The Commons is a weblog for concerned citizens of southeast Iowa and their friends around the world. It was created to encourage grassroots networking and to share information and ideas which have either been suppressed or drowned out in the mainstream media.

"But if the cause be not good, the king himself hath a heavy reckoning to make, when all those legs and arms and heads, chopped off in battle, shall join together at the latter day and cry all 'We died at such a place;' some swearing, some crying for a surgeon, some upon their wives left poor behind them, some upon the debts they owe, some upon their children rawly left. I am afeard there are few die well that die in a battle; for how can they charitably dispose of any thing, when blood is their argument? Now, if these men do not die well, it will be a black matter for the king that led them to it; whom to disobey were against all proportion of subjection." (Henry V, Act V, Scene 4)

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Three Things About Iraq - New York Times

Three Things About Iraq - New York Times
"The New York Times
June 25, 2005
Three Things About Iraq

To have the sober conversation about the war in Iraq that America badly needs, it is vital to acknowledge three facts:

The war has nothing to do with Sept. 11. Saddam Hussein was a sworn enemy of Washington, but there was no Iraq-Qaeda axis, no connection between Saddam Hussein and the terrorist attacks on the United States. Yet the president and his supporters continue to duck behind 9/11 whenever they feel pressure about what is happening in Iraq. The most cynical recent example was Karl Rove's absurd and offensive declaration this week that conservatives and liberals had different reactions to 9/11. Let's be clear: Americans of every political stripe were united in their outrage and grief, united in their determination to punish those who plotted the mass murder and united behind the war in Afghanistan, which was an assault on terrorists. Trying to pretend otherwise is the surest recipe for turning political dialogue into meaningless squabbling.

The war has not made the world, or this nation, safer from terrorism. The breeding grounds for terrorists used to be Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia; now Iraq has become one. Of all the justifications for invading Iraq that the administration juggled in the beginning, the only one that has held up over time is the desire to create a democratic nation that could help stabilize the Middle East. Any sensible discussion of what to do next has to begin by acknowledging that. The surest way to make sure that conversation does not happen is for the administration to continue pasting the "soft on terror" label on those who want to talk about the war.

If the war is going according to plan, someone needs to rethink the plan. Progress has been measurable on the political front. But even staunch supporters of the war, like the Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, told Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld at a hearing this week that President Bush was losing public support because the military effort was not keeping pace. A top general said this week that the insurgency was growing. The frequency of attacks is steady, or rising a bit, while the repulsive tactic of suicide bombings has made them more deadly.

If things are going to be turned around, there has to be an honest discussion about what is happening. But Mr. Rumsfeld was not interested. Sneering at his Democratic questioners, he insisted everything was on track and claimed "dozens of trained battalions are capable of conducting anti-insurgent operations" with American support. That would be great news if it were true. Gen. George Casey, the commander in Iraq, was more honest, saying he hoped there would be "a good number of units" capable of doing that "before the end of this year."

Americans cannot judge for themselves because the administration has decided to make the information secret. Senator John McCain spoke for us when he expressed his disbelief at this news. "I think the American people need to know," he said. "They are the ones who are paying for this conflict."

Mystery Pollster: How Did Liberals React to 9/11?

Mystery Pollster: How Did Liberals React to 9/11?
"How Did Liberals React to 9/11?

By now most of MP's readers have presumably heard the flap over White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove's speech on Wednesday that attacked the alleged reaction by "liberals" to the September 11 attacks. For those who have been avoiding all media for the last 48 hours, here is the "money quote:"

Perhaps the most important difference between conservatives and liberals can be found in the area of national security. Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 in the attacks and prepared for war. Liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers. In the wake of 9/11, conservatives believed it was time to unleash the might and power of the United States military against the Taliban.

The debate over Rove's remarks has focused mostly on the 9/11 reaction from liberal political leaders and pundits. Democrats remind us that the Senate authorized military action against Afghanistan by a vote of 98 to 0 and the House approved 420 to 1. White House Communications Director Dan Bartlett Republicans argued this morning that when Rove said "liberals" he "cited" only the liberal group, But MP is intrigued by a different issue. How did ordinary, rank-and-file liberals react to the 9/11 attacks? That -- as a pollster I once worked for liked to say -- is an empirical question.

Virtually all of the public pollsters went into the field immediately after the attacks and asked Americans whether the US should take military action or go to war. While I can find no tabulations by ideology, two polls did provide results at the time by party identification. Here is a sampling:

CBS/New York Times, 9/13-14/2001, n=959 adults (source: National Journal's Hotline).

Should the U.S. take military action against those responsible? Yes: 93% of Republicans, 86% of Democrats, 76% of independents

Should the U.S. take military action against those responsible for attacks, even if it means innocent people are killed? Yes: 74% of Republicans, 64% of Democrats, 67% of independents

What if that meant going to war with a nation harboring those responsible for the attacks, then should the U.S. take military action against those responsible for the attacks? Yes: 74% of Republicans, 61% of Democrats, 65% of independents

What if that meant thousands of innocent civilians may be killed, then should the U.S. take military action against whoever is responsible for the attacks? Yes vs. No: Republicans 66% to 16%, Democrats 55% to 28%, independents 60% to 19%.

Los Angeles Times, 9/13-14/2001, n=1,561 adults:

In your opinion, is the United States now in a state of war? Yes: 74% of Republicans, 70% of Democrats, 66% of independents (Q11)

If it is also determined that the Taliban ruling party in Afghanistan is harboring Osama bin Laden, would you support the United States and its allies retaliating with military action against Afghanistan, even if it could result in civilian casualties, or would you oppose that? Support: 91% of Republicans, 80% of Democrats, 78% of independents (Q37)

What about Osama bin Laden's organization itself? Do you think the United States should retaliate against Bin Laden's group through military action, or should the United States pursue justice by bringing him to trial in the United States? Retaliate vs. bring to trial: Republicans 80% to 17%, Democrats 66% to 28%, independents 64% to 27% (Q38)

Thus, in the days after 9/11 overwhelming majorities of both Democrats and Republicans believed America was "at war" and favored some sort of "military action." Americans of all persuasions were less enthusiastic about military action if it meant all out war or killings "thousands of innocent civilians," but even with these stipulations rank and file Democrats still favored war by a two-to-one margin. Yes, Democrats were a bit less supportive of waging war than Republicans, but compared to the partisan polarization we see today, the unity on these issues in the aftermath of 9/11 was far more striking than the differences.

Yes, "some" Democrats expressed reluctance to wage all-out war, but so did "some" Republicans (though not as many). The bigger point: The majority of both Democrats and Republicans believed, as Karl Rove might put it, "it was time to unleash the might and power of the United States military against the Taliban."

Of course, Rove spoke of "liberals" and "conservatives" not Democrats and Republicans, and the results above involve partisanship rather than self-reported ideology. Not all Democrats are liberals, not all liberals are Democrats. So it is at least theoretically possible that we might reach different conclusions from tabulation by ideology. This leads to a suggestion from...

MP's Assignment Desk: The major news media pollsters all have data in their archives from 2001 that they could easily tabulate by self-reported ideology. Do the results for ideology look like the results above for party? MP assumes others might like to know. Sunday morning news show producers (if you're reading), this means you!

UPDATE: MP Gets (Survey) Results!

The pollsters at CBS News were kind enough to pass along cross-tabulations of their post-9/11 questions by self-reported ideology. Because of limited time, they did not ask an ideology question on the survey conducted on 9/13-14/2001, but did field a longer survey a week later that included ideology and repeated the questions above.

I've summarized the findings below, and posted a PDF with the complete results, but they are consistent with the results for party. The bottom line: Two weeks after the attacks, 84% of self-described liberals supported "military action" against the terrorists and 75% supported "going to war with a nation that is harboring those responsible."

CBS/New York Times, 9/20-23/2001, n=1216 adults. Note that the question text below is verbatim from CBS; the wording above came from a Hotline summary.

Do you think the U.S. SHOULD take military action against whoever is responsible for the attacks? Yes: 84% of liberals, 93% of moderates, 95% of conservatives.

Do you think the U.S. SHOULD take military action against whoever is responsible for the attacks, even if it means that innocent people are killed? Yes vs. No: liberals 60% to 19%, moderates 64% to 21%, conservatives 76% to 14%.

What if that meant going to war with a nation that is harboring those responsible for the attacks, then do you think the United States should take military action against whoever is responsible for the attacks? Yes vs. No: liberals 75% to 6%, moderates 83% to 6%, conservatives 89% to 3%

What if that meant that many thousands of innocent civilians may be killed, then do you think the United States should take military action against whoever is responsible for the attacks? Yes vs. No: liberals 62% to 17%, moderates 69% to 18%, conservatives 73% to 15%."

Frank Rich - The Armstrong Williams NewsHour

The Armstrong Williams NewsHour - New York Times
"The New York Times
June 26, 2005
The Armstrong Williams NewsHour

HERE'S the difference between this year's battle over public broadcasting and the one that blew up in Newt Gingrich's face a decade ago: this one isn't really about the survival of public broadcasting. So don't be distracted by any premature obituaries for Big Bird. Far from being an endangered species, he's the ornithological equivalent of a red herring.

Let's not forget that Laura Bush has made a fetish of glomming onto popular "Sesame Street" characters in photo-ops. Polls consistently attest to the popular support for public broadcasting, while Congress is in a race to the bottom with Michael Jackson. Big Bird will once again smite the politicians - as long as he isn't caught consorting with lesbians.

That doesn't mean the right's new assault on public broadcasting is toothless, far from it. But this time the game is far more insidious and ingenious. The intent is not to kill off PBS and NPR but to castrate them by quietly annexing their news and public affairs operations to the larger state propaganda machine that the Bush White House has been steadily constructing at taxpayers' expense. If you liked the fake government news videos that ended up on local stations - or thrilled to the "journalism" of Armstrong Williams and other columnists who were covertly paid to promote administration policies - you'll love the brave new world this crowd envisions for public TV and radio.

There's only one obstacle standing in the way of the coup. Like Richard Nixon, another president who tried to subvert public broadcasting in his war to silence critical news media, our current president may be letting hubris get the best of him. His minions are giving any investigative reporters left in Washington a fresh incentive to follow the money.

