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, August 12, 2006

ThatBritGuy - The GOP for Dummies

The GOP for Dummies

Fri Aug 11, 2006 at 07:35:36 PM CDT

I've been here a while now, and I see the same thing happening over. The Noise Machine launches an offensive - like the recent Dems = Taliban claim.

People get really upset about the offensive. Upset is good. But I'm not seeing so much understanding of how the game is being played.

Reality based debating tactics are a weakness in the current climate. To know your enemy you have to understand the MO. And while the GOP is a hollow shell, morally, ethically, and in every other way that matters, it still has a persuasive media presence that plays by its own unique rules.

While it's true that the wheels are coming off the wagon now, with poll numbers tanking, increasing frustration and disbelief, and the beginnings of a tidal shift, the talking points are going to keep on coming for as long as there's a playbook sock-puppet preznit to make the speeches.

So here's a list of what those rules seem to be.

You can read them as snark with added shiny essence-of-cynicism goodness if you want.

Or not. Your call.

1. Power
2. Money
3. Er - that's it.

1. Declare a war on something. Pick an enemy - drugs, communists, Islamicists, dangerous household appliances. Some vague threat that scares people but can't be defeated decisively.
2. Smear your political enemies as unpatriotic. Pretend instead that you are hyper-patriotic, and acting exclusively to guarantee safety and public security against the evil threat.
3. Never engage with the real issues - stuff that really matters, like hurricanes and global warming and all of that shit. You're way too rich, powerful and important for that to have anything to do with you.
4. When things go badly, bullshit, lie and bluster, but never change the plan.
5. Keep bullying your enemies with name-calling and ad hominems. The more extreme the better.
6. Repeat - never engage with the real issues. If you keep spewing the bullshit, reality won't apply to you.
7. You can say whatever you want, and just saying it often enough and loud enough makes it true.
8. Keep collecting the money. Pay off your friends and cronies with contracts, kick-backs, and tax fixes. Then remind them you know where the bodies are buried.

Useful things to remember
1. Everything is a photo opportunity
2. Poor people suck. Don't waste your beautiful mind on them.
3. Poor soldiers suck too. Cannon fodder, and oh so cheap as well. Nyuck nyuck nyuck - "support the troops?" - oh my aching sides.
4. Fundie Christians are sheep and will vote for you if you throw them some red-meat issues-stuff they care about - abortion, guns, gays, Satan possessing dangerous household appliances, whatever. Who cares? Tell them what they want to hear.
5. Booze and drugs are better than having a soul. Hookers are always good too.

Stuff Democrats don't get
1. Always keep it personal. One swiftboat attack ad is worth a thousand intellectual think-pieces criticising policy and addressing the issues in a balanced and reality-based way.
2. Buy the sheriff. Stack the Supreme Court. It's all the same game.
3. Always blame the other guy for the crap you're pulling yourself. Total HypocrisyTM makes people's heads explode. They'll be too busy making anguished `My brain! It's melting!' noises to have energy to spare on kicking your ass to the curb.

Above all
1. Never apologise. Never explain. Stay the course.

Joe Conason | War Critics Are Mainstream, Not Fringe

War Critics Are Mainstream, Not Fringe
By Joe Conason

Thursday 10 August 2006

As Connecticut Democrats went to their polling places to choose a Senate nominee, waves of rhetorical hysteria burst forth from the mouths of excitable conservatives. At stake in the primary was not only the fate of a single politician but the "soul of the Democratic Party" and perhaps even the fate of the West.

Old terms like "appeasement" and "Stalinist" have been brandished to insinuate that anyone who dares to dissent from the failed policies adopted by Joe Lieberman and the Bush administration is at best a fool and at worst a traitor.

Such overwrought commentary, often phrased in terms of deep concern for the future of the party of FDR, JFK and Harry S. Truman, usually emanates from commentators whose political objective is continued Republican domination of all branches of government. Democrats should reject this propaganda barrage-which reveals an extraordinary capacity for self-deception on the right.

The propagandists charge that opposition to the war in Iraq is an obsession of the far-left fringe, and that the Democrats will be destroyed by any attempt to extricate our troops from the quicksand. Every reputable survey of public opinion refutes that assertion. Support for the Bush administration's conduct of the war, and for the president himself, has been declining steadily since the end of 2004. And every anchorperson, pundit and squawking head seeking to suggest otherwise is either inexcusably ignorant or purposely lying.

But let's look at the numbers found by recent surveys. In June, CNN and USA Today separately asked Americans-not Democrats and not left-wing bloggers-whether they favor a "timetable" or "plan" for withdrawing from Iraq. Fifty-three percent said yes to CNN, and 57% said yes to USA Today. Both polls were taken shortly after the killing of Al Qaeda terror chief Abu Musab al Zarqawi, the latest advertised "turning point" in the war.

Those jaundiced views of the war have not changed over the past two months. ABC News and The Washington Post jointly conducted a poll last week that asked whether Americans approve or disapprove of the Bush administration's handling of "the situation in Iraq." Thirty-six percent approved, while 62% did not.

That same ABC/Washington Post poll found 59% felt the war had not been worth the cost, 64% felt the Bush administration had no clear plan for victory, and 53% felt the number of U.S. troops in Iraq should be decreased. By a plurality of 38%, respondents said that a congressional candidate who supported the Bush policy would be "less likely" to get their vote. Most remarkably, although 66% said that Democrats had no clear position on the war, a slight plurality of 43% said they trusted Democrats more than Republicans to do "a better job" in Iraq.

A CBS News poll came up with much the same result in late July. So did a Gallup poll taken around the same time. And similarly negative results have appeared in polls taken for Fox News, the Associated Press and the Harris Organization, among others. If more than half of the public supports withdrawal from Iraq, and nearly two-thirds disapproves of the president and his policy, isn't that the "mainstream" position?

To be "strong on national security" does not mean supporting the misconceived and incompetently executed policies of the Bush administration. American security in years to come will depend on undoing this government's grave mistakes, which have weakened this country's military posture and undermined support for us around the world. Terrorism experts across the spectrum, from conservative Republican to liberal Democrat, agree that the "struggle against violent extremism" has suffered from the foolish decision to invade and occupy Iraq.

Evidently, the neoconservatives hope to escape responsibility for their debacle by complaining that the rest of us lack sufficient zeal. So they now pretend that Democrats and progressives, who overwhelmingly supported the war against Al Qaeda and the Taliban and still do, want to abandon that effort. This is another partisan lie invented by the likes of William Kristol, who will answer to history for his role in promoting the Iraq war.

There have been times in recent years when war was unavoidable, in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Kosovo. For the neoconservatives, however, the answer to every international conflict is shock and awe, so long as they remain safely distant from the carnage. The American people are turning away from that mindless and dangerous attitude, which is leading us toward disaster. Politicians of both parties should do likewise.

NY Times Held Wiretap Story before election

Public editor reveals New York Times editor decided to hold wiretap story on eve of 2004 presidential election

08/12/2006 @ 5:28 pm

Filed by RAW STORY

"A clearer timeline emerges for the paper's scoop on wiretapping," New York Times public editor Byron Calame will be revealing in a column slated for Sunday's edition, RAW STORY has found.

Executive editor Bill Keller tells the paper's ombudmsman that "internal discussions" about publishing a story on domestic wiretapping by the National Security Agency ended up "dragging on for weeks" before the November 2nd, 2004 election.

"The climactic discussion about whether to publish was right on the eve of the election," Keller tells Calame.

In January, Calame complained that he had encountered "unusual difficulty" in trying to determine when exactly the paper learned of the surveillance that hadn't been properly approved by Congress.

"The New York Times's explanation of its decision to report, after what it said was a one-year delay, that the National Security Agency is eavesdropping domestically without court-approved warrants was woefully inadequate," wrote Calame. "And I have had unusual difficulty getting a better explanation for readers, despite the paper's repeated pledges of greater transparency."

"For the first time since I became public editor, the executive editor and the publisher have declined to respond to my requests for information about news-related decision-making," Calame continued in January.

"If Times editors hoped the brief mention of the one-year delay and the omitted sensitive information would assure readers that great caution had been exercised in publishing the article, I think they miscalculated," Calame wrote.

Keller wouldn't answer specific questions posed by Calame in January but calling it "old business" agreed to speak about the delay on the record with his public editor just recently.

According to Keller, after holding multiple "pre-election discussions" with managing editor Jill Abramson, Washington bureau chief Philip Taubman, editor Rebecca Corbett, and often reporter James Risen, he alone made the final decision to "hold" the article.

Calame writes that Keller's explanation for why he didn't okay the article to be published until December of 2005 "cast some new light on the pre-election situation for me."

"We now had some new people who could in no way be characterized as disgruntled bureaucrats or war-on-terror doves saying we should publish," Keller explained. "That was a big deal."

"So why did the Dec. 16 article say The Times had 'delayed publication for a year,' specifically ruling out the possibility that the story had been held prior to the Nov. 2 election?" Calame asks Keller.

"It was probably inelegant wording," Keller responded. "I don’t know what was in my head at the time."

"Given the importance of this otherwise outstanding article on warrantless eavesdropping — and now the confirmation of pre-election decisions to delay publication — The Times owes it to readers to set the official record straight," Calame concludes.

Who Opposed The Viet Nam War?

Great article here looks at the polling numbers from the early 70's regarding the Viet Nam war.

