Saturday, November 15, 2003

White House Saves 9/11 Panel from Hermeneutic Conundrum 

dawkins writes:

So the "deal" has been struck! The White House will get to edit documents the 9/11 panel requests before they are released to the commission's representatives.
A Democrat on the panel who has criticized the accord, former Representative Timothy J. Roemer of Indiana, said in an interview that he believed that the panel had agreed to terms that would let the White House edit the reports to remove the contexts in which the intelligence was presented and to hide any "smoking guns."

"The President's Daily Brief can run 9 to 12 pages long," Mr. Roemer said. "But under this agreement, the commission will be allowed to see only specific articles or paragraphs within the P.D.B.'s. Our members may see only two or three paragraphs out of a nine-page report."
Good enough.

Plus, the White House will also get to review and edit any notes that commission officials take on the limited pieces of information they're allowed to see.
Commission officials have said that under the agreement the panel will be able to designate four members to read the reports. They will be allowed to take notes on the documents, and the White House will be allowed to review and edit the notes to remove especially sensitive information.

So I say, without being allowed to see anything of any substance, the commission from this point is within its rights to conduct the proceedings with full recourse to Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeldian Iraq war logic.

Remember all the Iraqi missiles and bombs that the Bushies (over-)estimated Saddam had before the current war, but are now nowhere to be found? Well, because they're unaccounted for surely doesn't mean they don't actually exist. Rather, it means they do exist, but we've just not found them yet.

(Rummy's line: "The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.")

So in this case, we mustn't take the White House-orchestrated absence of any evidence suggesting the White House knew more about 9/11 then it admits as evidence that there was absence of such knowledge. Rather, it only proves there's much more to this than meets the eye… really dastardly, damning stuff too!

After all, since we haven't found any WMDs in Iraq, it only means that the Iraqis were that desperate to hide them. And that means there are tons of WMDs still out there, that damn Saddam and the Iraqis to culpability for the whole mess.

And likewise, since the 9/11 commission won't find any information about what the White House knew about 9/11, it only reasonably means that the Bushies are that desperate to hide any such information. And that means there is tons of information still out there -- Mass Destructive information, if you will - that damns Bush and the White House to culpability.

I guess the commission's already done its job pretty well!

Fun footnote:
Administration officials have acknowledged that they are concerned that intelligence reports received by Mr. Bush in the weeks before 9/11 might be construed to suggest that the White House failed to respond to evidence suggesting that Al Qaeda was planning a catastrophic attack. The White House acknowledged last year in response to news reports that a copy of the Daily Brief in August 2001 noted that Al Qaeda might use hijacked planes in an attack.
This is a little reminiscent of the Rehnquist-Thomas-Scalia-Kennedy logic used in 2000 to prevent the Florida recounts from going forward.

Since allowing the recounts to go forward would have caused "irreparable harm" to Bush (since in all likelihood allowing the recounts would have shown that he had lost the election), the Supreme Court was not going to allow that to happen.

Now, since letting President's Daily Brief materials out would show that Bush knew about 9/11 and failed to act, thereby causing "irreparable harm" to his reputation as the hero of 9/11 (among other things), the White House is not going to let that happen.

Let us rue the day that evidence should ever "construe to suggest" the truth!


Friday, November 14, 2003

Annular Flashback: November 13, 2002 

Following my post on Norm Coleman (R-MN), the Senate's MLM (Most Loathsome Member), I got to thinking: is he really the MLM? Is that a fair assessment, given he works alongside the likes of Hatch, and Lott, and Santorum, and Kyl, and Bennett, and all the rest? I thought: what was it that made me make this claim about Coleman? Do I really mean it?

Well, the answer turns out to be: yes, I do. One hundred percent. Because Coleman is more vile than a zealot or fanatic, or someone blinded for whatever reasons to their own hatred and malignancy. Coleman is an empty husk of a person--he's not an "ideologue"; he couldn't be a zealot, because he believes in nothing; and he can't sell his soul, because he's already sold everything he might once have had. This is the type of figure who would really ingest any amount of shit if someone told him that was what he needed to do to gain power. And the emptiness inside him is so vast and unfillable that he might just go on eating shit ad infinitum, the grin on his face (in the words of Keillor) growing ever "weirder," the handshake more insistent. He is death's pawn. He is going to be a very, very strong candidate for Coprophagic of the Year, to be awarded annularly.

Meanwhile, read this. It is Garrison Keillor's riposte to Republican flak following his article on the Coleman campaign, published last year in Salon, and reprinted here in its (well deserved) entirety:
The hoots and cackles of Republicans reacting to my screed against Norman Coleman, the ex-radical, former Democratic, now compassionate conservative senator-elect from Minnesota, was all to be expected, given the state of the Republican Party today. Its entire ideology, top to bottom, is We-are-not-Democrats, We-are-the-unClinton, and if it can elect an empty suit like Coleman, on a campaign as cheap and cynical and unpatriotic as what he waged right up to the moment Paul Wellstone's plane hit the ground, then Republicans are perfectly content. They are Republicans first and Americans second.

