Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Odd Hours Brings To Mind A Genocide Going On Right Now But You Won't See Any Mention Of It On Faux news 

Genocide in Africa... again? 

Aspasia draws attention to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's recent apology for failing to do more to stop the genocide in Rwanda. In remarks at a UN conference commemorating the ten-year anniversary of the 1994 genocide, Annan said, "I realized after the genocide that there was more that I could and should have done to sound the alarm and rally support." But here's NY Times columnist Nicholas Kristof:
Yet right now, the government of Sudan is engaging in genocide against three large African tribes in its Darfur region here. Some 1,000 people are being killed a week, tribeswomen are being systematically raped, 700,000 people have been driven from their homes, and Sudan's Army is even bombing the survivors.
It seems Mr. Annan has another chance. The situation in Sudan would certainly benefit from "sounding the alarm" and "rallying support." Personally, I had no idea what was going on in Sudan until about half an hour ago.

Slippery Slope 

*Trajan Note - this posting is meant to be free of any partisan bickering/propaganda

Like the struggling, sputtering groaning of an engine that just won't turn over, I feel that our economy is on its way back down the slippery slope into another recession. Bush's aggressive tax cuts provided temporary combustion, like spraying carb cleaner into the intake hose, but without the gasoline there, nothing is left to burn, and the engine is once more sputtering toward silence.

Why do I say this? It begins with jobs. Yes, they lag any recovery, but not to this extent. We are not even seeing steady improvement...and every month the markets hold their breath for yet another disappointing payroll report. God only knows what a job loss would do.

The issue of jobs has seeped its way into the overall attitude regarding the economy. For most of 2003 it was guarded optimism. The markets returned, and everyone hoped that the year of profitability would fuel yet another, and another. That guarded optimism then became hesitancy, and now the pendulum seems to be swinging back toward pessimism. It's easy to spot - Paul Krugman suddenly becomes lively, and the Republicans sputter about past successes while ignoring present signs of danger (then again, don't all politicians?). This pessimism infects the markets, driving them down. Falling markets make businesses nervous, and in the present atmosphere, after so many were burned in 2000/2001, those wallets funding expansion and research slam shut.

Another factor - fuel prices. It is often overlooked, but the first of these major price hikes hit in 2000. I was in Nashville at the time, and remember watching as the price of regular gasoline crept above $1/gallon. People were livid then. Yesterday, I filled up my Xterra for $1.55 a gallon. The high price of gas stunted profit margins in 2000, and I believe that it and the overhiring for Y2K and subsequent layoffs were what originally halted our economic engine. And now, it is happening again, just as the engine is struggling to catch.

Of course, there is also the everpresent threat of another terrorist attack, though such a thing is nearly impossible to predict. Should one occur, however, the economy would shut down overnight. Especially if the attack was of such a nature as to devastate retail activity (suicide bomber in shopping mall, for example).

All of these are for me dire signs that the recovery we enjoyed is dying. In the past three weeks I've pulled completely out of the stock market.

Is there anything that can lift us out of this morass? Honestly, I don't know. Ken Tower, the chief market strategist for CyberTrader, adroitly pointed out that the great periods of economic growth in the 20th century were driven by fundamental shifts to the way we lived and worked as a society. In the 20's, it was the automobile and all it made possible. In the 50's and early 60's, suburbia. In the 80's and 90's, computers and the Internet. What is there now that will fundamentally change our lives? The great innovations we see today are, for the most part, improvements on existing technology. HDTV, broadband internet, WiFi.

I'm confident that we will at some point stumble upon that next life-altering technology, and our economy will once again rev to new heights. Perhaps it will be nanotechnology, or perhaps it will emerge out of this whole "go to the moon" thing. But I don't see it in the next few years. I fear we are in store for naught but stagnation.

This is Illegal. Then again, It’s Bush W. 

From The Wall Street Journal

The Treasury tapped civil servants to calculate the cost of Sen. John Kerry's tax plan and then posted the analysis on the Treasury Web site. A federal law bars career government officials from working on political campaigns.

The Treasury analysis doesn't mention Mr. Kerry by name. Rather it sketches out the potential cost of a tax plan that rolls back tax reductions for taxpayers with incomes above $200,000 -- the nub of the Democratic presidential candidate's plan. The result, the Treasury said in the analysis posted March 22, would be a tax increase of as much as $477 billion over 10 years on "hardworking individuals and married couples." The same day, the Republican National Committee issued a press release in which it unveiled what it called its "John Kerry $pendometer," and cited the same $477 billion figure as the cost of "raising taxes on the top income bracket."

...John "Buck" Chapoton, who headed Treasury's tax office under Ronald Reagan, said career tax officials "are supposed to be objective. It's important that they are thought of as not being influenced or used for political purposes."

Eugene Steuerle, another Treasury tax official during the Reagan administration, said that using the analysis of the Kerry plan for political purposes "stepped over the line" that's supposed to protect career officials from political influence. "This type of release tends to reduce the reputation of the department as a fair and neutral arbiter of what constitutes good tax policy," Mr. Steuerle said. Messrs. Chapoton and Steuerle were Treasury political appointees during the Reagan years.

More On The Progress In Iraq 

from CNN

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Suspected insurgents killed four American civilian contractors in a grenade attack Wednesday in central Iraq, U.S. officials said.

Cheering residents in Fallujah pulled charred bodies from burning vehicles and hung them from a Euphrates River bridge.

Crowds gathered around the vehicles and dragged at least one of the bodies through the streets, witnesses said.

Residents pulled another body from one of the cars and beat it with sticks.

Also in the Fallujah region, five American soldiers died in a roadside bombing near Habbaniya, the U.S. military said.

April 2011 CNN Transcript Shows Bin Laden Downgraded In The First 8 Months W 

From Kevin Drum

Then there is this 4-30-01 transcript from CNN. It pretty much collaborates that bin Laden was downgraded in the first 8 months of Bush's appointed reign. Note the comparison to the way Clinton dealt with bin Landen. Comparing the 1999, and 2000 "Patterns of Global Terrorism" reports would be very interesting.

Dennis Greenia

April 30, 2001; Monday
Transcript # 01043006V76
SECTION: News; International
LENGTH: 457 words

HEADLINE: State Department Releases Terrorism Report

BYLINE: Joie Chen, Andrea Koppel

Within the hour, the State Department officially released its annual report on terrorism. But unlike last year, the Department is taking a new approach to its assessment of the alleged terrorism mastermind Osama bin Laden.

JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: Within the hour, the State Department officially released its annual report on terrorism. But unlike last year, the Department is taking a new approach to its assessment of the alleged terrorism mastermind Osama bin Laden. CNN State Department correspondent Andrea Koppel today with details.


ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): His name has become synonymous with terrorism, and after years of contributing to that trend, the State Department wants it to end. And so, unlike before, in its new report on global terrorism in the year 2000, you won't find bin Laden's photograph or a long description devoted to him and his Al-Qaida terrorist network.

A senior State Department official told CNN, the U.S. government made a mistake, compounded by news reports by "personalizing terrorism, describing parts of the elephant and not the whole beast."

As an example of its new approach, the State Department report cites: broad international support for a U.S.-sponsored United Nations resolution, approved in December 2000, that targets sanctions against the Taleban in Afghanistan. The goal: stop the Taleban from providing a safe haven to Islamic extremist organizations and their terrorist training camps, not just bin Laden's.

COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: We are achieving the basic objectives of the United States counterterrorism strategy: isolation of countries and groups that support terrorism, disruption of terrorist planning and operations, and sharing of information and the apprehension and trial of perpetrators.

KOPPEL: A year ago, following the 1998 embassy bombings in East Africa, it was the U.S. versus bin Laden. Now, U.S. officials say Russia, China, Uzbekistan and many other countries with their own terrorist problems linked to Afghanistan, are teamed up with the U.S. But having failed to arrest bin Laden or shut down any other terrorist camps in Afghanistan, experts point out, the U.S. will continue to have an uphill battle.

BRUCE HOFFMAN, RAND CORPORATION: There's not one magic bullet, but I think it is rather a constellation of approaches that may not ever solve the problem completely, but addresses it effectively. KOPPEL (on camera): But officials recognize combating terrorism is a long-term fight. One State Department official likened the U.S. approach to the slow squeeze of a boa constrictor rather than the quick strike of a cobra.

Andrea Koppel, CNN, the State Department.



LOAD-DATE: April 30, 2001

White House Informant Tells Direct Lies To CNN And Letterman 

From Atrios

On Monday night, he showed a long clip of a Bush speech (headlined as "George W. Bush energizes the youth of America," or something like that) with this young boy (around 12 years old) on the stage behind him who was obviously having a really hard time concentrating. As the clip jumped forward in time, he gradually got more fidgetty--the kid was yawning, checking his watch, cracking his neck, bending over and touching his toes. It was absolutely hysterical.

Last night, Dave says that earlier on Tuesday, CNN showed the clip from his show. Afterwards, the anchor came on and said that the White House informed them that the Letterman people edited the boy into the clip. Dave came back and said that that was a flat-out lie! Then he showed a CNN broadcast from later on Tuesday when they repeated the clip, and a different anchor said that the White House now said that, yes, the boy was at the speech, but not actually on stage behind George. Dave reiterated that, in fact, they were big LIARS!

A few minutes later, Dave's producer informs him that CNN contacted the show and said that the White House had never actually contacted them, and the anchor had made a mistake. For the rest of the show, Dave was lamenting that he had accused the Bush administration of being liars, when he didn't have his facts straight. Off mike, you could see the producer mouth the same thing I was thinking, which was that TWO different anchors each reported being given information by the White House-how could they both just make that up?

Sounds like the Bushies lied as usual (as they do about things big and small?), and that for some reason CNN decided to provide damage control cover-up. I don't know why Dave didn't push them further. The whole thing was very surreal, but typical. Can someone get the real story about what transpired? (Actually, I went to sleep a little bit before the show ended, so I don't know if there were any other tidbits that came up?)