That money is not the $100 million that the House still threatens to hack out of public broadcasting's various budgets. Like the theoretical demise of Big Bird, this funding tug-of-war is a smoke screen that deflects attention from the real story. Look instead at the seemingly paltry $14,170 that, as Stephen Labaton of The New York Times reported on June 16, found its way to a mysterious recipient in Indiana named Fred Mann. Mr. Labaton learned that in 2004 Kenneth Tomlinson, the Karl Rove pal who is chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, clandestinely paid this sum to Mr. Mann to monitor his PBS bête noire, Bill Moyers's "Now."

Now, why would Mr. Tomlinson pay for information that any half-sentient viewer could track with TiVo? Why would he hire someone in Indiana? Why would he keep this contract a secret from his own board? Why, when a reporter exposed his secret, would he try to cover it up by falsely maintaining in a letter to an inquiring member of the Senate, Byron Dorgan, that another CPB executive had "approved and signed" the Mann contract when he had signed it himself? If there's a news story that can be likened to the "third-rate burglary," the canary in the coal mine that invited greater scrutiny of the Nixon administration's darkest ambitions, this strange little sideshow could be it.

After Mr. Labaton's first report, Senator Dorgan, a North Dakota Democrat, called Mr. Tomlinson demanding to see the "product" Mr. Mann had provided for his $14,170 payday. Mr. Tomlinson sent the senator some 50 pages of "raw data." Sifting through those pages when we spoke by phone last week, Mr. Dorgan said it wasn't merely Mr. Moyers's show that was monitored but also the programs of Tavis Smiley and NPR's Diane Rehm.

Their guests were rated either L for liberal or C for conservative, and "anti-administration" was affixed to any segment raising questions about the Bush presidency. Thus was the conservative Republican Senator Chuck Hagel given the same L as Bill Clinton simply because he expressed doubts about Iraq in a discussion mainly devoted to praising Ronald Reagan. Three of The Washington Post's star beat reporters (none of whom covers the White House or politics or writes opinion pieces) were similarly singled out simply for doing their job as journalists by asking questions about administration policies.

"It's pretty scary stuff to judge media, particularly public media, by whether it's pro or anti the president," Senator Dorgan said. "It's unbelievable."

Not from this gang. Mr. Mann was hardly chosen by chance to assemble what smells like the rough draft of a blacklist. He long worked for a right-wing outfit called the National Journalism Center, whose director, M. Stanton Evans, is writing his own Ann Coulteresque book to ameliorate the reputation of Joe McCarthy. What we don't know is whether the 50 pages handed over to Senator Dorgan is all there is to it, or how many other "monitors" may be out there compiling potential blacklists or Nixonian enemies lists on the taxpayers' dime.

We do know that it's standard practice for this administration to purge and punish dissenters and opponents - whether it's those in the Pentagon who criticized Donald Rumsfeld's low troop allotments for Iraq or lobbying firms on K Street that don't hire Tom DeLay cronies. We also know that Mr. Mann's highly ideological pedigree is typical of CPB hires during the Tomlinson reign.

Eric Boehlert of Salon discovered that one of the two public ombudsmen Mr. Tomlinson recruited in April to monitor the news broadcasts at PBS and NPR for objectivity, William Schulz, is a former writer for the radio broadcaster Fulton Lewis Jr., a notorious Joe McCarthy loyalist and slime artist. The Times reported that to provide "insights" into Conrad Burns, a Republican senator who supported public-broadcasting legislation that Mr. Tomlinson opposed, $10,000 was shelled out to Brian Darling, the G.O.P. operative who wrote the memo instructing Republicans to milk Terri Schiavo as "a great political issue."

Then, on Thursday, a Rove dream came true: Patricia Harrison, a former co-chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, ascended to the CPB presidency. In her last job, as an assistant secretary of state, Ms. Harrison publicly praised the department's production of faux-news segments - she called them "good news" segments - promoting American success in Afghanistan and Iraq. As The Times reported in March, one of those fake news videos ended up being broadcast as real news on the Fox affiliate in Memphis.

Mr. Tomlinson has maintained that his goal at CPB is to strengthen public broadcasting by restoring "balance" and stamping out "liberal bias." But Mr. Moyers left "Now" six months ago. Mr. Tomlinson's real, not-so-hidden agenda is to enforce a conservative bias or, more specifically, a Bush bias. To this end, he has not only turned CPB into a full-service employment program for apparatchiks but also helped initiate "The Journal Editorial Report," the only public broadcasting show ever devoted to a single newspaper's editorial page, that of the zealously pro-Bush Wall Street Journal. Unlike Mr. Moyers's "Now" - which routinely balanced its host's liberalism with conservative guests like Ralph Reed, Grover Norquist, Paul Gigot and Cal Thomas - The Journal's program does not include liberals of comparable stature.

THIS is all in keeping with Mr. Tomlinson's long career as a professional propagandist. During the Reagan administration he ran Voice of America. Then he moved on to edit Reader's Digest, where, according to Peter Canning's 1996 history of the magazine, "American Dreamers," he was rumored to be "a kind of 'Manchurian Candidate' " because of the ensuing spike in pro-C.I.A. spin in Digest articles. Today Mr. Tomlinson is chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the federal body that supervises all nonmilitary international United States propaganda outlets, Voice of America included. That the administration's foremost propagandist would also be chairman of the board of CPB, the very organization meant to shield public broadcasting from government interference, is astonishing. But perhaps no more so than a White House press secretary month after month turning for softball questions to "Jeff Gannon," a fake reporter for a fake news organization ultimately unmasked as a G.O.P. activist's propaganda site.

As the public broadcasting debate plays out, there will be the usual talk about how to wean it from federal subsidy and the usual complaints (which I share) about the redundancy, commerciality and declining quality of some PBS programming in a cable universe. But once Big Bird, like that White House Thanksgiving turkey, is again ritualistically saved from the chopping block and the Senate restores more of the House's budget cuts, the most crucial test of the damage will be what survives of public broadcasting's irreplaceable journalistic offerings.

Will monitors start harassing Jim Lehrer's "NewsHour," which Mr. Tomlinson trashed at a March 2004 State Department conference as a "tired and slowed down" also-ran to Shepard Smith's rat-a-tat-tat newscast at Fox News? Will "Frontline" still be taking on the tough investigations that network news no longer touches? Will the reportage on NPR be fearless or the victim of a subtle or not-so-subtle chilling effect instilled by Mr. Tomlinson and his powerful allies in high places?

Forget the pledge drive. What's most likely to save the independent voice of public broadcasting from these thugs is a rising chorus of Deep Throats.

Fixing the Facts Around the Policy

Booman Tribune ~ Boo!
Fixing the Facts Around the Policy

by BooMan
Sat Jun 25th, 2005 at 05:34:20 AM PDT

It's 9:53 AM, on September 11th, 2001. Sixteen minutes after Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon. Secretary Rumsfeld is outside the building, helping out with the injured.

Monitors at the National Security Agency (NSA) intercept a phone call from an associate of Usama bin Laden in Afghanistan. The call is to someone in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia.

The caller said he had "heard good news" and that another target was still to come; an indication he knew another airliner, the one that eventually crashed in Pennsylvania, was at that very moment zeroing in on Washington.
CBS News

At 12:05 p.m., George Tenet informed Rumsfeld of the contents of the intercept. Rumsfeld felt that it was not enough information, or in his own idiosyncratic words, "no good basis for hanging hat." More solid information became available later in the afternoon when the CIA discovered "the passenger manifests for the hijacked airliners showed three of the hijackers were suspected al Qaeda operatives."

"One guy is associate of Cole bomber," the notes say, a reference to the October 2000 suicide boat attack on the USS Cole in Yemen, which had also been the work of bin Laden.

By 2:40 p.m. Rumsfeld was swinging into action. According to an aide's notes, Rumsfeld wanted the:

"best info fast. Judge whether good enough hit S.H." – meaning Saddam Hussein – "at same time. Not only UBL" – the initials used to identify Osama bin Laden...

..."Go massive," the notes quote him as saying. "Sweep it all up. Things related and not."

The next day Rumsfeld expanded on this theme:

White House counterterrorism advisor Richard Clarke meets with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, President Bush, and Secretary of State Colin Powell. During the briefing Rumsfeld suggests that the US should bomb Iraq in retaliation for the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. "Rumsfeld was saying we needed to bomb Iraq," Clarke will later recall in his book, Against All Enemies. "... We all said, ‘but no, no. Al-Qaeda is in Afghanistan’ and Rumsfeld said, ‘There aren't any good targets in Afghanistan and there are lots of good targets in Iraq.’"

Then, a few days later, according to the Washington Post:

On Sept. 17, 2001, six days after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, President Bush signed a 2½-page document marked "TOP SECRET" that outlined the plan for going to war in Afghanistan as part of a global campaign against terrorism.

Almost as a footnote, the document also directed the Pentagon to begin planning military options for an invasion of Iraq, senior administration officials said.

The previously undisclosed Iraq directive is characteristic of an internal decision-making process that has been obscured from public view.

You should read the whole Washington Post article, which appeared on January 12, 2003, two months before the war.

Here is another snip, that demonstrates clearly how the facts were fixed around the policy.

By the time the policy was set, opponents were left arguing over the tactics -- such as whether to go to the United Nations -- without clearly understanding how the decision was reached in the first place. "It simply snuck up on us," a senior State Department official said.

The administration has embarked on something "quite extraordinary in American history, a preventive war, and the threshold for justification should be extraordinarily high," said G. John Ikenberry, an international relations professor at Georgetown University. But "the external presentation and the justification for it really seems to be lacking," he said. "The external presentation appears to mirror the internal decision-making quite a bit."

And this presciently sums it all up:

After some of these meetings at the White House, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, skeptical of military action without the necessary diplomatic groundwork, would return to his office on the seventh floor of the State Department, roll his eyes and say, "Jeez, what a fixation about Iraq," State Department officials said.

"I do believe certain people have grown theological about this," said another administration official who opposed focusing so intently on Iraq. "It's almost a religion -- that it will be the end of our society if we don't take action now."

What say you?"

Mississippi Earning

Mississippi Earning

In the midst of addressing Social Security reform today at a high school in Maryland, President Bush told an interesting story:

President Bush: "I'll tell you an interesting story. I was at an automobile plant in Mississippi...and I was with the line workers. And I said, how many of you all have 401(k)s? In other words, how many of you are managing your own money? And I bet 90 -- I didn't count, but a lot, 90 percent of the hands went up. These are people from all walks of life, all income groups. It's amazing how quick you become financially literate when you're watching your own money, in other words."