Guess what, the entire myth of the "over-educated, spoiled, hippie doves" vs. "blue collar hawks" is completely ass-backwards!

Polls from the early 70's show that the more formal education you had, the more you supported the war. The author compares these numbers with current numbers regarding the Iraq war. The conclusion:

Internationalism is the elitist position, while people become more isolationist the less money and education they have. Shockingly enough, whenever Bush inveigles against "isolationism" he doesn't mention that.

Bush Administration Cut Funding For Explosives Detection

Bush Administration Cut Funding For Explosives Detection

Sat Aug 12, 2006

This story from the AP's John Solomon has been rightly making the rounds, and deserves a highlight here too:

WASHINGTON -- While the British terror suspects were hatching their plot, the Bush administration was quietly seeking permission to divert $6 million that was supposed to be spent this year developing new homeland explosives detection technology. [...]

Lawmakers and recently retired Homeland Security officials say they are concerned the department's research and development effort is bogged down by bureaucracy, lack of strategic planning and failure to use money wisely.

The department failed to spend $200 million in research and development money from past years, forcing lawmakers to rescind the money this summer.

The administration also was slow to start testing a new liquid explosives detector that the Japanese government provided to the United States earlier this year.

Even the congress was baffled by the requests to divert money away from explosives detection, which was rejected by lawmakers. Solomon's report also points out delays in deploying cheap, effective trace explosive detectors to key foreign airports.

Inexplicably, the Bush administration has been continues to actively fight against some of the most effective measures around for preempting potential terrorism -- more effective security, explosives detection R&D and deployment. As the report said, nearly a quarter of a billion dollars of funding went unused, and even then the administration was still making cuts.

One of the most dangerous qualities of this administration is incompetence in the fight against terrorism. They have been so focused on expanding presidential powers, selling Iraq, re-selling Iraq, demonizing opponents of Iraq, and trying to use other regional chaos as excuses for broadening the failures of Iraq that they seemingly have no actual time in their day to fight the real battle -- real, bona fide terrorism of the sort that the world can expect to face.

But just think about this for a minute, if your head can stand it. The Bush administration and Republican congress has been dishing out homeland security funds as basically a pork racket, with little actual relationship to real-world targets or needs. At the same time, a mere six million dollar program to detect the kinds of explosives planned for use in the alleged U.K. terrorism plot, as well as past known terrorist plots, was cut by the Bush administration.

The cost of the Iraq War is currently over three hundred billion dollars. The cost of ongoing Bush administration and Republican tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans is in the hundreds of billions. The cost of researching tools to better detect explosives known to be used by terrorists in the cut program was six million dollars.

Six million dollars for explosives detection is roughly two thousandths of one percent of the current cost of the Iraq War. The Bush administration wanted to cut it.

And then they have the audacity to paint their political opponents as "weak on terror".

I've got an idea: maybe President Bush can hold a $750,000 Crawford dinner and fundraiser to help finance homeland security efforts that the administration wants to otherwise cut. Six million dollars is a drop in the bucket for a typical Republican campaign season: maybe some of the wealthy donors that have profited so handsomely from the GOP obsession with tax cuts could kick a little of that newfound money back our way to help fund proper security at our airports.

A Picture is Worth a 1000 Words

Has one-party Republican government made us safer?

Here's a graph of terrorist incidents by year according to the US. government. The low point is the last year of Bill Clinton's administration.

Increasingly, Bush Escapes the Media Pack

Increasingly, Bush Escapes the Media Pack
Press Cuts Converge With Closed Events

By Peter Baker
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, August 12, 2006; A01

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- On one of the scariest days yet in the five-year battle with terrorists, President Bush prepared to make a speech to reassure the American people. But the White House press corps was 1,000 miles away in Texas.

Bush had left his ranch vacation and jetted north for a scheduled closed-door fundraiser. No press plane accompanied him. And so when news broke that Britain had broken up a major terrorist plot, the only ones there to convey the president's reaction were a handful of local reporters and a few pool journalists who ride in the back of Air Force One.

The idea that Bush could travel across the country without a full contingent of reporters, especially in the middle of a war, highlights a major cultural shift in the presidency and the news media. In the four decades since the assassination of John F. Kennedy, presidents traditionally have taken journalists with them wherever they traveled on the theory that when it comes to the most powerful leader on the planet, anything can happen at any time.

But increasingly in recent months, Bush has left town without a chartered press plane, often to receptions where he talks to donors chipping in hundreds of thousands of dollars with no cameras or tapes to record his words for the public. Barred from such events, most news organizations will not pay to travel with him. And so a White House policy inclined to secrecy has combined with escalating costs for the strapped news media to let Bush fly under the radar in a way his predecessors could not.

"A lot of it is a reflection of the times," said C-SPAN's Steve Scully, president of the White House Correspondents' Association. "The whole thing is changing."

For veterans of past administrations, the changes are striking. "When the president moved it was a big deal, and I can't even remember an occasion when we didn't take a charter," said Ed Rollins, who was Ronald Reagan's White House political director.

"Go back 20 or 25 years and say we're at war and the president is traveling around the country and there are only, what, three people with him?" asked Joe Lockhart, who was Bill Clinton's White House press secretary. "That would have been unthinkable."

In some ways, it may not seem to make much difference. Like presidents before him, Bush still always travels with a small media pool that includes wire services, television cameras and a single newspaper reporter who files a report to others left behind. The advent of instant video feeds, cable television, the Internet, e-mail and transcripts of the president's every public word has made it possible to cover Bush without being anywhere near him.

Yet fewer eyeballs on a president means less scrutiny, in the view of some media and government watchdog groups. Fewer reporters, they say, means fewer questions and fewer versions of what happens available to the public. News accounts written from a different time zone invariably miss context and texture. And in closing the doors of some fundraisers, the White House has reversed a policy adopted under Clinton after fundraising scandals raised questions about what donors are seeking when they hobnob with presidents.

Patrice McDermott, director of, a coalition formed three years ago that includes groups such as the American Library Association, Common Cause, the League of Women Voters and the Society of Professional Journalists, called the changing pattern of coverage "quite disturbing" and part of a "rising tide of secrecy" in Washington.

"It's another way of closing off responsibility and accountability and shutting themselves off from public view," she said. "I think the public would prefer that somebody be in the room who is not there for their own interests to be served."

White House spokesman Tony Snow said there is nothing insidious about closing fundraisers in private homes and noted that news organizations choose whether to pay for a plane follow the president. "It's really all about money," he said. "It used to be that media organizations had more dough."

Given the changes in communication technology, he added, "I think presidents are more widely available than at any point in American history." And he said he makes a point of finding ways for at least some reporters to see Bush when there are major developments. "If there is big news, we make sure the president's available," Snow said.

The cost of covering the president has risen dramatically at a time when the news media, anxious about economic pressures, are aggressively cutting costs. For a one-day trip to St. Louis, for instance, the White House billed The Washington Post $3,317. To go to Yuma, Ariz., for a day, the bill came to $3,795. A two-day trip to Europe cost $8,283, not counting hotel charges.

And so even for trips where there is a press plane, sometimes only a handful of journalists are on board. Newspapers that used to travel regularly, including USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune and others, now do so more sporadically. The Boston Globe no longer even has a White House correspondent, focusing on breaking exclusive stories rather than writing about the president's everyday activities.

"It's not like we're ignoring it completely," said Joe Williams, the Globe's deputy Washington bureau chief. "But the lineup we're using right now gives us flexibility to attack a broader range of stories than we would if we had a designated White House correspondent."

Bush is not the only one to find ways of escaping much public notice as he flies around the country. Vice President Cheney manages to leave Washington for days, and sometimes weeks, at a time without public announcement. Few in the capital even knew he was in Texas in February, for instance, until he accidentally shot a companion while hunting quail. And he has been in Jackson, Wyo., since July 29 without any national news media mentioning it.

The Jackson Hole News & Guide found out Cheney was there only because it spotted his plane and the radar dish that serves an anti-missile battery that protects his house when he's in town. "In the past, they've been kind of weird about it," said Thomas Dewell, the paper's co-editor. "They'd say, 'His airplane's here and the missile base is here, but we can't tell you if he's here.' " This time, he said, Cheney's office confirmed his presence when asked.

Cheney aides said they announce his movements only when he makes public appearances but will provide his whereabouts if reporters call to ask. The vice president, who has already headlined 81 fundraisers in this election cycle, plans to return to Washington on Sunday before heading out to events in Arizona, New Mexico, Montana and Idaho next week, his office said.

Clinton agreed to stop holding closed fundraisers in response to criticism of his campaign finance tactics. When a fundraiser was held in a private home, the White House permitted a single print reporter into the room to record the scene and the president's words for the rest of the pack. The Bush White House changed that, leaving fundraisers open if located in hotels or public spaces but closing them in private homes. "The thought was having the presence of reporters would disrupt the intimacy of the events," said Ari Fleischer, who was then White House press secretary.

Lanny J. Davis, who was White House special counsel during the Clinton fundraising scandals, expressed surprise that the change has not generated more criticism. "I marvel at their ability to get away with it," he said. "I have to grudgingly admit to some envy. I admire their chutzpah."

