Saturday, March 27, 2004

WJI, From the Horse's Mouth


Journalistic leverage
World Journalism Institute is gaining momentum
By Joel Belz
THERE SHOULD BE AN ENVELOPE TUCKED INTO THE fold of this magazine not far from these words. What you do with that envelope could well affect the future shape of WORLD magazine—and maybe even the nature of American journalism itself.

Five years ago, when WORLD was closing in on a circulation of 100,000 readers and an increasingly enduring spot among news magazines in this country, I found myself wrestling with a nagging concern: Where, I wondered, would WORLD find in the years ahead a growing number of young reporters, writers, and editors who practiced their craft with the unique approach both spelled out and modeled by our editor-in-chief, Marvin Olasky? There was little point looking to existing journalism schools; they were mostly a big part of the problem.

I mentioned the issue to Mr. Olasky, who agreed the challenge was both real and big. I mentioned it also to Robert Case, one of our board members who lived then in Ellensburg, Wash., where he divided his working hours between the real estate business and teaching philosophy at Central Washington University. Would he be willing, I asked, to come to North Carolina the following summer and organize an instructional program in journalism—just to see whether anyone might be interested?

He came, and they were interested. World Journalism Institute was born. But as it emerged from its infancy over the next couple of years, WJI took on a brand new identity of its own. What I had envisioned as a narrow training opportunity for our own WORLD staff started, almost immediately, to produce young Christian journalists with a vision for the broader journalistic task among mainstream media.

Take Lynde Hedgpeth, for example. Lynde expects to graduate next month from the University of Missouri at Columbia, with a double major in journalism and Russian—and with a 3.99 grade point average. Long before she came to WJI, Lynde was on track toward a successful career in journalism. Her father especially, who studied for the Lutheran ministry, encouraged her to be a reader, an analytic thinker, and an adventurer. She was a debater in high school—"but most debaters become lawyers," she told me, "or even worse, they become debate coaches." So she headed north from her home in Midland, Texas, to study journalism at Mizzou.

During her busy college days, Lynde served as an intern for the Columbia Daily Tribune. She wrote editorials for the university's student paper. And she covered city and county government for the Columbia Missourian.

Along the way she heard about World Journalism Institute—a program offering something the University of Missouri had not provided. Here was an opportunity to integrate her Christian faith with her study of journalism.

"It was quite a contrast with the liberal teachers I had at the university," says Lynde. "Yes, I really did have some who wanted me to believe there is no such thing as right and wrong. Did that mean, I thought, that I should get an A in all my classes, since I couldn't really provide any wrong answers?"

Lynde says WJI gave her a framework within which to put the rest of her studies. "I wasn't indoctrinated; I'm pretty pig-headed and would have resisted that," she says. But Marvin Olasky's approach made enough sense that she found herself applying it this last summer while serving as a Pulliam Fellow at the half-million-circulation Indianapolis Star—a prestige appointment she says she earned partly through her involvement at WJI. "God has a plan for me," she says modestly but confidently.

World Journalism Institute thinks God has a plan for a good number of other able journalists—and with your help wants to provide them with that added edge that moves them past just being journalists who also happen to be Christians to the point where they are self-conscious Christians, mixing it up in the secular media, competing for top jobs and making a difference in an often pagan world.

...and, check out the lovely work of Lynde here. Fair and balanced journalism at its finest.


It's hard to know how all this fits into some grand agenda, but LA Times staff writer and WJI teacher Roy Rivenburg once was on the receiving end of a defamation lawsuit (specifically, the LA Times was for something he had written). This website tells all about it. It's pretty interesting, and also quite creepy.

...It looks like we have a bit of sock puppetry of sorts going on. I just noticed that there was this whole discussion in the comments to this post here between someone named "Saxophone" and the operator of the Michel Thomas website linked above. The latter repeatedly asks Saxophone if s/he's actually Roy Rivenburg. I don't know who it is, but the posts were coming from the LA Times server...

Popular War, Popular President

No longer:

Bush saw drops in his approval ratings on both terrorism and Iraq. According to the poll, 44 percent of all voters approve of his handling of the war, whereas 50 percent disapprove (up from 39 percent disapproving at the end of last year). And more voters say Bush?s handling of postwar Iraq makes them less likely to vote for him (42 percent) than say it makes them more likely to support him (34 percent).

Don't forget to take the poll while you're there.

Time to Revoke Tax-Exempt Status

When the Catholic Church is conducting political purges within its ranks, they shoudn't be allowed to maintain their tax-exempt status. This stuff is ridiculous:

Message to church employees who support John Kerry's presidential bid: public endorsement of the pro-choice Catholic senator could cost you your job.

Just ask Ono Ekeh, founder and moderator of the Catholics for Kerry e-mail discussion list and, until March 9, program coordinator at the U.S. bishops' Secretariat for African-American Catholics. The 33-year-old father of two is now looking for work.

It all started in late February when Deal Hudson, publisher of Crisis magazine and a key player in the Bush campaign outreach to Catholic voters, revealed in his widely distributed weekly "e-letter" that Ekeh hosted the pro-Kerry site. Hudson is a leader of efforts to get U.S. bishops to publicly confront pro-choice Catholic elected officials.

"Look," wrote Hudson, "it's one thing for a Catholic to be a pro-life Democrat -- that in itself is a perfectly legitimate position and consistent with our Catholic Faith. However, it's completely unacceptable to follow Ekeh and trade away our pro-life responsibilities."

Such litmus tests only ever seem to apply to Republican party policy positions which are aligned with the positions of the Church, and not, say, the death penalty. I'm not Catholic, so to a great degree what happens within the Church is none of my business. But, once they align themselves with a political party while retaining their tax-exempt status, it is my business.

Gorenfeld on Counterspin

John Gorenfeld is the guest on this week's Counterspin show. He's discussing the Jack Kelley affair, and kindly credits the readers of this blog for digging up the connection between Kelley and the World Journalism Institute. You can download an .mp3 of the show and listen.

Mr. Blotchy

Rarely is the question asked, just what the hell kind of skin condition does Bush have?

(via Corrente)

Lies and the Lying Liars

Just thought it should be repeated:

Without mentioning specifics, Frist said on the Senate floor that Clarke "has told two entirely different stories." But in later interviews, Frist seemed to be the one contradicting himself: "Frist later retreated from directly accusing Clarke of perjury, telling reporters that he personally had no knowledge that there were any discrepancies between Clarke's two appearances.

...just wanted to add something for our journalists. We can now add "confirmed liar" to the list of acceptable descriptions of both Bill Frist and Condi Rice. This list of course includes George Bush and Dick Cheney as well. From Frank Rich:

There is no point in bothering with actual news people anyway, when you can make up your own story and make it stick. No fake news story has become more embedded in our culture than the administration's account of its actions on Sept. 11. As The Wall Street Journal reported on its front page this week - just as the former counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke was going public with his parallel account - many of this story's most familiar details are utter fiction. Bush's repeated claim that one of his "first acts" of that morning was to put the military on alert is false. So are the president's claims that he watched the first airplane hit the World Trade Center on television that morning. (No such video yet existed.) Nor was Air Force One under threat as Bush flew around the country, delaying his return to Washington.

Yet the fake narrative of Sept. 11 has been scrupulously maintained by the White House for more than two years. Although the administration has tried at every juncture to stonewall the Sept. 11 investigative commission, its personnel, including the president, had all the time in the world for the producer of a TV movie, Showtime's "DC 9/11: Time of Crisis" The result was a scenario that further rewrote the history of that day, stirring steroids into false tales of presidential derring-do. To shore up the Karl Rove version of Sept. 11 once Richard Clarke went public with his alternative tale on last Sunday's "60 Minutes," the White House placed Condoleezza Rice on all five morning news shows the next day. The administration is confident that it can reinstate its bogus scenario - particularly given that Rice, unlike Clarke, is refusing to take the risk of reciting it under oath to the Sept. 11 commission.


War Liberal catches him just making stuff up again.

Easterbrook is one of those guys who never learned to distinguish between "what is true" and "what he believes is true." Ditto for David Brooks. Peas in a pod.

Burning Down His Pastor's House

This Christianity Today article on Jack Kelley is really quite interesting for a variety of reasons. Just go read it.

Friday, March 26, 2004


Josh has the latest on the Clarke smears, and it's really pretty pathetic. Short version - Frist explicitly accused him of perjury on the Senate floor, and then later retracted and said he didn't actually know. And, second, the Bushies had been denying that Bush and Clarke had ever met as Clarke had claimed, but are now backpedalling from that as well.

All together now, Cokie and Tim and Margaret and Brit and David... They LIED to the AMERICAN PEOPLE.... What WILL we tell the CHILDREN?