The old GOP of fiscal responsibility and principled conservatism and bedrock Main Street values is gone, my dear, and something cynical has taken its place. Thus the use of Iraq as an election ploy, openly, brazenly, from the president and Karl Rove all the way down to Norman Coleman, who came within an inch of accusing Wellstone of being an agent of al-Qaida. To do that one day and then, two days later, to feign grief and claim the dead Wellstone's mantle and carry on his "passion and commitment" is simply too much for a decent person to stomach. It goes beyond the ordinary roughhouse of politics. To accept it and grin and shake the son of a bitch's hand is to ignore what cannot be ignored if you want your grandchildren to grow up in a country like the one that nurtured and inspired you. I would rather go down to defeat with the Democrats I know than go oiling around with opportunists of Coleman's stripe, and you can take that to the bank.

I've run into plenty of Coleman supporters since the election and they see me and smirk and turn away and that's par for the course. I know those people. To my own shame, I know them. I'm ashamed of Minnesota for electing this cheap fraud, and I'm ashamed of myself for sitting on my hands, tending to my hoop-stitching, confident that Wellstone would win and that Coleman would wind up with an undersecretaryship in the Commerce Department. Instead, he will sit in the highest council in the land, and move in powerful circles, and enjoy the perks of his office, which includes all the sycophancy and bootlicking a person could ever hope for. So he can do with one old St. Paulite standing up and saying, "Shame. Repent. The End is Near."

The Republican exploitation of 9/11 for political gain is the sort of foulness that turns young people against the whole business, and for good reason. All sorts of people went down in the World Trade Center, execs and secretaries and bond traders and also the dishwashers in Windows on the World and secretaries and cleaning ladies. Think of all those portraits of the victims that ran daily week after week in the Times that we read, read tearfully, saw ourselves in those lives, and the wave of patriotic tenderness that followed was genuine and included us all. For a cynic like Norman Coleman to hitch his trailer to that tragedy is evil -- call it by the right name. To exploit 9/11 and the deaths of those innocent people on that beautiful day in Manhattan -- to appropriate that day and infer so clearly that there is a Republican and a Democratic side to it, is offensive to our national memory and obscenely evil, and it was rewarded by the voters of Minnesota.

Ordinarily, there should be a period of good feeling after an election, of relief, or relaxation, when we join hands and become one people again, but Norman Coleman doesn't deserve any Democrat's hand. We had come together as one people already -- the precious gift of 9/11 -- and he used that as a campaign ploy against us, suggesting that Democrats are unpatriotic, and he is not to be forgiven for it. I personally don't believe he had anything to do with the crash of Paul's plane. Plenty of people suspect he did. I don't. But I do think he is a cynical politician who should make himself scarce for the next few years until people start to forget his campaign.

Lord, America does love a winner. When you're riding high, people can't do enough for you, and when you fall down low, they don't want to be around to see. I know something about that -- every performer does -- and you quickly recognize your false friends, the people who clutch your hand and grab your elbow and give you a gigantic smile and tell you how much they love your work but they get the name of the show wrong, or the day of the week, or they mispronounce your name, and you see them clear for the phonies they are. Norman Coleman is that very person, the false knight upon the road, and he always has been and always will be. Paul Wellstone was a real person who led an authentic life. The contrast couldn't be clearer.

All you had to do was look at Coleman's face, that weird smile, the pleading eyes, the anger in the forehead. Or see how poorly his L.A. wife played the part of Mrs. Coleman, posing for pictures with him, standing apart, stiff, angry. Or listen to his artful dodging on the stump, his mastery of that old Republican dance, of employing some Everyguy gestures in the drive to make the world safe for the privileged. What a contrivance this guy is.

Paul Wellstone identified passionately with people at the bottom, people in trouble, people in the rough. He was an old-fashioned Democrat who felt more at home with the rank and file than with the rich and famous. (Bill Clinton, examine your conscience.) He loved stories and of course people on the edge tend to have better stories than the rich, whose stories are mostly about décor and amenities.

Paul walked the walk. He was a wonder. Everyone who ever met him knew that he lived a whole life and that he and Sheila were crazy about each other. To be in love with one person for 38 years is nothing you can fake: Even the casual passerby can see it. To die at 58, having lived so well and so truthfully, is enviable, compared to the longevity of a man who invents his own life in order to achieve the desired effect and advance himself. To gain the whole world and lose your own soul is not a course that Scripture recommends. You can do it so long as God doesn't notice, but God has a way of returning and straightening these things out. Sinner beware.

"We May Never Know": Looks Like It, Huh? 

Sorry to interrupt a Fun Fantastik News Day--whose focus seems to have become how badly god fearing Christian judges are being treated by the jack-booted storm-trooping federal thugs who run our liberal-totalitarian society [for fuck's sake, can't all those good men and women just get raptured now, and spare us all?]--but wasn't there supposed to be a federal criminal investigation going on into the White House's leaking the identity of an undercover CIA agent? Wasn't there somethin' about a possible conflict of interest with the Attorney General? Has there been any reporting on this story for like the last month? Even any reference to it (aside from Al Gore's speech last Sunday)?

[Q: if those news reporters received their information about Ms. Plame not from the White House, but via direct Revelation, do the federal agents then have the authority to prosecute the Word? Is there a statute of limitations on juicy tidbits illegally disclosed to reporters by the Holy Ghost?]

Oh, how could I forget Exhibit 6? 

The message to [African-American CA Supreme Court Justice Janice Brown], Mr. Miller said, is if she takes conservative stands, "gal, you will be lynched."
Word up, Zell! Time to get moving on that Democrats for Bush 2004 committee!

Bad People Saying Lies and Nonsense-Talk 

O.K., some highlights from the 33-hour (as of right now) Senate circus.

