Monthly Archives: June 2005

Failure IS An Option

Let’s get serious.  Bush screwed up by getting us into Iraq in the first place, and screwed it up once we were there.  He had no plan yada yada yada.

But let’s put down the anti-Bush signs and flags and ribbons and ask some simple questions with respect to Iraq:  NOW what?  How do we “win”?

I’m struggling with this, and I found this post by Billmon to be very persuasive.  He starts out by suggesting—and this is hard to swallow—that we may have already lost.

The silver lining, if one can be had, is that Iraq doesn’t HAVE to be the central front on the war on terrorism.  In fact, it clearly wasn’t before we got there.  So the grand strategy is to find a way to get out of Iraq in such a way where we can save face, and turn our attention to the global war on terrorism.  But how do we actually do that?  Just pack up and leave en masse?

I won’t detail the entire Billmon post.  As the saying goes, read the whole thing.  And pay close attention to this paper by Dan Byman, which discusses “Five Bad Options For Iraq”.

Operation Yellow Elephant Update

Sticker_3Max Blumenthal talks to College Republicans, and asks them why they aren’t enlisting.  The responses are what you would expect: “a nagging football injury”, “my ex-hippy parents don’t want me to”, etc.

Then there is Cory Bray, a senior at at U.Penn’s Wharton School of Business.  From the bar at a college Republican party, Bray brayed:

"The people opposed to the war aren’t putting their asses on the line"

Nice observation, Cory.  I also note that anti-abortion people aren’t having abortions.  But your keen insight begs an obvious question: Why aren’t you, who support the war, putting your ass on the line?  Care to respond, Cory?

"[B]ecause I had the opportunity to go to the number-one business school in the country, and I wasn’t going to pass that up."

I see.  So people who OPPOSE the war should be fighting it, so that people like you who SUPPORT the war can go to B-school.  Makes sense.

But Cory went on:

"We’re the ones who stand up for what we believe in. The College Democrats just sit around talking about how much they hate Bush. We actually do shit."

Mmmmmm.  What “shit” does Cory do?  Googling him gives us some insight.  For one thing, he sells Bush T-shirts in bulk, and creates disturbing (and lame) “Use Kerry For A Baseball” internet games.

And while I’m sure that programming silly computer games and being a pro-Bush junior capitalist is important, it pales in comparison to those who actually—really actually—do shit.

Terrorists Heart Bush

Remember that ridiculous meme during the past election that the terrorists were rooting for John Kerry to win?  Apparently, just the opposite:

Two French journalists who were held hostage in Iraq told a British documentary program that their captors believed George W. Bush’s re-election as US president would help radicalize Iraqis.

Christian Chesnot and Georges Malbrunot, who were seized in August and released after four months, told the British Broadcasting Corp.’s “Panorama” program that they were allowed to interview the leader of an Islamic militant cell within the group that seized them.

“We felt we were on planet bin Laden,” Malbrunot said on the program, which airs Wednesday night.

The cell leader trained with terror leader Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan and told them the insurgents supported a Bush presidency because they believed it meant that “there will be confrontation, occupation and radicalization of the Iraqi people,” Malbrunot said.

And they were right.  Thank you, red states.

Bush’s Speech

From the speech:

And the larger purpose of our involvement has always been to help the nations of The Middle East become independent and stand alone, self-sustaining, as members of a great world community – at peace with themselves, and at peace with all others.

With such an Iraq, our country-and the world will be far more secure than it is tonight.

I believe that a peaceful Middle East is far nearer to reality because of what America has done in Iraq. l believe that the men who endure the dangers of battle fighting there for us tonight – are helping the entire world avoid far greater conflicts, far wider wars, far more destruction, than this one. The peace that will bring them home someday will come.

No.  I’ve lied.  The words are from LBJ’s Vietnam Renunciation Speech on March 31, 1968—the word “Asia” has been replaced with “Middle East”, and “Vietnam” with “Iraq”.  Essentially, last night Bush gave us the same rhetoric as Johnson did 37 years ago, and we know how Vietnam turned out.

We’re fighting Vietnam all over again.  Replace the word “communism” with “terrorism” and change some geographical names, and the mission, rhetorically speaking, is essentially the same.  It should be noted that Vietnam actually DID fall to communism, but the dominoes did not continue to fall as the gloom-and-doomers predicted.  Too bad Bush was too busy partying and drinking during that time in America’s history—he might have learned something the first time around.

[Hat tip: Cynical-C Blog]

Actually, many have already noted the similarities in tone and rhetoric between Bush’s speech last night, and Nixon’s "Silent Majority" speech, i.e.,:

I can order an immediate, precipitate withdrawal of all Americans from Vietnam without regard to the effects of that action.

. . . Or we can persist in our search for a just peace through a negotiated settlement if possible, or through continued implementation of our plan for Vietnamization if necessary–a plan in which we will withdraw all of our forces from Vietnam on a schedule in accordance with our program, as the South Vietnamese become strong enough to defend their own freedom. I have chosen this second course. It is not the easy way. It is the right way.

It is a plan which will end the war and serve the cause of peace–not just in Vietnam but in the Pacific and in the world.

MORE THOUGHTS:  It struck me as odd that Bush cited bin Laden favorably in support of his stay-the-course-in-Iraq policy:

Some wonder whether Iraq is a central front in the war on terror. Among the terrorists, there is no debate. Hear the words of Osama Bin Laden: “This Third World War … is raging” in Iraq. “The whole world is watching this war.” He says it will end in “victory and glory or misery and humiliation.”

So, according to bin Laden, Iraq is a central front in the war on terror. And therefore we must operate under the same reasoning? Unfortunately, Bush thinks so.  But is there any chance that bin Laden doesn’t really think that and/or was just merely being somewhat hyperbolic?

Better There Than Here?

One of the most annoying and disingenuous memes coming from the White House these days—and Bush repeated it in his speech last night—is the idea that it is better to fight the terrorists in Iraq than it is to fight them here.  When I first heard that message, I dismissed it as silly rhetoric . . . but then, I kept on hearing it.  So I actually thought about the premise and implications of that meme, something which I doubt many war supporters have done.

Now, on its face, in a factual vacuum, the meme is appealing.  Obviously, I would prefer that the terrorists fight our soldiers in Baghdad than interrupt me on my way to work.  Everybody would prefer that. 

But George Bush is basically admitting that we have turned Iraq into a terrorist battlefront . . . so that the United States can be safe.  “Better there than here”?!?  Some humanitarians we turned out to be! 

Also, I wonder how Iraqis feel about that.  As one Iraqi who listened to Bush’s speech last night said about the United States: “Why don’t they find another place to fight terrorism?”

Good question.

Matt Labash of the Weekly Standard also slaps down this meme, with two more points:

The first, is that we’re not altogether sure we are fighting terrorists, in the al-Qaeda sense of the word. As Newsweek recently reported in a piece entitled “War In the Dark,” “what the Americans don’t know is who, exactly, they’re fighting."

The second thing to remember, for most of the people declaring where they’d rather fight the terrorists, is that they are not personally doing much of the fighting.

But my main criticism of the meme is that, even if the people we are fighting in Iraq are terrorists, they certainly don’t represent ALL, or even MOST, of the worldwide population of terrorists.  And if they start losing (and I suspect that eventually, at some point, they will), the remaining insurgency probably will not remain in Iraq to die to the last man.  Instead, equipped with their new skills that they acquired in the Terrorist Training Ground known as Iraq, they will disperse throughout the world—including (wait for it!) . . . here.

“Better there than here”?!?

The enemy is not the German Army.  There is no Berlin.  In the next ten years or so, we may finally bring stabilty to Iraq.  But it will not have furthered our interests in the Global War on Terrorism—indeed, just the opposite.

UPDATE: Juan Cole has the final say on the “better there than here” meme:

This is monstrous and ridiculous at once. The people in Fallujah and Ramadi were not sitting around plotting terrorism three years ago. They had no plans to hit the United States. Terrorism isn’t a fixed quantity. By unilaterally invading Iraq and then bollixing it up, Bush and Vines have created enormous amounts of terrorism, which they are now having trouble putting back in the bottle.

Bush Then And Now

THEN:

"Victory means exit strategy, and it’s important for the president to explain to us what the exit strategy is . . . I think it’s also important for the president to lay out a timetable as to how long they will be involved and when they will be withdrawn."

— Bush criticizing President Clinton on not setting a timetable for troops in Kosovo, 4/9/99 and 6/5/99

NOW:

"It doesn’t make any sense to have a timetable. You know, if you give a timetable, you’re—you’re conceding too much to the enemy."

— Bush on Iraq, 6/24/05

Washington Nationals and George Soros

Just another sign that some Republicans are so anti-progressive that they abandon every notion of common sense.  The latest outrage from the right?  They’re upset because billionaire and progressive-cause-supporter George Soros wants to be a part-owner of the MLB baseball team, the Washington Nationals.