Balkin on Unborn Victims of Life Act

I'm a bit less sanguine about it than him, but he nonetheless makes some interesting points about how the Act actually works against the desires of anti-choice people in some substantial ways.

All Class

From Wonkette:

To our minds, the biggest scandal to come out of Wednesday's RTCA dinner are the desperate tactics deployed by CNN to, well, sex up its after party. We hear that the ratings-desperate net flew up a passel of anchor-babes-in-training from Atlanta for the specific purpose of decorating their post-dinner disco inferno and finally beating out rival Fox for the best party prize.

Says our informant, who talked to one of the attractive accessories: "I felt bad for them. They didn't have tickets to the dinner and stood outside in the smoking lounge [until the party started]. They didn't seem to know why they were there."

Way to recreate the '70s, CNN -- at least in terms of prefeminist partying. Very classy!

Go Daschle

He's obviously been eating his wheaties:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Senate Democrats on Friday threatened to stop all of President Bush's judicial nominees until the White House agrees not to appoint any more judges while Congress is out of town.

Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota said Democrats had decided to block all judicial nominees on the Senate floor until ``the White House gives us the assurance that they will no longer abuse the process.''

Reward good behavior.


He's got nothing on us.

"I've never seen a time when Democrats and many independents are more galvanized and interested in helping," said state Treasurer Phil Angelides, who has raised more than $50,000 for Kerry. "I believe there is greater intensity and widespread willingness to give than in any previous election I can remember."

50 grand? chump change.


Presidential Election

It really is pretty hard to imagine that Kerry can't win every state that Gore won plus a state like Ohio. And, right now Ohio is leaning towards him. Even Bob "Screw National Security" Novak is getting worried:

ROBERT NOVAK, CNN "CROSSFIRE": Our running poll in the Evans- Novak political report now shows that if the election were held today, Kerry would win big over Bush, 306 electoral votes to 232. And that's because since the last time we looked at it, we see two states that, if the election were held today, Florida and Ohio would go to Kerry, that we previously had for Bush.

Now, remember, this is a snapshot, not a prediction. And it's very close in Ohio. But it's also true, Judy, that if President Bush does not win both those states, Florida and Ohio, it's hard to see how he can be reelected.

Ohio's enough to take it.

Bo Bo Bozo

Here's a fun story about David Brooks and his active imagination.

Did the War On Iraq Divert Resources from the War on al Qaeda?

The answer, apparently, is yes.

The fact that the Pentagon pulled the fighting force most equipped for hunting down Osama bin Laden from Afghanistan in March 2002 in order to pre- position it for Iraq cannot be denied.

Fifth Group Special Forces were a rare breed in the US military: they spoke Arabic, Pastun and Dari. They had been in Afghanistan for half a year, had developed a network of local sources and alliances, and believed that they were closing in on bin Laden.

Without warning, they were then given the task of tracking down Saddam. "We were going nuts on the ground about that decision," one of them recalls.

"In spite of the fact that it had taken five months to establish trust, suddenly there were two days to hand over to people who spoke no Dari, Pastun or Arabic, and had no rapport."

Along with the redeployment of human assets came a reallocation of sophisticated hardware. The US air force has only two specially-equipped RC135 U spy planes. They had successfully vectored in on al-Qaida leadership radio transmissions and cellphone calls, but they would no longer circle over the mountains of the Pakistan/Afghanistan border.

They promised they could walk and chew gum at the same time. And, now we know they haven't been able to either of them.

The Games Continue


In a highly unusual move, key Republicans in Congress are seeking to declassify testimony that former terrorism adviser Richard Clarke gave in 2002 about the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said Friday. Frist said the intent was to determine whether Clarke lied under oath - either in 2002 or this week - when he appeared before a bipartisan Sept. 11 commission and sharply criticized President Bush's handling of the war on terror.


Frist disclosed the effort to declassify Clarke's testimony in remarks on the Senate floor, then talked with reporter. He said he personally didn't know whether there were any discrepancies between Clarke's two appearances.

...stick to killing cats.

...story changed. That last paragraph is gone now. Lovely.

...the original paragraph is still here. Save a copy before it's gone...

... now apparently Frist is telling reporters what's in the classified documents that haven't been declassified.

...Frist himself has problems telling the truth.


It's clear that this administration has a few problems with telling the truth, but for years now it's been clear that Rice is the worst of the lot. Her first instinct seems to be to lie - she frequently seems to do it when it isn't even necessary. Or, maybe, she just isn't any good at it. But, in any case it's long past the time when anyone should give her the benefit the doubt about anything she says or does.

At the same time, some of Rice's rebuttals of Clarke's broadside against Bush, which she delivered in a flurry of media interviews and statements rather than in testimony, contradicted other administration officials and her own previous statements.

Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage contradicted Rice's claim that the White House had a strategy before 9/11 for military operations against al Qaeda and the Taliban; the CIA contradicted Rice's earlier assertion that Bush had requested a CIA briefing in the summer of 2001 because of elevated terrorist threats; and Rice's assertion this week that Bush told her on Sept. 16, 2001, that "Iraq is to the side" appeared to be contradicted by an order signed by Bush on Sept. 17 directing the Pentagon to begin planning military options for an invasion of Iraq.

Rice, in turn, has contradicted Vice President Cheney's assertion that Clarke was "out of the loop" and his intimation that Clarke had been demoted. Rice has also given various conflicting accounts. She criticized Clarke for being the architect of failed Clinton administration policies, but also said she retained Clarke so the Bush administration could continue to pursue Clinton's terrorism policies.

WJI Update

LA Observed asked LA Times journalist Roy Rivenburg about his assocation with the World Journalism Institute.

His response is fair, and I'm not going to argue that such an association as he characterized it should necessarily disqualify someone from being a straight reporter, but clearly the news biz has double (or no) standards when it comes to conflicts of interest.

Stupid Republicans

Idiots. But, at least they're scared. Bow down before the power of the mighty blogs.


How they fade so fast...

"Unlike last year's report, bin Laden's al Qaeda organization is mentioned, but the 2000 report does not contain a photograph of bin Laden or a lengthy description of him and the group. A senior State Department official told CNN that the U.S. government made a mistake last year by focusing too tightly on bin Laden and "personalizing terrorism ... describing parts of the elephant and not the whole beast."

- CNN, 4/30/2001

(quote changed, I'll explain why later. apologies)
..okay, here's the story which contained the original quote. Sorry, I didn't have a chance to track down the correct link just then:

The State Department officially released its annual terrorism report just a little more than an hour ago, but unlike last year, there's no extensive mention of alleged terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden. A senior State Department official tells CNN the U.S. government made a mistake in focusing so much energy on bin Laden and 'personalizing terrorism.

Thanks, as is often the case these days, to David Sirota of the Center for American Progress.

John Kerry Day a Great Success

Hey all, had to take a little trip yesterday afternoon. Thanks to Tena for helping out while I was away.

Here we have the amounts raised:

Total Donations: 1194
Total Dollars: $102993.41

Which is about $19K yesterday alone.

More later once I wade through 175 emails.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Senate passes the Unborn Victims of Violence Bill

link here. The Senate passed the bill today. It takes another huge bite out of the right to choose, and is a set-up for the Supreme Court to overrule Roe v. Wade.

They never rest.

Bush jokes about dead soldiers; Kerry responds.

Drudge has the story, with the link to Kerry's remarks. I know everyone has been talking about it. Bush made some crass, tasteless jokes last night at a gathering, which tickled the funny bones of the press, and Joe Lieberman, so I've read. He was pretending to look under furniture for WMDs, and laughing about their absence. Kerry has released a statement on this incident that begins this way:

585 American soldiers dead, 3,354 wounded and no end in sight...

More on Pakistan

"If we do not shift attention back to where it should have been after September 11, we face the prospect of the following scenario by 2007: a Taliban-like government in Pakistan armed with nuclear weapons." -Richard Clarke, Against All Enemies, page 284. (thanks to reader terry)

Update: Here's what they've shifted their attention to in the administration. "we're all on Clarke patrol," said a senior Bush strategist.

Why am I not surprised?

Josh Marshall has a nice discussion of the historical precedents for Condi Rice's refusal to testify Apparently, there is precedent. In the past at least 5 presidential aides have refused to testify under oath. Guess which administration 4 of those aides were from?

Possible new al-Qaeda recording

the BBC is reporting that Al Jazeera has broadcast an audio tape that was purportedly made by al-Zawahri. In it, the speaker is calling on the citizens of Pakistan to rise up and overthrow their pro-American government.

I guess this is more evidence that we're winning the war on terra. You know how that works...

here is an update on the fighting in Pakistan. The report reads, in part:

Amid reports of escalation of resistance and even foreign complicity, fighting continues between the army and suspected al-Qaeda militants in Pakistan's tribal region of South Waziristan on the border with Afghanistan.


