Saturday, October 18, 2003

Brooks: why your column is wrong 

speakingcorpse offers an open letter to David Brooks:

Dear Brooks,

In a better world, I'd write a letter trying to persuade you that your
opinions are wrong
. But I'm not stupid. I know what you are. You're
paid to be the moderate conservative voice on the Times op/ed page.
You're paid to develop opinions that fit into that pre-made mold. You
don't think. You simply must develop certain sorts of criticism of
the Democrats. Truth has nothing to do with your arguments. So,
before explaining why your column is wrong, I will first say: you are
a worthless fuck.

Now, I'll explain, briefly, why your column is wrong. The Democrats
who opposed the Iraq appropriation are, like the Democrats who opposed
the war resolution, not in principle opposed to helping Iraq by any
means that would actually help Iraq. They are not, that is, opposed in
principle to violence or to an American presence in Iraq. But they know
that Bush is too corrupt and incompetent to help Iraq. You seem to
recognize that this is the root of their opposition, but dismiss it out
of hand. Anyone who would simply oppose anything Bush does is
"partisan," etc. But that's not true. Opposition to Bush has nothing
to do with opposition to Republicans or supporting Democrats. It has
everything to do with saving the rule of law. You can't deny--even if
you say you can--that Bush has lied about every aspect of the war. You
can't deny that Bush had no idea what he was getting into, because,
horrifyingly, he believed his own lies. (EVEN THOUGH HE KNEW THEY WERE
thought war would be fun, and not a terrible challenge. (You saw him in
his space suit--donned despite the fact that he was criminally AWOL 30
years ago--and you know that such a complacent fool could not possibly
have any idea of what state-sanctioned violence entails.) You've heard
this man insist, before the very friends and family members of those who
have been blown up by road-side bombs, that things are going well. You
know what he is. Don't tell me you don't. Stop telling yourself that
you don't.

Such a man cannot be trusted to do anything right. As long as he is
"president," it makes perfect sense to oppose all his policies, just
because they are his. Giving him money to "fix" Iraq will only result
in still larger unforeseen catastrophes. The late Lars Erik Nelson, a
brilliant and non-affiliated political reporter who wrote for the New
York Review of Books
, said in November of 2000, during the election
catastrophe, that opposing Bush had nothing to do with partisan politics
(something that he had, again, scrupulously avoided for his entire
life). Opposing Bush was opposing, Nelson said, opposing "bullshit."
That was one of the few times he ever went on record in support or
opposition of a particular candidate. Nelson died that fall.

Anyway, you haven't read this whole message. You have your
own "message" to broadcast. Your debts are being called in. So you
probably won't mind, or notice, if I say, in conclusion: eat shit.


Annular Flashback: October 18, 2002 

October 18, 2002

Springtime for Hitler

You may recall that George W. Bush promised, among other things, to change the tone in Washington. He made good on that promise: the tone has certainly changed.

As far as I know, in the past it wasn't considered appropriate for the occupant of the White House to declare that members of the opposition party weren't interested in the nation's security. And it certainly wasn't usual to compare anyone who wants to tax the rich - or even anyone who estimates the share of last year's tax cut that went to the wealthy - to Adolf Hitler.

O.K., maybe we should discount remarks by Senator Phil Gramm. When Mr. Gramm declared that a proposal to impose a one-time capital gains levy on people who renounce U.S. citizenship in order to avoid paying taxes was "right out of Nazi Germany," even the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, Charles Grassley, objected to the comparison.

But Mr. Grassley must have thought better of his objection, since just a few weeks later he decided to use the Hitler analogy himself: "I am sure voters will get their fill of statistics claiming that the Bush tax cut hands out 40 percent of its benefits to the top 1 percent of taxpayers. This is not merely misleading, it is outright false. Some folks must be under the impression that as long as something is repeated often enough, it will become true. That was how Adolf Hitler got to the top."

For the record, Robert McIntyre of Citizens for Tax Justice - the original source of that 40 percent estimate - is no Adolf Hitler. The amazing thing is that Mr. Grassley is sometimes described as a moderate. His remarks are just one more indicator that we have entered an era of extreme partisanship - one that leaves no room for the acknowledgment of politically inconvenient facts. For the claim that Mr. Grassley describes as "outright false" is, in fact, almost certainly true; in a rational world it wouldn't even be a matter for argument.

You might imagine that Mr. Grassley has in hand an alternative answer to the question "How much of the tax cut will go to the top 1 percent?" - that the administration has, at some point, produced a number showing that the wealthy aren't getting a big share of the benefits. In fact, however, administration officials have never answered that question. When pressed, they have always insisted on answering some other question.

But last year the Treasury Department did release a table showing, somewhat inadvertently, that more than 25 percent of the income tax cut will go to people making more than $200,000 per year. This number doesn't include the effects of estate tax repeal; in 1999 only 2 percent of estates paid any tax, and half of that tax was paid by only 0.16 percent of estates. The number also probably doesn't take account of the alternative minimum tax, which will snatch away most of the income tax cut for upper-middle-class families, but won't affect the rich.

Put all this together and it becomes clear that, sure enough, something like 40 percent of the tax cut - it could be a bit less, but probably it's considerably more - will go to 1 percent of the population. And the administration's systematic evasiveness on the question of who benefits from the tax cut amounts to a plea of nolo contendere.

Which brings us back to the new tone in Washington.

When Ronald Reagan cut taxes on rich people, he didn't deny that that was what he was doing. You could agree or disagree with the supply-side economic theory he used to justify his actions, but he didn't pretend that he was increasing the progressivity of the tax system.

The strategy used to sell the Bush tax cut was simply to deny the facts - and to lash out at anyone who tried to point them out. And it's a strategy that, having worked there, is now being applied across the board.

Michael Kinsley recently wrote that "The Bush campaign for war against Iraq has been insulting to American citizens, not just because it has been dishonest, but because it has been unserious. A lie is insulting; an obvious lie is doubly insulting." All I can say is, now he notices? It's been like that all along on economic policy.

You see, some folks must be under the impression that as long as something is repeated often enough, it will become true. That was how George W. Bush got to the top.

Friday, October 17, 2003

Am I THE ONLY ONE who watches Christian cable television? 

From the L.A. Times:
Can the Crusader
Consider this unlikely pair: Army Lt. Gen. William G. "Jerry" Boykin, the new deputy undersecretary of Defense for intelligence, and Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. As Times staffer Richard T. Cooper reported Thursday, Boykin has repeatedly said he sees the war on terrorism as a battle between Judeo-Christian values and Satan.

Meanwhile, Mahathir announced Thursday at the Organization of the Islamic Conference summit that "today the Jews rule this world by proxy" and must be outsmarted by Islam. In their penchant for demonizing, the two men have more in common than they might think.

Imagine the two conversing: Boykin tells Mahathir it's obvious that Islamic militants hate the United States "because we're a Christian nation, because our foundation and our roots are Judeo-Christian And the enemy is a guy named Satan" (June 2003).

Mahathir laughs and tells Boykin he's got it wrong. No, no, don't forget the Jews: "The expulsion of Jews from the Holy Land 2,000 years ago and the Nazi oppression of Jews have taught them nothing It has transformed the Jews into the very monsters that they condemn so roundly"(1986). Mahathir continues that "the European race" itself is sexually deviant, greedy, responsible for warmongering and wants to "control the world again" (June 2003).

Boykin responds that although he doesn't believe Europe is at fault, the war on terror is "a war against the forces of darkness. The battle won't be won with guns. It will be won on our knees Stay on your knees and don't ever give up" (January 2003).

The two men perceive the world in similar terms. One sees a perfidious plot against Asian and Islamic values; the other, newly in charge of hunting down Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein and other terrorism targets, appears to believe that the entire Islamic world is America's enemy.

Mahathir undermines moderate, secular Muslim leaders while Boykin mocks Bush's attempts to emphasize that the U.S. is targeting terrorists, not Islam. Boykin may say he is speaking for himself, but at his level anything said outside his living room will be seen as speaking for the U.S. military.

Mahathir will fade away on his own. It's up to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to retire the Pentagon's self-proclaimed crusader before he does more damage.

Sorry if I'm being naive here (I know what Bush has "said," "emphasized," etc.), but is there any evidence--any evidence at all--that Bush does not in fact wholeheartedly believe that "the war on terrorism [is] a battle between Judeo-Christian values and Satan"? That the war on terror is indeed "a war against the forces of darkness"? That, in the final analysis (and believe me, fundie evangelistic Christians are never not in a direct-line-of-sight with a final analysis of one kind or another) "the entire Islamic world is America's enemy"? Whence comes this platitude that when Bush "emphasizes" that "the U.S. is targeting terrorists, not Islam," he should be taken at his word? His WORD? Please!