You Don't Say 


U.S. arms investigators scouring Iraq are finding more evidence of Iraq's prewar interest in chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. But the inspectors haven't found any weapons, and Saddam Hussein's still-loyal deputies are refusing to talk, the new chief U.S. weapons inspector said Tuesday.

"We do not know whether Saddam was concealing (weapons of mass destruction) or planning to resume production once sanctions were lifted," weapons chief Charles Duelfer said in written testimony made public after he testified in secret to the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Progress In Iraq Vs. George Bush Senior 

George Bush Senior: An emotional former President George H.W. Bush on Tuesday defended his son's Iraq war and lashed out at White House critics.

It is "deeply offensive and contemptible" to hear "elites and intellectuals on the campaign trail" dismiss progress in Iraq since last year's overthrow of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, the elder Bush said in a speech to the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association annual convention

The Last Two Days Of Progress In Iraq.

03/31/04 IribNews: 10 injured in Baghdad bomb blast
Four policemen and six civilians were injured Wednesday when a car bomb exploded in this restive town north of Baghdad, a police officer and one of the injured said.

03/31/04 Reuters: Cars Attacked in Iraq, Victims Dragged Through Streets
A crowd of cheering Iraqis dragged charred and mutilated bodies through the streets of Falluja on Wednesday after an attack on two vehicles that witnesses said killed at least three foreigners.

03/31/04 VOA: Bomb Blast West of Baghdad Kills 5 US Soldiers
The U.S. military in Iraq says five American soldiers were killed Wednesday in a roadside bomb blast west of Baghdad

03/30/04 Heraldsun: US soldier killed in Iraq blast
ONE US soldier was killed and another was wounded in a bomb explosion west of Baghdad on Tuesday, the US military said.

03/30/04 AP: Spanish troops break up violent protest by jobseekers in Iraq
Iraqis, protesting delays in processing their applications for police jobs, hurled stones at Spanish soldiers and Iraqi police on Tuesday in the southern city of Najaf. Witnesses reported gunfire, and at least three police and two protesters were wounded.

03/30/04 Reuters: Attack in Iraq Kills Coalition Soldier - Nationality Unspecified
A bomb attack west of Baghdad killed a soldier in the U.S.-led coalition and wounded another Tuesday, a U.S. military spokesman said.

03/30/04 AP: US Soldier Wounded East of Baghdad
East of Baghdad in Diala province late Monday, a U.S. soldier from the 3rd Brigade of the 1st Infantry Division was wounded when a rocket-propelled grenade was fired at an Army convoy, a U.S. official said on condition of anonymity.

03/30/04 AP: Blast outside Iraqi police chief's house kills bomber
A suicide bomber blew up explosives in his car outside the house of a police chief south of Baghdad today, killing himself and wounding seven others, officials said.

03/30/04 AP: Humvee Hit By RPG In Ramadi
In Ramadi a U.S. Humvee was hit with a rocket propelled grenade Tuesday, setting it on fire ... Four troops who were in the vehicle were seen being rushed away in another Humvee.

03/30/04 AP: Iraqi Policeman Killed In Attack On Checkpoint
Gunmen fired at an Iraqi police checkpoint in east Baghdad Monday, killing a lieutenant, police Col. Ahmed Iz-Adin said Tuesday.

Why I Support Kerry 

From a Kerry news release

And instead of a secret energy meetings and drilling in the Alaskan wilderness, we're going to have a real energy plan for America. We'll create 500,000 new jobs in renewable energy and building the vehicles of the future. Under my plan, America will be energy independent from Mideast oil in 10 years, the fuels of the future will be less expensive, cleaner, and our young men and women will never have to fight and die for foreign oil."


More Dead US Soldiers And Workers In Increasing Iraqi Chaos 

Chaos In Iraq

In one of the bloodiest days in weeks for the U.S. military, five troops died when a bomb exploded under their military vehicle west of Baghdad on Wednesday. At least four foreign nationals, including one American, were killed in a separate attack and some of the bodies were burned, beaten and hanged from a bridge….

The explosive device that killed the American troops blew up when their vehicle ran over it, U.S. Army Col. Jill Morgenthaler said in Baghdad. The attack happened in Anbar province, which encompasses Fallujah, Ramadi and other towns where anti-U.S. insurgents are active….

Top U.S. administrator L. Paul Bremer said Tuesday he had appointed 21 anti-corruption inspectors general to government departments to try to prevent fraud. More will be named in coming days, he said.

Could he appoint one for the White House?


In an effort to prevent further terrorist attacks the United States has made the obstacle for getting foreign students to study here very high. The result? All those brilliant Chinese software developers and all those genius theoretical physicists from India are all going to study and shall I say this?..invent things in other countries.

Americans are generally uneducated and easily mislead by the media. The result of this is not just a lack of understanding where a large part of our economic progress comes from ( Foreign scientists studying in US Universities) it bodes poroly for future leadership in areas of science.

What else did you expect from a president who doesn’t read and brags about it and thinks the world is only 6000 years old.

Shooting Yourself In The Foot

Not surprisingly, universities in Australia, Britain, France and elsewhere are taking advantage of our barriers and are aggressively recruiting these students. According to the Chronicle, foreign student enrollment in Australia is up 16.5 percent over last year; Chinese enrollment there has risen by 20 percent.

Why should we be concerned? For starters, it is a sad reality that relatively small numbers of American students pursue graduate degrees in engineering and science. As a result, the research efforts at many American universities depend on international graduate students. They do much of the laboratory work that leads to new discoveries.

More troubling is the impact that declining foreign enrollments could have in the war on terrorism. To defeat terrorism, our global military, law enforcement and intelligence capacities must be complemented with positive initiatives and programs aimed at the young people in developing nations who will guide their countries in the future. No policy has proved more successful in making friends for the United States, during the cold war and since, than educating students from abroad at our colleges and universities.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Daschle Kicks Ass 

Excerpts and link from his statement on the Senate Floor.

The retaliation from those around the President has been fierce. Mr. Clarke's personal motives have been questioned and his honesty challenged. He has even been accused, right here on the Senate floor, of perjury. Not one shred of proof was given, but that wasn't the point. The point was to have the perjury accusation on television and in the newspapers. The point was to damage Mr. Clarke in any way possible.

This is wrong–and it's not the first time it's happened.

When Senator McCain ran for President, the Bush campaign smeared him and his family with vicious, false attacks. When Max Cleland ran for reelection to this Senate, his patriotism was attacked. He was accused of not caring about protecting our nation -- a man who lost both legs and an arm in Vietnam, accused of being indifferent to America's national security. That was such an ugly lie, it's still hard to fathom almost two years later.

There are some things that simply ought not be done – even in politics. Too many people around the President seem not to understand that, and that line has been crossed. When Ambassador Joe Wilson told the truth about the Administration's misleading claims about Iraq, Niger, and uranium, the people around the President didn't respond with facts. Instead, they publicly disclosed that Ambassador Wilson's wife was a deep-cover CIA agent. In doing so, they undermined America's national security and put politics first. They also may well have put the lives of Ambassador Wilson's wife, and her sources, in danger…..

…. The response from those around the President was retribution and character assassination -- a 21st Century twist to the strategy of "shooting the messenger."

If it takes intimidation to keep inconvenient facts from the American people, the people around the President don't hesitate. Richard Foster, the chief actuary for Medicare, found that out. He was told he'd be fired if he told the truth about the cost of the Administration's prescription drug plan.

This is no way to run a government.

The White House and its supporters should not be using the power of government to try to conceal facts from the American people or to reshape history in an effort to portray themselves in the best light.

They should not be threatening the reputations and livelihoods of people simply for asking – or answering – questions. They should seek to put all information about past decisions on the table for evaluation so that the best possible decisions can be made for the nation's future…

…And last week several documents were declassified literally overnight, not in an effort to provide information on a pressing policy matter to the American people, but in an apparent effort to discredit a public servant who gave 30 years of service to his American government…

…In recent days leading congressional Republicans are now calling for an investigation into Mr. Clarke. As I mentioned earlier, Secretary O'Neill was also subjected to an investigation. Clarke and O'Neill sought legal and classification review of any information in their books before they were published.

Nonetheless, our colleagues tell us these two should be investigated, at the same time there has been no Senate investigation into the leaking of Valerie Plame's identity as a deep cover CIA agent; no thorough investigation into whether leading Administration officials misrepresented the intelligence regarding threats posed by Iraq; no Senate hearings into the threat the chief Medicare Actuary faced for trying to do his job; and no Senate investigation into the reports of continued overcharging by Halliburton for its work in Iraq.

There is a clear double standard when it comes to investigating or releasing information, and that's just is not right. The American people deserve more from their leaders.

We're seeing it again now in the shifting reasons the White House has given for Dr. Rice's refusal to testify under oath and publicly before the 9-11 Commission…..

….The all-out assault on Richard Clarke has gone on for more than a week now. Mr. Clarke has been accused of "profiteering" and possible perjury. It is time for this to stop.

The Commission should declassify Mr. Clarke's earlier testimony. All of it. Not just the parts the White House wants. And Dr. Rice should testify before the 9-11 Commission, and she should be under oath and in public.

Daschle Grows Balls

The Next Smear 

Hat Tip Wonkette

We have it on semi-reliable authority that the Bush administration's next attempt to discount Richard Clarke's credibility will consist of alleging that he's a big gay. We have a little trouble figuring out how being gay makes you unable to assess threats to a country's national security -- after all, we trust them to tell us what to wear. Still, it is a great strategy.

That is, as long as you don't believe there any other homosexuals on the Bush national security team.

Your Republican Party 

GOP Senator Lindsey Graham actually said this. From Greenvilleonline.

