October 28, 2003

Salon.com News | Bush disavows mission accomplished banner: "Bush disavows mission accomplished banner

Oct. 28, 2003  |  WASHINGTON (AP) -- Six months after he spoke on an aircraft carrier deck under a banner proclaiming ``Mission Accomplished,'' President Bush disavowed any connection with the war message.

The phrase has been mocked many times since Bush's carrier speech as criticism has mounted over the failed search for weapons of mass destruction and the continuing violence in Iraq.

When it was brought up again Tuesday at a news conference, Bush said, ``The `Mission Accomplished' sign, of course, was put up by the members of the USS Abraham Lincoln, saying that their mission was accomplished.''

``I know it was attributed somehow to some ingenious advance man from my staff _ they weren't that ingenious, by the way.''

That explanation hadn't surfaced during months of questions to White House officials about proclaiming the mission in Iraq successful while violence continued.

The president's appearance on the Abraham Lincoln, which was returning home after service in the Persian Gulf, included his dramatic and much-publicized landing on the ship's deck.

Bush's disavowal Tuesday brought new criticism from retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark, who is seeking the Democratic nomination to run against the president. Clark said Bush ``backtracked on his May 1 political photo op on the USS Abraham Lincoln by blaming the troops on the aircraft carrier for the declaration of 'mission accomplished' in Iraq.'' "

This seems particularly weeny, even for this administration. If it needed disavowing, why not do it when the public loved it? Now blaming it on the sailors? Why does this president not get hammered, even by his supporters, for not being willing to take responsibility for his actions?

October 27, 2003

Salon.com | Joe Conason's Journal: "Bolstering such concerns are the findings of top computer-security experts such as Avi Rubin of Johns Hopkins and David Dill of Stanford. Rubin, who was given a copy of the Diebold voting computers' source code several months ago, has declared its protections against fraud to be worthless. Dill told Newsweek that the risk of a stolen election is 'extremely high.'

The sickening irony of this situation is that it developed from congressional efforts to preclude another fiasco like Florida 2000. Now Rep. Rush Holt, D.-N.J., has proposed legislation that would require a separate printed record of every computerized vote so that recounts can be audited with a paper trail. But Rep. Bob Ney, the committee chairman, opposes Holt's Voter Confidence Act. Ney happens to be a Republican from Ohio. But why aren't Republicans -- many of whom fret incessantly about 'ballot security' in black and Latino neighborhoods -- more disturbed by the threat of computer cheating? "

I keep trying to find some time to blog about something other than politics--but the Bushies won't give me a break. Here again is a story that would have had a completely different response had Clinton been in office. Quite possibly, the Democrats might be dragging their feet, but surely the Republicans would be clamoring for an investigation.

I once conceded (at least sub-consciously) that while I disagreed with Republicans, I thought they were morally upstanding. In other words, I wasn't one, but I assumed that conservatives were genuine about their morality and liberals like myself were far more prone to relative morality. So, I thought, liberals just had to be more careful about their justifications. Now I see clearly that, while I won't declare liberals more moral (at all), that conservatives have NO moral high ground with me anymore. Certainly not on the justification of them being conservative.
WorkingForChange-Boykin's bizarre beliefs: "If anyone has given aid and comfort to the enemy, Boykin has. During the past several months, the general -- who is deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence and charged with finding high-profile targets, such as Osama bin Laden -- has appeared at conservative Christian pulpits around the country, often in uniform, to declare the war on terror a 'spiritual battle.' His foolish, bigoted remarks will be repeated ad nauseam on Arab TV and used to buttress the view of Islamic extremists, who insist the United States has launched a latter-day crusade against Islam. If you listen to Boykin, perhaps we have."

It is hard to understand how the Dixie Chicks could be widely criticized for their remarks as unpatriotic, but giving the enemy free recruiting posters draws little criticism from conservatives.

October 26, 2003

At the start of each of Bush's bad ideas is Dick Cheney=The Hill.com=

Like I have been saying--the root of our problems began not when GWB was elected, but when he selected Cheney as his VP.