Exhibit 1: the Thing already pictured in the previous post. Now, there are uglier members of the Senate; meaner members; more nasty, cold-hearted, calculating, Machiavellian, treacherous members of the Senate; but as far as I am concerned, Norm Coleman (R-MN) stands alone as The Most Loathsome Member of the U.S. Senate.

Not a laurel I bestow lightly.

Exhibit 2:

Yes, Orrin Hatch, speaking beneath that halo of asshole-clenching sanctimoniousness that only he can muster, while standing in front of a poster which read:

"From the Spanish word filibustero, meaning a pirating or hijacking."

That's right, folks--"filibuster" is "from the Spanish"! I'm glad Orrin's poster explained this information to the television audience--otherwise we would have had to rely on the Spanish-speaking members of our households to understand what all this "filibustero" business was about! No Mas, Orrin, no mas!!!

[Also: has anyone ever head of "a pirating"?]

Orrin went on to note that "one of the reasons they lost the 2000 election was this treatment of judicial nominees."

I found this a rather baffling claim. Either there's some kind of radical anachrony going on, or else Hatch means that we "lost" the 2000 election because we mistreated President Clinton's judicial nominees? Who else's nominees could we have been "treating" in 2000? Weird.

Exhibit 3:

Although Lott wasn't one of the major players in this thing (that honor went to freshman slimebags Lindsay "Lindsay" Graham, Coleman, Saxby "Saxby Chambliss" Chambliss, and a more-than-healthy dose of Jeff Sessions) his speech stood out for the peculiarity of its language. Initially Lott referred to the mistreated judicial nominees as

"These men, women and m'nahrities [read: minorities]..."

O.K., so we got the broad sketch of the 3 Categories of Judge-Types we were dealing with here...but then Lott bears down, seeks focus and detail:

"Three men, four women, a minority...all blocked by this filibuster."

Now the math is one thing (the Dems are currently filibustering four; Janice Brown can be counted as a fifth); the gender breakdown is another; but who is this solitary spotlit "minority"?

Well, the men/women/minority triad had to break down at some point:

"But don't use a procedural vote to defeat these men, women and children..."

Got it, Trent. Thanks for the clarification. Now hurry Trent, I hear there's a great big huddle going on in the cloakroom, you don't wanna miss that...

Exhibit 4:

Saxby "Saxby Chambliss" Chambliss standing in front of the "The Faces of America" poster.

The "The Faces of America" poster was a poster showing a cartographic outline of the United States. Superimposed on the map were pictures of the faces of the four filibustered judges. Hence: "The Faces of America." Get it? (Hint: two of the faces were brown. One was a women. Three were children. Wait...four minority...three woman...shit, I've got it all confused now. Have to go call Trent Lott and get it straight...hang on, Saxby, I'll be right back!)

Exhibit 5:

Now I'm seriously second-guessing my claim in Exhibit 1, when I think again of this man

grinning, bantering with Norm Coleman, and referring to a poster declaring

"Most Jobs Ever."

Thought the U.S. had lost 3 million jobs under Bush's watch? Nope. Buncha lies. On the contrary, we've got the

"Most Jobs Ever"!!!

Got it, America?

This City, This Country, This World... 

It is an unusual charity brochure: a 13-page document, complete with pictures of fireworks and a golf course, that invites potential donors to give as much as $500,000 to spend time with Tom DeLay during the Republican convention in New York City next summer — and to have part of the money go to help abused and neglected children.

Mr. DeLay's charity, Celebrations for Children Inc.,
[Violent gag]
was set up in September and has no track record of work. Mr. DeLay is not a formal official of the charity, but its managers are Mr. DeLay's daughter, Dani DeLay Ferro; Craig Richardson, a longtime adviser; and Rob Jennings, a Republican fund-raiser. Mr. Richardson said the managers would be paid by the new charity.

Mr. DeLay, among other things, is offering donors private dinner with himself and his wife; the chance to participate in a golf tournament; a late-night party with a rock group;
["A rock group"?]
access to a luxury suite for elected officials and donors; as well as the yacht cruise, tickets to Broadway shows and more.

Whatever its ultimate virtues, the DeLay fund-raising brochure displays a certain out-of-date understanding of the New York scene.
[DeLay? Out-of-date understanding of the New York scene?]
The brochure, in which the size of donations are named for more — or less — exclusive neighborhoods, starts at the Upper East Side as the top $500,000 tier and it ends with Greenwich Village for $10,000, perhaps suggesting Mr. DeLay's people have not surveyed the recent asking prices of town houses in the downtown neighborhood. He also placed Midtown (at $50,000) above SoHo (at $25,000).

"Midtown would be a lot less expensive than SoHo or the Village," said Tory Masters, of Intrepid New Yorker, a relocation firm in Manhattan. "I don't know what they are talking about."
[Sigh. Weeping. Vomit.]

Country Heading in Really Awesome Direction! 

Shortly after sunrise Wednesday, several dozen of Mr. Moore's supporters bowed their heads and held a prayer circle on the courthouse steps. Young men blew curled rams' horns as a call to arms. Two women wore black veils, they said, "to mourn the death of America." One burly man named Matt strutted up the courthouse steps dressed in a green army helmet and flak jacket "to wage war for God."
Despite Mr. Moore's loss of his job, his popularity seems to be only growing.
"The battle is not over," Moore said. "The battle will rage across the country."
The future's lookin' up!