I think liberals really need to get over their ingrained squeamishness about all things racio-religio-militaristic, and stop fucking kidding themselves: Bush does not think that "Islam is peace." (Shit, I don't even think Islam "is peace." I don't think any religion "is peace," except I guess Buddhism and perhaps Jainism, etc.) Fundamentalist Christians think Islam is war--that indeed, Christianity is first and foremost war--and let's be straight about this: Bush is their leader. Why not come right out and say it?

Bush: I Am Shit 

speakingcorpse does AmCop proud:

This is an excellent column, and it is encouraging to see it in the Washington Post. It doesn't say much that AmCop readers haven't said or heard already. But as Bush himself says, why should the fact that we've heard something before prevent us from hearing it again, and calling it news? Anyway, the famous quote that is the basis of this column is worth looking at again:
"I glance at the headlines, just to get kind of a flavor," he told Brit Hume of Fox News last month. But, "I rarely read the stories" because "a lot of times there's opinions mixed in with news." Instead, "I get briefed by [White House Chief of Staff] Andy Card and Condi [Rice, the national security adviser] in the morning."

If the country survives and children are still being educated in public schools about things other than the incorrectness of evolution and the generosity of the God who crucified his Son, then textbook accounts of this administration will start with this quotation. (Perhaps it will be remembered not in public schools or textbooks but in quasi-mythological accounts of our decadent ruler, just as we read today about Caligula and Nero.) Anyway, it is so damning as to boggle the mind. It says it all. And we STILL, even in intelligent books openly critical of the Bush "administration," like American Unbound by Ivo Daalder, hear about Bush's ability as a leader. NOT LISTENING IS NOT AND NEVER HAS FIGURED IN ANY INTELLIGENT DEFINITION OF LEADERSHIP. Think about Machiavelli or some other intelligent (or even semi-sentient) political theorist explaining to a prospective ruler, "Make sure you listen ONLY to your advisers, as they are the only ones who are pure and disinterested in their motivations, and can thus give you objectively accurate assessments of reality." It's simply unbelievable. Any leader knows that the advice of immediate subordinates is highly compromised. And most leaders know, of course, that it's important to know what the opposition thinks. But the former point is the essential one. Has he (Bush, Brit Hume, etc.) never heard of the idea of telling the guy on top what he wants to hear? That a president could make this assertion is beyond belief. It is as close as one can come to saying, without actually saying, "I don't give a shit, and I'm saying I don't give a shit, about anything. I don't give a shit about what you think. And I don't even give a shit about whether my policies succeed or fail. And the fact that you will accept that I don't give a shit, about you or anything else, means that I have and will stay in power." In other words, Bush is getting as close as is possible to stating openly the following message: "Because I am the President"--at the top of the hierarchy--"I am the President." There's really nothing else to say. The goal is power, and the best way to protect power is to assert it. People will simply take it, because that is what power IS--forcing you to take it. And they'll like it. Because what's not to like about the guy who is spitting in your face, or shitting in your mouth? This is Bush's "re-election" strategy--to state, as directly as possible, without blowing the game, "Vote for me you stupid fucks. Vote for me because I demand it and have no reason to. What could the person be who makes this kind of arbitrary, demented demand, if not the leader?"

Well, he could be a pile of shit. But what's the difference? A pile of shit that demands respect--such an entity must surely be invested with an inexplicable power demanding of respect. There's no way out of the tautology. Shit rules because rulers have the power to be shit and rule.

Devolution in action 

Click here for a scary-funny.

"Cynical, politically aware African-American children" mock our Nat'l Security Adviser 

Here's the comic.
From the Daily News:
Condoleezza Rice is a sticky subject at the Washington Post this week.

The paper has suspended "The Boondocks," a comic strip populated by cynical, politically aware African-American children, because of a series of jokes about the national security adviser's personal life.

On Tuesday, cartoonist Aaron McGruder had one of his young characters speculate: "Maybe if there was a man in the world who Condoleezza truly loved, she wouldn't be so hell-bent to destroy it."

A rep for the Post, which won't be resuming the strip until Sunday, said: "We had no way of knowing whether Mr. McGruder's assertion that Condoleezza Rice had no personal relationship was true or not."

Rice's office didn't return a call yesterday.

The artist's rep told us yesterday, "Not a single other paper in the nation chose to abort this week's strip."

Sticky indeed...

Daily Quiz: What Do the Words That Came Out From the Hole Under Rumsfeld's Nose Mean? 

Today's quiz concerns the last three paragraphs in the following excerpt:
Rumsfeld Says Anti-Islam Aide Is 'Outstanding'
WASHINGTON, Oct. 16 (Reuters)— Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld declined on Thursday to criticize a senior Pentagon intelligence official who has told evangelical gatherings that Muslims worship an "idol" and not "a real God," and instead praised the general's "outstanding" military record.

Lt. Gen. William Boykin of the Army, deputy under secretary of defense for intelligence and war-fighting support, has used speeches at churches and prayer breakfasts to portray the American battle with Muslim radicals as a fight against "Satan," saying militant Islamists sought to destroy America "because we're a Christian nation."

NBC News broadcast videotapes of General Boykin, an evangelical Christian, giving a number of speeches while wearing his military uniform at religious functions around the country.

At a Pentagon briefing, Mr. Rumsfeld declined to answer when asked whether it was appropriate or advisable for a high-ranking Pentagon official to make such remarks in public, and did not say whether he would investigate.

"We do know that he is an officer that has an outstanding record in the United States Armed Forces," Mr. Rumsfeld said.

"There are a lot of things that are said by people in the military, or civilian life, or in the Congress, or in the executive branch, that are their views, and that's the way we live," Mr. Rumsfeld said. "We're a free people."

"Saddam Hussein could do it pretty well, because he'd go around killing people if they said things he didn't like," he added.

Thus, today's Quiz question: What Do the Words That Came Out From the Hole Under Rumsfeld's Nose Mean?

Leave your answers in the Comment window below. The winning entry will be posted.

Annular Flashback: October 17, 2002 

From the AP...

Gov. Bush's Daughter Sentenced

ORLANDO, Fla. (Oct. 17) - Gov. Jeb Bush's daughter was sentenced to 10 days in jail and led away in handcuffs Thursday after being accused of having crack cocaine in her shoe while in drug rehab.

Noelle Bush, 25, kissed her aunt Dorothy Koch as a sheriff's deputy cuffed her behind the back. Koch is the sister of President Bush and the governor, who was not in court.

In a statement, the governor said he realizes that his daughter must face the consequences of her actions.

``Every parent of a child with an addiction understands that the long road to recovery is never easy and that there are numerous challenges along the way,'' he said. ``This is a very difficult time for all of us ... and I pray every day our beautiful daughter will once again know a life free from the horrors of substance abuse.''

Before being sentenced, she told the judge: ``I sincerely apologize for what happened and promise to do well at the Center for Drug-Free Living.''

The president's niece has been undergoing drug treatment in Orlando since February, after she accused of trying to use a forged prescription to buy the anti-anxiety drug Xanax at a pharmacy drive-through window.

In July, she went to jail for two days after she was caught with prescription pills at the rehab center.

Last month, police were called to the center after another patient reported that Bush had crack. But no charges were ever filed. Staff members refused to cooperate with police, citing federal privacy regulations, and a judge upheld the rehab center's position.

On Thursday, Whitehead told Bush that she could have faced felony drug charges if he had not decided to give her another chance.

``I want you to have some time to think and reflect on this,'' Whitehead said. ``You should be disappointed that you let yourself down.''

No, Judge Whitehead: she should be disappointed that she let the American People down.

I haven't read this article, and I'm probably not going to...
Stressing U.S. Right to Attack Foes, Bush Leaves for Asia

...but is that a weird-ass headline or what?

Don't click here if you don't want to vomit on yourself, piss yourself and/or harm yourself.

The Sweet Spot  

Krugman today makes an argument about middle-class tax cuts (and the Democrats' proposed rollbacks) that (I think) Kerry has been making during the debates:

George W. Bush is like a man who tells you that he's bought you a fancy new TV set for Christmas, but neglects to tell you that he charged it to your credit card, and that while he was at it he also used the card to buy some stuff for himself. Eventually, the bill will come due — and it will be your problem, not his.

Still, those who want to restore fiscal sanity probably need to frame their proposals in a way that neutralizes some of the administration's demagoguery. In particular, they probably shouldn't propose a rollback of all of the Bush tax cuts.

Here's why: while the central thrust of both the 2001 and the 2003 tax cuts was to cut taxes on the wealthy, the bills also included provisions that provided fairly large tax cuts to some — but only some — middle-income families. Chief among these were child tax credits and a "cutout" that reduced the tax rate on some income to 10 percent from 15 percent.