October 23, 2003

Inspired by AJ's new blog, I am going to try and have more postings that are less political in nature. The political stuff is generally a downer, and I am currently entering one of those moods where I may avoid political news completely.

Sometimes, I just can't take it. I heard a friend talking (positively) about Hannity and Colmes yesterday and it depressed me more than I can say. Of course I find their politics horrible, but more importantly, I find the level and quality of discourse abominable.

Then again, today is just a down day for me.
Bolivian Leader's Ouster Seen as Warning on U.S. Drug Policy

Thanks to TPM, this interesting story about yet more American arrogance and lack of diplomacy.

October 22, 2003

Mark A. R. Kleiman: The Ministry of Truth visits Iraq

This blog entry is rather eye-opening. Bush has, according to this, never attended any memorials for soldiers KIA and has put a kibosh on photos of flag-draped coffins. What kind of country is this?
I want to call attention to my friend's new blog, Anglican Journey. I know this is going to be a must read.

October 21, 2003

The New Yorker: Fact

Worth looking at. This is the article that argues that Bush has changed the way information flows through the admin. The main problem? That only the information Cheney et all wanted to see flowed through these pipes, and much of the time, that information was bad. That explains much of our bad info on the nature of Iraqi opposition and how they would respond to our "liberation."
TIME.com: NOC, NOC. Who's There? A Special Kind of Agent -- Oct. 27, 2003: "security agencies all over the world are now quietly running Plame's name through their data banks, immigration records and computer hard drives as the White House leak scandal continues to percolate. Officials with two foreign governments told TIME that their spy catchers are quietly checking on whether Plame had worked on their soil and, if so, what she had done there. Which means if one theme of the Administration leak scandal concerns political vengeance -- did the White House reveal Plame's identity in order to punish Wilson for his public criticism of the case for war with Iraq?--another theme is about damage. What has been lost, and who has been compromised because of the leak of one spy's name? And who, if anyone, will pay for that disclosure?"

Thanks to AngryBear, this from Time Magazine about the possible repercussions of the CIA outing. Can someone tell me with a straight face that had Clinton done this, we wouldn't be talking impeachment proceedings or at least serious independent prosecutions?
Mark A. R. Kleiman

From this blog comes a link to a New Yorker piece that looks at the flaws in how the Bush administration has changed the flow of information. Instead of filtering it to make sure only the best get to the decision makers, they have circumvented the process to get the information they want. I can see how the previous system might be flawed, but this is replacing that flaw with one far more dangerous.

October 19, 2003

STLtoday - News - Columnists

Very funny parody of how Rush might have responded to his own mea culpa had it come from Bill Clinton.
Salon.com | With God on their side

Arguing that the Bush administration has rightly condemned a Malaysian leader for anti-semitism, but has yet to condemn their own Lt. Gen for his anti-Islam statements. Why does that not surprise me?
Salon.com | Joe Conason's Journal: "God is my intelligence source
A different kind of military officer seems destined for glory in the Bush administration. As military analyst William Arkin and NBC News have revealed, the officer now in charge of such sensitive missions as finding Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein is an 'intolerant Christian extremist' named Jerry Boykin. Among the intelligence feats accomplished by Gen. Boykin was the discovery of a mysterious dark cloud over the Somali capital of Mogadishu. He has since shared that revelation in a slideshow he presented to a church group:

'Ladies and gentlemen, this is your enemy,' he told the congregation. 'It is the principalities of darkness. It is a demonic presence in that city that God revealed to me as the enemy.'

Boykin has also received some domestic political intel from the Almighty. 'George Bush was not elected by a majority of the voters in the United States,' the general once confided to an Oregon congregation. 'He was appointed by God.'
[1:30 p.m. PDT, October 17, 2003] "

This isn't right.

October 17, 2003

The Nine Billion Links of God

This is a little frightening. this Lt. Gen. refers to Muslims as idolaters and satanists and says that our God is bigger than their God. Not only that, but he thinks that GWB was "chosen by God" to lead us at this time. So, this is a Crusade?

