking Saddam to the group responsible for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks was never more than sketchy at best.

"There was no significant pattern of cooperation between Iraq and the al-Qaida terrorist operation," former State Department intelligence official Greg Thielmann said this week.

Another former Bush administration intelligence official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, agreed there was no clear link between Saddam and al-Qaida.

The administration's key evidence of a link was an operative named Abu Musab Zarqawi, who got medical care in Baghdad in May 2002 after being wounded in Afghanistan. In his Feb. 5 presentation to the United Nations, Powell called Zarqawi "an associate and collaborator of Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaida lieutenants."

Current and former intelligence officials now say Zarqawi's links to al-Qaida are more tenuous - the CIA now says Zarqawi considers himself independent of al-Qaida, for example. And while Zarqawi spent time in Iraq, it's unclear whether Saddam's regime simply allowed him to be there or actively tried to work with him.

"There was scant evidence there had been any other contacts between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden," Graham said in an interview Friday.

The administration's case apparently was persuasive. In a poll conducted last month by Knowledge Networks, 52 percent of those questioned said they thought the United States found clear evidence in Iraq that Saddam was working closely with al-Qaida - although no such evidence has been found.


Of course, it's the pattern of deceit that matters, but 16 + 19 + 5 is starting to look like a pattern... and in only one speech! (Granted, speech that sent hundreds of our soldiers and 1000s of Iraqi civilians to their deaths.)

UPDATE: Of course, the dubious character of the link to AQ was knwon at the time, too. (Thanks to alert reader Jennifer.)

Look! Over there!

US steps up search for Saddam Hussein.

I think I know how Unka Karl's going to knock the 9/11 report off the front pages...

(It's at the printer -- why hasn't some patriot leaked it? Like the Pentagon Papers.... Daniel Ellsberg, thou should'st be with us at this hour... If the Times in the state it is today would actually print such a thing...)

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!

Republican tactics 101: Cook the books

My, wonder where our CEO President learned that!

Russ Baker in Slate:

The Bush administration is finally facing tough questions about its selective use of intelligence in selling war with Iraq. But Americans shouldn't just be skeptical of what the president says about WMD. They should be skeptical of what he says about GDP. In economic policy even more than in war policy, the Bushies have successfully suppressed, manipulated, and withheld evidence to serve their policy purposes.

Of course every administration likes to trumpet its good news and hide its bad, but what's remarkable about the Bush team is its willingness to stifle data that had been widely released and to politicize data that used to be nonpartisan.

[T]o heighten the impression that Social Security is running out of money (thereby strengthening the case for allowing workers to divert money from the system into private retirement accounts), the administration has predicted shortfalls far in the future by relying on preposterously long forecast periods.


(Thanks to alert reader creeper.)

They lie so much they don't even know when they're lying anymore!

Go! (but not thattaway)

Here's a serendipitous hit about 24/7 Korean Go club in LA. I'm posting it for a couple of reasons --

First, what a great country this is. We are so rich and, yes, open in culture and experience. (And let's remember the Constitutional framework that set us on the right road.)

Second, Go is a game of "perfect information." All possible information about the game is known to both players at the board. Wouldn't it be nice if our political system were more like that? That "What did he know and when did he know it?" was a rare question, not a frequent one?

UPDATE: The Korean for "Jeebus" is pronounced Ai-goo cham-nah.

HaloScan, links, and URLs

Readers:

Links in HaloScan comments are not reliable. HaloScan seems to accept links of the following form:

<a href="http://www.google.com/foo"> ... </a>

but that's it. IOW, everything after a "?" or a "#" just gets truncated.

So until HaloScan fixes this bug, it would probably be best for the blog if readers just did URLs in the form of straight text, right in the comment:

http://www.google.com/foo?id=XXXXXX

The convenience of being able to click on some links is far outweighed by the frustration of clicking other links and having them turn out to be broken -- and we do like to track down those links!

Many thanks for your comments!

UPDATE: Alert reader Beth adds:

If it's a very long link, it would be better to avoid screwing up the width of the comments page by inserting a space in the middle like this:

www.fakelink.com/too-long/so-i-insert-space-here/
inconvenient/for-copy-paste/but-good-for-reading.htm

UPDATE: Alert reader Nathanile adds:

For long links, go to

http://tinyurl.com

You just paste the long url into their form, and it will return a very short one.

This :
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/from_our_own_correspondent/1075624.stm

becomes:

http://tinyurl.com/gqr8

16 words, and whaddaya get...

Thanks to alert reader Weldon Berger:

(Sung to the tune of TE Ford's "16 Tons.")

Ya blow 16 words and what do you get?
A long walk off a short plank on the deck.
St. Peter don't you call me, cuz I can't go,
I sold my soul like a Company ho'.

We told 'em thirty times that the claim was a lie
but no matter what we did the sucker just wouldn't die.
I should have done the right thing when I first had the chance
But I thought I might avoid that ugly gallows dance.

Ya blow 16 words, and what do you get?
A chance to take an oval office boot in the neck.
St. Peter don't you call me, cuz I can't go,
I sold my people's honor like a two-dollar ho'.

They knew it down at State and in the OVP,
They knew it at the White House through the NSC,
But when I said remember this is plainly a scam,
They told me to go out and get a rectal exam.

Ya blow 16 words and what do you get?
A civil service pension; not a bad safety net.
I sold my soul and I look pretty bent
but when I hit the private sector gonna make me a mint.


Now, anyone for the "16 candles" version?


Republicans to minimum wage workers: Drop Dead!

Helen Dewar of WaPo writes:

Democrats argued that a minimum wage increase, last approved by Congress seven years ago, is long overdue and complained that Republicans were refusing to allow the Senate even to consider the issue.
In a speech to the Senate, Kennedy said that minimum wage employees working 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year, earn $10,700 a year, or $4,500 below the poverty line for a family of three. The value of the increase that Congress approved seven years ago has eroded to the point that their wages are worth less now than they were before the last increase, he added.


$10,700 a year .... That's about 5 hotdogs at a Bush campaign loot fest.

Republicans to children of poor familes: Drop Dead!

From Janet Hook of the LA Times via our own Inky:

A bill to expand a tax break for lower-income families with children, which just a few weeks ago seemed to have momentum, has stalled in Congress.