It's true too! The line workers at that automobile plant come from all walks of life and all income groups. Some are doctors, some are civil servants, some are line workers. And, similarly, some are in the top tax bracket, some are middle class, some are dirt-poor. So what unites them? Their love of monotonous but stressful assembly line work, and the financial independence they've achieved through personal retirement accounts. And it's that independence, of course, that allows them to pursue their passion for repetitive light manufacturing. How come the enemies of Social Security reform have such a hard time understanding this stuff? — GREG BEATO"

Lawrence of Arabia Slams BuschCo's Iraq War

Via the Al Franken Blog at the AAR site:

'[We] have been led in Mesopotamia into a trap from which it will be hard to escape with dignity and honor. They have been tricked into it by a steady withholding of information. The Baghdad communiqués are belated, insincere, incomplete. Things have been far worse than we have been told, our administration more bloody and inefficient than the public knows. It is a disgrace to our [national] record and may soon be too inflamed for any ordinary cure. We are today not far from a disaster. Our unfortunate troops ... under hard conditions of climate and supply are policing an immense area, paying dearly every day in lives for the willfully wrong policy of the civil administration in Baghdad but the responsibility, in this case, is not on the army which has acted only upon the request of the civil authorities.'

T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia)
The Sunday Times, August 1920"

Bush administration officials join ranks of tyranny

Bush administration officials join ranks of tyranny

By Robert Zaller

06/24/05 "The Triangle" - - The American playwright Lillian Hellman titled her memoir of the McCarthy years Scoundrel Time. A memoir of this period in American history might well be called Gestapo Time.

It is now more than a year since the revelations of torture and homicide against prisoners at Abu Ghraib, the showpiece of our efforts to "democratize" Iraq, shocked and outraged the world. Torture and suicide at Guantanamo Bay, the concentration camp aptly described by Amnesty International as the gulag of our times, has been on the record for three years. Foreign nationals, recategorized as enemy combatants by basement bureaucrats, have disappeared down these and other black holes around the globe.

They have been denied legal process, access to counsel, and any contact with the outside world. This has no precedent in the law of nations, or in the practice of any but the most repressive dictatorships. Nor have American citizens themselves been spared this treatment. One, Jose Padilla, remains incarcerated without trial in defiance of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling. Another, Yaser Hamdi, was summarily deported to Saudi Arabia. Two others, Kashan and Zain Afzal, were imprisoned without charge for eight months in Pakistan, interrogated by the FBI, and threatened with deportation to Guantanamo.

This is how fascism comes. It comes through creating legal nonpersons of citizens and noncitizens alike. It comes through violating human rights standards, sanitizing torture, and condoning murder.

It comes through whitewash "investigations" of war crimes that leave the real perpetrators untouched, and a Congress resolutely determined to see and hear no evil. It comes through a press cowed by censorship and a judiciary impotent in the face of constitutional invasion.

Once, Thomas Jefferson wrote of Americans as having a decent respect for the opinion of mankind. We know that the war on Iraq is a war of aggression, in contempt of domestic and international law and in the teeth of worldwide opposition. We know that it has proceeded from bloody conquest to brutal repression, and that its makers intend a permanent military occupation. We know that in pursuit of these objectives, we have established a covert torture network around the globe, using both secret CIA facilities and the good offices of tyranny in Egypt, Syria, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, and elsewhere.

There are many things we do not yet know, but the real scandal is how much lies in plain sight. Thanks to the work of such journalists as Seymour M. Hersh and Mark Danner, we can see clearly how torture evolved as the deliberate policy of our government, from presidential directives to Justice Department briefs to Pentagon and intelligence agency implementation. We know that such infamous techniques as hooding, waterboarding, electroshock, and the use of attack dogs on naked prisoners were not the sadistic improvisations of a few low-level guards or interrogators, but were devised under top civilian supervision and sanctioned by senior field commanders. We know that at least a hundred prisoners have died in American custody, though we can only guess at the toll in third-country prisons, where flogging, anal rape, fingernail extraction, amputation, submersion in boiling water, and mock execution are standard procedure, often under the eye of American agents.

We know that the United States is in daily, deliberate, and systematic violation of the Geneva Conventions, and of Articles 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, and 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to both of which it is a signatory. We know that our officials are also violating the federal War Crimes Act, a 1996 statute that carries the death penalty.

These facts were all before us in November 2004. Germans under the Nazis, Italians under Mussolini, and Russians under Stalin did not have the opportunity to repudiate the actions of their leaders at the polls. We nonetheless hold these people responsible for what they themselves often suffered, and even speak of their collective guilt for the crimes of their rulers.

Our opportunity to vindicate the rule of law was unique. Yet Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay were never mentioned during last year's political campaign. There was no call for a moral, political, or legal reckoning of policies that had dragged our honor in the dirt and made us feared and loathed around the globe. Instead, our unelected President was given a new term of office.

For the first time in history, a democratic electorate had certified a rogue state. Some of us did vote the other way. But this time, the guilt really is collective. Abu Ghraib belongs to all of us.

President Bush promptly nominated Condoleezza Rice, one of the principal architects of the Iraq war and its detainment policies, as Secretary of State. He then nominated Alberto R. Gonzales, the point man in the strategy to evade the Geneva Conventions, as Attorney General. Both were confirmed by the U. S. Senate. Somewhere, Ribbentrop and Himmler had to be smiling.

As I write, Abu Ghraib is still open for business. So is Guantanamo Bay. "Shut it down. Just shut it down," Thomas L. Friedman begged in The New York Times the other day. Friedman is one of the war's chief boosters. Even he has finally gotten the point.

America is not only alone in the world, except for the tyrants it pays to do the worst of its torturing for it.

It has deserted itself as well.

Dr. Robert Zaller is a professor of history. Dr. Zaller can be reached through

Copyright © 2005 The Triangle and College Publisher"

Punch Drunk

Whiskey Bar: Punch Drunk
"Punch Drunk

A few days days ago, I warned that the White House's desperate search for scapegoats to blame for its own failures was shifting into overdrive. And, right on cue, along comes Karl Rove to spew an (ample) belly full of bile into the public record:

"Conservatives saw what happened to us on 9/11 and said we will defeat our enemies. Liberals saw what happened to us and said we must understand our enemies."

Rove also denounced Sen. Dick Durbin's comments comparing interrogation at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp to the methods of Nazis and other repressive regimes. He said the statements have been broadcast throughout the Middle East, putting American troops in greater danger. Durbin has since apologized for the remarks.

"No more needs to be said about the motives of liberals," Rove said.

Many on the left have reacted with predictable fury -- particularly those Democrats who thought that by surfing the Iraq war along with the Cheney administration, they could buy themselves some protection from such old-fashioned demagoguery, which reads like pages torn from Spiro Agnew's old speeches.

But I actually think Rove's rant should be seen as a somewhat encouraging sign. Rove and his idiot chorus aren't roaring at the top of their lungs to try to drown out the liberals -- that would be absurd overkill, given how effectively the corporate media has ridiculed and/or demonized the likes of Howard Dean and Dick Durbin. No, Rove's hate rally is aimed squarely at suppressing the growing doubts of the great silent majority -- and even, to a certain extent, those of the conservative true believers, some of whom are showing ominous signs of war weariness.

The rhetorical assault on the liberals, in other words, is the core of the PR counteroffensive the White House has been promising to unleash for the past week.

Having been advised by the "moderates" to level with the American people and explain just how badly things have gone off the track in Iraq, and how much time, treasure and blood it will take to redeem Bush's casual promises of victory, the Rovians apparently have decided they can't do it -- not without suffering unacceptable casualties on the home front. American troops, after all, are expendable. But Bush's political capital is both precious and increasingly scarce. Much too scarce, apparently, to waste on an exercise as frivolous as a presidential appeal for patriotic unity and shared sacrifice.

Cynically speaking, Rove may be right. Leaving aside the polarized wasteland the GOP machine has created out of the American political process, public disillusionment with the war in Iraq already may be too far gone to be turned around with eloquent speeches -- much less the kind of cheap publicity stunts favored by the Rovians.

Things are even worse, in fact, than I had thought. In a previous post, I misreported the results of the latest Gallup Poll when I wrote that only 39% of those surveyed by Gallup had answered yes to the question: "Do you think it was worth going to war in Iraq?" The question actually was much more straight forward (and forward looking): "Do you favor or oppose the war in Iraq?"

In other words, nearly 60% of the American people are now willing to say, flat out, that they oppose the war in Iraq. That's a remarkable statement. I'm not sure 60% ever opposed the war in Vietnam, even after it had been lost. You don't turn those kind of numbers around with PR spin -- the casualty lists now speak louder than the microphone, even one as powerful as the White House's.

Add to that the prospect of still higher gas prices, unfilled (and probably unfillable) economic expectations and the black ring of scandal widening around the DeLay-Abramoff-Reed-Norquist axis of weevils, and it's clear that recycled Reaganite optimism -- the "morning in America" brand of propaganda -- isn't going to cut it.

So Rove is falling back on his classic strategy of rallying the base. What's more, he's mainlining it a much rawer and more savage version of the conservative message than the White House usually permits itself. While the customary surrogates -- Fox News, Rush, the blogger hyena pack -- have snarled and snapped, the results apparently have been found wanting. Now Bush's "brain" is stepping into the ring himself.

But, like fellow psychopath Mike Tyson, Rove isn't just telegraphing his punches, he's also displaying the depths of his fear. The rhetorical ear chewing and head butting is a clear sign the champ doesn't have the juice any more, and knows it. Rove is trying to get by on sheer intimidation. He's pushing as many primordial conservative buttons as he can -- leaning on them, in fact -- in hopes he can once again make the dreaded liberals the story, not the march of folly currently sinking into the Iraqi quicksands.

So doing, Rove has set up an intriguing test. In a recent op-ed for the Washington Post, Harold Meyerson argued that Rovian attempts to make the anti-war movement the scapegoat for the Iraq debacle will fail for a lack of angry crowds of protesters in the streets -- the kind of long-haired "mob" that could be, and was, easily demonized by Spiro Agnew and his fellow felons in the Nixon administration.