October 16, 2003

Body and Soul

This looks suspicious as well, though it seems also very conspiratorial. This is one of my favorite blogs, and this person has been following the Diebold election machine scandals pretty closely. Now, they are looking at the issue that Diebold put patches on their electronic voting machines shortly before the election and possibly after certification.

Those who know Streak and myself also know that we are hesitant to follow conspiracy theories. And, this is a good example. But we do think that this is something that should be investigated thoroughly. The very integrity of the democratic process demands it.
Salon.com News | Keeping dissent invisible: "He never got to display his sign for President Bush to see, though. As he stood among milling groups of Bush supporters, he was approached by a local police detective, who told him and his sister that because they were protesting, they had to move to a 'free speech area,' on orders of the U.S. Secret Service. "

You are kidding me. Anyone know anything about this?

October 15, 2003

Salon.com | Right Hook: "'Time now for 'The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day.' I had to stop an interview with NPR today because the conversation got completely out of hand. It was supposed to be about my new book, 'Who's Looking Out for You' -- I say 'supposed to be' ... The program is called 'Fresh Air' and I knew the people were not gonna be fair, but I decided to let it play out. That program gave one of the smear merchants running around the country a total pass when it interviewed him. But in my conversation they were much more aggressive, and I actually enjoyed telling the woman off, and I think you'll enjoy hearing it. If you want to know the ridiculous truth about NPR and 'Fresh Air,' go to BillOReilly.com or listen to the 'Radio Factor' tomorrow. Very interesting.'"

Yeah, O'Reilly is interesting. But not in the way he thinks. Why is Franken a "smear merchant" but O'Reilly is trying to help people? The guy could use a double-dose of humility.

October 14, 2003

Salon.com News | Man ordered to speak English to daughter

This is frightening. Judge opposing a man speaking to his daughter in Spanish. This ain't right.
Followup: ABC is reporting that they have identified the officer who wrote the letter and passed it around his troops.

What does this all mean? On one hand, these particular soldiers are frustrated with negative news about their work in Iraq and I can understand that. I don't mind that, but wonder about the Army manipulating the media in this way. More later.

October 13, 2003

Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall: October 12, 2003 - October 18, 2003 Archives

Interesting. Looks like several different soldiers have written the very same letter to the editor to different papers, all protesting the negative portrayal of the Iraq war. In one place, I found interviews with soldiers who claimed that they hadn't written the letter, but all claimed the letter was accurate.


Streak sent me and L down to Austin to check out the festival. One of our favorite bands was the Old 97's who put on one terrific show. We also thoroughly enjoyed Steve Earle, Patty Griffin, Ian Moore, Robert Earl Keen, and Shawn Colvin.
New feature! Streak was finally able to add a comments field to his blog. This one is limited to just a few comments per posting, but should allow for some feedback on the various postings. Give it a try!

Fresh Air: Monday - October 13, 2003

Wow. Listen to Bill O'Reilly rant toward the end. The guy needs some of Rush Limbaugh's stash. Terry Gross is interviewing him and asking him about his critics and he essentially accuses her of perpetrating a "hatchet job" interview and hangs up. Jeesh. He, however, is "fair and balanced."

October 8, 2003

Yahoo! News - Davis Out, Schwarzenegger Wins in Calif.

Very interesting events. On one hand, it is very hard to take either Arnold or this recall seriously. But after seeing the turnout, which was extraordinary, I can't completely dismiss the outcome.

Fears: that Republicans will spin this to say that even one of the most liberal states is actually conservative. I don't think that is true--after all, Arnold is hardly a Bush conservative, and California is still quite liberal on several issues.

Fear #2, that Democrats will over-react to this and try to recall the recall, or something stupid like that. The recall will come back to haunt the GOP at some point, but Democrats should not try to cause that. Arnold may take care of that by himself. Or he might just do fine. Not a lot that any Governor can do to fix this state right now anyway.

Fear #3, that the line between entertainment and politics have been so completely blurred that we can no longer tell between people who fake at being politicians and those who are. Have to see.

