Monthly Archives: July 2004

Skanks

Back here, I posted about an article in the New Republic, the gist of which was this:

A White House aide asked the Pakistani government (specifically, their intelligence agency) to find or kill a high-level al Qaeda operative, adding "it would be best if the arrest or killing . . . were announced on twenty-six, twenty-seven, or twenty-eight July" — the first three days of the Democratic National Convention in Boston

The reason, of course, is because announcing an al Qaeda capture or kill would take some of the headlines away from the Democratic Convention and John Kerry. So the White House was hoping to manipulate the outside news in a clear case of underhanded political opportunism.

That post and the New Republic article was about three weeks ago. And now we’re AT the time of the Democratic National Convention.

And . . . . guess what story is now coming over the wires? Guess what the Pakistanis are announcing? Go to your favorite news carrier of choice.

UPDATE: Here’s how it is being reported at CNN:

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) — Pakistani security forces have captured a high-level al Qaeda operative in a raid in central Pakistan, Interior Minister Faisal Saleh Hayat said Thursday.

Hayat said the east African, who was sought internationally, was captured "a few days back," and his capture shows "Pakistan is committed to fighting terrorism."

The man is being questioned, Hayat said.

"We have been quite successful … in apprehending key figures," Hayat said.

I see. You captured him "a few days back" and are now announcing the capture during the highest day of the Democratic National Convention . . . just like the memo you got from the White House told you to do. Interesting . . . .

UPDATE: Josh Marshall, who has been nursing this story has the proper take:

This is just the latest, but perhaps the most blatant, way in which this administration has placed politics and, really, political dirty tricks above national security itself, and along the way continued to define political deviance down until tactics we used to associate with banana republics start to seem commonplace here.

Indeed.

UPDATE: Well, a backdate actually. Let’s rewind to what WH Press Secretary Scottie McClennan said when asked about the New Republic allegation:

Q Well, what would you say to these Democrats who came out to — let me go quickly — they’re citing this announcement today, some are also citing this New Republic article that says the administration is somehow pressuring Pakistan to get Osama bin Laden in time for the Democratic Convention.

MR. McCLELLAN: John, I wouldn’t put a lot of stock in that article. This is a publication that certainly opposes our views.

(Source)

Oooookay. Well, now that it has panned out to be TRUE, I guess we should put stock into publications that oppose your views. Thanks! I will!

How Money Hurts Politics

I’ve been swooning rather out-of-character for Barack Obama all day, which is why I find this from Matt Yglesius to be particularly disturbing:

If the [Democratic] party leaders had had their way, not only would Obama not have been delivering the keynote address at the convention, he wouldn’t be the party’s candidate for U.S. Senate at all. Plan A was to hand the nomination to Blair Hull, a millionaire who could have self-financed the race. That’s a recruiting tactic the party’s increasingly relied on since the early 1990s; as we saw last night, it can deprive the country of some of the most dynamic and committed public servants out there in exchange for bland nonentities like Herb Kohl. Money matters in politics and I wouldn’t suggest the Democrats try to ignore it, but this just brings home the need to expand the sort of fundraising success Howard Dean and John Kerry have had at the presidential level further down the ballot.

*Sigh*. There you have it: money and party politics often forces the best and the brightest to remain largely unknown or unheard of. Sometimes, I think Independents and Reformists really have the right idea . . .

DNC Day Two – A Perspective

Boy, was last night a night of contrasts. It started off with what I thought was a very bad, and somewhat bizarre, speech by Ted Kennedy. As recognized by Ezra Klein and others, this was one of Kennedy’s major faux pas:

"In the depths of the Depression, Franklin Roosevelt inspired the nation when he said, ‘The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,’ Today, we say the only thing we have to fear is four more years of George Bush."

Kennedy doesn’t get it, I guess. The awful thing about Bush is his fear-mongering, and Roosevelt’s quote points out the WRONGness of fear-mongering. Kennedy takes that wonderful quote . . . and turns it on its head. He uses it to fear-monger against Bush. Bad, Ted. Bad!

Kennedy also said some rather bizarre things. I don’t have a transcript, but I could have sworn that Kennedy "invited" Bush to another Boston tea party a few blocks down the road from the convention hall. What was Kennedy suggesting? That we DROWN the President?

And then he suggested that if Bush hadn’t been elected, Cheney would still be CEO of Halliburton and would have ended up in an "undisclosed location". I pretty sure that’s the phrase Kennedy used — "undisclosed location". Again, what does that mean? Six feet under?!?

WTF with all this cloak-and-dagger stuff, Ted? He was getting a little to Ann Coulter-ish for my blood.

Anyway, HE spoke, and Gephardt spoke, and Dean spoke, and it then it happened. The dawn of a new day broke, and suddenly all of them — Kennedy, Gephardt, Dean, and even Clinton — looked like ghosts of the Democratic Party past. Yes, I’m talking about . . .

Barack Obama.

This guy is the real deal. His speech left every conservative pundit speechless. Because he eloquently defined America, and the so-called values of the so-called "liberals", in these wonderful words:

If there’s a child on the south side of Chicago who can’t read, that matters to me, even if it’s not my child.

(APPLAUSE)

If there’s a senior citizen somewhere who can’t pay for their prescription and having to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer, even if it’s not my grandparent.

(APPLAUSE)

If there’s an Arab-American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties.

(APPLAUSE)

It is that fundamental belief — it is that fundamental belief — I am my brother’s keeper, I am my sisters’ keeper — that makes this country work.

The audience went nuts. And then, he blunted conservative critics by rejecting their partisanship:

Now even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us, the spin masters and negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes.

Well, I say to them tonight, there’s not a liberal America and a conservative America; there’s the United States of America.

(APPLAUSE)

There’s not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there’s the United States of America.

(APPLAUSE)

The pundits, the pundits like to slice and dice our country into red states and blue States: red states for Republicans, blue States for Democrats.

But I’ve got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the blue states, and we don’t like federal agents poking around our libraries in the red states.

We coach little league in the blue states and, yes, we’ve got some gay friends in the red states.

(APPLAUSE)

There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq, and there are patriots who supported the war in Iraq.

We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.

But everyone owes it to themselves to read his entire speech, found here. I tell you again — he’s going to be your President someday, so you better warm up to him soon.

Oh, Theresa Heinz Kerry spoke, too. Her speech was somewhat meandering, but in a way, it was a good companion speech to Obama’s. You know — the future of America thing. Her focus was on women, of course — and how women ought to be acknowledged for thier wisdom and good sense, rather than being dismissed for being "opinionated" and bitchy. You go, girl! She’s no doormat housewife, so you can bet Republicans won’t like her very much.

