And The Answer Is . . .

Ken AshfordElection 2004, War on Terrorism/TortureLeave a Comment

During the second debate, Bush kept on asking "Kerry says he is going to involve the international community in securing the peace in Iraq. But what country is going to follow Kerry into Iraq, if Kerry keeps on saying that the situation there is so bad??" . . . or words to that effect.

Good question.

The answer? Well, um, perhaps Germany for a start.

Germany might deploy troops in Iraq if conditions there change, Peter Struck, the German defence minister, indicated on Tuesday in a gesture that appears to provide backing for John Kerry, the US Democratic presidential challenger.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Mr Struck departed from his government’s resolve not to send troops to Iraq under any circumstances, saying: “At present I rule out the deployment of German troops in Iraq. In general, however, there is no one who can predict developments in Iraq in such a way that he could make a such a binding statement [about the future].”

Mr Struck also welcomed Mr Kerry’s proposal that he would convene an international conference on Iraq including countries that opposed the war if he were to win next month’s election.

You see, Mr. President, you fail to understand the dynamics. Other countries won’t follow you. Why? Because they know that if a house is on fire, you don’t follow the guy who lit the match.

Conservatives Honor Christopher Reeve

Ken AshfordRepublicansLeave a Comment

Below are some of the comments made at the Free Republic regarding the passing of Christopher Reeve. They were rescued by Digby before Free Republic deleted them.

Wonder if Hell is handicapped accessible.

The willingness to sacrifice another life to save his own was not worthy of the Man of Steel.

I’m sorry, but I have no compassion for this man. He suffered a terrible injury through his own fault and, instead of accepting it, he lashes out in anger against Bush.

Reeve? Is this the guy who, his picture-perfect Hollywood life having been tragically altered by an accident, spent the remainder of his life advocating the killing of unborn children so that he might walk again?

Reeve seemed like a nice chap until he got involved with the pro-death wing of the democrat party. We can’t always get what we want, but we often get what we deserve.

The fact is, Mr. Reeve spent his last days using his fame and access to champion the murder of unborn children. The fact is, Mr. Reeve took very clear and very selfish political stands and used his medical condition to gin up sympathy for murder.

My point is that some people spend their entire lives breaking down traditional morality and then when they die they are eulogized as if they did as much for the world as Mother Theresa.

Sure hope he was a saved man. Otherwise right now he is roasting in hell. C

ontrary to mythology, he sunk into bitter, violent anger, pouring every ounce of derision he possibly could on Christianity and America. And then he simply died.

You can bet Kerry will again mention Reeve at the 3rd debate. It is this crude, blatant exploitation of the disabled and afflicted, which make the Dems so despicable. They provide false hope in order to win debating points and votes. The implication will be that GWB caused the death of Reeve.

You could make an argument that the first implemention of "Political Correctness" was the custom of speaking better about someone after their death than while they were living. But I won’t try to make that argument here. I will say this: if it were demonstrated that Reeve, knowing the seriousness of his condition, actually made an explicit request that his possible death be used to help the Kerry campaign, all subsequent scorn would be deserved.

You think you’re cynical? I am wondering if Clark Kent would possibly pull the plug on himself in a desperate attempt to "matyrize" the stem-cell issue and help Kerry?

Reeves spent his last few years advocating the destruction of human life in order to find a cure for what ailed HIM. It may have seemed selfless to some, but in reality and objectively, it was selfish. He was looking for a cure and if it meant the destruction of unborn children to acheive that end, then too bad for them. He was not willing to let a fetus stand between him and his goalpost.

The Opposition Is Idiotic

Ken AshfordElection 2004, War on Terrorism/TortureLeave a Comment

I thought the "global test" flap was retarded, but the RNC is topping themselves yet again. Kerry said:

”We have to get back to the place we were, where terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they’re a nuisance,” the article states as the Massachusetts senator’s reply.