Bush has traveled out of the Washington area at least seven times this year without a press plane, including four times in the past month to closed Republican fundraisers -- in Milwaukee, in Cleveland, in Charleston, W.Va., and on Thursday here to Green Bay to raise $500,000 for House candidate John Gard. He also headlined a fundraiser in Texas yesterday that was closed to the media. That may serve the interests of candidates who want the money Bush can raise but don't want a public embrace with a president suffering low approval ratings.

Scully said he may raise the issue of closed fundraisers with Snow. "As we move into the fall campaign, if this happens more often, we're going to put pressure on Tony and others to open these events," Scully said. "He is the president. He is traveling at government expense. . . . We should be in there to hear what he has to say."

In the past, major media organizations felt it was important to be near the president even if they were kept out of the room, a "body watch" mentality sparked by the Kennedy assassination and reinforced over the years by any number of unexpected crises, including the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

"There's going to be a time when something's going to happen and the major national media's not going to be there," Lockhart said. "They're going to have to rely on technology. Will this have a major impact on our democracy? Smarter people than me will have to answer that."
© 2006 The Washington Post Company

Matt Taibbi - The Mansion Family

[Note: I missed this when it came out BEFORE the Lamont victory in CT]

THE LOW POST: The Mansion Family

In the first installment of his weekly Web-only column, Matt Taibbi writes that yuppie paranoia (and David Brooks) guarantees the Democrats are still -- and forever -- doomed.


"The conservative mansion has many rooms. In one chamber there are the resurgent Burkeans . . . In another chamber are the staunch Churchillians . . . But I wonder if amid all the din there might be a room, even just a utility closet, for those of us in yet another rightward sect, the neocon incrementalists." -- David Brooks, "Onward Cautious Soldiers," The New York Times, July 23, 2006

So David Brooks wants to go into the closet with his fellow neocon incrementalists. And I thought The New York Times was a family newspaper!

There are many people out there who are baffled by the career of David Brooks, but I am not one of them. Any man willing to admit in print that he can get a boner surveying the "awesome resumes" of marrying Ivy Leaguers on the New York Times wedding page ("you can almost feel the force of mingling SAT scores," he coos in his book Bobos In Paradise) is always going to occupy an important spot in the American media landscape; the ruling class always needs its house bumlickers. And Brooks does the job well, although at times I think he's so craven that he does his masters a disservice. I mean, seriously -- a mansion of conservatism? Why not go all the way: The yacht of Republicanism has a great many berths . . .

Brooks is the perfect priest of American conservatism, and by conservatism I don't mean the bloodthirsty, gun-toting, go-back-to-Africa, welfare-bashing right-winger conservatism of the NRA and Sean Hannity and the Bible Belt. I mean the dickless, power-worshipping, good-consumer pragmatic conservatism of Times readers and those other Bobos in Paradise who have exquisitely developed taste in furniture, coffee and television programming but would rather leave the uglier questions of politics to more decisive people, so long as they aren't dangerous radicals like Michael Moore or Markos Zuniga.

That's why the marriage of David Brooks and the Democratic Leadership Council makes perfect sense. It's repugnant and the kind of thing one should shield young children from knowing about, but it makes perfect sense. Both prefer a policy of being "cautious soldiers," "incrementalists" who shun upheavals and vote the status quo, although they subscribe to this policy for different reasons. Brooks worships the status quo because he has no penis and wants to spend the rest of his life buying periwinkle bath towels without troubling interruptions of conscience. The DLC, a nonprofit created in the mid-1980s to help big business have a say in the Democratic Party platform, supports the status quo because they are paid agents of the commercial interests that define it.

Moreover, Brooks and the DLC have this in common: While they both frown on the open flag-waving and ostentatious religiosity of the talk-radio right-wing as being gauche and in bad form, they're only truly offended by people of their own background who happen to be idealistic.

Hence the recurring backlash by both against the various angry electoral challenges to the establishment of the Democratic Party -- including, most recently, the campaign of Ned Lamont, challenger to Joe Lieberman's Senate Seat in Connecticut.

Brooks's column of a few weeks ago on the subject of Lieberman/Lamont, titled "The Liberal Inquisition," was a masterpiece of yuppie paranoia. In an editorial line that would be repeated by other writers all across the country, Brooks blasted the "netroots" supporters of Lamont for being leftist extremists driven by "moral manias" and "mob psychology" to liquidate the "scarred old warhorse" Lieberman, whom he calls "transparently the most kind-hearted and well-intentioned of men." This is the archetypal suburban-conservative nightmare -- anonymous hordes of leftist boat-rockers viciously assaulting the champion of the decent people, who is just a really nice guy given to tending his lawn and minding his own business.

Being "nice" is a central part of the Brooks yuppie's guilt-proofing self-image rationale; so long as you're the kind of guy who lets people merge on highways, stands politely in line at Starbucks, doesn't put garish Christmas decorations on his lawn and pays his taxes, you're not really doing anything wrong. It gets a little tiring after a while, hearing people who vote for wars tell you how nice they are.

But the most objectionable thing about the Brooks column was its crude parroting of a suspiciously similar DLC editorial published about a month before (See Road Rage, from the August 10th, 2006, issue of Rolling Stone) entitled "The Return of Liberal Fundamentalism." Both columns described Lamont's Internet supporters as "fundamentalist" liberals bent on a "purge" of poor nice old Joe Lieberman, who represents heterodoxy, centrism and bipartisanship. Brooks used the word "purge" twice; the author of the DLC column, Ed Kilgore, used it eight times.

Let's be clear about what we're dealing with here. These people are professional communicators. They don't repeatedly use words like "purge" and "fundamentalist" -- terms obviously associated with communism and Islamic terrorism -- by accident. They know exactly what they're doing. It's an authoritarian tactic and it should piss you off. It pissed me off. When I called the DLC about the editorial, Kilgore was not available, but they put Will Marshall on the line.

Marshall is the president of the DLC's Progressive Policy Institute and owns the distinction of being the first public figure to use the term "body count" in a positive sense with regard to the Iraq war ("Coalition forces still face daily attacks but the body count tilts massively in their favor"). He wasted no time in giving me the party line: "What we're seeing is an ideological purge," he said cheerily. "It's national effort by the left to get rid of somebody they've decided to demonize . . . we have concerns about narrow dogmatism. . ."

We went back and forth for a while. I noted that his conception of "narrow dogmatists" included the readers of Daily Kos, a website with something like 440,000 visitors a day; I also noted that recent Gallup polls showed that fully 91 percent of Democrats supported a withdrawal of some kind from Iraq.

"So these hundreds of thousands of Democrats who are against the war are narrow dogmatists," I said, "and. . . how many people are there in your office? Ten? Twenty? Thirty?"

"Well, it'd probably be in the thirty zone," sighed Marshall.

I asked Marshall if there was a publicly available list of donors to the DLC.

"Uh, I don't know," he said. "I'd have to refer you to the press office for that. They can help you there . . ." (Note: a DLC spokeswoman would later tell me the DLC has a policy of "no public disclosure," although she did say the group is funded in half by corporate donations, in half by individuals).

"So let me get this straight," I said. "We have thirty corporate-funded spokesmen telling hundreds of thousands of actual voters that they're narrow dogmatists?"

He paused and sighed, clearly exasperated. "Look," he said. "Everybody in politics draws money from the same basic sources. It's the same pool of companies and wealthy individuals . . ."

"Okay," I said. "So basically in this dispute over Lieberman, we have people on one side, and companies on the other? Would it be correct to say that?" I asked.

"Well, I guess if you live in a cartoon world you could say that," he said.

The DLC are the lowest kind of scum; we're talking about people who are paid by the likes of Eli Lilly and Union Carbide to go on television and call suburban moms and college kids who happen to be against the war commies and jihadists. On the ignominious-sellout scale, that's lower than doing PR for a utility that turns your grandmother's heat off at Christmas. And that's pretty bad -- but with enough money and enough of the right kind of publicity their side still might win in the Lamont/Lieberman primary on August 8th.

Which tells you just about everything you need to know about the modern Democratic Party. Why is anyone surprised that the Republicans never lose?

Think the Democrats are doomed? Tell us why. Plus: Check out Taibbi's latest Road Rage column, "Lieberman: Bush's Favorite Democrat."

War Crimes Act Changes Would Reduce Threat Of Prosecution

War Crimes Act Changes Would Reduce Threat Of Prosecution

By R. Jeffrey Smith
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 9, 2006; A01

The Bush administration has drafted amendments to a war crimes law that would eliminate the risk of prosecution for political appointees, CIA officers and former military personnel for humiliating or degrading war prisoners, according to U.S. officials and a copy of the amendments.

Officials say the amendments would alter a U.S. law passed in the mid-1990s that criminalized violations of the Geneva Conventions, a set of international treaties governing military conduct in wartime. The conventions generally bar the cruel, humiliating and degrading treatment of wartime prisoners without spelling out what all those terms mean.

The draft U.S. amendments to the War Crimes Act would narrow the scope of potential criminal prosecutions to 10 specific categories of illegal acts against detainees during a war, including torture, murder, rape and hostage-taking.

Left off the list would be what the Geneva Conventions refer to as "outrages upon [the] personal dignity" of a prisoner and deliberately humiliating acts -- such as the forced nakedness, use of dog leashes and wearing of women's underwear seen at the U.S.-run Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq -- that fall short of torture.

"People have gotten worried, thinking that it's quite likely they might be under a microscope," said a U.S. official. Foreigners are using accusations of unlawful U.S. behavior as a way to rein in American power, the official said, and the amendments are partly meant to fend this off.