The bill "has been pushed off to the sideline," Sen. Rick Santorum (R., Pa.) said. "Getting that passed in the next two weeks is highly unlikely."


Bait (Bush says he wants the bill, and switch (does nothing). Gets credit for being compassionate anyhow. Republican tactics 101.

Republicans to Northeast Corridor: Drop Dead!

Reuters via The Times:

A U.S. House of Representatives panel on Friday slashed funding for the Amtrak passenger railroad and transportation alternatives like bicycle routes to boost highway construction spending.


After subsidizing SUVs in the tax bill! Shameless....

Poll Says Support for Bush Declines As Casualties Mount in Iraq

Just out, from ABC-Washington Post:

Bush's overall job approval rating dropped to 59 percent, down nine points in the past 18 days. That decline exactly mirrored the slide in public support for Bush's handling of the situation in Iraq, which now stands at 58 percent.

And for the first time, slightly more than half the country -- 52 percent -- believes there has been an "unacceptable" level of U.S. casualties in Iraq, up eight points in less than three weeks.

On the other hand:

The poll found that seven in 10 Americans believe the United States should continue to keep troops in Iraq, even if it means additional casualties. That view was shared by majorities of Republicans, Democrats and political independents.

A majority of the country -- 57 percent -- still consider the war with Iraq to have been worth the sacrifice. That's down 7 percentage points from a Post-ABC News poll in late June, and 13 points since the war ended 10 weeks ago.

Take a look at the raw data here; it gives you a more detailed look at questions asked, and more nuance in the answers, here.


Start Your Day With A Smile

Or continue you it, or end it that way.

Elton Beard has been Busy, Busy, Busy, thinking about Bush lies, and the people who love them better than truth.

If a shorter Charles Krauthammer doesn't do it for you, there's also Michelle Malkin, Sully, Hitch, or how about Al Frum and Bruce Reed.

Enjoy.

Regarding Those Forgeries: How Crude Were They?

uggabugga has the lowdown.

And don't miss the uggabugga take on George W's take on another George W.

Back in September 2002, which was the year, you will remember, when the SOTU contained that magical phrase, "the axis of evil," and the months since had been filled with Bush doctrine-we don't need no stinking allies-war with Iraq talk, Quiddity considered all, and I do mean all the possible consequences of such a war, from "world-wide recession" to "Richard Perle happy."

Looking back at those expectations from a post-war perspective, what strikes me first is how many of the questions that made war doubters doubtful, have turned out to be the very ones the Bush administration neither asked nor answered, and should have.

It's also quite true that many of the items on the war doubters' lists of bad consequences didn't happen, as Bush supporters have been pointing out with great relish. Fair enough say I. Except when they pretend that all anti-war opinion maintained the same list, and universally predicted that each and every item on the list was bound to happen, which is not true.

But let's take a closer look at the predicted bad outcomes that didn't happen. Saddam didn't use any of those WMD, or attack Israel; there were no massive movements of refugees, Iraqis were loyal to their homes if not to their government; Iran and Syria stayed out; the Iraqi armed forces, including the Republican guard, despite sporadic intense fighting, readily collapsed, deserting rather than defending Baghdad.

Now ask yourself, which of those dogs that didn't bark is really an argument that Saddam's hold on power was so secure that a massive land and air invasion, whose objective was for our armed forces to take over their country, call it liberation if you must, was really the only way to help the Iraqi people to rid themselves of Saddam?

The Niger uranium forgeries were really, really crude

Old news, but bears repeating -- Anyone with an open mind willing to do a little research would have seen the red flags immediately.

Mark Riley of the Sidney Morning Herald writes:

The Niger intelligence was first raised by Italian agencies in November 2001 and shared with the CIA. It was based on four letters, including one purportedly from the Nigerian President, Tandja Mamadou, and two from another cabinet minister, relating to an Iraqi uranium deal.

Mr Mamadou had proved the one supposedly from him carried a childlike signature bearing no resemblance to his own. Two more documents were written on paper from a 1980s military government in Niger, yet bore an October 2000 date and carried the signature of a foreign minister who had not held office for 14 years.

Despite protestations from the CIA, British intelligence included the claims in a September 2002 dossier that became the first rhetorical strike in Prime Minister Tony Blair's case for war


How could this crude forgery ever have been taken seriously by anyone? Or -- Gosh! -- maybe the CIA took one look at it, wanted no part of it, and the neo-cons and the White House hacks rammed it through anyhow? Since they had to have their war? My goodness!

"And up through the ground came a bubblin' crude." Forgeries, that is. Yellow cake. Erroneous allegations. Misstatements. Exaggerations. Lies, Texas-sized....

Bush, poodle to get stories straight soon

VOA:

President Bush will meet British Prime Minister Tony Blair at the White House July 17 for dinner and talks on a wide range of issues.

It's surprising Blair feels it's safe to leave home. The Guardian's leader:

The government's insistence in the run-up to the war that Saddam Hussein was "continuing to work on developing nuclear weapons" was a crucial part of its case that Iraq should be disarmed, if necessary, by force. And the most striking evidence was its claim put forward in the September 24 dossier that Iraq was seeking "significant quantities of uranium from Africa". The prime minister told the house then that "if he (Saddam) were able to purchase fissile materiel illegally, it would only be a year or two (before Iraq acquired a 'usable nuclear weapon')". This image of the Iraqi tyrant shopping around for uranium was a compelling one: "Saddam 'could have nuclear bomb in year'", the Times headlined its defence editor's story the next day. The Sun summed it up more bluntly: "He's got'em ... Let's get him." The British assertion then received the ultimate accolade: it was quoted by President Bush in January in his state of the union address.

Nine months later, this claim has now come unstuck to the extent that, far more seriously than the famous "45 minutes" prediction or the much later dodgy dossier, it threatens to become a real smoking gun - not for Saddam Hussein but for Tony Blair.

The White House has now admitted that Mr Bush's information (which he sourced directly to the British) was wrong and should not have been used.

The British response, reiterated yesterday by Downing Street, is to insist that their evidence is based not on the forged documents but on entirely separate material from a foreign intelligence agency. If so, why has Britain been unable to convince Washington that the claim is genuine? Whitehall's answer that it cannot reveal the identity of its source - even to its US intelligence "cousins" - is simply unbelievable.

