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Tuesday, July 29, 2003

I Love Fannie Mae 

Like clockwork, or rather more like seven or eight tag-team wrestlers, WSJ editors seem to be at war against one of the best companies in America. It seems rather disingenuous coming from a publication that so lauds good business. The attacks on a successful company seem not just hypocritical, but orchestrated.

Fannie Mae was chartered by Congress to increase homeownership among minorities and poor people. Most government enterprises intended to inculcate new attitudes, or affect real social change are enormous wastes of money. However, Fannie Mae's tremendous success puts them in heady company: Fortune 100, top ten S&P 500 companies, and one of a handful of companies selected by best-selling business writer Jim Collin's national study of why some companies go from good to great. In fact Fannie Mae put 10 million people in homes in ten years. That's a new homeowner every ten seconds. That means Fannie Mae creates a neighborhood about every day and a half. In the meantime they have helped shareholders build wealth, not just average shareholder, but Fannie Mae has been the sweetheart stock of many institutional investors.

So what's wrong if a Government Sponsored Enterprise actually makes money? Isn't that what fiscal conservative want?

Is it the fact that they have some tax breaks in the D.C. area as a GSE? It certainly can't be their transparent accounting, which meet the parameters of General Accounting Procedures according to the SEC. Is it because people tend to think Fannie Mae comes with an implied government backing, even though it is a publicly traded company? Is it because Fannie Mae is deeply invested in derivatives? All are good questions, but you ask them in a vacuum, as if the entire subject is wrought with evil.

The real issue is that Fannie Mae is so successful, they are beginning to eat the lunches of typical mortgage houses. The fact is, typical lenders have ignored the minority and low to moderate-income market for years. Fannie Mae not only serves this market but they have cultivated it with the Foundation side of their business. For ten years Fannie Mae has been promoting and sending out pamphlets that help people learn all about their credit, and the importance of paying bills on time. One-in-three people who order their free pamphlet in Opening Doors and Managing Credit Wisely end up in a home. What bothers me is that this business model is a triumph of win-win creativity. The scores of faux lassez-faire anti-regulation capitalists would rather send legions of lobbyists to hack away at Fannie Mae's credibility on Capitol Hill or through the WSJ editorial page than actually compete. WSJ editors should be telling the mortgage industry in general that if they want to sell more mortgages, then they need to adapt and compete to an new consumer home market: one that reflects the widening gap between those with accumulated wealth and the vast majority of Americans who have little more than debt.

When Sam Walton set out to sell to everyone, he paid attention to the one market that Saks, and Macy's and Nordstroms were blind to: regular working class Americans. While few people were watching they became successful enough to see dozens of typical department store chains go under. And if you haven't noticed, the only profitable airline in America is Southwest. Southwest is another company that grew by serving the market big carriers didn't serve, and a class of peoples with much less money than the fliers of old.

Just like today's mortgage houses that are all red in the face, the big airlines, Eastern, Delta and American tried to block the routes that Southwest sought. Their attorney, Herb Kelleher, had to go all the way to the Supreme Court and successfully defended Southwest's right to operate more cheaply in markets that previously weren't even on the map or the routes of the big carriers. In other words, Southwest competed head on and won. That's a very different thing from deconstructing the competition with editorials.

Think also, about what America would look like if ten million people who now pay mortgages were still paying rent. Imagine an America where ten million homes did not get built because the market wasn't there. Imagine an America where 83% of white people own a home but only 10% of minorities owned a home instead of today's 48%. Think of all the finance business and home improvement business and all the taxes and stable neighborhoods that sprang into existence because someone figured out a business model that served the have-nots.

The subtext of all the criticism is not intellectual as much as it is written as a weird sort of right wing dogma. WSJ wants an even playing field for mortgagers who are beaten to the punch, and it's laid out as if you were doing the business community a service, warning investors of the calamities that may follow a housing bubble, and the dangers of being invested in derivatives. However, you are strangely silent when my gas bill went from $7 a month to $349 a month, as did my neighbors, and energy companies closely tide to the White House colluded to do this. When the Vice President refuses to comply with a Federal judges order to reveal the inner workings of Halliburton, WSJ says little. But Fannie Mae puts people in homes that otherwise would have none, and WSJ can't write enough.