And all the while, I kept thinking — the Republican convention is going to be full of old white guys, except for the occasional token they will wheel out (Look! There’s a woman! Look, I see a black guy!). What a contrast to both the floor and the stage of the Fleet Center, where — for the first time perhaps ever — the REAL America, culturally diverse and rich, was represented in all its glory.

DNC Day One – A Perspective

Don’t kid yourself. Democrats are pissed. They really really really don’t like Bush. As many on the right have said, Dems dislike Bush more than they like Kerry. How true.

Last night’s festival in Boston was clearly an attempt to take that Bush negativity and channel it into Kerry positivity. This was most apparent in Al Gore’s speech, who reminded everybody of the 2000 election debacle, and blatently said to turn that anger into a movement to get Kerry re-elected. It was unsubtle Al, not at his fiery best, but passingly adequate.

But when all was said and done, last night remained an anti-Bush rally more than a pro-Kerry one. Although Kerry was highly praised, most movingly by a Vietnam crewmate of his, the Dems in the audience clearly responded with greater cheer to those comments directed at what was wrong with Bush, rather than what was right about Kerry.

Although the speakers were supposedly told to "play nice", the attacks on Bush were incindiary. It’s just that you often didn’t NOTICE it. Jimmy Carter could have called Bush a "rat-bastard whore", and due to his buttery-soft wilty Southern drawl, it wouldn’t have sounded like a huge attack. But attack Carter did. And although he didn’t go so far as to call Bush a "whore", much of what he said about Bush was simply electrifying. Carried more by his gravitas as a human rights leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner (rather than as a fair-to-middling President), Carter called Bush’s foreign policy "extremist", and come as close to calling Bush an outright liar as a Southern genteel-man could. It was, in its way, the most engaging speech of the night. Best line:

"The United States has alienated its allies, dismayed its friends and inadvertently gratified its enemies by proclaiming a confused and disturbing strategy of pre-emptive war."

Bam! One wonders how those words would have sounded coming from, say, Howard Dean.

Then came the Big Dawg, introduced by his wife . . .

Bill Clinton, as a speaker, always has the "it" factor. The "it" factor is that unidentifiable quality — sort of charisma, but not really; sort of charm, but not really; sort of snake oil salesman, but not really. Whatever "it" is, Dems really love it and Republicans really hate it. And last night, Clinton was dripping with "it".

I’ve often found Clinton’s "it" to be a distraction. I sometimes get too caught up in his presentation and mannerisms to actually let sink in what he is actually saying. I’m glued to him, but I’m not necessarily with him. For me, listening to a Clinton speech is like going on a long rollercoaster ride — parts of it are really good, but some parts of it are merely transitions where I wonder gee-what-is-to-come-next. Last night’s speech was like that.

But Clinton’s attacks on Bush were also quite forceful, albeit more subtle than Carter. Take his best line, which was possibly the best line of the whole evening:

"Strength and wisdom are not opposing values."

Everyone in that hall knew what Clinton was saying. You see, nobody is arguing that Bush lacks strength — therefore, what Clinton was saying was that Bush lacks wisdom. Or, put more bluntly, Bush is strong and stupid, whereas Kerry will be strong and wise.

Anyway, the show (yes, it is just a show) tonight will be the losers of the Democratic race, all of whom (we presume) will punch the same themes. And Theresa "Shove It" Kerry. For me though, the man to watch is keynote speaker, Baruch Obama. For many of you, this will be the first time you see him. Pay close attention — he will be your President one day.

P.S. Much ado has been made about bloggers being allowed to blog from the convention, and how revolutionary it all is, and how it is changing the fabric of the universe as we know it blah blah blah. But so far, these bloggers aren’t really saying much other than "Hey! We bloggers are at the convention and look how revolutionary it all is, and how it is changing the fabric of the universe as we know it blah blah blah blah blah blah". So far, I’m not impressed. It seems like much of the blogging community is obsessed with the blogging community, rather than, you know, on the world around them. Tch-tch.

USA Today Rejects Ann Coulter’s Writing

Ann Coulter, the witty, vivacious HUMAN EVENTS columnist and best-selling author, was hired by USA Today to offer commentary about this week’s Democratic National Convention, but her first column was summarily rejected late last night.

You can read all about it here, including the text of Ann’s column which was rejected (and USA Today’s editorial notes).

But the most embarrassing aspect to all of this are the adjectives used to describe Ann Coulter — the "witty, vivacious Human Events columnist". Who used those words to describe Ann Coulter? Follow the link above and check out the byline . . . why, it was Ann Coulter herself!

Pentagon Releases Bush’s National Guard Records That Were, um, Destroyed

WASHINGTON – The Pentagon on Friday released payroll records from President Bush’s 1972 service in the Alabama National Guard, saying its earlier contention the records were destroyed was an "inadvertent oversight."

(Source)

WTF?!?

Let’s recap. Bush promised (in his interview with Tom Russert) that he would release all his military records, which he didn’t . . . and when everybody complained about the incompleteness, we were told that some of the records were inadvertently destroyed, which they weren’t.

I know many of you think that those of us on the left make too much of this. But seriously, if the-powers-that-be would stop dicking the American people around about this, we wouldn’t have much to crow and caw about.

By the way, Washington insiders (and "West Wing" fans) are aware of this tactic: all the bad, embarrassing and/or outrageous stuff gets told to the press on Friday afternoon/evening. Because people are less tuned in to the news over the weekend. Friday is often called "take out the trash day" or "document dump day" in Washington. This is a prime example of releasing something and hoping it won’t get noticed as much.

UPDATE: And of course, much of the national media has left for Boston . . .

UPDATE: CNN is reporting that the new records indicate that Bush did NOT log any flight time in the controversial 3rd quarter of 1972 . . . .

Final Report of the 9/11 Commission

I’ve only read (quickly) the Executive Summary (available here in PDF format). The media is saying that the report is critical of the Clinton and Bush administrations, but I don’t quite get that from the Executive Summary.

Certainly, the summary has pretty harsh criticism for certain instututions (the CIA, FBI, etc.) across both administrations, but as for the administrations themselves, it seems to beat up on Bush more.

I am focusing on the section of the Executive Summary entitled "1998 to September 11, 2001" because, according to the summary, "The August 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies . . . established al Qaeda as a potent adversary of the United States". Below is every quote from that section/time period referencing Clinton or the Clinton administration (in blue), as well as Bush or the Bush administration (in pink). Let’s compare and contrast what each did, according to the report. The emphases are mine:

After launching cruise missile strikes against al Qaeda targets in Afghanistan and Sudan in retaliation for the embassy bombings, the Clinton administration applied diplomatic pressure to try to persuade the Taliban regime in Afghanistan to expel Bin Laden. The administration also devised covert operations to use CIA-paid foreign agents to capture or kill Bin Ladin and his chief lieutenants.