What Is This? 

"Human Being" Norm Coleman points out that Democrats have always fought against civil rights. That's why they filibustered all that stuff back then. Those were Dems. Same now. Filibusters. Civil rights.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

It's Going To Be War 

GOP will trumpet preemption doctrine

WASHINGTON -- Faced with growing public uneasiness over Iraq, Republican Party officials intend to change the terms of the political debate heading into next year's election by focusing on the "doctrine of preemption," portraying President Bush as a visionary acting to prevent future terrorist attacks on US soil despite the costs and casualties involved overseas.

The strategy will involve the dismissal of Democrats as the party of "protests, pessimism and political hate speech," Ed Gillespie, Republican National Committee chairman, wrote in a recent memo to party officials -- a move designed to shift attention toward Bush's broader foreign policy objectives rather than the accounts of bloodshed. Republicans hope to convince voters that Democrats are too indecisive and faint-hearted -- and perhaps unpatriotic -- to protect US interests, arguing that inaction during the Clinton years led to the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

"The president's critics are adopting a policy that will make us more vulnerable in a dangerous world," Gillespie wrote. "Specifically, they now reject the policy of pre-emptive self-defense and would return us to a policy of reacting to terrorism in its aftermath."
speakingcorpse writes:

We should note that all of the people afraid of the increasingly likely Dean nomination (this includes me) remember, with good reason, past failed Democratic candidacies and think Dean may be destined for a repeat--not because he's "too far to the left" but simply because he lacks the stature and authority (and Southern origin) of a man like Clark. Unspoken in this assumption is that the goal should be to win swing voters and be generally more conciliatory (i.e., above the fray) than Dean. This is a very serious point, with which I probably agree. Being "above the fray" doesn't mean being a Gore-ish appeaser; it just means projecting confidence and authority. Josh Marshall wrote frighteningly about the similarities of the Nixon/McGovern contest in '72 to a possible Bush/Dean matchup. Without saying I disagree with such an analysis, this article reminds me of something important: the Republicans are not like the Nixonites; they're not even like the Republicans of 2000 who voted for Bush and organized his candidacy. The war has made this into a truly proto-fascist gang. They are afraid, and they are going to do insane shit in the next election. I'm not sure Democrats will have the OPTION of playing strongly to the middle. The Repugs are going to go over the top with ferocity; nothing will be out of the question. The attacks are going to be so vicious and incessant that any attempt to be aloof may look merely ineffectual. In a truly psychotic and dangerous atmosphere of proto-fascist insult and threat, maybe a reckless angry guy like Dean would work--would be the only option. I'm only considering this. This is not my effort to defend Dean against the various reasons smart Democrats have for being wary of him. I'm just saying that we have to be ready for anything.

NBC Readies Apocalypse Series 

NBC Readies Apocalypse Series

NBC is partnering with writer David Seltzer (The Omen) and producer Gavin Polone to develop a six-to-eight-hour limited series based on the apocalypse as foretold in the Book of Revelation, Variety reported.

NBC hopes to roll out the series right after its broadcast of the Athens Olympics in late August, airing an hour a week as an event designed to create momentum for the fall season, the trade paper reported.

Set just before the start of Armageddon, the series will follow two central characters, a physicist and a nun, who are racing against the clock to see if the apocalypse can be averted. It's possible the limited series could include an Antichrist character, sources told the trade paper. The series is as yet untitled.

Coprophagic of the Week: Nicholas Kristof 

dawkins writes:

As AmCop’s dutiful readers Mike and Eric have pointed out in response to previous critiques of the New York Times’ Nicholas Kristof, there once was a time, not too long ago, when he wasn’t absolutely full of shit. But what happened? Did he radically change his diet?

Picking up on the brilliant rhetorical strand introduced by his coprophagic Times colleague David Brooks, Nicholas makes the incisive point that it’s BOTH Democrats and Republicans who are to blame for the poisonously partisan atmosphere in American politics today.

Sez Nicky:
Considering the savagery with which the Snarling Right excoriated President Clinton as a "sociopath," blocked judicial appointments, undermined U.S. military operations from Kosovo to Iraq, hounded Vincent Foster and then accused the Clintons of murdering him, it is utterly hypocritical for conservatives to complain about liberal incivility.

But they're right.

Liberals have now become as intemperate as conservatives, and the result— everybody shouting at everybody else— corrodes the body politic and is counterproductive for Democrats themselves. My guess is that if the Democrats stay angry, then they'll offend Southern white guys, with or without pickups and flags, and lose again.
So according to Kristof, the “intemperate” behavior of Democrats today is just as bad as that of Republicans during the Clinton administration.

Some thoughts, presented in the form of Kristofian balanced comparison:

Remember why Republicans called Clinton a "sociopath"? Because he got blow jobs in the Oval Office. (I also vaguely recall that the Republicans tried to impeach him for that too.)

Now even if Democrats are calling Bush a “sociopath” (which they’re not), what might be their reasons for doing so?

Notwithstanding that Bush wasn’t actually elected president, many Democrats are downright angry that Bush has:

-bankrupted the U.S. government and destroyed the American social safety net with massive tax cuts for rich people and corporations

-launched a war that flew in the face of the will of the rest of the global community (not to mention reason and truth), and squandered hundreds of American lives and the support of the world

-incessantly sought to capitalize politically on that war, as well as on the murder of 3000 Americans by terrorists in 2001

-and so on…

[Blicero adds: war on the environment, failure to secure Homeland against terrorist attack, pathologic secrecy and arrogance in all matters of importance, etc. etc.]