The feeding frenzy over Freddie Mac's recent do-over on their profit statements seems to be subsiding. Freddie Mac has upfront recognized some of their accounting problems and the exposure has opened the door to Fannie Mae's practises as well. Linking the two together is also a technique used to manipulate publci opinion.

I always laugh when Fox News refers to them as "fair and balanced". In fact, they're so fair and balanced they need to say it about every ten seconds and have not one, but two flags waving at the same time. We all know Fox News is not a fair and balanced organization, nor a news organization. However, as conservative as the Wall Street Journal is it, always seemed to come off as a thoughtful and well articulated. Except in regards to Fannie Mae. Like them, you are on a mission of your own.

Sincerely,

Judah Maccabee

Monday, July 28, 2003

Iraq's WMD Threat Analyzed 

A few weeks ago the former UN Weapons Inspector in Iraq, Rolf Ekeus, wrote a wonderful article on the true threat of Iraq's weapons programs. It appeared in the Wall Street Journal and several other publications, though sadly went unnoticed by the media and population at large. Mr. Ekeus' article basically states three major points:

1. The four prongs of the Iraqi weapons program - chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons, as well as ballistic missiles, are the products of an intense rivalry with Iran

2. WMDs were never used against coalition forces in 1991 or 2003 because Iraqi leadership realized that they would have little effect on so mobile a force, and that the retribution would be terrible.

3. The threat posed is not vast stockpiles of chemical agents, but the knowledge and capacity to quickly produce chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons. Research that could easily be blended into ordinary civilian production activities.


Sunday, July 27, 2003

Tim Russert and Paul Wolfowitz and Victor Davis Hanson and Judah Maccabee 

This is a response to Victor Davis Hanson’s last paragraph on War Folklore illustrating how well things are going in Iraq.- view that things are going really well.

If you would have told me two years ago that the Supreme Court appointed by Bush Senior would stop a recount to save his son's Presidency I would have said you were mad. If you had told me in 2000 that a cabal of officials inside the government backed by a well funded extremely right wing Christian movement would use a terrorist attack on the US as an excuse to take over the government, I would have told you that perhaps you were hallucinating. If you would have told me that a Republican/Corporate owned media would write scripts together and sell a war to the American people based on doctored intelligence data, I would have said, "not in America". If you would have told me two years ago that today the surplus would be the largest deficit in the history of the country and environmental regulations had been rolled back and that media outlets were defending a President who was caught lying in the State of the Union Speech, I would have said "enough already". If you had told me that in two years the government would soon be able to arrest anyone they want and hold them without limitations whatsoever and deny them counsel, I would have run from the room. –Judah Maccabee

Sunday Morning- Meet The Press

Today, Tim Russert had Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz on Meet The Press. From the evasions, the sidestepping, and the talking points responses Paul Wolfowitz probably would have preferred to have been a guest on Avoid The Press.

Tim Russert began with a powerful open volley showing the Mission Accomplished banner hung on the carrier during Bush's publicity stunt, followed by citing the 107 Americans who have died and the 400 wounded since that banner was hung. Russert asked if maybe that had been a little premature. Wolfowitz countered with a recitation of the PNAC doctrine that "Iraq is a central battle in the war against terrorism and for those Naval pilots the mission was accomplished".

When Russert showed and read the text of a Republican Congressional Intelligence Committee head reported that the evidence says Saddaam had no WMDs, Wolfowitz counters with the mass graves found in Iraq. So the answer to the intelligence failure is that we found mass graves. See? Saddaam was bad, so this invasion was OK. OK?

When confronted with his own underestimation of the amount of troops that were needed in Iraq, he simply refuses to admit he wrong about anything. This is the most finger-pointing, equivocating, Buck Don't Stop Here administration in history. For example, when confronted by the fact that 15 Americans have died since Uday and Qusay were killed, Wolfowitz counters by painting the killers as a disgruntled army of rapist's murderers and torturers. This, in spite of the fact that several international news agencies have met with many of the resistance movement members and we have discovered that they aren't rapists and torturers. Many of them are extremely religious Shia fanatics who don't want secular government. Many are ordinary Iraqis who help the resistance movement because they feel their lives are worse off, and what little welcome we once had is now long over. Many are simply former Iraqi Army members who are reclaiming their pride by killing Americans and dissolving into the woodwork.