These middle-class tax cuts were designed to create a "sweet spot" that would allow the administration to point to "typical" families that received big tax cuts. If a middle-income family had two or more children 17 or younger, and an income just high enough to take full advantage of the provisions, it did get a significant tax cut. And such families played a big role in selling the overall package.

So if a Democratic candidate proposes a total rollback of the Bush tax cuts, he'll be offering an easy target: administration spokespeople will be able to provide reporters with carefully chosen examples of middle-income families who would lose $1,500 or $2,000 a year from tax-cut repeal. By leaving the child tax credits and the cutout in place while proposing to repeal the rest, contenders will recapture most of the revenue lost because of the tax cuts, while making the job of the administration propagandists that much harder.

Full story.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Presenting the Latest Adventures in the Meta-Administration! 

White House Entering Complete Fucking Meltdown Mode!
From the Philly Inquirer:

Bush orders officials to stop the leaks
He warned of action if anonymous sources were quoted, a senior aide said. Visiting senators also heard a stern line.

WASHINGTON -Concerned about the appearance of disarray and feuding
within his administration

The Bush Meta-Administration (from here on the "M-A") is concerned not with
the fact that it is in disarray, and that members of the M-A are feuding
over issues of substance--but rather with the appearance of disarray and

as well as growing resistance to his policies
in Iraq,

The M-A is concerned not with the fact that there may be problems with the
substance of its Iraq policies
--but rather with the fact that there is
"resistance" to those policies!

President Bush - living up to his recent declaration that he
is in charge -

Whereas a regular old run-of-the-mill president might follow the tedious
course of showing that he is in charge by being in charge--i.e., by being
the president
--in the M-A, the president takes charge by "declar[ing] that
he is in charge"!

told his top officials to "stop the leaks" to the media,
or else.

Or else what? Or else Roberto Gonzales will have to review their emails and
delete the ones that prove they have been involved in leaks?

News of Bush's order leaked almost immediately.


Bush told his senior aides Tuesday that he "didn't want to see any
quoting unnamed administration officials in the media anymore,

In the M-A, the problem is not so much with the events in the real world
which the stories refer to
--but rather with the presence of the stories

and that if he did, there would be consequences, said a senior
administration official who asked that his name not be used.

An escalating turf war involving Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld,
national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, and Secretary of State
Colin L. Powell has generated an unusually bountiful crop of leaks in
recent months, and one result is a criminal investigation of anonymous
officials in the White House who are alleged to have leaked the name of
a CIA covert officer.

The infighting, backstabbing and maneuvering on such major
foreign-policy issues as North Korea, Syria, Iran and postwar Iraq have
escalated to a level that veterans of government say they have not seen
in years. At one point, the senior official said, Bush himself asked
how bad it was

Well, who did he ask? The members of his own administration? But that
wouldn't make sense, because unless there were news stories describing the
"infighting, backstabbing and maneuvering," then there wouldn't really be
any "infighting, backstabbing and maneuvering,"
would there? And since Bush
has said he doesn't read news from newspapers, how does he even know it

"This isn't as bad as [George] Shultz vs. [Caspar] Weinberger, is it?"
he asked, referring to a legendary Reagan administration rivalry
between secretaries of state and defense. One top official reportedly
nodded and said it was "way worse."

God, it's just fucking embarrassing. Yes, Bush: it's "as bad as" that!

The infighting has strained Bush's patience.

Hopefully he's treating that excessive strain with an extra nap or two.

On Monday, reacting to reports of internal conflict among his top
advisers, the President told one regional broadcaster: "The person
who's in charge is me."

"Message" clear, President! But where, one might ask, is Bush getting his information from? And once he has obtained such information, where does he find the epistemological
to assert his discovery of an identity between "The person who's in
charge" and "me"?
I can imagine the syllogistic process: "Okay, there is a
person who is in charge. And there is me. Now..."

Bush's attempt to assert himself extends beyond the executive branch.
Late Tuesday, in a brief, brusque arm-twisting session with nine
senators, the President made it clear that he was not there to answer
questions or debate the merits of
his $87 billion Iraq and Afghanistan
aid package.

Right again! In the M-A, it's not the "merits" of the policy that
matter--it's whether or not there "appears" to be any "resistance" to that

At one point, as he discussed the question of providing some of the
money as a loan, Bush slammed his hand down on the table and said:
"This is bad policy."

WHOA there, Mr. President--let's stay on track here; let's keep our eye on
the ball
. It's not the policy that is good or bad; it's the appearance of
resistance from the people who do/do not find fault with the good/bad policy!

When Collins tried to ask a question, the President replied: "I'm not
here to debate it."

Right. That's Leadership. That's Decisiveness. Remember the applicable
equation: "Person who is in charge" = "me."

One participant told The Inquirer that some of the senators,
particularly those who have never been on the opposing side of an issue
with Bush, were "surprised by his directness." It was clear he was not
there to engage in any give-and-take, the participant said.

After years of difficult complexity and near-inscrutable levels of subtlety
and suggestion
from the president, this "directness" must almost come as a
breath of fresh air!

Nevertheless, Bush failed to sway any of the pro-loan Republicans.

I don't see why not; is there something wrong with "I'm not
here to debate it"
as a persuasive gesture?

That failure was in sharp contrast to the President's lobbying of House
members last week. Zach Wamp, a Tennessee Republican who had pushed a
loan plan, backed away after meeting with Bush. "If his eyes had been
lasers, mine would have burned out,"
Wamp said then.

Actually if his eyes had been lasers they would likely have appeared as a
single laser
, judging from how close together his "eyes" are set in his face.

"What's most revealing is the extent of frustration taking hold," said
historian Robert Dallek of Boston University, a biographer of
Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and John F. Kennedy. "It's really
reminiscent of Johnson and Vietnam. Members of the Senate... and the
media were giving him grief. It sounds like Bush is falling into that
pattern. He's blaming the media, much like Johnson did."

Watch out, media--you've got an oddly singular-looking set of dual
heading in your direction...

Snoozing Through Plamegate 

Papered Over
The country's leading editorial pages are ignoring the Plame scandal.
By Michael Tomasky

If you've been feeling that the Bush administration may be skating free of having to wrestle with the Valerie Plame controversy and are wondering why this is happening, let me submit one possible explanation: The major media are putting no pressure whatsoever on the administration, or the president, to do anything.
The New York Times and The Washington Post are still our leading newspapers, and no doubt they consider themselves guardians of the public interest. So one might think that when a scandal of this potential magnitude appears, they would rush in to protect that interest. An undercover agent's identity was exposed, in possible violation of the law and in obvious violation of the old-fashioned morality that conservatives supposedly revere. If ever there was a moment for a newspaper's editorial page to demand that an administration take actions or offer explanations, it's a moment like this one.

But this is what has happened: In the nearly three weeks now since the story broke on Sept. 28 -- that would be 18 editions of each newspaper, as I write these words -- the Times has written all of one editorial on the Plame-Joseph Wilson-Robert Novak matter. The Post has published two. OK, there's a lot going on in the world to write about, and one or two might be defensible -- as long as they were tough and called for some specific action from the president.
What should these papers be doing? Lots of things. Most dramatically, they could call on Bush, if he genuinely wants to learn the leaker's (or leakers') identity, to order his staff to release all reporters from their confidentiality agreements . We'd get to the bottom of this in a flash, and the journalists would be violating no ethical charge. The public interest would be served.

Short of that, the editorial pages could be demanding a specific timetable from the White House and from Ashcroft; or they could be keeping pressure on Bush to make some public demonstrations that his White House and his Department of Justice are genuinely pursuing this matter. On Wednesday, the Times itself reported that "senior criminal prosecutors" at the Justice Department and officials at the FBI are alarmed that Ashcroft hasn't recused himself or appointed a special prosecutor. It'll be worth watching to see whether the editorial page backs up the paper's own tough reporting -- or undercuts it with more editorial equivocations.

And let's not forget the polls from earlier in the week: 83% consider the leak scandal "serious," and a plurality believe the White House is not cooperating with the investigation.

Clark and the "Leadership" thing 

With regard to this New York Observer editorial

Wesley Clark: Is He The Man to Beat Bush?

Media Whores makes the following good point:

One of the many reasons that indicate General Clark will destroy Bush if nominated is the fact that he recognizes Bush's only remaining strength - an inexplicable and irrational perception on the part of a majority of Americans regarding Bush's "leadership" ability - and has set out to neutralize it.

Perhaps the distorted perception is the result of Bush's constant use of focus-group tested phrases like "strong leadership" in every speech. Perhaps it is the result of months and months of craven media whores and Democrats praising Bush's "leadership" in the days after 9/11, thereby inoculating him against reality.