More disturbingly, there have been reports of dissent among the ranks of the Pakistani para-military troops and the army.

Nooners lets us know that we are at war, dammit!

link here

Well, this is cute. First Peggy talks about how she was shocked, shocked I tell you, to learn from an insider from the Clinton administration that Clinton was a "creature of polls." So she gets in a paragraph of Clinton digs, before starting in on the 9/11 commission, about which she says this:

The hearings should not have been held for one reason: our country at this moment in history should not be focusing attention on who made mistakes and why and when...But we have a war to fight, a country to protect, and that is what should have precedence.

Exactly, Peggy, and that's why we need to know if what has been done so far has been effective or not, and make some changes if it hasn't - capice? (Hey, Wall Street Journal, supposedly, intelligent people read you - how can you let this woman continue to write for you?)

John Kerry Day Continues

Total you've given since we started:

Total Donations: 1054
Total Dollars: $92211.51

Which is almost $9K today alone...

Only about 12 hours left!

Show us the Jobs

The AFL-CIO is blogging their Show Us the Jobs tour. Check it out.

Squish Him

I know there's a lot in the news right now, but it's a bit shocking that the GOP's number one guy (in practice, if not in title) in Congress is probably going to be indicted and it isn't getting any play at all

Watch Condi Lie

Oh the poor thing. If only she had a conscience.

(from CAP)

AP 6/28/02


WASHINGTON - President Bush's national security leadership met formally nearly 100 times in the months prior to the Sept. 11 attacks yet terrorism was the topic during only two of those sessions, officials say.

(thanks to ensley)

God I'm Confused

I really just can't even follow all of the Bush admin lies about this stuff. First we have this:

Ms. Rice painted a distinctly different picture of the involvement of Mr. Clarke, who has prompted furious responses since he asserted in a new book and in testimony on Capitol Hill that President Bush did not heed warnings before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

"He was in every meeting that was held on terrorism," Ms. Rice said. "All the deputies' meetings, the principals' meeting that was held and so forth, the early meetings after Sept. 11."

Then we have this:

"Dr. Rice, early on in the administration," McClellan said yesterday, "started holding daily briefings with the senior directors of the National Security Council, of which he was one. But he refused to attend those meetings, and he was later asked to attend those meetings and he continued to refuse to attend those meetings." Apparently, some meetings are more important than others.

Which is it? In the immortal words of Howard Dean......... YEEEEAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRGH


I've been tired of Democrats treading lightly around Zell Miller. Long ago Miller stopped being anything that even came close to being a "principled moderate." Chuck him out. I look forward to the media discussing Miller's flip-flopping:

Just two years ago, Zell Miller sang John Kerry's praises in his home state of Georgia. Miller pointed out some of very same the traits that have inspired millions of Democrats, Independents, and Republicans to rally behind John Kerry's campaign to get America back on track and bring back jobs.

"As Senator Miller himself said, John Kerry is an 'authentic hero.' He has fought for his country on the battlefield and in the public arena. He has been a champion of balanced budgets, a leader in education reform, and powerful advocate for affordable health care and an economy that works for working Americans.

"Zell Miller's new leadership role will be a lonely post. Democrats, and Americans of all stripes, are tired of George Bush's failed policies and broken promises. The nearly 3 million Americans who have lost their jobs since George Bush took office are members of both parties. The millions of families who are struggling to pay for the rising costs of health insurance and the seniors who can't afford needed prescription drugs are both Democrats and Republicans. And the families of U.S. troops who were sent to Iraq without body armor to protect them are members of both parties.

"This November, millions of Americans of every political persuasion will unite in a powerful call for change, and they'll stand with 'an authentic American hero' -- John Kerry."


Memo to journalists: If person X says something and then person Y responds, you shouldn't report it as 'Person Y rebuts person X.' Rebut implies an actual refutation, rather than just a response, and thus communicates the idea that Y actually undercut whatever X had said.

Now, such responses could be an actual refutation, but that requires analysis and not simply reporting.

Roll the Tapes

Hesiod catches something:

TENET: Well, the CIA is in the CSG meeting as well. I mean, everybody's at the table. The FBI is there, the NCS is there, CIA is there, domestic agencies are there.

Throughout this time period -- I don't have access to the minutes and recordings of what happened -- what actions were they tasking, how were they thinking about this?

18 minute gap?

They Get Letters II

to Romenesko:

Did I read this quote from Elisabeth Bumiller correctly?

Elisabeth Bumiller, The New York Times White House correspondent, on criticism that reporters were too easy on Bush on the eve of the Iraq war: "I think we were very deferential because ... it's live, it's very intense, it's frightening to stand up there. Think about it, you're standing up on prime-time live TV asking the president of the United States a question when the country's about to go to war. There was a very serious, somber tone that evening, and no one wanted to get into an argument with the president at this very serious time."

This is a joke, right? The White House correspondent from the New York Times didn't ask a tough question because the atmosphere was too "frightening"? Has there been a more tacit and, yes, frightening, admission by a reporter -- from the nation's most important newspaper no less -- that the national press is cowed by this administration? Is there any stronger inducement for its continued bullying?

I grant that "standing up on prime-time live TV" might be nerve-wracking for some people. But I would assume that the person assigned to cover the White House for the NEW YORK TIMES would be a little less prone to stage-fright and a little less in awe of the moment. I mean, is there a more important -- nay critical -- time for a reporter to stand up and ask the tough question than on the eve of war?

Thank goodness for people like Joseph Welch, who wasn't too intimidated to stand up to Joseph McCarthy and ask -- on "prime-time, live TV" -- "At long last, sir, have you no shame?" Thank God, he didn't find the moment too "frightening" and "somber."

Bryan Smith
Chicago Magazine

They Get Letters

to Romenesko:

From JOHN ROYAL: Excuse me, but I've got a question, and not being a reporter, I'm hoping that someone out there can answer this. Fox News today released the transcript of an interview that it conducted with Richard Clarke in 2002 when he was still with the Bush White House. The interview was conducted on background.

Well, Fox remembers the interview and asks the White House for permission to identify Clarke's name, which the White House gave. Here's my question: I thought that the privilege was between the reporter and the person interviewed, i.e., Clark, and not the person's employer? If that's so, did the White House and Fox break some ethical rules? If it's not so, doesn't this mean that Robert Novak or one of the other Valerie Plame reporters contacted by the White House can get permission from the White House to release the name instead of having to get the permission from the actual person?


GOP Funnies

First we have Governor Mitt "Spit On The Faggots!" Romney cracking "jokes":

About a minute after stepping up to the podium inside Local 7 Ironworkers Hall, Romney delivered this gem: "There’s nothing wrong with our supreme court in Massachusetts that having Wacko Hurley as chief justice wouldn’t cure!" Quick history lesson for those whose knowledge of Boston doesn’t extend back a decade (a group that, judging from the aforementioned one-liner, may include the governor): in March 1992, South Boston’s Allied War Veterans Council, the long-time sponsor of Southie’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, denied the Irish-American Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Group of Boston (GLIB) permission to enter the event. GLIB, an organization largely made up of Irish émigrés, went to court, won the right to participate, and marched in 1992 and 1993. In 1994, when the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court upheld GLIB’s right to march, organizers cancelled the parade. In 1995, the US Supreme Court reversed the SJC’s decision, ruling that — as a private group — the Allied War Veterans Council had a First Amendment right to determine the parade’s composition. (Public sponsorship of the event had been scaled back as the controversy dragged on.)

As the parade’s chief organizer, John J. "Wacko" Hurley embodied the veterans’ determination to keep gays out — which, of course, helped pave the way for the ugliness that ensued. In 1992, smoke bombs and beer cans were thrown at some of the gay marchers as bystanders shouted, "You bunch of fags, get out of Southie" and "I hope you all die of AIDS, homos." In 1993, when Hurley promised to continue the legal fight ("We’ll go on until we have a parade of a family nature," he vowed), gay marchers were spat upon and pelted with snowballs as sharpshooters watched from rooftops. In 1994, Hurley explained the parade’s cancellation by saying, "They’re not going to shove something down our face that’s not our traditional values."

Whatever one thinks of the US Supreme Court’s 1995 decision, the nastiness directed at GLIB on the streets of South Boston was an overt display of homophobia. And there was a clear subtext of intolerance lingering behind Hurley’s — and the veterans’ — determination to keep gay and lesbian people from participating in the parade. On Tuesday, Romney spokesperson Nicole St. Peter told the Phoenix that Romney’s quip "was in the lighthearted spirit of the breakfast." Maybe so. But would anyone direct a comparable joke at blacks or Jews — or Mormons, for that matter — at the "lighthearted" St. Patrick’s Day Breakfast?

Ah, that GOP. Such "lighthearted" humor. Next week we can expect Romney to bring the house down by quipping "There's nothing wrong with John Lewis that James Earl Ray couldn't take care of!" Ha Ha!