"Thirty-one percent of our state is African-American. I can assure you, from my travels, that we all have the same hopes and the same dreams. It's time for the Republican Party to become the party of the working people, regardless of race."

This ain’t racist…is it?

Dems Fight Back On Veterans 

In a recent morning in early March, the Senate Judiciary Committee convened to protect the American flag from burning, stomping, shredding, and the notion that, as Judiciary Chairman Orrin Hatch put it, "urinating or defecating on the flag is some form of speech." The Committee's Republican majority had carefully assembled the audience for this hearing. The room was filled with dozens of aging veterans, wearing medals and dark red VFW hats. Also in attendance was a hero of perhaps even greater red-state status: nascar driver John Andretti, who would testify that "those who desecrate the flag have total disregard for our military."

In other words, the hearing had all the trappings of a perfect, election-year GOP stunt. But then things got a little more complicated. Committee Democrats, such as Richard Durbin of Illinois, noted that Republicans had voted down a Senate amendment increasing veterans' health spending the previous night. "Giving a veteran a flag is not a substitute for giving our vets the quality health care they were promised," Durbin said, causing brows to furrow under those VFW caps. Committee Republicans were furious. GOP Senator Larry Craig of Idaho nearly sputtered with rage as he defensively rambled about shortened lines at a veterans' clinic in Boise and vowed that veterans' spending would eventually be "plussed-up" in the budget process. The cultural issue had become an economic one; Democrats had found a soft spot.

Flags Vs Veterans Benefits

Cherry Picking Evidence Against Iraq. Cherry Picking Evidence Against Clarke. 

The people running this administration have taken your rights away and are using the weight of the entire government to besmirch a man who dares to criticize them and ruin their disgustingly fake ads. These people are scoundrels. The Bush Administration will stop at nothing to finish this script they are writing about Amerika is supposed to look like. These people know no decency. It's like there are 100 Joe McCarthy's inside the media and the White House. They are liars and disseminators of lies. I figure if we don't win this election, this country will spiral into a right wing theorcratic dictatorship.

Declassifying the transcripts is not compatible with national security. But taking the transcripts, cutting the individual words into scraps and pasting them back together into incriminating sentences might be okay.

From Talkingpointsmemo.

U.S. officials told NBC News that the full record of Clarke’s testimony two years ago would not be declassified. They said that at the request of the White House, however, the CIA was going through the transcript to see what could be declassified, with an eye toward pointing out contradictions.

One Day In Iraq 

Iraq Casualty Count

03/29/04 Centcom: 1 Soldier Killed, 1 Wounded near Al-Habbaniya

A 13th COSCOM soldier is dead and one is injured as the result of an improvised explosive device attack near Al-Habbaniya at approximately 10:30 a.m.

03/29/04 AP: 2 New Hampshire soldiers injured in Iraq

Sgt. Jason Weaver, 30, of Franklin, was shot in the left leg, and Spec. Gerard Lamson, 26, of Ashland, suffered shrapnel wounds to both hands when their police patrol was attacked in Mosul.

03/29/04 DOD: DoD Identifies Marine Casualty

Pfc. Leroy Sandoval Jr., 21, of Houston, Texas, died March 26, due to hostile fire in the Al Anbar Province

03/29/04 DOD: DoD Identifies Marine Casualty

Master Sgt. Timothy Toney, 37, of Manhattan, N.Y., died March 27, due to a non-combat related incident at Camp Wolverine, Kuwait.

03/29/04 Reuters: U.S. Soldier Killed in Bomb Attack Near Falluja

A U.S. soldier was killed on Monday when a bomb was detonated beside a military convoy near the flashpoint town of Falluja west of Baghdad, the U.S. army said.

03/29/04 utv: British "Civilian" Killed Was On Leave From The Army

Colour Sergeant Christopher Charles McDonald, 39, was in Iraq but not on military duty when he was killed in the northern city of Mosul, the Ministry of Defence said.

03/29/04 AP: Aberdeen Soldier Injured In Iraq

An Aberdeen soldier has been seriously injured in Iraq. According to the South Dakota National Guard's Web site, Sergeant Sean Lessin suffered a head injury while loading a military convoy. The injury was not related to combat.

03/29/04 BBC: British troops clash with Iraqis - 2 Wounded

Two British soldiers have been injured after troops clashed with dozens of Iraqis.

03/29/04 AP: US Soldiers Kill Four Insurgents In Northern Iraq

U.S. soldiers in the northern city of Mosul shot and killed four rebels suspected of involvement in attacks in the region, the military said Monday.

03/29/04 Centcom: Updated Marine Killed In Action

CAMP MEK, Iraq - One Marine assigned to the 1st Marine Division was killed as a result of enemy action in the Al Anbar Province on March 26.

Dennis Miller 

I did stand up comedy for over a decade and when I was in LA and New York comics would finish their sets early and rush over to see a Dennis Miller set. He was funny and liberal.

Then he stuck his finger in the air and saw where the wind was blowing. His stand up career in the toilets, he has since stopped making fun of the Bushes and started making fun of liberals and now Richard Clarke, The National Security Counter Terrorism Cheif for five presidents.

Dennis Miller is a cock sucking shill. Every night, in return for a career, he has to dress up like a French Maid, then suck Satan off and swallow.

Then again, I might be wrong.

Corruption And Creeping Fascism 

Paul Krugman is brilliant today listing the evidence that we are heading into a period of fascism

power by the administration and its Congressional allies. A few examples: according to The Hill, Republican lawmakers threatened to cut off funds for the General Accounting Office unless it dropped its lawsuit against Dick Cheney. The Washington Post says Representative Michael Oxley told lobbyists that "a Congressional probe might ease if it replaced its Democratic lobbyist with a Republican." Tom DeLay used the Homeland Security Department to track down Democrats trying to prevent redistricting in Texas. And Medicare is spending millions of dollars on misleading ads for the new drug benefit — ads that look like news reports and also serve as commercials for the Bush campaign.

On the terrorism front, here's one story that deserves special mention. One of the few successful post-9/11 terror prosecutions — a case in Detroit — seems to be unraveling. The government withheld information from the defense, and witnesses unfavorable to the prosecution were deported (by accident, the government says). After the former lead prosecutor complained about the Justice Department's handling of the case, he suddenly found himself facing an internal investigation — and someone leaked the fact that he was under investigation to the press.
Corruption At The Highest Levels

Monday, March 29, 2004

What We Have Wrought  

Nir Rosen, a freelance journalist, has been living in Iraq since April 2003, writes about what living there is like. Don’t believe Fox news. It’s a fucking mess.

The violence is relentless. Explosions from bombs, rocket propelled grenades and artillery as well as guns firing can be heard all day and night, but their locations are usually impossible to determine, even if you are foolish enough to search for them after dark, when gangs and wild dogs own the streets. There are systematic assassinations of policemen, translators, local officials, and anybody associated with the occupiers. The pace of the violence is normal and mundane, so nobody cares. Unless an explosion is perceptibly close, it is just an echo, and nobody pauses in mid-conversation or stops chewing his kabob. Nobody in the US (and certainly nobody in Iraq) even cares much about the American soldiers dying daily, as long as the numbers on any given day are low. In the Sunni neighborhood of Aadhamiya in Baghdad there are nightly RPG and mortar attacks on the US base, and the men on the street erupt in cheers and whistles at the sounds.

Mosques are attacked every night and clerics killed, leading to retaliations against the opposite sect. Mosques now have armies of young volunteers wielding Kalashnikovs guarding them. Soon neighborhood mosques will unite to form neighborhood armies, to fight rival mosques or rival neighborhoods. (Even many journalists now travel with armed bodyguards; in at least one incident they returned fire, making them combatants). In the Sunni Hudheifa Mosque in Rasala one can purchase a magazine that praises Yazid, the early Muslim leader who killed Hussein, the martyr whom Shi'ites venerate and mourn for. This article would be enough to start a civil war if Shi'ites found it.

"We don't talk about civil war," one Sunni tribal leader told me. "We just prepare for it."

Though Shi'ite and Sunni leaders hastened to mouth professions of unity following the attacks in Karbala and Kadhimiya, they hate each other. Sunni and Shi'ite newspapers have grown more brazen in their attacks against each other. The only things they agree on are the need for an Islamic government (though they disagree on what it will look like) and their insistence that the Jews and Americans are to blame for all their woes. The Sunnis are scared, they fear the impending Shi'ite takeover of Iraq if anything resembling a democratic election takes place. Sunnis view Shi'ites the way white South Africans viewed blacks, and now feel disenfranchised, seeing the barbaric heathens threatening to rule their country. Many Sunnis cling to the fiction that they are in fact the majority, and the Shi'ites are all Iranians. Shi'ites don't fear the Sunnis, they just dislike them. Shi'ites hate the Kurds now, blaming them for attempting to divide the country with their calls for federalism and autonomy. Arab Shi'ites have already started supporting Turkmen in the north, who are often Shi'ite as well, in their bloody clashes with Kurds.

Meanwhile over ten thousand Iraqi men are being held prisoner, and most of them are innocent. Iraqi security guards as well as American soldiers hate the explosive-sniffing dog in front of the Sheraton and Palestine hotels, because they, like the rest of us who live in the area, are subject to its olfactory whims as it imagines every day that it smells a bomb and they must close off the street for several hours. Two of my friends were arrested for not having a bomb last week, when the dog decided their bag smelled funny. They were jailed for four days though they were not carrying a bomb. Unlike the murderous accuracy of the Israeli security forces, who at least speak Arabic, the American security forces are a blunt instrument. They arrest hundreds at once, hoping somebody will know something. One morning in the village of Albu Hishma, the local US commander decided to bulldoze any house that had pro-Saddam graffiti on it, and gave half a dozen families a few minutes to remove whatever they cared about the most before their homes were flattened.