Wolfowitz couldn't say how much this is costing us, and he is the number two man in the Defense Department.

I will give it to the Republicans for staying on message. I don't know ho well it's coming off however. This morning, I was squirming listening to Paul Wolfowitz skip direct answers. My guess is, it had to sound that way for others as well.



Friday, July 25, 2003

War Folklore 

There are a select number of National Review contributors that I read on a regular basis - John Derbyshire, Jonah Goldberg, and Victor Davis Hanson. This morning, Hanson put out a compelling article on the war in Iraq and the larger war on terrorism. It is too long to repost here, but well worth the read:

War Folklore - Victor Davis Hanson

The Hurdles to Democracy 

I originally wrote this on April 22nd, but I feel that it still applies:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The United States expects an eventual government of Iraq to be a democracy where the rights of minorities are guaranteed, not a theocracy run by clerics such as in neighboring Iran, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld says.

"There should be a country that is organized and arranged in a way that the various ethnic groups and religious groups are able to have a voice in their government in some form," Rumsfeld said Monday at a Pentagon news conference. "And we hope (for) a system that will be democratic and have free speech and free press and freedom of religion."


Aside from being one of the biggest "no duh" statements ever made, what Rummy said got me thinking about the likelihood of such a government actually forming and being successful. Not very. Support for an all-out Westernized democracy would be very slim in Iraq.

In the West, democracy is preeminent. Yes, you have kingdoms and dictatorships, but by and large, the democratic republic is the top dog. There is a very long and bloody history that brought this about, beginning with Classical Athens and the Roman Republic. With the rise of the papacy, Western Christendom began to practice a type of secular government. Yes, kings were God's anointed, but the Pope held final religious authority. The Magna Carta, Simon de Montfort's provisions over King Henry III, the Reformation, the British "Revolution", American Revolution, French Revolution, etc. The West has a long history of ever-increasing freedoms, of separation of church and state, and was blessed with the writings of Plato, Aristotle, and Cicero from which to draw inspiration.

We didn't just decide to be democratic. It was a process involving more than two thousand years of history. Should we really expect the Iraqi people, with a completely different cultural history than ours, to just up and embrace an utterly alien concept?

The history of the Middle East is one of theocratic monarchies. Babylon, Persia, Parthia - rule was not shared, and the ruler was also the head of the religion. The ruler was surrounded in hyperbolic luxury. By the time that the Romans took a firm hold in the provinces of Judea and Syria, they had made the leap to emperor, and nothing changed but the deities. When Islam exploded in the seventh and eighth centuries, little changed. The descendents of Mohammed became the great caliphs, sole rulers with secular and spiritual authority. There were good and bad rulers, as there always are. Fortunes rose and fell. But the point is that there were no ever-increasing freedoms. Insurrection was for the purpose of gaining power, not for gaining greater freedoms.

Today, the situation is little changed. Power is still monopolized by few, or the one. There is a massive lifestyle gap between the ruler and the ruled. It seems to me something made habitual by cultural history. The state oil monopolies act as props, holding up these rulers, for better or worse, and providing little opportunity for free enterprise or progressive reform. Or rather, little incentive.

Given this history, given that the Iraqis have lived under particularly harsh rule for the past three decades, can they undergo an entire cultural shift to embrace a republican (not the party) form of government? Even one founded in Islam? I have my doubts.

Thursday, July 24, 2003

Sic Transit Gloria Pundit 

The deaths of Uday and Qusay have provided no answers. The deaths of two American soldiers, likewise, has provided no answers, save that Uday and Qusay did not, themselves, personally kill them.

Well before Uday and Qusay's demise in an LAPD-style shootout, it was obvious that there was no single insurgent force. We are not facing the Iraqi equivalent of Washington's Continental Army. Are there Baathists continuing the fight against us? Certainly. The Fedayeen? Well, we didn't kill all of them in the war, and they don't dare to go back to the people of Iraq, who will tear them to pieces (as we saw a few months ago). Let us not forget the Islamic fundamentalists, who hate Saddam but are attacking our troops because they want to rid Iraq of the infidel invaders. The list could go on, but the point is that there is no united front against the United States. If we were to pull out tomorrow, it is likely that Iraq would descend into a multilateral civil war.