Rep. Thomas David (R-Va) issued a veiled threat to Major League Baseball, suggesting that if Soros was permitted to buy (or co-buy) the Washington Nationals, it would be unwise, since baseball enjoys exemption from anti-trust laws.  In other words, MLB, if you let Soros buy a baseball team, the Republican Congress could “punish” the sport. Read more here.

This is particularly ironic, since many politicians—including Bush himself—were or are part owners of major league baseball teams.  What’s the deal here?  Baseball ownership only for people of one political stripe?

Democrat Representative George Miller has the correct response:

Why should politics have anything to do with who owns the team…So Congress is going to get involved in every baseball ownership decision? Are they next going to worry about a manager they don’t like? I’ve never seen anything as impotent as a congressman threatening the baseball exemption.

Even Michelle Malkin recognizes this overly partisan stupidity.

Freedom In Iraq

NAJAF, Iraq (Reuters) – Students in the Shi’ite Muslim religious Iraqi city of Najaf said that police recently arrested and beat several of them for wearing jeans and having long hair.

“They arrested us because of our hair and because we were wearing jeans,” said student Mohammed Jasim, adding that the arrests took place two weeks ago in the city, the spiritual heart of Iraq’s newly dominant Shi’ite majority.

“They beat us in front of the people. Then they took us to their headquarters, beat us again, shaved our heads and tore our clothes."

I hope these aren’t Iraqi police that we’ve been training.

Deja Vu All Over Again

Does anyone else remember the summer of 2001?  The headlines were filled with stories about shark attacks, Tom Cruise’s love life (with Nicole), and missing-but-presumed-dead white women (Shandra Levy).  Bush was sinking fast in the polls, and Reps/Dems were sniping at each other.

And then, at the end of the summer in 2001, some bad shit went down (you may have read about it).

Now, in the summer of 2005, the headlines were filled with stories about shark attacks, Tom Cruise’s love life, and missing-but-presumed-dead white women.  And Bush is sinking fast in the polls, while Reps/Dems are sniping at each other.

In the immortal words of Han Solo, “I got a bad feeling about this.”

Congressman Questions War And White House Secrecy

"The administration should clarify its intent in [this war]… People lack confidence in the credibility of our government… It’s a difficult thing today to be informed about our government even without all the secrecy. With the secrecy, it’s impossible. The American people will do what’s right when they have the information they need…

Who said it?

Representative Donald Rumsfeld (R-IL), speaking of the Vietnam War, April 13, 1966.  Ouch. [More quotes at link]

Supreme Court Rules On Valerie Plame Journalists

The Supreme Court ruled today that journalists cannot avoid grand jury subpeonae asking them to reveal their sources (or, put another way, that journalists can face jail time for failing to reveal their sources in response to a grand jury subpoena).

This puts the plaintiffs, Time magazine’s Matthew Cooper and The New York Times’ Judith Miller, in a precarious position.  Do they reveal the name of the White House source who told them that Valerie Plame was a CIA agent, or do they face up to 18 months in prison?

UPDATE/CORRECTION: Okay, technically, SCOTUS didn’t “rule” on this case.  They just declined to hear it, meaning that the contempt citations stand.

Supreme Court Rules On Ten Commandments

BREAKING NEWS: The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Ten Commandment displays are not permissible in courthouses.

Well, that’s what the headlines are screaming at the moment.  The devil, as they say, is in the details.  For example, is the Decalogue permissible if it is part of a larger display about the origins of law?

UPDATE No. 1:  Decision was 5-4, with O’Connor being the swing vote.  Watch the religious right jump all over her in the next few days.

UPDATE No. 2: Yes, according to CNN‘s early report, there is “wiggle room”—i.e., if the Ten Commandment display is part of a larger display honoring the nation’s legal history, that would not violate the Constitution. 

But the issue in the case before SCOTUS was a Kentucky court which originally displayed framed copies of the Ten Commandments, and only those copies.  (The Kentucky court later placed other historical documents next to the Ten Commandments in order to “dilute” the religious purpose behind the display, but the SCOTUS majority was not fooled, calling it a “sham").

UPDATE No. 3:  But in a “companian case”, SCOTUS apparently ruled that the Ten Commandments are permissible at state capitals.  I’m not sure what the exact difference in rationale is—it’s probably a matter of degree and location of the specific displays, rather than some legal distinction.  Again, the devil is in the as-yet-unknown details.  I’ll continue below the fold if there is more to say…

UPDATE No. 4: Both cases were 5-4.  Interestingly, it was Breyer, not O’Connor who “flipped”—saying that the Kentucky court display was unconstitutional, but the Texas state capital outdoor display was permissible.  From my quick read of his opinion in the Texas case, the difference turns on a factual assessment, rather than legal rationale.  Breyer thought that the Texas display was “borderline”, but ultimately decided that the Ten Commandments display in Texas was not a religious endorsement by the State, but a secular message.

UPDATE No. 5: For my money, Justice O’Connor has the quote of the opinion:

It is true that many Americans find the Commandments in accord with their personal beliefs. But we do not count heads before enforcing the First Amendment. [Cite omitted] Nor can we accept the theory that Americans who do not accept the Commandments’ validity are outside First Amendment protections.  There is no list of approved and disapproved beliefs appended to the First Amendment—and the Amendment’s broad terms ("free exercise”, “establishment”, “religion") do not admit of a cramped reading.  It is true that the Framers lived at a time when our national religious diversity was neither as robust nor as well recognized as it is now. They may not have foreseen the variety of religions for which this Nation would eventually provide a home.  They surely could not have predicted new religions, some of them born in this country. But they did know that line-drawing between religions is an enterprise that, once begun, has no logical stopping point.

Interestingly, Scalia’s dissent suggests a “logical stopping point”—monotheism.  In other words, monotheistic religions are protected by the First Amendment; others are not, in Scalia’s view.  That’s certainly one plausible place to draw the line, I must admit.  The problem is, I can’t find that line drawn anywhere in the First Amendment itself.  That’s just Scalia being a judicial activist, rewriting the First Amendment to suit his views.

SUMMARY: It doesn’t look like the Court moved any on the issue of Ten Commandments.  There were no new “tests” employed by the Court, and no shift in the law.  Both these cases were pretty close to the line as to what is permissible and impermissible.  It simply was that the Kentucky display fell on one side of the line, and the Texas display did not.

Winnie The Pooh Death Watch

Paul Winchell, the voice of Tigger, died Friday at the age of 82.

John Fiedler, the voice of Piglet, died Saturday at the age of 80.

Pooh Not household names, but you may know them without knowing you know them.  Paul Winchell holds a special place in my heart, because he is the subject of my earliest memory.  I must have been 2 years old, and I was watching an episode of the Paul Winchell-Jerry Mahoney Show (Winchell was a ventriloquist, and Jerry Mahoney was one of his dummies).  The group was in a car, and Knucklehead Smiff (another Winchell dummy) thought that the moon was following them.  For some reason, this terrified me, and I bawled like a baby . . . which I was.

Fans of the old Bob Newhart show will remember John Fiedler as Mr. Peterson, the short nebbishy patient of Bob Newhart’s with the raspy voice.  He also played a short nebbishy juror in the classic film “Twelve Angry Men”, and a short nebbishy administrator in the original Star Trek episode, “Wolf In The Fold” (he turns out to be Jack the Ripper).

Anyway, in a weird coincidence, they both died this weekend.  No word yet on Pooh.

Fun fact: Paul Winchell also invented, and held the patent for, an artificial heart.

Yellow Elephant Watch

Sticker_2I recently wrote a post (and received a little flak) about Yellow Elephants—specifically, the refusal of College Republicans to run a advertisement advocating military recruitment in the program of their annual convention in Las Vegas.  The ad was refused because it was too much of a downer. 

Family Research Council leader (and KKK Grand Wizard contributor) Tony Perkins addressed the convention.  Speaking of those fighting in the Iraq War, he said to the enthusiastic crowd of college Republicans:

"They’re giving their lives as you’re giving your time."

Gah!!! Think Progress has the appropriate tongue-in-cheek response:

You know, you’ve got a point there, Tony. Just like our soldiers are dying in Iraq, campus conservatives are stapling flyers for an Ann Coulter speech to a kiosk. Basically the same thing.

A Knight Ridder story from last year’s convention, entitled “Young Republicans Support Iraq War, but Not Willing to Join the Fight” quotes several of these—okay, I’ll say it—chickenhawks on why they aren’t fighting the war that they support, including this:

"Frankly, I want to be a politician. I’d like to survive to see that,” said Vivian Lee, 17, a war supporter visiting the convention from Los Angeles.  Lee said she supports the war but would volunteer only if the United States faced a dire troop shortage or “if there’s another Sept. 11."

I’m only guessing, but I feel pretty confident that every soldier in Iraq would “like to survive” in order to become something when they are older. 

And what’s this notion of volunteering “if there’s another Sept. 11”?  Did the Greatest Generation need two Pearl Harbors before they volunteered?