In the beginning of the occupation I entered a taxi and asked the driver what he thought of the events in Iraq. He looked away and started crying. I asked him if somebody in his family had died. "We all died," he told me. Now taxi drivers talk only of the latest explosion and how much they hate the Americans and want to kill them. One taxi driver drove by a mosque and saw Americans in the courtyard. "Look what they're doing!" he shouted hysterically. "They even enter inside mosques! They are dirty Jews, I swear if I had an RPG now I would shoot them!

Chaos In Iraq

Kevin Drum Points Out That Washington Insiders Agree With Clarke's Account. 

General Hugh Shelton, former chairman of the joint chiefs of staff: the Bush administration pushed terrorism "farther to the back burner."

Bush administration terrorism report, April 2001, via CNN: When asked why the Administration had reduced the focus on Osama bin Laden, "a senior Bush State Department official told CNN the U.S. government made a mistake in focusing so much energy on bin Laden."

Thomas Maertens, NSC nonproliferation director for Clinton and Bush: "[Clarke] was the guy pushing hardest, saying again and again that something big was going to happen, including possibly here in the U.S." But Maertens said the Bush White House was reluctant to believe a holdover from the previous administration. "They really believed their campaign rhetoric about the Clinton administration," he said. "So anything they did was bad, and the Bushies were not going to repeat it."

Lieutenant General Don Kerrick, Clinton deputy NSA who was held over for several months by Bush, comparing Bush's sense of urgency regarding terrorism to Clinton's: "Candidly speaking, I didn’t detect that kind of focus." And this: "I don't think it was above the waterline. They were gambling nothing would happen."

President Bush himself, quoted by Bob Woodward: "I didn’t feel a sense of urgency about al Qaeda. It was not my focus; it was not the focus of my team."

Ah Democracy 

 U.S. soldiers in the northern city of Mosul shot and killed four rebels a day after padlocking a newspaper for allegedly printing articles that incited violence against American troops.

Snippets From Richard Clarke's Book 

Hat Tip Kevin Drum

I was angrier, almost incredulous, that the bitterness of Clinton's enemies knew no bounds, that they intended to hurt not just Clinton but the country by turning the President's personal problem into a global, public circus for their own political ends. Now I feared that the timing of the President's interrogation about the scandal, August 17, would get in the way of our hitting the al Qaeda meeting.

....Our response to two deadly terrorist attacks was an attempt to wipe out al Qaeda leadership, yet it quickly became grist for the right-wing talk radio mill and part of the Get Clinton campaign. That reaction made it more difficult to get approval for follow-up attacks on al Qaeda, such as my later attempts to persuade the Principals to forget about finding bin Laden and just bomb the training camps.

Talkingpointsmemo Is A Must Read Today 

If They Approved The Book For Publication Why Do They Act Like They Didn't See This Coming?

And that again raises the question: why has the response been so contradictory and feeble? Why, as the reader puts it, have they acted as though they didn't see this coming?

Partly, I think the answer is the same as I gave in a column I wrote for The Hill a few weeks ago: "We’re looking at a White House that is increasingly insular and isolated. Most specifically, its missteps show how deeply out of touch it is with how much its public credibility has atrophied over the last eight months."

Robert Higgs Asks 

Is Bush Unhinged?

Whatever our understanding of the president’s “war on terror” might be, however, he definitely parts company with reality when he states, “There is no neutral ground—no neutral ground—in the fight between civilization and terror, because there is no neutral ground between good and evil, freedom and slavery, and life and death.” Of course, this Manichean pronouncement echoes the administration’s previous declaration that everybody on earth is either with us or against us—and if they know what’s good for them, they’ll fall into line with our wishes. Aside from the undeniable fact that some nations simply prefer, as did the Spanish people (as opposed to the Aznar government), to avoid the blowback of U.S. interventions around the world, the president’s insistence on equating U.S. policy with good, freedom, and life and all alternative policies with evil, slavery, and death represents the sort of childish bifurcation one expects to find expressed by a member of a youth gang, not by the leader of the world’s most powerful government. To raise but a single example, though a highly relevant one in this context, can any dispassionate person argue that the U.S. position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is entirely good, whereas every alternative position is entirely evil?

Sunday, March 28, 2004

Was It Me Or Did Charles Pickering Come Off As A Reasonable Judge? 

I'm just asking

One Day In Iraq 

Paul Bremer Calls This Progress

03/28/04 VOA: Gunmen Attack Convoy of Iraqi Minister, Killing 3 Guards
Iraqi police and the U.S.-led coalition say unidentified gunmen fired on Sunday on the convoy carrying Minister Nasrin Barwari, killing three of her bodyguards and wounding a fourth.

03/28/04 Reuters: 3 Children wounded by bomb in Baquba
a bomb wounded three children on their way to school and two other civilians on Sunday when it exploded outside the home of an Iraqi contractor working for the U.S.-led authorities near Baquba

03/28/04 Reuters: 2 Employees Iraqi Media Network wounded
Earlier two employees of the U.S.-run Iraqi Media Network were wounded in a drive-by shooting, a grenade attack wounded a policeman in the city centre and a rocket, apparently aimed at the city hall, hit a nearby boys school, but failed to explode.

03/28/04 Reuters: Gunmen opened fire from a car at a U.S. patrol
In another incident in the city on Sunday, gunmen opened fire from a car at a U.S. patrol, wounding two American military police, soldiers at the scene said.

03/28/04 AFP: US convoy hit by roadside bomb in Fallujah
A roadside bomb went off near the flashpoint Iraqi town of Fallujah on Sunday as a United States military convoy passed by, seriously damaging one vehicle, an eyewitness said.

03/28/04 ICCC: Iraqi Civilian Casualties During March
Compiled from our news feed, this table tries to tally Iraqi civilian casualties caused by the insurgency or efforts to combat the insurgency.

03/28/04 Reuters: U.S. Military Says No Casualties From Stryker Hit
U.S. military spokesman said there were no casualties. Lieutenant-Colonel Joseph Piek of Task Force Olympia said the commander and driver of the vehicle had jumped out. Other soldiers in the unit were patrolling on foot.

03/28/04 Reuters: Update - 1 Briton and 1 Canadian killed in Iraq city attack
One British civilian and one Canadian were killed in an attack in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul on Sunday, officials in Canada and Britain said.

03/28/04 Reuters: Iraqi guerrillas fire at US military vehicle
Insurgents have fired two rocket-propelled grenades at a U.S. military vehicle in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, setting it on fire, witnesses have said. "I saw the Stryker burning," he said. "I saw nobody getting out of the vehicle."

03/28/04 AP: 21 killed in two days of attacks in Iraq
Rebel rockets slammed into a government building in the northern city of Mosul on Saturday, killing two civilians and wounding 14 others. An explosion rocked central Baghdad in a roadside bomb attack on a convoy, wounding five Iraqis.

03/28/04 IribNews: 3 Iraqis hurt in Kirkuk bomb blast
Three Iraqi civilians were injured Sunday when a bomb concealed in a police sentry box exploded in the center of this northern Iraqi city during morning rush hour

03/28/04 IribNews: Two British civilians killed in Iraq
Two British civilians were killed in a drive-by shooting in Iraq's main northern city of Mosul Sunday, police said.

03/28/04 LATimes: Violent outbreaks sweep across Iraq
Missiles smuggled in a wooden cart of second-hand clothing slammed into the local government headquarters in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul on Saturday, killing at least two people and injuring 19

From Daily Kos 

Click on it from my blogroll

A reminder of the number of investigations into GOP perfidy going on right now

The Senate's top cop investigated Republican hacking of Democratic accounts and theft of thousands of documents. After finding probable cause for wrongdoing, the Senate Judiciary Committee recommended the Justice Department undertake its own criminal probe.

The House and Senate Intelligence Committees are both investigating intelligence lapses heading up to the Iraq War.

The Senate Intelligence Committee is investigating Bush's pre-war lies about Iraq's WMDs and ties to al Qaida.

Rove, Cheney's entire political team and others are being investigated by a Justice Department special prosecutor for leaking the name of a covert CIA agent (Plame) to discredit her husband -- a critic of the administration's trumped up charges that Iraq was seeking nuclear material in Niger.

Can anyone forget the 9-11 commission?

HHS Inspector General Dara Corrigan is investigating administration lies about the true cost of the Medicare bill. Remember, not only did the Bush Administration undercount the costs (from $395 billion to $521 billion), but then threatened an auditor with his job if he revealed the true numbers.

The General Accounting Office is investigating the fake "news reports" the White House created to promote the Medicare law's new prescription drug coverage provisions.

And being the gift that keeps on giving, the House Standards of Official Conduct Committee and the Justice Department are both (and seperately) investigating bribery allegations as the administration and its congressional allies twisted arms to get the necessary votes in the House to pass the Medicare bill.

Tom DeLay is under criminal investigation on whether his Texas political action committee (Texans for a Republican Majority) improperly financed the GOP's takeover of the Texas legislature. DeLay has already signaled he may be forced to step down from his leadership post (even if just temporarily) if indicted.

Connecticut Governor John Rowland is being investigated by federal prosecutors for a shockingly brazen level of corruption. Even the state's GOP establishment has abandoned the governor, and impeachment proceedings are likely unless he resigns his post.

The Fake News 

Fake News

Consider the fact that the ranch Bush resides in was built in the year 2000 by his election team and the town of Crawford was created into a municipality in the same way.

Consider that 60 scientists came out with a statement claiming that the Bush administration ignores the scientific facts of the world when they go against his administrations policies.

Consider that even the Wall Street Journal has contradicted his recounting the of the day 9/11.

Consider that the people who are supposed to run departments are hired right out of the lobbying groups that populate Congress.

This administration is not at all interested in the truth.

Here is an article about the fake reporters that Bush hires to disseminate his propaganda. It’s from Frank Rich, who should be read in the op-ed page.