During 2000, President Bill Clinton and his advisors renewed diplomatic efforts to get Bin Laden expelled from Afghanistan. They also renewed secret efforts with some of the Taliban’s opponents — the Northern Alliance — to get enough intelligence to attack Bin Laden directly.

After the October 2000 attack on the USS Cole, evidence accumulated that it had been launched by al Qaeda operatives, but without confirmation . . . The CIA described its findings as a "preliminary judgment". President Clinton and his chief advisors told us they were waiting for a conclusion before deciding whether to take military action.

The transition to the new Bush administration in late 2000 and early 2001 took place with the Cole issue still pending. President George W. Bush and his chief advisors accepted that al Qaeda was responsible for the attack on the Cole, but did not like the options available for a response.

The Bush administration began developing a new strategy with the stated goal of eliminating the al Qaeda threat within three to five years.

During the spring and summer of 2001, U.S intelligence agencies received a stream of warnings that al Qaeda planned, as one report put it, "Something very, very, very big.: . . . . While the United States continued disruption efforts around the world, its emerging strategy to eliminate the al Qaeda was to include an enlarged covert action program in Afghanistan, as well as diplomatic strategies

Let me stop right there. Throughout both administrations, the FBI and CIA were actively doing their part to get at al Qaeda. But beyond that, doesn’t it read to you like the Clinton administration was actively doing more?? And the Bush adminsitration was merely planning to do more?

The Clinton administration was launching cruise missiles. Applying diplomatic pressure. Getting intelligence so that an attack could be launched. And other active things that, you know, men do when they want to get things done.

While the Bush administration, on the other hand, was beginning to develop an "emerging strategy" (whatever the fuck THAT means), and taking their time about it, too.

And then there’s this:

The process culminated during the summer of 2001 in a draft presidential directive and arguments about the Predator aircraft [which could be used to kill bin Laden or his chief lieutenants]. At a September 4 [2001] meeting, President Bush’s chief advisers approved the draft directive of the strategy and endorsed the concept of arming the Predator. This directive on the al Qaeda strategy was awaiting President Bush’s signature on September 11, 2001.

So again, Clinton bombed, etc. And the Bush people argued about new strategy, drafted directives, and (my personal favorite), "endorsed" a "concept".

Look, my point isn’t to say that Bush could have prevented 9/11, nor to say that Clinton did everything humanly possible. As the executive summary of the report says, it is easy with hindsight to see the failures.

But the right-wing meme that Clinton ignored al Qaeda, while Bush was on top of al Qaeda even before 9/11, is simply bogus. And the 9/11 Commission report supports that.

The Current Probability of a Kerry Win is 98 percent

So says this Princeton professor (a biologist).

I’m not gloating. I think news like that, if widely circulated, will UNenergize the people who actually need to get out their and vote for Kerry.

I know a little about statistics, but I’m not sharp enough to find flaws in methodology. Is there anything anyone can find that is flawed? It just doesn’t SEEM right to say the current probability of a Kerry win is 98%.

Write Your Own Punchline

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) "plans to endorse John Kerry for president today, ending his long-shot bid for the nation’s highest office only days before the start of the Democratic National Convention," the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.

(Source)

The Impact of Fahrenheit 9/11

I was among the many who thought that, once you get past all the controversy and noise, "Fahrenheit 9/11" would simply be a movie that preached to the choir. It wasn’t going to sway many on the right (who wouldn’t see it because they were on the right). Nor was it going to sway many in the center (on the assumption that most people in the center are apathetic and wouldn’t see it, or that they would remain open to other points of view even after seeing it). It would just rally the base, if anything.

And that’s still largely true . . . except for one thing. In a close election, persuasion of even a small percentage of those on the right and/or center can make all the difference. I’m not alone in this:

"I’m not sure if it moves voters," GOP consultant Scott Reed said, "but if it moves 3 or 4 percent it’s been a success."

Two senior Republicans closely tied to the White House said the movie from director Michael Moore is seen as a political headache because it has reached beyond the Democratic base. Independents and GOP-leaning voters are likely to be found sitting beside those set to revel in its depiction of a clueless president with questionable ties to the oil industry.

What is surprising to me is this poll:

A Gallup survey conducted July 8-11 said 8 percent of American adults had seen the film at that time, but that 18 percent still planned to see it at a theater and another 30 percent plan to see it on video.

More than a third of Republicans and nearly two-thirds of independents told Gallup they had seen or expected to see the film at theaters or on video.

So will "Fahrenheit 9/11" win the election for Kerry? It’s too early to tell. There’s still so many unknown factors — the impact of the conventions, the impact of the debates, the impact of hitting 1000 American dead in Iraq, the impact of possible al Qaeda attacks, the impact of SCARES about possible al Qaeda attacks, the economny stupid, and numerous others. It’s hard to say that "Fahrenheit 9/11"’s impact will overshadow any of them. Nevertheless, the movie seems (according to this article) to be making Pubs nervous. On the other hand, Pubs are scared of everything.

“Amish In the City”

In the right hands, this new reality show could be an interesting and educational social experiment about what happens when cultures collide.

But it’s on UPN, so what are the chances of that?

The show takes 5 young Amish people and places them in a Hollywood Hills mansion with six-non Amish roommates.

Now, the Amish people taking part in this show are free to do so — they are not violating any of their cultural traditions (the article above explains why). And of course, the Amish people selected for the show ARE good looking (because NOBODY on reality shows, even Amish people, look like REAL people).

But isn’t the whole idea somewhat demeaning? The whole catch is that they are Amish — implying that being Amish IS a catch. It’s like, "Hey America — let’s see what those freaks are doing THIS week!!! Watch the hilarity as we see those poor dumb Amish deal with a parking meter. Drool as the shy Jessica tries on her first bikini" . . . and so on. You get the idea.

I say, leave them alone. The Amish people strive to be quiet, simple and dignified. That’s pretty rare in America these days. Let’s not turn them (not to mention their beliefs) into a spectator sport. Or if you do, make sure the audience actually learns about the Amish culture, rather than how the Amish behave when ripped from their culture. I don’t trust UPN to do that.

That’s It? We’re Done? We Won? Cool!

The president on May 2, 2003: "The Battle of Iraq is one victory in the broader war on terror that began on September 11th, 2001, and still goes on."

On May 3, 2003: "The battle of Iraq is one victory in a war on terror that still goes on."

On July 21, 2004: "I want to be the peace president. The next four years will be peaceful years."

(Emphasis mine). Hat tip to Matt Yglesias who put it all together.

Maybe when Bush says that "the next four years will be peaceful years", he means that the war on terror won’t involve actual combat anymore.

