DO NOT FUCK WITH LETTERMAN
Yeah, normally I don't just repost Atrios' stuff, but on sheer principle, it must be said:
Do not fuck with Letterman.
That is all.
...ok, not so fast. Click here
to watch the video in question (it's very, very funny).
...I don't even watch
Letterman anymore, but you don't fuck with the master. Here
is a longish clip of his response -- what you could call Step 1 of the Stern-ization of Letterman, maybe.
OUR FOREIGN POLICY
Iraqis chant anti-American slogans as charred bodies hang from a bridge over the Euphrates River in Fallujah, west of Baghdad, Wednesday, March 31 2004. Enraged Iraqis in this hotbed of anti-Americanism killed four foreigners Wednesday, including at least one U.S. national, took the charred bodies from a burning SUV, dragged them through the streets, and hung them from the bridge.
PLEASE GOD, NO
Calpundit Political Animal Kevin Drum
that word on the street is that Gephardt has the inside track in the Veepstakes.
No no no no no no no noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo...
GEORGE SMITH, LEFT-WING GOP ATTACKBOT
God, remember when the very first Clarke attacks
were dribbling out? Seems like ten years ago! The first anti-Clarke broadside came from Drudge, in the form of a link to an older article by someone named George Smith. Smith has been a critic of Clarke for a long time, and has now gone public with a Voice article
about his experience as an unwilling left-wing GOP attackbot.
I wrote this at the time:
This guy, George Smith, is no Clarke lover. He's had it in for Clarke since at least December 2000 ... Exactly what he's claiming Clarke failed to do is unclear, but Smith appears not to be a GOP Hack -- he's just being used.
This is what Smith has to say:
I'd written many columns about Clarke since 1998, all uniformly scornful and critical of his obsession with cyberterror. He bequeathed the nation a haystack of quotes leading idiots to believe terrorists were going to devastate us through computer networks. That, and a claim that the Freedom of Information Act was a legal impediment to the sharing of information, in need of an alteration to fix it.
There was no nuance—or recognition of anything other than good or wicked—anywhere. I was supposedly the proper expert arrived just in the nick of time, someone who took Richard Clarke "to task for having the audacity to write a book critical of the President's anti-terrorism efforts." Or I was a GOP mouthpiece, a "loyal shameless Bush Apologist and Academic Hit Man." Reality didn't fit what the howling mobs wanted.
What is true is that no one cursing or cheering Richard Clarke now cared a whit about him until Sunday night two weeks ago. And he was no stranger to 60 Minutes either, warning of terror in April 2000: "What if one morning we're told by the drug cartel in Colombia, 'Either the United States pulls out of Colombia, either the United States stops killing the cocaine plants, or else there'll be [a cyberattack] on Houston'?"
But maybe I am all screwed up and the people writing me weren't taunting proof of the hegemony of the American boob. Maybe Richard Clarke is (I challenge you to say this with a straight face while looking into a mirror) a "folk hero" or part of the "revenge of democracy" said to be coming to the Bush administration.
I would be willing to bet, though, that if the Dems, of which I am one—remember—won't fight their own battles and keep thinking that career apparatchiks bearing tattlers will win the election, they'll be thrown to statistics and the devil when it finally arrives.
2037: THE YEAR WE FIND THEM
The new chief U.S. weapons inspector for Iraq reported to Congress today that no breakthrough has been made in the search for Saddam Hussein's chemical or biological weapons, but he said new information supports a theory that Iraq was developing a capability to produce them on short notice.
In his first appearance since replacing David Kay last January, Charles Duelfer this morning told the Senate Armed Services Committee he has refocused the work of the Iraq Survey Group (ISG) to seek to determine Hussein's intention. He said this included what the former Iraqi leader ordered, whether weapons were hidden and "was there a plan for a break-out production capacity."
Making that task more difficult, he said, was that "some of these decisions may not have been recorded in traditional ways," and they "may have been orally transmitted or conveyed to only a select group, a trusted inner circle."
After the morning session, Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), ranking Democrat on the Armed Services panel, said that the unclassified version of Duelfer's statement given to reporters left out information in the classified report given to senators. The classified version, he said, "would lead one to doubt" what Levin described as Duelfer's "suspicions as to Iraq's activities."
To put it, um, mildly.
RIP ALISTAIR COOKE
His "Letters From America" were exceptionally brilliant
. It was always on late at night when NPR turned into the BBC for a few blessed hours. Hearing his voice, my (insomniac) hand would dart to my lil' clock radio's volume dial. Up with the volume! I had to make sure that I didn't miss anything
he had to say.