Personally, I'm not so sure -- for reasons I've already discussed. The long, sad history of the human species has amply demonstrated that a scapegoat doesn't have to be credible in order to be believable, as long as the target audience is predisposed to believe it. Conservatives have spent the better part of the past four decades writing "liberals" -- a suitably abstract synonym for "enemy" -- into the same role filled in other times and places by the Elders of Zion. And two generations of Americans have absorbed the poisonous brew, either directly or indirectly. It is (along with dirty money) the bitch's milk of the modern GOP machine.

All along, the bedrock of Rove's political "philosophy" has been the conviction that propaganda will always trump reality -- as long as the desired message is consistent with existing popular myths and prejudices. And his preferred tool for meshing the two has always been the conservative base and the enormous gravitational pull it exerts on the weak-minded middle.

Now, finally, that strategy appears to be crashing onto the rocks of a losing (if not already lost) war in Iraq. But it's worth remembering that the Rovians have been right much more often than they've been wrong about the gullibility and ignorance of both the corporate media and the mushy middle. Maybe that time is past. Maybe, like Tyson, the propaganda machine has pounded itself into exhaustion -- its impotence exposed for all to see.

Maybe. Like I said, the sheer volume and (dare I say it?) shrill hysteria of the current conservative hate campaign is itself a positive sign. But I'll believe the machine is finished only when I see Rove's flabby carcass stretched out cold on the canvas.

And we're not there yet. Not by a long shot."

James Wolcott: A-Roving We Will Go

James Wolcott: A-Roving We Will Go
"A-Roving We Will Go
Posted by James Wolcott

After spending a harrowing evening in the Gerry and Cookie Fleck Hospitality Room without a View, Jonah Goldberg low-tailed it back east on the earliest plane that would let him fly in the cargo hold. He tries to put up a good front, but the fatigue betrayed by his Corner posts indicates his stay in Chi-town was hell on earth. Ditto John Derbyshire's report, where he complains about the heat in Chicago and swiftly changes the subject, not wanting to relive his horrible experience. Using my superior powers of inference, I divine that the fundraiser in Chicago was the biggest bust since the Broadway opening of Carrie the Musical.

Meanwhile, Victor Davis Hanson, who's supposed to be one of the Mature Voices on NRO, has pulled a Karl Rove.

As Karl Rove recently said--well, everyone knows what he oinked. Bush apologists at NRO are falling all over themselves to defend Bush's spongy gray matter, deploying every bit of sophistry they have at their greasy fingertips. From Koufax Country, the counterstrike has been swift and furious. Steve Gilliard, answering John Aravosis' call for action at Americablog, eloquently bugles the battle cry, "Hammer those fuckers with their words". The Rude Pundit rudely pundits, "Karl Rove To America: Suck It," and notes some fine distinctions that seem to have been overlooked. "When Howard Dean speaks, he’s speaking as the chair of the Democratic Party. The Democrats pay him. If Democrats around the nation don’t like what Dean says, then they can cease donating to the party. When Dick Durbin speaks, he’s representing the people of Illinois, to whom he will be answerable when he’s up for re-election. When Karl Rove speaks, he’s talking as an official with the White House. The only person he’s accountable to is the President, who, as Scott McClellan so dismissingly pointed out, won’t ask Rove to apologize. Rove’s paid by each and every tax-paying American. He represents all of us." And DCmediagirl speculates that Karl Rove may discover in his deteriorating years, as Lee Atwater did, that karma is a bitch.

Now I don't expect Rove to apologize for his slander, any more than I await an act of contrition from a sociopath. And I spy a similar beam of hope that Billmon does in his brilliant analysis of Rove's calculated affront.

"...I actually think Rove's rant should be seen as a somewhat encouraging sign. Rove and his idiot chorus aren't roaring at the top of their lungs to try to drown out the liberals -- that would be absurd overkill, given how effectively the corporate media has ridiculed and/or demonized the likes of Howard Dean and Dick Durbin. No, Rove's hate rally is aimed squarely at suppressing the growing doubts of the great silent majority -- and even, to a certain extent, those of the conservative true believers, some of whom are showing ominous signs of war weariness..."

"Things are even worse, in fact, than I had thought. In a previous post, I misreported the results of the latest Gallup Poll when I wrote that only 39% of those surveyed by Gallup had answered yes to the question: 'Do you think it was worth going to war in Iraq?' The question actually was much more straight forward (and forward looking): 'Do you favor or oppose the war in Iraq?'

"In other words, nearly 60% of the American people are now willing to say, flat out, that they oppose the war in Iraq. That's a remarkable statement. I'm not sure 60% ever opposed the war in Vietnam, even after it had been lost. You don't turn those kind of numbers around with PR spin -- the casualty lists now speak louder than the microphone, even one as powerful as the White House's.

"Add to that the prospect of still higher gas prices, unfilled (and probably unfillable) economic expectations and the black ring of scandal widening around the DeLay-Abramoff-Reed-Norquist axis of weevils, and it's clear that recycled Reaganite optimism -- the 'morning in America' brand of propaganda -- isn't going to cut it.

"So Rove is falling back on his classic strategy of rallying the base. What's more, he's mainlining it a much rawer and more savage version of the conservative message than the White House usually permits itself. While the customary surrogates -- Fox News, Rush, the blogger hyena pack -- have snarled and snapped, the results apparently have been found wanting. Now Bush's 'brain' is stepping into the ring himself.

"But, like fellow psychopath Mike Tyson [Billmon says psychopath, I say sociopath: we're probably both right], Rove isn't just telegraphing his punches, he's also displaying the depths of his fear. The rhetorical ear chewing and head butting is a clear sign the champ doesn't have the juice any more, and knows it. Rove is trying to get by on sheer intimidation. He's pushing as many primordial conservative buttons as he can -- leaning on them, in fact -- in hopes he can once again make the dreaded liberals the story, not the march of folly currently sinking into the Iraqi quicksands."

Rove will no problem rounding up a posse. They're already galloping ahead of him. Bill O'Reilly wants the hosts of Air America rounded up. Ann Coulter routinely conflates liberals and traitors. Etc.

And today Victor Davis In Excelsis Deo Hanson contributes his own more tasteful flavor of McCarthyism. Ignoring the snickers of the peanut gallery, he argues that conservatives have a harder time waging war than do liberals, which will come as news to the moaning ghost of LBJ. Here is his reasoning: "In a leisured and liberal society, it is very difficult in general for a conservative to wage war, because the natural suspicion arises — as a result of the conservative's tragic view of human nature and his belief in the occasional utility of force — that he enjoys the enterprise far more than a lip-biting progressive, who may in fact order more destruction."

It's certainly news to me that the conservative George Dubya nurses a "tragic view of human nature," or even a mildly saturnine one. He is forever thumping on in public about how optimistic he is and in private giving the rhetorical buzzoff to what he calls "handwringers." Helen Thomas has hinted loudly that Bush is the one president in her long memory who wanted to go to war. Kicking off a war with a "Shock and Awe" extravanganza certainly does not suggest the sobriety and gravity Bush idolators such as Peggy Noonan attribute to him.

Sobriety and gravity aren't conspicuous among his neoconservative Iagos either. The sort of libertarians and paleocons who publish at and in the pages of The American Conservative may recoil from the glorification of the mystique of war but neocons revel in it, taking testosterone infusions from the powerful drumbeats to arms from Max Boot, Robert "Indian Fighter" Kaplan, and Hanson himself. Norman Mailer once quipped that Norman Podhoretz's idea of amour was wrapping his arms lovingly around a missile, and the ideological Sons of Norman are even more besotted with the West's destructive capability to wage democracy.

Here is the graf that indicates Hanson is getting as offensively defensive and defensively offensive as Rove. He writes:

"If one examines the infomercials of a bin Laden or Zawahiri, or the terrorist communiqués sent to the Westernized media, they are almost all rehashes of the Michael Moore Left, from 'Bush lied' to 'Halliburton' to 'genocide' and 'Gulag.' This now famous 'Unholy Alliance' of radical anti-Americans and reactionary jihadists is really a two-way street: Islamists mimic the old leftist critique of the United States, and the Western Left hopes that they in turn can at least tone down their rhetoric about knocking walls over gays or sending all women into burka seclusion — at least long enough to pose as something like disposed Palestinians minus the Hamas bombs laced with feces, rat poison, and nails."

What an ugly and poorly written paragraph that is. Hanson's bad faith in what he's doing sabotages and perverts his usually stentorian prose. Anyone with the slightest acquaintance with Imperial Hubris knows that the bulk of bin Laden's addresses--speeches which span decades--devote themselves overwhelmingly to Muslim history and what he considers historical injustices inflicted on Islam by the belligerent, expansionist West. Any reference he makes to Halliburton or Gitmo is mere garnishing. Hanson implies that the bin Laden and Zawahiri are simply reading from the old radio scripts Sartre left behind at the Cafe de Flore. The direct or indirect pipeline between bin Laden's wraithful-wrathful fundamentalism and Michael Moore's scruffy populism exists only in Hanson's head, just there's no "Michael Moore Left" except as a figment of the right's imagination. Ditto the "famous 'Unholy Alliance,'" which sounds like something Michael Ledeen and David Horowitz dreamed up after passing out in the sauna together. I've yet to meet any of these notorious Western Leftists who supposedly support Islamofascism except for the women-in-burkas bit. They certainly don't monopolize the cafe tables at Daily Kos or Atrios. No, Hanson is doing what Rove is doing what Rush is doing what Coulter is doing what Michelle Malkin is doing what O'Reilly is doing what they're all doing: trying to erase any distinction between suicide feces bombers and liberals who enjoy the occasional latte, smearing everybody with the same slime brush. Well, they've been doing it successfully for years but, as Billmon suggests, their arms are beginning to flail and the spatter effect is a Jackson Pollock of desperation.

What amazes me is that more Americans now blame Bush for provoking the war with Iraq than blame Saddam Hussein. That's not an argument I've heard anyone make on cable talk or on the op-ed pages. Somehow Americans drew that conclusion all on their own! The tide of popular opinion turning against the war is washing away walls we didn't even know were there."

Jon Stewart vs. CNN's melting popsicle

Jon Stewart vs. CNN's melting popsicle
Posted by Matt Thompson on Jun 22, 10:32am.