But Matt is prepared for that as well:

[W]asn’t the problem with the Democratic approach to terrorism supposed to be that they thought of it as a matter for law enforcement and intelligence rather than a real war?

Honestly, I don’t know what is going on with Bush’s speechwriters sometimes. A day after Bush makes the entirely reasonable, appropriate and long overdue announcement that he is looking into Iran’s WMD programs and al Qaeda connections, they expect the public to swallow a Bush statement like "The next four years will be peaceful years"? How can he make such an assertion?? (Remind anyone of "Read my lips . . ."?)

Wait For It . . .

TODAY:

Bush: U.S. probes possible Iran links to 9/11

WASHINGTON (CNN) — Iran is harboring members of al Qaeda, and the United States is investigating whether the Iranian government had a role in the September 11, 2001, attacks, President Bush said Monday.

YESTERDAY:

Halliburton Subpoenaed Over Unit’s Iran Work

HOUSTON (Reuters) – A U.S. grand jury issued a subpoena to Halliburton Co. seeking information about its Cayman Islands unit’s work in Iran, where it is illegal for U.S. companies to operate, Halliburton said on Monday.

The oilfield services company, formerly headed by Vice President Dick Cheney, said it understood that the investigation of its subsidiary’s work in Iran had been transferred to the U.S. Department of Justice from the Treasury Department, which first initiated an inquiry in 2001.

Halliburton has a Cayman Islands unit, eh? Okay.

Not to mention that when Cheney was CEO of Halliburton, he railed against the economic sanctions imposed against Iran. Not that that stopped Cheney from doing business with Iran ANYway.

As I was putting this together, I realized that all this looks very bad for Cheney. And then it dawned on me . . . .

ALL THIS LOOKS REALLY BAD FOR CHENEY

Is this some way for Bush to dump Cheney without making it look like he was doing it because Cheney was a drag on the ticket?

Drunk Flight Crew Members Beat Passenger

If you are not worried about Syrian musicians on your flight, then maybe you should worry about swarthy flight attendents.

That’s right — the friendly skies have just got . . . uh . . . stupider.

MOSCOW – Drunken passengers often give air crews trouble, but Russia’s leading airline on Tuesday reported an "unprecedented" reversal: A passenger was assaulted by intoxicated flight attendants.

Two crew members on a domestic Aeroflot flight beat up a passenger who had complained that the flight attendants were drunk, airline spokeswoman Irina Dannenberg said.

The passenger, identified only as A. Chernopup, was aboard a recent flight from Moscow to the Siberian city of Nizhnevartovsk, Dannenberg said. She said the crew belonged to another airline, Aviaenergo.

Seeing that the crew were intoxicated and were not fulfilling their duties, Chernopup asked to be served by a sober and competent flight attendant, Dannenberg said. He was then beaten up by crew members.

(Source)

I’ve flown Aeroflot before. This doesn’t surprise me.

Are You Rrrrready to Rrrrrrrumble?

Apparently, Moveon.org has filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission claiming that Fox News Channel’s slogan "fair and balanced" violates the FTC’s prohibition against deceptive advertising. (Source, although there are probably others).

I’m not sure what Moveon.org hopes to achieve — they are unlikely to win, in my view. However, they will clearly cause a lot of damage and embarrassment to Fox along the way. That’s probably why they are doing it.

How To Show You Are Tough On Terrorism: Lie

Federal prosecutors in Iowa claim they built 35 terrorism-related cases in the two years after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

Wow! Thirty-five terrorism cases? In Iowa? That’s surprising news to me. It also came as surprising news to the judge who tried some of the cases:

"If there have been terrorism-related arrests in Iowa, I haven’t heard about them," said U.S. District Judge Robert Pratt. But Pratt himself presided over courtroom proceedings in at least six of the criminal cases that federal prosecutors had cataloged as terrorist in nature.

Mmmmm. Apparently there is a disconnect somewhere.

Included among the 35 cases were:

• Four American-born laborers who omitted mention of prior drug convictions or other crimes when they were assigned by a contractor to a runway construction project at the Des Moines airport or when they applied for manual-labor jobs there.

• Five Mexican citizens who stole cans of baby formula from store shelves throughout Iowa and sold them to a man of Arab descent for later resale.

• Two Pakistani men who entered into or solicited sham marriages so that they and their friends could continue to live in the Waterloo area and work at convenience stores there.

Ah, yes, terrorism is EVERYWHERE, especially if every little thing counts as "terrorism" (and doubly so if you happen to be non-white!). Just the other day, a guy cut me off in traffic — that f**kin’ terrorist!

Actually, the reason for the jacked up figures (i.e., the "lie") is so that when Attorney General John Ashcroft lobbys lawmakers for continued support of the Patriot Act, he has some (bogus) successes to point to. Creep.

Anyway, read the full article.

Bush Presidency is “the Least Democratic in the Modern History of the Presidency”

That sounds like typical partisan screed, but Jonathan Chait does an amazing — almost bulletproof — job backing it up with concrete examples and logical argument. He takes various definitions of "democracy" — including one supplied by GWB himself — and shows that the Bush Administration is more undemocratic than any other administration in recent memory.

The reason the article is both damning and intriguing is because it relies little on one’s political views (conservative vs. progressive). Instead, Chait offers a harsh criticism of the Bush Administration’s process: a process intentionally and systematically mired in secrecy, misdirection and manipulation — three things which confound and frustrate bedrock democratic principles.

Recommended reading.

On Pre-War Intelligence and Post-War Lies

A hat tip to Eric Alterman who realizes that he is going to be branded as an anti-Semite for merely pointing to this article from the nation’s leading Jewish newspaper. The article describes the recent Senate Intelligence Committee Report dealing with pre-war intelligence. It also refers to the Knesset report — the Israeli equivalent of the Senate report. The money quote:

Along similar lines, the Senate report criticized what it described as the creation of an "assumption train" — a chain of false assumptions based on faulty, unscrutinized intelligence. Judging from the Knesset report, issued in March by an investigative committee appointed by the Israeli parliament’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, several of the assumption train’s cars were made in Israel.

That’s a pretty hefty accusation, coming from the Jewish media.

So if our pre-war intelligence came from Iraqi defectors (folks like Chalabi with an axe to grind and a vested interest in Iraq’s overthrow), and Israel (not exactly a neutral party either), why is everyone so dumbfounded about intelligence failures? It’s like thinking you will uncover accurate information about the Hatfields by interviewing the McCoys . . . and then acting "surprised" when the intelligence turns out to be faulty.

And now to the post-war lies . . .

Eric Alterman also opens himself to being labeled (libeled?) an America-hater and a Saddam supporter, simply for referring to this article, which tells how Saddam’s mass killings were apparently exaggerated by Blair.