...the NewsHour has a nice retrospective.
Link to follow.
OH NO RICHARD
MORE ON OPPORTUNITY COSTS
The London Daily Telegraph (registration required) reports today on testimony by the Chief of Defence Staff that Britain's Army will not be ready to mount another major combat operation for five years because of what it has expended in spirit, blood and treasure to fight with America in Iraq. Like the U.S. Army, the British Army has been stretched to its limits by its worldwide deployments -- many in support of the global war on terrorism.
The cost of the war in Iraq shouldn't just be measured in terms of dollars or lives spent -- it should also be seen as an expenditure of American military power that precludes the expenditure of American (and allied) military power for other purposes. It's like you've got a six-shooter and several targets -- if you're smart, you pick the most threatening targets and shoot them first, and as accurately as possible, to conserve ammo for future targets and hopefully to survive. America and her allies have a finite military capacity, just like the bullets in a revolver, and if we shoot up our bullets at one target (Iraq), we will have less to shoot at others (e.g. Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, Indonesia, the Philippines, the tri-border region of South America, etc.) Ultimately, this means that the U.S. may be less secure in the future for expending its military capacity on Iraq today.
...Drum got to it first
IRAQ: THE COST
No. I'm sorry. Now it's:
Oops. It's actually:
...not like I need to tell you
, but the number above is only part
of the opportunity cost.
Kos poster DHinMI
Reading and listening to the reactions people have had to Clarke's book, his appearances in the media, and now to his stunning testimony before the 9-11 panel, it appears that we may have reached a turning point. Richard Clarke is easily believed and not easily dismissed. Karl Rove wasted his ammunition on earlier whistle blowers like John Dilulio and Paul O'Neil, who, compared to Clarke, are minor leaguers. Despite the assists of hacks like Lehman and the slimeballs at Fox News, this whistleblower will be hard to marginalize and ignore. The political heart of the Bush presidency is counter-terrorism, and their former counter-terrorism expert may have just ripped out their heart.
Richard Clarke is a hawk, appears to have been a Republican, and most balanced summaries of his career show him to have been a bit of a loose cannon too smitten by covert actions and insufficiently respectful of civil liberties. But he's the type of knowledgeable, dogged, and passionate analyst on whom every successful administration must rely for honest and non-ideological appraisals and advice. However, this administration doesn't value analysts, it values acolytes. Thus, it's not surprising this outraged insider has so effectively exposed the rank incompetence and rotten dishonesty at the center of the Bush administration. Furthermore, this administration doesn't respect people who aren't cynical idolaters of power like themselves; it's to be expected that they wouldn't heed the advice of someone whose character and motivations are so different from their own. The leaders of the Bush administration wouldn't listen to Richard Clarke because, as he proved today, he is fundamentally what they will never be. Richard Clarke is a mensch, and Richard Clarke is a patriot.
WE LIVE IN TROUBLED TIMES
on the media:
Clarke's interview, and his book, both go a long way towards demolishing the picture of Bush as the stalwart commander that Bob Woodward painted in his book, Bush at War. Woodward, the outsider turned insider, has been discredited by Clarke, the insider turned outsider.
It's a hell of a circle we've come when a former ace investigative journalist, the scourge of Richard Nixon, is part of the cover up, and a career national security bureaucrat like Richard Clarke is the one blowing the whistle.
Pogo certainly had it right, at least as far as American journalism is concerned: We have met the enemy, and he is us.
REVEALED: THE HITCHENS AGENDA
there had to be some reason
for the Hitch's apostasy
It has been over a year since the Bush Administration boldly embarked upon a mission that was 10 years too late, but not a moment too soon. I wrote last December, perhaps through rose-tinted glasses, but I think ensuing events have proven me prescient, that I looked forward to the day when I would be able to raise a glass with old Kurdish comrades in newly liberated Iraq.
That day has come at long last. The tyrant’s vast stores of whiskey, gin, rum, vodka and other long oppressed spirits are free. Free from Saddam’s dungeons, where they were tortured unmercifuly; assaulted with aerated waters, their innocent and pure bodies torn asunder and poisoned with impurities in fiendish experiments, the fullness of their aspirations diluted by a madman’s icy depravities.
Dear, dear me.
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE ABOUT IRAQ
Glib responses about the "freedom" now enjoyed by the Iraqis just won't do it.