The whole business is, in the words of the foreign affairs committee, "very odd indeed"...

"Very odd indeed!" Love that British understatement.

The Brits say they have other evidence besides the forgeries, but can't produce it, and won't give a source... And the administration says it had other evidence too, and doesn't produce it, and won't give a source...

Maybe the source of the British "other evidence" is the administration, which in fact has got nothing; and the source of of the administration's "other evidence" is the Brits, and in fact they've got nothing. The doubles version of playing both ends against the middle...

Naah... It's too late at night... Just let me go now and wrap some tape round my skull ...

Bush declines to answer

There's a surprise! Here:

Bush declined Friday to answer a follow-up question by a reporter who asked: "How did it get into your speech if it was erroneous?"


Because the real issue isn't who didn't take the lie out; the real issue is who put the lie in!

What did he know and when did he know it? Throwing George Tenet to the wolves doesn't answer that question.

You can share your views with the citizens of Austin, Texas here.

Friday, July 11, 2003

16 words, and whaddaya get ...

... another day older, and deeper in the Iraqi qWagmire.

I should be able to write a better headline than that, but seeing that the administration was even lying about their own lies ... It's just too over the top.

Now I know why Atrios moved to an even-more-undisclosed location. How I wish I could too. Like to another planet. I'd move to that new gas giant except I can meet Rush without travelling 600 light years.

And things are going to get even uglier, since we know the Bushes turn brutally vicious when cornered -- witness 43 stomping McCain in South Carolina 2000 or 41 Willie-Horton-izing Mike Dukakis. Or Jebbie any day of the year. So brace yourselves...

Anyhow, Dean has been standing up on Iraq for some time -- and he does late night interviews on CNN too. And alert reader Thumb came up with a headline:

Give 'em hell, Howard!

So this is a serious credibility problem, and it's a lot deeper than just the Iraq-Niger deal, it has to do with assertions by the secretary of defense that he knew where weapons were that turned out not to be there, it has to do with assertions by the vice president there was a nuclear program that turned out not to exist, and assertions made by the president himself, not just about the acquisition of uranium, but also about the ability of [deposed Iraqi President] Saddam [Hussein] to use chemical weapons on the United States.

The big deal is not so much that we went to war over a deal between Iraq and Niger which didn't exist and that the administration knew ahead of time it didn't exist. The big deal is the credibility of the United States of America and the credibility of the president in telling the American people the truth and the rest of the world the truth. That's a very big deal.

Yes, give 'em hell Howard. I don't care if the veins in your neck do pop, as Evelyn Neives's sleazy little piece of character assassination has it in WaPo. Nothing wrong with a little righteous anger, now that the age of irony is dead. Me, the stuff these guys pull, I'm amazed the top of my skull doesn't blow off.

The Ministry of Truth

An anonymous but alert reader points out that Tenet's statement itself contains a lie. Let's compare what Bush actually said to what Tenet says that Bush said:

Bush in the SOTU:

The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.

Tenet in his statement:
the text in the speech was factually correct – i.e. that the British government report said that Iraq sought uranium from Africa."


So, first, Tenet's own statement is a lie. Bush did not say the British "said"; Bush said the British "learned." The difference? Consider:

I say to you: "He said 1 + 1 = 3." No problem; I'm not implying 1 + 1 = 3.

But then I say to you: "He learned 1 + 1 = 3." A problem; I am implying 1 + 1 = 3 (which you know, of course, is wrong).

So, the use of "learn" -- which Tenet conceals through his own lie -- shows the intent to deceive. By saying the British "learned" of the Niger uranium, Bush implied that this was true. It was not true, and whoever crafted those 16 weasel words knew it was not true.

So, who signed off on the speech? Whose responsibility was it? What did he know and when did he know it?

They even lie about their own lies!

Condi, Rummy botch post-war Iraq planning

A nice long report from Jonathon Landa and Warren Strobel of the Miami Herald here:

The small circle of senior civilians in the Defense Department who dominated planning for postwar Iraq failed to prepare for the setbacks that have erupted over the past two months. ...

The officials didn't develop any real postwar plans because they believed that Iraqis would welcome U.S. troops with open arms and Washington could install a favored Iraqi exile leader as the country's leader. The Pentagon civilians ignored CIA and State Department experts who disputed them, resisted White House pressure to back off from their favored exile leader and when their scenario collapsed amid increasing violence and disorder, they had no backup plan.

"There was no real planning for postwar Iraq," said a former senior U.S. official who left government recently.

In contrast, years before World War II ended, American planners plotted extraordinarily detailed blueprints for administering postwar Germany and Japan, designing everything from rebuilt economies to law enforcement and democratic governments.

Ultimately, however, the responsibility for ensuring that post-Saddam planning anticipated all possible complications lay with Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld and Bush's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, current and former officials said.

What a mess. The LA Times paints a great word picture of American soldiers in a humvee caught in traffic -- potentially deadly for them, of course -- since there are no traffic cops and no traffic lights.

As Casey Stengel used to say of the Amazin' Mets: "Can't anyone here play this game?"

Bush to working families: Drop dead

Nick Anderson of the LA Times writes:

The Republican-led House on Thursday narrowly upheld proposed labor rules that the Bush administration acknowledged could bump more than 600,000 workers from the ranks of those eligible for overtime pay.

Though the malAdministration admits 600,000 other estimates put the total as high as 8 million.


HINT: The scam the Republicans are working is the old exempt employees dodge.

Of course Bush knew

(And so did Condi!)

It had already happened once before!

Andrea Mitchell of MSNBC:

U.S. officials told NBC News’ Andrea Mitchell that Tenet himself advised Rice’s top deputy, Steven Hadley, to remove a reference to the uranium report from a speech Bush delivered Oct. 7 in Cincinnati, establishing that the nation’s top intelligence officials suspected that the allegation was false more than three months before they approved Bush’s repeating it in his nationally televised address on Jan. 28.
(Thanks to alert reader RG)

So let me get this straight:

It wasn't OK to use Niger uranium in Cincinnati before the SOTU (when Condi had to know), it wasn't OK to use Niger uranium at the UN a week after the SOTU (when Colin knew), but it was OK to use it in the SOTU ... Oh heck, aWol was only talking to Congress, then! I guess he just figured he could say whatever he wanted to those guys...