All in all, I think that this will all turn out ok. Hope.

October 7, 2003

Yahoo! News - Bush Says Leaker May Not Be Found in CIA-Iraq Probe

Oh, come on! This administration knows full well who the leaker is. If they are never found, it is for one reason: the administration doesn't want them found.

October 5, 2003

New York Daily News - Sports Columnists - Bob Raissman's Tuning In: Jackson was ready to Rush out door

An interesting essay that argues that Tom Jackson (former Denver Bronco great) was ready to quit if they didn't address the Limbaugh issue. He felt bad about not rebutting the racial issue and so was going to tell Limbaugh off and quit. Way to go, Tom.

Yahoo! News - Outside Probe of Leaks Is Favored
: "As the White House hunkered down, it got the first taste of criticism from within Bush's own party. Sen. Chuck Hagel (news, bio, voting record) (R-Neb.) said that Bush 'needs to get this behind him' by taking a more active role. 'He has that main responsibility to see this through and see it through quickly, and that would include, if I was president, sitting down with my vice president and asking what he knows about it,' the outspoken Hagel said last night on CNBC's 'Capital Report.' "

Streak has been watching Hagel closely lately. This particular Repub seems to be unimpressed with this administration.

Also on the radar. Wilson now says that he fears that his wife may be a target now that her cover is blown AND that the government is not protecting her.

How are GOP defenders and members justifying this? How do you with a straight face defend the impeachment of Clinton and look the other way while this administration weakens our national security and exposes one of our agents. How is that not treasonous?

Yahoo! News - California Recall a Referendum on Schwarzenegger

What does this whole California recall tell us about voters? Or does it? From one angle, it appears that the voters are not terribly smart. How else to explain poll numbers going up after more proof appears of the man's scumminess? And this isn't Bush's youthful indiscretions, this is Henry Hyde's youthful indiscretion--meaning very recently. And he was good friends with the very people who screwed the California economy. The guy is a scumbag, and Californians seem to be lining up to elect him governor.

Don't get me wrong. I support the recall option, but not the way this one is implimented. A recall should be harder to do than just stand outside grocery stores. And there ought to be some justification other than we don't like him. Not sure how to do that, but this doesn't seem right. I also understand that Californians on both sides of the aisle hate Gray Davis. Fine. But this seems wrong at a lot of levels. And I suspect that California will end up regretting this.

Captures a story about the Texas legislature scheduling work for the middle of Yom Kippur even when some objected that they would not do this on Easter Sunday. This depresses me. And Streak.
Skeptical Notion

Streak noticed this too. While surfing last night, he captured this exchange between one of the blonde "journalists" and Joseph Wilson [not a transcription]:

"I was in Washington recently and people there told me that your wife's identity as an agent was widely known."

Wilson: "It is widely known now, but it wasn't then."

Blonde stupid person: "People told me it was"

Wilson: "that isn't true. very few people outside our family knew"

Blonde idiot: "People said they knew."

That was her level of journalistic integrity: people told her and so she never bothered to follow up. If Al Franken's account of the Paul Wellstone funeral coverage is correct, that could have been floated by one conservative in Washington, and so everyone starts restating the spin that you can't leak something everyone already knew. This sucks. And besides being dishonest, it is more lie to the argument that conservatives care more about national security than liberals. If they did, they would be turning on their administration and chiding them very publicly. Hell, Clinton got more public chiding for the you-know-what in the white house.

October 1, 2003

For those who have been watching the West Wing, I have a thought on the plot progression. I have been thinking about it over the summer (off and on) and puzzled over the idea of why they would have had the President face a giant crisis and invoke a constitutional chain of command. In the show, the President took the high road and turned over the presidency to deal with his own crisis and put the country above his own personal needs.

Then it dawned on me. In the show, President Bartlett's cool headed, literate, and highly moral approach to the job gave way to a little glimpse of the anti-Bartlett. The anti-Bartlett bombs almost indiscriminately and obviously sees violence as a solution. The country sees that taking the high road with regards to the Presidency is not always in our best interest (though in the show, the Republican successor is not completely evil).