Second, I think there is a great deal of merit to the assertion that the focus on Iraq has diverted all sorts of political, military, economic and diplomatic energy away from the fight on terrorism. Notwithstanding the pedantic assertions of neo-cons like James Taranto and others who constantly say we're not distracted, the pure military calculus of the issue is irrefutable. We have roughly 11,000 military personnel in Afghanistan right now according to GlobalSecurity.Org. In terms of combat personnel, this includes a sizable special operations component and roughly one brigade combat team of light infantry. In Iraq today, we have more than 10 times that number of aggregate personnel, including 16 brigade combat teams of heavy and light forces. American infantry and special operations forces have played a cat-and-mouse game with Al Qaeda in the mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan for more than two years, and one has to wonder about how effective this would've been if we had put some of the combat power into Afghanistan that we have put into Iraq.
Moreover, the U.S. has devoted so much combat power to Iraq for the near term that it has substantially constrained its ability to (1) deploy additional forces to existing theaters of operations, e.g. Afghanistan and (2) deploy forces to new hotspots like Haiti or the Philippines, which may or may not be part of the global war on terrorism. So the question is not merely "How has the war on Iraq affected the U.S. war on terrorism?" -- the question is also "How has the war on Iraq constrained future exercises of American power abroad, by limiting the forces available to the President?" I think it's safe to say that we did not foresee these long-term issues in early 2003, largely because the White House planned Operation Iraqi Freedom on the assumption that "we would be greeted as liberators." (See James Fallows' brilliant piece "Blind Into Baghdad," as well as my Washington Monthly piece "Faux Pax Americana", for more on this.) Today, we are not only distracted from the more important war on Al Qaeda, but we are hamstrung in the other things we'd like to achieve in the world.
Economists like to talk about "marginal costs" and "marginal benefits" when discussing the pro's and con's (in economic terms) of a given decision by a rational actor. It is becoming increasingly clear, one year after the launch of Operation Iraqi Freedom, that the marginal cost of our Iraqi operation outweighs the marginal benefit. And more importantly, that the U.S. may have bought more for its buck by putting the billions spent on OIF into other endeavors. Imagine the marginal benefit earned for every dollar spent if we put $87 billion into cooperative threat reduction, or into the Department of Homeland Security, or CBRNE training for local first responders, or any number of other anti-terrorism/counter-terrorism initiatives. I know enough about the appropriations process to know that federal money isn't entirely fungible, but I think this is a valid question because of the enormous debt we have taken on in order to liberate Iraq. It can still be argued that Saddam was a bad guy, and that OIF was a good thing for the people of Iraq and the region. But given America's finite resources, and the need to combat other threats in the world, I'm not sure that it can be argued that Operation Iraqi Freedom was the right choice at the right time for America.
I wish I had more faith in the ability of the American people to grasp a concept as simple as opportunity cost.
...and, lo! Tom Schaller over at the Gadflyer speaks directly
to the opportunity costs of Iraq.
A NIXON-LIKE COLLAPSE?
Steve over at No More Mister speculates
on why the message just doesn't seem to penetrate
A big reason that it's harder to run against Bush '04 than against Bush '92 is, paradoxically, the fact that what we're charging Bush '04 with is so appalling: We're saying that he shed U.S. soldiers' blood in an utterly unnecessary war while pulling resources from the fight he should have been fighting -- that he took his eye off the ball and effectively suspended the fight against the mass murderers who should have been our prime target.
People can accept that their president, their commander in chief, their daddy, might be, you know, a bit of a screw-up -- that he might be tooling around cluelessly in a cigarette boat while the economy tanks. It's harder for most people to accept that he might duck into the Situation Room and send soldiers to die in the wrong country.
I think a major reason this is true is the level of ridiculous, shrill GOP hyperbole about the Clenis -- y'know, "they" murdered Vince Foster, cheated on land deals, assassinated Ron Brown by shooting down his plane, etc. The American people have been desensitized to claims of this nature. They're seen as de rigeur in an election year and, if not nakedly political, at least worthy of initial discredit.
There must be a tipping point somewhere, though -- the Nixon phenomenon -- which Steve alludes to:
Unless there's an unambiguous smoking gun tying the administration directly to whatever is making America afraid, I don't think Bush's failings and shortcomings will matter -- most Americans will cleave to him if they're afraid. We aren't the Spanish.