Unfortunately we have no intelligence on exactly the level of control that Uday and Qusay had over any of these resistance elements. Did they control the Fedayeen? Or any Baathists? If so, there is the possibility of a degraded level of attacks.

I agree that the attacks will not end anytime soon. Perhaps, and this is a big perhaps, once Saddam is taken or killed, more will emerge willing to work with the United States to return stability to Iraq. However, I still question the ability of the Iraqis to latch onto our western concepts of individual freedoms and rights, and their support from the rule of law.

Sadly enough, I believe that the merciful method of warmaking that we progressed with has opened the door for these attacks.

More Answers From the Iraqis. 

This is from Reuters: via The Agonist

http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml;jsessionid=ZZM43ZUTAE51SCRBAEZSFEY?type=topNews&storyID=3149678

"Three U.S. soldiers died in northern Iraq Thursday in the second fatal attack on troops from the 101st Airborne Division since they tracked down and killed Saddam Hussein's feared sons Uday and Qusay......The U.S. military said the three soldiers from the 101st died when their vehicles were ambushed close to Qayara, south of Mosul, by gunmen who also fired rocket-propelled grenades......In Baghdad, two Iraqis were killed when U.S. troops opened fire on a car that ignored instructions to stop, local witnesses said. The car burst into flames leaving a charred wreck. "

The idea that killing Saddaam's sons would somehow ingratiate the Iraqis is foolish. The Iraqis by and large hate us and want us out of their country. There is one way to end the attacks: leave Iraq. While it looks like that what the Pentagon is trying to do by mixing active duty and National Guard troops and rotating them into theatre on one-year tours of duty. Well, I guess we're back to that now...one-year rotations in a country that hates us and an amateur hour foreign policy team that splits its time between trying not to read the news about new American dead playing down the deaths.

As much as I want to pat American forces on the back for the kill, it won't help us in Iraq. The gloating by the right will be short lived. Uday and Qusay's death will not solve our problems there. Again, I have to ask the question: why are we in Iraq? Are we really safer? When is this money pit reconstruction going to end and how will it benefit the taxpayers who are supporting it?

Adding insult to injury, Neoconderthal Wolfowitz admits the post war planning was insufficient. Well, I guess that's all better now. "Ooops," says Wolfowitz.

Boy are Americans forgiving or what?

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

We have our answer 

The concept that every triumphant pro war pundit is proffering now is that the death of Saddaam's sons will reduce the attacks on our troops.

From Reuters:


BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Two American soldiers were killed in ambushes in Iraq on Wednesday, denting any U.S. hopes that the deaths of Saddam Hussein's sons, Uday and Qusay, would snuff out a guerrilla insurgency against occupying forces.

http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml;jsessionid=UYZG332X5PORMCRBAEOCFEY?type=topNews&storyID=3140783

As we can see, the attempts to point blame on a specific group of fighters in Iraq is, pardon the pun, pointless. "it's the Fedayeen", says one pundit, "it's Baath Party officials" says another. Then CBS interviews Islamic fundamentalists working inside Iraq to kill soldiers.

The fact is the attacks are coming from a wide variety of anti- American entities and after months the attacks are only increasing. If we killed Saddaam Hussein tomorrow, the attacks would continue indefinitely. Then the pro Bush press will have no one to blame for organizing the attacks. Obviously, something isn't working out here. Go to Iraq Casualty Count at http://lunaville.org/warcasualties/Summary.aspx and just do the math.

Let's see where we will be in a year. 1.3 deaths a day times 365 days means that on July 23rd, 2004, there will be another 475 Americans dead. Add that to 235 already dead and there will be over 700 total dead for this Neoconderthal adventure.

The real question is, will enough Americans care?

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Who's Unpatriotic Now? By PAUL KRUGMAN 

I couldn't have said this better than Paul Krugman.

Some nonrevisionist history: On Oct. 8, 2002, Knight Ridder newspapers reported on intelligence officials who "charge that the administration squelches dissenting views, and that intelligence analysts are under intense pressure to produce reports supporting the White House's argument that Saddam poses such an immediate threat to the United States that pre-emptive military action is necessary." One official accused the administration of pressuring analysts to "cook the intelligence books"; none of the dozen other officials the reporters spoke to disagreed.