Vets Respond To Rove

From Takeittokarl.com:

Throughout my adult life I’ve been a registered Democrat and yes, a liberal. As a peacetime veteran and as a wartime civilian who served her country willingly and with heartfelt patriotism, I am deeply insulted by Karl Rove’s outrageous condemnation of those who don’t march in lockstep with the religious right, conservative GOP. How dare this man, who like his masters, never served his country in uniform, imply that I and my “liberal” veteran and active duty brothers and sisters are traitors for not supporting this criminal, pre-emptive war we now find ourselves fighting in Iraq?

Really Karl, you prepared for war? How did you do that, play golf or have dinner at the White House? . . . You prepare for war by jumping on a tragedy to divide America, to further your agenda, to create a war that did not need to be fought. For the love of god, I would have been the first in Afghanistan; we should have turned that nation into a sheet of glass. The fact remains, not a single solitary person on any of those plans that were used against us in September 11th were Iraqi, furthermore most of them were from Saudi Arabia, a nation that we are currently bedding (screwing) our leader daily.

You are dangerous to our national security, Karl Rove. You are giving aid and comfort to the enemy and you insult every leftie, liberal, Democrat who ever served this country while you protected your worthless hide. An apology won’t do, you need to step down.

And then there’s this (WMA audio format)

U.S. Fesses Up: It’s Torture We’re Doing

GENEVA (AFP) – Washington has for the first time acknowledged to the United Nations that prisoners have been tortured at US detention centres in Guantanamo Bay, as well as Afghanistan and Iraq, a UN source said.

The acknowledgement was made in a report submitted to the UN Committee against Torture, said a member of the ten-person panel, speaking on on condition of anonymity.

“They are no longer trying to duck this, and have respected their obligation to inform the UN,” the Committee member told AFP.

“They they will have to explain themselves (to the Committee). Nothing should be kept in the dark.”

UN sources said it was the first time the world body has received such a frank statement on torture from US authorities.

[Source]

Look! A missing white woman!  Let’s talk about her! 
Look! A Democrat angry about our torture techniques!  Let’s smear him!

Cheney Does Clinton

When CNN’s Wolf Blitzer pointed out to Dick Cheney that military commanders in Iraq do not characterize the insurgency as being in its “last throes” (see my post here), Cheney backpeddled and pulled out his Webster’s:

No, I would disagree. If you look at what the dictionary says about throes, it can still be a, you know, a violent period, the throes of a revolution.

[Source]

He’s right.  Now, Dick, open up your dictionary to the word “last”.  Moron.

More Responses To Rove

Along with my earlier post from 9/11 families, here are some more of my faves:

"Well, I think a lot more needs to be said about Karl Rove’s motives, because they’re not the people’s motives, and if the President really believed his own words of unity, then he should fire Karl Rove. If the President of the United States knows the meaning of his own words, he should listen to the plea of Kristen Breitweiser, who lost her husband when the Twin Towers came crashing down: she said, “if you’re going to use 9/11, use it to make this nation safer than it was on 9/11.

“And that’s not being done. If you’re going to use 9/11, if you’re going to be impassioned about the lives lost on 9/11, then do so by making us safer.”

“Karl Rove doesn’t owe me an apology, he doesn’t owe Democrats an apology, he owes her an apology—he owes an apology to every one of those families who paid the ultimate price on September 11th.

— John Kerry, via Lizard Queen

I’m devoting much of today’s report to Karl Rove’s vile comments denigrating half of the American public. My office overlooks Ground Zero, and I’m looking at the gaping footprint as I write this. My wife and I were in New York that day, on our way to the WTC for a morning meeting. A chance phone call dragged on a few minutes too long and most likely saved our lives. I lost friends in the towers, and when I walk past the site, as I do almost every evening, the pain is as real as it was on September 11th, 2001.

I spent my youth in Beirut during the height of Lebanon’s civil war, and I fought the Syrian presence in Lebanon long before the “Cedar Revolution.” I watched young boys give their lives and mothers cradle their dying children in blood-soaked arms. I’ve seen more bloodshed, war, and violence, and shot more guns than most of the 101st Fighting Keyboardists combined. I wouldn’t presume to question the strength or dignity of a stranger, and I pity those who blithely push the right=strong, left=weak rhetoric. It says far more about their inadequacies than it does about the target of their scorn. Today, Karl Rove took that rhetoric to a new, filthy low.

Peter Daou of the Daou Report

Listen, I’m pissed as hell at Rove. I am a democrat and have been forever. (I’m 54) … my two kids who just happen to be in the US Army serving are also democrats. My son and daughter both joined as soon as they possibly could after 9/11.

So far they are both safe from harm (no thanks to Rove…).

My son and daughter both emailed me last night wanting to know just who in the hell the Rove guy is. They both want to plaster his face everywhere around the bases they are stationed. It seems that Rove didn’t know that a good percentage of enlisted folk were Democrats. They like to say around the bases that republicans don’t volunteer.

Email to Kos

Ah, says [GOP Chairman] Mehlman, but those were Democrats. “Karl didn’t say the Democratic Party,” Mehlman told the Washington Post. “He said liberals.”

Well, that’s just great then. Can we now assume that Mehlman and his fellow Republicans have decided that they’ll no longer use the word “liberal” to refer to “Democrats” generally? From here on out, will Mehlman insist that his party-mates make a careful distinction between, say, “Democrats” like John Kerry and Hillary Clinton and “liberals” like Michael Moore?

Don’t count on it: Republicans have put years of work into making “liberal” a dirty word, and they’re going to keep on using it to describe Democrats every time they can. Indeed, Mehlman’s careful distinction between “Democrats” and “liberals” didn’t even survive the duration of Rove’s slanderous speech. After charging that the comments of “Democrat” Dick Durbin were “putting our troops in greater danger,” Rove said: “No more needs to be said about the motives of liberals."

Tom Grieve (Salon)

So, Karl, where’s Osama?

And I would think US soldiers have to worry about people shooting at them and blowing up RDX bombs from material we forgot to secure. Not Dick Durbin.

Steve Gilliard

And my personal fave:

For the record, my motives aren’t to get more troops killed. If those were my motives I’d ship them off to a war on false pretenses without sufficient equipment to keep them safe.

Atrios

Bonus: a call to Rove’s office by the Crooks and Liars folks (MP3 format)

“Last Throes” Revisited

"Be assured: Baghdad is safe, protected.”
“We are in control, they are not in control of anything, they don’t even control themselves!”
“They are becoming hysterical. This is the result of frustration.”
“They are achieving nothing; they are suffering from casualties. Those casualties are increasing, not decreasing."

Quotes from Dick Cheney?  Nope, but I can understand why you might think so.  (The answer is below the fold)

Is there any military commander who will back up Cheney’s (let’s be honest) lie about the Iraq insurgency being in its “last throes”? 

The top American commander for the Middle East said Thursday that the insurgency in Iraq had not diminished, seeming to contradict statements by Vice President Dick Cheney in recent days that the insurgents were in their “last throes.”

Though he declined during his Congressional testimony to comment directly on Mr. Cheney’s statements, the commander, Gen. John P. Abizaid, said that more foreign fighters were coming into Iraq and that the insurgency’s “overall strength is about the same” as it was six months ago.

[Source]

You know, a week or so ago, the Bush Administration announced that it was going to begin a “renewed public-relations push” to combat the fact that the majority of Americans, including an increasing number of Republicans in Congress, oppose Bush’s handling of the war in Iraq.  Regrettably, it seems the Bush idea of “public relations” is to lie about the facts on the ground (Cheney’s “last throes"), liberal-bash (Rove), or to tell America that our commander-in-chief thinks about Iraq every single day.  I’m not sure, PR-wise, that’s the best strategy for the White House.

UPDATE: “Last throes”?  Bite me, Cheney.  This is real.

The speaker is former Iraqi Information Minister Muhammed Saeed al-Sahaf (under Saddam)—better known as “Baghdad Bob”—from the spring of 2003 [Source]

P.S.:  More from the Dickhole Memory Hole:

[W]e will, in fact, be greeted as liberators. . . . I think it will go relatively quickly, . . . (in) weeks rather than months.

Cheney on Meet The Press, March 2003

Supreme Court Watch

Monday is going to be fun.  The Supreme Court is expected to hand down the final decisions of the term—one of them dealing with the Ten Commandments—and then, it is widely thought, Chief Justice Rehnquist (who is ailing) will announce his resignation from the bench.

And then we’re in for months of wrangling about the replacement nominee.

Conventional wisdom is that the Democrats in the Senate will block whoever Bush nominates.  I wouldn’t automatically assume that—there are many fine jurists with a conservative bent, and Democrats have approved of 96% of the Bush nominees to lower-than-Supreme federal courts.  I think the reaction will turn on who the nominee actually is, not the fact that Bush nominated him.

What many overlook is that, with Rehnquist’s ride into the sunset, there will be essentially two positions open in the Court.  One is the Chief Justice position, Rehnquist’s replacement.  More often than not, the new justice is brought in to serve as Chief Justice.  But it doesn’t have to be that way—an associate justice can be “promoted” to Chief Justice.  Rehnquist himself was a former SCOTUS associate justice (only two other times was an associate judge promoted to Chief Justice). 