The Ministry of Truth

Tenet grovels:

"Some of the language was changed. From what we know now, agency officials in the end concurred that the text in the speech was factually correct that the British government report said that Iraq sought uranium from Africa.''

Now I understand! I get it! It's all clear!

Lie: "Iraq said sought uranium from Africa."

"Truth": "A British government report said that Iraq sought uranium in Africa."

And Tenet grovels some more:

''This should not have been the test for clearing a presidential address,'' the statement continued. ''This did not rise to the level of certainty which should be required for presidential speeches, and CIA should have ensured that it was removed.''

Yes, but no. Nice try, though.

It's clear that the White House had editorial control of writing the SOTU all the way, down to each and every word -- and who can believe that this White House, famous for control, would want it any other way? (Thanks to alert reader Hunter for making this point.)

The White House figured out how to tweak the wording so a lie was, technically, the truth.

That's the White House responsibility, Mr. Tenet. Not yours. Don't blame yourself for letting them get away with it. And sleep easy tonight.

UPDATE: Dean:

"It's very clear that it may be George Tenet's responsibility, but that information also existed in the State Department and it also existed in the vice president's office, so they will not get away with simply throwing George Tenet over the side."

NOTE: And remember the big picture: It's the pattern of deceit that matters, not playing Gotcha! with each and every lie.




Tenet takes the fall

Via CNN, Tenet'sstatement:

"First, CIA approved the President's State of the Union address before it was delivered. Second, I am responsible for the approval process in my Agency. And third, the President had every reason to believe that the text presented to him was sound. These 16 words should never have been included in the text written for the President. "

"The President had every reason to believe that the text presented to him was sound"? No. Since Cheney had to know.

Cheney had to know
How can Tenet the fall when Cheney had to know too? Newsweek:
Claiming that Iraq tried to buy uranium from the African country of Niger wasn’t a judgment call. By the White House’s own admission, it was a fraud, a lie. The envoy sent to investigate the intelligence in February 2002, former ambassador Joseph Wilson, sought out the information and informed the administration. The only question is how high up the food chain his report got. Did it stop at low-level officials as the White House claims, or did it go all the way to the president and vice president?

CIA director George Tenet sent Wilson to Niger after Vice President Cheney asked for an investigation. Wilson asks why Cheney’s office would demand this inquiry and not want to know the result. If Bush really was misled, wouldn’t he want to know who embarrassed him? Who made him a liar? In a White House as obsessed with loyalty as this one, the fact that no heads rolled strongly indicates this could go all the way to Cheney, if not to Bush himself. Who knows how much Cheney tells the boss. Bush is not a detail guy. He may not have wanted to know.

16 words
Seems like the "only one sentence" meme is rapidly mutating into the "16 words" meme. AP:

''These 16 words should never have been included in the text written for the president,'' Tenet said in a statement released after Bush and his national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, blamed the miscue on the CIA and members of Congress called for someone to be held accountable.

Count in the aluminum tubes. More than 16...

Who signed off?
Who signed off on the speech? Tenet, like everyone else in this story uses the passive voice -- "should never have been included."

OK, they shouldn't have "been included." Who signed off on the speech? What was the paper trail.

Honestly, it's like dealing with a six-year-old.

"It broke!" (passive voice)
"Well, who broke it?"

"It got included..."
Well, who included it? Where does the buck stop?

NOTE: And remember the big picture: It's the pattern of deceit that matters, not playing Gotcha! with each and every lie. Just like with a six-year-old.

A pattern of deceit

While the malAdministration engages in furious fingerpointing and waits for someone to take responsibility for including the Niger uranium falsehood in aWol's constitutionally mandated State of the Union speech, there's a curious silence on the other "Smoking Sentence" in the speech for war:

"Our intelligence sources tell us that he has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production. "


But the same process of politicized, "faith-based intelligence" was happening with the famous aluminum tubes too, just as it did with the "crude forgeries" on Niger uranium:

One example of misinformation, according to physicist and former weapons inspector David Albright, was the Bush administration’s leak to the media in September about Iraq’s attempt to import aluminum tubes which administration officials claimed were headed for Iraq’s nuclear program.

“I think it was very misleading,” says Albright, who directs the Institute for Science and International Security. Albright says the tubes could be possibly used for a nuclear program, but were more suited to conventional weapons production. Government experts thought that too, Albright tells Simon, but administration officials “were selectively picking information to bolster a case that the Iraqi nuclear threat was more imminent than it is, and, in essence, scare people.”


The bottom line: We're talking more than onesies, twosies, here.

It's good clean fun to play "Gotcha!" with aWol's gang -- it's easy to do, and any number can play, even the SCLM -- but the bottom line is not one lie, two lies, three lies, but the persistent pattern of deceit from this administration.

Not just on Iraq (here, here) but on all the issues they handle.

They lie so much, they don't even know they're lying any more.

Lest we forget

Darlene Superville of AP writes:

President Bush is thousands of miles away from Washington, yet even here, he cannot escape the long shadow of his predecessor ... the Clinton Imperial Suite... the nearby Clinton Pavilion... Bill Clinton highway ...

Hee hee!

qWagmire

Michael Gordon of The Times writes:

Even as the Pentagon asserts that it had the perfect strategy, it has also quietly moved to amend its plans for administering the peace. Just two months ago, the Pentagon was backing a plan to reduce the number of American troops to little more than one division by September, down from the 145,000 troops or so there now to perhaps one-third or fewer than that. This was based on the assumption that the situation in Iraq would quickly stabilize and that other allied nations would quickly contribute forces — neither of which has panned out. So that troop-reduction plan has been put aside.

As Gen. Tommy R. Franks, who headed the Central Command during the Iraq war, told Congress this week, the new plan is to maintain current troop levels in Iraq for the foreseeable future. That is a major change in the projected postwar force plan. As a result of the increased force levels, cost estimates of the Iraq occupation have roughly doubled, to almost $4 billion a month.


A cake walk... Right....

Unless, of course, the qWagmire is not the result of bad planning, but actually ... The Plan.

Torture Wolfie too!

Here!

Torture CNN now!