How many esteemed public servants must step forward before the message sinks in and popular support for Bush collapses? It's impossible to know, but if the Clarke thing doesn't really damage Bush's numbers (two months from now, let's say), and the 9/11 report similarly doesn't, I'm not sure that I'm all that optimistic either.
...it helps when the GOP doesn't march in lockstep. Thanks, Senator
Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) said he believes the White House has to respond directly to Clarke's allegations rather than question his credibility. "This is a serious book written by a serious professional who's made serious charges, and the White House must respond to these charges," he said.
HACK ARTILLERY INCOMING
The big hack guns are coming out -- notably, Podhoretz, who gets points for trying
today in the Post.
has the story.
Via Steve G
According to today's WH press gaggle, Clarke was a registered Republican in 2000.
Political my ass.
On the Newshour, Richard Clarke just said that the publication of the book had been delayed for 3 months because the White House delayed clearing it for publication. So, if not for their meddling, it would have been before any reasonable person could have accused him of being "political" for releasing it during the election season.
Not likes it makes a difference for the GOP drones; they'll still lie.
...Atrios unfortunately neglects to mention that Clarke, in the Newshour interview, also pledges, categorically, that he will take no position in the Kerry administration. From the transcript
: No, Margaret, I don't. I'm not working for the Kerry campaign, and I'll say this now. If John Kennedy -- if John Kerry -- gets elected president, and if John Kerry offers me a job, I will not accept it. I don't want to be part of the Kerry administration. I've done 30 years in government. That's not what this is about.
This book would have come out three months earlier if the White House hadn't taken three months to clear it. It sat in the White House for three months or else it would have been out earlier.
Clarke responds to other attacks on him, also:
: They also say that you and, in fact, most of U.S. intelligence were focused, during this phase of the summer of 2001, there was all of this chatter, and the belief was that the attack would occur on American interests overseas not here at home and that you did not have any kind of proposals or plan for really making the homeland more secure.
: Actually, the opposite is true there as well. The CIA did say that they thought the attack would come in either Saudi Arabia or Israel, but I wasn't sure that it might not take place here. So I asked the FBI, the FAA, the Customs Service, the Immigration Service, the Coast Guard, and 18,000 local police departments -- state and local police departments -- as well as all of the aircraft owners, all of the airlines, all of the airports to go on alert.
I held a series of meetings with all of those domestic security organizations, and well before I was asked to do so by Dr. Rice, began that process of sending out alerts to domestic security organizations.
: So what more could the president have done if he was paying the kind of attention you feel he should have that might have thwarted the 9/11 attacks?
: Well, two things. First of all, we could have adopted a policy right away, and a strategy, given presidential authorization, presidential decisions and money, to begin the process of eliminating the al-Qaida sanctuary in Afghanistan. And moreover, if we had had those meetings, chaired by Dr. Rice with the attorney general, with the FBI director, every day or every other day after we received the threat information, they would have gone back to the Justice Department and the FBI, shaken the trees, and out of the trees we now know would have fallen information that was in the FBI that two of the hijackers were in the United States.
Margaret, if we had known the names of those two hijackers, we could have put them on the front page of every paper in the country. We could have rounded up those two hijackers, and then the FBI might have been able to pull the string and find the other members of the al-Qaida cell.
Listen to the interview here
. Clarke is sober, self-assured, and very, very convincing.
That leg on the one-legged stool looks kinda shaky.
REPEAT AD NAUSEUM
, on Cheney:
Isn't it time someone asked him about the fact that senior members of his staff are at the center of a criminal investigation into the intentional leak of the identity of a clandestine operative at the CIA?
He's doing a lot of press. Why is no one asking him about this?
He's doing a lot of press. Why is no one asking him about this?
He's doing a lot of press. Why is no one asking him about this?
He's doing a lot of press. Why is no one asking him about this?
He's doing a lot of press. Why is no one asking him about this?
He's doing a lot
of press. Why is no one
asking him about this?
He's doing a lot of press. Why is no one asking him about this?
But in this bizarro-world anti-Joementum, our man Joe actually tries to deflate Clarke's criticism of Bush. Seriously
I wish that there would be some Joementum for a real Democrat to replace Joe as CT's senator. Or perhaps some Joementum for Joe's immediate and permanent retirement from politics.
The guy's so wedded to Iraq that he can't get away from supporting Bush. What an abject, miserable fuck.
THE GOP'S MESSY AD HOM COUNTERATTACK
Heh. They can't even get their ad hominem attacks against Clarke straight. Cheney's probably the one who has the official lie wrong, given his past propensity for rhetorically leaving the rez.