Here, I think, lies the seeds of a compromise.  It seems to me that Bush could promote Scalia to Chief Justice, and select a moderate Kennedy-type to fill the associate position.  Or alternatively, promote someone like Stevens to Chief Justice, in “exchange” for a slightly far-to-the-right associate justice.  Either of these solutions will save both parties from months of bitching, filibustering, etc.  (Such a compromise is hardly novel—in fact, a similar compromise was anticipated in an episode of “The West Wing").

A compromise is in both party’s interests.  Almost every poll has shown that the partisan wrangling in Washington (over filibusters, Schiavo, Bolton, etc.) has turned public sentiment against both the White House and hall of Congress.  The real or perceived gridlock is going to result in retributions in 2006 and 2008, as the electorate will adopt an I-don’t-care-who-they-are-let’s-get-some-new-blood attitude.

The Chief Justice position is an interesting one.  They don’t really have the power to sway the other justices or dictate what cases come before the Court.  But they assign who writes opinions and the language of written opinions often works its way into the vernacular of everyday life.  They also have some important adminstrative duties.  You can read more here.

In any event, Monday—I think—is going to be interesting.

Invocation of the 9/11 Dead – The Families React To Rove

As families whose relatives were victims of the 9/11 terror attacks, we believe it is an outrage that any Democrat, any Republican, any conservative, or any liberal stakes a “high ground” position based upon the September 11th death and destruction. Doing so assumes that all those who died and their loved ones would agree. In truth, some would and some would not. By definition the conduct is divisive and, because it is intended to be self-serving and politicizes 9/11, it is offensive.

We are calling on Karl Rove to resist his temptations and stop trying to reap political gain in the tragic misfortune of others. His comments are not welcome.

From familiesofseptember11.org.

Related post here.

Responses to Rove, the Douchebag

Speaking in a Manhattan ballroom just a few miles north of ground zero, Karl Rove said on Wednesday night that the Democratic party did not understand the consequences of the Sept. 11 attacks.

“Liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers,” Rove said. “Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 and the attacks and prepared for war.”…

[Source]

Amid the calls for—at the very least—an apology from Rove, we have these justifiable reactions:

Yeah, Karl? You think so? Well, we wanted bin Laden dead or in custody. Your whiny little boss let bin Laden get away because he thought it was more important to get some other guy he said “tried to kill my dad.”

. . . And lest we forget:

Except for a lapse of several months, Selective Service records show presidential adviser Karl Rove escaped the draft for nearly three years at the height of the Vietnam War using student deferments….

Far from being a conscientious objector, [Mark] Gustavson [a college friend and classmate] recalls, Rove’s opposition to the war was political. He considered the conflict a “political skirmish that was not being properly administered.”….

No More Mr. Nice Guy

I was standing on line at a blood bank with peoples’ ashes raining down on me while you and everyone you work with except Richard Clarke – who says you guys really, really blew this one – were shitting yourself in a bunker in the White House basement.

Fuck you, Karl. Fuck you very much indeed.

– Julia at Sisyphus Shrugged

Karl Rove sure has my number. Everything I’ve ever written criticizing the mistreatment of detainees at the hands of the American government has been designed to encourage terrorists to defeat the United States of America and set back the cause of freedom. Indeed, the entirety of my (admittedly brief) career in journalism has been motivated by nothing more than a spiteful detestation of my country and my fellow citizens, and a treasonous desire to see them brought low.

Matt Yglesius

That’s how the Republican party plays the game these days: accuse Democrats of being traitors and poltroons, and then, when they’re called on it, turn up the volume even higher while simultaneously pretending that they’re just talking about “different philosophies.” This is McCarthy level thuggery, and one can only hope that Karl Rove meets the same bad end as the junior senator from Wisconsin.

Kevin Drum

We’re all Dixie Chicks now.

Atrios

"Congress overwhelmingly passed a resolution Friday authorizing President Bush to use force against those responsible for Tuesday’s terrorist attacks, the same day it unanimously approved a $40 billion emergency spending package.

The House overwhelmingly passed the use-of-force resolution late Friday night by a 420-1 margin. (…)

The Senate approved the measure by a 98-0 margin earlier in the day.

In a statement, Bush praised the passage of the measures.

“I am gratified that the Congress has united so powerfully by taking this action. It sends a clear message—our people are together, and we will prevail,” he said."

– CNN 9/15/01

The elected branches of our government, and both political parties, are united in our resolve to fight and stop and punish those who would do harm to the American people.

– George Bush, 10/26/01

CALL TO ACTION: Contact your Republican representative and ask if Rove speaks for them

Callous Invocation Of The Dead

Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham, who really should do more to stay out of the spotlight (he’s under investigation for lots of stuff), is channeling the 9/11 victims.  The subject was the passage by the House of a flag-burning amendment to the Constitution, and he said:

"Ask the men and women who stood on top of the (World) Trade Center,” said Rep. Randy (Duke) Cunningham, R-Calif. “Ask them and they will tell you: pass this amendment."

Source.

Well, let’s ignore for the moment that almost none of the 9/11 victims were “on top of” the World Trade Center.  It was probably bad phrasing on Duke’s part.

Let’s just consider the propriety of putting words in the mouths of tragedy victims (who can’t speak for themselves) in order to further your political agenda.  Put simply, it’s vile and opportunistic.

And while I’m on it, what makes him believe that?  Did all 9/11 victims have conservative beliefs (or, perhaps, they became conservative upon their deaths)?  I’m willing to bet that there were a pretty hefty handful of lib’ral yankees who perished that day in New York (the one casualty I knew personally was downright radical) who wouldn’t endorse an anti-flag-burning amendment.  Perhaps some of them held views similar to that of their elected representative, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY):

"If the flag needs protection at all, it needs protection from members of Congress who value the symbol more than the freedoms that the flag represents."

So what makes Cunningham think that 9/11 victims would support the amendment?  I think it has something to do with victimology, a trait I have noticed from many neo-conservatives.  They often act like victims (for example, they possess the White House and Congress, yet whine about how they are oppressed and victimized by the terrible minority party and liberal media).  Therefore, they presume that all victims are conservatives—that’s my theory. But I digress.

So what’s next?  “Halt gay marriages—the 3,000 victims of September 11 would want you to”?

And what will be the reaction, I wonder, from the Take-Back-The-Memorialites, who claim that 9/11 should not be used to advance political agendas (even ones about international freedom)?  Outrage, petitions and demonstrations against Cunningham?  I won’t hold my breath.

Lying Liars (Drudge/Klein Version)

BcThis is a picture of Bill Clinton kissing an unidentified woman.  It appears on Drudge’s site exactly as I show it below.  Drudge’s text is about the new Hillary Clinton book and carries the headline “BOOK CLAIM: HILLARY HUMILIATED AS BILL HAS NEW AFFAIRS”, and it seems that this photo appears in the piece-of-shit book as well.

The photo is heavily cropped, and darkened to give the impression that Clinton was photographed giving a young woman a clandestined kiss at night somewhere.  In fact, it took place in broad daylight surrounded by hundreds of people at a Kerry rally.  And it wasn’t, as Drudge claimed, a “mouth-kiss”.  For the full story, the words of the photographer, and the actual unretouched photos, see here.

Republicans Hate Republicans

It looks like the enemy is engaged in infighting amongst themselves, which means that we are winning.  Conservative columnist Neil Boortz writes:

There are a lot of listeners out there who really need to make some attempt at growing up.  Well, maybe not a lot of listeners .. but quite a few.

Yesterday I spent some time on the air detailing the spending habits of the Republicans since they gained control of both the legislative and executive branches of our Imperial Federal Government.  Federal government spending has gone up by 33 percent since George W. Bush took office.  For those of you who think that we were spending enough when Clinton was president … just imagine spending one-third more! 

***

The truth here is that the Republicans are no longer the party of less government and less government spending.  When it comes to government spending and the growth of government there seems to be no difference between Democrats and Republicans. 

Now … to get to the point here.  As soon as I went on the air to detail the heavy spending habits of the Republicans I started getting the email messages telling me what a evil person I am because of my “hatred” of Republicans.  That’s right.  I “hate” Republicans because I don’t like the way they spend money.

Some of you need to grow up.  Do you realize how silly and childish you look when you stumble forth with that “hate” nonsense?  Is that the intellectual contribution you have to make to this debate?  Someone makes you a bit uncomfortable by detailing the profligate spending habits of your political party, and all you can come up with is “I’m never going to listen to you again because you hate Republicans.” What are you going to do next?  Stomp your feet and hold your breath until you turn blue?  Face it .. your political party has some pretty big zits.  The solution is not to break the mirror.

Heh.

Tomlinson – Partisan Liar

From the New York Times:

Sixteen Democratic senators called on President Bush to remove Kenneth Y. Tomlinson as head of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting because of their concerns that he is injecting partisan politics into public radio and television.