Here (Bottom right, "Quick Vote")

Condi on The Smoking Sentence

Looks like aWol's hiding behind Condi, not Colin. Anyhow, from the AP via the Times here:

"If the CIA -- the director of central intelligence -- had said 'Take this out of the speech,' it would have been gone," Rice said. "We have a high standard for the president's speeches."

Asked whether Bush still had confidence in the intelligence agency, Rice replied, "Absolutely."

When queried on reports that the CIA expressed concern to the White House about the allegation, she suggested that Tenet should be asked directly. "I'm not blaming anyone here," Rice said.

Let's parse Condi!

"If the CIA -- the director of central intelligence" -- Notice how the acrobatic Condi re-spins in mid-sentence: it wouldn't have been just the CIA who needed to say "Take this out" (sounds like they said to, actually) but George Tenet himself. Right

"Absolutely" -- Bush has confidence... in Tenet to take the bullet for him!

"I'm not blaming anyone here" -- LOL!

"It would have been gone" -- Condi is very careful to use the passive voice. All the reporting about how The Smoking Sentence got into the State of the Union speech does that too.

Condi! Try some honesty! Instead of "It would have been gone" say "X would have taken it out." Who is X? Who had the responsibility? Where does the buck stop? What did he know, and when did he know it?

UPDATE: AP slow, but finally starting to get it:

The Bush administration is engaged in frantic fingerpointing as it tries to explain how its handling of faulty intelligence on allegations of Iraqi nuclear smuggling produced so few red flags.

Get some popcorn!

Connecting The Dots

As we all know and endlessly kvetch about, that's what the SCLM failed utterly to do during the 2000 campaign, and thereby deprived voters of any sense of who George W. Bush might be other than a picture based exclusively on his own self-presentation. All of you could answer in your sleep the question of which areas of his life and his record as Governor went "un" to "underinvestigated," from his "military" record, to the quality and quantity of justice meted out to the citizens of Texas.

Let's hope what this Boston.com writer does here is the start of a trend.

Using that Atlantic article about those Gonzales clemency memos, he relates what they imply about Governor Bush directly to the currently hot topic of Bush's relationship to his own spoken words in something like, say, the SOTU.

AN ARTICLE in the current issue of The Atlantic Monthly should further inform and inflame the debate over the honesty of President Bush.

(edit)

When Bush ran for president, other states, most notably Illinois, were examining themselves for tragic flaws in the death penalty. Bush remained proud of his system in which he took a mere 15 to 30 minutes to review final pleas. He remained proud even after several newspaper investigations and a Columbia University study found massive evidence of legal, medical, and law enforcement incompetence or lying in Texas death penalty cases as well as racial and class disparities in sentencing.

''I'm absolutely confident that everybody that has been put to death ... are guilty of the crime charged, and, secondly, they had full access to our courts,'' Bush said.

Sound familiar? It does to Derrick Jackson, too. Check it out.

Of course "should" and "will" are not interchangable.

Here's something to think about. In the coming 2004 campaign, since so little of this Texas material was ever looked at closely by the mainstream media, isn't it still fair game (as a better predictor of the long-range impact of Bush policies than his barely four Presidential years are), and if done right, isn't it a damn good way to undercut Rove's genuis for what should rightly be called triangulation, more so, seems to me, than that concept was ever genuinely Clintonian.

Thug watch

Another rock lifted from Florida 2000 here:

As Florida's presidential recount raged in December 2000, a newly created political group spent $150,000 attacking three pro-Democratic state Supreme Court justices who threatened George W. Bush's hopes for victory.

The Florida Elections Commission now says the "Committee to Take Back Our Judiciary" was a front group for unidentified donors trying to ensure Bush's election. The panel is weighing a possible $450,000 fine against the committee's chairwoman, Republican Mary McCarty, a Palm Beach County commissioner.

But the committee's real organizer, the election commission said, was veteran GOP political consultant Roger Stone, who has been involved in major campaigns dating to Richard M. Nixon's administration. The election commission wanted to question Stone, who owns a home in Florida, but it couldn't locate him to serve a subpoena.

The letter to 350,000 people, Hooper's report said, was prepared "at the direction of Mr. Stone" and was paid for with $150,000, the source of which Hooper could not trace. Unique Graphics and Design of Alexandria produced and mailed the letter, but the company owner could remember only that she was paid $150,000 by wire transfer, according to the report. The money could not have come from the Committee to Take Back Our Judiciary, Hooper said, because the committee had not opened a bank account at that time.

Hmmm... I wonder if there were any other mysterious wire transfers in Florida 2000? Say, for the "spontaneous demonstrations"?

Powell: imperial mandate in Iraq

On Larry King:

In the very near future, he will be announcing political leaders, people, Iraqis who will start to exercise authority under Ambassador Bremer ...

Later for that democracy stuff! It's morning again in Iraq!

Our CEO President passes the buck

Here.

Surprise!

The Baghdad triangle

Runmy's lying too? And Franks?!

Remember when Rummy told us that large portions of Iraq are stable? Turns out he was talking "large" as in square miles, not in population.
From the LA Times:

Gen. Tommy Franks appeared Thursday before the House Armed Services Committee with a large map showing the trouble spots in Iraq. He pointed to a small triangle and a few dots indicating where troops were coming under attack, with the vast rest of Iraq shaded safely green. A quick-witted Rep. Ellen O. Tauscher (D-Pleasanton) pointed out that the triangle and spots "represent 70% of the Iraqi population." And most of the green-colored area was unpopulated desert. Oh.

Right.

Maybe the unpopulated desert is where the oil is. Which doesn't have anything to do with anything, of course.

The "just one sentence" meme

Howie's at it already.

The left is now up in arms about one sentence in George Bush's last State of the Union speech.

The "one sentence" -- in the President's constitutionally mandated State of the Union speech -- was the one that implied Saddam Hussein was threatening us with nuclear weapons.

You're at a wedding -- the groom says "I don't" instead of "I do" ... "It's just one sentence!"

(See the incomparable Howler on this truly lame spin too.)

Howie, Howie, Howie...

Parsing Mr. Powell

I love this from a Powell briefing in Africa:

But to think that somehow we went out of our way to insert this single sentence into the State of the Union address for the purpose of deceiving and misleading the American people is an overdrawn, overblown, overwrought conclusion.

It's a non-denial denial!