”As a former law enforcement person, I know we’re never going to end prostitution. We’re never going to end illegal gambling. But we’re going to reduce it, organized crime, to a level where it isn’t on the rise. It isn’t threatening people’s lives every day, and fundamentally, it’s something that you continue to fight, but it’s not threatening the fabric of your life.”

What does the RNC glean from that?  They say taht Kerry said:

"The war on terrorism is like a nuisance."

Guys, just because your candidate’s reading comprehension stops at My Pet Goat doesn’t mean yours has to as well. – Oliver Willis

Re-election More Important Than Military Victory

Ken AshfordElection 2004, IraqLeave a Comment

President Bush likes to accuse John Kerry of harming the morale of our troops in Iraq by criticizing the war. Of course, if you were serving in Iraq your morale would probably be affected much more by things like roadside bombs and suicide attacks, but let’s imagine you got a hold of today’s Los Angeles Times and read this:

WASHINGTON — The Bush administration plans to delay major assaults on rebel-held cities in Iraq until after U.S. elections in November, say administration officials, mindful that large-scale military offensives could affect the U.S. presidential race.


"When this election’s over, you’ll see us move very vigorously," said one senior administration official involved in strategic planning, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"Once you’re past the election, it changes the political ramifications" of a large-scale offensive, the official said. "We’re not on hold right now. We’re just not as aggressive."

This isn’t to say that initiating the assaults right now is necessarily the best military strategy. But making military decisions based on what will be most advantageous to one party’s electoral fortunes is nothing short of a betrayal of every man and woman who wears the uniform. Soldiers who would otherwise have lived will die because of it.

Truly despicable.

— from The Gadflyer

Fun with Flashbacks

Ken AshfordWar on Terrorism/TortureLeave a Comment

The Washington Post, April 19, 2001:

An influential energy task force headed by Vice President Cheney has broached the possibility of lifting some economic sanctions against Iran, Libya and Iraq as part of a plan to increase America’s oil supply. According to a draft of the task force report, the United States should review the sanctions against the three countries because of the importance of their oil production to meeting domestic and global energy needs.

The April 10 draft acknowledges that sanctions can "advance" important national security and diplomatic goals. But it adds that United Nations sanctions on Iraq and U.S. restrictions on energy investments in Libya and Iran "affect some of the most important existing and prospective petroleum producing countries in the world."

Book Recommendation

Ken AshfordElection 2004, RepublicansLeave a Comment

Conservatives and libertarians, you can skip this post.

The rest of you: If you are at all like me, one of the questions that may plague you is WHY (why oh why oh why) does so much of "middle America" vote Republican when doing so is clearly against their economic interest. To that end, permit me to recommend Thomas Frank’s What’s The Matter With Kansas?. I just finished reading it, and it is very readable and humorous and informative. Not much in it by way of solutions, but as soon as we recognize the problem, then we can build a bridge to the solution.

Kerry’s Speech of October 9, 2001

Ken AshfordElection 2004, IraqLeave a Comment

I thought I would share with my friends on the right (and those on the left, if they aren’t aware of this), what Kerry said when he voted "for the war". Remember this is what Kerry said on the floor of the Senate on why he was giving a "yay" vote. The full text of the speech is here.

The first thing to understand is that it was not REALLY a vote "for the war". Nor did Kerry consider it one at the time. It was a vote to give the President authorization for the war. And Kerry makes it clear that his vote is based on certain representations that Bush made about what Bush would do — representations that turned out to be lies.

We join Kerry in mid-speech:

As the President made clear earlier this week, "Approving this resolution does not mean that military action is imminent or unavoidable." It means "America speaks with one voice."

Let me be clear, the vote I will give to the President is for one reason and one reason only: To disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, if we cannot accomplish that objective through new, tough weapons inspections in joint concert with our allies.

Catch the IF clause? Kerry is expecting, based on what the President said, that we give "new, tough" inspections a chance.