The White House responded that it kept Clarke on its staff after the election because of its concerns over al-Qaida. "He makes the charge that we were not focused enough on efforts to root out terrorism," White House spokesman Dan Bartlett said Sunday. "That's just categorically false."
: All right, let's get straight to what the news is all about now before we branch out to things. Why did the administration keep Richard Clarke on the counterterrorism team when you all assumed office in January of 2001?
: Well, I wasn't directly involved in that decision. He was moved out of the counterterrorism business over to the cybersecurity side of things. That is, he was given the new assignment at some point there. I don't recall the exact time frame.
: Cybersecurity? Meaning Internet security?
: Yeah, worried about attacks on computer systems and sophisticated information technology systems we have these days that an adversary would use or try use.
: Well, now, that explains a lot, that answer right there.
: Well, he wasn't in the loop, frankly, on a lot of this stuff, and I saw part of his interview last night.
So, um, which was it? Clarke was kept on because of the Administration's continuing concern about al-Qaeda, or was it that he was kept on but demoted to cybersecurity stuff, with no broader counterterrorist responsibilities?
[Karol, you seem to be the closest thing to a party hack who dares to show their face 'round here. You wanna talk to your masters and clarify this for us?]
points out that Cheney's lie doesn't make much sense -- and if it's true, is more of an indictment of the Administration than Clarke.
THE ONE-LEGGED STOOL
Just saw Richard Clarke on 60 Minutes. Very, very damning. I'm sure AWOL's apologists will find something to say, but Clarke comes across as authoritative and honest -- and also, not particularly partisan. The only hatchet thrown, from my recollection, was from an anonymous WH official, who intimated that Clarke wants an admin job with Kerry.
Bush is sitting on a one-legged stool. If you take away his authority on terrorism, this election is over.
...of course, Drudge would have an oppo link
on Clarke. Apparently, he's an incompetent. Repeat after me: Attack the messenger, not the message. Attack the messenger, not the message. Attack the messenger, not the message.
In happier times prior to 9/11, Clarke -- as Bill Clinton's counter-terror point man in the National Security Council -- devoted great effort to convincing national movers and shakers that cyberattack was the coming thing. While ostensibly involved in preparations for bioterrorism and trying to sound alarms about Osama bin Laden, Clarke was most often seen in the news predicting ways in which electronic attacks were going to change everything and rewrite the calculus of conflict.
September 11 spoiled the fun, though, and electronic attack was shoved onto the back-burner in favor of special operations men calling in B-52 precision air strikes on Taliban losers. One-hundred fifty-thousand U.S. soldiers on station outside Iraq make it perfectly clear that cyberspace is only a trivial distraction
...This guy, George Smith, is no Clarke lover. He's had it in for Clarke since at least December 2000, according to this page
(scroll down). Exactly what he's claiming Clarke failed to do is unclear, but Smith appears not to be a GOP Hack -- he's just being used.
, via Atrios:
If Richard Clarke is right, and there is every reason to think he is, the US was days, if not hours, away from letting Osama Bin Laden get away with murder.
It seems Rumsfeld wanted to bomb Iraq for 9/11, despite ample evidence Al Qaeda was responsible for the deaths of 3,000 Americans. To a rational person, this would have been a war crime. Bombing the innocent for something we knew they didn't do.
Perle and Wolfwowitz, despite all available evidence, would have let Osama sit in Afghanistan untouched just to get Saddam. The fact that no state would have ever launched a 9/11 attack and not expect a B-2 response was beyond them.
Let's keep this in mind, and it's really simple: the Bush response to 9/11 would have let Osama get away with murder, killing thousands of innocent people. Only the professionals of the CIA and FBI prevented this insanity. When Bush was told that "you'll lose the whole world", was he prevented from attacking Iraq.
Wow. And there's more.
I PREDICT BLOG MEGADEATH
When Bush loses. Who'll have the energy anymore? Even zealous Al Franken's gonna quit his radio show
when Big John takes the White House:
Someone might want to tell that to the lead dog. Though he says he is interested in sticking around, Franken has reportedly signed only a one-year contract. ''I'm doing this because I want to use my energies to get Bush unelected,'' he told me. ''I'd be happy if the election of a Democrat ended the show.''
I know that 95% of my own incentive for blogging will vanish with Bush leaving office...