"...went out of our way" -- Who said the Bush administration ever needed to go out of its way to lie?

"...this single sentence..." -- Right, the one that implied that Saddam was threatening us with nuclear weapons?

"...for the purpose of deceiving the American people..." -- But for some other purpose it would be OK?

"...overdrawn, overblown, overwrought..." -- Every "un" but "untrue"!

A good lawyer must have crafted that sentence, eh?

CBS: "Just Call Him Old Stonewall"

Finally it looks like the SCLM are starting to connect the dots on this administration. Dick Meyer of CBS writes:

before we became experts on nonexistent uranium from Niger and the kinds of aluminum tubes needed to make nukes, our intelligence wizards faced a much simpler and scarier question: Could 9/11 have been prevented?

The White House never wanted an independent commission established to answer that question. Calls for a heavyweight inquest came from both parties. The administration fought the bad fight and eventually lost. Thankfully.

More broadly, the report said “the Administration underestimated the scale of the Commission’s work and the full breadth of support required.” Translation: without the White House cracking the whip of cooperation, agencies will cover their political posteriors.

This bodes badly for an independent examination of the intelligence and political marketing used to sell the war in Iraq to the public – and to the world.

The White House has successfully fought that battle so far. Congressional intelligence committees have launched narrowly focused investigations – in closed sessions only. If no further smoking-gun evidence of WMD’s turns up in Iraq in the next few months, perhaps then there will be a major congressional or independent accounting. Perhaps. General Stonewall Bush hasn’t lost many battles.

This week, President Bush petulantly declared that excavations into pre-war intelligence were “attempts to rewrite history.” Actually, they are the first attempts to write history.

Blogging For An Austism Cure

MB of the blog called Wampum, whose interests are a rare mix, organic farming, progressive politics, Indian issues, and Autism, all of them approached from a highly original and personal perspective, is participating in a 24 hour Blogathon on July 26th, whose highly worthy purpose is the raising of money to find a cure for Autism.

She's looking for sponsors, all small contributions welcome, as she explains here and in more detail here.

Good cause, good lady, good fun. Easy clicks sign you up; I just did and already I feel good.

And just in case you haven't been there before, check out her posts on John Edwards here and here, and her post on the child tax credit here.

Even More Undisclosed

Well, I´m off to an even more undisclosed location for the weekend. I´m not sure if I´ll have any access ´till Monday so I´ll leave you all in the more than capable hands of my guest bloggers.

Condi the Liar

Condi Rice lies more often than Ari Fleischer does. O. Dub catches another one.

Cute

A little typo and I notice that demorats.org takes one to the RNC site.

On that note, give some money to the DNC!

The Evolving Story

The Independent provides an excellent timeline of the shifting stories on Iraq from that side of the Atlantic.

And, here´s a DNC produced similar item from our side.

Buy Books

I know some people get annoyed at the annoying crass commercialism on this site, but when I´m promoting books I´m 95% doing it for the sake of promoting them and only 5% doing it for the few nickles I get if you click the Amazon link. I think it´s extraordinarily important to demonstrate to publishers that books from the evil commie librul side of the political spectrum sell.

On that note, our good friend Tom Tomorrow has a new book out. Let´s help to put this puppy at the top of the bestseller lists. You can order it here or purchase it at your favorite bookseller such as Powell´s or the Tattered Cover.




Buzzflash Chats with Molly

One day I´ll have my dream date - drinking champagne in the hot tub with Molly, Ann Richards, and Ann Lewis . But, until then I´ll have to settle for reading this interview and buying her new book.

Birthdays and Anniversaries

Happy belated real birthday and wedding anniversary to Tbogg and happy blogoversary to skippy!

Flaunting It

Week after week couples show up to church, children in tow, flaunting their heterosexuality. I get really tired of media reports which continue to propogate the idea that it´s okay to be gay as long as you don´t "flaunt it," whatever the hell that means.


But, this is what the theocrats in the Bush administration want to start subsidizing.

ROCKFORD -- The new choir director was one of the best things that ever happened to Holy Family Catholic Church. Everyone said so.

He brought together businessmen and blue-collar workers, students and senior citizens to make music that lifted the whole parish--until last month, when church officials learned he is gay.

A lawyer and two priests confronted Bill Stein on June 17 and asked him to renounce his partner of 10 years, Stein said. When he refused, they fired him.

His dismissal has divided the flock at Holy Family, setting the choir against other members of this parish of 2,760 families, the largest Roman Catholic parish in the city.

Stein, 35, considers himself a devoted Catholic and said he has never flaunted his homosexuality or his relationship with his partner, Manny Ahorrio, 37.

I know that Stein himself is supposed to have expressed this idea, but whether it was elicited in response to a question or he just said it unprompted it should never be an issue.

Also, last I checked adultery was still a sin. As is using any form of contraception. How many straight choir directors are asked to take a vow of celibacy? What about all of those other sins? Why is that HOT GAY SEX is the only goddamn sin church leaders seem to give a crap about anymore?

Church leadership told him he could keep the full-time choir job he had held for five years if he took a vow of chastity, Stein said. But for him, the vow would be a lie, something he could not do as a Christian.


Interesting if true

Here (but nowhere else that I can find; when is someone going to leak the 9/11 report before Unka Karl finds a way to drive it off the front page?)

And, if true, it would make (amazingly enough) the "Bush Knew Iraq Info Was False" story a classic case of Republican Tactics 101: Use bad news to bury worse news. (Thanks to alert reader Jack).

Check it out...

Thursday, July 10, 2003

CBS: "Bush Knew Iraq Info Was False"

Jeebus. (Thanks to alert reader Luxor.)

So who's Deep Throat, Junior, anyhow? Maybe aWol was talking in front of the servants?

Your guess on DTJr is as good as mine. Maybe someone aWol wanted to take a bullet for him? (Metaphorically, of course. Not like the real bullets our soldiers are taking.)

Is DTJr ... perfidious Albion?

Gosh, when you think about, there are quite a number of people who wouldn't mind seeing the "likeable," "popular" aWol take the fall ... And these are people on the guy's own team!

As Drudge would say -- "developing." (Don't give Drudge any hits, though -- it's just the CBS report.)

"Unka Karl! Unka Karl! What'll I do?"