Let me get the perfunctories out of the way. You see, certain idiots think that if you raise facts and allegations that indicate Bush or Blair exaggerated/mislead/lied, then you must therefore hate America, and (as Alterman puts it) "wish that Saddam was back in power". I’m not sure which is more embarrassing: the idiots’ illogical argument, or giving credibility to the idiots’ argument by actually responding to it with all seriousness. Nonetheless, I will state that which I think should be hopefully obvious: I do not hate America. Nor is this a defense of Saddam. After all, one unjust death is one unjust death too many.

But the point is this: if Saddam Hussein was truly evil (and I personally think he was), why was it necessary to lie and exaggerate to demonstrate that? Why was it necessary for Blair to say that "’400,000 bodies had been found in Iraqi mass graves", when the truth is that only 5,000 have been found (in the 215 of the 270 sites inspected so far)?

Did our leaders have to lie about Hitler in order to rally public support for the war? Did they have to "pad" the death toll from Pearl Harbor?

Wasn’t the truth, stately plainly, good enough? If the Iraq war was justifiable, there would have been no need to "make a case" for it before it began. And there would be no need to continue to lie about the war rationale after-the-fact.

Energetic Response

We all remember the hubbub several months ago regarding the Bush White House’s "ho-hum" response to the August 6, 2001 PDB ("Presidential Daily Briefing") — the one with the headline saying: "Bin Laden Determined To Strike In U.S.". As you may recall, Condaleeza Rice dismissed the August 6 PDB as an "historical document" that said "nothing new". She and the administration did not consider it a "warning".

Well, it looks like the 9/11 Commission, in their report to come out this week, is going to talk about that PDB, as well as an earlier PDB that went before Clinton’s eyes.

Dated December 4, 1998, the earlier PDB was entitled: "Bin Laden preparing to hijack U.S. aircraft and other attacks."

The 9/11 commission will not only declassify the December 1998 PDB, but the commission’s report will "describe an energetic response to that (1998) report," says Philip Zelikow, executive staff director at the commission, including "efforts to determine if the plot reports were true". (Source)

Not that it would have prevented a tragedy (but who can say for sure?), but don’t you just WISH that the Bush White House had responded to the August 2001 PDB with the same "energetic response" that the Clinton White House did when confronted with the December 1998 PDB . . . rather than being so dismissive, wimpy, and unconcerned?

Hawking Flip-Flops About Universe

After almost 30 years of arguing that a black hole swallows up everything that falls into it, astrophysicist Stephen Hawking backpedaled Thursday.

Source.

Does this mean we can all get rid of "A Brief History of Time" which none of us ever read anyway?

P.S. On second reading, it occurs to me that "backpedaled" might not have been the best word for MSNBC to use . . .

How To Correct Mistakes

You bury them. And the bigger the mistake, the deeper you bury the correction.

From Tuesday’s Washington Post on page A02:

A story in the July 12 Sports section should have indicated that the top four finishers in the men’s 100-meter dash at the U.S. Olympic trials were separated by eight-hundredths of a second.

A story in the July 11 Sports section should have indicated that Katie Hoff won the 400-meter individual medley at the U.S. Olympic swimming trials.

The Web Watch column in the July 11 Business section misstated the name of a new business partner of the Evite Web service. The company is TicketWeb, not TicketNow.

A July 10 story on a new Senate report on intelligence failures said that former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV told his contacts at the CIA that Iraq had tried to buy 400 tons of uranium from the African nation of Niger in 1998. In fact, it was Iran that was interested in making that purchase, but no contract was signed, according to the report.

Obviously, you can see how eager WaPo was to correct a story which confused Iran and Iraq — the correction was prominently placed after two separate corrections relating to stories about the U.S. Olympic trials, and after a correction about the name of a web-based ticketing service.

Nice mea culpa, boys.

Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss

The scene is a courtyard adjacent to a police station in Baghdad. Saddam is there with several prisoners. An eyewitness tells the story:

"The prisoners were against the wall and we were standing in the courtyard when [he] said that he would like to kill them all on the spot. [He] said that they deserved worse than death – but then he pulled the pistol from his belt and started shooting them."

***

Re-enacting the killings, one witness stood three to four metres in front of a wall and swung his outstretched arm in an even arc, left to right, jerking his wrist to mimic the recoil as each bullet was fired. Then he raised a hand to his brow, saying: "He was very close. Each was shot in the head."

***

The Herald has established that as many as 30 people, including the victims, may have been in the courtyard.

Except — you guessed it — I lied. It wasn’t Saddam; it was Iyad Allawi, the new Prime Minister of Iraq . . . just a few days after we handed control of the country to him. Will some moral absolutist explain this to me? Read more.

What Is Rove Doing?

That’s the question that has been plaguing me for a while. I see Bush going out to states where he is already doing well, and talking about issues that merely mobilize his base, rather than trying to attract the crucial swing voters. How can he hope to win an election THAT way, I constantly ask?

Well, according to this analysis, Bush can win an election that way.

Therein lies an important key to understanding Bush’s reelection strategy. Although age-old campaign rules dictate that the general-election candidate must emphasize moderate "swing" voters and political independents, Bush strategists are predicting that this election, more than previous ones, will be determined by the turnout of each side’s partisans. Although not discounting swing voters, Bush is placing unusual emphasis so far on rallying the faithful.

Mmmmm. So maybe he does have an actual campaign strategery (other than cheating, I mean).

The problem that I see with that strategy is this: while Bush may be mobilizing his base, he unwittingly mobilizes Kerry’s base at the same time. For example, when he speaks on subjects that please the social conservatives, he invigorates the progressive movement and others who really hate that moralizing shit! In other words, Bush motivates his no-base to vote against him just as much (if not more) than he motivates his base to vote for him.

Anyway, it’s an interesting read for anyone interested in political campaigns.

No Respect For One’s Elders

"Trying to eliminate Saddam…would have incurred incalculable human and political costs. Apprehending him was probably impossible…We would have been forced to occupy Baghdad and, in effect, rule Iraq…there was no viable ‘exit strategy’ we could see, violating another of our principles. Furthermore, we had been self-consciously trying to set a pattern of handling aggression in the post-Cold War world. Going in and occupying Iraq, thus unilaterally exceeding the United Nations’ mandate, would have destroyed the precedent of international response to aggression that we hoped to establish. Had we gone the invasion route, the United States could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land."

– From "A World Transformed" by Former President George Bush

"Step outside and let’s you and me have at it, mano a mano, old man!"