It was July 4, 2001, and we were both at one of those things that the late historian Daniel Boorstin would have labeled a "pseudo event": a church picnic in Philadelphia, designed to help promote George W. Bush's faith-based policies. Because I had serious misgivings about the president's performance to that point, my own involvement in the whole operation had left me feeling a bit like a pseudo person, so when I had the chance to shake Bush's hand, I said, "Mr. President, I hope you only serve one term. I'm very disappointed in your work so far."
His smiling response was swift: "Who cares what you think?"
Any reason, y'think, why high-level American officials only make "surprise" visits
Mr. Powell's visit, which was unannounced and carried out under extremely tight security, was intended to highlight the progress under way in Iraq on the first anniversary of the start of the war, complementing a week of activities by President Bush and others.
Is this because our adventure in Iraq has been so successful
that the Administration fears teeming, unruly mobs of flower-throwing Iraqis? Um
More Iraqis say the United States was right than say it was wrong to lead the invasion, but by just 48 percent to 39 percent, with 13 percent expressing no opinion — hardly the unreserved welcome some U.S. policymakers had anticipated.
I've been away for a few days. I'm back now.
MISERABLE FAILURE -- ON TERROR
The administration's first action on the national security front upon taking office was to downgrade the fight against al-Qaeda from the status it held under Bill Clinton, prioritizing instead the danger of "rogue states" by seeking to construct an unworkable missile defense shield. It's impolite to say so, but if Condoleezza Rice had focused less on abrogating the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and more on Clinton National Security Advisor Sandy Berger's advice during the transition to "spend more time during your four years on terrorism generally and al-Qaeda specifically than any other issue," there's at least a chance that September 11 might have been averted altogether.
Read the whole thing.
You want wingnut apoplexy
Asked on NBC’s “Today” if he thought Kerry was weak on defense, McCain said: “No, I do not believe that he is, quote, weak on defense. He’s responsible for his voting record, as we are all responsible for our records, and he’ll have to explain it. But, no, I do not believe that he is necessarily weak on defense. I don’t agree with him on some issues, clearly. But I decry this negativism that’s going on on both sides. The American people don’t need it.”
McCain for Secretary of Defense. Isn't that exactly where he should be? He'll have a hell of a lot more sway than Powell, that's for sure.
MORE KERRY ADVERTISING
Via No More Mister Nice Blog
, the WaPo brings us this potential Kerry campaign advertisement:
On April 23, 2003, Andrew S. Natsios, head of the U.S. Agency for International Development, laid out in a televised interview the costs to U.S. taxpayers of rebuilding Iraq. "The American part of this will be $1.7 billion," he said. "We have no plans for any further - on funding for this."
... In testimony to Congress on March 27, 2003, [Deputy Defense Secretary Paul] Wolfowitz said Iraq "can really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon." ...
... "I really do believe we will be greeted as liberators," Vice President Cheney said in a March 16 interview.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, ... in February 2003, predicted that the war "could last six days, six weeks. I doubt six months."
The capture of Iraq did proceed rapidly, allowing Bush to proclaim on May 1 that "major combat operations" were over and to declare "victory" in the "Battle of Iraq." ...
Sounds great. Steve continues:
I think you can build a winning coalition by combining anti-war Americans and Americans are in the middle on Iraq. I think a lot of the people in the latter group agree with those in the former group that they were fed a line of bull about the war.
Exactly right. I'd run an general Iraq distortion commerical, and then one that's aimed squarely on the deceptions related to the (massive) cost of the Iraq war. Remember the Bush backlash after he requested the $87 bil? That visceral (and appropriate) response should be harnessed again (and again).
WON'T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR?
This is a totally addictive timewaster.
Look up your neighbors
, see which candidates they've contributed to and how much, and see what they do for a living.
Then look people up by last name. For example:
New York, NY 10012
H. Ross Perot
Perot Systems Corporation
George W. Bush
P O Box 269014
Plano, TX 75026
TALKING POINTS: ONE YEAR LATER
Listening to the local public radio station's superb morning talkshow, Forum
, and the topic is Iraq: One Year Later, as is everybody's topic today, seemingly.
[You can listen online here
What was fantastic was hearing the GOP Drones earning their points
with phone calls to the program listing the reasons why Iraq was really about terrorism.
The best thing they could come up with? That because Saddam paid off the families of Palestinian suicide bombers, taking him out reduces terrorism. In fact, because the Palestine question is the locus of Middle East tension and anti-American feeling, taking out Saddam and reducing suicide bombings and stabilizing Israel/Palestine is actually a blow to Al-Qaeda. Dude even had citations for the sharp decrease in suicide bombings over the last year.