You know a Jon Stewart zinger is especially funny when it makes it onto the "real news" the next day. Like this one on CNN's Daybreak this morning.

The Daily Show featured a clip from a recent Bush press conference. A reporter asks the President: "Given the recent surge in violence [in Iraq], do you agree with Vice President Dick Cheney's assessment that the insurgency is in its last throes?"

Bush answers by saying: "I think about Iraq every day. Every single day."

Stewart cuts in: "Really? You think about the war you started every day?"


Stewart: "Yeah, I tie a little string around my finger. Sometimes -- sometimes I look down and I think to myself, 'What's that doing there?'"

(More laughter.)

CNN ended the clip there, with anchor Carol Costello's polite chuckle signaling the return of "the real news." The Daily Show clip was presented as a little guilty pleasure, like a fudge sundae for breakfast. "Something that might get you laughing this morning, because I know I need to laugh this morning," as Costello put it.

But then the CNN anchors agreed it was time to "move along" with the serious news. So what was CNN's very next story?

COSTELLO: It was a disappointing day for popsicle fans in New York.... This was the unveiling of a world record-sized popsicle. But it was thwarted by -- by -- it melted.

CHAD MYERS (co-anchor): Oh, my gosh. Ice melts in the heat.

COSTELLO: I know, you'd think Snapple would know that. But they wanted to, like, put up this giant popsicle to advertise Snapple. But it melted, and it flooded the street.

Breathtaking. Their clip is actually funnier than The Daily Show! Can you imagine a better parody of the commercialized, zero-content pabulum TV news threatens to become?

When it's this hard to separate the satire from the "real news," it's no wonder that among 18 – 29 year olds, Jon Stewart tied with Tom Brokaw (NBC) and beat Peter Jennings (ABC) & Dan Rather (CBS) as America's most trusted news anchor last year. (The poll was conducted by "Declare Yourself," a nonpartisan effort to register voters for last year's election, cited by the Carnegie Reporter.)

If they keep this up, Daybreak may put the Daily Show out of business...

Michael Smith - The Real News in the Downing Street Memos

The Real News in the Downing Street Memos
By Michael Smith
Michael Smith writes on defense issues for the Sunday Times of London.

June 23, 2005

It is now nine months since I obtained the first of the "Downing Street memos," thrust into my hand by someone who asked me to meet him in a quiet watering hole in London for what I imagined would just be a friendly drink.

At the time, I was defense correspondent of the London Daily Telegraph, and a staunch supporter of the decision to oust Saddam Hussein. The source was a friend. He'd given me a few stories before but nothing nearly as interesting as this.

The six leaked documents I took away with me that night were to change completely my opinion of the decision to go to war and the honesty of Prime Minister Tony Blair and President Bush.

They focused on the period leading up to the Crawford, Texas, summit between Blair and Bush in early April 2002, and were most striking for the way in which British officials warned the prime minister, with remarkable prescience, what a mess post-war Iraq would become. Even by the cynical standards of realpolitik, the decision to overrule this expert advice seemed to be criminal.

The second batch of leaks arrived in the middle of this year's British general election, by which time I was writing for a different newspaper, the Sunday Times. These documents, which came from a different source, related to a crucial meeting of Blair's war Cabinet on July 23, 2002. The timing of the leak was significant, with Blair clearly in electoral difficulties because of an unpopular war.

I did not then regard the now-infamous memo — the one that includes the minutes of the July 23 meeting — as the most important. My main article focused on the separate briefing paper for those taking part, prepared beforehand by Cabinet Office experts.

It said that Blair agreed at Crawford that "the UK would support military action to bring about regime change." Because this was illegal, the officials noted, it was "necessary to create the conditions in which we could legally support military action."

But Downing Street had a "clever" plan that it hoped would trap Hussein into giving the allies the excuse they needed to go to war. It would persuade the U.N. Security Council to give the Iraqi leader an ultimatum to let in the weapons inspectors.

Although Blair and Bush still insist the decision to go to the U.N. was about averting war, one memo states that it was, in fact, about "wrong-footing" Hussein into giving them a legal justification for war.

British officials hoped the ultimatum could be framed in words that would be so unacceptable to Hussein that he would reject it outright. But they were far from certain this would work, so there was also a Plan B.

American media coverage of the Downing Street memo has largely focused on the assertion by Sir Richard Dearlove, head of British foreign intelligence, that war was seen as inevitable in Washington, where "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

But another part of the memo is arguably more important. It quotes British Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon as saying that "the U.S. had already begun 'spikes of activity' to put pressure on the regime." This we now realize was Plan B.

Put simply, U.S. aircraft patrolling the southern no-fly zone were dropping a lot more bombs in the hope of provoking a reaction that would give the allies an excuse to carry out a full-scale bombing campaign, an air war, the first stage of the conflict.

British government figures for the number of bombs dropped on southern Iraq in 2002 show that although virtually none were used in March and April, an average of 10 tons a month were dropped between May and August.

But these initial "spikes of activity" didn't have the desired effect. The Iraqis didn't retaliate. They didn't provide the excuse Bush and Blair needed. So at the end of August, the allies dramatically intensified the bombing into what was effectively the initial air war.

The number of bombs dropped on southern Iraq by allied aircraft shot up to 54.6 tons in September alone, with the increased rates continuing into 2003.

In other words, Bush and Blair began their war not in March 2003, as everyone believed, but at the end of August 2002, six weeks before Congress approved military action against Iraq.

The way in which the intelligence was "fixed" to justify war is old news.

The real news is the shady April 2002 deal to go to war, the cynical use of the U.N. to provide an excuse, and the secret, illegal air war without the backing of Congress.

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Friday, June 24, 2005

Kerry Sends Letter on Downing Street Minutes

Larisa Alexandrovna - Raw Story Staff

Senator Kerry (D - MA) sends letter to Senate Intelligence Committee pressing for answers on the Downing Street Memo and other Downing documents. The letter leaked to Raw Story, is also signed by Senators Johnson, Corzine, Reed, Lautenberg, Boxer, Kennedy, Harkin, Bingaman, and Durbin. The text of the letter is below.


June 22, 2005

The Honorable Pat Roberts, Chairman
The Honorable John D. Rockefeller, IV, Vice Chairman United States Senate
Select Committee on Intelligence
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Roberts and Senator Rockefeller:

We write concerning your committee's vital examination of pre-war Iraq intelligence failures. In particular, we urge you to accelerate to completion the work of the so-called "Phase II" effort to assess how policy makers used the intelligence they received.

Last year your committee completed the first phase of a two-phased effort to review the pre-war intelligence on Iraq. Phase I-begun in the summer of 2003 and completed in the summer of 2004-examined the performance of the American intelligence community in the collection and analysis of intelligence prior to the war, including an examination of the quantity and quality of U.S. intelligence on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and the intelligence on ties between Saddam Hussein's regime and terrorist groups. At the conclusion of Phase I, your committee issued an unclassified report that made an important contribution to the American public's understanding of the issues involved.

In February 2004-well over a year ago-the committee agreed to expand the scope of inquiry to include a second phase which would examine the use of intelligence by policy makers, the comparison of pre-war assessments and post-war findings, the activities of the Policy Counterterrorism Evaluation Group (PCTEG) and the Office of Special Plans in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, and the use of information provided by the Iraqi National Congress.

The committee's efforts have taken on renewed urgency given recent revelations in the United Kingdom regarding the apparent minutes of a July 23, 2002, meeting between Prime Minister Tony Blair and his senior national security advisors. These minutes-known as the "Downing Street Memo"-raise troubling questions about the use of intelligence by American policy makers-questions that your committee is uniquely situated to address.

The memo indicates that in the summer of 2002, at a time the White House was promising Congress and the American people that war would be their last resort, that they believed military action against Iraq was "inevitable."

The minutes reveal that President "Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

The American people took the warnings that the administration sounded seriously-warnings that were echoed at the United Nations and here in Congress as we voted to give the president the authority to go to war. For the sake of our democracy and our future national security, the public must know whether such warnings were driven by facts and responsible intelligence, or by political calculation.

These issues need to be addressed with urgency. This remains a dangerous world, with American forces engaged in Iraq and Afghanistan, and other challenges looming in Iran and North Korea. In this environment, the American public should have the highest confidence that policy makers are using intelligence objectively-never manipulating it to justify war, but always to protect the United States. The contents of the Downing Street Memo undermine this faith and only rigorous Congressional oversight can determine the truth.

We urge the committee to complete the second phase of its investigation with the maximum speed and transparency possible, producing, as it did at the end of Phase I, a comprehensive, unclassified report from which the American people can benefit directly.

Now Who's Strong on Defense?

Now Who's Strong on Defense?
Posted by Michael Signer

From the hard-working Tommy Ross at Byron Dorgan's Democratic Policy Committee, the following installment in our C'mon-You've-Got-To-Be-Kidding-Me Category:

As the DPC's analysis of H.R. 1268, the Emergency Supplemental Act on Defense, the Global War on Terror, and Tsunami Relief, 2005 shows, progressives in Congress are doing more to protect our military than their "conservative" counterparts.

Let's do this in bullet form.

- Senator Murray (D-WA) introduced an amendment to give an additional $1.98 billion in additional funding to the Department of Veterans Affairs, including over $600 million to help address a health care crisis in the VA system. The measure was defeated by Republicans.

- Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN) introduced an amendment to research the current need for heavily-armored Humvees, and to provide $213 million to procure more of them. The amendment passed, despite the opposition of dozens of Republicans.

- Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) passed an amendment to require the federal government to equalize the gap between civilian and active duty salaries for federal employees mobilized for duty. The amendment passed the Senate -- then, guess what, Republicans removed the amendment in the final budget report.

- Senator John Kerry (D-MA) introduced a successful Senate amendment to extend housing allowances for families of deceased service members, and another amendment to increase President Bush's paltry death gratuity of $12,000 to $100,000.

OK -- those are the weenies. Look at them, sniffling and wiping their noses with their sleeves. Now, check out how the Daddy Party flexes its big muscles:

- On the four amendments above, no fewer than 25 conservatives voted against each.

- And seventeen of them -- EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM FROM A RED STATE -- voted against every single one of the four amendments above.