Kristof mentions those judicial appointments that the Republicans opposed. Remember? Republicans roadblocked some 60 Clinton appointments, and Kristof’s right when he suggests that Democrats are doing the same thing.

Yes, they’re holding up the nominations of 4 candidates for judgeships, not merely because those candidates are bona-fide fascists, but because they’ve been nominated by a Republican president.

Such partisan rancor… on both sides!

Kristof mentions that the Republicans undermined U.S. military operations from Kosovo to Iraq. I don’t get it: Does he mean to say that Democrats today are undermining U.S. military operations in Iraq? By overwhelmingly supporting the president’s war resolution and then overwhelmingly approving his continued last-gasp funding packages?

Yes, there are Democratic people out there (like Howard Dean and Wesley Clark and John Kerry) who are criticizing Bush’s war. But the war is an utter disaster! Who’s NOT criticizing the war right now? And those guys are running for president. Which presidential candidate is not criticizing the incumbent? Frankly, Republicans throughout Congress are criticizing the war too. This is partisan incivility?

If you accept Kristof’s premise that Democrats today are indeed filled with rage, am I just a rage-drunk partisan when I contend that Democratic rage directed at Bush and his administration differs in quality and substance somewhat from the rage Republicans directed at Clinton?
A new report from the Pew Research Center says that America is more polarized now than at any time since its polling series began in 1987. Partly that's because it used to be just the Republicans who were intense in their beliefs, while now both sides are frothing.
[Blicero adds: Thank god! It's about time, Nick!]

Okay, Republicans were “intense in their beliefs.” And those “beliefs,” evidently, were the kinds of “beliefs” that held that the Clintons murdered Vince Foster. Pretty “intense” “beliefs,” those!
I see the fury in my e-mail messages. In a fairly typical comment, one reader suggested that President Bush and his aides are "lying, cynical greedy pirates who deserve no better than a firing squad."
Um, yeah? And?
At this rate, soon we'll all be so rabid that Ann Coulter will seem normal.
“We’ll” all be so rabid? Ann Coulter “will” seem normal? Ann Coulter does seem normal now, but it’s not because Democrats are just as rabid than she is. It’s because there are now thousands of Ann Coulters, all on the right, and she’s just one of them!
The left should have learned from Newt Gingrich that rage impedes understanding— and turns off voters. That's why President Bush was careful in 2000, unlike many in his party, to project amiability and optimism.

[Blicero adds: C'mon, "left," remember the Gingrich lesson: if you fire up your base with righteous anger, all you'll get for your troubles is a massive, nationwide reconfiguration of both houses of Congress in your favor, locking in your majority power for the next ten years at least...oh, and also you'll be able to lead a successful impeachment against your opponent president, with no accountability or consequence for your party's actions. True, after you've successfully overtaken the Congress and impeached your opponent president, you might have to resign as Speaker of the House and go earn a more lucrative living elsewhere while continuing to exert influence over government through less visible channels. Beware, "left," the doom that awaits you if you dare to raise your voice and show your anger!]


Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Should We Just Give Up Now? 

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Just Plain Weird 

From the Taiwan News:
President Chen rebuts rumor of paying US$1m to meet Neil Bush

President Chen Shui-bian along with prominent members of his administration yesterday refuted an accusation made by the opposition People First Party alleging Chen had paid US$1 million to secure a meeting with U.S. President George W. Bush's younger brother Neil Bush in New York City.

After Chen's unconfirmed summit with Neil Bush sparked controversies here in Taipei, the president yesterday declared that the government didn't spend one cent to gain access to U.S. politicians. In a counter attack Chen chided the opposition parties for unscrupulously criticizing his trip because he received friendly treatment from the U.S. government.

Shortly after Chinese language media aired uncorroborated reports that President Chen had held a 30-minute summit with Neil Bush during his two day layover in New York City, James Soong, PFP chairman extrapolated from the experience of Kuomintang chairman Lien Chan and claimed the president had secured an audience through the payment of US$1 million.

Before Lien Chan departed for a trip to the U.S. last month, the KMT chief claims a U.S. lobbyist approached him offering to set up a meeting with Neil Bush, on the condition that the KMT paid US$1 million.

Meanwhile, DPP Legislator Parris Chang, who along with Chien accompanied President Chen for his U.S. and Panama trip, confirmed that the president had indeed met Neil Bush, but the summit had nothing to do with Neil Bush's older brother George Bush.
I don't know. Josh Marshall's doing some speculating over at Talking Points Memo.

Veterans Day Special, Cont'd. 

From Billmon:
So now Private Lynch has to be lynched, a job which the vast right-wing conspiracy has taken up with gusto. A reader wrote in yesterday to tell me that attacking Lynch has suddenly become the topic de jour on conservative talk radio:

One guy just called in and said "Lynch is a disgrace and proof that women shouldn't be in the military."

One caller says he "wanted to punch her teeth out."

Caller just said "She ain't no hero."

It seems our true-blue hawks, who only a few months ago were insisting Jessica Lynch was an American hero, and that anyone who doubted her story was a stinking terrorist lover, are now telling us that Lynch is a national disgrace, and that anyone who believes her is a stinking terrorist lover.

If, as Marx once said, anti-semitism is the socialism of idiots, then clearly, talk radio is the fascism of idiots. (I know, I know -- what other kind is there? But even for idiots these people are idiots.)