The plan has provoked concern at the International Committee of the Red Cross, the entity responsible for safeguarding the Geneva Conventions. A U.S official confirmed that the group's lawyers visited the Pentagon and the State Department last week to discuss the issue but left without any expectation that their objections would be heeded.

The administration has not officially released the draft amendments. Although they are part of broader legislation on military courts still being discussed within the government, their substance has already been embraced by key officials and will not change, two government sources said.

No criminal prosecutions have been brought under the War Crimes Act, which Congress passed in 1996 and expanded in 1997. But 10 experts on the laws of war, who reviewed a draft of the amendments at the request of The Washington Post, said the changes could affect how those involved in detainee matters act and how other nations view Washington's respect for its treaty obligations.

"This removal of [any] reference to humiliating and degrading treatment will be perceived by experts and probably allies as 'rewriting' " the Geneva Conventions, said retired Army Lt. Col. Geoffrey S. Corn, who was recently chief of the war law branch of the Army's Office of the Judge Advocate General. Others said the changes could affect how foreigners treat U.S. soldiers.

The amendments would narrow the reach of the War Crimes Act, which now states in general terms that Americans can be prosecuted in federal criminal courts for violations of "Common Article 3" of the Geneva Conventions, which the United States ratified in 1949.

U.S. officials have long interpreted the War Crimes Act as applying to civilians, including CIA officers, and former U.S. military personnel. Misconduct by serving military personnel is handled by military courts, which enforce a prohibition on cruelty and mistreatment. The Army Field Manual, which is being revised, separately bars cruel and degrading treatment, corporal punishment, assault, and sensory deprivation.

Common Article 3 is considered the universal minimum standard of treatment for civilian detainees in wartime. It requires that they be treated humanely and bars "violence to life and person," including murder, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture. It further prohibits "outrages upon personal dignity" such as "humiliating and degrading treatment." And it prohibits sentencing or execution by courts that fail to provide "all the judicial guarantees . . . recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples."

The risk of possible prosecution of officials, CIA officers and former service personnel over alleged rough treatment of prisoners arises because the Bush administration, from January 2002 until June, maintained that the Geneva Conventions' protections did not apply to prisoners captured in Afghanistan.

As a result, the government authorized interrogations using methods that U.S. military lawyers have testified were in violation of Common Article 3; it also created a system of military courts not specifically authorized by Congress, which denied defendants many routine due process rights.

The Supreme Court decided in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld on June 29, however, that the administration's policy of not honoring the Geneva Conventions was illegal, and that prisoners in the fight against al-Qaeda are entitled to such protections.

U.S. officials have since responded in three ways: They have asked Congress to pass legislation blocking the prisoners' right to sue for the enforcement of those protections. They have drafted legislation allowing the consideration of intelligence-gathering needs during interrogations, in place of an absolute human rights standard.

They also formulated the War Crimes Act amendments spelling out some serious crimes and omitting altogether some that U.S. officials describe as less serious. For example, two acts considered under international law as constituting "outrages" -- rape and sexual abuse -- are listed as prosecutable.

But humiliations, degrading treatment and other acts specifically deemed as "outrages" by the international tribunal prosecuting war crimes in the former Yugoslavia -- such as placing prisoners in "inappropriate conditions of confinement," forcing them to urinate or defecate in their clothes, and merely threatening prisoners with "physical, mental, or sexual violence" -- would not be among the listed U.S. crimes, officials said.

"It's plain that this proposal would abrogate portions of Common Article 3," said Derek P. Jinks, a University of Texas assistant professor of law and author of a forthcoming book on the Geneva Conventions. The "entire family of techniques" that military interrogators used to deliberately degrade and humiliate, and thus coerce, detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and at Abu Ghraib "is not addressed in any way, shape or form" in the new language authorizing prosecutions, he said.

At a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing last Wednesday, however, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales complained repeatedly about the ambiguity and broad reach of the phrase "outrages upon personal dignity." He said that, "if left undefined, this provision will create an unacceptable degree of uncertainty for those who fight to defend us from terrorist attack."

Lawmakers from both parties expressed skepticism at the hearing. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said the military's top uniformed lawyers had told him they are training to comply with Common Article 3 and that complying would not impede operations.

If the underlying treaty provision is too vague, asked Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), then how could the Defense Department instruct its personnel in a July 7 memorandum to certify their compliance with it? Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England, who had signed the memo, responded at the hearing that he was concerned that "degrading" and "humiliating" are relative terms.

"I mean, what is degrading in one society may not be degrading in another, or may be degrading in one religion, not in another religion," England said. "And since it does have an international interpretation, which is generally, frankly, different than our own, it becomes very, very relevant" to define the meaning in new legislation.

This viewpoint appears to have won over the top uniformed military lawyers, who have criticized other aspects of the administration's detainee policy but said that they support the thrust of these amendments. Maj. Gen. Scott C. Black, the Army's judge advocate general, said in testimony that the changes can "elevate" the War Crimes Act "from an aspiration to an instrument" by defining offenses that can be prosecuted instead of endorsing "the ideals of the laws of war."

Lawyer David Rivkin, formerly on the staff of the Justice Department and the White House counsel's office, said "it's not a question of being stingy but coming up with a well-defined statutory scheme that would withstand constitutional challenges and would lead to successful prosecutions." Former Justice Department lawyer John C. Yoo similarly said that U.S. soldiers and agents should "not be beholden to the definition of vague words by international or foreign courts, who often pursue nakedly political agendas at odds with the United States."

But Corn, the Army's former legal expert, said that Common Article 3 was, according to its written history, "left deliberately vague because efforts to define it would invariably lead to wrongdoers identifying 'exceptions,' and because the meaning was plain -- treat people like humans and not animals or objects." Eugene R. Fidell, president of the nonprofit National Institute of Military Justice, said that laws governing military conduct are filled with broadly described prohibitions that are nonetheless enforceable, including "dereliction of duty," "maltreatment" and "conduct unbecoming an officer."

Retired Rear Adm. John D. Hutson, the Navy's top uniformed lawyer from 1997 to 2000 and now dean of the Franklin Pierce Law Center, said his view is "don't trust the motives of any lawyer who changes a statutory provision that is short, clear, and to the point and replaces it with something that is much longer, more complicated, and includes exceptions within exceptions."

© 2006 The Washington Post Company

Poputonian - How Things Work

How Things Work
(Alternate title: Me and My Oil)

by poputonian

I'm not as smart as President Slaughterbush and the neocons, but I wonder what came first in their collective minds: the realization that America was dependent on oil, and therefore the US had better come up with a plan to convert it to its own control, or that by virtue of its value, oil would eventually put too much cash into the hands of a 'hostile' culture, and therefore the 'hostile' culture should be force-assimilated into America's 'things-that-glow' way of life? It's one of those chicken and egg conundrums.

So consider what the stakes are if America is unable to gain control of the oil and the economy slips into a deep recession. First, everyone would have to give up their picture cell phones and go back to the old kind without pictures. Then, we'd have to return to a normal diet by giving up two-thirds of our 6,000 calories per day. Americans would lose weight making them healthier, which would cause a drop in physician incomes, which would then cause the luxury car market to collapse. Since it's a trickle-down economy, the average suburban home would go from 4,000 square feet to less than half that.

Without money to buy liquor, alcohol consumption would drop leading corporations to withdraw their television ads from ballgames, and since ad revenue drives the sports industry, the salaries of our athlete-gods would drop precipitously to under a million a year. When the athlete-gods raped women, they would have to hire ordinary lawyers, who would be less likely to get them off scot-free, so the whole sports industry would collapse. As corporate income fell overall, business control of government would slip and the politicians' fee-income derived from business relationships would dry up.

God, it would be hell.

All these things make up our way of life, so it really doesn't matter who the oil belongs to. It's ours. Really. If your conscience bothers you, try the Republican mantra: It's all about me. It's all about me. It's all about me. It's all about ...

I mentioned that President Slaughterbush was a smart guy. As proof, take note that he has moved way up the intellectual food chain from My Pet Goat. Watertiger has the details.

Thomas Frank - The Spoils of Victimhood

Friday, August 11, 2006
The Spoils of Victimhood


“President Bush operates in Washington like the head of a small occupying army of insurgents,” the pundit Fred Barnes writes in his recent book, “Rebel-in-Chief.” “He’s an alien in the realm of the governing class, given a green card by voters.”

Let’s see: These insurgents today control all three branches of government; they are underwritten by the biggest of businesses; they are backed by a robust social movement with chapters across the radio dial. The insurgency spreads before its talented young recruits all the appurtenances of power — a view from the upper stories of the Heritage Foundation, a few years at a conquered government agency where expertise is not an issue, then a quick transition to K Street, to a chateau in Rehoboth and a suite at the Ritz. For the truly rebellious, princely tribute waits to be extracted from a long queue of defense contractors, sweatshop owners and Indian casinos eager to remain in the good graces of the party of values.

What a splendid little enterprise American conservatism has turned out to be.

How does this work? How does the right keep its adherents in a lather against government bureaucrats and Washington know-it-alls when conservatives are the only bureaucrats and know-it-alls who matter anymore?