– My paraphrase of a young, drunk Dubya confronting his father around Christmas 1972, in a widely-underreported incident

I Love Stats Like These

They’re rich and chock full of meaning. This I lifted from Eric Alterman’s site. This is, in fact, part of the new afterward to the paperback edition of his book "What Liberal Media?", and it is sssoo-wwweeet:

An in-depth study undertaken for the University of Maryland’s Program on International Policy Attitudes and published around the time of the second anniversary of the attacks found that over sixty percent of Americans believed one of the following misperceptions:

* There’s clear evidence that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein worked closely with the Sept. 11 terrorists.

* U.S. forces found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

* People in foreign countries generally either backed the U.S.-led war or were evenly split between supporting and opposing it.

Moreover, the researchers discovered a direct correlation between these misperceptions and the consumption of television news as opposed to newspapers or National Public Radio. According to its figures, 80 percent of Fox News’ audience and 71 percent of CBS’s bought into at least one of the above falsehoods.

Meanwhile only 47 percent of newspaper and magazine readers and just 23 percent of those who said they relied on PBS or NPR found themselves similarly misled.

And lest we forget, phony ideas have consequences. Support for Bush’s war reached 53 percent among those who believed one of the lies, 78 percent among those who accepted two of them and a full 86 percent among those who embraced all three.

Meanwhile fewer than a quarter of people who understood the truth of the situation–rejecting all three phony canards—were willing to take a trip on Bush and Cheney’s not-so excellent adventure.

(Emphasis mine) So, where do YOU fall in this little statistical paradigm?

More America Haters

”Do not fall into the easy trap of mourning the loss of U.S. lives,” it reads.

Oh, geez. Not Moore’s website again. Doesn’t that guy EVER get tired of making light of dead American soldiers???

Actually, it’s not Moore. It’s Fox.

It’s a memo from Fox Senior Vice-President for News instructing Fox News not to report TOO much on dead American soldiers. Read more and/or buy the DVD.

Decision 2016

For those of you who want a sneak-peak of the man who will be elected President in 2016, you can read about him here, or just watch the Democratic convention keynote speech on July 27.

I’m not kidding. I already got $100 bucks riding on this guy in a bet with my Mom. (In 1974, she bet me $20 that Howard Baker would be President by the end of the 20th century — I just collected on it last year when I remembered).

Reasons’ Reasons

Libertarian magazine Reason gives its list of ten reasons why Bush has got to go. The article endorses Kerry. Sort of. I mean, it clearly states that Kerry sucks, too, but it places him as the far lesser of two evils.

Not That There’s Anything Right With It . . .

Regarding the recent conservative push to resurrect the same-sex marriage issue, Paul Waldman has the best tagline:

I can’t say for sure, but it does seem that some Republican senators spend more time thinking about homosexuality than any gay person I know. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

I don’t know how often Republican senators think about homosexuality and gay marriage, but what they think about it is . . . well, pretty bizarre sometimes. In trying to explain how traditional marriage is being "assualted", some of these morons offer the most nutball arguments to come down the pike. Cue Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tx) with this analogy from outer space:

"It does not affect your daily life very much if your neighbor marries a box turtle. But that does not mean it is right….Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife."

Mmmmm. Gay person = box turtle. Marriage to someone of the same gender = marriage to an animal. (The joke going around is that Mrs. Cornyn apparently isn’t upset that she married an ass, so why should anyone else be?)

Tell, you what, Sen. Cornyn. If the day comes when people are marrying turtles, I’m right there beside you. Whatever amendment or law you want to pass to stop the scourge of man-amphibian weddings, count me in. Or EVEN man-reptile weddings. But until then, shut up. And just when you thought it couldn’t get sillier, along comes Sen. Rick Santorum (R.-Pa), always good for a laugh on this topic. Today, he was assuaging the fears of us heterosexuals. What will happen if gays are allowed to marry?

"Will heterosexuals continue to – you know – copulate, to have sex?" the Senator asked. "Sure! But will they build families?"

Thanks for the reassurance, Rick, but what moron thought that heterosexuals were going to stop copulating because gays (elsewhere) are getting married?

And the answer to your second question – "But will they build families?" — is also "Sure!" What does Santorum think is going to happen? "You know, honey, I WANT to have children with you and raise a family, but — well — gays are allowed to marry, so . . . let’s just stay childless."

The nice thing about the same-sex amendment being discussed in the Senate is that it forces these goons to put their bigoted ignorance into the public record, and perma-sealed into history. Someday, future generations will look back and wonder how people could be that ignorant — kind of like the way most of us look at the 27 morons who voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Voting While Under Attack

I’m only half-following the story about the balloon being floated regarding the suspension of elections (if there is an AQ attack or something). And my thoughts on it are in the formative stages. Still, my initial reaction is that the Constitution does not permit the President to suspend presidential elections.

Why not? Quite simple.

Article II, Section 4 says that "Congress may determine the Time of chusing [choosing] the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their Votes; which Day shall be the same throughout the United States." That’s it. End of story.

Would it be NICE if the Framers gave the President the power to override Congress’ ability to select election day, in the case of a national emergency? Maybe, but they didn’t.

Here’s the nightmare scenario, as I see it. Bush gets on television around noon of election day, and says they have credible evidence of an attack, and suspends the election. So some people don’t vote. But some people don’t know that Bush lacks the authority to suspend the election. The days ends in confusion. So are the votes counted or not? Big ugly fight. It ends up in the Supreme Court again. *Shiver* What a mess.

So I’m telling you now, without any bias as to whether it helps or hurts any particular candidate. The President cannot suspend the elections. So if election day turns into another 9/11, you vote! Got it? We all clear?

Children in Iraqi Prison

I saw this story two days ago, and figured it would be a U.S. news story in a day or so (instead of just in Germany, and Norway, and elsewhere in Europe). But maybe I was wrong. Anyway, depressing as it is . . . .

Norwegian authorities reacted with shock and disgust Tuesday to a documentary on German TV that American soldiers allegedly have been holding children in prisons in Iraq, and abusing them as well. The Norwegians joined the Red Cross and Amnesty International in calling for an immediate end to the abuse, and release of the underage prisoners, some of whom are as young as 12 years.

Maybe it’s not getting played because it is nothing new:

New Yorker reporter Seymour Hersh indicated as much earlier this week, saying that the videotapes depict sexual abuse of minors. Several reports also cited the existence of videotaped rape involving female prisoners. “There was a special women’s section. There were young boys in there. There were things done to young boys that were videotaped. It’s much worse,” Hersh said during an appearance on Fox News Tuesday.

(from 5/7/04 Intelwire report). Or, maybe it doesn’t register with Americans until we see pictures . . . .

Who Al Qaeda Wants For President

I normally don’t like to cut & paste wholesale from other blogs/sites, but this comment from Atrios makes too much sense to ignore:

The entire debate over the past three months about how Al Qaeda really wants to influence the election is collectively the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard, and that’s after a year of mainlining campaign coverage from the Internet.