This all would have all been a lot cleaner, I suppose, if Lynch had been an entirely fictional character from the very start -- like "Old Shoe," the mythical prisoner of war who becomes an equally mythical war hero in the movie "Wag the Dog." But as long as Lynch remained incommunicado in her West Virginia hills, it was easy enough for the Pentagon's propagandists to treat her like a fictional character -- or at least, like a simple, uneducated girl who could be molded to the fictional image they had created for her.

Veterans Day Special 

Support the Troops

Published: November 11, 2003

One of George W. Bush's major campaign themes in 2000 was his promise to improve the lives of America's soldiers — and military votes were crucial to his success. But these days some of the harshest criticisms of the Bush administration come from publications aimed at a military audience.

For example, last week the magazine Army Times ran a story with the headline "An Act of `Betrayal,' " and the subtitle "In the midst of war, key family benefits face cuts." The article went on to assert that there has been "a string of actions by the Bush administration to cut or hold down growth in pay and benefits, including basic pay, combat pay, health-care benefits and the death gratuity paid to survivors of troops who die on active duty."

At one level, this pattern of cuts is standard operating procedure. Just about every apparent promise of financial generosity this administration has made (other than those involving tax cuts for top brackets and corporate contracts) has turned out to be nonoperational. No Child Left Behind got left behind — or at least left without funds. AmeriCorps got praised in the State of the Union address, then left high and dry in the budget that followed. New York's firefighters and policemen got a photo-op with the president, but very little money. For that matter, it's clear that New York will never see the full $20 billion it was promised for rebuilding. Why shouldn't soldiers find themselves subject to the same kind of bait and switch?

Yet one might have expected the administration to treat the military differently, if only as a matter of sheer political calculation. After all, the military needs some mollifying: the Iraq war has turned increasingly nightmarish, and deference toward the administration is visibly eroding. Even Pfc. Jessica Lynch has, to her credit, balked at playing her scripted role.

So what's going on? One answer is that once you've instilled a Scrooge mentality throughout the government, it's hard to be selective. But I also suspect that a government of, by and for the economic elite is having trouble overcoming its basic lack of empathy with the working-class men and women who make up our armed forces.

Full story.

Democrats Unite Against Racial Diversity!! 

Seriously folks: this woman is awful, awful, awful. And (vis. yesterday's post from dawkins) if she gets onto the D.C. Circuit Court, this awful person will be deciding the fate of those aforementioned petitioning P.O.W. veterans.

From ActForChange.com:
Update: On November 6, Justice Brown was approved by the Judiciary Committee in a 10-9 vote split straight down party lines. Now her nomination goes to the full Senate, and the only viable option for blocking her nomination is a filibuster. Even if you’ve taken action on this issue before, it’s crucial that you take action again now.

California Supreme Court Justice Janice Rogers Brown, nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, is a conservative judicial activist who, via her decisions and speeches, demonstrates an open hostility to affirmative action, civil rights, reproductive rights, workers’ rights, the rights of people with disabilities and consumers’ rights.

Click here to take action!

Because of her equal opportunity hostility to a basic belief in equal justice for all, her nomination is opposed by a wide range of advocacy, labor, women’s rights, civil rights and environmental organizations, including the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, People for the American Way, Alliance for Justice and the Congressional Black Caucus, among others.

Urge your senators to protect the values of civil rights, freedom and reproductive choice by voting to reject the nomination of Janice Rogers Brown and to support a filibuster to block her nomination.

Click here to take action!

No money requests on this one--just a click, fill out the petition, and free emails are automatically sent to your senators.

A worthy appeal from MoveOn.org 

MoveOn writes:
Yesterday, former Vice President Al Gore spoke to a packed audience of almost 3,000 MoveOn supporters about the Bush administration's attacks on our basic freedoms.
[Editor's note: I watched the speech, and it was indeed remarkable. Even better than his speech at NYU in August, which I attended with dawkins.]
With this speech, the groundswell of opposition to the Patriot Act, that has erupted through local resolutions in thousands of cities across the nation, has now leapt to the national stage. This is not a partisan issue. This is about defending the very fabric of our nation. Americans are fed up with politicians who use fear to consolidate power, leaving our institutions and traditions in tatters.

You can view a webcast of the speech at:


The speech was covered by major media outlets -- AP, New York Times, Washington Post. We need to continue the drumbeat.

We'd like to place ads in the New York Times and in USA Today, with key excerpts from this speech. Can you help?

Just go to:


If we can raise $160,000 to the MoveOn.org Voter Fund, the Voter Fund will develop these ads today and get this campaign launched.

The setting -- Constitution Hall in Washington DC -- was perfect for this speech. And the crowd was just as inspiring as the speech. Thanks to all who attended and thanks for your support of this crucial campaign.


--Carrie, Eli, James, Joan, Noah, Peter, Wes, and Zack
The MoveOn.org Team
November 10th, 2003

PS: Go here to check on the AP story on Mr. Gore's speech.

MoveOn.org co-sponsored this event with the American Constitution Society. ACS is a national organization of law students, lawyers, academics, judges, and policymakers committed to restoring the values of human dignity, individual rights and liberties, equality, and access to justice to their rightful, central place in American law. Visit ACS at: www.acslaw.org
Also: an update on MoveOn's larger campaign:

It's only been three weeks since we launched our $10 million grassroots fundraising campaign. In that time, over 70,300 people have pitched in to run ads that highlight President Bush's failed policies. If all the checks come in, together we've given a whopping $3.6 million.