Part of the answer is that, after their crushing defeat in the 1930’s, conservatives rebuilt their movement by adopting a purely negative stance against liberalism. They were so completely excluded from power, they believed, that in 1955 William F. Buckley Jr. famously depicted them “Standing athwart history, yelling Stop.” Writing in the middle of the Reagan years, the journalist Sidney Blumenthal gaped at the persistence of this “adversarial” mind-set long after the liberals had been routed. “Even when conservatives are in power they refuse to adopt the psychology of an establishment,” he marveled.

Here we are, 20 years later, and to hear conservatives tell it, every election is still a referendum on the monster liberalism, which continues to loom like a colossus over the land. Even Tom DeLay — the erstwhile “hammer” — becomes a martyr when addressing the faithful. “The national media has taken my own re-election as their own personal jihad,” he moaned in a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference in February. “So we’re fighting the fight of ages.”

That conservatives continue, as Rick Perlstein writes, to “soak in [their] marginalization” four decades after the election of the last liberal president puts this victimology beyond implausible. It is more on the order of a foundational myth, like the divine right of kings, a fiction that everyone involved must accept as fact.

A century ago, it was conservative stalwarts, not liberal reformers, who were the natural party of government. And they were forthright about what they stood for as well as what they were against: They were for rule by a better class of people, for a Hamiltonian state in which business was unified with government. And conservatism is still for those things, tacitly at least. Just look at the résumés of the folks the president has appointed to the Departments of Labor, Agriculture and the Interior. Or scan one of the graphs that economists use to chart the distribution of wealth over the last hundred years. The more egalitarian society we grew up in is gone, snuffed out by the party of tradition in favor of an even rosier past that lies on the far side of the 1930’s.

These ought to be easy things to deplore. They ought to arouse precisely the kind of simmering fury that millions of Americans feel toward lewd halftime shows and checkout clerks who don’t say “Merry Christmas.” But we have difficulty holding conservatives accountable for them, so potent is their brand image as angry outsiders. What conservatives do, as everyone knows, is protest government, protest modernity; to hold them responsible for government or for modernity is to bring on cognitive dissonance.

Or, rather, it might bring on cognitive dissonance. We don’t know because puncturing conservatism’s marginalization fantasy hasn’t really been tried. If liberals are ever to recover, this will have to change. Against the tired myth of the “liberal elite” they must offer a competing and convincing theory of how Washington works, and for whom.

Thomas Frank is the author, most recently, of “What’s the Matter with Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Digby - With Us Or Agin Us

With Us Or Agin Us

by digby

I guess the wingnuts are finally doing what they have been wanting to do since 9/11: demonize all muslims, especially Americans, who disagree in any way with Bush. (Welcome to our world!) Yglesias points out that this is a very stupid thing to do since you can't deal with Islamic fundamentalism without the help of Islamic moderates.

This other thing where "Muslim moderate" means something like "agrees with the National Review's take on American national security policy" is just to generate a world where you could fit all the world's Muslim moderates into Fuad Ajami's living room and have a nice party. There's no reason to look at the world like that, but doing it seriously does risk transforming a manageable terror problem into an overwhelming one.

That's precisely the point. It appears that warporn works the same way regular porn often does; the more someone watches it the wilder the stimulation they need. The right's bloodlust can't be sated with fevered thoughts about al Waeda and Iraq anymore. (And those wars haven't really given them much of a release.) They need "the big one."

ABC News: Democrats Assail GOP Fundraising Effort

Democrats Assail GOP Fundraising Effort
Democrats Cry Foul Over New Republican Fundraising Effort Mentioning War on Terrorism
The Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Democrats assailed the Republicans Friday for e-mailing a fundraising appeal mentioning the war on terror hours after British authorities disclosed they had disrupted a plot to blow up aircraft headed to the United States.

"In the middle of a war on terror, we need to remain focused on furthering Republican ideas more than ever before," former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani said in a letter that asked for donations to the Republican National Committee.

The RNC blamed a low-level staffer for distributing the fundraising appeal, which the party said had been scheduled for release before news of the plot broke.

"Once the RNC learned of this error we ceased distribution of the e-mail," said Tracey Schmitt, a party spokeswoman.

Democrats didn't accept the explanation.

"The defeat of the London plot is a warning that we should redouble our efforts to defeat terrorism. It shouldn't be used as a political defibrillator by Republicans on electoral life support," said Phil Singer, a spokesman for the Senate Democrats' campaign committee.

The day the Britain plot was foiled, Republicans and Democrats accused the other of doing too little to deter the threat of attack.

"We must implement the strong recommendations of the independent 9/11 commission to improve airport security screening at checkpoints," said House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, stressing one of the party's principal campaign-year promises in its drive to gain control of Congress.

Ohio Republicans said the Democratic candidate for the Senate, Rep. Sherrod Brown, had voted against money "for the very types of programs that helped the British thwart these vicious attacks."

"I don't question his patriotism, but the fact is if Sherrod Brown had his way, America would be less safe," said Bob Bennett, chairman of the Ohio Republican Party.

Brown, who is challenging Republican Sen. Mike DeWine, mentioned the billions spent on the Iraq war and said the thwarted attacks "underscore the need to refocus our resources on fighting the war on terror."

The charges served as a reminder that with midterm elections less than three months away, not even an alleged attack to blow up passenger planes was off-limits to politics.

Throughout the day, the accusations grew more heated with Republicans and Democrats criticizing each other for using the day's events for political gain.

To be sure, both sides are seeking political advantage on national security. Voters will choose a new Congress Nov. 7, and polls show the public favoring Democratic control of Congress over Republicans who have been in power for a dozen years.

Additionally, recent polls have found that the Republican edge on terrorism and protecting the country has eroded over the past few months.

An Associated Press-Ipsos poll conducted this week but before news of the foiled terror plot found that 40 percent approved of President Bush's performance on foreign policy and terrorism, down slightly from 44 percent in July. The percentage was still higher than the number of Americans who approve of his handling of Iraq, the economy and domestic issues.

The disclosure Thursday that British officials disrupted terrorists' plans to blow up aircraft heading to the U.S. gave both Republicans and Democrats an opportunity to emphasize their positions on national security and highlight the differences facing voters.

"Freedom is never free, and we must never be complacent in defending it," House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., said. Echoing the GOP's election-year message, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., added: "We must be on alert so that our nation does not suffer another attack like 9/11."

"As a result of mismanagement and the wrong funding priorities, we are not as safe as we should be," Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada countered. Sen. John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, added: "This is a stark reminder that the war on terrorism is global, and extends far beyond Iraq to our very shores."

Not all Democrats echoed their leaders' refrain.

Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, who intends to run as an independent after losing his Democratic primary to anti-war challenger Ned Lamont, said the foiled plot "should serve as the latest, most serious evidence that we are in a war against a brutal enemy that intends to attack us over and over again in the most indiscriminate way."

Lamont said the Bush administration has been preoccupied with Iraq while national security and efforts to curb terrorism have suffered. "We need to change course, and that means standing up to this administration and fighting for our security in a rational, serious way," he said.

In 2002 and 2004, the GOP sought to make the case that there hasn't been an attack on U.S. soil since 2001 because the Bush administration and Republicans have been diligent on national security. The GOP portrayed Democrats as weak on the issue and suggested that Democratic rule could endanger the country.

In a sign that the issues will reverberate beyond this fall, potential 2008 presidential candidates weighed in on the scheme.

Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's office said he will activate the National Guard to help with security at Logan International Airport for the first time since the 2001 attacks. And, New York Gov. George Pataki, also a Republican, said the disrupted terror operation "underscores the need for continued vigilance, intelligence gathering and cooperation among law enforcement agencies and the public."

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Copyright © 2006 ABC News Internet Ventures

Mark Schmitt - Who is "Serious" about Terrorism?

Who is "Serious" about Terrorism?
By Mark Schmitt

Can someone explain what Senator Lieberman could possibly mean when he says the following:

“I’m worried that too many people, both in politics and out, don’t appreciate the seriousness of the threat to American security and the evil of the enemy that faces us — more evil, or as evil, as Nazism and probably more dangerous than the Soviet Communists we fought during the long Cold War,” Mr. Lieberman said.

First, there’s no antecedent to the word "threat" or "enemy" so we have no idea what threat he’s referring to. Is it al-Qaeda alone? Al-Qaeda plus Hezbollah and Hamas, plus Syria and Ahmadinejad? Or that thing out there that Little Green Footballs the President now calls "Islamic fascists"?

Who knows. But under any possible definition of "threat" or "enemy" it cannot possibly be as dangerous than the Soviet Union at the peak of the Cold War, with multiple thermonuclear devices pointed at every one of our cities and towns. And, I don’t know exactly how to score "evilness," but not much matches Hitler. I suppose in some way bin Laden and Zawahiri’s hearts may be as filled with evil as Hitler’s or Stalin’s, but they don’t have the SS and Luftwaffe at their disposal. Maybe they would send us all to concentration camps if they controlled half of Europe, but thankfully, they live in caves and can’t use the phone. Is Ahmadinejad "more evil, or as evil" as Hitler? Maybe the potential is there, with his holocaust denial and all that, but so far it’s mostly talk.

I’m sorry, but this is just a deranged, or at best deeply confused and manic, thing to say. It shows a lack of perspective and reality and responsibility, even in its lack of clarity about what exactly the threat is and how to defeat it. Why does anyone accept that this kind of blather can be considered taking the threat more "seriously"? It’s not. It’s hugely unserious in its trivialization of the great moral challenges of the Twentieth Century and it’s bald politicization of the current challenge.