This phenomenon (Fake News) has been good news for the Bush administration, which has responded to the growing national appetite for fictionalized news by producing a steady supply of its own. Of late it has gone so far as to field its own pair of Jayson Blairs, hired at taxpayers' expense: Karen Ryan and Alberto Garcia, the "reporters" who appeared in TV "news" videos distributed by the Department of Health and Human Services to local news shows around the country. The point of these spots — which were broadcast whole or in part as actual news by more than 50 stations in 40 states — was to hype the new Medicare prescription-drug benefit as an unalloyed Godsend to elderly voters. They are part of a year-plus p.r. campaign, which, with its $124 million budget, would dwarf in size most actual news organizations.

When one real reporter, Robert Pear of The Times, blew the whistle on these TV "news" stories this month, a government spokesman defended them with pure Orwell-speak: "Anyone who has questions about this practice needs to do some research on modern public information tools." The government also informed us that Ms. Ryan was no impostor but an actual "freelance journalist." The Columbia Journalism Review, investigating further, found that Ms. Ryan's past assignments included serving as a TV shill for pharmaceutical companies in infomercials plugging FluMist and Excedrin. Given that drug companies may also be the principal beneficiaries of the new Medicare law, she is nothing if not consistent in her journalistic patrons. But she is a freelance reporter only in the sense that Mike Ditka would qualify as one when appearing in Levitra ads.

As for the mystery of Alberto Garcia's journalistic bonafides, it remains at this writing unresolved. His reporting career has not left a trace on any data bank. Perhaps he is the creation of Stephen Glass, the serial fantasist who once ruled the pages of The New Republic….

… the fake narrative of 9/11 has been scrupulously maintained by the White House for more than two years. Although the administration has tried at every juncture to stonewall the 9/11 investigative commission, its personnel, including the president, had all the time in the world for the producer of a TV movie, Showtime's "DC 9/11: Time of Crisis." The result was a scenario that further rewrote the history of that day, stirring steroids into false tales of presidential derring-do. Kristen Breitweiser, a 9/11 widow, characterized one of the movie's many elisions in Salon. To show the president continuing to sit and read with elementary school kids "while people like my husband were burning alive inside the World Trade Center towers," she wrote, "would run counter to Karl Rove's art direction and grand vision."

From The Comment Section 

I don't often do this, but every once in a while I find a comment in the comment section of a blog discussion to have more real thinking and political commentary than we are getting from Thomas Freidman. From a guy who's mail address is
cls@yahoo.com, he writes, and I must agree

I'm going to go out on a limb here and make a prediction....Bush loses in November. Think about it, he lost last time. He's gotten every vote he's ever going to get. Aside from Evangelical Christians (and not all of those, only those with limited IQ) he's won over no large bloc of voters since 2000. Can anyone name one large group that would swing to Bush this time around that didn't vote for him last time? Arab Americans can't stand him. He's even losing a big chunk of the Cuban American vote. Despite all the Republican crowing, Hispanics and Jews still vote Democrat 2 to 1 over Republican. Blacks may not be big on gay marriage but they sure won't be voting the issue. Unless the fix is in with electronic voting, I don't see how he gets over the 48% threshold he achieved in 2000. Not unlike John Kerry prior to the Iowa caucuses, I think these polls are meaningless. Approach this intelligently....who exactly besides a few millionaires are better off now than in 2000?

Go John Go 

From the Gray Lady

"Every time somebody comes up and says something that this White House doesn't like," Mr. Kerry said, "they don't answer the questions about it or show you the truth about it, they go into character-assassination mode."

The Big Battle That Almost Was A Big Media Event 

Remember when the news came out that number two in command of Al Quaeda was surrounded in another cave and tunnel riddled section of the mountains that separate Afghanistan and Pakistan?

While the Pakistanis got pasted (30 dead, 20 captured) it seems that the whole thing might have been staged for the benfit for Colin Powell. I wonder why. No one here gives him any credit or listens to him from the left or the right.

On March 18, Pakistan's president, Pervez Musharraf, gave a television interview in which he described a pitched battle between Pakistani soldiers and 400 to 500 militants and set off expectations that Al Qaeda's No. 2 leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, had been surrounded.
Two days later, military officials were playing down talk of Mr. Zawahiri's encirclement as "conjecture." And by the end of this week, a fresh audiotape message purportedly from Dr. Zawahiri emerged - taunting the government with a defiant call for General Musharraf's overthrow.
What exactly had happened in the isolated corner of Pakistan where the battle had raged was a riddle.

Where's Number 2? Was The Whole Big Battle Bullshit?

Why Bush Is Fighting These Accusations So Ferociously 

Clarke Is Attacking The Very Basic Premise Of Bush's Election Campaign

Mr. Bush has often talked about how his presidency did not, in a real sense, begin until Sept. 11 when, he said, he found in the aftermath of the attacks the defining purpose of his presidency. Mr. Bush and his aides have made his prosecution of the war on terror the touchstone of his re-election campaign.

Mr. Bush and his aides say they believe that his leadership after Sept. 11 created an irrevocable bond with voters that would be nearly impossible to erase and will ultimately overshadow any questions raised about the pre-Sept. 11 period of his presidency.

Still, they have acknowledged that this would be a very different kind of election had it not been for the attacks, and that any advantage the president enjoys going into the election is because of that chapter of his presidency. The White House selected the time and place of the convention where Mr. Bush will be nominated — New York City, less than two weeks before the third anniversary of the attacks — with that in mind.

An EXample Of How Government Makes A Habit Of Lying. 

Last week the EPA saiud Love Canal was clean.

Actually it is exactly as polluted as it was a decade ago only the restrictions have been rewritten.

Have en excerpt and a link

The Environmental Protection Agency, for example, has deleted 278 sites from the 1,200 on the Superfund national priorities list (the fund itself was created partly in reaction to Love Canal). Each has been defined as clean in a different way, and with few exceptions the offending pollutants were never removed.

Read The Whole Article

Saturday, March 27, 2004

From Corrente 

Awesome Blog

911 Commission Testimony: Remarks of NORAD Personnel: Maj. Gen. Craig McKinley, Maj. Gen. Larry Arnold, Col. Alan Scott:

Richard Ben-Veniste, Commissioner
Well, let’s start for example with September 12th, 1994. [1] A Cessna 150L crashed into the south lawn of the White House barely missing the building and killing the pilot. Similarly, in December of 1994, an Algerian armed Islamic group in Paris hijacked [2] an Air France flight in Algiers and threatened to crash it into the Eiffel Tower. In October of 1996, the Intelligence community obtained information regarding [3] an Iranian plot to hijack a Japanese plane over Israel and crash it into Tel Aviv. In August of 1998, the Intelligence community obtained information that [4] a group of unidentified Arabs planned to fly an explosive-laden plane from a foreign country into the World Trade Center. The information was passed on to the FBI and the FAA. In September of 1998, the Intelligence community obtained information that [5] Osama bin Laden’s next operation could possibly involve flying an aircraft loaded with explosives into a U.S. airport and detonating it. In August 2001, the Intelligence Community obtained information regarding [6] a plot to either bomb the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi from an airplane or crash an airplane into it. In addition, in the Atlanta Olympics, the United States government and the Dept. of Justice and my colleague Jamie Gorelick were involved in planning against possible terrorist attacks at the Olympics, which included [7] the potential of an aircraft flying into the [Olympic] stadium. In July 2001, [8] the G8 Summit in Genoa, attended by our President - among the measures that were taken, were positioning surface-to-air missiles, ringing Genoa, closing the Genoa airport and restricting all airspace over Genoa.
(via Bill St. Clair)

So when Condi says "I don't think anybody could have predicted that those people could have taken an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center . . . that they would try to use an airplane as a missile"... Well, I think she's now admitted she "misspoke" (back). But what about Bush? Did he just not notice the SAMs in Genoa?

Bill Frist Holds Clarke To A Standard That I Am Not Certain Bush Would Pass. 

Bill Frist on the Senate Floor said yesterday: I am equally troubled that someone would sell a book, trading on their former service as a government insider with access to our nation’s most valuable intelligence, in order to profit from the suffering that this nation endured on September 11, 2001.

Now- allow me to change one word or two and think about the Bush Ad Campaign.

I am equally troubled that someone would sell a PRESIDENCY, trading on their former service as a government insider with access to our nation’s most valuable intelligence, in order to profit from the suffering that this nation endured on September 11, 2001.

The Mini Pullout And More Proof The Press Is Asleep.  

In a recent skirmish that left one Marine dead and also killed and wounded dozens of Iraqis, for a short moment a fully equipped Marine Company was surrounded. They had loaded up and marched in and before you know it, they were radioing for reinforcements. An hour later, after the firefight beganm, cavalry arrived and the insurgents disappeared. They appeared to be mobile, hard to find, had a good mix of weapons, and were well- trained. This bothers me because we have heard a chorus of "The Insurgency Is Almost Over" for weeks on end. I can't tell if they are lying to us or lying to themselves, or perhaps I just have the whole thing wrong.

A few weeks ago, the Army decided to cut down the 60 small outposts to 26 outposts and I believe about 6 large bases. ( i am not certain of these details) The idea was to hand off policing to the Iraqis and severely cut down on the two GIs killed a day. So we only make a fraction of the patrols we used to make. It seems to me that this whole thing was orchestrated to help the President's election. Why not do this a year ago when the war ended? Because they really can't stop the killing of Americans. The vacuum of authority left by this unreported minipullout has created chaos.


Yes, there is more electricity than a few months ago, but unchecked, bandits have blown oil stations and piping and pretty much for evey step forward there has been a full step back here.

Banditry is at an all time high. The hospitals are full and the police are largely uneffective.

If you thought that the forces we sent in were not enough to hold down a country and that Eric Shinseki was right- then you'll see the certain illogic of taking the 130,000 men and women and reducing that number to 110,000 and hiding them behind concrete barriers and concertina wire with rare convoy appearances.