Whatever the reason, General Clark has recognized this problem and now frequently sums up his campaign as being primarily about what Boy Emperor lacks: leadership qualities, vision, and competence.

We believe that these more overriding concerns will loom larger in the 2004 election than individual policy positions, and that when Americans see a successful, accomplished four-star general standing next to a juvenile and inarticulate frat boy whose entire life is a rap sheet of one failure after another - in every area, including academics, business, and governing - the stark contrast will diminish or completely destroy the Unelected Fraud's only remaining artificial strength.

Clinton warned Bush of bin Laden threat 

This has gotta be the thirty-seventh time I've heard this story--but ya know, for some reason it just never seems to get old!

Clinton warned Bush of bin Laden threat
Thu 16 October, 2003 03:27 BST

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Former President Bill Clinton says he warned President George W. Bush before he left office in 2001 that Osama bin Laden was the biggest security threat the United States faced.

Speaking at a luncheon sponsored by the History Channel on Wednesday, Clinton said he discussed security issues with Bush in his "exit interview," a formal and often candid meeting between a sitting president and the president-elect.

"In his campaign, Bush had said he thought the biggest security issue was Iraq and a national missile defence," Clinton said. "I told him that in my opinion, the biggest security problem was Osama bin Laden."

The U.S. government has blamed bin Laden's Al Qaeda network for the September 11 attacks.

Time magazine reported last year that a plan for the United States to launch attacks against the al-Qaeda network languished for eight months because of the change in presidents and was approved only a week before the September 11 attacks.

Full Story.

Annular Flashback: October 16, 2002 

Introducing a fun new AmCop feature: Annular Flashbacks.

According to Freud, a perception must be repeated in order for the conscious mind to register it as a perception. In other words, an event has to "occur" twice in order for us to perceive it as having occurred a first time. Or something like that. (Look, I'm not a Freud scholar; if you want to know what Freud really says, ask speakingcorpse.)

Anyway, the point should be clear: our American "news" culture suffers from a weird neurological disorder in which major news media seem only to report on stories (particularly scandalous stories about bad things Republicans have done) a long time after many of us have become aware of those stories, and spent some time wondering why they were being ignored. (A major recent example was the weeks-long lag of unconsciousness between David Corn's Nation column about the Wilson/Plame leak-smear, and the front page story in the Washington Post.)

Thus: in the service of fighting our national amnesia (narcolepsy? Korsakov's syndrome?) AmCop will frequently offer a little reminder of what some of us were talking about exactly one year ago. (Funny the resemblance it often bears to what we find ourselves talking about today!)

So: October 16, 2002. A sticky spot to start off in, to say the least. (Unfortunately it only gets stickier from here.) The following was an email update from MoveOn.org. Note especially the ominous/prophetic final paragraph.

Dear MoveOn Member,

In the wake of last Thursday's vote on Iraq, the Bush Administration
and the Republican far right are going on the offensive. The
President would like nothing more than to demonstrate that when
Democrats speak out against the President's endless war, they

Senator Paul Wellstone's predicament is typical. Wellstone is in the
political fight of his life -- slightly behind in the polls to a
far-right candidate flush with cash and hand-picked by Karl Rove to
remove him from office. Wellstone knew that if he voted against the
resolution, his opponent would seize on the issue, unleashing a
barrage of attack ads and accusations. But despite the enormous
pressure to capitulate, Wellstone spoke his conscience and voted
against the war: "A pre-emptive go-it-alone strategy towards Iraq is
wrong. I oppose it."

For taking a stand under the most difficult of circumstances, Senator
Wellstone is nothing less than a hero. In the House, three heroic
Representatives in tight races also did the right thing. They deserve
our strong support. You can make a contribution directly to their
campaigns at:


After Thursday's unexpectedly divided House vote, the President must
be fuming. His political allies will do everything they can to take
revenge on the dissenters. If he can demonstrate that Representatives
and Senators who ask the hard questions don't get re-elected, Congress
will be even more equivocal when faced with hard choices in the

But the electoral sword cuts both ways. Paul Wellstone, Jay Inslee,
Rick Larsen and Rush Holt are in extremely tight races. A little more
money could easily put them over the top. And Wellstone's race is
being watched very closely -- it's a key to the Republican plans to
take over the Senate. If Wellstone wins because of an outpouring of
support for his stand on Iraq, it will signal to the right that their
electoral ploy on an Iraq war backfired. And it'll demonstrate to
Democrats that when you take a stand of conscience, your constituents
will reward you.

We've worked long and hard to stop a tragic war on Iraq. After a
difficult vote, rewarding the heroes who listened to our voices is
the right thing to do. It may also be the most important next step in
our campaign. We need to show the President that if he pursues Iraq,
he and his party are going to lose.

Give whatever you can. In these tight races, every dollar makes a
difference. You can support Paul Wellstone and the other
Congresspeople who took a stand right now at:


As strategists look back at this election over the years to come,
either they'll say, "President Bush manufactured a war and won at the
polls" or they'll say, "President Bush manufactured a war and lost at
the polls." Your gift today can make the difference.


--Wes Boyd and Eli Pariser
MoveOn PAC

Headline: Many Commuters Arrive Home Safely 

speakingcorpse writes:

The poll referred to in the headline Many Troops Dissatisfied, Iraq Poll Finds was conducted by the army paper, Stars and Stripes. Since when did the liberal-communist-fuckers take over the ARMY newspaper? How can they be allowed to print this shit? Even if it were true that most American "heroes" serving our "nation" in Iraq were disgusted with our Iraq "policy" and our "president," wouldn't the Stars and Stripes, as an objective journalistic news publication, be OBLIGED to find out the other side of the story? That is to say, wouldn't they be obliged to conduct another poll discovering that our troops are delighted to be being blown up daily in Iraq? Actually, they wouldn't even have to do another poll--they should already know the other side of the story--that the poll referred to in this story is "inaccurate." That's the flipside to these disheartening numbers. And, in any case, I misspoke, the fact that our troops are getting blown up daily in Iraq is clearly only one side of the story. If an objective journalistic news publication were to maintain its status as an objective source of news information, it would have to show us that every story has two sides--for every body rent into pieces by explosives, there is at least one that is NOT thus destroyed--that in fact remains fully intact, with the blood flowing safely beneath the skin! Woops! I misspoke again: the other side of the story is much clearer than that. It's that, simply, from one perspective, NO Americans have been killed in Iraq in the first place. Look--even if ALL the soldiers in Iraq were killed in one gigantic nuclear blast, wouldn't there still, theoretically, be another side of the story? Shouldn't, for the sake of balance, we be told that such an annihilating blast had not, in fact, occurred? So why were we only told last week about the bombings of the Iraqi policemen and the Turkish embassy? Isn't the other side of those stories also clear--that they did not in fact occur at all?

(And we ought to be asking why the gloomy NY press is dwelling so perversely on the Staten Island ferry "disaster." Isn't it the objective truth that, while one ferry smashed into the pier, several other ferries did NOT smash into the pier? And isn't it true that many commuters made it home safely yesterday? And, really, isn't it true that the entire affair is a matter of perspective? I've heard a lot of commentators say there was no boat-accident at all.)

With best wishes,

Heretofore Omitted Satanic Slideshow 

Man, have I been remiss. I failed, in my previous post about Gen. Holy Warrior Boykin, to provide a link to some excerpts from his recent speeches; and to note that the aforementioned slideshow included a [PICTURE OF SATAN], as indicated in this account:


[PICTURE OF SATAN] “And the enemy that has come against our nation is a spiritual enemy. His name is Satan. And if you do not believe that Satan is real, you are ignoring the same Bible that tells you about God. Now I’m a warrior. One day I’m going to take off this uniform and I’m still going to be a warrior. And what I’m here to do today is to recruit you to be warriors of God’s kingdom.”

And also this bit from his speech at the


[Editor's note: were any of you guys at the CAE this year?]

“And we ask ourselves this question, ‘Why do they hate us? Why do they hate us so much?’ Ladies and gentlemen, the answer to that is because we’re a Christian nation, because our foundation and our roots are Judeo-Christian. Did I say Judeo-Christian? Yes. Judeo-Christian.

“That means we’ve got a commitment to Israel. That mean’s it’s a commitment we’re never going to abandon.

It occurs to me that Evangelical U.S. Christianists don't just need the Jews to hold down the fort in Jerusalem until the Second Coming; they're also involved in a very intimate sort of character study. I.e., say you're a large, wealthy, increasingly powerful sect of warlike American Christians, but for some reason you desperately want to portray yourselves as the most oppressed, aggrieved, marginalized, and scorned people in Secular America--who better to associate yourselves with (at every possible fucking opportunity) than an actually historically oppressed, aggrieved, marginalized and scorned people?