If I made lighthearted jokes like that about Romney the FBI would be at my house rather quickly.

And, then of course, we have the joker-in-chief. This guy's hilarious!

Bush put on a slide show, calling it the "White House Election-Year Album" at the Radio and Television Correspondents' Association 60th annual dinner, showing himself and his staff in some decidedly unflattering poses.

There was Bush looking under furniture in a fruitless, frustrating search. "Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be somewhere," he said.

Haha! The families of all of these people think that was a real goddamn knee-slapper!

It's too early for this crap.

A GOP Plan for Jobs

A few people sent this to me. The WaPo had a wee little bug last night and this was posted up.

Of course, it's preferable to the real thing. Newt thinks we need to export our health care model to the world. However, he wants to make it more "consumer based" first - meaning, removing the employer risk pools so none of us will be able to ever afford it again, at least not after we get sick once. You can't make this stuff up. I think Newt's been smoking dope and watching the Jetsons again.

Go Pelosi!

It's John Kerry day, so we can reward her for her good behavior tomorrow.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi Wednesday said she supports same-sex marriage and approves of San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom's decision to issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples.

The remarks put her at odds with her party's presumed presidential nominee John Kerry but were welcomed in San Francisco, her home district.

It is the first time she has directly voiced her support for gay marriage and for Newsome. It came during an interview on Fox News. In the past Pelosi has stated her opposition to amending the US Constitution but has evaded questions on gay marriage.

As Democratic Party leader in the House, Pelosi is the highest ranking politician in the US to endorse gay marriage. Kerry believes marriage should be limited to heterosexual relationships, supports civil unions, opposes amending the US Constitution but supports an amendment to the constitution of his home state, Massachusetts.

Leaders lead.

Happy John Kerry Day!

It's Thursday again. It's also the final day of the $10 million fundraiser. And, it's the day of the big Unity Dinner in DC. So, giv some turkee to Jon Keree!

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Second Open Thread.

You talked me into it.

Open Thread

Out for the evening. Don't feed the trolls.

Another Statement from Daschle


What did the Bush Administration do before September 11 to defeat Al Qaeda?

During the nearly nine months it took the Administration to develop and sign off on its terrorism strategy, it does not appear the Bush Administration took any decisive or effective action to cripple Al Qaeda. Perhaps the most potentially significant action the Administration took prior to September 11 was in May 2001. At that time, reportedly in response to an increase in "chatter" about a potential Al Qaeda attack, President Bush appointed Vice President Cheney to head a task force "to combat terrorist attacks on the United States." But, according to The Washington Post and Newsweek, the Cheney Terrorism Task Force never met. The American people need to know whether this is true.

Did the Bush Administration commit adequate resources necessary to defeat Al Qaeda prior to September 11?

In the months before September 11, Attorney General Ashcroft listed the Justice Department's top objectives. According to this document, the Attorney General listed at least a dozen objectives that were more important than fighting Al Qaeda and terrorism. And in his September 10, 2001 submission to OMB, Attorney General Ashcroft did not endorse FBI requests for $58 million for 149 new counter-terrorism agents, 200 intelligence analysts, and 54 translators even while he approved spending increases for 68 programs not related to counter-terrorism. Even in the immediate aftermath of September 11, press reports indicate the White House budget office cut the Department of Justice?s funding requests by nearly two-thirds.

It might be that the Attorney General has a good explanation for why the other items on his list where higher priorities than terrorism. There might be a good explanation why the Attorney General did not support the FBI request for these funds. The American people need to know why this happened.

Finally, did the Bush Administration's apparent focus on Saddam Hussein detract from efforts to defeat Al Qaeda and leave America less secure?

Paul O'Neill and Richard Clarke are very different people with different backgrounds and experiences. Yet both have spent the majority of their public lives serving Republican Presidents and both had an insider?s vantage point on the current Administration?s security policies and priorities. And both agree that from the very beginning of this Administration through the terrible events of September 11 and beyond, President Bush and his senior advisors were fixated on Iraq.

O?Neill revealed that at the very first meeting in January 2001 of the President and his senior national security advisors, these officials discussed what to do about Iraq ? not terrorism. Mr. Clarke?s observations confirm Secretary O'Neill's assessment. According to Clarke, after failing to get a cabinet level meeting to discuss terrorism, Administration officials relented a permitted a deputies meeting in April 2001. At this meeting, Deputy Defense Secretary Wolfowitz argued that Iraq posed a terrorist threat at least as grave as Al Qaeda.

Even after September 11, both Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz reportedly made the case that the Administration should use the attacks of September 11 as a reason to invade Iraq. In Secretary Rumsfeld?s case, the reason was that there were no good targets in Afghanistan.

If the Administration's focus on Iraq appears to be coming clearer, so too are the consequences - for our troops, their families, and our security. In the debate leading up to the authorization of the use of force against Iraq, a number of us sought Administration assurances that action against Iraq would not harm our efforts to capture Bin Laden and destroy Al Qaeda; would not shift the focus from those responsible for September 11 to a less immediate threat; would not drain away much needed intelligence analysts, translators, and certain military assets in short supply; would not inflame the Arab world and alienate our allies and others whose cooperation was essential if we were to prevail in the war on terrorism.

Even at the time, we were amazed at the swiftness and certainty of the Administration?s response. Far from harming our efforts in the war on terrorism, the Administration repeatedly insisted that attacking Iraq would help them.

Unfortunately, like so many other predictions advanced by the Administration as it made the case for invading Iraq, these assertions have not been borne out. Osama Bin Laden is still at large. No one can deny that vital intelligence collection, intelligence analysts and special forces were shifted away from Afghanistan and directed to Iraq. And no one can deny that our credibility and standing in the Arab world and with our allies and others have suffered greatly as a result of the decision to attack Iraq based on an apparently false claim that it possessed weapons of mass destruction.

Reward good behavior.

Contact Senator Cornyn

Express your concern about his marriage. Yesterday he was quoting as saying:

Redefining marriage in a way that reduces it to a financial and legal relationship will only accelerate the deterioration of family life," Cornyn said.

You can suggest that resigning from the Senate and spending more time with his family may be a productive way stopping the deterioration of his family life than preventing other people from actually having families.

517 Hart Senate Office Bldg.
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Tel: 202-224-2934
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Tel: 512-469-6034
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Southeast Texas

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South Central Texas

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Rio Grande Valley

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West Texas

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Fax: 806-472-7536

Not Our Fault

The entire emphasis yesterday was whether or not Clinton should have gone into Afghanistan. The Bushies claimed there was nothing they could do because, well, the hijackers were already in the country. Well, most of them didn't make their final entrance into the country until April of '01.

Lies and the Lying Liars

Gail Sheehy does a bit of fact-checking about yesterday's nonsense.

Don't Dream It, Be It!

Matt's right - stop talking about how tough we all should be, and just be tough. Talking out loud about strategy - any strategy - is usually self-defeating, particularly when it's this kind of strategy.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Bush at War

From Woodward's book, page 39.

"Until September 11, however, Bush had not put that thinking [that Clinton's response to al Qaeda emboldened bin Laden] into practice, nor had he pressed the issue of bin Laden. Though Rice and others were developing a plan to eliminate al Qaeda, no formal recommendations had ever been presented to the president.

"I know there was a plan in the works. . . . I don't know how mature the plan was," Bush recalled. . . .He acknowledged that bin Laden was not his focus or that of his national security team. There was a significant difference in my attitude after September 11. I was not on point [before that date], but I knew he was a menace, and I knew he was a problem."

(thanks to reader t)

...and, here's Booby from May 18, 2002:

The top-secret briefing memo presented to President Bush on Aug. 6 carried the headline, "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.," and was primarily focused on recounting al Qaeda's past efforts to attack and infiltrate the United States, senior administration officials said.

The document, known as the President's Daily Briefing, underscored that Osama bin Laden and his followers hoped to "bring the fight to America," in part as retaliation for U.S. missile strikes on al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan in 1998, according to knowledgeable sources.

Bush had specifically asked for an intelligence analysis of possible al Qaeda attacks within the United States, because most of the information presented to him over the summer about al Qaeda focused on threats against U.S. targets overseas, sources said. But one source said the White House was disappointed because the analysis lacked focus and did not present fresh intelligence.

New accounts yesterday of the controversial Aug. 6 memo provided a shift in portrayals of the document, which has set off a political firestorm because it suggested that bin Laden's followers might be planning to hijack U.S. airliners.

In earlier comments this week, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice and other administration officials stressed that intelligence officials were focused primarily on threats to U.S. interests overseas. But sources made clear yesterday that the briefing presented to Bush focused on attacks within the United States, indicating that he and his aides were concerned about the risks.


Stunning. It turns out the PNAC was really just the front group for an even more insidious cabal.