Some will no doubt say that Tomlinson is trying to REMOVE partisan politics from public radio and television, because PBS is so “liberal”.  This will come as news to William F. Buckley, who hosted one of PBS’s most popular shows—Firing Line—until it ended in 1999.

It would be an odd argument, considering how Tomlinson hires conservative pollsters to “monitor” PBS’s content, gives public money to Republican lobbyists, and takes cues from the White House.

A developing story, as they say…

Intolerance – The Reality Show

Here’s the premise for ABC’s new reality series, “Welcome To The Neighborhood”:

Three well-to-do white Christians families get new neighbors.  The neighbor-families include an African-American family, a Caucasian family, a Korean family, a Latino family, a gay family, plus one family in which husband and wife are heavily tattooed, and another in which mom and dad are devoted to the practice of Wicca, sometimes known as witchcraft or paganism.

Apparently, the opinionated white Christian families vote off the neighbors one-by-one, until the final neighbor—presumably, the least offensive—wins.  The winning family gets a four-bedroom, three-bath home, plus furnishings, upgrades and two years’ worth of property taxes paid for them.

ABC is doing its best to spin the program as educational—a social experiment in which we can learn about racism, sexism, etc., . . . and a little bit about ourselves. 

But we know why people will watch—they will watch to see the fur fly.  And ABC knows that, too.  It’s using intolerance as a basis for entertainment, not education. Read more here.

What TBogg Says

His language may be strong, and his analysis somewhat oversimplistic, but if you can see past it, I think he’s drawn a pretty good bead on the right wingers.  Reflecting on Durbin’s non-apology for pointing out torture, TBogg writes:

Every time the chickenhawks endorse torture they make it more dangerous for American service people. Do they care? Not really. They don’t have any kids in the line of fire. Not Hindrocket Jr and not the lil’ Surbers. Their kids are too white and too special to make any sacrifices.

Let’s be honest here. These people fit into two categories.

1) They know what they are saying is bullshit but they have to deflect the emerging storyline that the war is being lost, public opinion is running away from them, and they were wrong wrong wrong and now 1724 American soldiers are dead because their President lied, they knew it, but they wanted someone to go kick some raghead ass so they could feel safe at night because they’re congenital cowards at heart. Who cares what they think? Fuck ‘em.

2) They’re stupid. Stone cold, paste-eating, ditto-headed walking advertisements for eugenics who want so hard to fit in that they’ll parrot any talking point that is explained to them in easy to understand terms as long as you keep it within the two syllable limit. To respond to them with anything more than a patronizing pat on the head and an offer of pudding or a shiny dime is a waste of time. So fuck them too.

What Time Is It?

Bush is plummeting in the polls, republicans and public support are turning against Bush on social security, the War in Iraq, and John Bolton, and everybody’s talking about the hyped-up and “fixed” pre-war intelligence.

You know what that means, right?  Yup, it’s time for Bush to energize his base by going after the gays.  Nothing like playing upon middle America’s homophobia to get a bump or two in the polls.  Hey, it worked in November….

P.S.  The photo of Bush in the above link is kinda odd.  Is it me, or is Bush the only person who can frown and smile at the same time?  (Cover up half of his face with your hand, then slide your hand over and cover the other half.  You’ll see what I mean)

At Long Last, I Introduce . . .

. . . the religious left.

The success of the Religious Right in appropriating the language of Christianity has led many people to become generally wary of religion in the public sphere and of Christianity in particular.  The Religious Right has used the language of Christianity to promote an extreme and divisive political agenda that has helped polarize our nation. But foundational Christian values like compassion, justice and peace are largely absent from our political discussion.  And there are millions of Christian Americans who share progressive views, or, at a minimum, are increasingly turned off by the extreme rhetoric and political agenda of the Religious Right.

The Christian Alliance for Progress is a national movement that started in Jacksonville, Florida among ordinary Americans who want to reclaim Christianity and change this current political picture.  Members in the movement want to restore core values of Christianity while honoring diverse views about religion and Christian life.  Many Americans, especially people of faith, are ready to hear from Christians who are tolerant, and who understand the many ways that our faiths impact our views of public life. The Christian Alliance advances a renewed, progressive vision of Gospel values and seeks to help Americans express this moral vision in our lives and in our politics

Support them.

Okay.  I wonder how long it will be before this group gets compared to Nazis/Hitler.  I’m starting the clock nnnnnnnnow–

More from their website—where they stand on “The Issues”:

Caring For “The Least Of These” – Pursuing Economic Justice

The Jesus of the Gospels calls us to good stewardship, justice, and care for “the least of these.” We call on our nation’s leaders to seek economic justice in the management of our nation’s wealth.

Caring for the Earth – Responsible Environmental Stewardship for Today

Jesus urged his followers to be good stewards and to act for good in the world here and now.  We respond by caring for God’s created world today, holding our environment in trust for our children.

Rejecting Bigotry, Embracing Dignity – Equality for Gays and Lesbians

Jesus taught equality, justice and obligation.  We accept Jesus’ call to love one another and to welcome all God’s children at the table.

Honoring the Sanctity Of Childbearing Decisions
Effective Prevention vs. Criminalizing Abortion

Jesus taught compassion, responsibility, and equality.  Following his call, we support responsible, compassionate programs that are genuinely effective in helping prevent unintended pregnancy.  We affirm that each woman’s body belongs to herself.  No woman should be forced either to bear a child or to terminate a pregnancy.

Forsaking Brute Power – Seeking Peace, Not War

Jesus knew power and he knew it could be used for justice or for conquest.  Over and over, Jesus blessed his followers with peace and urged them to peace.  Following his example, we call for restraint – not aggression – in the exercise of our nation’s power.

Extending Healing to All – Health Care for All Americans

Jesus’ insisted on justice, equality, and care for “the least of these.” Acting on his teachings, we claim every American must have access to excellent health care.

Rush on Durbin

Now actually being compelled to confront what Durbin actually said on the Senate floor, the wingnuts are starting the meme that the FBI memo that Durbin read from . . . is . . . wait for it . . . fabricated.  That’s right.  Durbin simply made it up, according to the desparate wingers.

From the June 17 broadcast of The Rush Limbaugh Show:

So what we have here is a knowledgeable official—this is from the Fox News website—a knowledgeable official familiar with the memo cited by Durbin, as well as other memos. He said that “the FBI agent made no such allegation and the memo described only someone chained to the floor. Anything beyond that is simply an interpretation, the official said.”

So I think that’s why I say we need to see this memo that Durbin read from. We need to see it. He can read from it. He can copy it to a piece of paper and take the piece of paper to the Senate floor, but let’s see the actual memo. Let’s make him produce it.

Done.  (Memo to Fox News and Rush: it’s been public for a while now…)

Operation Yellow Elephant

Sticker_1 The objective of OPERATION YELLOW ELEPHANT is to recruit College Republicans and Young Republicans to serve as infantry. They demanded this war and now viciously support it. It’s only right that they also experience it.

So far, it isn’t going too well.  Recently, as reported here, Operation Yellow Elephant tried to get a recruitment ad into the program of the upcoming Young Republican “America – Fuck Yeah!” Jamboree (or whatever it’s called).  The ad text reads:

OUR NATION IS AT WAR! * We are in a desparate struggle for all we believe in * Our military is suffering a manpower crisis * Why are you here when your country needs you in Iraq? * Talk is cheap.  American needs more from you. * College, family, and careers can wait. * Heed your nation’s call and enlist in the infantry today.

The ad (reprinted below) was rejected.  Apparently, it was too much of a downer ("too negative") for the pimply-faced pro-war yahoos, who bitch and moan about troop defamation, and who tireless insist on the soundness of torture and the Iraq war, but who don’t have the balls to actually sign up and fight for the cause that they champion.  Imagine my surprise.

Yrad

What The Durbin Kerfuffle Reveals About The Right Wing

Yglesius said it for me:

A little while ago Dick Durbin noted on the Senate floor that torturing prisoners was the sort of thing Nazis or Communists would do, and that the United States, trying to be one of the world’s good guys, should hold itself to a higher standard of conduct. The right-wing noise machine, deploying some now familiar tactics, decided that the correct response would be to deliberately misrepresent what Durbin was saying and express a lot of outrage that someone would fail to understand that contemporary America is not, in fact, just like Nazi Germany.

* * *

It’s interesting as a case study in the operation of the smear machine, but really more telling as an instance of the ethical black hole into which the contemporary right has fallen. Nowadays, every time somebody raises the topic of immoral torture-related policies undertaken by the Bush administration the instant conservative reaction is to transform the conversation into a debate about the appropriateness of the critics’ rhetoric. Every time, the point of the defense is not to defend the conduct in question, but simply to note that someone, somewhere, at some time has done worse things. We’re better than Saddam Hussein! Our prisons aren’t as bad as Auschwitz! People may be detained arbitrarily without hearings, appeal, due process, or POW status, but it’s no Gulag!