The skepticism of these officials has been vindicated. So have the concerns expressed before the war by military professionals like Gen. Eric Shinseki, the Army chief of staff, about the resources required for postwar occupation. But as the bad news comes in, those who promoted this war have responded with a concerted effort to smear the messengers.

Issues of principle aside, the invasion of a country that hadn't attacked us and didn't pose an imminent threat has seriously weakened our military position. Of the Army's 33 combat brigades, 16 are in Iraq; this leaves us ill prepared to cope with genuine threats. Moreover, military experts say that with almost two-thirds of its brigades deployed overseas, mainly in Iraq, the Army's readiness is eroding: normal doctrine calls for only one brigade in three to be deployed abroad, while the other two retrain and refit.

And the war will have devastating effects on future recruiting by the reserves. A widely circulated photo from Iraq shows a sign in the windshield of a military truck that reads, "One weekend a month, my ass."

To top it all off, our insistence on launching a war without U.N. approval has deprived us of useful allies. George Bush claims to have a "huge coalition," but only 7 percent of the coalition soldiers in Iraq are non-American — and administration pleas for more help are sounding increasingly plaintive.

How serious is the strain on our military? The Brookings Institution military analyst Michael O'Hanlon, who describes our volunteer military as "one of the best military institutions in human history," warns that "the Bush administration will risk destroying that accomplishment if they keep on the current path."

But instead of explaining what happened to the Al Qaeda link and the nuclear program, in the last few days a series of hawkish pundits have accused those who ask such questions of aiding the enemy. Here's Frank Gaffney Jr. in The National Post: "Somewhere, probably in Iraq, Saddam Hussein is gloating. He can only be gratified by the feeding frenzy of recriminations, second-guessing and political power plays. . . . Signs of declining popular appreciation of the legitimacy and necessity of the efforts of America's armed forces will erode their morale. Similarly, the enemy will be encouraged."

Well, if we're going to talk about aiding the enemy: By cooking intelligence to promote a war that wasn't urgent, the administration has squandered our military strength. This provides a lot of aid and comfort to Osama bin Laden — who really did attack America — and Kim Jong Il — who really is building nukes.

And while we're on the subject of patriotism, let's talk about the affair of Joseph Wilson's wife. Mr. Wilson is the former ambassador who was sent to Niger by the C.I.A. to investigate reports of attempted Iraqi uranium purchases and who recently went public with his findings. Since then administration allies have sought to discredit him — it's unpleasant stuff. But here's the kicker: both the columnist Robert Novak and Time magazine say that administration officials told them that they believed that Mr. Wilson had been chosen through the influence of his wife, whom they identified as a C.I.A. operative.

Think about that: if their characterization of Mr. Wilson's wife is true (he refuses to confirm or deny it), Bush administration officials have exposed the identity of a covert operative. That happens to be a criminal act; it's also definitely unpatriotic.

So why would they do such a thing? Partly, perhaps, to punish Mr. Wilson, but also to send a message.

And that should alarm us. We've just seen how politicized, cooked intelligence can damage our national interest. Yet the Wilson affair suggests that the administration intends to continue pressuring analysts to tell it what it wants to hear.




Monday, July 21, 2003

Bush and the Press. 

Scene One: An ABC Correspondent is calling Ambassador Richard Lee Armitage to join her for a discussion on Yellowcake Gate debate. He won’t return her call. Now this is for a major broadcast network interview on a hot topic of public concern. He does, however, join Fox for a discussion that doesn’t include foreign policy.

Scene Two: Former United States diplomat Joseph Wilson’s CIA operative wife is outted by a leak from the White House because he dared to reveal the truth to media outlets: Bush had been warned that these claims about uranium in the State of the Union Address were not verified, but Bush included them anyway. In fact, Wilson issued the warning himself.

Scene three: Tim Russert is talking with Tom Brokaw and mentions that this is now “going to be a tough re-election” because of the “confluence of events”, that is to say, no WMDs, one dead GI a day, the USS Abraham Lincoln proclamation that the war is over, the incorrect claims in the State of the Union Address and the bad economy.