I can't wait until Mel Gibson's The Passion comes out.

Delayed Reaction Part MCXXIV 

I think it's great that the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights is calling out Der Gropenfuhrer on the Ken Lay meeting thing...but once again, the fact of this meeting was reported on months (I think; if anyone knows exactly, please email) ago. Were any high-profile organizations (assuming that's what FTCR is, more or less) bringing this stuff up, say, before the election? During the campaign? Anyone want to place bets on how long it takes for this to get in the Washington Post?

Gov.-elect Schwarzenegger Should Come Clean About Ken Lay Meeting Or Face Inquiry, Group Says

Energy Deregulation Agenda Criticized

Santa Monica, CA -- Governor-elect Schwarzenegger must explain the substance of his private May 2001 meeting with Enron chief Ken Lay, the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) wrote in a letter to Schwarzenegger today. Read the letter. FTCR, which was the state's most vocal critic of Governor Davis' handling of the energy crisis, said that if the governor-elect did not recount the meeting by the time of his inauguration, the group would ask state lawmakers to open an investigation to uncover the substance of the meeting, including any information that might further the state's efforts to return billions of dollars that taxpayers and consumers overpaid for electricity during the energy crisis.

Full story and letter.

“Why is this man in the White House?" 

Top terrorist hunter’s divisive views

General casts military, anti-terror efforts
in religious terms

By Lisa Myers and the NBC Investigative Unit

Oct. 15 — A highly decorated general who is one of the leaders of a secretive new Pentagon unit formed to coordinate intelligence on terrorists and help hunt down Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein and other high-profile targets has a history of outspoken and divisive views on religion — Islam in particular, NBC News has learned.

HE’S A HIGHLY decorated officer, twice wounded in combat — a warrior’s warrior. The former commander of Army Special Forces, Lt. Gen. William “Jerry” Boykin has led or been part of almost every recent U.S. military operation, from the ill-fated attempt to rescue hostages in Iran to Grenada, Panama, Colombia, Somalia.

This summer, Boykin was promoted to deputy undersecretary of defense, with a new mission for which many say he is uniquely qualified: to aggressively combine intelligence with special operations and hunt down so-called high-value terrorist targets including bin Laden and Saddam.

But that new assignment may be complicated by controversial views Boykin — an evangelical Christian — has expressed in dozens of speeches at churches and prayer breakfasts around the country. In a half-dozen video and audiotapes obtained by NBC News, Boykin says America’s true enemy is not bin Laden.

In June 2003, Boykin spoke to a church group over a slide show: “Well, is he [bin Laden] the enemy? Next slide. Or is this man [Saddam] the enemy? The enemy is none of these people I have showed you here. The enemy is a spiritual enemy. He’s called the principality of darkness. The enemy is a guy called Satan.”

Why are terrorists out to destroy the United States? Boykin said: “They’re after us because we’re a Christian nation.”

NBC News military analyst Bill Arkin, who’s been investigating Boykin for the Los Angeles Times, says the general casts the war on terror as a religious war: “I think that it is not only at odds with what the president believes,

[Editorial note: Ha...HA!!!!]

but it is a dangerous, extreme and pernicious view that really has no place.”
During a January church speech in Daytona, Fla., Boykin recalled a Muslim fighter in Somalia who bragged on television the Americans would never get him because his God, Allah, would protect him: “Well, you know what I knew, that my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God, and his was an idol.”

The Somali was captured, and Boykin said he told the man: “Mr. Atto, you underestimated our God.”

In a phone conversation, Boykin tells NBC he respects Muslims and believes the radicals who attack America are “not true followers of Islam.”

Boykin also routinely tells audiences that God, not the voters, chose President Bush: “Why is this man in the White House? The majority of Americans did not vote for him. Why is he there? And I tell you this morning that he’s in the White House because God put him there for a time such as this.”

Boykin tells NBC News that, given his new assignment, he is curtailing such speeches in the future. He says, “I don’t want … to be misconstrued. I don’t want to come across as a right-wing radical.”

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

speakingcorpse writes:

More good news! It's funny how a biased media can take a great story and turn it upside down. For example: one of the most authoritative nonpartisan international security thinktanks concludes that al-qaeda's ranks have grown larger, and Reuters has the nerve to spin it this way: "Al-Qaeda's ranks have grown larger"! What are these reporters talking about? Do they think we're all just sitting here rooting against Bush, waiting for bad news? Isn't it obvious that the positive aspects of the story far out-weigh the negative aspects? Clearly, the reporters shouldn't have just said "Al-Qaeda's ranks grow larger." Give us some analysis! Draw out the positive implications! They should have said: "You are soon going to be killed." We need to boost morale! Try to look at the bright side!

Iraq War Swells Al Qaeda's Ranks, Report Says

Will Sajak greet Limbaugh at the Churchill Dinner? 

Weird--never did I guess, during the four years I lived in Claremont, CA, that there was a major right-wing think tank right down the street.

The Claremont Institute boasts Pat Sajak on its Board of Directors, sponsors "projects" such as Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership, and will feature Rush Limbaugh as the keynote speaker at its annual Churchill Dinner.

NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF states a belief 

Folks, I know we've been holding our breaths all week wondering what Kristof, after days of soul-searching, would find it in himself to say. Hold onto your seatbelts...

I believe that President Bush was wrong to go into Iraq, but he's right about staying there.

Can anyone say Pulitzer?

Holy Shit! Bush "Rebounds"!! Ratings-Slide Over at Last!!! Biased Media Fail in Attempt to Sabotage President's Poll Numbers!!!!! 

President Rallying Support in Polls
Rebound Sets Campaign Team into Action

By Mike Allen and Claudia Deane
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, October 15, 2003; Page A06

Heartened by opinion polls indicating President Bush's six-month slide may have ended, his aides are working to reassure supporters that his standing is solid despite a fall full of setbacks.

Bush aides expressed relief at several polls this week, including a Washington Post-ABC News poll released yesterday, that found the president's approval rating stabilizing after a steady drop since Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was ousted in mid-April.

Except wait--hold up for just a sec. Let's look at a few of these new poll numbers.

1. Do you approve or disapprove of the way George W. Bush is handling his job as president?

53 Approve
42 Disapprove

54 Approve
44 Disapprove

OK, so...let me get this straight: Bush's approval rating has gone down one point. But let's be fair--his disapproval has gone down two points as well. So let's call it a 1-point "gain" for Bush! Nice comeback, dude!

"There was a poll that showed me going up yesterday, not to be on the defensive," [Bush] told Australia's Channel 9 television, according to an Associated Press report. "Actually, I'm in pretty good shape, politically. I really am. I didn't mean to sound defensive. But I am.

Well put. Oh, there's also this little item:

3. If the 2004 presidential election were being held today, would you vote for (George W. Bush, the Republican) or for (the Democratic nominee for president)?

10/13/03 Bush 46 Democratic 47

9/13/03 Bush 49 Democratic 44

Geez! It looks like Bush's re-elect numbers have gone down a net 6 points! More people would vote for the Democratic candidate than for Bush. But I suppose that's irrelevant, because "Rebound Sets Campaign Team into Action."

And did I mention this?

5. Again thinking about the goals versus the costs of the war, so far in your opinion has there been an acceptable or unacceptable number of U.S. military casualties in Iraq?

10/13/03 Acceptable 38 Unacceptable 59

9/13/03 Acceptable 43 Unacceptable 55

Or this?

7. On another subject, the U.S. Justice Department has opened an investigation into whether someone in the White House broke the law by identifying a former diplomat's wife as an undercover CIA agent. The former diplomat claims this was done to punish him for criticizing U.S. policy on Iraq. Do you think this is a very serious matter, somewhat serious, not too serious or not serious at all?

10/13/03 Serious 83 Not serious 13

9/30/03 Serious 81 Not serious 16

Or this?

9. Do you think the White House is or is not fully cooperating with this investigation?

10/13/03 Yes, cooperating 39 No, not cooperating 41

9/30/03 Yes, cooperating 47 No, not cooperating 37

Oops! A plurality of Americans now believe that the White House is not cooperating with the criminal investigation into its revenge-leak!

I didn't make this up. It's in the poll. But as Bush himself says,

"Politicians, by the way, who pay attention to the polls are doomed, trying to chase opinion when what you need to do is lead, set the tone."

Right! But still, you know, "President Rallying Support in Polls." I don't write the news, man, the Washington Post does. It had already been declared that this week was a Designated Bush Rebound Week, so who am I to piss on the party?