UPDATE: From Reuters, sourcing:

A CIA spokesman declined comment on the [exclusive] CBS report, which was sourced to senior Bush administration officials. A White House spokesman could not be immediately reached for comment.

"Stop staring at those elephants, George! We've got a statement to prepare!"

UPDATE: Let's parse a little text. The CBS story uses the passive voice, saying that the lie on Niger yellowcake "was included" in the speech, and only in the headline says "Bush knew" -- did the senior administration official say that? Pincus's WaPo story says only that Bush "used the charge" in the SOTUS -- not that Bush isn't responsible for his own words, of course. AP (finally) says "was left in" (passive voice again).

UPDATE: "And up through the ground came a ' bubblin' crude." Forgeries, that is. Yellow cake. Serial exaggeration. Premature declaration of success. Lies, Texas-style...

Divertimento:

I'm assuming that aWol, if he is deemed medically fit to do so, will need to deliver some sort of speech on all this. Therefore, for the edification of our readers (and as a form of innoculation against noxious memes) I present perhaps the classic example of Republican deceit, hypocrisy, and maudlin sentimentality. Ladies and gentleman, I give you the legendary "Checkers Speech" from Richard M. Nixon (scroll down). Can aWol top this? Follow along at home! Give it up for aWol!

UPDATE: Dean campaign on "Record of deception" (PDF). Dean petition (a little unspecific, eh?). Kucinich petition.

MoveOn petition (more specific).

UPDATE: Above, we mentioned the curious use of the passive voice in the CBS story -- "was included." Interestingly, Colin "Playing-both-ends-against-the-middle?" Powell's defense of aWol's, uh, misstatement also uses the passive voice: "a judgment was made that that was an appropriate statement for the President to make." (Thanks to Adam in MA for the transcript reference.)

So, now it becomes a matter of very simple sentences! George: Just use the active voice! "X included it." "X made the judgment."

George. Please. You're our CEO President! If X is you, well, check here. And if X is not you, well, who is it? What did you know and when did you know it? Does the buck ever stop anywhere?

UPDATE: The CBS money paragraph:

[T]he bottom line is the White House knowingly included in a presidential address information its own CIA had explicitly warned might not be true.

The AP money paragraphs:

Officials contacted by The Associated Press declined to discuss the nature of discussions between the White House and CIA just before the speech. But they noted the CIA's own assessment before the Iraq war about Saddam Hussein's alleged efforts to make weapons of mass destruction did not give strong credence to the British report, noting skepticism by some analysts.

The officials further noted that a speech Secretary of State Collin Powell gave just a week after the president's address also did not repeat the African uranium allegations.


The USA Today (!) money paragraphs:

Secretary of State Colin Powell defended the Bush administration Thursday against intensifying criticism of the use of bogus intelligence to help make the case for war on Iraq. But he was pressed to explain how the tainted evidence made it into President Bush's State of the Union address.

Powell followed an emerging White House strategy of suggesting that the CIA, which was shown Iraq-related portions of Bush's draft speech, could have objected to the inclusion of the uranium charge. A CIA spokesman declined to comment.


UPDATE: Looks like the AP headline ("Doubt Brits"), not the CBS headline ("Bush knew"), is taking hold on this one, at least in the papers that just print what they rip off the wire.

"Pride goeth before a fall and a haughty spirit before destruction." (Prov. 16:18)

Revisionist history at the Times

Michael Janofksy of The Newspaper of Record (not!) burbles:

Mr. Nader has run three times for president, faring best in 2000, when he won 2.7 percent of the overall vote and 1.6 percent in Florida, where George W. Bush's official 537-vote margin over Mr. Gore decided the election.


Uh, Mike? "Decided"? There was this little matter of the Supreme Court's special good-for-this-one-election-only decision in Bush v. Gore...

And don't get me started on Nader -- though, granted, if Gore had won Tennesee and/or Arkansas, and Jebbie hadn't purged the legitimate Black voters from the Florida rolls, Nader's contribution would not have been as decisive as turned out to be.

Kerry stands up

Nedra Pickler of AP writes:

"I learned a long time ago in Vietnam what happens when pride gets in the way of making honest decisions," Kerry, a decorated Vietnam War veteran, told a Capitol Hill news conference. "We carried that war on for too many years because of pride. And I refuse to see us now put American soldiers in risk because we are unprepared to say, 'Where the world is prepared to be part of this, winning the peace in Iraq is not just an American interest, it's a global interest.'"

Kerry's campaign strategy in the next few weeks will be to focus on what he contends is a pattern of deception by the administration on several issues beyond Iraq and the war, a campaign official said.

Hurry home, George! Hurry home! And stop staring at those elephants!

UPDATE: Latest CBS poll on Iraq, thanks to alert reader Hank Essay.

The Medicare Trap

Lambert's done yeoman work posting particulars of this new Medicare bill. Now, I'd like to apply a narrative perspective to the issue of what Democrats are and ought to be doing.

What's the story here; what do we want the story to be?

As the President's men and women will be telling you at nauseous length, the addition of a prescription drug benefit to Medicare would be the largest expansion of this vital social insurance program for decades. If you have the feeling that there is a whirlwind quality to this Republican enthrallment with the benefit itself, rather than with their decades' long efforts to reform, privatize, modernize (they all really mean privatize, i.e., destroy) Medicare, you're right.

What seems to have happened, Karl Rove decided the President was vulnerable to charges of being less compassionate than advertised, and as with the Homeland Security Bill, met the challenge by quietly shifting the White House position on what had been a make or break issue, tying the benefit to some form of privatizing.

The shift worked in the Senate, where Republicans can't pass anything like this without Democrats. Ted Kennedy was the key figure here. But please understand, this is not a bash Kennedy, or a bash the Democrats piece. First, because they don't deserve it on this one; second, because that gets us nowhere fast.

Once the Pres gave up the either or choice of HMO with drug benefit, traditional fee for service, no drug benefit, Kennedy decided a compromise was in the long-range interests of us citizens.

Here's how Molly set it up in a June column:

Kennedy is supporting the Senate version because (A) it's marginally better than what we have now, and (B) in one of the hoariest cliches of political debate, this gets the head of the camel into the tent. In other words, it's a start, and a better program can be built later -- in fact, it pretty much will have to be.