In giving the President this authority, I expect him to fulfill the commitments he has made to the American people in recent days–to work with the United Nations Security Council to adopt a new resolution setting out tough and immediate inspection requirements, and to act with our allies at our side if we have to disarm Saddam Hussein by force. If he fails to do so, I will be among the first to speak out.

Sadly, Kerry was not the first to speak out. Or, if he was, he was drowned out by the masses in the street.

If we do wind up going to war with Iraq, it is imperative that we do so with others in the international community, unless there is a showing of a grave, imminent–and I emphasize "imminent"–threat to this country which requires the President to respond in a way that protects our immediate national security needs.

This makes it clear that Kerry’s position (contrary to what Bush is now saying) was that there must be an IMMINENT THREAT to this country. (Later, Bush and his supporters would go to great lengths to argue that Bush’s position was that Saddam’s threat did NOT have to be imminent. So here, we have a clear case where Kerry’s views on what should prompt war — specifically, the nature of the threat — and Bush’s views on the nature of the threat, were sharply different).

Prime Minister Tony Blair has recognized a similar need to distinguish how we approach this. He has said that he believes we should move in concert with allies, and he has promised his own party that he will not do so otherwise. The administration may not be in the habit of building coalitions, but that is what they need to do. And it is what can be done. If we go it alone without reason, we risk inflaming an entire region, breeding a new generation of terrorists, a new cadre of anti-American zealots, and we will be less secure, not more secure, at the end of the day, even with Saddam Hussein disarmed.

Wow. Just like he is saying now — we are less secure because we’ve created a new generation of terrorists.

Let there be no doubt or confusion about where we stand on this. I will support a multilateral effort to disarm him by force, if we ever exhaust those other options, as the President has promised, but I will not support a unilateral U.S. war against Iraq unless that threat is imminent and the multilateral effort has not proven possible under any circumstances.

Got it, John. By the way, readers, "as the President promised" is the key line. Bush got the votes he needed for authorization for the war by making false promises of exhausting other options. You will recall that when he started the war, the inspectors were BACK in Iraq, inspecting things, and progress was being made. But Bush and his supporters just assumed that the inspections would fail.

In voting to grant the President the authority, I am not giving him carte blanche to run roughshod over every country that poses or may pose some kind of potential threat to the United States.

Here, Kerry is distinguishing between vague general "some kind of potential" threats vs. actual imminent threats, as well as making clear that this is an Iraq-only thing. Doesn’t sound like he trusted Bush too much, huh? In retrospect, he had good reason not to!

Every nation has the right to act preemptively, if it faces an imminent and grave threat, for its self-defense under the standards of law. The threat we face today with Iraq does not meet that test yet. I emphasize "yet."

There’s that word "test" again. But notice it is not something subject to allies approval. He could have used those words in any one of the debates. Flip-flop, my ass.

Yes, it is grave because of the deadliness of Saddam Hussein’s arsenal and the very high probability that he might use these weapons one day if not disarmed. But it is not imminent, and no one in the CIA, no intelligence briefing we have had suggests it is imminent. None of our intelligence reports suggest that he is about to launch an attack.

Grave threat because he will probably use weapons if he develops then and if he is not disarmed. Why is that so hard for some people to understand? That’s plain English to me.

Pop Quiz

Ken AshfordIraqLeave a Comment

When did the United States announce that it had developed a formal strategy to get control of Iraq in time for Iraq’s January elections?

  1. Before April 1, 2004
  2. Sometime in spring 2004 (April – June)
  3. Sometime in summer 2004 (July – August)
  4. On or after September 1, 2004

Answer below the fold . . .

Read More

Cheney Implicates Himself

Ken AshfordCrime, Iraq, Republicans, War on Terrorism/TortureLeave a Comment

Well, it’s bound to happen when the wheels of the spin machine fall off.

Speaking of the Duelfer Report, Cheney says:

"As soon as the sanctions were lifted, he [Saddam] had every intention of going back. . . . [T]he sanctions regime was coming apart at the seams. Saddam perverted that whole thing and generated billions of dollars."