That's why this campaign to expose President Bush has attracted the attention of some heavy hitters. Today, George Soros and Peter Lewis, two of the country's leading philanthropists, have announced their strong support of our effort. They've pledged to match every dollar given by those of us in the grassroots with 50 cents of their own. In other words, if we raise $10 million, they'll put in another $5 million.

Politicians, pundits, and the press are watching this effort closely to see what happens. President Bush is raking in millions in $2,000 checks. For the first time, we're in a position to show that small donors working in partnership with the big ones can counterbalance the influence of rich Republicans. We can do it, but we'll have to dig deep and bring in more people.

Please help however you can. Remember, every dollar you give today will be matched with 50 cents from George Soros and Peter Lewis. You can give online at the links below:

By credit card.

By check.

Your gift won't just help run ads. In the next week, we'll also be launching a great new PR campaign to make sure the ads' message gets free news coverage all across the country. We'll do this the MoveOn way -- engaging hundreds of local volunteers to hold press conferences and talk to reporters about the effect of President Bush's policies in our communities.

Together, we're changing the way politics works. Thanks for being a part of it.

--Carrie, Eli, James, Joan, Noah, Peter, Wes, and Zack
The MoveOn.org Team
November 11th, 2003

P.S. For more on the match announcement from George Soros and Peter Lewis, check out today's article on MSNBC.

Monday, November 10, 2003

Bush to steal from brutalized veterans of Gulf War I; seeks money to bolster failing war and failing regime 

dawkins writes:

This is unbelievable. Mind-boggling. Off the charts in terms of cynicism, coldness, and pure cruelty. Do we need any further proof that the “commander in chief” doesn’t give a shit about the men who are fighting, and have fought, to advance his political fortunes?
U.S. Opposes Money for Troops Jailed in Iraq

WASHINGTON, Nov. 9 — The Bush administration is seeking to block a group of American troops who were tortured in Iraqi prisons during the Persian Gulf war in 1991 from collecting any of the hundreds of millions of dollars in frozen Iraqi assets they won last summer in a federal court ruling against the government of Saddam Hussein.

In a court challenge that the administration is winning so far but is not eager to publicize, administration lawyers have argued that Iraqi assets frozen in bank accounts in the United States are needed for Iraqi reconstruction and that the judgment won by the 17 former American prisoners should be overturned.

If the administration succeeds, the former prisoners would be deprived of the money they won and, they say, of the validation of a judge's ruling that documented their accounts of torture by the Iraqis — including beatings, burnings, starvation, mock executions and repeated threats of castration and dismemberment.

"I don't want to say that I feel betrayed, because I still believe in my country," said Lt. Col. Dale Storr, whose Air Force A-10 fighter jet was shot down by Iraqi fire in February 1991.

"I've always tried to keep in the back of my mind that we were never going to see any of the money," said Colonel Storr, who was held by the Iraqis for 33 days — a period in which he says his captors beat him with clubs, broke his nose, urinated on him and threatened to cut off his fingers if he did not disclose military secrets. "But it goes beyond frustration when I see our government trying to pretend that this whole case never happened."
The Bushies’ gall is mind-blowing:
"No amount of money can truly compensate these brave men and women for the suffering that they went through at the hands of a truly brutal regime," said Scott McClellan, the White House spokesman. "It was determined earlier this year by Congress and the administration that those assets were no longer assets of Iraq, but they were resources required for the urgent national security needs of rebuilding Iraq."

"No amount of money can truly compensate these brave men and women for the suffering that they went through at the hands of a truly brutal regime," said Scott McClellan, the White House spokesman, “so that’s exactly what they’ll get: no amount of money at all. It was determined earlier this year by the administration that those assets were no longer assets of Iraq, but they were resources required for the urgent image-burnishing and ass-saving needs of President Bush and his desperate efforts to justify his disastrous war and cling to power."
In a related case, a federal judge in New York ruled in September that the families of people killed in the Sept. 11 attacks could not claim any part of about $1.7 billion in frozen Iraqi assets in the United States.
What tangled webs. Wasn’t it the Bushies who’ve been making the case that Saddam was responsible for 9/11? Yeah, it was. And since we all now know that Saddam was behind 9/11 (and that Iraqi frozen assets ought to then, reasonably, go to compensate 9/11 families), the Bushies are screwing those families just as hard as they’re screwing the families of Gulf War P.O.W. torture victims.

"This was a major human rights decision," said John Norton Moore, one of the lawyers and a professor of national security law at the University of Virginia. "It never occurred to me in my wildest dreams that I would then see our government coming in on the side of Saddam Hussein and his regime to absolve them of responsibility for the brutal torture of Americans."
Curious that (if you believe it was one of the reasons for the current war) when Bush looked upon the brutal torture leveled by Saddam upon his own citizens, he felt compassion and resolve and declared that the brutal regime must fall. Yet when he regarded the brutal torture leveled by Saddam upon American soldiers in the first Gulf War, he found the resolve to tell them: “Fuck you. It’s my money.”
The administration moved within days of Judge Roberts's decision to block the former prisoners from collecting any money. On July 30, the judge reluctantly sided with the government, saying Mr. Bush's actions after the overthrow of Mr. Hussein had barred the transfer of the frozen assets to the former prisoners.