Were they Warned?

Tom Spencer asks the question. Look, if you want to shut up liberal conspiracy theorists like us, it's simple - release the damn presidential daily briefings from August. I challenge anyone to give a credible reason why almost 3 years later thet shouldn't be released. "blah blah blah national security blah blah blah" is the only thing they can come up with. The last time they used that excuse was when they refused to tell the UN inspectors where Saddam was hiding the WMDs that Rumsfeld knew were "in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat."

Release the PDBs. Then we can find out what, if anything, went wrong.

Best Line of the Day

I'll take suggestions, but this one has to come close:

POWELL: We gave them 24, 48 hours to consider it and then I called President Musharraf and said, We need your answer now. We need you as part of this campaign, this crusade.

Congratulations, Colin!

God I wish the grownups were in charge.

When Old is New

Our Dear Scotty:

Q He's right that in October -- in October of 2001, when the President signed this directive, the President was directing the Pentagon to prepare plans for the invasion of Iraq?

MR. McCLELLAN: That's why I said, that's part -- that's part of his revisionist history.

Q That's not true?

MR. McCLELLAN: That's part of his revisionist history, that's what I'm saying --

Q Are you saying it's not true?

MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, that's right. I am.

Q You are saying that it's not true?

MR. McCLELLAN: That's part of -- that's just his revisionist history to make suggestions like that. He knows that at that point that our focus was on going -- was on Afghanistan and removing the Taliban and taking away the safe haven for al Qaeda.


From the WaPo, over a year ago:

On Sept. 17, 2001, six days after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, President Bush signed a 2½-page document marked "TOP SECRET" that outlined the plan for going to war in Afghanistan as part of a global campaign against terrorism.

Almost as a footnote, the document also directed the Pentagon to begin planning military options for an invasion of Iraq, senior administration officials said.

The previously undisclosed Iraq directive is characteristic of an internal decision-making process that has been obscured from public view. Over the next nine months, the administration would make Iraq the central focus of its war on terrorism without producing a rich paper trail or record of key meetings and events leading to a formal decision to act against President Saddam Hussein, according to a review of administration decision-making based on interviews with more than 20 participants.

Instead, participants said, the decision to confront Hussein at this time emerged in an ad hoc fashion. Often, the process circumvented traditional policymaking channels as longtime advocates of ousting Hussein pushed Iraq to the top of the agenda by connecting their cause to the war on terrorism.

(thanks to Phelix)

...the interesting thing is that, at various times, the administration has wanted to emphasize the centrality of Iraq in all of this. Of course, that's what they're telling us now. But, if Iraq is the "central front in the war on terror" why wouldn't they have felt that way on September 12? What changed between September of 2001 and September of 2002 to put Saddam front and center? So, again, we have another situation where they're saying "how dare Richard Clarke say those things which are completely true and correct about us." It's weird.

Kaplan on Clarke

Fred Kaplan at Slate explains why anyone who really has doubt about what Clarke is telling is us a liar or a fool.

Bring on Barney

A little late, but glad he's joined the party a bit more vocally.

WASHINGTON – Speaking in highly personal terms, a gay member of Congress on Tuesday challenged supporters of a constitutional ban on same-sex marriages, asking "who are we hurting" when homosexuals want to express the same emotional commitment as other Americans.

"All we are saying is, 'Please, can't we in our lives do this?'" said Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass. "When I go home from Tuesday's work and I choose because of my nature to associate with another man, how is that a problem for you? How does that hurt you?"

Frank's appeal was unusual in Congress, where lawmakers clash vigorously on matters of politics and policy, but seldom refer to their personal lives – much less sexual orientation – in an attempt to influence legislation

That's a load of crap. Members of congress regularly bring up their person lives for all kinds of reasons. In fact, all of the people in support of the amendment keep bringing up what a threat gay marriage will be to their own marriage.

...For example, here's Cornyn:

In an opening statement, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), presiding over the hearing as chairman of the subcommittee on constitutional law and a fervent supporter of banning gay marriage, dismissed as a "myth" the notion that "my marriage doesn't affect your marriage."

"Redefining marriage in a way that reduces it to a financial and legal relationship will only accelerate the deterioration of family life," Cornyn said.

What a weird-ass thing to say. Is Cornyn having marital problems? Is the thought that maybe, just maybe, he could go out and marry Mark Foley causing his family life to deteriorate? Is the thought of living la vida fabulosa so overwhelmingly tempting that unless this amendment passes right now he's going to leave his wife for some hot man-on-man action? If his family life is deteriorating, shouldn't he be home trying to patch things up instead of at the office trying to find new and exciting ways to enshrine bigotry in the constitution?

Tomorrow we'll all call Cornyn's office and express our sadness about his "deteriorating family life."

More Weird Things

I'm pretty fascinated by Rumsfeld's scathing indictment of those appeasers in the Reagan administration...

Not long ago, we marked the 20th anniversary of a terrorist attack in Beirut, Lebanon, when the suicide bomb truck attacked the Marine barracks. And that blast killed more than 240 Americans. Soon after that attack, President Reagan and Secretary of State Shultz asked me to serve as the Middle East envoy for a period. That experience taught me lessons about the nature of terrorism that are relevant today as we prosecute the global war on terror. After the attack, one seemingly logical response was to put a cement barricade around the buildings to prevent more truck bombings -- a very logical thing to do. And it had the effect of preventing more truck bombings. But the terrorists very quickly figured out how to get around those barricades, and they began lobbing rocket-propelled grenades over the cement barricades. And the reaction then was to hunker down even more, and they started seeing buildings along the Cornish that runs along the sea in Beirut draped with metal wire mesh coming down from several stories high so that when rocket-propelled grenades hit the mesh, they would bounce off, doing little damage. It worked, again, but only briefly. And the terrorists again adapted. They watched the comings and goings of embassy personnel and began hitting soft targets. They killed people on their way to and from work. So for every defense, first barricades then wire mesh, the terrorists moved to another avenue of attack. One has to note that the terrorists had learned important lessons: that terrorism is a great equalizer, it's a force multiplier, it's cheap, it's deniable, it yields substantial results, it's low risk and it's often without penalty. They had learned that a single attack by influencing public opinion and morale can alter the behavior of great nations

Today's Spin

So, Powell harped on this point today:

But I want to emphasize that, notwithstanding all these intelligence activities that were under way, at no time during the early months of our administration were we presented with a vetted, viable, operational proposal which would have led to an opportunity to kill, capture or otherwise neutralize Osama bin Laden; never received any targetable information. Let me return now to our diplomatic efforts.

vetted, viable, operational... I'm not entirely sure what this combination of words means, but it's supposed to put down suggestions that the Clinton administration gave them a plan during the transition. Of course, it depends on the meaning of the word "plan." But, the point is that the Clintonites said you'd better take care of this mess and the Bush administration responded with Cheney's brainchild, Operation Ignore.

...and Josh comments on Woolsey continuing to press the al Qaeda/Iraq connection on Dobbs's show. As Josh points out, when they trot guys like Woolsey out what they say is really along the lines of "that guy Clarke he's crazy and evil and how dare he say all this stuff about us even though it's perfectly true and in fact there's nothing wrong with it."

Action Alert

Contact the WaPo ombudsman and suggest that his reporters should stop including phrases like "Naomi Wolf told Al Gore to wear earth tones" in their stories. Gore and Wolf have both denied this bit of Heather trivia, and there's no other actual source for the information. Somerby explains.


I have to say that Rummy's assertion today that it would have been a mistake to go after Bin Laden before 9/11 because 9/11 would have happened anyway but it would have then be seen as some sort of just retaliation by Bin Laden's people is truly one of the weirdest things I've heard... I guess that's part of the patented Rumsfeld "outside the box" thinking...


The Hoeffel campaign has a new flash ad.

Bush Just Now

Bush was on just now and he made the kind of statement that Rice is is well-known for, something along the lines of "If we had specific information that on the morning of September 11, four planes would be hijacked, 2 would be flown into the world trade center, 1 into the Pentagon, and 1 into an unknown target, then we would have acted..."

It adds a dishonest degree of specificity which would have required them to act. What we need to know, and what they're trying to prevent us from knowing, is precisely what information they did have, and when, and should they have acted on that?

The "Big News"

Here's the embargoed info that CNN keeps teasing us about (at least I assume so):

WASHINGTON (AP) - One day before the Sept. 11 attacks, senior Bush administration officials agreed that the United States would try to overthrow Afghanistan's Taliban rulers if a final diplomatic push to expel Osama bin Laden from the country failed, a federal panel reported Tuesday.

The independent commission reviewing the attacks said in a preliminary report that in the years before the attacks the Clinton and Bush administrations chose to use diplomatic rather than military options, which allowed bin Laden and other al-Qaida leaders to elude capture.