And I’m interested in examples -- I know there are people from Paul Berman to the Malkin wing of the right blogosphere who like to say that Islamic extremists are sort of like fascism, or there’s a debate going on now on National Review Online about whether "Islamo-Nazi" is a better word than Islamofascist. But is there anyone else who has used that framework: "more dangerous than the Soviet Communists" or "more evil, or as evil, as Nazism."??

This is a man who has become so deeply unserious that I don’t think he should be a U.S. Senator, from either party.

Kung Fu Monkey: "Wait, Aren't You Scared?"

"Wait, Aren't You Scared?"
by Kung Fuy Monkey

Errr, no. And if you are, you frankly should be a little goddam embarrassed.

No false bravado and it's not that I don't take terrorism seriously. I do, which I why I voted for the guy who believed in securing our ports and fighting terrorism with criminal investigation methods -- which is, if we may remind everybody, how this particular plot was busted.

I am just not going to wet my pants every time some guys get arrested in a terror plot. I will do my best to stay informed. I will support the necessary law enforcement agencies. I will take whatever reasonable precautions seem, um, reasonable. But I will not be terrorized. I assume that the terror-ists would like me to be terror-ized, as that is what is says on their nametag, rather than, say, wanting me to surrender to ennui or negative body image, and they're just coming the long way around.

Osama Bin Laden got everything on his Christmas list after 9/11 -- US out of Saudi Arabia; the greatest military in the world over-extended, pinned down and distracted; the greatest proponent of democracy suddenly alienated from its allies; a US culture verily eager to destroy freedoms that little scumfuck could never even dream to touch himself -- I would like to deny him the last little check on the clipboard, i.e. constant terror. I panic, they win. To coin a phrase, Osama Bin Laden can suck my insouciance.

I am absolutely buffaloed by the people who insist I man up and take it in the teeth for the great Clash of Civilizations -- "Come ON, people, this is the EPIC LAST WAR!! You just don't have the stones to face that fact head-on!" -- who at the whiff of an actual terror plot will, with no apparent sense of irony, transform and run around shrieking, eyes rolling and Hello Kitty panties flashing like Japanese schoolgirls who have just realized that the call is coming from inside the house!

I may have shared too much there.

To be honest, it's not like I'm a brave man. I'm not. At all. It just, well, it doesn't take that much strength of will not to be scared. Who the hell am I supposed to be scared of? Joseph Padilla, dirty bomber who didn't actually know how to build a bomb, had no allies or supplies, and against whom the government case is so weak they're now shuffling him from court to court to avoid the public embarassment of a trial? The fuckwits who were going to take down the Brooklyn Bridge with blowtorches? Richard Reid, the Zeppo of suicide bombers? The great Canadian plot that had organized over the internet, was penetrated by the Mounties on day one, and we were told had a TRUCK FULL OF EXPLOSIVES ... which they had bought from the Mounties in a sting operation but hey let's skip right over that. Or how about the "compound" of Christian cultists in Florida who were planning on blowing up the Sears Tower with ... kung fu?

And now these guys. As the initial "OH SWEET MOTHER OF GOD THEY CAN BLOW US UP WITH SNAPPLE BOTTLES!!" hysteria subsides, we discover that these guys had been under surveillance, completely penetrated, by no less than three major intelligence agencies. That they were planning on cell phones, and some of them openly travelled to Pakistan (way to keep the cover, Reilly, Ace of Spies). Hell, Chertoff knew about this two weeks ago, and the only reason that some people can scream this headline:

"The London Bombers were within DAYS of trying a dry run!!!"

-- was because MI-5, MI-6, and Scotland Yard let them get that close, so they could suck in the largest number of contacts (again, very spiffy police work). The fact that these wingnuts could have been rolled up, at will, at any time, seems to have competely escaped the media buzz.

This is terrorism's A-game? Sack up, people.

Again, this is not to do anything less than marvel as cool, well-trained, ruthless law-enforcement professionals -- who spent decades honing their craft chasing my IRA cousins -- execute their job magnificently. Should we take this seriously? DAMN STRAIGHT we take this seriously. Left unchecked, these terror-fanboy bastards would have gone down in history. These cretins' intent was monstrous; they should, and will, all go to jail for a very long time. This is the part where we all breathe a sigh of relief that there are some actual professionals working the job in some countries.

But God gave me a brain, and a modicum of spine. Taking something seriously, and panicking over it are two different things. I do not assign all dangers and risks equal value. Tight little freelance squads with leak-proof operational discipline, like the 7/7 guys, -- those I worry about. A nuke coming in through one of ridiculously open ports -- I am concerned. Not bio-terror so much, because it's a shitty delivery mechanism. That the Muslim population of England seems to be becoming radicalized enough to sprout up these plots, that's not a good thing to consider. al-Queda involvement -- good if true because this means their recruiting is shitty: bad if true because this means they're back in business: bad if false because it means al-Queda has indeed become a "brand": but good if false because it reinforces the idea that they're operationally crippled (and if Zwahari is involved, I personally would like a word with whatever idiot nation took their eyes of the ball and let him escape ...)

... You get the point. There are a million factors in this New World of Terror. You weigh 'em, you process, and then you move on.

You move on, building a better international society so that luddite fundamentalist criminal gangs/cults of personality are further and further marginalized.

Or, if you don't understand 4th Generation Warfare at all, you move on, bombing the shit out of nation-states and handing your opponents massive PR victories. Either way, you move the fuck on.

Maybe it's just, I cast my eyes back on the last century ...

FDR: Oh, I'm sorry, was wiping out our entire Pacific fleet supposed to intimidate us? We have nothing to fear but fear itself, and right now we're coming to kick your ass with brand new destroyers riveted by waitresses. How's that going to feel?

CHURCHILL: Yeah, you keep bombing us. We'll be in the pub, flipping you off. I'm slapping Rolls-Royce engines into untested flying coffins to knock you out of the skies, and then I'm sending angry Welshmen to burn your country from the Rhine to the Polish border.

US. NOW: BE AFRAID!! Oh God, the Brown Bad people could strike any moment! They could strike ... NOW!! AHHHH. Okay, how about .. NOW!! AAGAGAHAHAHHAG! Quick, do whatever we tell you, and believe whatever we tell you, or YOU WILL BE KILLED BY BROWN PEOPLE!! PUT DOWN THAT SIPPY CUP!!

... and I'm just a little tired of being on the wrong side of that historical arc.

This is it, folks. This is the world, from now on. Even assuming the War on Terror is a not just a bad metaphor and there is an actual measurable winning point*, the short 4GW struggles last fifty years or so. We're going to be stopping one or two of these bastard mass-murder plots a year, minimum, for the rest of our lives. Hell, the way terror tactics and tech evolve, five years from now we're going to be pining for the dudes with the flammable juice boxes.

It's now part of our life. Let's try not to hop like the trained monkeys every time it happens.

I'm just pleased that for once, nobody --

"Weeks before September 11th, this is going to play big," said another White House official, who also spoke on condition of not being named, adding that some Democratic candidates won't "look as appealing" under the circumstances."

-- ahhhh. Never mind

Neocon Dreams, American Nightmares

The Liberal media by Eric Alterman
Neocon Dreams, American Nightmares

[from the August 28, 2006 issue]

Taking what might be considered the moderate neocon position on the Israel/Hezbollah war, the editors of The New Republic demand that the Bush Administration "move ruthlessly to prevent Iran from acquiring the deadliest arsenal of all," while their contributor Michael Oren calls only for an Israeli, rather than an American, attack on Syria. Next door at The Weekly Standard, William Kristol sees no point in playing coy. Having already called for an American attack on Syria twenty months ago, he is now beating his bongo for an immediate "military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities." Concerned about retaliation against American citizens in the form of terrorist attacks around the world? Don't worry. Any and all "repercussions," he promises, "would be healthy ones." Kristol even imagines that such an attack could cause the Iranian people "to reconsider whether they really want to have this regime in power," as if the natural reaction of people who see their country attacked, their families killed and their property destroyed is to side with the people who are bombing them (just like in, um... Iraq).

To borrow from both Beyoncé and Yogi Berra, it really is déjà vu all over again. Roughly four years, 2,600 American deaths, $1 trillion and one murderous civil war ago, the same William Kristol predicted that a US invasion of Iraq would inspire "the principles of liberty and justice in the Islamic world." Richard Perle, his comrade in armchair warfare, suggested that the impending US invasion would "transform the thinking of people around the world about the potential for democracy, even in Arab countries."

Today, despite the lack of available troops owing to these delusional predictions, neocons are looking to Israel's war in Lebanon as an excuse for attacks on Syria and Iran--coincidentally, also Israel's enemies. Also coincidentally, four years ago many neocons were looking to exploit an attack on America as an excuse to attack Israel's enemies. Writing in the Wall Street Journal in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, Seth Lipsky called for US attacks "from Afghanistan to Iran to Iraq to Syria to the Palestinian Authority." Echoes of today's war cries go back even further. Kristol insists that Israel's problems with Lebanon demonstrate that "what's under attack is liberal democratic civilization." Twenty-four years ago, in a now infamous Commentary essay titled "J'Accuse," Norman Podhoretz accused those who dissented from Israel's catastrophic invasion of Lebanon "of faithlessness to the interests of the United States and indeed to the values of Western civilization as a whole."