What's insidious is that all of this is correct. Taking out Saddam may, in some small way, lessen the supply of suicide bombers, though it's hard for me to imagine that the effect would be more than negligible -- we're just talking about money here, and there's lots of money sloshing around in the Middle East. And the caller was exactly right
about the importance of the Palestine question.
What's interesting about all of this is the degree of convolution to tie the Iraq war to terrorism and the vast gulf between the current justification and what was said before. I think the GOP is awfully worried about Spain, and the emerging consensus that their election was primarily about disinformation and distortion, instead of "appeasement."
But what's their response? No levelling with the American people. No admitting errors. More deception.
When all is calculated, this administration's contempt for the intelligence of the American people is what will finally undo them -- if not in the November elections, then in historical restrospective. What a fiasco.
FOREIGN POLICY TALKING POINTS
1. Bush took power
2. Bush ignored the threat of terrorism
3. 9-11 occured
4. Bush was indecisive in that kindergarten class
5. Bush then hid out in Nebraska while his staff invented a "threat" to Air Force One to justify his absence
6. Bush went to war against Afghanistan (so far okay)
7. But instead of finishing the job, he let Bin Laden, Omar Mullah, and lots of Taliban and Al Qaeda to escape
8. Why did they get away? Because they diverted intelligence and military assets to fight a non-threat in Iraq
9. And how do we know Iraq was a non-threat? Because they invented evidence to justify the war and lied to Congress and the American people
10. They botched the occupation of Iraq, and close to 700 allied and countless Iraqis have paid the ultimate price, and more continue to do so
11. They botched the occupation of Afghanistan, as the US-backed government controls nothing more than Kabul, and the rest of the country is a haven for terrorists, religious fanatics, opium producers, and regional warlords
12. And now, over two years after 9-11, the administration is finally training all of our intelligence and military resources toward capturing Osama Bin Laden
BRESLIN ON IMPERIAL W
For days now, the job at Eisenhower Park in Nassau County has been to follow the order from the White House through the Secret Service and down to the park workers:
"The president's feet are not to touch the dirt."
So all yesterday, large crews drawn from all county parks worked to ensure that, as always in his life, George Bush's feet do not touch the ground when he appears in the big park today.
Read the whole thing.
GOD HATES SHRIMP
Why stop at protesting gay marriage? Bring all of God's law unto the heathens and the sodomites. We call upon all Christians to join the crusade against Long John Silver's and Red Lobster. Yea, even Popeye's shall be cleansed. The name of Bubba shall be anathema. We must stop the unbelievers from destroying the sanctity of our restaurants.
THE PAPER OF RECORD STRIKES AGAIN
Taking paragraphs out of context
Appearing several weeks ago on BBC Radio 4, Mr. Oram said that although the bird did indeed have a history of swearing, she always sounded "parroty" rather than Churchillian. As for the content of Charlie's remarks, Ms. Martin said she had never heard her curse about Hitler, or even about any of the lesser Nazis.
SALTO INTERVIEW SERIES #1: FRANK CHU, THE "GUY WITH THE SIGN"
This is a real treat and I'm honored to bring it to you.
In the first of a series of audio pieces, Salto today brings you an interview with Frank Chu. Pictured to the right, Frank is instantly recognizable to thousands of San Franciscans: he angrily stalks around the Financial District all the time
with a sign filled with strange gobbledygook.
Frank has his own webpage
(of course), apparently put together by fans. You should probably take a look at it first -- to prepare yourself for what is to come
Only the first two minutes or so of the interview are intelligible
, before perverse radiation from the 130 galaxies interferes with Frank's vocal processing unit and my digital recorder. I can tell you that it's more of the same, though. He doesn't suddenly get lucid.
It's probably better to download the .mp3: right-click and save on the link below.
Salto Interview #1: Frank Chu
THE SECOND HALF OF THE RECORDING IS UNINTELLIGIBLE
. Don't drive yourself crazy trying to listen...
Your comments welcome and appreciated; I plan on trying to improve audio quality in the future.
The more I think about it, the more outrageous President Bush's refusal to talk to the entire 9-11 Commission, or to talk for more than a single hour, seems to me.