Two things seem to be going on here. On the one hand, the press is still giving Bush a lot of room to move. I mean his equivocations are much more contorted than Clinton’s but Bush’s poll numbers are still somewhat positive. Think about it. One minute it’s “bring it on” and ooops. Then it’s “darned good” intelligence. Oy. Hell, Russert gives Bush a little room with “confluence of events”. Are we kidding ourselves? Look at these events: no WMDs, one dead GI a day, the USS Abraham Lincoln proclamation that the war is over, the incorrect claims in the State of the Union Address and the bad economy. This isn’t a confluence of events. It’s a staged and orchestrated disaster, from the tax cuts to the invasion, to unilateralist warfare to blustery diplomacy. This is what happens when arrogant amateurs take control and get a little over extended.


I guess I think this country is so going in the wrong direction that I even hate to imagine a worst case scenario because it will have to be written, for example, in the blood of the young men and women who are dying and being maimed in Iraq. History will truly look back at this time and people will scratch their heads at how did this happen- that businesses owned news media and Ann Coulter was a celebrity. But somehow, things seem to be going wrong awfully fast for Bushco and this is my new pet theory: They have somehow pissed off one of their big core constituencies: The Press.

It is possible that some confluence of events happened. I’m not sure. But somehow, the deaf dumb and blind lap dog press ( this does not include Fox and MSNBC because they are part of the White House) have turned and decided that they are going to, how shall we say, push Bush. Perhaps they smell blood and like corporations that are filled with reporters they see a story here. But no- it’s something else. Something has changed. When I see MSNBC – the website, owned by the same network that hired that rabid savage Michael Wiener…I mean that rapid wiener Michael Savage…reporting that Bush’s story isn’t adding up, then I know something is up.

Perhaps. Perhaps….his cover is blown. Perhaps, maybe, the savage excesses of this administration, the untold suffering, the criminal waste of money and liberty and lives, is all adding up. I don’t know. All I can say is, the day when Bush was a shoo in…it’s over.

Apparently, the Sky is Falling 

24-hour stores. Take-out taking off at casual dining establishments. Video-on-Demand. Ours is a world of instant gratification. So what happens when, nearly three months after the end of major combat operations, Iraq is not well on the road to a representative government? People lose hope and point fingers.

It happened during the war, too. Remember the reporters asking what happened to shock and awe? Or the cries that we were bogging down in the desert, when we actually were taking a strategic breather before the final push? And this applied to what was one of the fastest, most successful offensives in the history of war. Could you imagine if our modern-day press had been covering the opening two years of the Civil War?

It is happening again. Iraq is still highly unstable. We still have not found stockpiles of chemical and biological agents in neatly labeled 55-gallon drums. So, out come the fingers. Out come the naysayers. Out comes that familiar press, the one that likes to apply the word “gate” as a suffix.

People are coming out shocked that Bush and Blair sold them a war. It was a preemptive war…of course it had to be sold. People are saying that Bush and Blair lied about Iraq attempting to purchase 500 tons of yellowcake from Niger, which it could have turned into weapons-grade uranium. Bush never lied when he said "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." The British did and still do stand by that claim. The documents Bush saw cited this and other reports. Considering that the loudest voices against Bush and Blair are coming from those hoping to win the Democratic nomination, I’m taking it all with a grain of salt.

I am not saying that the intelligence is completely accurate. We are talking about human intelligence here, which can of course be embellished or even outright lied about by the initial sources. Bush’s guffaw was saying that the British government “has learned”, when he should have said “strongly believes” or “suspects”. That is something that the speechwriters should have caught.

--Trajan

Sunday, July 20, 2003

The Armor Has Finally Cracked. 

A few polls you might want to look at.

CNN/Time asks What kind of job is Bush doing with the economy? 52% said a poor job.

CNN/Time asks how well is the Iraq situation being handled? 40% say it's going very well.

CNN/Time poll asks are you likely to vote for Bush again? 33% said very likely. 36% said very unlikely.

Zogby asks would you vote for Bush or someone else? 46% said they would cote for Bush. 47% said they would vote for someone else. That's not good when we don't even know who is going to run against him.

I think a lot of Americans are giving Bush the benefit of the doubt- emphasis doubt.

Who says Republicans can't dance?  