Shortly before the Sept. 11 attacks, the Bush administration was debating how to force bin Laden out of Afghanistan. At a Sept. 10, 2001, meeting of second-tier Cabinet officials, officials settled on a three-phase strategy. The first step called for dispatching an envoy to talk to the Taliban. If this failed, diplomatic pressure would be applied and covert funding and support for anti-Taliban fighters would be increased.

If both failed, "the deputies agreed that the United States would seek to overthrow the Taliban regime through more direct action," the report said. Deputy national security adviser Stephen Hadley said the strategy had a three-year timeframe.

This isn't particularly big news.


WASHINGTON (AP) - In a secret diplomatic mission, Saudi Arabia won a commitment from Afghanistan's Taliban rulers to expel Osama bin Laden in 1998, but the Taliban later reneged on the agreement, a federal panel said Tuesday.
The mission was among the most promising, yet ultimately fruitless, efforts by the United States to use diplomacy to stop al-Qaida in the years before the Sept. 11 attacks.

The independent commission reviewing the Sept. 11 attacks said in a preliminary report that the decision to use diplomatic rather than military options against al-Qaida allowed the Sept. 11 terrorists to elude capture years before the attacks.

So, it was all Clinton's fault even though Bush was going to do the same thing once he got around to it.


Dan Bartlett understands the press very well.

These are excerpts from Martha Joynt Kumar's interviews for her Towson University political science class. The sessions can be viewed online at


Bartlett, on whether there's a liberal bias in the White House press corps: "I don't think it's a partisan bias. I think most journalists who cover us probably come from a Democrat or liberal persuasion, but I don't think they come in and say, 'I want to attack the president.' I do think it's more motivated by careers. Everyone wakes up every morning and says, 'How am I going to get my pretty little mug on the nightly news?' 'How am I going to get the lead story above the fold?' ... They've got to be provocative."

Statement from Daschle


When former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill stepped forward to criticize the Bush Administration's Iraq policy, he was immediately ridiculed by the people around the President and his credibility was attacked. Even worse, the Administration launched a government investigation to see if Secretary O'Neill improperly disclosed classified documents. He was, of course, exonerated, but the message was clear. If you speak freely, there will be consequences.

Ambassador Joseph Wilson also learned that lesson. Ambassador Wilson, who by all accounts served bravely under President Bush in the early 1990s, felt a responsibility to speak out on President Bush's false State of the Union statement on Niger and uranium. When he did, the people around the President quickly retaliated. Within weeks of debunking the President's claim, Ambassador Wilson's wife was the target of a despicable act.

Her identity as a deep-cover CIA agent was revealed to Bob Novak, a syndicated columnist, and was printed in newspapers around the country. That was the first time in our history, I believe, that the identity and safety of a CIA agent was disclosed for purely political purposes. It was an unconscionable and intolerable act.

Around the same time Bush Administration officials were endangering Ambassador Wilson's wife, they appear to have been threatening another federal employee for trying to do his job. In recent weeks Richard Foster, an actuary for the Department of Health and Human Services, has revealed that he was told he would be fired if he told Congress and the American people the real costs of last year?s Medicare bill.

Mr. Foster, in an e-mail he wrote on June 26 of last year, said the whole episode had been "pretty nightmarish." He wrote: "I'm no longer in grave danger of being fired, but there remains a strong likelihood that I will have to resign in protest of the withholding of important technical information from key policymakers for political purposes."

Think about those words. He would lose his job if he did his job. If he provided the information the Congress and the American people deserved and were entitled to, he would lose his job. When did this become the standard for our government? When did we become a government of intimidation?

And now, in today's newspapers, we see the latest example of how the people around the President react when faced with facts they want to avoid.

The White House's former lead counter-terrorism advisor, Richard Clarke, is under fierce attack for questioning the White House?s record on combating terrorism. Mr. Clarke has served in four White Houses, beginning with Ronald Reagan's Administration, and earned an impeccable record for his work.

Now the White House seeks to destroy his reputation. The people around the President aren't answering his allegations; instead, they are trying to use the same tactics they used with Paul O'Neill. They are trying to ridicule Mr. Clarke and destroy his credibility, and create any diversion possible to focus attention away from his serious allegations.

The purpose of government isn't to make the President look good. It isn't to produce propaganda or misleading information. It is, instead, to do its best for the American people and to be accountable to the American people.

The people around the President don't seem to believe that. They have crossed a line -- perhaps several lines -- that no government ought to cross.

We shouldn't fire or demean people for telling the truth. We shouldn't reveal the names of law enforcement officials for political gain. And we shouldn't try to destroy people who are out to make country safer.

I think the people around the President have crossed into dangerous territory. We are seeing abuses of power that cannot be tolerated.

The President needs to put a stop to it, right now. We need to get to the truth, and the President needs to help us do that.

Reward good behavior. Donate to the DSCC.

Out of the Loop

Moe Blues over at Bad Attitudes has the best take on Cheney's bizarre appearance on Big Pharma's show:

So Dick Cheney is making the rounds claiming that Clarke was "out of the loop" in the administration's counter-terror efforts. Therefore, Clarke doesn't know what he's talking about and anything he says should be instantly discounted.

It's amazing that Cheney does not seem to realize what he is actually saying: That the Bush administration's top expert on terrorism was not consulted about their counter-terrorism efforts. This presents several unpalatable choices:

1. Cheney is lying for political gain. If the public picks up on this, the backlash could be out of all proportion to the damage Cheney is trying to control.

2. The administration deliberately ignored its in-house expert, with September 11 being the result. This eliminates one more scapegoat, since the White House cannot simultaneously blame Clarke for failing to stop 9/11 while claiming he was "out of the loop" on counter-terrorism.

3. Assuming Cheney speaks the truth, it actually bolsters Clarke's claim to Cassandra-hood. Cut out of the loop, his warnings went nowhere and were ignored. That, too, is pretty damning of the administration.

Looks like they let their site expire.


Kurtz is such a hack.

Monday, March 22, 2004

Culture of Death

John Gorenfeld has an article in tomorrow's Salon about USA Today's Jack Kelley. As far as I can tell, the dude was basically writing the screenplays for snuff films.

The Occasional Reminder

Just in case you aren't pissed off enough today, let's remind ourselves what we're up against. A CNN flashback:

PHILLIPS: Doctor -- what has he been saying to you, Doctor? Is he asking anything of you? Is he thanking you? Is he wanting to know about family? Tell us what this little boy has been saying to you.

AL-NAJADA: Actually, today he was in good condition after the operation and started speaking with a journalist and answering all their questions. The thing which he was -- they asking about -- the journalists, especially the broadcasting, what the message he wants to reflect from the war. He said, first of all, thank you for the attention they're giving to him, but he hopes nobody from thechildren in the war they will suffer like what he suffer.

PHILLIPS: Does he understand why...


PHILLIPS: Doctor, does he understand why this war took place? Has he talked about Operation Iraqi Freedom and the meaning? Does he understand it?

AL-NAJADA: Actually, we don't discuss this issue with him because he is -- the burn cases, and the type of injury, he's in very bad psychological trauma. We would like to pass this stage and then we can discuss this issue. But we discussed this issue with his uncle, and the message we get from his family, they said they are living far away from the American troops -- from the military of Saddam of Fedayeen by five kilometers, and they don't know how they hit them by the missiles.

They Get Letters II

To Romenesko:

From STEVE RAY, assistant design director/business, Star Tribune (Minneapolis): I sent this e-mail to David Shaw of the L.A. Times after reading his article on the new anonymous source policies in the New York Times and Washington Post:

Nice article. Particularly ironic, too, considering the Washington Post
published this in today's article on Richard Clarke, by reporter Barton Gellman:

"White House and Pentagon officials who spoke only on the condition of anonymity described Clarke's public remarks as self-serving and politically motivated."

So they're letting officials call Clarke names under the cover of
anonymity? Nice new policy the Post has. Too bad they don't follow it.

And shame on my own newspaper. We ran the story with that paragraph unaltered, despite *our* strict rules against such things.

They Get Letters


I was wondering why the Republicans believe that hearing a four-letter word on the radio is more damaging than death or catastrophic injury. Consider that the Bush administration wants to increase FCC

fines for indecency up to $500,000 per violation per station, yet at the same time, it wants to restrict noneconomic damages in tort cases to $250,000 or $350,000.

So if a DJ says a four-letter word on the radio, the harm is so appalling that a fine of $500,000 per word, per station is justified. But if someone is paralyzed, killed or otherwise catastrophically injured, the most the family could get for the (noneconomic) loss would be up to $350,000.

Apparently, Republicans have reworked the children's adage about words never hurting to: "Sticks and stones may break someone else's bones, but words will hurt me worsely."