In other words, whether or nor not the Bush Administration can install a democratic government is one thing, but the real challenge for us is whether or not we are watching a horrific civil war unfold in slow motion.

And where has the press been on this? Still reporting the Paul Bremer memes. Yes there is a constitution.Commerce has picked up. Particularly if you work for one of Cheney's companies. By the way, Al-Sistani removed his support for the Constitution even after he signed it. So what does that mean?

Look around. Democracy is not going to gel in Iraq before the election. It might get much much worse.

Of course, I might be wrong and it will calm down. It just doesn't look like we have much ccontrol over what happens there.

Glad To See They Are Worried 

Hat Tip Atrios

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

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

Friday, March 26, 2004

The Issue Of Declassifying Material To Nail Clarke In A Nutshell 

From Talkingpointsmemo

Emphasis italics

Last night I heard through the grapevine that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Porter Goss was going to ask the Justice Department to bring perjury charges against Richard Clarke.

(As it happens, I've heard at least two other thermonuclear options they were considering using against Clarke -- this just seems to be the one they decided on.)

I told my friend that I thought the White House would be awfully foolish to let that sort of prosecution get underway since the discovery requests from Clarke's attorneys could prove rather uncomfortable for the White House.

But it seems we know what the story is. According to several news reports early this afternoon Congressional Republicans are seeking to classify testimony Clarke provided on the hill in July 2002. The implication of comments from Sen. Majority Leader Bill Frist is that that testimony and this week's don't match and that Clarke must have perjured himself in one of the two instances.

Note that the testimony is from July 2002. That's one month before the backgrounder released by Fox News, which Republican Commission members challenged him with when he testified before them.

They've already argued that these two statements are in bold contradiction. So I think it's a pretty good assumption that the July 2002 testimony is substantially the same, if perhaps more detailed, as that backgrounder in question.

The idea here is to find a another version of the same purported contradiction in which both statements are under oath -- thus getting the perjury cudgel out of the tool box.

Now, with respect to that backgrounder, Clarke has said that he was following orders to tell the truth, but with a spin, and did so. And it's worth noting that if that were a crime this White House would be emptied out pretty quickly. But let's set that aside for the moment.

Back up for a moment and look at what's happening here.

What this is about isn't Condi Rice or Richard Clarke or even George W. Bush. It's about what happened -- finding out what happened. One side wants to find out; the other doesn't.

This administration has used and continues to use literally unprecedented means to maintain secrecy in order to keep this information -- what happened -- bottled up in the White House and in other parts of the executive branch.

We don't know what Condi Rice did because the documents haven't been released; nor the minutes of meetings. Nor will she testify in public or even privately under oath.

We don't know what most of the key players did -- or at least we don't know with certainty -- because the locks on the information are being held that tight (the entirety of John Dean's new book Worse than Watergate is excellent in detailing this).

Yet Clarke's new enemies now want to use the fact that they control the Justice Department and the process of declassification to knock him out because he is, to all appearances, trying to bust open that vault of secrecy.

So precisely the tools these folks refuse to use in the interests of keeping everything secret they are more happy to use to crush someone who is opposing them.

As you know, House Speaker Denny Hastert, who opposed a 9/11, opposed its funding, and opposed its deadline extension. Now, in a line, destined straight for the Daily Show, he says "We need to lean forward in making as much information available to the public as possible, without compromising the national security interests of the nation."

This is Plame all over again -- just with the lights on. This kind of behavior -- a mix of pervasive secrecy and the use of state power to punish political enemies -- is literally a danger to the republic.

Now, let's consider three different possibilities about what's happening here.

First possibility is that Clarke is just a straight-up perjurer, that this week he not only perjured himself but slandered the president and misinformed the public.

The second is that it's a scenario like I noted above -- this is the same case as the FOX backgrounder; and the Republicans found a copy under oath to try to use the machinery of the Justice Department to silence him.

The third is that this is just a bluff -- they want to imply there's a contradiction, but they won't actually declassify and release the documents, thus having it both ways.

I strongly suspect it's a mix of two and three.

But why guess? Let's find out. Release all his testimony. All of it.

I think Bob Graham -- former Chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence and Co-Chair of the Joint Committee in question -- had it just right in what he said today ...
I concur with Senator Frist's call for de-classification of Richard Clarke's testimony to the Joint Inquiry. To the best of my recollection, there is nothing inconsistent or contradictory in that testimony and what Mr. Clarke has said this week.

I would add three other recommendations:

First, if Mr. Clarke's testimony is to be released, it should be released in its entirety -- not, as the Bush administration has done in the past, selectively edited so that only portions favorable to the White House are made public.

Second, the Bush administration should de-classify other documents that surround the Clarke testimony, such as his January 25, 2002, plan for action against al Qaeda, in order to clarify the issues that are in dispute.

And finally, the Bush administration should release all other testimony and documents related to 9-11 for which classification can no longer be justified -- including the 27 pages of the Joint Inquiry's final report that address the involvement of a foreign government in supporting some of the 19 hijackers while they lived among us and finalized their evil plot.

The American people deserve to know what their government has done -- and should be doing -- to protect them from terrorists, and who should be held accountable for shortcomings that have left our country vulnerable."

Compare that with one vintage moment from Frist's performance ...
I do not know if Mr. Clarke’s motive for theses charges is partisan gain, personal profit, self promotion, or animus because of his failure to win a promotion in the Bush Administration. But the one thing that his motive could not possibly be is to bring clarity to the issue of how we avoid future September 11 attacks.

Speaking only for my part -- though I suspect for others as well -- I have no stake in Richard Clarke. I think he's a hero because I'm quite confident (on the basis of very strong evidence) that he's telling the truth and now facing the whirlwind that we all knew these folks would bring against him.

If it turns out that what he said this week was really a bunch of lies, then he's no hero at all. And he really should be prosecuted.

If it ends up that he told the truth this week but perjured himself two years ago, I'd be disappointed, and he may have to face an indictment, but he'd still be a hero for telling the truth now. The fact that the Bush White House got him to lie for them then hardly puts them in a good light.

In any case, any legitimate legal jeopardy (as opposed to some bogus charge) Clarke may face is really only a matter of concern for him, his family and friends, and the Republicans who are trying to shut him up.

If you're just interested in having the facts come out, then it's really not a great source of concern. For the public, the fact that Clarke might have lied once and told the truth once isn't really point. The point would be which time he was telling the truth.

-- Josh Marshall

Lobbyists From Industries Appointed To Posts Meant To Watch Industries. 

But that's not the half of it. It turns out that two of the key EPA regulators overseeing the development of the mercury guidelines, Jeff Holmstead and William Wehrum, used to represent utility industry clients before Bush tapped them for high-ranking posts in the EPA's Office of Air and Radiation. They were both attorneys at Latham and Watkins -- a high-powered D.C. law firm that's been lobbying the administration to adopt the less stringent mercury standards, and which authored one of the memos cribbed in the EPA proposal.

Here's a thought: Maybe the White House can save taxpayers some money and have Holmstead and Wehrum put back on the Latham and Watkins payroll, seeing how they continue to be such devoted company men. Call it the privatization of the EPA.

This kind of fox-guarding-the-henhouse cronyism is fortunately being challenged by almost 200,000 citizens, who've signed a MoveOn.org petition opposing this blatant payback to Bush's utility industry contributors. And later this week, MoveOn will launch a hard-hitting television and print ad campaign designed to stoke public outrage over the Bush mercury proposal, which the EPA's own Children's Health Protection Advisory Committee declared, "does not sufficiently protect our nation's Children."

Arriana Huffington

Wow, This Is Getting Serious 

WASHINGTON - In a highly unusual move, key Republicans in Congress are seeking to declassify testimony that former White House terrorism adviser Richard Clarke gave in 2002 about the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said Friday.


Isn't $410 Billion A Year Enough To Include Body Armor? 

Why don't we have enough for our soldiers but billions for Halliburton?

(AP) Soldiers headed for Iraq are still buying their own body armor - and in many cases, their families are buying it for them - despite assurances from the military that the gear will be in hand before they're in harm's way.

Body armor distributors have received steady inquiries from soldiers and families about purchasing the gear, which can cost several thousand dollars. Though the military has advised them not to rely on third-party suppliers, many soldiers say they want it before they deploy.

Last October, it was reported that nearly one-quarter of American troops serving in Iraq did not have ceramic plated body armor, which can stop bullets fired from assault rifles and shrapnel.

The military says the shortfall is over and soldiers who do not yet have the armor soon will. But many want to avoid the risk.

Ironic Facts In Light Of The Fact That No One Ever Asked Clarke What He Thought Of The War In Iraq. 

From April through December last year, 23 soldiers killed themselves in Iraq or Kuwait. The cause of death in three other suspected suicide cases is still under investigation. The 23 total equates to a rate of 17.3 suicides per 100,000 soldiers, which compares to an Army-wide rate last year of 12.8.

Bring Them Home

Right About Now 

John Kerry must be having one of the easiest weeks of his life.

Attack Dog Diplomacy 

Nearly everyone of consequence in President Bush's inner circle appears to have been requisitioned to challenge Mr. Clarke's integrity and motives, accusing him of everything from trying to drum up sales for his new book to auditioning for a job in a John Kerry administration. The field of critics is so crowded that they're tripping over each other, as when Condoleezza Rice felt obliged to correct Vice President Dick Cheney's assertion that Mr. Clarke had never been "in the loop."….

The White House is so thin-skinned and defensive, however, that it simply cannot bring itself to join what ought to be a grown-up national conversation of how best to deal with terrorism. Its schoolyard name-calling does no one any good, least of all Mr. Bush, who is made to appear far more interested in undermining Mr. Clarke's credibility than in addressing the heart of his critique.

Attack Dog Diplomacy


As she prepares to leave her job at the end of the year, Ms. Rice, the president's national security adviser, now finds herself at the center of a political storm, furiously defending both the White House and her own reputation.