I remember when the 2000 Election was nearing and there was talk of Republicans taking over, one of the sidebar stories was that the Democrats threw great parties and could really dance the pants off of the Republicans. Well pretty soon I think you are going to see the Republicans dancing all right. In fact, with the allegations flying that the entire cassus belli was invented out of a tapestry of existing facts, the more you will see dancing Neoconderthals. Smug, dismissive right wing nuts will be tossing invective around trying to smear anyone who just won't stop until they get the truth.

So far I have seen Bush dancing, I have seen Condoleeza Rice stomping her feet, and Bill O'Reilly's pointing pencil of shame swinging about like a maestro as he tries to frame the exaggerations of this administration in a positive and diplomatic light. Last week's full court press from Colin Powell came off like a desperate sales job that looks more and more to Americans like an orchestrated and desperate attempt to cover the asses of officials who have spent more time spinning a case for war than actually building a reasonable case. You see this reveals two major problems with this "disciplined communications team" that Karl Rove has put together. First, when everyone is on message, it's doesn't work out that great when the basic message is a lie. Second, more and more people are beginning to see the machinations behind them message. When everyone on Fox agrees and uses the same tortured language (homicide bombers, for example) you can tell someone wrote it. To reasonable people, this just doesn't happen unless everyone has read the same memo. You can't hide this shit anymore. And the more I see MSNBC's right wing dancing about the yellowcake, the most desperate I feel they have become.

Saturday, July 19, 2003


[ Sat Jul 19, 09:42:36 AM | Judah Maccabee | edit ]
Hat in Hand
I can hear the nashing of the teeth in the courtyard of the Heritage Foundation. Young Neoconderthals scratching their heads and wondering what happened. Is the United States of America, the Uberpower, going to have to ask the UN for help in appropriating troops to replace the tired 3rd Infantry Division? Isn't this going to embarrass the PNAC spokespeople like Feith and Wolfowitz and Perle? My guess is we will actually be able to hear Sean Hannity's sphincter slam shut when he learns he has to read that President Bush had to privately meet with UN officials and actually listeing to their I-told-you-sos.

At the end of the day, it isn't even a question of whether we'll ask for help or not. Bush has to. He has a near mutiny on his hands. It isn't just the kids in theatre who have been stuck there sweating out this experiment who are fed up. He is confronted by his senior advisors at the Pentagon who even backed Shinseki's early estimates that the occupation would require upwards of 400,000 troops to hold down the country. He, Bush, is under pressure for the first time since 9/11 to do something. The problem is bigger than you think too. Last Wednesday's Wall Street Journal laid it out like this. We have 10 combat ready divisions we can put on the ground. Think about it. We have 6 of the 10 in Iraq. Two in South Korea (outsized Divisions, about 37,500 men and women) and two in the Balkans and the rest are in Japan, the US and spread out over Afghanistan and Malaysia.

We are out of troops. Period. Right now Karl Rove and the Spinners are figuring out how Fox News and MSNBC can frame the hat-in-hand to the UN without losing any ideological ground-that is to say, how do we ask the UN for help and simultaneusly show our wingnut constituency that we think they are a largely irrelevent institution? You might think his is satire but it's not. It's simply how this Administration works.

This morning's New York Times points out that Robert Joseph, an administration official urged the speech writers to include the yellowcake purchasing reference in the State of the Union Speech. So we have speech writers helping us to decide the content of a State of the Union Address. Their logic was simple: attribute it to British intelligence and we have an out if we are wrong. Did someone say "If we are wrong"? Isn't that what Blair said yesterday addressing Congress? If we are wrong?

I see an administration that acts like a sociopathic child. It isn't about what is right or wrong- it is about spin and damage control. This administrations greatest weapon is marketing, not experience. That's what worries me. This Presidency is about photo opportunities, and frat-boy "Bring 'em on" hoo haw. And this administration didn't just happen upon us right when American news media decided to take a break from journalism, it was planned all along, to bring us along by our nose into the world of form versus substance.

Christ, Clinton comported himself better than this, under the desk escapades and all. We need an administration that doesn't see the State of the Union address as an opportunity to spin and frame events, rather it should an opportunity to get everyone on the same page. Watch the slow dance unfold in the next few weeks as the pressure grows for us to find troops to put into Iraq and bring our boys home. Right now Roger Ailes and Rupert murdoch and Karl Rove and Satan are furiously scribbling catch phrases...."We'll Revisit our European committments.....that sounds good doesn't it?....."