Dennis Mulvihill, Cleveland

Communities of Character

Since our press seems to lack long term memory, let's bring us back to those sweet sweet days of September 2001. Bush was fresh off a month of clearing brush in Crawford, and the tee-ball season was about to begin. The White House had already announced what the fall offensive would be. Al Qaeda? No. "Communities of Character." Let's let Byron York do the talking...

It was simple and heartfelt and . . . corny, in a way not often heard in official Washington. And Bush seemed to love it; during the game he appeared as engaged and happy as at any time during his six months in the White House. For Bush, tee ball is not only a way to nurture a game he loves - he often frets that not enough kids are playing Little League ball - but a way to do precisely what some of his liberal critics feared he would do: promote a return to 1950s values in America. Much more than his upcoming values initiative called "Communities of Character" - a grab bag of politically popular mini-programs devoted to topics like good citizenship and teenage sexual abstinence -- Bush's South Lawn gatherings are the real thing. If you want to see the real Bush values agenda at work, watch him at the tee-ball games.

....ah, the 50s... (thanks to Magnum) (okay, this is fake but I've seen real things which were identical)

...such chaste times...

...such values... easier time...

3 Months to Clear It

On the Newshour, Richard Clarke just said that the publication of the book had been delayed for 3 months because the White House delayed clearing it for publication. So, if not for their meddling, it would have been before any reasonable person could have accused him of being "political" for releasing it during the election season.

Dear Judith Miller

Hello. My name is Akhsgkozzinata Star Syrup Yee Nee Hi-iiip Huzzah. I was very interested to read the following by the publisher of your newspaper.

Were her sources wrong? Absolutely. Her sources were wrong. And you know something? The administration was wrong. And when you're covering it from the inside like that you're going to get things wrong sometimes. So I don't blame Judy Miller for the lack of finding weapons of mass destruction.

I believe we can have a mutually beneficial relationship. I would like to be one of your sources, and I would like you to tell the readers of your newspaper what I have to say.

I am a being from another planet, and for the past 12 years I have been controlling the mind of the one you call Klyn-ton. I have made him do things to prepare the Earth for an invasion by us. He will do this by releasing a virus which will infect everyone on the planet, allowing my people to possess their bodies.

I look forward to reading about this in tomorrow's newspaper. If you write it up well, I will tell you even more tales about the Klyn-ton.




I have to say I found this statement by Our Dear Scotty, which keeps getting played and replayed, kind of disturbing:

I think that his assertions that there was something -- or his assertion that there was something we could have done to prevent the September 11th attacks from happening is deeply irresponsible, it's offensive, and it's flat-out false.

I really hope that isn't true, and nor do I believe it is. I thought the whole point of the "war on terra" was that, you know, maybe there is something we can do/should have done differently. I really would hope that there was something we could have done to prevent the September 11th attacks from happening, and that there's something we can do to prevent future attacks.

Saying that isn't necessarily saying that they should have known what those things were, but even with what we know for certain plenty of heads should have rolled and it's unfathomable that they didn't.

Claim vs. Fact

From the Center for American Progress:

CLAIM #1: “Richard Clarke had plenty of opportunities to tell us in the administration that he thought the war on terrorism was moving in the wrong direction and he chose not to.” - National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, 3/22/04

FACT: Clarke sent a memo to Rice principals on 1/24/01 marked “urgent” asking for a Cabinet-level meeting to deal with an impending Al Qaeda attack. The White House acknowledges this, but says “principals did not need to have a formal meeting to discuss the threat.” No meeting occurred until one week before 9/11. - White House Press Release, 3/21/04

CLAIM #2: “The president returned to the White House and called me in and said, I've learned from George Tenet that there is no evidence of a link between Saddam Hussein and 9/11.” - National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, 3/22/04

FACT: If this is true, then why did the President and Vice President repeatedly claim Saddam Hussein was directly connected to 9/11? President Bush sent a letter to Congress on 3/19/03 saying that the Iraq war was permitted specifically under legislation that authorized force against “nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11.” Similarly, Vice President Cheney said on 9/14/03 that “It is not surprising that people make that connection” between Iraq and the 9/11 attacks, and said “we don’t know” if there is a connection.

CLAIM #3: "[Clarke] was moved out of the counterterrorism business over to the cybersecurity side of things." - Vice President Dick Cheney on Rush Limbaugh, 3/22/04

FACT: "Dick Clarke continued, in the Bush Administration, to be the National Coordinator for Counterterrorism and the President's principle counterterrorism expert. He was expected to organize and attend all meetings of Principals and Deputies on terrorism. And he did." - White House Press Release, 3/21/04

CLAIM #4: “In June and July when the threat spikes were so high…we were at battle stations…The fact of the matter is [that] the administration focused on this before 9/11.” – National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, 3/22/04

FACT: “Documents indicate that before Sept. 11, Ashcroft did not give terrorism top billing in his strategic plans for the Justice Department, which includes the FBI. A draft of Ashcroft's ‘Strategic Plan’ from Aug. 9, 2001, does not put fighting terrorism as one of the department's seven goals, ranking it as a sub-goal beneath gun violence and drugs. By contrast, in April 2000, Ashcroft's predecessor, Janet Reno, called terrorism ‘the most challenging threat in the criminal justice area.’” - Washington Post, 3/22/04

CLAIM #5: “The president launched an aggressive response after 9/11.” – National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, 3/22/04

FACT: “In the early days after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the Bush White House cut by nearly two-thirds an emergency request for counterterrorism funds by the FBI, an internal administration budget document shows. The papers show that Ashcroft ranked counterterrorism efforts as a lower priority than his predecessor did, and that he resisted FBI requests for more counterterrorism funding before and immediately after the attacks.” – Washington Post, 3/22/04

CLAIM #6: "Well, [Clarke] wasn't in the loop, frankly, on a lot of this stuff…” - Vice President Dick Cheney, 3/22/04

FACT: "The Government's interagency counterterrorism crisis management forum (the Counterterrorism Security Group, or "CSG") chaired by Dick Clarke met regularly, often daily, during the high threat period." - White House Press Release, 3/21/04

CLAIM #7: "[Bush] wanted a far more effective policy for trying to deal with [terrorism], and that process was in motion throughout the spring." - Vice President Dick Cheney on Rush Limbaugh, 3/22/04

FACT: “Bush said [in May of 2001] that Cheney would direct a government-wide review on managing the consequences of a domestic attack, and 'I will periodically chair a meeting of the National Security Council to review these efforts.' Neither Cheney's review nor Bush's took place.” - Washington Post, 1/20/02

Joe Hoeffel Day Continues!

Don't forget!

Watch Senator Arlen Specter lie to America.

Then, go visit the Dem candidate for his seat's website. Look around. Sign up to volunteer. Give some money.

You can also go read the Slacktivist's story of guilt after Hoeffel lost a race by 84 votes. But, don't worry, he came back and won the next time!

Action Timeline

Uggabugga graphs the pre-9/11 Bush activities on counter-terrorism.

Steno Judy

Josh Marshall catches her passing on demonstrably false statements.

A stringer who was once did PR for an AIDS awareness organization cannot work for the NYT, but Ms. Miller's long involvement with the Middle East Forum is just not a problem.

Potemkin Troops


"Bush, wearing a green Army jacket, received an enthusiastic welcome from the troops, who stood on the post's muddy parade grounds under bright sunshine and chanted "U.S.A.!" Before Bush appeared, small U.S. flags were handed out, and an officer gave instructions to the troops on how to receive the commander in chief. "We're going to show him a lot of love by waving flags," the officer said. Telling the troops not to salute, he added: "You're going to wave and clap and make a lot of noise. . . . You must smile. We are happy campers here."

AP Stenography

Reporters really need to stop being so lazy.

I think when they're using oppo research from the political parties, which is fair to do as long as they fact check it, they should say so.

Moonie Monday

The Reverend Moon, owner of the Washington Times, had some lovely things to say last night.

Memo from the CAP

The Center for American Progress today released a series of internal government documents showing how the Bush Administration tried to cut and deprioritize counterterrorism in the lead up to September 11 - and after. The cuts came even as the Administration was receiving more and more warnings about an imminent Al Qaeda attack.

The documents, from the FBI, OMB and Justice Department, confirms the picture counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke painted last night on CBS' 60 Minutes. The documents can be found online at:


Happy Joe Hoeffel Day!

Okay, I know people probably have donation fatigue but I really think people should put Joe Hoeffel on the list of people to donate to. This really is a senate seat we can win, but Hoeffel really needs some more money to increase his name recognition in the state.

Click to wave goodbye to Arlen Specter... Lyin' Arlen lie to the American people. What will we tell the children?

About Time

Wow. The Wall Street Journal wakes up and looks at the discrepancies between actual events on 9/11 and public statements by the Bush administration.

2.5 years later and finally they're curious.

Odd country we live in.