Condi’s Quitting?????!!!

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Bush Jokes 

Bush told jokes about looking for weapons of mass destruction at a Convention the other nightThere were photos of him looking under the sofa, and so forth.

It isn't funny.

This is why we fought.

Come on.

The White House Hates leaks, Unless They Leak It 

I picked this up from Kevin Drum over at Washington Monthly

LEAKY....Several other people have already mentioned this in passing today — some more directly than others — but it's something that's worth saying plainly: what is the Bush administration's policy about leaking/releasing classified information? They seem to have no problem with routinely leaking or releasing selected portions of classified data if it helps them or hurts their opponents. Just off the top of my head, here's what they've done recently:

In response to Joe Wilson's allegation last year that George Bush deceived the country about Iraq's supposed attempts to get uranium yellowcake from Africa, two "senior administration officials" outed his wife Valerie Plame as a covert CIA operative.

A few days later the White House declassified and released carefully selected portions of an October 2002 CIA report that bolstered its case against Wilson.

High-res video of Osama bin Laden taken in late 2000 was leaked to NBC's Lisa Meyers last week, apparently in a preemptive attempt to show that Bill Clinton had a chance to take bin Laden out but didn't. This is a guess on my part, but isn't this kind of video among the most sensitive intelligence data we possess? Despite this, the White House seemed remarkably unconcerned that it showed up on the evening news.

On Wednesday, in response to charges in Dick Clarke's recently published book, the White House took the unusual step of allowing Fox News to publish an August 2002 briefing that was originally done off the record.

Also on Wednesday, Condoleezza Rice read to reporters the "unclassified sentences" of an email Clarke sent to her shortly after 9/11.

I'm sure I've missed some examples, so feel free to fill them in in comments.

Now, I know that Washington is a leaky town and that people who play there are playing in the big leagues. But it still seems as though the Bush White House plays this game a little more aggressively than most, releasing or leaking all manner of classified information if it's helpful to their cause but holding it back for "national security reasons" if it isn't. Does this remind you of anyone?

The Administration Caught Off Guard, Throws Mud 

Maureen Dowd On The Smearmeisters

It's always gross to see a White House stoop to smearing the character of someone seen as a threat. It was sickening when the Clinton White House smeared Monica Lewinsky, and it's sickening now.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

The SmearMeisters 

Today Condileeza Rice attacked Richard Clarke by sarcastically mentioning that he didn’t even think the Department of Homeland Security should be created. On Larry King, he reminds us that both Cheney and Bush publically said they thought it was not a good idea. Apparently what happened was that it looked like Congress was going to pass the bill anyway and it would be called the Lieberman Bill. Then they turned on a dime and decided it was the best thing since sliced bread.

Fucking cocksucking liars. Vote them out.

Read this entire piece from The New Republic:

Clarke's nine-month tenure as the man in charge of counterterrorism in the Bush administration is being thrown down a memory hole. "So the only thing I can say about Dick Clarke," Cheney continued on Limbaugh's show, "is he was here throughout those eight years going back to 1993, and the first attack on the World Trade Center in '98 when the embassies were hit in east Africa, in 2000 when the USS Cole was hit, and the question that ought to be asked is, what were they doing in those days when he was in charge of counterterrorism efforts?"

Rice echoed the memory-hole strategy yesterday, noting on Fox News, "Dick Clarke was counterterrorism czar for a long time with a lot of attacks on the United States. What he was doing was -- what they were doing apparently was not working. We wanted to do something different." She didn't get a chance to explain how this statement comports with Hadley's insistence that "one of the decisions we made was to keep Mr. Clarke and his counter-terrorism group intact" because "we wanted an experienced team to try and identify the risk, take actions to disrupt the terrorists."

The SmearMeisters

From Talkingpointsmemo 

It's amazing how many partisan Democrats and disgruntled former employees working under cover as career civil servants, spies and military officers have betrayed this president. It just seems to happen again and again and again. I mean, just think of the list: Rand Beers, well-known partisan Democrat and hack, Richard Clarke, self-promoter, disgruntled former employee, and "self-regarding buffoon", Karen Kwiatkowski, conspiracy theorist and all-around freak, Valerie Plame, hack and nepotist, Joe Wilson, partisan hack, self-promoter and shameless green tea lover. When will the abuse end?

This adminstration will smear anyone who gets in their way

Condi Refuses To Testify 

National Security Advisor says she doesn't have to testify in front of a legislative body. That doesn't look, bad does it?

Can You Imagine this EVER Happening In America?  

Gates Spanked

An anti trust law enforced on an American company?

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - U.S. software giant Microsoft was on Wednesday slapped with a record $611.8 million fine for violating European Union antitrust law and ordered to take immediate steps to stop crushing software rivals.

From Stratfor- Hat tip Agonist From Stratfor- Hat tip Agonist 

I don't know if I agree this is a strategic thing or an election thing. I have to think it's simply to get Bush elected.

"From a geopolitical point of view, the importance of these hearings is simple. The United States has entered a period in which public discourse will be framed in terms of the past more than the future. The battle for the past is critical. If a public perception emerges that holds that Bush was derelict on al Qaeda and obsessed with Iraq, then his ability to conduct the ongoing conflict will be increasingly constrained. The United States is moving deeper into Pakistan in pursuit of al Qaeda. If the perception of Bush is that he has mismanaged the past, he will have little ability to manage the future. Even before he is defeated for the presidency, his ability to undertake initiatives will evaporate. Therefore, what is going on is not only an attempt to save -- and sink -- his presidency. His ability to carry out a foreign policy is also at stake."

Poor Choice Of Words For A Diplomat 

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

Why People Think Texans Are Dumb  

"Redefining marriage in a way that reduces it to a financial and legal relationship will only accelerate the deterioration of family life," , Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn said yesterday on Capitol Hill.

Fortunately For Bush, Everyone’s Too Distracted To Notice. 

General Motors' (GM) manufacturing arm plans to sharply increase the amount of new white-collar work it sends outside the United States this year as part of an overall effort to reduce costs, according to an internal report obtained by The Detroit News.

Shipping work to other nations where labor is cheaper — known as offshoring or outsourcing — has become a white-hot political issue in this presidential election year, with the United States continuing to lose high-paying manufacturing jobs because of rising productivity and growing pressure to cut costs.

"In 2003, we began offshoring activities moving $3.5 (million) of work to lower-cost locations," the GM report says, "and we are planning to increase that to $48 (million) in 2004."

White Collar Outsourcing To Begin

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Open Letter To Kerry From Walter Cronkite 

Dear Senator Kerry ...
By Walter Cronkite

Dear Sen. Kerry:

In the interests of your campaign and your party's desire to unseat George W. Bush, you have some explaining to do. During the primary campaign, your Democratic opponents accused you of flip-flopping on several important issues, such as your vote in favor of the Iraq War resolution.

Certainly your sensitivity to nuance, your ability to see shades of gray where George Bush sees only black and white, explains some of your difficulty. Shades of gray don't do well in political campaigns, where primary colors are the rule. And your long and distinguished service in the Senate has no doubt led to genuine changes in some positions. But the denial that you are a liberal is almost impossible to reconcile.

When the National Journal said your Senate record makes you one of the most liberal members of the Senate, you called that "a laughable characterization" and "the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen in my life." Wow! Liberals, who make up a substantial portion of the Democratic Party and a significant portion of the independent vote, are entitled to ask, "What gives?"

It isn't just the National Journal that has branded you as a liberal. So has the liberal lobbying group Americans for Democratic Action. Senator, check your own website. It says you are for rolling back tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, for tax credits to both save and create jobs, for real investment in our schools. You've voted, in the words of your own campaign, for "every major piece of civil rights legislation to come before Congress since 1985, as well as the Equal Rights Amendment." You count yourself (and are considered by others) a leader on environmental protection issues.

You are committed to saving Medicare and Social Security, and you are an internationalist in foreign policy.

What are you ashamed of? Are you afflicted with the Dukakis syndrome - that loss of nerve that has allowed conservatives both to define and to demonize liberalism for the past decade and more? You remember, of course, that it was during the 1988 presidential campaign that George Bush I attacked Democrat Michael Dukakis both for opposing the Vietnam War and for stating he was a card-carrying member of the American Civil Liberties Union. Both proved, Bush said, that Dukakis was a liberal. Dukakis responded to that as an attack on his patriotism. He defended neither liberalism nor the ACLU.

Dukakis might have responded by saying: "I am surprised, Mr. Bush, that you are not a member of the ACLU. We do not have to agree on all the positions that the ACLU may take on this issue or that, but we should applaud its effort to protect the rights of Americans, even those charged with heinous crimes." Dukakis might have defended liberalism as the legacy of FDR and Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy - none of whom were anything like 100 percent liberals but all of whom advanced the cause of a truly liberal democracy.

But by ducking the issue, Dukakis opened the way for the far right to make "L" for liberal a scarlet letter with which to brand all who oppose them. In the course of that 1988 exchange, Bush offered a telling observation, saying, in effect, that liberals don't like being called liberal. You seem to have reaffirmed that analysis.

If 1988 taught us anything, it is that a candidate who lacks the courage of his convictions cannot hope to convince the nation that he should be given its leadership. So, senator, some detailed explanations are in order if you hope to have any chance of defeating even a wounded George II in November. You cannot let the Bush league define you or the issues. You have to do that yourself. Take my advice and lay it all out, before it's too late.
Walter Cronkite has been a journalist for more than 60 years, including 19 as anchor of the CBS Evening News.

Medicare To Go Bankrupt By 2019 

Isn't This What They Wanted?

Medicare To Go Bankrupt

The Body Blow 

Truly Richard Clarke's credibility, his no-nonsense tone, his articulate and pationate description of the true conversations that took place pre and post 9/11 have shaken the last thread of credibility the Bush Administration has.