Maccabee

Hat in Hand 

I can hear the nashing of the teeth in the courtyard of the Heritage Foundation. Young Neoconderthals scratching their heads and wondering what happened. Is the United States of America, the Uberpower, going to have to ask the UN for help in appropriating troops to replace the tired 3rd Infantry Division? Isn't this going to embarrass the PNAC spokespeople like Feith and Wolfowitz and Perle? My guess is we will actually be able to hear Sean Hannity's sphincter slam shut when he learns he has to read that President Bush had to privately meet with UN officials and actually listeing to their I-told-you-sos.

At the end of the day, it isn't even a question of whether we'll ask for help or not. Bush has to. He has a near mutiny on his hands. It isn't just the kids in theatre who have been stuck there sweating out this experiment who are fed up. He is confronted by his senior advisors at the Pentagon who even backed Shinseki's early estimates that the occupation would require upwards of 400,000 troops to hold down the country. He, Bush, is under pressure for the first time since 9/11 to do something. The problem is bigger than you think too. Last Wednesday's Wall Street Journal laid it out like this. We have 10 combat ready divisions we can put on the ground. Think about it. We have 6 of the 10 in Iraq. Two in South Korea (outsized Divisions, about 37,500 men and women) and two in the Balkans and the rest are in Japan, the US and spread out over Afghanistan and Malaysia.

We are out of troops. Period. Right now Karl Rove and the Spinners are figuring out how Fox News and MSNBC can frame the hat-in-hand to the UN without losing any ideological ground-that is to say, how do we ask the UN for help and simultaneusly show our wingnut constituency that we think they are a largely irrelevent institution? You might think his is satire but it's not. It's simply how this Administration works.

This morning's New York Times points out that Robert Joseph, an administration official urged the speech writers to include the yellowcake purchasing reference in the State of the Union Speech. So we have speech writers helping us to decide the content of a State of the Union Address. Their logic was simple: attribute it to British intelligence and we have an out if we are wrong. Did someone say "If we are wrong"? Isn't that what Blair said yesterday addressing Congress? If we are wrong?

I see an administration that acts like a sociopathic child. It isn't about what is right or wrong- it is about spin and damage control. This administrations greatest weapon is marketing, not experience. That's what worries me. This Presidency is about photo opportunities, and frat-boy "Bring 'em on" hoo haw. And this administration didn't just happen upon us right when American news media decided to take a break from journalism, it was planned all along, to bring us along by our nose into the world of form versus substance.

Christ, Clinton comported himself better than this, under the desk escapades and all. We need an administration that doesn't see the State of the Union address as an opportunity to spin and frame events, rather it should an opportunity to get everyone on the same page. Watch the slow dance unfold in the next few weeks as the pressure grows for us to find troops to put into Iraq and bring our boys home. Right now Roger Ailes and Rupert murdoch and Karl Rove and Satan are furiously scribbling catch phrases...."We'll Revisit our European committments.....that sounds good doesn't it?....."

Maccabee


Friday, July 18, 2003

The Blair Bush Project 

It's the 17th of July, 2003 and last night Tony Blair addressed the United States Congress and insisted that the data the invasion of Iraq was predicated on was a fact. He didn't say it was false. He did say "If we were wrong,...History will forgive us" Well friends, is this like a do-over in Golf? I hope not. Worse, I hope everyone understands that we perpetrated war on the Iraqis based on this evidence. History might forgive you. Americans might forgive you. But England won't forgive you. As the word in the blogosphere has been floating around: Toast. That's what a lot of people seem to think about Blair's future. Not many people I have met believe that Bush will suffer for his overstatement of the facts. ( Is it possible to overstate facts?. I mean, facts are facts, right? They are either true or not). But a look at the puppy-dog mainstream media ( ABC, CBS, NBC- I don't include Fox and MSNBC in 'puppy-dog media.' They are state run media) and the fawning seems to be over. In fact, I have seen a great case of journalisticitis. And slowly, the truth is starting to rear its head. Boy is it ever ugly.

Maccabee

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