Most of this won't be new to most of you, but it's really just outrageous that so many lies have just been allowed to just sit out there for so long.


There's a lot in Condi the Liar's defense that deserves to be criticized. I'm not sure if there's a true word in it, including 'a' and 'the,' but I was struck by this part:

Despite what some have suggested, we received no intelligence that terrorists were preparing to attack the homeland using airplanes as missiles, though some analysts speculated that terrorists might hijack airplanes to try to free U.S.-held terrorists.

This echoes her previous statement about this:

I don’t think anybody could have predicted that these people…would try to use an airplane as a missile, a hijacked airplane as a missile.

They may not have had specific intelligence that terrorists were preparing to attack using airplanes as missiles. But, she switches mid-sentence between "evidence" and "speculation," implying that no analysts had even "speculated" that hijacked planes could be used as weapons, which is of course completely false. Bob Somerby reminds us:

WOODWARD AND EGGEN: But a 1999 report prepared for the National Intelligence Council, an affiliate of the CIA, warned that terrorists associated with bin Laden might hijack an airplane and crash it into the Pentagon, White House or CIA headquarters.
The report recounts well-known case studies of similar plots, including a 1995 plan by al Qaeda operatives to hijack and crash a dozen U.S. airliners in the South Pacific and pilot a light aircraft into Langley.

“Suicide bomber(s) belonging to al-Qaida’s Martyrdom Battalion could crash-land an aircraft packed with high explosives (C-4 and semtex) into the Pentagon, the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), or the White House,” the September 1999 report said.

Stahl Gets It

The General points out that Leslie Stahl is a journalist who truly understands what makes a great president.

Sunday, March 21, 2004


We all know that before 9/11 terrorism ranked below prostitution as an Ashcroft priority, but I don't think any of us knew that even in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 Ashcroft was still worrying more about boobies than dead bodies.

In the early days after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the Bush White House cut by nearly two-thirds an emergency request for counterterrorism funds by the FBI, an internal administration budget document shows.

The document, dated Oct. 12, 2001, shows that the FBI requested $1.5 billion in additional funds to enhance its counterterrorism efforts with the creation of 2,024 positions. But the White House Office of Management and Budget cut that request to $531 million. Attorney General John D. Ashcroft, working within the White House limits, cut the FBI's request for items such as computer networking and foreign language intercepts by half, cut a cyber-security request by three quarters and eliminated entirely a request for "collaborative capabilities."

The document was one of several administration papers obtained and given to The Washington Post by the Center for American Progress, a liberal group run by former Clinton chief of staff John D. Podesta. The papers show that Ashcroft ranked counterterrorism efforts as a lower priority than his predecessor did, and that he resisted FBI requests for more counterterrorism funding before and immediately after the attacks.


Other documents indicate that before Sept. 11, Ashcroft did not give terrorism top billing in his strategic plans for the Justice Department, which includes the FBI. A draft of Ashcroft's "Strategic Plan" from Aug. 9, 2001, does not put fighting terrorism as one of the department's seven goals, ranking it as a sub-goal beneath gun violence and drugs. After the attacks, fighting terrorism became the department's primary goal. By contrast, in April 2000, Ashcroft's predecessor, Janet Reno, called terrorism "the most challenging threat in the criminal justice area."

Richard Clarke's Book

I didn't see the 60 Minutes interview yet, though I will shortly. You can buy his book here - currently #5 at Amazon!

... Okay, watched. It was really pretty devastating, with no actual factual rebuttal. I thought Stahl did okay. What I object to most is the perpetuation of the idea that even disagreeing with the president is somehow treasonous or disloyal. Stahl did flirt with this, but much less than most of the Heathers do these days.

Take Away the Bottle

I like this proposal from Mark Kleiman - instead of (or, in some cases in addition to) taking away peoples' driving licenses when they drive drunk, you could take away their license to drink.
For many people, taking away their ability to drive also takes away their ability to earn a living. Drunk driving laws are enforced selectively, both at the police stage and once they hit the legal system. I'm not against drunk driving laws, but I do think that in many states the penalty for even a 1st offense with a low (.08) limit are too strong. I'm sure that the penalty of taking someone's license away is a pretty strong deterrent, but aside from that I don't think it takes more drunks off the roads. I mean, once people are caught and convicted it isn't as if the fact that they don't have a license for 3 months is going to make them less likely to drink and drive during that time. Some other punishment could have a strong deterrent as well without depriving 1st offenders from their ability to earn a living.

Mark lists a bunch of possible objections to this, but none of them are particularly strong.

Kevin Drum is concerned about drivers' license creep - with the license increasingly becoming a defacto necessary national ID. Well, it's already the effective "drinking license" for anyone who looks to be under 30.

... Yes, of course I think drunk driving is a serious thing and there should be laws which have a serious deterrent effect.

... I'm concerned about punishments being "too strong" for two reasons. First, I'm concerned that the mandatory punishments cause too many cops and judges to try and look the other way. Every location has a famous "DUI lawyer" who can get anyone off for the right price. I'd prefer broader enforcement to selective enforcement. Second, no matter how harsh you think the penalties should be, I think that any penalties which essentially prevent people from functioning in this society are extremely harsh. Restricting peoples' ability to drive in most places is an *extremely harsh* penalty. My opinion is that even if we want a *harsh* penalty, it's the *wrong* penalty. Fine them. Make them do community service. Stick a breathalyzer on their car ignition. Send them to jail. Hey, maybe forbid them from purchasing or consuming alcohol. All of those can be harsh penalties, but they're different harsh penalties - ones which (other than jail, of course) don't prevent you from earning a living.

...and, yes, we'd spend a lot less time yammering about this issue if we had better public transit systems or at least more mixed use development which put people closer to the bars.

Arlen Specter Lies to the American People

From the campaign of Joe Hoeffel:

PHILADELPHIA, PA: On CNN’s Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer on Sunday, Sen. Arlen Specter told America that the Bush Administration NEVER CLAIMED a connection between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda.

“I hope that Mr. Specter just wasn’t listening to his friends in the Bush Administration, because it would be simply incredible if he was willing to go on national television and lie for them,” Hoeffel spokesman Tom Hickey said today.

Specter Claim:

Ø “The Bush administration never made any claim that there was a connection between Saddam and al Qaeda.” – Senator Arlen Specter, 3/21/04

Bush Administration Claims:

Ø “You can't distinguish between al Qaeda and Saddam.” – President Bush, 9/25/02

Ø “There's no question that Saddam Hussein had al Qaeda ties.” – President Bush, 9/17/03

Ø "There's overwhelming evidence there was a connection between al Qaeda and the Iraqi government. I am very confident that there was an established relationship there." - Vice President Cheney, 1/22/04

Ø “There was a relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda.” – Vice President Cheney, 9/14/03

Ø "Iraq and al Qaeda have discussed safe haven opportunities in Iraq, reciprocal nonaggression discussions." – Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, 9/26/02

Ø "There clearly are contacts between al Qaeda and Iraq that can be documented." – National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, 9/25/02



Full text of the exchange on CNN’s Late Edition from March 22, 2004:

BLITZER: Well, the 9/11 commission, Senator Specter and Senator Rockefeller, will be hearing testimony this coming week from Clinton administration officials, potentially significant testimony from the former secretary of state, the former national security adviser.

But Richard Clarke also writes this in his new book. He writes: "I think they wanted to believe there was a connection" -- referring to Bush administration officials -- "a connection between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. But the CIA was sitting there, the FBI was sitting there, I was sitting there, saying, 'We have looked at this issue for years. For years we've looked for a connection, and there's just no connection. There's absolutely no evidence Iraq was supporting al Qaeda.'"

You're the vice chairman of the Intelligence Committee. Was there evidence -- and you brought in Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, that name just a little while ago, widely associated with Ansar al-Islam, believed to be associated in some way with al Qaeda. Isn't that a connection between Saddam Hussein's regime and al Qaeda?

ROCKEFELLER: No, in that he was up in that Kurdish area, Ansar al-Islam, which was not under the control of Saddam Hussein.

He now has connections with al Qaeda. He might have had temporary connections with al Qaeda then. Now he has a lot of them. In other words, that's what not finding WMD, not finding, you know, terrorism, not finding a variety of things that the president said, this is the reason to go to war...

BLITZER: So your bottom line is, there is no evidence of any serious connection...

ROCKEFELLER: No, only...

BLITZER: ... between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden?

ROCKEFELLER: The only -- no, they hated each other.

BLITZER: All right.

What about that, Senator Specter?

SPECTER: I agree with Senator Rockefeller. There had been a lot of talk about one meeting in Eastern Europe, but it never panned out. And the Bush administration never made any claim that there was a connection between Saddam and al Qaeda. If there had been, if it could have been proved, it would have been dynamite, but there just wasn't any evidence to support it.