Well, I'm not the only one. ABC News says:

Poll: Bush Slipping
Iraq, Economic Problems Level the ’04 Playing Field

Check out Joe Conason's take on this latest poll ridiculousness.

Polls that offer solace to the Republicans, like the latest released by the Gallup organization, have received considerable coverage. Yet others, such as this one released the other day by Ipsos-Reid, got far less attention. The Ipsos-Reid survey is quite large and comprehensive. What did its pollsters see when they looked at the results from Oct. 7-9?

Bush's total approval rating is at 51 percent, a figure that includes those "leaning" toward approval. Strong approval was registered by 27 percent. His total approval rating is down from 57 percent last August. Those registering disapproval total 46 percent, up from 41 percent in August.

Only 36 percent of 1,000 registered voters said they would definitely vote to "reelect" Bush, down from 42 percent in the same poll last August. Thirty-five percent said they would definitely vote for someone else, while 26 percent were undecided.

One reason that Bush's ratings are down so far is the increasing inclination of the mainstream media to highlight critical perspectives that were mostly ignored during the drive to war. Tonight CBS's "60 Minutes II" will broadcast an interview with Greg Thielmann, who retired late last year from the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research. Thielmann says that his former boss Colin Powell misled the world about Iraq's arsenal at the United Nations -- and that the Bush administration distorted intelligence findings to justify war. The former senior intelligence analyst has been saying much the same things for several months, including most recently on PBS's "Frontline," but this may be the first time that Thielmann's calmly devastating critique will reach a mass audience.
[11:30 a.m. PDT,Oct. 15, 2003]

A New Classroom Ritual? 

speakingcorpse writes:

I don't understand why we have to have a controversy about the pledge of allegiance. Couldn't we just choose an early-morning classroom ritual that all Americans can agree on? Something that is so close to the national heart that it can almost go without saying? I propose the following:

"Fuck God. Fuck the Troops. Fuck America."

Supreme Court to Consider Case on 'Under God' in Pledge to Flag

October 15, 2003

WASHINGTON, Oct. 14 - The Supreme Court added the Pledge of
Allegiance to the docket for its new term on Tuesday,
agreeing to consider whether public schools violate the
Constitution by requiring teachers to lead their classes in
pledging allegiance to the flag of "one nation under God."

The justices, who begin their daily sessions with heads
bowed as the marshal intones "God save the United States
and this honorable court," accepted a case that, like the
affirmative action and gay rights cases of the last term,
places the court at the center of a public controversy.
Justice Antonin Scalia, who has made clear his view that
the pledge is constitutional, will not participate, raising
the possibility of a 4-to-4 tie.

Teaser from David Corn 

I Am No Novak
10/15/2003 @ 12:12am

I'm no Bob Novak.

The conservative columnist, it seems, receives different treatment from the CIA than yours truly. After senior administration officials told him in July that former ambassador Joseph Wilson's wife was a CIA officer working in the field of counterproliferation--this was the leak that launched the current scandal--he called the CIA for confirmation. According to Novak, a CIA official was "designated to talk" to him. This official, in Novak's telling, denied that Valerie Wilson (nee Plame) had "inspired" Joseph Wilson's selection for a mission to Niger to check out allegations that Iraq had been uranium-shopping there. But this CIA person informed Novak that Valerie Wilson had been asked to solicit her husband's help. The "designated" CIA official, Novak reports, asked that Novak not use Wilson/Plame's name, saying she probably would not be given another overseas assignment but that exposure could cause "difficulties" if she traveled abroad. Novak claims the official never stated that Wilson's wife or anyone else would be endangered. So he named her in a July 14 column and damaged her career and aided what might have been a White House attempt to punish or discredit Joseph Wilson--an effort that possibly undermined national security and possibly violated federal law.

Compare this to my experience with the CIA. After I learned from reliable sources the identity of a current National Security Council staffer who once worked with Valerie Wilson at the CIA in weapons counterproliferation, I wondered whether I should make the name of this person public, and I contacted the CIA.

This NSC staffer might--I emphasize, might--play a role in the Wilson leak scandal. I know of no reason to suspect he or she is one of the leakers. (A recent Newsweek story referred to this NSCer, but it did not name the staffer.) But perhaps this individual--whom I was told is a CIA officer assigned to the NSC--mentioned Valerie Wilson's CIA connection to one or more White House colleagues during the period in which Joseph Wilson was causing the White House discomfort. (Wilson primarily did that by publicly disclosing that the Niger allegation was probably not true and by charging that the White House had reason to be suspicious of the claim.) Consequently, investigators probing the Wilson leak ought to ask this NSC officer--if they have not already done so--whether he or she talked about Valerie Wilson with anyone in the White House? If the Justice Department investigators can figure out how individuals in the White House came to know about Wilson's wife (if they did), then the gumshoes might be able to find a trail leading to the leakers.

I tried reaching this individual and could not get past the NSC receptionist, who referred me to NSC press spokesman Sean McCormack. He returned my call once, missed me, and then did not return subsequent calls.

I thought it would certainly be newsworthy to point out a White House officer who particularly deserved to be questioned by the Justice Department investigators. But I worried: would doing so out another CIA officer who has engaged in counterproliferation work? Over the years, I've generally been a critic of the CIA, but I do want the agency to be successful in this mission. And I do not aim to needlessly jeopardize anyone's career. In my 1994 book on the CIA-- Blond Ghost: Ted Shackley and the CIA's Crusades --I named many a CIA person, but most were retired and had no objection to being identified. In one instance, a former CIA man who lived in a developing nation maintained that if he were fingered as a former CIA undercover officer his family might be targeted. I kept his name out of the book.

So should I ID this CIA person working at the White House? As Novak did, I called the CIA. I spoke to Mark Mansfield, a longtime CIA spokesperson. I informed him that I had learned about this CIA officer and mentioned the individual's name. I asked if the CIA would confirm the person's employment at the CIA and whether the agency wanted to make a case for not revealing his or her name. He said he would get back to me--and nothing more. Several hours later, he called. He had no "designated" official for me to speak with. "We generally don't comment upon employment," he said. But did he not want to argue against naming this person. Any guidance, off the record? I asked. No, he said. "As a general point," Mansfield added, "we always prefer that CIA employees--whether they are undercover or overt--not be identified publicly because it can limit opportunities to travel overseas and can have unintended consequences."

That was hardly a forceful argument. No pleading. No melodramatic warnings that I would be endangering one person's career and ruining operations around the world. In a way, this echoed the weak pushback Novak claims he received when he contacted the CIA about Valerie Wilson. Still, Novak reports, the CIA did talk to him about Valerie Wilson's position at the CIA and her (apparently small) role in the Niger business. That was more help than I received. I suppose the CIA officials who discussed my request might have figured that if they had asked me not to identify this NSC officer they would be confirming his CIA employment. So they left me in the cold--with my conscience.

It was, though, not a tough call. I have decried the Wilson leak and lambasted the White House for engineering it, doing nothing about it, or trying to exploit it (or all of the above). So I'm not going to drop a dime on this NSC staffer--not yet. Let's see how the investigation goes--to the extent the public can discern what is happening. I am assuming that the feds are aware of this person. If not, they should contact me. I'm dying to tell somebody.

Deadly Explosions = Media Bias, cont'd. 

speakingcorpse writes:

Why is it that every time I hear about the Gaza Strip in the news, its always with this gloomy negative spin? The highest population density on the face of the earth, untreated sewage in the streets, a barbed wire fence surrounding hovels open to the desert wind, 75% unemployment, an absolute ban on all community improvement projects, houses being demolished arbitrarily, mad settlers living in nearby beach resorts demanding the extermination of the fenced-in residents, and now this--an explosion killing 3 Americans? Why, why, why cant some of the GOOD THINGS going on in Gaza ever find their way into the consciousnesses of our biased reporters? Things are going well there, believe me. Things are really looking up. Ever since Israelis overthrew the brutal Egyptian regime in 1967, they've made the Gaza strip a real beacon of hope and democracy for the rest of the region--if only its light wasn't being obscured by this damned media!!!

Gaza Strip Blast Kills Three Americans

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Regarding the "bad" "news" "filter" 

From speakingcorpse:

Look at the following if you're interested in hearing the kind of "bad"
news that is being told to Europeans. Here we are thinking that we in
America were only being told the "bad" news about Iraq. No: in Europe,
they're given this crazy stuff. They must think that the war is "going"
really "badly." I guess the only way to avoid "bad" news is to stop
reading the news, as our President has done.