- Who were they? Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN), Majority Whip Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and Senators Wayne Allard(R-CO), Robert Bennett (R-UT), Kit Bond (R-MO), Jim Bunning (R-KY), Richard Burr (R-NC), Thad Cochran (R-MS), John Cornyn (R-TX), Jim DeMint (R-SC), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Richard Shelby (R-AL), Ted Stevens (R-AK), and George Voinovich (R-OH).

So what's going on here? Most likely, a combination of blind partisanship -- anything to deny a Dem a win -- and chicken-hawkism -- only war sells, not taking care of the people who actually have to fight.

The fact that these Senators are from red states shows they're taking their voters for granted -- coasting on cultural posturing and division.

A lantern like this should reveal a path out of the wilderness. We've seen conservatives before retreating into nationalism and defeatism -- just think about the Republican Party in the 1930's and 1940's -- and turning away from the real Americans who defend our country. We've also seen Democrats formulate strong, engaged policies that united our fighters and our foreign policy -- just think John F. Kennedy in the early 1960's.

They can only fool America for so long. It's time the joke was over.

Rove accuses Dems of shortchanging the military--then lies to shortchange our Veterans

Rove accuses Dems of shortchanging the military--then lies to shortchange our Veterans
by emptywheel
Fri Jun 24th, 2005 at 12:13:20 PDT

Cross-posted at the Next Hurrah

I'm in perfect agreement with calls to make Rove pay for his incendiary words. But I think we ought to focus our response using today's announcement that the VA is $1 billion short on healthcare funds to highlight the ways the GOP isn't supporting the troops. Focusing on VA shortfalls is going to fracture GOP unity a lot more quickly than calling on politicians (outside of the Atlantic seaboard area, at least) to denounce Rove's words, because GOP legislators already know they're vulnerable.

When I first heard of the problem from an NPR report, I thought the shortfall was just poor accounting--a failure to anticipate all the healthcare costs associated with the GWOT. Indeed, that's what the appointees at the VA would like you to think:

"We weren't on the mark from the actuarial model," Perlin testified. He said that the department has already had to use more than $300 million from a fund that had been expected to be carried over to the fiscal 2006 budget, and that as much as $600 million for planned capital spending will have to be shifted to pay for health care.

But the shortfall has all the trappings of Bush lying and mean-spiritedness.

For starters, it's not like the VA recognized the shortfall and came to Congress to alert it of the problem. Rather, the shortfall only came out "only during lengthy questioning of Jonathan B. Perlin, VA undersecretary for health, by House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Steve Buyer (R-Ind.) at a hearing yesterday" (emphasis mine). Sounds to me like the VA wasn't going to tell Congress about the shortfall, but was instead going to make up for it with some Enron-style accounting (which is what they'll do for the remainder of this year anyway).

Further, the VA had warning of the shortfall back in April, at a time when Patty Murray had proposed an amendment to the emergency supplemental to increase VA funding.

Murray aides said they obtained a draft copy of the midyear review in early April, suggesting that the department knew of the budget problems [then].

VA spokesman Terry Jemison refused to release a copy of the document, saying, "We don't provide information about pre-decisional budget passback and midyear reviews."

Perhaps the VA doesn't want to release the document because it would reveal they were lying when they were lobbying against Murray's request for increased funding.

Murray cited an April 5 letter written by Nicholson to the Senate in a bid to defeat her amendment:

"I can assure you that VA does not need emergency supplemental funds in FY2005 to continue to provide timely, quality service that is always our goal," he had said.

Now consider that the GOP earlier this year played committee musical chairs to make sure they could cut back VA funding.

Veterans groups are particularly angry with Buyer, who was specially chosen by the House leadership to chair the House Veterans Affairs Committee to keep spending down. Buyer was elected to replace Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.), who had alienated House leaders by pushing for high levels of spending on veterans programs.

Buyer recently sparked new controversy in an interview published by the American Legion Magazine in which he said the department should concentrate on serving a "core constituency," and he disputed assertions that "all veterans are veterans and all veterans should be treated the same."

Take it all together, and you can make a pretty good case that the White House and House leaders maneuvered to shortchange the VA. And though other Republicans haven't said it yet, I don't think it'd take much to make the case with them. After all, they've been voting against funding increases (including Murray's amendment, which would have included $600 million in health care funding) based on assurances that existing VA funding was sufficient. They're going to want to blame the White House and the VA for giving them wrong information. And they've been taking a lot of heat from Veteran's groups, too.

The disclosure of the shortfall angered Senate Republicans who have been voting down Democratic proposals to boost VA programs at significant political cost. Their votes have brought the wrath of the American Legion, the Paralyzed Veterans of America and other organizations down on the GOP.

As it is, Republican stinginess over VA funding has already improved the Democrats' image among some Veterans' groups, which is bound to make it easier for GOP legislators to criticize House leadership and the White House for getting them into this mess.

Leaders of the American Legion, the Paralyzed Veterans and the Disabled American Veterans all noted a striking partisan division in Congress on veterans issues, with Democrats giving them much more support than Republicans.

Traditionally, Violante said,"Republicans have been supportive of defense," but he said Bush administration policies and votes in the House and Senate suggest that the GOP does not view the care of veterans as "a continuing cost of war."

Patty Murray is already accusing the VA of deliberately causing this mess.

"This shortfall results from either deliberate misdirection or gross incompetence by this administration and the Department of Veteran Affairs," said Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington.

The VA shortfall was apparent in April. Murray tried to fix the problem--which would have meant more Veterans would now be getting the care they need. But rather than let Senators fix the problem, the VA and the White House lied about funding. And Karl Rove says Democrats are the ones that don't support the troops?
Rather than simply calling your Republican legislators and asking them to denounce Rove's comments, you might ask instead:

"Back in April, Democrats tried to ensure the VA had enough funding to provide those who have served their country with needed healthcare services. Karl Rove, the White House, and the VA lied to you to make sure this didn't happen. Knowing that, do you think Karl Rove should be lecturing Democrats about supporting the troops?"

Young Republicans support Iraq war, but not all are willing to join the fight

Young Republicans support Iraq war, but not all are willing to join the fight

By Adam Smeltz
Posted on Wed, Sep. 01, 2004
Knight Ridder Newspapers

NEW YORK - Young Republicans gathered for their party's national convention... were asked: "Would you be willing to put on the uniform and go to fight in Iraq?"

In more than a dozen interviews, Republicans in their teens and 20s said, some have friends in the military in Iraq and are considering enlisting; others said they can better support the war by working politically in the United States; and still others said they think the military doesn't need them because the U.S. presence in Iraq is sufficient.

"Frankly, I want to be a politician. I'd like to survive to see that," said Vivian Lee, 17, a war supporter visiting the convention from Los Angeles.

Lee said she supports the war but would volunteer only if the United States faced a dire troop shortage or "if there's another Sept. 11."

"As long as there's a steady stream of volunteers, I don't see why I necessarily should volunteer," said Lee, who said she has a cousin deployed in the Middle East.

"If there was a need presented, I would go," said Chris Cusmano, a 21-year-old member of the College Republicans organization from Rocky Point, N.Y. But he said he hasn't really considered volunteering.

"It's always in the back of my mind - to enlist," Chase Carpenter, 16, a self-described moderate Republican visiting Manhattan this week from Santa Monica, Calif. He said he's torn over whether he'd join the military if he were 18.

Others said they could contribute on the home front.

"I physically probably couldn't do a whole lot" in Iraq, said Tiffanee Hokel, 18, of Webster City, Iowa, who called the war a moral imperative. She knows people posted in Iraq, but she didn't flinch when asked why she wouldn't go.

"I think I could do more here," Hokel said, adding that she's focusing on political action that supports the war and the troops.

"We don't have to be there physically to fight it," she said.

Similarly, 20-year-old Jeff Shafer, a University of Pennsylvania student, said vital work needs to be done in the United States. There are Republican policies to maintain and protect and an economy to sustain, Shafer said.

Then there's Paula Villescaz, a 15-year-old from Carmichael, Calif. who supports Bush and was all ears Wednesday afternoon at the GOP's Youth Convention in Madison Square Garden. She doesn't support the war, but she supports the troops and thinks the United States "needs to stay the course" now that it's immersed.

If Iraq is still a U.S. issue when she's 18, Villescaz added, she'll give serious thought to volunteering.

"I'm in college right now, but who knows?" said Matthew Vail, a 25-year-old from Huntsville, Ala., who works with Students for Bush. He said he might consider enlisting after he finishes his degree at the University of North Carolina, but not until then.

"The bug may get me after college," he said.

US acknowledges torture at Guantanamo and Iraq, Afghanistan: UN source

US acknowledges torture at Guantanamo and Iraq, Afghanistan: UN source
Yahoo News
Fri Jun 24, 9:23 AM ET

Washington has for the first time acknowledged to the United Nations that prisoners have been tortured at US detention centres in Guantanamo Bay, as well as Afghanistan and Iraq, a UN source said.

The acknowledgement was made in a report submitted to the UN Committee against Torture, said a member of the ten-person panel, speaking on on condition of anonymity.

"They are no longer trying to duck this, and have respected their obligation to inform the UN," the Committee member told AFP.

"They they will have to explain themselves (to the Committee). Nothing should be kept in the dark."

UN sources said it was the first time the world body has received such a frank statement on torture from US authorities.

The Committee, which monitors respect for the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, is gathering information from the US ahead of hearings in May 2006.

Signatories of the convention are expected to submit to scrutiny of their implementation of the 1984 convention and to provide information to the Committee.

The document from Washington will not be formally made public until the hearings.

"They haven't avoided anything in their answers, whether concerning prisoners in Iraq, in Afghanistan or Guantanamo, and other accusations of mistreatment and of torture," the Committee member said.

"They said it was a question of isolated cases, that there was nothing systematic and that the guilty were in the process of being punished."

The US report said that those involved were low-ranking members of the military and that their acts were not approved by their superiors, the member added.

The US has faced criticism from UN human rights experts and international groups for mistreatment of detainees -- some of whom died in custody -- in Afghanistan and Iraq, particularly during last year's prisoner abuse scandal surrounding the Abu Ghraib facility there.

Scores of US military personnel have been investigated, and several tried and convicted, for abuse of people detained during the US-led campaign against Islamic terrorist groups.

At the Guantanamo Bay naval base, a US toehold in Cuba where around 520 suspects of some 40 nationalities are held, allegations of torture have combined with other claims of human rights breaches.