One does not need to take a position on the wisdom--or lack thereof--of Israel's current invasion of Lebanon to question whether Israel's interests are in fact identical to America's. Kristol can title his editorial "It's Our War," but Hezbollah was not shooting missiles into Manhattan. And while we may not like its sponsor, Iran, last I checked we were not at war with that nation either. (In fact, we're doing its dirty work, destabilizing antagonist Iraq and preparing the way for a Shiite ascendancy led by an Iranian cleric.) But whenever one raises the issue of just how large Israel's perceived well-being looms in the minds of those who seek to risk America's blood and treasure for actions that happen to be at the top of AIPAC's wish list, one is immediately accused of either anti-Semitism or, as the case may be, self-hatred. New York Times columnist David Brooks, for example, has argued that those who use the very term "neoconservative" are anti-Semites, "full-mooners" living on "Planet Chomsky." TNR senior editor (and William Kristol's writing partner) Lawrence Kaplan claims that "invoking the specter of dual loyalty to quiet criticism and debate amounts to more than the everyday pollution of public discourse."

Things can become a little confusing when the same neocons who insist it is ipso facto anti-Semitic to ask what role Israel plays in their calculations instruct American Jews that they are paying too much attention to their own country's best interests and not enough to Israel's. Writing in--of all places--The Weekly Standard, David Gelernter attacks American Jews for their "self-destructive nihilism" in remaining "fervent supporters of an American left that is increasingly unable or unwilling to say why Israel must exist." (This is nonsense about the vast majority of the left, of course, but ignore that for a moment.) Gelernter argues that "grassroots Democrats are increasingly dangerous to the Jewish state (not to mention the American state)." Note that the question of the "American state" is literally a mere parenthetical to Gelernter's principal concern--the well-being of Israel. Over at National Review's "The Corner," Mona Charen can be found making the same sneering argument. She calls American Jews "stubborn and downright stupid" because they "despise George W. Bush and will donate time and money to any Democrat in 2008, while Bush is indisputably the most pro-Israel president in the history of the United States." Again, it's highly "disputable," but never mind that. More to the point is the fact that Bush's presidency--a complete and utter failure by virtually any empirical measurement--is also deemed irrelevant. It's Israel alone that matters, according to these anti-American conservatives. (And woe unto American Jews when Christian America starts paying attention to their unpatriotic perfidy.)

What's most immediately worrisome about the neocons' long march through our institutions of government is the possibility that they may succeed a second time. According to Sidney Blumenthal's reporting in Salon, neocon staffers for Dick Cheney and the NSC's point man on the Middle East, Elliott Abrams (Norman Podhoretz's son-in-law), "have discussed Syrian and Iranian supply activities as a potential pretext for Israeli bombing of both countries." They are looking, according to this NSC source, "to widen the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah and Israel and Hamas into a four-front war."

Four wars simultaneously? Led by this crew? After what we've seen in Iraq and Afghanistan? Is it me, or are the people who run this country dangerously out of their minds?



Philadelphia Daily News

THESE PEOPLE have no shame. Their contempt for democracy is so great they will stop at nothing to undermine it. Their adherence to fundamentalist beliefs that blinds them to reality is frightening. They must be stopped.

And that's just the Republicans.

Let's start with Vice President Dick Cheney.

Yesterday, Cheney bashed those who voted for Democrat Ned Lamont in the Connecticut Senate primary, claiming that these votes would encourage "al Qaeda types" to think that "they can break the will of the American people."

The idea is that since 18-year incumbent Joe Lieberman lost based on his support for Iraq, Americans opposing the war are waving a white flag of surrender to terrorists.

This is stunningly ignorant logic, as well as annoyingly consistent with the Bush administration's fundamentalist myth that Iraq had ties to al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden - a claim by now well-discounted, most notably by a presidential commission.

And yet the presidential fog machine has continued to belch out its Iraq-al Qaeda-link fumes to the extent that a recent poll suggests that 64 percent of Americans still believe that Saddam Hussein had strong links to al Qaeda. More people than ever now believe, according to a new poll, that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

Ironically, the number who believe in the al Qaeda link is almost precisely the same number of Americans - 62 percent - who believe we are bogged down in Iraq.

For Cheney - and other Republicans like GOP National Chairman Ken Mehlman - to suggest that those Americans are encouraging terrorism is reprehensible.

Cheney's comments came out a day before British intelligence officials announced they had thwarted a major terrorist attack. Surely Cheney was aware of the plot and the work to thwart it, and was no doubt aware of the timing of yesterday's announcement.

To exploit a very real terror threat that could have led to major casualties, and to even indirectly implicate Americans who were exercising their democratic right by going to the polls and making a choice borders on the criminal, to say nothing of the insane.

Has Cheney completely lost it?

The latest terror scare is upsetting enough: It is bound to lead to havoc and chaos both domestically and internationally. It could damage the economy if fears on flying are sustained. It reopens the profound wounds of 9/11, a scab we should figure by now will never completely heal.

But the real terror is this: While our Vacationer- in-Chief and his vice president shut down dissent, and discourage questions about the way our government has directed our intelligence and military resources toward a single target in Iraq, we are no closer to understanding or dismantling the threat of al Qaeda.

Cheney's remarks underscore just how unsophisticated our understanding of terrorism is. We have no more understanding of the global forces at work that lead so many to want to bomb and destroy innocent lives than we did five years ago.

America's latest crisis is not what happened in Connecticut; it's what was going to happen in airplanes over the Atlantic.

The immoral and ridiculous claims coming out of the Bush administration's reign of error could ultimately be responsible for the kind of casualties that al Qaeda can only dream of.

Paul Krugman - Nonsense and Sensibility

Nonsense and Sensibility


After Ned Lamont’s victory in Connecticut, I saw a number of commentaries describing Joe Lieberman not just as a “centrist” — a word that has come to mean “someone who makes excuses for the Bush administration” — but as “sensible.” But on what planet would Mr. Lieberman be considered sensible?

Take a look at Thomas Ricks’s “Fiasco,” the best account yet of how the U.S. occupation of Iraq was mismanaged. The prime villain in that book is Donald Rumsfeld, whose delusional thinking and penchant for power games undermined whatever chances for success the United States might have had. Then read Mr. Lieberman’s May 2004 op-ed article in The Wall Street Journal, “Let Us Have Faith,” in which he urged Mr. Rumsfeld not to resign over the Abu Ghraib scandal, because his removal “would delight foreign and domestic opponents of America’s presence in Iraq.”

And that’s just one example of Mr. Lieberman’s bad judgment. He has been wrong at every step of the march into the Iraq quagmire — all the while accusing anyone who disagreed with him of endangering national security. Again, on what planet would Mr. Lieberman be considered “sensible”? But I know the answer: on Planet Beltway.

Many of those lamenting Mr. Lieberman’s defeat claim that they fear a takeover of our political parties by extremists. But if political polarization were really their main concern, they’d be as exercised about the primary challenge from the right facing Lincoln Chafee as they are about Mr. Lieberman’s woes. In fact, however, the sound of national commentary on the Rhode Island race is that of crickets chirping.

So what’s really behind claims that Mr. Lieberman is sensible — and that those who voted against him aren’t? It’s the fact that many Washington insiders suffer from the same character flaw that caused Mr. Lieberman to lose Tuesday’s primary: an inability to admit mistakes.

Imagine yourself as a politician or pundit who was gung-ho about invading Iraq, and who ridiculed those who warned that the case for war was weak and that the invasion’s aftermath could easily turn ugly. Worse yet, imagine yourself as someone who remained in denial long after it all went wrong, disparaging critics as defeatists. Now denial is no longer an option; the neocon fantasy has turned into a nightmare of fire and blood. What do you do?

You could admit your error and move on — and some have. But all too many Iraq hawks have chosen, instead, to cover their tracks by trashing the war’s critics.

They say: Pay no attention to the fact that I was wrong and the critics have been completely vindicated by events — I’m “sensible,” while those people are crazy extremists. And besides, criticizing any aspect of the war encourages the terrorists.

That’s what Joe Lieberman said, and it’s what his defenders are saying now.

Now, it takes a really vivid imagination to see Mr. Lieberman’s rejection as the work of extremists. I know that some commentators believe that anyone who thinks the Iraq war was a mistake is a flag-burning hippie who hates America. But if that’s true, about 60 percent of Americans hate America. The reality is that Ned Lamont and those who voted for him are, as The New York Times editorial page put it, “irate moderates,” whose views are in accord with those of most Americans and the vast majority of Democrats.

But in his non-concession speech, Mr. Lieberman described Mr. Lamont as representative of a political tendency in which “every disagreement is considered disloyal” — a statement of remarkable chutzpah from someone who famously warned Democrats that “we undermine the president’s credibility at our nation’s peril.”

The question now is how deep into the gutter Mr. Lieberman’s ego will drag him.

There’s an overwhelming consensus among national security experts that the war in Iraq has undermined, not strengthened, the fight against terrorism. Yet yesterday Mr. Lieberman, sounding just like Dick Cheney — and acting as a propaganda tool for Republicans trying to Swift-boat the party of which he still claims to be a member — suggested that the changes in Iraq policy that Mr. Lamont wants would be “taken as a tremendous victory by the same people who wanted to blow up these planes in this plot hatched in England.”

In other words, not only isn’t Mr. Lieberman sensible, he may be beyond redemption.