First of all, everybody predicting what Al Qaeda wants, could they concentrate real hard on their Ouija board and find out something else for me, like where the hell is Osama, and where is Al Qaeda going to attack next so we can warn some people? Could they get some useful information from whatever magic toaster oven is sending them messages these days?

Second of all, Republicans, figuring out the motivations of terrorists and then trying to thwart those motivations is one of those fuzzy things you accuse liberals of doing. You’re supposed to be the ones that just want to blow them up. We’re the ones who want to understand what the hell their problem is before we blow them up. Keep your gamepieces straight, guys, it’s the only way to win at Chutes & Ladders.

And Your Point Is . . . What?

Drudge is concerned that Kerry and Edwards touch each other too much. He’s displayed a montage of nine photos, 5 of which look like there were taken within a span of two to three seconds. The message — apparently — is that Kerry and Edwards are . . . what . . . gay???

My take: Homophobia is a sure sign of male insecurity. Paranoid homophobia (seeing "gay"ness where it doesn’t exist) is male insecurity to the Nth degree. And bombing the fuck out of weaker countries, too. So what’s next? Are Bush and Cheney going to start driving around in male menopause cars — like Mazda Miatas — to show that they are "real" men?

What a Shame!

When Bush finally dumped a bunch of documents on us hoping to quiet all the "AWOL" accusations, he didn’t include the payroll records from the third quarter of 1972. That time period was controversial — it was when Bush never showed up for his physical, when Bush was grounded, and when Bush apparently went to Alabama to work on a campaign.

"Oh, well" people like me said. "We’ll wait for the records. I mean they have to be somewhere".

Well guess what? We learn today that "certain" microfilm records, including Bush’s payroll records for that crucial quarter, "had been ruined in 1996 and 1997 by the Defense Finance and Accounting Service during a project to salvage deteriorating microfilm."

Too bad. The evidence that could have shut people like me up — that would have proven conclusively that Bush completed his National Guard training — it’s been "inadvertantly destroyed". Tsk tsk.

Somewhere Nixon is saying "I say . . . Good show, ol’ boy! Well done!" (I’m assuming Nixon acquired an uppercrust British accent in the afterlife).

UPDATE: Corrente, among others, notes that only two weeks ago, an AP lawyer sueing to get the microfilm was told that the microfilm "did indeed exist"!

“Prime Example” Not So Prime Really

Bush Says Massacre at Halabja Shows Evil of Hussein’s Rule By Jim Garamone American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 15, 2003 – President Bush today held up the March 16, 1988, chemical attack on the civilians of Halabja, Iraq, as a prime example of the evil Saddam Hussein perpetrates.

Bush stressed the nature of the Iraqi dictator’s regime in his weekly radio address.

"The chemical attack on Halabja – just one of 40 targeted at Iraq’s own people – provided a glimpse of the crimes Saddam Hussein is willing to commit, and the kind of threat he now presents to the entire world," the president said. "He is among history’s cruelest dictators, and he is arming himself with the world’s most terrible weapons."

(Pentagon press release) And today . . .

The Halabja massacre is now prominent among the charges read out against Saddam in the Baghdad court. When that charge was read out, Saddam replied that he had read about the massacre in a newspaper. Saddam has denied these allegations ever since they were made. . . .

A report prepared by the top CIA official handling the matter says Saddam Hussein was not responsible for the massacre, and indicates that it was the work of Iranians. Further, the Scott inquiry on the role of the British government has gathered evidence that following the massacre the United States in fact armed Saddam Hussein to counter the Iranians chemicals for chemicals.

(Source)

D’oh!

Political Opportunism > Winning the War?

Not a new story, but a more detailed version of the old one. From The National Review:

A third source, an official who works under ISI’s director, Lieutenant General Ehsan ul-Haq, informed tnr that the Pakistanis "have been told at every level that apprehension or killing of HVTs before [the U.S.] election is [an] absolute must." What’s more, this source claims that Bush administration officials have told their Pakistani counterparts they have a date in mind for announcing this achievement: "The last ten days of July deadline has been given repeatedly by visitors to Islamabad and during [ul-Haq’s] meetings in Washington." Says McCormack: "I’m aware of no such comment."

But according to this ISI official, a White House aide told ul-Haq last spring that "it would be best if the arrest or killing of [any] HVT were announced on twenty-six, twenty-seven, or twenty-eight July"–the first three days of the Democratic National Convention in Boston.

It’s kind of like PSYOPS, is it not?

Cheney – Not Bush’s “First Choice” for VP?

Apparently not. Here’s Sen John McCain on the Early Show, from March of this year:

McCain: “Look, I don’t want to be Vice President of the United States, I do not want to leave the Republican party, I would not be Vice President of the United States on either ticket. I told President Bush when he asked me in 2000 if, when he asked me if I was interested, I said I was not interested. I love being in the United States Senate and I am of the party of Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt. I can not categorically more state, answer no.”

Don’t have an official transcript yet, so I will rely on a conservative media research site until an official one is located.

Moore Spanks Isikoff

Yeah, even I am getting tired of Moore 24/7, but I was amused at how Moore has been taking Newsweek’s Mike Isikoff to the shed for some sloppy reporting in his critiques of F9/11. Like . . . the head of the Carlyle Group (mentioned prominently in the movie). In his article, Isikoff gets the wrong guy. It’s not like it’s a typo — he actually names the wrong guy.

Also of interest (to some perhaps) on Moore’s website: reprints of articles showing the reaction of military spouses who have, you know, actually seen the film, and — uh oh — he’s started a blog.

A Factoid

courtesy of Henry Waxman, ranking minority member of the House Oversight Committee:

Compare the following: Republicans in the House took more than 140 hours of testimony to investigate whether the Clinton White House misused its holiday card database but less than five hours of testimony regarding how the Bush administration treated Iraqi detainees.

(Emphasis added) If that’s even close to being accurate, that really puts things into perspective. The article is a good read (click link above), but the thrust is summarized neatly here:

When President Clinton was in office, Congress exercised its oversight powers with no sense of proportionality. But oversight of the Bush administration has been even worse: With few exceptions, Congress has abdicated oversight responsibility altogether.

Gee, you think? Politics is always going to be partisan, but when the watchdogs themselves become so blatently partisan that they simply lay down and sleep, then who will be the watchdogs?

Conviction Deficit at the White House

Some have recently ragged on Kerry for not following through on his convictions regarding when life begins (and why that hasn’t translated into an anti-abortion political stance). Maybe that’s why this little lack-of-conviction struck me as odd/humorous. Yesterday, WH Press Secretary Scott McLellan was asked:

Q Scott, one last thing, in all of your pronouncements about the campaign and the way it’s shaping up, implicit has been the suggestion that President Bush and Vice President Cheney will win the campaign. A, are you willing to make that explicit? Do you say that they will win?