The US has faced widespread criticism for keeping the Guantanamo detainees in a "legal black hole," notably for its refusal to grant them prisoner of war status and allegedly sluggish moves to charge or try them.

Washington's report to the Committee reaffirms the US position that the Guantanamo detainees are classed as "enemy combatants," and therefore do not benefit from the POW status set out in the Geneva Conventions, the Committee member said.

Four UN human rights experts on Thursday slammed the United States for stalling on a request to allow visits to terrorism suspects held at the Guantanamo Bay naval base, and said they planned to carry out an indirect probe of conditions there.;_ylt=AmlkNCFMVuL.tdt9DpEAsv1X6GMA;_ylu=X3oDMTBiMW04NW9mBHNlYwMlJVRPUCUl

Paul Krugman - The War President

The New York Times
June 24, 2005
The War President


In this former imperial capital, every square seems to contain a giant statue of a Habsburg on horseback, posing as a conquering hero.

America's founders knew all too well how war appeals to the vanity of rulers and their thirst for glory. That's why they took care to deny presidents the kingly privilege of making war at their own discretion.

But after 9/11 President Bush, with obvious relish, declared himself a "war president." And he kept the nation focused on martial matters by morphing the pursuit of Al Qaeda into a war against Saddam Hussein.

In November 2002, Helen Thomas, the veteran White House correspondent, told an audience, "I have never covered a president who actually wanted to go to war" - but she made it clear that Mr. Bush was the exception. And she was right.

Leading the nation wrongfully into war strikes at the heart of democracy. It would have been an unprecedented abuse of power even if the war hadn't turned into a military and moral quagmire. And we won't be able to get out of that quagmire until we face up to the reality of how we got in.

Let me talk briefly about what we now know about the decision to invade Iraq, then focus on why it matters.

The administration has prevented any official inquiry into whether it hyped the case for war. But there's plenty of circumstantial evidence that it did.

And then there's the Downing Street Memo - actually the minutes of a prime minister's meeting in July 2002 - in which the chief of British overseas intelligence briefed his colleagues about his recent trip to Washington.

"Bush wanted to remove Saddam," says the memo, "through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and W.M.D. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy." It doesn't get much clearer than that.

The U.S. news media largely ignored the memo for five weeks after it was released in The Times of London. Then some asserted that it was "old news" that Mr. Bush wanted war in the summer of 2002, and that W.M.D. were just an excuse. No, it isn't. Media insiders may have suspected as much, but they didn't inform their readers, viewers and listeners. And they have never held Mr. Bush accountable for his repeated declarations that he viewed war as a last resort.

Still, some of my colleagues insist that we should let bygones be bygones. The question, they say, is what we do now. But they're wrong: it's crucial that those responsible for the war be held to account.

Let me explain. The United States will soon have to start reducing force levels in Iraq, or risk seeing the volunteer Army collapse. Yet the administration and its supporters have effectively prevented any adult discussion of the need to get out.

On one side, the people who sold this war, unable to face up to the fact that their fantasies of a splendid little war have led to disaster, are still peddling illusions: the insurgency is in its "last throes," says Dick Cheney. On the other, they still have moderates and even liberals intimidated: anyone who suggests that the United States will have to settle for something that falls far short of victory is accused of being unpatriotic.

We need to deprive these people of their ability to mislead and intimidate. And the best way to do that is to make it clear that the people who led us to war on false pretenses have no credibility, and no right to lecture the rest of us about patriotism.

The good news is that the public seems ready to hear that message - readier than the media are to deliver it. Major media organizations still act as if only a small, left-wing fringe believes that we were misled into war, but that "fringe" now comprises much if not most of the population.

In a Gallup poll taken in early April - that is, before the release of the Downing Street Memo - 50 percent of those polled agreed with the proposition that the administration "deliberately misled the American public" about Iraq's W.M.D. In a new Rasmussen poll, 49 percent said that Mr. Bush was more responsible for the war than Saddam Hussein, versus 44 percent who blamed Saddam.

Once the media catch up with the public, we'll be able to start talking seriously about how to get out of Iraq.


Thursday, June 23, 2005

Americans inching closer to a reckoning

Miami Herald
Americans inching closer to a reckoning

Do you want to know?

That's the only popular division that matters in the United States today: Those who want to determine once and for all if President Bush knowingly ''fixed the facts'' regarding Iraq, thereby misleading Congress and the American people into supporting an unnecessary war, and those who will cover their ears and hum loudly in order to maintain their belief that Bush and his advisors remain above reproach.

You're in one camp or the other. Either you want to know if you've been lied to, or you don't.

The American public is inching tentatively toward a reckoning unlike any this nation has ever experienced. The oh-so-clever Bush administration strategists and their quasi-media acolytes, who have kept the reckoning at bay with a deft combination of we're-at-war patriotic fervor and fear-the-evil-liberals rhetoric, are running out of parlor tricks.

Rep. John Conyers of Michigan last week held an unofficial public briefing -- despite being forced into a tiny Capitol Hill basement by GOP leaders -- to talk about the so-called Downing Street Memo. The July 2002 memo, published in the Times of London May 1, recounted the views of top advisors to Prime Minister Tony Blair that the Bush administration had already made up its mind to invade Iraq despite an absence of justification, and that it appeared facts were being manipulated to support the policy.

Since its publication, other information has surfaced revealing that the Americans and the British tried unsuccessfully to provoke Saddam Hussein into giving them a justification for war -- first by launching an unauthorized bombing campaign in 2002, then by pushing the United Nations to demand weapons inspectors return to Iraq -- a gambit Hussein trumped by agreeing to do so.

After the briefing, Conyers carried a letter to the White House, signed by more than 120 House members, asking for answers to questions provoked by the Downing Street Memo.

Not only was Conyers rebuffed, he was slighted.

White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan, in a press briefing that day, dismissed Conyers as ``an individual who voted against the war in the first place and is simply trying to rehash old debates that have already been addressed.''

Did you catch the irony? Conyers has no credibility to challenge the president's actions toward Iraq, the White House argues, because Conyers has opposed the war from the beginning. Yet just a few months ago, the Bush people ridiculed Sen. John Kerry because Kerry allegedly supported the war before being against it -- remember all the giddy supporters chanting ``Flip-flop! Flip-flop!''

Clearly, whether you've always opposed Iraq or recently reached that conclusion, Team Bush thinks you're irrelevant.

That's not leadership; that's obstinacy. McClellan's comment helps to bring into focus why, for example, no one at the White House listened to then-National Security Council advisor Richard Clarke's warnings about al Qaeda before 9/11, nor his arguments afterward that Iraq had nothing to do it. We can see now why then-Secretary of State Colin Powell, who warned about getting mired in Iraq, had to go. It becomes more clear why no White House insider has been disciplined for leaking CIA operative Valerie Plame's name to the press, after her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, revealed that Bush used an already-discredited whopper about Iraq's efforts to buy uranium ore in his 2003 State of the Union speech. It explains why Bush is standing by his nomination of John Bolton to the U.N. despite Bolton's alleged attempts to pressure intelligence agents into supporting White House policies.

Do you want to know if the president's people misled America into war? Conservative pundits are trying desperately to jump-start the sputtering media-distraction machinery that worked so well during Bush's first term. In recent weeks, I've heard them dusting off 17-year-old plagiarism stories about Delaware Sen. Joe Biden. I've heard ostensible outrage about Illinois Sen. Richard Durbin's comments about Guantánamo Bay, and Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean's characterizations of Republicans. I've heard relentless trashings of New York Sen. Hillary Clinton just for being Hillary Clinton. Even the Runaway Bride and Terri Schiavo -- the latter with the help of Gov. Jeb Bush -- have enjoyed revivals lately.

But I get the sense this strategy isn't working as reliably as it once did. Even the Michael Jackson trial hype fizzled quickly after the verdict. The president's poll numbers have plummeted since November 2, suggesting more and more Americans are tiring of the bluster and blather that had entertained them like an endless summer action flick.

I never hear anymore from the conservative readers who once admonished me for not trusting that Bush had secret intelligence about weapons of mass destruction. Or who said the British wouldn't have joined us if the case for war wasn't solid. Or who insulted the French and Germans for not going along with the madness.

I do miss those spirited exchanges. But if it means that at long last, a reckoning is under way, I'll manage.

© 2005 and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.


Dems Say Rove Should Apologize or Resign on Yahoo! News

Yahoo! News
Dems Say Rove Should Apologize or Resign

By JIM ABRAMS, Associated Press

White House adviser Karl Rove should either apologize or resign for saying liberals responded to the Sept. 11 terrorist strikes by wanting to "prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers," Democrats said Thursday.

Adding to the rancor, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., suggested that Republican charges that Democrats were undermining the war on terror with their criticism of administration policies amounted to an act of desperation.

"The president wanted to go to Iraq in the worst possible way and he did," Pelosi said. "The president is on the ropes."

Rove, Bush's chief political adviser, said in a speech Wednesday that "liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers." Conservatives, he told the New York state Conservative Party just a few miles north of Ground Zero, "saw the savagery of 9/11 and the attacks and prepared for war."

Rove said the Democratic Party made the mistake of calling for "moderation and restraint" after the terrorist attacks.

Democrats were quick to respond — and in growing numbers.

"Karl Rove should immediately and fully apologize for his remarks or he should resign," Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said in a statement. "I hope the president will join me in repudiating these remarks."

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean called on Bush to "show some leadership and unequivocally repudiate Rove's divisive and damaging political rhetoric."

During a Senate hearing on Iraq in which Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and other military leaders testified, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., read Rove's statement and urged them to reject the remarks.

"I would hope that you and other members of the administration would immediately repudiate such an insulting comment from a high-ranking official in the president's inner circle," Clinton said.

Earlier in the day, Sen. Charles Schumer (news, bio, voting record), D-N.Y., said New York has had unity since Sept. 11. "To inject politics into this and to defame a large number of people" is outrageous, he said. "It's not what New York and America is all about."

Sen. Frank Lautenberg (news, bio, voting record), D-N.J., said nearly 3,000 Americans died on Sept. 11 and "we should not dishonor their memory by using that tragic day for political trash talk."