New York Times | Voter Suppression in Missouri

Voter Suppression in Missouri
The New York Times | Editorial

Thursday 10 August 2006

Missouri is the latest front in the Republican Party's campaign to use photo ID requirements to suppress voting. The Republican legislators who pushed through Missouri's ID law earlier this year said they wanted to deter fraud, but that claim falls apart on close inspection. Missouri's new ID rules - and similar ones adopted last year in Indiana and Georgia - are intended to deter voting by blacks, poor people and other groups that are less likely to have driver's licenses. Georgia's law has been blocked by the courts, and the others should be too.

Even before Missouri passed its new law, it had tougher ID requirements than many states. Voters were required, with limited exceptions, to bring ID with them to the polls, but university ID cards, bank statements mailed to a voter's address, and similar documents were acceptable. The new law requires a government-issued photo ID, which as many as 200,000 Missourians do not have.

Missourians who have driver's licenses will have little trouble voting, but many who do not will have to go to considerable trouble to get special ID's. The supporting documents needed to get these, like birth certificates, often have fees attached, so some Missourians will have to pay to keep voting. It is likely that many people will not jump all of the bureaucratic hurdles to get the special ID, and will become ineligible to vote.

Not coincidentally, groups that are more likely to vote against the Republicans who passed the ID law will be most disadvantaged. Advocates for blacks, the elderly and the disabled say that those groups are less likely than the average Missourian to have driver's licenses, and most likely to lose their right to vote. In close elections, like the bitterly contested U.S. Senate race now under way in the state, this disenfranchisement could easily make the difference in who wins.

The new law's supporters say its purpose is to deter fraud. But there is little evidence of "imposter voting," the sort of fraud that ID laws are aimed at, in Missouri or anywhere else. Groups in Missouri that want to suppress voting have a long history of crying fraud, but investigations by the Justice Department and The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, among others, have refuted such claims in the past. If the Legislature really wanted to deter fraud, it would have focused its efforts on absentee ballots, which are a notorious source of election fraud - and are not covered by Missouri's new ID requirements.

Because of the important constitutional issues these laws raise, courts will have the final say. Federal and state judges have already blocked Georgia's ID law from taking effect, and although Indiana's law was upheld earlier this year, that ruling is on appeal. Missouri voting-rights advocates recently filed suit against their state's law.

Unduly onerous voter ID laws violate equal protection, and when voters have to pay to get the ID's, they are an illegal poll tax. They are also an insult to democracy, because their goal is to have elections in which eligible voters are turned away.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Conservatives Make War, War Makes Liberals

Allow me to present one of the greatest diaries in the history of Dailykos:

"Conservatives Make War, War Makes Liberals" by J. Royce. Brilliantly written in mock 19th century style, it skewers that pathlogical egotism passing itself off today as "conservativism."


As children, Conservatives are not logical and see no reason to be. Thus a Conservative will spout political positions planted firmly in 12th century morality and when confronted, deftly perform a mental-Flashdance move to land back in the modern era with all such rights and courtesies due them.

Conservatives have a child's disrespect for those who have come before, preferring opinions based on the limited experience of their soft lives. The tone of a Conservative is a perpetual whine before Creation.

As with any rebellious youngster, all their own ideas are brilliant, and any who disagree are obviously fools. Their discoveries are unique, their self-serving insights new in the world.

But though Conservatism is utterly right and objectively true, within it's imagined perimeters, it has one great failing: Fate hates Conservative ideology. In fact calls it out by name. The life of Conservative societies is as described by an early figure of the Enlightenment--nasty, brutish and short.

Yes, there is only one cloud blocking the endless sunshine of adolescence that represents Conservatism. That cloud is that God, Nature, Creation, the Great Rule-Maker in the Sky--whatever brought humankind into existence--abhors and will not abide Conservative forms. The gifts offered to authoritarian, right-wing Conservative societies are hunger, poverty, bestial ignorance, misery from the elements, nightmarish epidemics and wholesale disease. Violence and fear are both the conservative's weapons and destiny.

Eric Alternman - The Punditocracy vs. History - Altercation -

The Punditocracy vs. History
Eric Alterman

It’s 1972 all over again or so Cokie, Broder, Marty, Jacob, Bill, Bob, Joe, are telling us. The Democrats blew it by endorsing a left wing “elitist” antiwar candidate who hated Middle America back then, and now are getting read to do the same. Here’s the thing, being a pundit makes you stupid. All these pundits supported the war, natch, and understand at some subliminal level, that they too are being rejected by the voters who blame Lieberman for trusting Bush and getting us into this horrific war. They reach for the nearest historical analogy they can find to bolster their argument and settle on 1972. Thing is, they understand very little of history, most of them having stopped reading anything but one another in college.

I wrote this in The Nation a while back, but it speaks to historical background of today’s situation, I think:

“At a recent conference on the Clinton Administration at Hofstra University, ex-press secretary Jake Siewart made a point that had previously eluded me: It was during the early days of Clinton's presidency that the democratization of instant information made the insider press corps obsolete. To retain their importance and self-regard, these journalists had to invent a new function for themselves, and they did: interpreting, not reporting, the news. But instead of doing the hard work of researching the historical, economic, sociological and political contexts of a given story and then finding a way to explain these in lay terms, they preferred to rely on what came most easily to them: cocktail party gossip, green room small talk, semiofficial leaks and unconfirmed rumor, almost always offered up as if the source had no interest in pushing a point of view.

"It soon became clear that the insider press corps had developed a set of values almost completely antithetical to those of the majority of the American people. This disjunction is frequently misinterpreted--often deliberately--as one of snooty liberal elitists versus God-fearing, Darwin-disbelieving, upright common folk. It's almost impossible to find reliable evidence for this characterization, either in what the press corps believes or what the public does. Ironically, the media elite are attacking themselves when they embrace this myth, which is purposely stoked by the far right…”

Back to today. The punditocracy argument about 1972, while dead wrong about McGovern himself, who was a brave, patriotic World War II hero form the South Dakota, has some validity, given whom he was perceived by voters to represent. The first serious historical research I ever did was when I was researching my honors thesis as an undergraduate. I wanted to study the origins of neoconservatism, the Six Day War, and Vietnam—this was back in 1981—and my adviser, Walter LaFeber—insisted that I learn a little context first by examining the attitudes of the entire country to the war and the antiwar movement. I poured over the polling data and found to my surprise, that in many ways, the antiwar movement was counterproductive. Many Americans didn’t like the war but they really hated the counterculture. If supporting Nixon was a way to get back at the hippies and protesters and rioters, they were willing to do it, even if it meant extending a war they thought to be already lost.

Now look at today. In the first place, as I keep saying, remember this is Connecticut. It’s blue, antiwar state. It’s not the whole damn country. But second, look at the context for God’s sake. There’s no antiwar movement to speak of, no riots, no marches, no one is burning their draft cards, preaching free love, wiping themselves with the flag, bussing your kids to ghetto schools or vice-versa, taking away your jobs, raising your taxes to give the money to rioting race-baiting Black Panthers, etc. Our Lady of the Magic Dolphin, insists that the people who originally inspired the Lamont campaign, “The Kos crowd is viewed by most people outside that crowd as hate-fueled, bitter and stupid--the devil's flying monkeys making their "Eeek! Eeek!" sounds” here.

Methinks Peggy’s been nipping at the sherry a mite too frequently. The only Abbie Hoffman/Jerry Rubin types are on the right and when they’re not hosting Fox News programs, they are being called “brilliant” by Chris Matthews on MSNBC. So the upshot we are left with is that Connecticut Democrats picked a candidate whose positions are consistent with the majority and rejected one whose are not. And yet that, we are told is somehow the “elitist” position that will destroy the Democrats with a public that largely agrees with them. In other words, the analogy fails completely upon the slightest scrutiny.

In that regard, take a look at this from TP: "It's an unfortunate development, I think, from the standpoint of the Democratic Party, to see a man like Lieberman pushed aside because of his willingness to support an aggressive posture in terms of our national security strategy,'' said VP Cheney. Al-Qaida is "betting on the proposition that ultimately they can break the will of the American people in terms of our ability to stay in the fight and complete the task." White House spokesman Tony Snow put it more succinctly, "A white flag [in Iraq] in short means a white flag in the war on terror." Josh does a good job on demonstrating how the mainstream media are repeating the right-wing McCarthyite talking points of the Bush Administration. What is so damn ironic about this of course, is the fact that the invasion of Iraq was a present to Al Qaeda, a never-ending recruitment video for them, to say nothing of the fact that the administration’s obsessive focus on it is what allowed Bin Laden and his lieutenants to get away. Peter Wallerstein details these talking points in the L.A. Times:

"Republicans also sought to use the Lieberman loss as an opportunity to drive wedges in the Democratic base — following White House advisor Karl Rove's strategy of energizing conservatives while trying to make certain Democratic voters question whether they should vote with their party...."

"The Republican response Wednesday was highly coordinated, tightly matching a set of GOP talking points distributed to activists and strategists. The effort also paralleled an internal strategy memo, first reported by the Los Angeles Times, that laid out the party's intent to mobilize its base for the election by highlighting Bush's actions in Iraq and the notion that Democrats were weak in their approach to 'foreign threats.'"

Boehlert has more.

PS. I hear the British terrorists were going to call this off if Joe had won his primary, what with American showing its “strength” and all. Damn you, Connecticut primary voters….