First it was Hans Blix. Then it was David Kaye. Then it was Valerie Plame's husband. Then it was Paul O'Neill.

One insider after another comes out and exposes some fundamental flaw in the approach of the Bush Administration and they are then promptly deconstructed in ad hominem attacks. There aren't just policy wonks either, they have had front row seats in cabinet level meetings and many of them in one administration after the next. It starts with the morning AM Talk shows that pick up their Talkingpointsmemos from the propaganda office at Clear Channel on trashing each detractor. Then it picks up with Bill O Reilly and Sean hannity and sometimes even Senator Lieberman will stick his foot in his mouth and pile on.

At the end of the day, when you are left trahsing one respected person after the next, it just makes you look like an ass. After a while, you have to look in the mirror.

Carter Blasts Bush 

Wow....An Actual Compassionate Conservative 

From Texas Freedom Network

"Every child must have access to a quality education, and quality must not
be dependent on their ZIP code."

-- Republican Todd Staples of Palestine, who said the Joint Select
Committee on Public School Finance's report should have called for reducing
spending gaps between the state's wealthiest and poorest schools.

Texas Schools Underfunded

From Daily Kos, a recorded and true timetable that contradicts Condi Rice’s POV on what happened around 9/11  

PRE-SEPTEMBER 11 - Reno Makes Counterterrorism DoJ's Top Priority

5/8/98 - Mission statement from internal FBI Strategic Plan dated 5/8/1998 in which the Tier One priority is counterterrorism [...]

4/6/00 - Official annual budget goals memo from Attorney General Janet Reno to department heads dated 4/6/2000 detailing how counterterrorism is her top priority for the Department of Justice. In the second paragraph, she states, "In the near term as well as the future, cybercrime and counterterrrorism are going to be the most challenging threats in the criminal justice area. Nowhere is the need for an up-to-date human and technical infrastructure more critical."

PRE-SEPTEMBER 11 - Ashcroft Shifts Direction Away From Counterterrorism

5/10/01 - Ashcroft New DoJ Budget Goals Memo: Official annual budget goals memo from Attorney General Ashcroft dated 5/10/2001 (directly compares to the 4/6/2000 Reno memo). Out of 7 strategic goals described, not one mentions counterterrorism, a serious departure from Reno.

8/9/01 - [...] Attorney General Ashcroft's new priorities for DoJ were highlighted. Specifically highlighted by Ashcroft are domestic violent crime and drug trafficking prevention. Item 1.3 entitled "Combat terrorist activities by developing maximum intelligence and investigative capability" is passed over [...]

Late August 2001 - [...] In this request, FBI specifically asks for, among other things, 54 translators to translate backlog of intelligence gathered (line 3 under Foreign Language Services, cost of $5.1 million), 248 counterterrorism agents and support staff (line 14 entitled CT field investigations, cost of $28 million), and 200 professional intelligence researchers (line 16, entitled Intelligence Production, at a cost of $20.8 million). FBI has repeatedly stated that it has a serious backlog of intelligence data it has gathered but simply does not have the staff to analyze or translate it into usable information. [...]

9/10/2001 - Official FY2003 Dept. of Justice Budget Request To White House: Official FY03 DoJ budget request from Attorney General Ashcroft to OMB Director Mitch Daniels, dated September 10, 2001. This document specifically highlights only the programs slated for above-baseline increases or below-baseline cuts [...] [T]his document shows that Ashcroft was planning to ignore the FBI's specific requests for more translators, counterintelligence agents and researchers, mentioned above. It additionally shows Ashcroft was trying to slash funding from counterterrorism and grants and other homeland defense programs before 9/11.

POST-SEPTEMBER 11: Ashcroft Still Ignores FBI Counterterrorism Requests

Post 9/11 - Budget Document Detailing OMB Rejection of FBI Counter-Terror Request: Internal document showing that FBI requested $1.499 billion for counterterrorism for the post-September 11 emergency supplemental but received just $530 million from the White House, despite serious counterterrorism needs.

If You're Ever In Santa Monica 

Pick up a copy of the Santa Monica Daily Press and read Incites by my buddy Ed Silverstein.

In his last column he writes " The new Spanish Prime Minister has declared that the war on Iraq was a dismal failure that was based on lies. It is expected that the Bush Administration will respond with drastic retaliatory measures such as changing Spanish Mackerel, Spanish influenza to Spanish Mackerel, Freedom Flu and Freedom Fly."

Well said

Monday, March 22, 2004

Ten Days Until Deadline 

Posted by Trajan on Thursday, September 25, 2003

A proposal 

Maccabee, I'll make this deal with you:

If by next April 1st, the following things have not happened:

- Terrorist attacks have stopped or tapered off substantially
- The infrastructure of Iraq is returned to workable levels
- There is clear, definable progress down the road to a new Iraqi government (written plan, Constitutional Convention, etc)

- Unemployment levels have failed to come around
- The market has not ramped into full recovery

Then I will revoke my support for Bush. I will still defend those actions I feel are misrepresented, but he will not have my support for reelection.

The Bush Attack Machine Goes Into Action Again. 

David Kaye, Hans Blix, Joseph Wilson, Jack Straw, Joe O’Neill, Colin Powell,
David D’Illio, Howard Dean, General Zinni, Barbara Streisand, Tim Robbins, Natalie Maines, Max Cleland, Madeliene Albright, and Tucker Carlson.

What will all these people soon have in common with Richard Clark? Soon Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity and the rest of the Bush Attack Machine will make him a target too. Why? Telling the truth. It’s ironic and even funny how someone can have the utmost respect of one president after the next. They can be the top experts in their fields with long and respected careers.

Butr as soon as they come out and bring to bear the disaster this whole bullshit war has been, then they get deconstructed in the most disrespectful way. In fact, this administration will lie about their backgrounds, call them epithets and even distort their voting records.

It’s a shame and a sham. It isn’t politics as usual. It’s the shit politics that only this administration hide sbehind: false patriotism and scare tactics and intimidation.

Below, I lifted this from Kevin Drum at Washington monthly- showing us that the attack machine has already started.

• Kathryn Jean Lopez (from last night): CBS is really hyping 60 Minutes. Apparently they want people to watch it, especially basketball fans.

• Mark Levin: "Clinton had several clear shots at taking out bin Laden, but refused. He treated the entire matter as one for law enforcement to handle....And I don't buy the premise that Bush was so occupied with Saddam Hussein that he failed to see al-Qaeda. Where's the evidence other than some unsubstantiated comments by self-promoting authors who are hardly unencumbered by political taint?"

• Tim Graham: "My overwhelming first impression is that it's a little odd to let a guy who sat for many years in the White House while the Clintons did zippy claiming that the Bushies did "nothing" before 9-11. The nets are playing down the fact that he was a Clinton aide...."

• Jonah Goldberg: "It seems to me that Clarke cannot simply be dismissed as a jerk with an agenda (as I am perfectly comfortable doing with Joe Wilson). That said, that doesn't mean we have to buy everything Clarke says without skepticism....But it's sounds like Clarke was an embittered holdover from the Clinton administration who was kept on out of an admirable desire for continuity."

• Tim Graham: Lesley Stahl can't be trusted.

• Jim Geraghty: It's a little hard to say what the point of Geraghty's comment is. Bush is Churchillian and Clarke should be pleased with his actions in Iraq? Or something. Sounds like he thought there was a point there but it never quite jelled before he pushed the Publish button. Hey, I understand, I've been there myself....

• Kathryn Jean Lopez: "Dick Clarke and Kerry adviser Rand Beers are teaching a Harvard class together this semester."

UPDATE: The Weekly Standard's Stephen Hayes managed to bang out a short piece that's up this morning. Quick summary: Clarke's no counterterrorism bulldog. In fact, he's kind of a loon.

Beyond Krugman 

The Economist injects some much needed reality into all of the gloom and doom about jobs and poverty.

Economist Article

A few choice quotes:

"American anxiety over the economy appears to have tipped over into paranoia and self-delusion."

I would agree with this one on both sides of the aisle. The partisan trenches have been dug and the barbed wire strung out, eliminating the need for reason.

"Outsourcing was in full swing—both in manufacturing and in services—throughout the job-creating 1990s. Government statisticians reckon that outsourced jobs are responsible for well under 1% of those signed up as unemployed. And the jobs lost to outsourcing pale in comparison with the number of jobs lost and created each month at home. Even here, the rate of job “churn” has, for unclear reasons, been falling since mid-2001."

No big surprise here. Outsourcing has its effect, certainly, but it seems to have become a scapegoat for lagging job growth. Could it be perhaps that we are still reeling from the job inflation the Y2K fears sparked? Or could it be that productivity growth and the steady march of technology have permanently altered the job landscape? And how, exactly, can either of those be the president's fault?

"The slow growth in median income overlaps with a scale of immigration into America outpacing all immigration in the rest of the world put together. Many immigrants have come precisely to take up the lowest-paid jobs. As a result, in the 20 years to 1999 some 5m immigrant households were added to those defined as below the poverty level. Yet among native-born Americans, poverty rates have declined steadily since the 1960s. In the case of black families, median incomes have recently been rising at twice the pace for the country as a whole."

Now these are some numbers you'll never see Krugman referring to. It's not the middle-class that is sinking, but the sheer scale of immigration that is stagnating median income growth?

"At the end of last year, America's household wealth, at $44 trillion, passed the previous peak set in early 2000. With Americans wealthier than ever, why are many so anxious? Perhaps they think prosperity will vanish in a puff of terrorist smoke or a housing-market collapse."

The household wealth statistic is interesting - but the population has also increased since 2000. Still, the question of lingering fears over the economy is valid. Personally, I believe that the economy is driven largely on emotion, and that much of the naysaying and bickering is keeping a lid on true resurgence. The effect is only exacerbated by metrics that are woefully out of date and in need of overhauling.

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