(Emphasis mine) Saddam sure did pervert the whole thing. But from whom did he generate "billions of dollars"? Well, France, Russia, etc. to be sure, but it is a little more complicated than that. It was French companies as well. Well, sort of. Enter my time machine to a November 2000 article:

Millions of dollars of US oil business with Iraq are being channelled discreetly through European and other companies, in a practice that has highlighted the double standards now dominating relations between Baghdad and Washington after a decade of crippling sanctions.

Though legal, leading US oil service companies such as Halliburton, Baker Hughes, Schlumberger, Flowserve, Fisher-Rosemount and others, have used subsidiaries and joint venture companies for this lucrative business, so as to avoid straining relations with Washington and jeopardising their ties with President Saddam Hussein’s government in Baghdad.


Halliburton, the largest US oil services company, is among a significant number of US companies that have sold oil industry equipment to Iraq since the UN relaxed sanctions two years ago.

From 1995 until August this year Halliburton’s chief executive officer was Dick Cheney, US secretary of defense during the Gulf war and now Republican vice-presidential running mate of George W.Bush.

From September 1998 until it sold its stake last February, Halliburton owned 51 per cent of Dresser-Rand. It also owned 49 per cent of Ingersoll-Dresser Pump, until its sale in December 1999. During the time of the joint ventures, Dresser-Rand and Ingersoll-Dresser Pump submitted more than $23.8m worth of contracts for the sale of oil industry parts and equipment to Iraq. Their combined total amounted to more than any other US company; the vast majority was approved by the sanctions committee.


Why Dick?!? Did you know what your company was doing? I’m sure if you knew that Halliburton’s efforts were perverting the sanction scheme (even if it was done legally — technically), you would have put an end to it, right? Right? Uh, Dick?

Cheney argued then that sanctions did not work and punished American companies. The former defense secretary complained in a 1998 speech that U.S. companies were "cut out of the action" in Iran because of the sanctions.


And like Iran, so Iraq.

So to recap: As Halliburton chairman, Cheney complained that sanctions (with Iran, but the principle is the same) hurt American companies, so he was more than happy to do legal end-runs around them with Iraq, until he became VP. Then, when all the reasons for invading Iraq blew away like leaves in the wind, Cheney now argues that Saddam was a bad guy because he perverted the sanctions — sanctions of the sort that Cheney himself once complained about. And then Halliburton assisted Saddam in perverting them.

Wow, is Cheney stupid.

The Story That Won’t Die

Ken AshfordElection 2004Leave a Comment

Bush’s mystery bulge at the first debate intrigued me about as much as Kerry’s "cheat sheets" — that is, not very much. But unlike Kerry’s "cheat sheets" — which turned out to be a pen — the Bush bulge story hasn’t ebbed. It has even inspired websites like

The theory that Bush was wired was enhanced by the fact that Bush would say "Let me finish" to Lehrer when (a) Bush had the "green light" indicating he had time to respond and (b) nobody was interrupting him (well, nobody that we would SEE).

And now Salon is on it.

Yes, it is silly. More importantly, if Bush was wired, it didn’t help him. In fact, it probably hurt. It’s tough trying to talk when someone is speaking in your ear.

But the question remains: What is that bulge in his back?

And you may scoff, but I bet every one of you will be looking at Bush’s back tonight.

UPDATE: Well, here’s one plausible explanation.

Qui Est Le Menteur?

Ken AshfordIraqLeave a Comment

So the French didn’t want to help the United States invasion of Iraq?

Not according to this story which I almost missed:

French officials were prepared to provide as many as 15,000 troops for an invasion of Iraq before relations soured between the Bush administration and the French government over the timing of an attack, according to a new book published in France this week.


French military officials were especially interested in joining in an attack, because they felt that not participating with the United States in a major war would leave French forces unprepared for future conflicts, according to Thomas Cantaloube, one of the authors. But the negotiations did not progress far before French President Jacques Chirac decided that the Americans were pushing too fast to short-circuit inspections by U.N. weapons inspectors.