Inside the resistance

Popular anger is forging an alliance between diverse strands of Iraq's
guerrilla movement

Zaki Chehab
Monday October 13, 2003
The Guardian

The suicide bomber who yesterday attacked the US-frequented Baghdad Hotel
was the fourth member of the Iraqi resistance to kill themselves for the
cause. The bombing came only three days after last week's suicide attack
on a Baghdad police station that left at least eight people dead. From the
meetings I have had with resistance fighters in different parts of Iraq,
there is no doubt that there will be many more such attacks to come.
The use of suicide bombing in Iraq - the first announced target was the UN
in August - signals a clear change of tactics by the growing resistance
movement. The US-led coalition forces, frustrated by their inability to
control the situation, blame foreign infiltrators for these attacks,
emphasising the similarity between these new tactics and those of al-Qaida
and other militant groups in the Middle East. Few seem to grasp the fact
that Iraqis, who are well-trained militarily, have simply learned from
others' experiences, and carried out the attacks themselves.

I first met Iraqi resistance fighters at a farm in the suburbs of Ramadi,
north of Baghdad. It was several months after the fall of Saddam Hussein's
regime, and on that day the people of Ramadi were gathering at a mosque to
grieve the death of a young Iraqi killed by US forces. The man - unarmed,
and driving a civilian car - had failed to stop at a checkpoint. There had
been no signs warning him or other drivers of the danger they were
approaching. I was taken aback by the strength of the anger felt by the
local people - such deaths (this young man was not the first to die at the
checkpoint, nor the last) were clearly galvanising local people to fight
back against the occupation forces.

Full story.

Interesting potential heads-up 

From Washington Whispers:

Wilson adds ammo to hit war credibility gap

Just as former Ambassador Joseph Wilson's story that Bushies blew his CIA wife's cover to get back at his criticism of the war in Iraq was getting old, he has stumbled on new ammo to hit the administration's credibility. Wilson tells us he plans to circulate the text of a briefing by analyst Sam Gardiner that suggests the White House and Pentagon made up or distorted over 50 war stories. You know some tall tales, like the Pvt. Jessica Lynch story. But there's more, says Gardiner, a war gamer who has taught at the National War College. Like how defense officials said the first Iraqi unit marines encountered, the 51st Mechanized Infantry Division, had surrendered four days before it actually did. And he says Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Richard Myers gave bad or deliberately incomplete info on several topics. Sure, propaganda has always been used in war to deceive and demoralize the enemy. But these guys went way overboard, Gardiner says. "Never before have so many stories been created to sell a war," he insists. "And they probably didn't need it."

You can see the full PDF file of Gardiner's report.

Cheney Emitted Words 

This alarming news article reports that Vice President Dick Cheney has publicly asserted that "Sept. 11, 2001, changed everything for this country."

The Soviet Republic of Texas  

I don't think I understand the point of this Washington Post editorial. Haven't they been reading their mail? Um, hello, President Bush has been "demonstrating real leadership"?

YOU MIGHT THINK America's rigged system of congressional elections couldn't get much worse. Self-serving redistricting schemes nationwide already have left an overwhelming number of seats in the House of Representatives so uncompetitive that election results are practically as preordained as in the old Soviet Union. In the last election, for example, 98 percent of incumbents were reelected, and the average winning candidate got more than 70 percent of the vote. More candidates ran without any major-party opposition than won by a margin of less than 20 percent. Yet even given this record, the just-completed Texas congressional redistricting plan represents a new low.

'04 Conference Prep 

Man, do they ever not know what they're getting their sorry asses into.

Latest on PR Counter-Offensive: Hagiographic Picture + Assertion of "Clear Strategy" + Lots More People Blown Up in Iraq = 6 New Points for Bush!!! 

A counterpush roundup from Dawkins:

"There's a sense that people in America aren't getting the truth."

Quick, check out the halo photograph before Rove makes Yahoo news take it down.

With regard to the war, Josh Marshall is calling the White House's new craven PR blitz the "Great Push-Back."

Plus, CNN started to cover the Push-Back late last week. Dick Cheney insouciantly warns that terrorists are "doing everything they can" to get weapons of mass destruction that could kill hundreds of thousands of Americans "in a single day of horror."

I wonder if he's referring to the aims and will of terrorist Pat Robertson, who wishes publicly he could murder of hundreds of thousands of American government employees, including George W. Bush's buddy Colin Powell.

By the way, shouldn't Pat be heading to, like, jail sometime soon for his incitement to violence?

Imagine if a prominent Muslim-American university scholar publicly declared his wish that the State Department were "nuked." He'd be in an iron-clad prison brig off the Carolina coast faster'n you can say "Jose Padillo"!

Some Good News!!!! 

Dear Friends,

I thought you all might be interested in this compelling news story from the CNN website, so I decided to post it on my blog, American Coprophagia. I hope you will be edified by the news information contained in this story:

Bush approval rating moves back up

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush's approval rating -- which had declined in recent weeks -- moved back up, primarily due to big gains among men and among high-income Americans, according to a new CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll.

Whew! I'm relieved Bush's approval ratings have "moved back up" after having "declined"--but I guess it was time for things to balance themselves out. I mean, what goes down must come up, right? And (if my interpretation of this news is correct) the rise in Bush's approval rating can be attributed to "big gains" among men and among high-income Americans. If my logic is correct here, I believe that means Bush would be wise to continue his appeal to men and high-income Americans if he wants to continue to make such "big gains."

A majority of registered voters say that Bush deserves to be re-elected, but only 38 percent of voters say they will definitely vote for Bush, according to the poll. With exactly the same number saying they would vote against Bush, the battle for the swing voters in the middle seems more important than ever.

Word up on that analysis...the "battle" for the "swing voters" "in the middle" does indeed seem "more important than ever." (Memo to Bush: you'd do well to woo a few of those "swing voters in the middle"--but only as long as you don't forget about the men and high-income Americans!

In recent weeks, Bush's approval rating had slid as Democrats, particularly those seeking their party's 2004 presidential nomination, stepped up their rhetorical attacks on Bush's Iraq policy and his stewardship of the economy.

The "as" here is interesting. What exactly is CNN implying? That "Bush's approval rating had slid" because "Democrats...stepped up their rhetorical attacks"; or that "Bush's approval rating had slid" at the same time as (or in some indeterminate yet temptingly causal conjunction with?) "Democrats...stepped up their rhetorical attacks"? Hmm...I guess this news story isn't so straightforward as it had initially seemed. But I do know one thing: those Democrats better be glad their attacks were merely "rhetorical" (i.e., spoken to audiences), because direct "physical" or "military" attacks on the president can land you in a heap of trouble.

But administration figures are taking part in an aggressive public relations effort explaining the Iraq policy, and Bush is speaking out more on the economy.

Thank god! If they can "explain" "the Iraq policy" well enough, maybe this whole thing can get turned around. I mean, all Americans have been saying they want is for "the Iraq policy" to be "explained" to them. And with regard to the economy: speak out! We're all ears.

Bush's increasing approval rating comes

Not just "increased"--increasing! This sounds to me like a trend...could there be momentum involved?

along with a reminder that although economic conditions may not be in great shape, the public is not as pessimistic about the economy as they were in 1991, when Bush's father was gearing up for his unsuccessful re-election bid.

So let's see: the "increasing approval rating" "comes along with" the "reminder" indicated above. But: who is being "reminded"? And of what? I guess Bush is being reminded that this poll shows that what happened to his father isn't going to happen to him. Whew!

Today, 44 percent say the economy is in good shape -- up seven points since March -- and nearly two-thirds say that the economy will be in good shape a year from now.

Let's hope they're right!

Americans, however, are in an angry mood -- much angrier the past few years -- and who knows who they may take it out on?

Man, don't we know it! Didn't Arnold Schwarzenegger just ride to victory in California on a mammoth wave of anger? Governors and politicians everywhere have been put on notice. Americans are much angrier.

But the question is: at whom?

Hating the Economy 

You know, I think the American people are getting tired of all this gloom and doom from Paul Krugman. I mean, I know he's a Princeton economist who bases all of his assertions on carefully researched facts...but still, he's a "partisan," a liberal partisan, so maybe what he says can't be trusted...I mean, isn't he just trying to further his radical partisan agenda?

Monday, October 13, 2003

What a dick 

Date: Mon Oct 13, 2003 11:50:07 PM US/Eastern
To: dabrooks@nytimes.com
Subject: Time to go south, Brooks

"and while the Northeast is no longer a particularly important region of the country — we haven't sent a person to the White House in 43 years"

No thanks to you, jackass!

Eat shit,

Your fellow rootin' and hootin' Nor'easterner,


Putting the Ark. in Clark  

In Little Rock, the Old Clinton Team Rallies Around a New Favorite Son

Different candidate, but the scene was all too familiar. Little Rock, just near the river. Wesley Clark's "campaign headquarters," really a hovel with makeshift desks and no phone lines. Some of the old Clinton boys -- Eli Segal, Mark Fabiani -- pumping the candidate: There's no time, General Clark, you'll have to announce tomorrow. We'll stay up all night to write the announcement speech! Get up at 4 to prep for the morning shows!