Scott, or course, answered: “Yes. By all means. Bush and Cheney will win the campaign.” Right? Right?!? Wrong. He responded with the wimp-ass:

Well, that’s a decision that the American people will make. The President believes he has articulated a clear vision for the country going forward and has a solid record of accomplishment on the most important priorities that we face, from winning the war on terrorism to strengthening our economy. And the American people will make that decision in November. The President is proud of his record and believes he has a clear vision for the direction this country should head. And that stands in stark contrast to the ticket that we are running against.

Source I don’t know when the Bush campaign is going to kick into high gear, but for their sakes, it better be soon. Kerry-bashing ads, combined with (the somewhat contradictory) “I’m a positive guy” ads, aren’t really working.

Republicans Trying To Cheat In Florida Again

Well, it worked in the 2000 election, so why not try again?

More than 2,100 Florida voters — many of them black Democrats — could be wrongly barred from voting in November because Tallahassee elections officials included them on a list of felons potentially ineligible to vote, a Herald investigation has found. A Florida Division of Elections database lists more than 47,000 people the department said may be ineligible to vote because of felony records. The state is directing local elections offices to check the list and scrub felons from voter rolls. But a Herald review shows that at least 2,119 of those names — including 547 in South Florida — shouldn’t be on the list because their rights to vote were formally restored through the state’s clemency process. That’s a potentially jarring flaw, critics say, in a state that turned the 2000 presidential election to Gov. Jeb Bush’s brother George on the narrowest of margins — 537 votes.

Oh, Lord. I hate reruns!

Scotty Can’t Answer A Simple Question (Part 48)

Bush, it seems, likes to get the questions in advance. Probably how he made it through Yale, I’m guessing. But the White House can’t seem to ADMIT or DENY what should be a rather simple question in that regard:

Q. Did anyone in the White House or the administration ask Irish television or its reporter, Carol Coleman, to submit questions in advance of her interview with the President last Wednesday?

MR. McCLELLAN: Bill, a couple of things. I saw I guess some reports on that. I don’t know what every individual office — whatever discussions that they have with reporters in terms of interviews. But obviously, the President was — is pleased to sit down and do interviews with journalists, both from abroad, as well as here at home, and to talk about the priorities of this administration. And I think anytime that there is an interview that’s going to take place, obviously there are staff-level discussions with reporters before that interview and to —

Q. — what are the —

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, to talk about what issues might be on their mind, and stuff. That’s — but, reporters —

Q. That’s not the same thing as asking for —

MR. McCLELLAN: Let me finish. Let me finish.

Q. — and my question is, were questions asked for.

MR. McCLELLAN: Let me finish. Reporters, when they meet with the President, can ask whatever questions they want. And any suggestion to the contrary is just —

Q. Right, but that doesn’t answer the question. Did somebody in the administration ask her for questions in advance, and is that your policy?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, in terms — you’re talking my policy?

Q. No, the administration’s policy.

MR. McCLELLAN: I don’t know what an individual staffer may or may not have asked specifically of this reporter, but some of these interviews are set up by people outside of my direct office and control.

Q. Well, will you say from this lectern that it is not the policy of this White House to ask for questions in advance?

MR. McCLELLAN: Will you let me complete what I’m trying to say? Thank you. Just hold on a second. As I said, and you know very well from covering this White House, that any time a reporter sits down with the President, they are welcome to ask whatever questions they want to ask.

Q. Yes, but that’s beside the point.

MR. McCLELLAN: And certainly there will be staff-level discussions, talking about what issues reporters may want to bring up in some of these interviews. I mean, that happens all the time.

Q. Indeed, it does.

MR. McCLELLAN: So reporters are able to ask whatever questions they want, Bill.

Q. Right, but that wasn’t my question. (Laughter.)

MR. McCLELLAN: I’ll be glad to look into this further.

Q. Is it policy to ask for questions in advance?

MR. McCLELLAN: Again, I don’t know what some individual staffer may have done in another office, specifically in terms of this question that you’re asking. I’ll be glad to look into it. But reporters can ask the President whatever questions they want. I think we’ve addressed this question.

And, believe it or not, it goes on . . . you can read it all here

Two-Faced Jim Hoagland

In October 2002, the Washington Post’s Jim Hoagland wrote an editorial criticizing the CIA because it had (up until then) been unwilling to recognize the danger of Saddam Hussein. He said, in part:

it is no surprise that Bush has until now relied little on the Langley agency for his information on Iraq. There is simply no way to reconcile what the CIA has said on the record and in leaks with the positions Bush has taken on Iraq.

Actually, Hoagland’s point at the time was that many of the old guys at the CIA were entrenched in their ways, and were simply unwilling to stick their neck out on things like "Saddam has WMDs" and so forth. In Feburary 2004, the same Jim Hoagland wrote an editorial, again criticizing the CIA. Why? For feeding faulty intelligence to Bush!

The truth in Machiavellian terms is worse: Bush and Blair accepted and actually believed the flawed intelligence that their spy bosses and senior aides provided

But I’m only skinning the surface here. Brad DeLong actually takes the two Hoagland articles — one from October 2002, and one from February 2004 — and runs them side by side., so the hypocrisy leaps out at you. No spin required. THAT’S how it’s done, fisker-wannabes.

WorldNetDaily Bites Its Pillow In Abject Fear

This isn’t a slam piece against WorldNetDaily — it’s a humor piece. Here, apparently is what they are concerned about now: the "child protection gestapo" taking kids from homes and giving the children to (oh no!) same-sex couples. Mind you, the concern here isn’t that abused kids will be given to gay couples, but any child:

Governments that kind-heartedly bestow other people’s children on homosexual couples also have both the power and the motivation to confiscate those children from their original parents, even when the parents have done nothing to warrant losing them.

The government has the power to confiscate children from their original parents even where this is "nothing to warrant" it? Pretty powerful stuff from a media outlet thought by some to have never lied. But you know how it goes: Scare, scare, scare! Lie, lie, lie! Anyway, the irony-unimpaired among you might enjoy this little laugh of a commentary, entitled (in all apparent seriousness) "Could your kids be given to ‘gay’ parents?" (P.S. Can someone explain to me why the word "gay" is in quotes in the title?)

Are You Telling Me . . .

. . . that of all those terrible terrible things that we said about Saddam — the fact that he was a threat to the United States, the fact that he plotted to kill former President Bush, the fact that he harbored known enemies of the United States, etc. etc. etc. — we couldn’t find anything to prosecute him for HERE? Hell, we did it with Noriega, right? So what gives?