Oh What A Week It Was

Ken AshfordElection 2004Leave a Comment

Kevin Drum has put together a wonderful chronology of the past week, and how it has combined into a sort of "perfect storm" leading to a Bush downfall. Some of it is simply unfortunate timing — unwelcome news coming at a bad time — and there wasn’t much Bush could have done about it. Some of it was because of Kerry, and some of it was self-inflicted by his own administration.

Tomorrow is the most important day of Bush’s political career. He doesn’t have to win the debate, but he has do enough to stop Kerry’s mo(mentum). Otherwise, it’s over. I think Bush can do it, but WILL he?

Thursday: George Bush gets his butt kicked by John Kerry in the first presidential debate.

Saturday: Partly due to Bush’s dismal debate performance, polls indicate that Kerry is catching up. Bush’s lead appears to have been reduced to 2-3 points.

Monday: Donald Rumsfeld admits that Saddam Hussein didn’t have any substantial ties to al-Qaeda. "To my knowledge, I have not seen any strong, hard evidence that links the two." After his statement is reported, he tries unsuccessfully to claim that he was "misunderstood."

Later Monday: The CIA agrees with Rumsfeld. The linchpin of the administration’s case for collaboration between Saddam and al-Qaeda has been Saddam’s alleged "harboring" of terrorist mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, but a CIA report concludes that it probably didn’t happen. "The evidence is that Saddam never gave Zarqawi anything," said an official who read the report.

Tuesday: Paul Bremer admits that the administration made a big mistake by not having enough troops in Iraq. "The single most important change — the one thing that would have improved the situation — would have been having more troops in Iraq at the beginning and throughout" the occupation. When his statement becomes public, Bremer complains that his remarks were "off the record." For its part, the Bush administration tries to claim that Bremer was lying, but is forced to backtrack almost immediately when it becomes apparent that Bremer did ask for more troops as far back as July 2003.

Later Tuesday: Dick Cheney initially appears to fight John Edwards to a near draw in the vice presidential debate, but before long attention shifts to Cheney’s numerous and obvious lies during the debate. This is likely to be the consensus post-debate talking point.

Wednesday: Weapons inspector Charles Duelfer releases his final report. He says that Saddam Hussein destroyed all his WMD after 1991, had no WMD programs in place after that, and that his capacity to build WMD was actually deteriorating after 1998, not increasing.

Thursday: Polls show that Bush has lost nearly his entire lead. The race is now a dead heat. AP/Ipsos actually shows Kerry ahead. [And the Green Zone in Baghdad is starting to show signs of insecurity]

Beyond Outrageous!

Ken AshfordIraqLeave a Comment

WASHINGTON – President Bush and his vice president conceded Thursday in the clearest terms yet that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction, even as they tried to shift the Iraq war debate to a new issue — whether the invasion was justified because Saddam was abusing a U.N. oil-for-food program.

Are you shitting me?!? Are you fucking pulling my leg?!?

I mean, good for finally admitting no WMD, but – – – ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?

The abuse of the oil-for-food program is reprehensible. And every country, company, diplomat, or individual knowingly involved in it should be charged with a crime and punished accordingly (even the ones here in the United States who the Duelfer Report couldn’t mention by name).

But if we could get in the time machine and do it again — knowing what we know now — would we put so many men and women’s lives on the line simply because Saddam (and others) were committing a CRIME rather than a POSING a THREAT?!?

Maybe I just read this wrong, and I am overreacting, but . . . . ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?!?!?

Ridiculing the Bush administration’s evolving rationale for war, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry (news – web sites) shot back: "You don’t make up or find reasons to go to war after the fact"

No kidding, John.

Anyone recall Tommy Flanagen — the Jon Lovitz SNL character? Better known as the Liar? "Yeah — Actually we invaded Iraq because . . . we . . . because of the oil-for-food program. Yeah. That’s the ticket."