But this time around Ron Klain skipped out early -- he had a client meeting the next morning -- and caught the 5 p.m. flight back to BWI.

For an impressive percentage of the old Clinton-Gore crowd, the Wesley Clark campaign is doubling as a college reunion. There they were at the New York Democratic presidential debate last month, a revival act strutting into the greenroom just late enough to cause a stir: Fabiani, Klain, Bruce Lindsey, Rahm Emanuel, Michael Waldman, plus scores of mid-level extras from "The War Room." Buzzing around their man, again, making news, again, bringing with them a whiff of those legendary days: the backroom of Doe's steakhouse, the time James Carville cracked an egg on that girl's head, victory night singing "The Star-Spangled Banner" maybe 20 times on the steps of the Little Rock statehouse.

"Hey, it's just like old times," says Terry McAuliffe, who as head of the Democratic National Committee is neutral but still nostalgic. "We're all back together again."

Full Story.

The new "partisan" think tank 

I just got an email from The Nation about their upcoming debate at CUNY, the sort of embarrassingly-titled "The American Empire: Effectively Imposing Liberty or Doomed Overreaching?"

I noted that the debate is "Moderated by Lawrence J. Korb, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress." This is, I believe, the new "liberal" think tank people have been talking about--the one founded (or chaired) by John Podesta. I heard Podesta on PRI this morning, talking about how the Center's mission is to not confine itself to scholarly journals, but rather to promote its ideas out where somebody might actually hear about them. Definitely the right idea. Between CAP and Al Gore's new cable news channel, we might have some good things coming our way.

I'm starting to think more and more that it doesn't matter whether you believe in the liberal or conservative media conspiracies--the important thing is to help raise the pitch of the debate until finally, thank god, networks give up on the whole "objective," "nonpartisan" charade (which only hurts liberals, in any case) and go full-bore into the new era of wholly partisan forums for news and politics. As long as it's Fox News v. the "balanced" CNN, or the Heritage Foundation v. the "sort of liberal I guess but mainly just well-educated and -credentialed" Brookings Institute, there will be no competition.

Two of the hilarious 

Tom the Dancing Bug by Ruben Bolling:



What exactly was that look on your face? 

An excerpt from Michael Moore's new book Dude, Where's My Country?, courtesy of buzzflash.com:

"I have seven questions for you, Mr Bush. I ask them on behalf of the 3,000 who died that September day, and I ask them on behalf of the American people. We seek no revenge against you. We want only to know what happened, and what can be done to bring the murderers to justice, so we can prevent any future attacks on our citizens.

1. Is it true that the Bin Ladens have had business relations with you and your family off and on for the past 25 years?

2. What is the 'special relationship' between the Bushes and the Saudi royal family?

3. Who attacked the US on September 11 - a guy on dialysis from a cave in Afghanistan, or your friend, Saudi Arabia?

4. Why did you allow a private Saudi jet to fly around the US in the days after September 11 and pick up members of the Bin Laden family and fly them out of the country without a proper investigation by the FBI?

5. Why are you protecting the Second Amendment rights of potential terrorists?

6. Were you aware that, while you were governor of Texas, the Taliban traveled to Texas to meet with your oil and gas company friends?

7. What exactly was that look on your face in the Florida classroom on the morning of September 11 when your chief of staff told you, 'America is under attack'?"

Get A Copy Today:

Army probes soldier suicides 

Creepy news story. Especially after receiving a campus-wide email about the second undergrad jumping to death off the 10th floor of the Bobst library in a month.

Alarmed by the number of suicides among soldiers in Iraq, the Army has asked a team of doctors to determine whether the stress of combat and long deployments is contributing to the deaths.

"The number of suicides has caused the Army to be concerned," said Lt. Col. Elspeth Cameron Ritchie, a psychiatrist at the Army's Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md. Ritchie is helping to investigate the suicides in Iraq. "Is there something different going on in Iraq that we really need to pay attention to?" (Related story: Soldier's suicide shocks Pa. town)

In the past seven months, at least 11 soldiers and three Marines have committed suicide in Iraq, military officials say. That is an annual rate of 17 per 100,000. The Navy also is investigating one possible suicide. And about a dozen other Army deaths are under investigation and could include suicides.

The numbers suggest the rate in Iraq is above normal. Last year, the military services reported 8 to 9 suicides per 100,000 people. The Army rate is usually higher, 10 to 13 per 100,000. That mirrors the rate for the same age group in the general population.

Full story.

What should we call the Blog? 

The suggestions are getting hot and heavy. There's been a flurry of speculation. Leave your suggestions or opinion in the comments window!

Sunday, October 12, 2003

MG writes:

I was upset that Pat Robertson advocated blowing up the State Department. So I wrote him a note. You can too:


Who knows, your question might even be selected for broadcast on the 700 Club!

Here's what I said:

Dear Pat:

Why have you called for the bombing of the State Department? I don't understand why you would advocate the murder of hundreds of innocent Americans. What if some deranged person should take your words to heart and indeed attempt to blow up the State Department?

I'm confused.

Yours truly,


I was going to write the Dept. of Justice and ask the Attorney General if he plans to take action against Pat Robertson and his recent felonious incitement to violence.

Then I read the DOJ's "privacy" policy and got kind of freaked out.

Not involved in WHAT? 

From Talking Points Memo:

Recently I told you that Scott McClellan's denial on behalf of Abrams, Libby and Rove might be a lot less airtight than a lot of reporters have been assuming.

The question is whether one or more of these three men was the source for Bob Novak's column disclosing Valerie Plame's identity as a clandestine employee of the CIA.

McClellan's 'denials' have hinged on a lawyerly and off-point claim that they were "not involved in leaking classified information."

Listen closely: He's not answering the question.

Why not press McClellan to answer the question straight-out?

Well, today at the briefing, someone did. And, as you might expect, it wasn't a reporter from one of the big prestige outlets.

Here's the exchange ...

QUESTION: Scott, earlier this week you told us that neither Karl Rove, Elliot Abrams nor Lewis Libby disclosed any classified information with regard to the leak. I wondered if you could tell us more specifically whether any of them told any reporter that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA?

MCCLELLAN: Those individuals -- I talked -- I spoke with those individuals, as I pointed out, and those individuals assured me they were not involved in this. And that's where it stands.

QUESTION: So none of them told any reporter that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA?

MCCLELLAN: They assured me that they were not involved in this.

QUESTION: Can I follow up on that?

QUESTION: They were not involved in what?

MCCLELLAN: The leaking of classified information.

QUESTION: Did you undertake that of your own volition, or were you
instructed to go to these --

MCCLELLAN: I spoke to those individuals myself.

So, when McClellan was asked to be more clear, he opted for a meaninglessly vague statement and then fell back on the "leaking of classified information" dodge.

Can we all take note of this now? That denial wasn't what it seemed to be. In fact, I doubt it was a real denial at all.

There's more there. Why not find it?

-- Josh Marshall

"...educate the public about Iraq, the war on terror and provide the context..." 

MG writes:

This CNN.com story includes the priceless, priceless quote from Dan Bartlett:

"The president appreciates his role not only as commander in chief, but also how important it is to communicate and educate the public about Iraq, the war on terror and provide the context," White House Communications Director Dan Bartlett said.

This should almost be like the rallying cry or anthem of all anti-Bush, pro-truth bloggers.

"...educate the public about Iraq, the war on terror and provide the context..."

Wow. Shameless.

Half of US voters want Bush out; put Bush and Clark in dead heat: poll 

NEW YORK (AFP) - A rising number of US voters would replace US President George W. Bush (news - web sites) in the 2004 elections, a new poll said, while Bush is in a statistical dead heat with Democratic hopeful Wesley Clark (news - web sites).

Fifty percent of voters would replace Bush, according to the Newsweek poll, up three percentage points from 47 percent in a similar poll conducted September 25-26.

Clark was preferred by 44 percent of registered voters and Bush by 47 percent -- a dead heat in a poll with a three-percentage-point margin of error.

Clark topped the list of Democratic challengers, followed by Joseph Lieberman with 13 percent support, Kerry with 11 percent, Dean with 10 percent and Gephardt with eight percent.

Bush's weak spot, the economy, was a priority for 44 percent of those polled. The president's strong suit, national security, was more important for 16 percent of respondents.

Forty-nine percent disapproved of Bush's handling of Iraq (news - web sites), the highest percentage so far on a Newsweek poll, while 44 percent approved.

Princeton Research Associates conducted the poll among some 1,004 adults on October 9 and 10.


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