***

This, then, is your “intellectual and moral seriousness,” your eternal “truths about human life and dignity”: if it’s better than Hitler, it’s a-okay with them. “The new moralism” . . .  seems to be different from the old moralism in that morality, in the sense of not doing bad things, doesn’t really play a role.

Egregious Is As Egregious Does

"I thought Durbin was totally out of line. I watched some of his comments on the floor of the United States Senate. For him to make those comparisons was one of the more egregious things I’d ever heard uttered on the floor of the United States Senate."

— Vice President Dick Cheney, in an interview with radio host Steve Gill.

"Go fuck yourself."

— Vice President Dick Cheney, on the floor of the United States Senate.

AssHat Gets Stymied – Declares Victory

John, from Powerline, takes a stand:

I called Senator Dick Durbin’s office this morning at (202) 224-2152 and, after being on hold for a while, laid out the reasons why I think Durbin should resign from the Senate.

“Hi.  This is John Hindrocket from Powerline, the Blog of the Century.  You may remember me as the guy who calls Jimmy Carter a ‘traitor’, and thinks that the British Government was too soft on Gandhi and his ‘rabble’ back int the 1940’s.  I’m a very important person, and I am not to be trifled with.  Really.  Anyway, I have something to tell ya…”

His staffer told me that as of this morning, he is standing by his statement comparing American soldiers to the Nazis, the Communists and the Khmer Rouge.

His staffer said that?  Really?

There was one caveat, however: the staffer told me that Durbin never actually said “American soldiers,” and that there are also contract interrogators at Guantanamo Bay.

Okay, then his staffer didn’t say that.  Thanks for clearing up that little lie you said earlier.

I asked whether Durbin was trying to claim that everything bad about Gitmo was the fault of civilians, and the army has nothing to do with it.

“Then I asked whether Durbin was trying to claim that child molesters should be given tax breaks.  Because I figured that since I couldn’t get Durbin in trouble for what he actually said, I would try to pile shit on him for what he was trying to say.”

She backtracked quickly and denied that this was Durbin’s theory—it would, of course, be an absurd claim since the military runs Guantanamo Bay and sets the policies there.

Yes, John, she “backtracked” from a position that (a) Durbin never took and (b) you unsuccessfully tried to attribute to him.  rolleyes

While you’re at it, maybe you can accuse him of rape, and when his staffer denies that, you can claim how she is being “evasive” and “backtracking”.

Her evasion shows, though, how deeply dishonest Durbin’s position is.

Damn her for denying my transparent attempt to spin Durbin’s quote into something reprehensible!”

We’d be interested to hear from others how their calls to Durbin’s office are received.

“Anyone else get outwitted by this low-level staffer?  We’re just wondering…”

Floodgate Still Open

A key Foreign Office diplomat responsible for liaising with UN inspectors says today that claims the government made about Iraq’s weapons programme were “totally implausible”.

He tells the Guardian: “I’d read the intelligence on WMD for four and a half years, and there’s no way that it could sustain the case that the government was presenting. All of my colleagues knew that, too”.

Read it and weep.

White House and White Outs

Think Progress has a nice link-o-riffic list of the many many instances in which the Bush White House has altered or buried expert analysis when the facts didn’t jibe with the adminsitration’s policies.  The full text is below.  Read it, and ask yourself, are we to believe the fixing of facts around policy didn’t happen with respect to Iraq?

Cattle Grazing: “The Bush administration altered critical portions of a scientific analysis of the environmental impact of cattle grazing on public lands before announcing relaxed grazing limits on those lands, according to scientists involved in the study…conclusions that the proposed rules might adversely affect water quality and wildlife, including endangered species, were excised and replaced with language justifying less-stringent regulations favored by cattle ranchers.”

Hog Farming: Nationally respected Agriculture Department microbiologist Dr. Zahn discovered that hog farms were emitting drug-resistant airborne bacteria that “if breathed by humans, would make them harder to treat when ill. Zahn presented his findings at a scientific conference in 2000, but the Bush administration stopped him from publishing his data 11 times between September 2001 and April 2002, he said. When Danish researchers sought to learn more about his work, Zahn wasn’t allowed to share his techniques.”

Climate Change: “A White House official who once led the oil industry’s fight against limits on greenhouse gases has repeatedly edited government climate reports in ways that play down links between such emissions and global warming, according to internal documents…[The] official, Philip A. Cooney, removed or adjusted descriptions of climate research that government scientists and their supervisors, including some senior Bush administration officials, had already approved. In many cases, the changes appeared in the final reports.”

Air Quality at Ground Zero: “In the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center, the White House instructed the Environmental Protection Agency to give the public misleading information, telling New Yorkers it was safe to breathe when reliable information on air quality was not available. That finding is included in a report released Friday by the Office of the Inspector General of the EPA. It noted that some of the agency’s news releases in the weeks after the attack were softened before being released to the public: Reassuring information was added, while cautionary information was deleted.”

Toxicology of Mercury: “The White House and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) made changes to a report from the National Academy of Sciences on the toxicology of mercury, a powerful neurotoxin that is especially dangerous to pregnant women and young children…White House staff made editorial interventions in the report, which was commissioned by Congress to establish the science on the risks associated with mercury. The White House’s alterations downplayed the risks of mercury, replaced specific enumerations of mercury-related harms with bland, general references, and introduced additional emphasis on uncertainty.”

Effectiveness of Condoms: “The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and USAID have removed or revised fact sheets on condoms, excising information about their effectiveness in disease prevention, and promoting abstinence instead.”

Effects of Oil Drilling on the Arctic Refuge: “Interior Secretary Gale Norton substantially altered biological findings from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concerning effects of oil development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge before she transmitted them to Congress, according to documents released October 19 by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.” In one instance, Norton’s defense was that she “simply made an error in her testimony – saying ‘outside’ when she meant to say ‘inside.’”

Abortion: “The removal from a National Cancer Institute website of a scientific analysis concluding that abortions do not increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer. That move, in November 2002, contradicted the broad medical consensus, and members of Congress protested the change. In response, the NCI updated its website to include the conclusion of a panel of experts that induced abortion is not associated with an increase in breast cancer risk.”

HIV/AIDS: “During the latter half of 2002, the Administration began removing scientific information, relating to the spread of HIV, from government websites, including those of the Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health. Much of the information that was removed contracted [sic] claims made by the administration’s abstinence-only agenda.”

Cancer: Earlier this year, “EPA’s guidelines acknowledge[d], for the first time, that children under 2 years of age are 10 times more likely to get cancer from certain chemicals than adults who are similarly exposed. But the White House Office of Management and Budget undermined that acknowledgment by inserting language in the guidelines that make it easy for industry to block EPA from following them when assessing cancer-causing chemicals.”

Stem Cell Research: “[The] Bush administration dismissed Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn, a leading cell biologist, and Dr. William May, a prominent medical ethicist, from the President’s Council on Bioethics…[Blackburn] was removed from the panel soon after she objected to a Council report on stem cell research. In an essay in the April 1, 2004, issue of The New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Blackburn recounted how the dissenting opinion she submitted, which she believes reflects the scientific consensus in America, was not included in the council’s reports even though she had been told the reports would represent the views of all the council’s members.”

Ground-Water: Vice President Dick Cheney’s old company Halliburton “pioneered” an oil-drilling technique that “can contaminate drinking water supplies with carcinogens and is therefore required by law to be regulated by the EPA.” Halliburton has spent years trying to get the federal government to exempt the technique from environmental regulations.” A senior Environmental Protection Agency recently revealed that “the EPA [initially concluded] that the technique can be dangerous to public health, but then [deleted] the conclusion after Cheney’s office demanded it.” Furthermore, six of the seven EPA panel members who decided that the technique was “safe” had all come from the energy industry.

LGF’s Premature Ejaculation

The Little Green Footballs post:

Is British reporter Michael Smith, who broke the Downing Street memo story (after re-typing and destroying the originals), the same Michael Smith who was hired by Mary Mapes as a CBS assistant producer in the Rathergate scandal?

You can almost hear the ohpleaseGodletitbetrueohohohohpleasebetrue-ohpleaseimgonnacumiswearimgonnacumohpleaseletitbetrue breathlessness behind their words.

Sadly, the answer is no.

Not surprising speculation coming from LGF, especially when anybody with rudimentary google skills can easily find out that Michael Smith is (a) A Brit and (b) worked for the Telegraph last fall instead of CBS.

More On Cheney’s Lies

As everyone knows, Cheney recently said in CNN that the insurgency was in its “last throes”.

Here’s what General William Webster, the U.S. commander for Baghdad, said the other day:

"Certainly saying anything about ‘breaking the back’ or ‘about to reach the end of the line’ or those kinds of things do not apply to the insurgency at this point."

Cheney is a liar.  QED.

What Hagel Said

"Things aren’t getting better, they’re getting worse.”

“The White House is completely disconnected from reality

“It’s like they’re just making it up as they go along. The reality is that we’re losing in Iraq

More and more of my colleagues up here are concerned"

– Republican Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska.