The White House's logic is (A) Republicans promised a prescription drug benefit, and (B) they can pass this in time for the 2004 election and take credit for it, but it doesn't go into effect until 2006 (a clever ploy), so no one will have time to figure out it's a fraud.

That might make you think Molly was agin it. She wasn't.

Bottom line, Kennedy's right: The Senate version is incrementally better, and in politics, you should always take half a loaf, or even 22 percent of a loaf, if you can get it.

And here's the message Max was speaking in late June.

There's a lot of argument whether to support either of these bills. Some don't want to give the President credit for a crappy, misleading drug benefit.

(edit)

Others, including the estimable Senator Ted Kennedy, argue that the first step is getting the new program. It can be expanded more easily later than starting from scratch.

As a devotee of salami tactics in legislation, I tend to agree with Teddy. The contrary argument tends to put Democrats' electoral fortunes ahead of their constituents. So I conclude, this benefit sucks; let's take it. Give people a taste of it, and on the strength of the arbitrary benefit schedule, they will oblige Congress to fill in the blank spots.

Luckily, Tom DeLay and Bill Thomas are such arrogant turds, they stiffed the White House and produced a bill that is the beginning of the end of Medicare as we've come to know and love it. Jim McDermott, Frank Palone, Marcy Kaptur and other Dems have been spelling out just how outrageous is this bill in "Special Orders" colloquies. That's pretty much all they can do. The House is a majoritarian institution; life for the minority is meant to be lived in purgatory, if not the actual hell the Republicans have carefully fashioned, since they took over.

A lively Democratic discussion of all this was going on last night on C-Span. Marcy Kaptur had the charts to prove that the only decent prescription drug bill was the Democratic House alternate. The knock against The Dems bill was that it's too expensive; a possible 600 billion cost, according to Repubs, as opposed to their 400 billion. But that higher estimated cost does not factor in the potential savings from a key provision of the Democratic bill, which would give Tommy Thompson's Democratic successor the power to engage in that fundamental free enterprise practice of negotiating the best competitive price from those who make and market prescription drugs.

Remarkably, or perhaps one should say, insanely, both the House and Senate bill prohibit the government from doing that. Count on the Republicans to protect large corporate interests from the unfair power of the government to do what the majority of its citizens want it to do. There are so many awful provisions in the House bill, one doesn't know where to begin, so I won't; this is already a long post that may be telling you what you already know. Patience please. There's an important point to all this.

Who's right about what progressive's should be doing? Would Democrats holding firm to a defense of Medicare against any inroad of privatization be putting their electoral interests against constituent well-being?

Here's the best argument I've seen that they should, all the more interesting because it's by a self-described liberal centrist. .

Bush and Karl Rove are counting on two "achievements" to sell the compassion hoax. The first was the No Child Left Behind Act, passed with Democratic support in 2001. No honest observer can say this law did anything serious for America's most troubled schools. But it has given Bush the credibility on education he shrewdly craves.

If Bush can go to voters in 2004 and also say he's the one who added prescription drugs to Medicare, this seals the deal on "compassion." You only need these two "talking points" in a stump speech (not to mention a record-breaking $200 million advertising campaign) to convince independents you're a caring kind of guy, and trump Democratic complaints to the contrary.

(edit)

Thinking this way isn't pretty, I know. But in a world in which power matters, there's no avoiding it. Republicans know this and play for keeps.

Matt gives an example from the William Kristol led opposition to Hillary's health reform initiative and suggests it's a model for Democrats.

Stopping Bush's Medicare plan without being successfully blamed by Bush for obstructionism would call for a political dexterity that (to put it mildly) Democrats haven't shown in recent years.

But Democrats have a reservoir of public goodwill on health care that Republicans don't. And that means this political feat should be possible, though the line of attack would have to be chosen and demagogued -- I mean, communicated -- very carefully.

When it comes to morality and public policy, it's now common to ask "what Jesus would do." Before Democrats hand Bush his prescription drug victory, they ought to at least debate what Bill Kristol would do.

Why Matt is so hard on Democrats when his own ambivalence is on such conspicuous display, political strategy equated with demagoguery, is a discussion for another day. And a lot's changed since Matt wrote his piece in early June. You can tell from Dean Broder's piece that Lambert links you to.

Notice that Broder isn't selling the usual CW, which would have been an exclusive warning to Democrats not to play politics and get something done for a change. Instead, you get the Dean's own ambivalent caution that it's not a done deal, and that maybe that's not such a bad idea, sorta, maybe, doyathink, huh? For all of it's fuzziness, the Broder column is good news for our side.

Democrats are rethinking their commitment to any compromise that tilts the bill towards the House version. Here's what I think their position should be, spelled out loudly and clearly, starting yesterday.

No compromise, except in their direction. None of the privatizing features of the House bill are acceptable, no legislative protection for big pharm against the risks of free market economics is acceptable. The Democrats aren't going to pass a bill that is essentially a Corporate Welfare Protection Act.

If the President wants to get a subscription drug benefit to Seniors, let him compromise; let him show real leadership and get Tom DeLay to follow him.

Molly, being the darling, funny, genuis that she is, had it right back in June:

But if the Senate version is even slightly weakened by the repulsive House version, fuhgeddaboutit.


Too many of those who belong to what was once referred to as the power elite think of citizenship as being a member of an audience; we get to express our approval or our disapproval, and we can decide to buy or not to buy a ticket to the show, but what the choice of repertory is going to be? Forgetaboutit.

Naturally, the Dems could use our help, in a variety of ways. That's the ultimate point of this post. No, I'm not sending you off into the wilderness with not so much as a telephone number to copy or a link to click. I've been in touch with several congressional offices who are aiding me in preparing another post that will facilitate some grassroots input into all of us.

Before I do, though, I want to know what you think? About the issue. About what we should do. About what I can do to make it easier for you to do it

Torture wolf blitzer!

Go!

Unwagging the dog

A propos Atrios's earlier post, the explosive 9/11 report is being sent to the printers sometime this week, and being printed and released sometime next week.

Since we citizens paid for and own the report, it would be really helpful if some kind soul would get the report to the press sooner rather than later. You see, that way Rove and his gang will find it less easy to devise some ploy to knock it off the front pages (Republican tactics 101: Change the subject).