He said he had no other choice even though the administration's position "that the P.O.W.'s are unable to recover any portion of their judgment as requested, despite their sacrifice in the service of their country, seems extreme." The former prisoners are appealing the case through the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
[Blicero adds: no worries, man: as long as Bush nominee Janice Brown gets onto this court by the time they hear the case, the POWs are sure to be treated fairly!]

That’s a nice touch. Bush won’t let the Gulf War P.O.W.’s get “any portion” of the money.

Will this story finally enable Americans (all Americans) to see Bush as the greedy, self-serving, cynical scoundrel he truly is?

Will the news media make it stick?

Will the Democrats pick this up run with it…?


dawkins sends the following to Wes Clark (also to Kerry):

Dear General Clark:

As an American and a supporter of the men and women who wear the uniform of our armed forces, I was appalled by the news that George W. Bush has sought to prevent American P.O.W.s who were tortured by the Iraqis in the first Gulf War from receiving damages for the horrific crimes inflicted upon them.

As a patriot and a veteran yourself, will you speak out against this miscarriage of justice and cynical political act perpetrated by a fraud we’re obligated to call “commander in chief”?

M. Dawkins
New York, NY

Men, Women, Independents All Would Not Vote For Bush 

Newsweek Poll conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates. Nov. 6-7, 2003. N= 809 registered voters nationwide. MoE ± 4(total sample).

"Suppose the next general election for president were being held TODAY and you had to choose between George W. Bush, the Republican, and [see below] ,the Democrat -- who would you vote for? "If " Other "or "Undecided ": "As of TODAY, do you LEAN more toward Bush, the Republican ,or [see below] , the Democrat ?"
Clark now does best against Bush. Dean and Kerry do well too. In fact, they all do well.
49 Bush
45 Dean
6 Undecided

48 Bush
45 Clark
7 Undecided

48 Bush
44 Lieberman
8 Undecided

49 Bush
45 Kerry
6 Undecided

49 Bush
44 Gephardt
7 Undecided

"In general, would you like to see George W. Bush reelected to another term as president, or not? "


44 Yes
50 No

6 Don't Know
Now here's the one that gets me: the men--yes, THE MEN--don't want Bush reelected! Amazing!

45 Yes
51 No

4 Don't Know


42 Yes
51 No

7 Don't Know


86 Yes
10 No
4 Don't Know
And finally, the Democrats are as solid as the Republicans in their opposition:

10 Yes
86 No

4 Don't Know
More good news: the much-sought-after Independents don't want him!

40 Yes
53 No

7 Don't Know

Rumsfeld: "[T]hings you just said I said" 

Rumsfeld retreats, disclaims earlier rhetoric
Rumsfeld denies he ever made several pre-war statements.

WASHINGTON - In the lead-up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said U.S. forces would be welcomed by the Iraqi citizenry and that Saddam Hussein had large stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons.

Now, after both statements have been shown to be either incorrect or vastly exaggerated, Rumsfeld - with the same trademark confidence that he exuded before the war - is denying that he ever made such assertions.

In recent testy exchanges with reporters, Rumsfeld interrupted the questioners and attacked the premise of the questions if they dealt with his pre-war comments about weapons of mass destruction and Americans-as-liberators.

For example, on Feb. 20, a month before the invasion, Rumsfeld fielded a question about whether Americans would be greeted as liberators if they invaded Iraq.

"Do you expect the invasion, if it comes, to be welcomed by the majority of the civilian population of Iraq?" Jim Lehrer asked the defense secretary on PBS' "The News Hour."

"There is no question but that they would be welcomed," Rumsfeld replied, referring to American forces. "Go back to Afghanistan, the people were in the streets playing music, cheering, flying kites, and doing all the things that the Taliban and the al-Qaeda would not let them do."

But on Sept. 25, - a particularly bloody day in which one U.S. soldier was killed in an ambush, eight Iraqi civilians died in a mortar strike and a member of the U.S-appointed governing council died after an assassination attempt five days earlier - Rumsfeld was asked about the surging resistance.

"Before the war in Iraq, you stated the case very eloquently and you said . . . they would welcome us with open arms," Sinclair Broadcasting anchor Morris Jones said to Rumsfeld as the prelude to a question.

The defense chief quickly cut him off.

"Never said that," he said. "Never did. You may remember it well, but you're thinking of somebody else. You can't find, anywhere, me saying anything like either of those two things you just said I said."

Full story.

Sunday, November 09, 2003

Josh Marshall proposes a deal 

From Talking Points Memo:
The Republicans are puffing themselves up with a lot of mock outrage over this Democratic draft memo. And the White House is about to get into the act too.

I’ve got an idea, a proposal, shall we say, that I’m going to float on behalf of the Democrats to get us past all this acrimony and suspicion.

The Democrats will turn over all their memos and work product on everything to do with intelligence and investigations into intelligence. Everything back to September 1st, 2001.

And I mean everything --- every staff memo, every planning memo, minutes from brainstorming sessions, memos from each senator's staff, communications with the White House and the CIA, and planning and strategizing with regards to both. All the work product . Everything. They’ll package it all together and give one copy to the majority and one copy to the White House.

In exchange, the majority will hand over the same range of documents to the minority and the White House.

And the White House and the rest of the national security-related departments and agencies in the executive branch will hand over the same to the majority and the minority in the Senate.


-- Josh Marshall


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