The US Wanted Democracy In Iraq? Um . . . Not So Much

One of the Downing Street Memos, informally called the Options Paper (PDF format) is interesting in that it discusses two apparently equally acceptable post-Iraq outcomes:

The US administration has lost faith in containment and is now considering regime change. The end states could either be a Sunni strongman or a representative government.

The paper goes on to list the plusses and minuses of each course of action, although it never “decides” which option is preferable.

Later on, the Options Paper memo list seven UK objectives for the Iraq war, and noticably absent is any objective pertaining to the democratization of Iraq.

Perhaps Bush and Blair settled on the “democratization” option at a time subsequent to the Options Paper memo.  But seeing as we’re now being told that the installation of a democracy was an integral part of our reasons for invading Iraq, it is interesting to see how little weight it carried in the preparation and run-up to the war.

Please. Let’s Beat Up Michael Schiavo Some MORE!

Typical republican trick. Look like a fool for your actions so shift the focus onto something else.

Like many on the right, Jeb Bush has much egg on his face about the whole Schiavo matter.  She was in a persistent vegetative state, she was blind, and had half a brain.  Despite what the right-to-useless-lifers stated, Terri Schiavo was never going to become a Rockette dancing on the stage of Radio City Music Hall, or . . . you know . . . talk.  Never.  Never ever.

A decent person would say, “Hey.  Look, I was wrong.  Maybe I wanted so much to think she was coherent that I just saw what I wanted to see.  I guess, in retrospect, I made the situation worse by meddling.”

Not Jeb Bush.  Apparently, he doesn’t have enough Schiavo egg on his face, so now he’s investigating circumstances that are FIFTEEN YEARS old.  And he is asking questions:

Gov. Jeb Bush asked a prosecutor Friday to investigate why Terri Schiavo collapsed 15 years ago, calling into question how long it took her husband to call 911 after he found her.

In a letter faxed to Pinellas-Pasco County State Attorney Bernie McCabe, Bush said Michael Schiavo testified in a 1992 medical malpractice trial that he found his wife collapsed at 5 a.m., and he said in a 2003 television interview that he found her about 4:30 a.m. He called 911 at 5:40 a.m.

“Between 40 and 70 minutes elapsed before the call was made, and I am aware of no explanation for the delay,” Bush wrote.

Jeb, give it a rest.  Supposedly, you have been aware of this matter for years, seeing as how you’ve stuck your big fat nose into it and commented on it repeatedly.  Only NOW are you realizing something “odd” about Terri’s collapse and the 911 call?  The more you try to salvage some dignity, the more you end up looking like a jackass.

Update:  On Larry King (the 2003 television interview described above), Michael Schiavo :

Climbed into bed. Terri said good night to me. Gave me a kiss. She woke up, said good night, gave me a kiss. I gave her a kiss back. I’d say, about 4:30 in the morning, I was, for some reason, getting out of bed and I heard a thud in the hall. I race out there and Terri was laying in the hall. I went down to get her. I thought, Well, maybe she just tripped or whatever. I rolled her over and she was lifeless. And it almost seems like she had this last breath.

So I held her in my arms, and I’m trying to shake her up. I ran over, I called 911. Her brother happened to live in the same complex as we did. I called him. I went back to Terri. And from there, six, seven minutes later, the paramedics…

Now, he says it was “about 4:30” in the morning—a clear indication that he wasn’t sure of the time when speaking to Larry King.  So, let’s make a couple of reasonable assumptions about why Michael Schiavo wasn’t sure, shall we?:

(1) When Michael Schiavo got out of bed that morning, he didn’t look at the clock.  (I got up last night sometime to pee . . . and I have no idea what time it was.  Has that NEVER happened to you?)

(2) Even if he DID look at the clock, he probably wouldn’t have remembered what the clock said, given the horrifying events that were about to occur.

(3) It is even MORE unlikely that he would remember the time more than a decade later when being interviewed on Larry King.

Conclusion: The so-called “40 to 70 minute” gap that Jeb has a hard-on about can be attributed to one thing: Michael Schiavo simply estimated the time wrong.  To him, the fact of “what time it was” was extremely irrelevant to Michael, considering what else was going on.  What was he supposed to do?  Make a log entry?

OH, BY THE WAY:  Speaking of sitting around and doing nothing while tragedy ensues, maybe Jeb should inquire about this:

Mypetgoat

The Shittiest Job On The Planet

No doubt, it belongs to White House Press Secretary Scotty McClellan.  The poor guy has to get up in front of the press corp and explain (or explain away) the unexplainable deceptions of the Bush Administration.  It can’t be easy.  From E&P, here’s an awkward exchange between Scotty and reporter Terry Moran.  Moran is referring to Cheney’s recent comment on Larry King that the Iraqi insurgency is in its “last throes” (despite the fact that May was the 5th deadliest month for American soldiers in Iraq, and this month is even worse):

Q: Scott, is the insurgency in Iraq in its ‘last throes’?

McCLELLAN: Terry, you have a desperate group of terrorists in Iraq that are doing everything they can to try to derail the transition to democracy. The Iraqi people have made it clear that they want a free and democratic and peaceful future. And that’s why we’re doing everything we can, along with other countries, to support the Iraqi people as they move forward….

Q: But the insurgency is in its last throes?

McCLELLAN: The Vice President talked about that the other day—you have a desperate group of terrorists who recognize how high the stakes are in Iraq. A free Iraq will be a significant blow to their ambitions.

Q: But they’re killing more Americans, they’re killing more Iraqis. That’s the last throes?

McCLELLAN: Innocent—I say innocent civilians. And it doesn’t take a lot of people to cause mass damage when you’re willing to strap a bomb onto yourself, get in a car and go and attack innocent civilians. That’s the kind of people that we’re dealing with. That’s what I say when we’re talking about a determined enemy.

Q: Right. What is the evidence that the insurgency is in its last throes?

McCLELLAN: I think I just explained to you the desperation of terrorists and their tactics.

Q: What’s the evidence on the ground that it’s being extinguished?

McCLELLAN: Terry, we’re making great progress to defeat the terrorist and regime elements. You’re seeing Iraqis now playing more of a role in addressing the security threats that they face. They’re working side by side with our coalition forces. They’re working on their own. There are a lot of special forces in Iraq that are taking the battle to the enemy in Iraq. And so this is a period when they are in a desperate mode.

Q: Well, I’m just wondering what the metric is for measuring the defeat of the insurgency.

McCLELLAN: Well, you can go back and look at the Vice President’s remarks. I think he talked about it.

Q: Yes. Is there any idea how long a ‘last throe’ lasts for?

McCLELLAN: Go ahead, Steve….

That’s a tough argument to sell: they’re killing more of us because they are desparate because they know they are in the “last throes”.  I feel bad for Scotty.

Media Bias

A pregnant mother in California goes missing in 2002, and foul play is suspected.  Months later, her body turns up in a San Francisco harbor.

Laci Peterson?  Wrong.  Her name is Evelyn Hernandez.

A young attractive woman from the South goes missing.

Natalee Holloway?  Nope.  Her name is Tamika Huston.

Never heard of Evelyn Hernandez and Tamika Huston?  Of course not.  They’re people of color.  As a result, they don’t get the press attention that missing white women receive.  And in “missing persons” situations, widespread media attention can make the difference between life and death, simply because more people will be on the lookout for you.

According to the second link, Tamika Huston’s parents hired a press agent to get the story of their missing daughter out.  And while they made inroads with the local South Carolina press, it barely caused a blip on the national media radar.

Is this racism?  You bet.  Granted, it’s not sheet-wearing spit-on-you kind of racism, but most racism today isn’t that blatent.  It’s the subtle suggestion, often subconscious, that one race is superior—or merits more attention—than others.  A sad commentary on our times.

More Krazy Kristian Kookdom

From the Jackson Hole Star Tribune, via Lizard Queen, we learn of a reprehensible protest. 

A Kansas preacher and gay rights foe whose congregation is protesting military funerals around the country said he’s coming to Idaho on today to picket the memorial for an Idaho National Guard soldier killed in Iraq.

Carrie_french The soldier was 19 year old Carrie French (pictured below) who died last week in Kirkuk, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device (IED) exploded and hit her vehicle.

First of all, you may be wondering why a Wyoming newspaper is covering a story about a Kansas preacher protesting a funeral in Idaho.  Well, the Kansas preacher is none other that the gay-bashing slimeball, “Pastor” Fred Phelps, owner of godhatesfags.com and godhatesamerica.com.  He was thrust into national noteriety when he walked around Laramie, Wyoming, spewing his hatred, during the Matthew Shepard incident and subsequent trial (see, The Laramie Project).  So, Wyoming isn’t exactly crazy about this guy.

Why is gay-hating Phelps protesting at the military funeral of this all-American girl/fallen soldier?

Because he claims that “God killed Cpl. Carrie French with an improvised explosive device in retaliation against the United States for a bombing at Phelps’ church six years ago.”

Now, I know God moves in strange and mysterious ways.  But why would God kill a young girl using an explosive device?  I mean, He’s, you know, God!!  What’s wrong with a good old-fashioned smiting?!?