Where have we seen all this before. The show mimics the Florida recount when Al Gore put the country above his own personal needs. Or he did the math and didn't think he could win. Either way, he demonstrated restraint--restraint in the face of an opposition who pulled out every big gun, including violating their own principles regarding state's rights to do so.

And what kind of crisis did we endure? 9-11. And the response to it? Bomb everything in site. Invade Afghanistan and then watch as the Taliban returns. Then what? Invade Iraq (who the VP is still claiming was involved in 9-11: despite every intelligence report) and now see the problems with those assumptions about violence. And during all of this, the administration uses the cover of a major crisis to pursue a radical agenda. Anti-abortion, anti-environmental, anti-labor, worker safety, etc.

So, the show gave us a glimpse of a president in the midst of a nightmare--a nightmare that includes a right wing president. In the show, the people wake up to the resolution of the nightmare gone. Unfortunately, we wake up with this administration.

Yahoo! News - White House Staff Investigating CIA Leak

I may be confused here, but aren't they the ones supposed to be investigated?
TOMPAINE.com - Litany Of Lies: "Abortion Contortion

On his first workday in the Oval Office Bush signed a directive reviving a controversial 1984 Ronald Reagan order known as the Mexico City policy, which had been rescinded by Clinton. This policy prohibited U.S. government family-planning funds from going to overseas groups that provide abortion services, lobby for abortion rights, or counsel pregnant women that abortion is an option. In a two-paragraph announcement, Bush noted, 'It is my conviction that taxpayer funds should not be used to pay for abortions or advocate or actively promote abortion, either here or abroad.'

But the funds in question -- $425 million in foreign aid -- did not underwrite abortion-related activity. This money could only be used by these groups for their family-planning activities that did not involve abortion. A 1973 law had rendered it illegal for any organization to use U.S. government funds to pay for abortions overseas. The Bush White House, though, was selling the reinstatement of the policy as a direct step in defunding abortions overseas. At a White House press briefing, Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer defended the directive by saying that Bush 'did not support use of taxpayer dollars to fund abortion abroad.' A reporter pointed out that these funds did not finance abortion overseas: 'Is the president aware that under the 1973 law, the use of American money for abortions abroad is banned? This money isn't used for abortions.' Fleischer replied: 'I would urge you to wait until you read the executive order, and then you'll be able to see this for yourself.' But that executive order -- issued two months later -- in no way explained why the Bush White House had promoted the policy's revival with misinformation. "

Didn't know this.
TOMPAINE.com - Litany Of Lies

A nice list of GWB's lies over the last few years.
"P.S. Speaking of Plame, this CalPundit post is an absolute must-read. Here's a sample from a former CIA agent [significant snipping follows; see CalPundit's post for the full exchange]:

She has been undercover for three decades, she is not as Bob Novak suggested a CIA analyst....So the fact that she's been undercover for three decades and that has been divulged is outrageous because she was put undercover for certain reasons...For these journalists to argue that this is no big deal and if I hear another Republican operative suggesting that well, this was just an analyst fine, let them go undercover. Let's put them overseas and let's out them and then see how they like it...I say this as a registered Republican. I'm on record giving contributions to the George Bush campaign...His entire intent was correctly as Ambassador Wilson noted: to intimidate, to suggest that there was some impropriety that somehow his wife was in a decision making position to influence his ability to go over and savage a stupid policy, an erroneous policy and frankly, what was a false policy of suggesting that there were nuclear material in Iraq that required this war....it sickens me to be a Republican to see this...We saw this in the 70s with Marchetti and others and Philip Agee who outed officers and they were killed...The principle's established: do not divulge the names of these people. In my own career trainee class I did not know Joe's wife last name; we went by our first initials....To realize this is a terrific woman, she's a woman of great integrity..."

Amen. For the GOP to gloss over this is the ultimate test of their own patriotism. If country comes first, how could you justify exposing an agent for political purposes? If you are truly the best defenders of national security (of course, not true), then this is indefensible. Where is Ann Coulter's traitors now?