Given the President's documented capacity to pack enormous numbers of words into tiny amounts of meaning, he will probably have exhausted sixty minutes by the time he finishes answering the question, "Where did you go and what did you do immediately after hearing the news of the second WTC crash, and for the rest of that day?" which will leave him no time to answer the next question: "Who authorized the evacuation of all bin Laden family members and other prominent Saudi citizens from the United States before the FBI had a chance to interview any of them?"
Still, I understand that this is a partisan reaction, from an inveterate Bush-hater. In my more reasonable moments, I believe in finding win-win solutions to contested issues.
So here's a modest proposal: Since the President obviously has many hours to spend at fund-raising events, let's combine the hearing with a fund-raiser. Sell seats at, say, $1000 per hour per seat, with the proceeds going to the Bush-Cheney campaign, and let the hearing go on for as long as there are at least 100 paying guests in the audience.
Nice work, and let's note now that Kerry himself needs to amp up the rhetoric on this issue, pointing out the vast gulf between Funnypants's rhetoric (9/11 changed everything) and his actions (one hour, max).
WARNING: BILE AHEAD
has it right, I think. Everything the White House has done lately has failed -- so watch out, 'cause the overt venom is coming.
I'm willing to bet these ads are off the air within two weeks, replaced with sharply critical ads about Kerry. The ads are playing non-stop down here in Florida right now (oh, did I mention that I was here?) I saw six of them while doing an hour of cardio ... now I realize that I'm in Broward County, but every time they came up a different person hissed at the television. I've never seen positive ads create so much ire. So why not go negative? Going positive in this case is just as bad.
There's more, so read it all.
ASHCROFT BEEN DRINKIN' AGAIN
, as always.
BUSH USES FAKE FIREFIGHTERS IN TV ADS
is the political genius of the Bush campaign? The well-oiled machine? The fearsome monster that chewed up John McCain and Al Gore and spat them out, bedraggled and confused? Ezra Klein
said it a while ago: color me unimpressed. Mike Isikoff
, via Atrios
Another less-publicized aspect of the ad flap: the use of paid actors—including two playing firefighters with fire hats and uniforms in what looks like a fire station. "Where the hell did they get those guys?" cracked Harold Schaitberger, president of the International Association of Fire Fighters, which has endorsed John Kerry, when he first saw the ads. (A union spokesman said the shots prompted jokes that the fire hats looked like the plastic hats "from a birthday party.") "There's many reasons not to use real firemen," retorted one Bush media adviser. "Mainly, its cheaper and quicker."
Indictments coming, possibly on multiple fronts. The ship is sinking.
, huh? A buck or three?
BIG JOHN URGES CONTINUED RAGE; CHENEY BOOED
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NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - Democratic White House candidate John Kerry on Friday blasted President Bush's record on jobs as just one more broken promise and urged supporters to keep their "primal instinct" alive until the Nov. 2 election.
In a speech to a boisterous rally on the New Orleans waterfront, Kerry ridiculed Vice President Dick Cheney's assertion earlier this week that if the Massachusetts senator had been president, America would not have had job growth.
"You're darn right, Mr Vice President," Kerry said. "We would have had real job growth."
At the mere mention of Cheney's name, hundreds of people broke into spontaneous and prolonged boos and hisses.
"Just promise me you'll keep that primal instinct alive all the way through November," Kerry said to thunderous applause.
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Great timing on this jobs report.
I'm totally happy Martha was found guilty, as it was pretty clear that she was, in fact, guilty. Her defenders on the left and the right (but mostly the left) have left me with a sour taste in my mouth.
Check Safire's columns and the Nation's archives. The pieces usually denounce her prosecution without regard to her guilt or innocence. I'm certain I don't understand why.
She's just another elite who breaks laws and expects no punishment. Not this time, thankfully. I hope she gets at least a year of hard time in a real prison, however unlikely that may be.
THE NEW YORK TIMES HAS JUMPED THE SHARK
Because this paragraph
appeared in it:
For a few months, one type of "Star Wars" character, the rare and powerful Jedi, could be permanently killed. But when players began singling out Jedi characters for vicious attacks, Jedi players cried out for help, and last month LucasArts abandoned permadeath, a company spokeswoman said.
I am now a Lieberman-esque cultural warrior. This paragraph should not be allowed to appear in our paper of record. Permadeath to those who disagree.
PIXIES TIX $325/PAIR
In Davis, CA, on ebay
Back to hiatus.
I'm experienced a work-related program activity that will render blogging during worktime temporarily inadvisable. Therefore, Salto will resume its normal update frequency no earlier than Thursday, March 4.