More importantly, what the hell did Carrie French have to do with the (alleged) bombing of Phelps’ church 6 years ago?

These questions are, of course, rhetorical.  There is no reasonable answer, but I mention it to demonstrate that the hatred and bile that passes for theology from these douchebags is so random and nonsensical.

I don’t know what the afterlife holds for me, but I hope I get a ringside seat when Phelps’ judgement day comes, and he has to meet God face-to-face.  I think there will be a special place in Hell for this piece of excrement, not to mention his followers and supporters.

Your Life’s Theme Song

Go here, enter your your birth date, and find out what was the #1 song on the charts for that day.

Alternatively, you can determine your “life’s theme song” by entering the date of your 18th birthday.

My birth song? “Sherry” (The Four Seasons)

My life’s theme song?  “Upside Down” (Diana Ross).  Ummmm . . . okay . . . uh . . . no comment.

Lame Duck Bush

There’s no other way to view it—even conservative Republicans are backing away from Bush:

The [Republican-controlled] House handed President Bush the first defeat in his effort to preserve the broad powers of the USA Patriot Act, voting yesterday to curtail the FBI’s ability to seize library and bookstore records for terrorism investigations.

Bush has threatened to veto any measure that weakens those powers. The surprise 238 to 187 rebuke to the White House was produced when a handful of conservative Republicans, worried about government intrusion, joined with Democrats who are concerned about personal privacy.

***

Democrats contend that the reversal is the first sign of growing wariness about some of the more intrusive elements of the Patriot Act, which was passed just weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The American Civil Liberties Union called the vote a rare victory for civil liberties.

From WaPo.

Always Look On The Bright Side Of Death

Rumsfeld gave an interview to the BBC:

Asked if the security situation had improved [in Iraq], he admitted: “Statistically, no.”

“But clearly it has been getting better as we’ve gone along,” he added. “A lot of bad things that could have happened have not happened."

Source.

He’s right.  All lot of bad things could have happened as a result of the Iraq invasion.  We could have seen thousands of U.S. soldiers dead or critically wounded, the mass exodus of biological and chemical agents out of Iraq to God-knows-where, a veritable civil war in Iraq, a sharp decline in the U.S. esteem as a global leader and credible peacebroker, the mushrooming of the U.S. budget deficit, a brand new “Vietnam syndrome” that our fine military took great pains for 25 years to expunge, and the creation of on-the-job training ground for a new generation of would-be fanatical terrorists.  Thank God we dodged those bullets.

Seriously, when you are in a situation and someone says “it could have been worse”, that’s a sure sign that things are, you know, bad.

ExxonMobil-Cooney Timeline

I could rant and rave about the White House’s ass-licking of the oil industry, but sometimes all it takes is to let the facts speak for themselves:

  • Seven days ago: "President’s George Bush’s decision not to sign the United States up to the Kyoto global warming treaty was partly a result of pressure from ExxonMobil, the world’s most powerful oil company, and other industries, according to US State Department papers seen by the Guardian."

  • Also seven days ago: "A White House official who once led the oil industry’s fight against limits on greenhouse gases has repeatedly edited government climate reports in ways that play down links between such emissions and global warming, according to internal documents….The official, Philip A. Cooney, removed or adjusted descriptions of climate research that government scientists and their supervisors…had already approved." [Note: Cooney was a former lobbyist for the oil industry]

  • Five days ago: "Philip A. Cooney, the chief of staff to President Bush’s Council on Environmental Quality, resigned yesterday, White House officials said."

  • Today: "Philip A. Cooney, the former White House staff member who repeatedly revised government scientific reports on global warming, will go to work for Exxon Mobil this fall, the oil company said yesterday."

    Acknowledgement: Kevin Drum

  • Seeing Is Believing

    Epilogue to Terri Schiavo:

    "The brain weighed 615 grams, roughly half of the expected weight of a human brain,” he said. “This damage was irreversible, and no amount of therapy or treatment would have regenerated the massive loss of neurons.”

    [Pinellas-Pasco Medical Examiner Jon] Thogmartin said the autopsy report was based on 274 external and internal body images, and an exhaustive review of Terri Schiavo’s medical records, police reports and social services agency records.

    [Source]

    Roy Moore – Potential Pain in the GOP Ass?

    The Boston Globe suggests an interesting future scenario.

    Roy Moore, the former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court who refused to follow a federal court order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the state’s judicial building, is pretty popular in Alabama.  And he’s set to run for Governor in 2006 against a rather lackluster tax-raising incumbant governor.

    If Moore wins, it is conceivable that he will order that the Ten Commandments (or some other religious monument) be placed in front of the Alabama State House, in open defiance of federal law.

    With the 2008 presidential race looming, President Bush would then face a no-win decision: either call out the National Guard to enforce a court order against a religious display on state grounds or allow a fellow born-again Christian to defy the courts.

    This is all highly speculative of course, but it has the potential to be another George-Wallace-in-the-door historical confrontation, pitting the law-and-order right against the Christian right.  And all during a presidential election year.  For that reason, I suspect many Republicans would prefer that Roy Moore go away for a while.  And I suspect Roy Moore and his followers have other plans.

    Michelle’s Odd Sense Of Humor

    Perpetually-outraged internment-loving blogger Michelle Malkin recently posted this blog entry, entitled "Terrorists Heart The French", which I reprint in its entirety:

    Terrorist farewell gifts for a recently released French kidnapping victim:

    Two rings and a bottle of perfume.

    I guess Michelle’s point is that terrorists and the French are cut from the same cloth, peas-in-a-pod, kindred spirits, gift-giving bosom buddies, etc.

    Unfortunately, when you click on her link, you come to an article entitled "Abductors ‘Beat’ French Hostage", quite the opposite of “Terrorists Heart the French”.  The article recounts the story of the French journalist, Florence Aubenas, who was held for five months by Sunni religious fanatics, kept blindfolded in a room 13 feet by 6 feet, living “crouched down in the pitch black for weeks”, subject to beating when she talked with a cellmate, etc.  Hardly a heart-fest.

    But, hey.  Michelle glosses over all that, because the abducted journalist was, you know, French.  So it’s okay to make light.

    Okay, But Can We Convict Him Of Egomania?

    This deserves the raspberry-of-the-year award:

    The Jackson Web site mjjsource.com featured graphics declaring “Innocent” and showing a hand giving a victory sign as a fanfare plays. A scrolling calendar highlights historic events such as “Martin Luther King is born,” “The Berlin Wall falls,” “Nelson Mandela is freed,” and finally, “June 13, 2005, Remember this date for it is a part of HIStory.” The reference was to Jackson’s 1995 album “HIStory: Past, Present, and Future Book I."

    Comparing the fall of the Berlin Wall to the Michael Jackson verdict?  There’s no rolling-eye graphic sarcastic enough to convey the stupidity.

    I can see it now.  Forty years from now, my grandchildren will gather around me, and look up at me in wonder and ask, “Grampa!  Where were you when Jacko was found innocent?”

    To truly appreciate this, you must must must visit the website referred to above.  It is a Flash presentation, so wait for it to load…

    Krazy Kristian Kookdom – Labelling Gays Edition

    I found this to be interesting, even though the proponent is denying the charge:

    The leader of a conservative Christian lobby group appears to suggest that gays should be required to wear warning labels, although he denies that was his intention.

    “We put warning labels on cigarette packs because we know that smoking takes one to two years off the average life span, yet we ‘celebrate’ a lifestyle that we know spreads every kind of sexually transmitted disease and takes at least 20 years off the average life span according to the 2005 issue of the revered scientific journal Psychological Reports,” Rev. Bill Banuchi, executive director of the New York Christian Coalition told the Mid Hudson News.

    The journal regularly publishes articles described by many mainstream psychologists as misleading and faulty.  The homosexuality morbidity study was conducted by the conservative anti-gay Family Research Institute.

    “Fun” fact: The Nazis made homosexuals where a pink triangle in concentration camps. 

    UPDATE:  Wonkette has the idea for a perfect label: “Warning: May result in a Judy Garland fetish”

    Atta-in-Prague Revisited

    Anyone who thinks the Bush Administration was victim to flawed intelligence, take note:

    BUSH ADMINISTRATION TO PUBLIC:

    “Well, what we now have that’s developed since you and I last talked, Tim, of course, was that report that–it’s been pretty well confirmed that he [9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta] did go to Prague and he did meet with a senior official of the Iraqi intelligence service in Czechoslovakia last April, several months before the attack.” [NBC, Meet the Press, 12/9/01]

    BUSH ADMINISTRATION PRIVATELY:

    ”…there might be doubt about the alleged meeting in Prague between Mohammed Atta, the lead hijacker on 9/11, and Iraqi intelligence (did we, he asked, know anything more about this meeting?)” [Paul Wolfowitz to British Ambassador Christopher Meyer as reflected in 3/18/02 memo]

    Why was Cheney saying the alleged meeting was “pretty well confirmed” when, in fact, we had “doubts” and were seeking more information from the Brits?