Three days after the terrorist attacks, the Senate voted 98-0 and the House voted 420-1 for a resolution authorizing Bush to use "all necessary and appropriate force" against those responsible for the terrorism. After the votes, Bush said in a statement: "I am gratified that the Congress has united so powerfully by taking this action. It sends a clear message — our people are together, and we will prevail."

During the 2004 campaign, Bush dismissed the notion of negotiating with terrorists and said, "You can't sit back and hope that somehow therapy will work and they will change their ways."

On Wednesday, Rove also denounced Sen. Dick Durbin's comments comparing interrogation at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp to the methods of Nazis and other repressive regimes. He said the statements have been broadcast throughout the Middle East, putting U.S. troops in greater danger. The Illinois Democrat has since apologized for the remarks.

"No more needs to be said about the motives of liberals," Rove said.

Seven House Republicans also wrote Pelosi saying they were shocked by a statement in which she said the war in Afghanistan was over. "Messages like yours could demoralize our troops and undermine our efforts to fight terrorism in Afghanistan and around the world," they wrote.

Pelosi, who made the comment at a news conference where Democrats called for an investigation into detainee abuses at Guantanamo Bay, said Thursday that she was referring to the campaign to drive the Taliban from power in 2001. Fighting continues, she said, because the administration decided to divert its attention from Afghanistan to the war in Iraq.;_ylt=At8PE0BZp6wRZMcJnppuhTRH2ocA;_ylu=X3oDMTA3MXN1bHE0BHNlYwN0bWE-

Daily Kos :: Rove and the Right Wing Meltdown

"Rove and the Right Wing Meltdown
by Grand Moff Texan (dailykos)

Thu Jun 23rd, 2005 at 08:47:08 PDT


Bush has lost Iraq and now the GOP is panicking. They need to unload Bush's failure on you. Bush slaughtered thousands in the middle of nowhere for nothing, and that's your fault because you didn't support it.

"Has there ever been a more revealing moment this year?" Mr. Rove asked. "Let me just put this in fairly simple terms: Al Jazeera now broadcasts the words of Senator Durbin to the Mideast, certainly putting our troops in greater danger. No more needs to be said about the motives of liberals."
-Karl Rove

[eriposte offers a translation.]

Never mind that none of this is true. That doesn't matter. It doesn't matter that Al Jazeera only ran the story when it happened and then moved on. Never mind that it was American conservatives who were the ones repeating a message they claimed was harmful to our troops (so they obviously never believed that, anyway) for days on end ... smiling.

Domestic criticism is what's turning Iraqis against us, they say. Not the continuing destruction of Iraq, not the constant loss of life and limb, the omnipresense of death in every family, the raiding of its resources and historical treasures, the unemployment, the absense of basic services in the most urbanized country on earth in the middle of a mesopotamian summer, none of that matters. A clip that Al Jazeera isn't running, and that Iraqis without electricity aren't watching on their dead TV's, is killing our troops.

This is marketing, the facts don't matter. What is Rove selling? Rove is selling Bush's failure to the Democrats, cheap.

Now that even Republicans in Congress are recognizing that Bush has lost Iraq and has no idea what to do, Bush's handlers and proxies have begun to prepare for this now inevitable failure: blame their policies on the liberals. They have no hope for any successful outcome in Iraq and are as happy to leave the Iraqis to rot as they were to blast them for nothing in the first place.

The GOP is simply trying to unload its waste. They have no plan, they never had a plan, and now they want someone else to take the blame.

Hell, even John McCain predicted Rove was going to do something like this this week.

Now, we have seen in the past that Karl Rove is willing to jack off the superstitions of trailer trash he wouldn't share a room with for two minutes together. He is willing to stir the sewer and see what bubbles up. But he no more buys his own bullshit than he goes in for the GOP's gay-bashing or believes that Bush compromised on his judicial nominees by sending three of them home. Rove knows better, but he also knows that Red State America will buy anything that starts with "liberals" and ends with "hate America." They'll buy this story just long enough to help Bush sneak off.

The message is simply a means to an end. Rove could just as easily be saying "Mambo dogface to the banana-patch," it just doesn't fucking matter. Bush will be protected and Everything will Be Your Fault (again). And if some cracked vessel out there goes after a supposed liberal, well all the Kool Kids will have something else to cluck their tongues about and Bush will still be safe.

Bush's policies are now junk bonds and you are just collateral damage waiting to happen.

This is Enron politics. Talk it up, cash out, leave someone else holding the bill. This is what they're trying to do with Social Security, too. This is the kind of locust-act Bush the "businessman" has done all his life. They've already raided the public treasury and handed billions to their friends under the pretext of national security and Iraqi Freedom. But now that the political cost is getting high, it's time to count the money and leave someone else twisting.

That person is you.

The Last Throes of Karl Rove

"The Last Throes of Karl Rove
by thirdparty (dailykos)

Wed Jun 22nd, 2005 at 22:21:33 PDT

It must be mighty dark in Rovesville, when Karl feels forced to venture out of his dark lair to vomit up statements like this:

NEW YORK - Speaking in a Manhattan ballroom just a few miles north of ground zero, Karl Rove said on Wednesday night that the Democratic party did not understand the consequences of the Sept. 11 attacks.

"Liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers," Rove said. "Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 and the attacks and prepared for war."

Rove said the Democratic Party made the mistake of calling for "moderation and restraint" after the terrorist attacks.

"Conservatives saw what happened to us on 9/11 and said we will defeat our enemies. Liberals saw what happened to us and said we must understand our enemies."

Sounds like August 2004 at MSG all over again, doesn't it? Except, Karl, this time, the American people aren't buying your shit. 60-40 are against the war. More believe it has made us less safe than safer from terrorism.

And they know that Democrats are the ones who wanted to go after our attackers with a vengeance from the very beginning, and Bush was the one who diverted our country from this mission at the cost of hundreds of billions of dollars, thousands of soldiers' lives, and strategic losses in the fight against Islamic extremism.

On September 14, 2001, it was Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle who sponsored S.J.RES.23:

Authorization for Use of Military Force (Enrolled as Agreed to or Passed by Both House and Senate)


To authorize the use of United States Armed Forces against those responsible for the recent attacks launched against the United States.

Whereas, on September 11, 2001, acts of treacherous violence were committed against the United States and its citizens; and

Whereas, such acts render it both necessary and appropriate that the United States exercise its rights to self-defense and to protect United States citizens both at home and abroad; and

Whereas, in light of the threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States posed by these grave acts of violence; and

Whereas, such acts continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States; and

Whereas, the President has authority under the Constitution to take action to deter and prevent acts of international terrorism against the United States: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

This joint resolution may be cited as the `Authorization for Use of Military Force'.

(a) IN GENERAL- That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.

The vote? 98-0. Every single Democrat in the Senate voted enthusiastically to "prepare for war."

Democrats continued to advocate the real War on Terrorism while Bush was scheming how to get rid of Saddam. Senator Feingold's comments on October 11, 2002 prove that it was anti-Iraq-war Democrats, not pro-Iraq-war Republicans, who were right - that it was we who were the ones truly concerned about destroying the people who attacked us, and we who have been vindicated.

Feingold said, in October 2002:

Mr. President, I believe it is dangerous for the world, and especially dangerous for us, to take the tragedy of 9-11 and the word "terrorism" and all their powerful emotion and then too easily apply them to many other situations -- situations that surely need our serious attention but are not necessarily, Mr. President, the same as individuals and organizations who have shown a willingness to fly planes into the World Trade Center and into the Pentagon.

And Americans say, today:

"You hear a lot about Saddam but nothing about Osama bin Laden. I don't think he [Bush] does enough to deal with the problems of terrorism. . . . He's done a lot of talking, but we haven't seen real changes," said another poll respondent, Kathy Goyette, 54, a San Diego nurse.

Feingold said, in October 2002:

An invasion of Iraq must stand on its own, not just because it is different than the fight against the perpetrators of 9-11 but because it may not be consistent with, and may even be harmful to, the top national security issue of this country. And that is the fight against terrorism and the perpetrators of the crimes of 9-11.

And Americans say, today:

For the first time since the war in Iraq began, more than half of the American public believes the fight there has not made the United States safer, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Feingold said, in October 2002:

Mr. President, we need an honest assessment of the commitment required of America. If the right way to address this threat is through internationally-supported military action in Iraq and Saddam Hussein's regime falls, we will need to take action to ensure stability in Iraq. This could be very costly and time consuming, could involve the occupation -- the occupation, Mr. President, of a Middle Eastern country. Now, this is not a small matter. The American occupation of a Middle Eastern country. Consider the regional implications of that scenario, the unrest in moderate states that calls for action against American interests, the difficulty of bringing stability to Iraq so we can extricate ourselves in the midst of regional turmoil. Mr. President, we need much more information about how we propose to proceed so that we can weigh the costs and benefits to our national security.

And the CIA says, today:

A new, classified assessment by the CIA says that Iraq may prove to be an even more effective training ground for Islamic extremists than Afghanistan was in Al Qaeda's early days, because it provides a new laboratory for militants to hone their skills in urban combat.

Feingold said, in October 2002:

I do believe that the American people are willing to bear high costs to pursue a policy that makes sense. But right now, after all of the briefings, all of the hearings, and all of the statements, as far as I can tell, the Administration apparently intends to wing it when it comes to the day after or, as others have suggested, the decade after. And I think, Mr. President, that makes no sense at all.

And Republican Senators say, today:

"We didn't plan right, we didn't know what we were getting into, and we weren't prepared. It's borne out in what's going on and the mess that we're in today."...

"I don't know where the vice president is getting his information from. It's not where I'm getting mine from. This administration at the top-the civilian leaders-is disconnected from what's going on."

Feingold said, in October 2002:

I am concerned that the President is pushing us into a mistaken and counterproductive course of action. Instead of this war being crucial on the war on terrorism, I fear it could have the opposite effect.

And the CIA agrees.

So, Karl:

We were right. You were wrong.

We stood on the side of a forceful response to terrorism, a laser-like focus on keeping our country safe, funding homeland security, preventing further attacks at home.

You stood against a Homeland Security Department, against the 9/11 Commission, and for the Iraq war that has made us less safe.

Democrats are fiercely defending and promoting our National Security.

Republicans are defending incompetence, lies, and failures, and "moderation and restraint" against the true harborers of our enemies.

Maybe it's time for you to seek some therapy. Or maybe just take some drugs. Those "last throes" won't be painless.