Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

Think at your own risk.
Wednesday, August 31, 2005
'Looting' and 'finding'
From Dr. Laura's worst nightmare:

"According to Yahoo, black people "loot" -- white people "find.""
posted by JReid @ 3:55 PM  
The Katrina tragedy - Any news on Pascagoula?
Update: Paul at Wizbang has some poigniant words from the heart of the tragedy, in New Orleans. I've posted some helpful links below and will scour for more.

Original Post, 11: 15 a.m.: The rolling tragedy that is Hurricane Katrina just keeps on compounding.

Among what are probably myriad personal stories of loss and devastation, is that of a woman named Annie Seawright, from Moss Point, Mississippi. Annie lives on Waupon Street in the Moss Point/Pascagoula area. Her daughter, Toni Seawright is looking for her, and for Toni's sister and her family and children.

I talked by phone with a good friend of Toni's in northern Florida a short while ago. She says Tony's sister evacuated her home, which was completely submerged in the flooding that followed Katrina, and she was headed to their mother's home to check on her. Annie Seawright had chosen not to evacuate, having heard threats of so many storms before -- she decided to try and ride it out. Toni is looking for her family. It's possible that they already evacuated and simply can't get to a phone (I doubt many cellphone towers are standing). They also could be in a shelter somewhere in Mississippi.

If anyone has information about this family, or if anyone knows the status or conditions in Pascagoula and Moss Point, Mississippi, please email me at joy@reidreport.com and I will forward the information to the family friend. I'm also trying to get in direct touch with Toni to get more details and information that could help locate her loved ones, so I'll post any edits and corrections to this story as it goes along. Also any bloggers who have strong readership in Mississippi, and who would be willing to post this call for help would be much appreciated. I've asked the family to email me pictures, which I'll post as soon as I get them. For now, the key is to get info on what's happening in Moss Point.
posted by JReid @ 3:26 PM  
Buchanan calls for Bush's impeachment...
But not over Iraq...
posted by JReid @ 3:02 PM  
Tuesday, August 30, 2005
Back on the blog
It's been a weekend of eratic blogging from me, between the power outages from Katrina (nothing compared to the devastation in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, but Florida did have its share of pain) and a couple of days out of town. This seems like a day for putting aside politics, and for the most part, I probably will ... for the most part. OK I probably won't entirely, but at least I know I should...

The SF Chronicle has a nice roundup of world press opinion (though admittedly cherry picked to suit the Gate's POV) on Iraq, Venezuela's Chavez versus the GOP's crazy Pat Robertson and Japan's isolation on the Asian subcontinent. The conclusions aren't promising, across the board. The Chronicle also picks up where the NYT left off in querying actual OIF vets on the F/X series "Over There," which I (and apparently many other civilians) love, but soldiers generally seem to either hate or find pretty funny and inacurate. Interesting how that works. It just goes to show you how disconnected we Americans are from the experiences of our uniformed military. They go to war, we watch TV...
posted by JReid @ 10:44 AM  
Call me 'Tone Deaf'
With Katrina's victims still reeling from the aftermath of death and destruction, and Iraq lurching toward thecracy, what is the President focusing on? Instituting a national call to service in order to repair our spent military, Guard and Reserves? A renewed push for a permanent settlement between the Israelis and Palestinians to take advantage of the Gaza momentum? A fresh call for international help in stabilizing Iraq? Maybe a quick call to his friends in Russia or the Gulf to ease oil prices? Nope. None of the above. George W. Bush is renewing his push to privatize Social Security.
posted by JReid @ 10:12 AM  
Saturday, August 27, 2005
Questions for the right
Is there a dime's worth of difference between the Muslim clerics Britain is fighting to deport, and our own million-follower-having, cable empire overseeing, Fox News frequenting Christian cleric, Pat Robertson? Both espouse violence. Both hold millions of fanatical supporters in thrall. Both have influence that overlaps religion and politics. So what's the difference, besides the fact that our Patwa-issuer is native-born? Just wondering...
posted by JReid @ 11:16 AM  
More proof of insanity in the present age...
Or could have filed this one under "unsurprising headlines...": NewsMax, Fox News and the so-credible Bill Bennett radio show line up former military and intelligence hacks to back up (that's "up", not "away from",) killer televangelist Pat Robertson. GOP shame check on register two ... GOP shame check on register two...!
posted by JReid @ 11:04 AM  
How pathetic is it...
That the pro-Bush Iraq protests headed to Crawford had to be cobbled together by a P.R. firm? Way to meet a grass roots movement with ... the exact opposite.
posted by JReid @ 11:02 AM  
Proof of insanity in the present age
As I'm sitting here recovering from Katrina and enjoying having power in the house again... the LA Times offers me a reason to sink back into dispair:

Adam, Eve and T. Rex
Giant roadside dinosaur attractions are used by a new breed of creationists as pulpits to spread their version of Earth's origins.

By Ashley PowersTimes Staff Writer
August 27, 2005

CABAZON, Calif. — Dinny the roadside dinosaur has found religion.The 45-foot-high concrete apatosaurus has towered over Interstate 10 near Palm Springs for nearly three decades as a kitschy prehistoric pit stop for tourists.

Now he is the star of a renovated attraction that disputes the fact that dinosaurs died off millions of years before humans first walked the planet.

Dinny's new owners, pointing to the Book of Genesis, contend that most dinosaurs arrived on Earth the same day as Adam and Eve, some 6,000 years ago, and later marched two by two onto Noah's Ark. The gift shop at the attraction, called the Cabazon Dinosaurs, sells toy dinosaurs whose labels warn, "Don't swallow it! The fossil record does not support evolution.

"The Cabazon Dinosaurs join at least half a dozen other roadside attractions nationwide that use the giant reptiles' popularity in seeking to win converts to creationism. And more are on the way.

"We're putting evolutionists on notice: We're taking the dinosaurs back," said Ken Ham, president of Answers in Genesis, a Christian group building a $25-million creationist museum in Petersburg, Ky., that's already overrun with model sauropods and velociraptors.

"They're used to teach people that there's no God, and they're used to brainwash people," he said. "Evolutionists get very upset when we use dinosaurs. That's their star."

The nation's top paleontologists find the creation theory preposterous and say children are being misled by dinosaur exhibits that take the Jurassic out of "Jurassic Park."

"Dinosaurs lived in the Garden of Eden, and Noah's Ark? Give me a break," said Kevin Padian, curator at the University of California Museum of Paleontology in Berkeley and president of National Center for Science Education, an Oakland group that supports teaching evolution. "For them, 'The Flintstones' is a documentary."

Tyrannosaurus rex and his gigantic brethren find themselves on both sides of the nation's renewed debate over the Earth's origins and the continuing fight over whether Charles Darwin's "The Origin of Species" or Genesis best explains the development of life.

Science holds that dinosaurs were the Earth's royalty for about 160 million years. Their reign ended abruptly, possibly after a meteorite smacked into the planet, but they're considered the forebears of birds.Unearthing dinosaur bones that are millions of years old "doesn't prove evolution, but it shows the Genesis account doesn't work," said Nick Matzke, a spokesman for the National Center for Science Education.

Drivers who pull off Interstate 10 in Pensacola, Fla., are told a far different story at Dinosaur Adventure Land. Its slogan: "Where Dinosaurs and the Bible meet!"The nearly 7-acre museum, low-tech theme park and science center embodies its founder's belief that God created the world in six days. The dinosaurs, even super carnivores such as T. rex, dined as vegetarians in the Garden of Eden until Adam and Eve sinned — and only then did they feast on other creatures, according to the Christian-based young-Earth theory.

About 4,500 years after Adam and Eve arrived, the theory goes, pairs of baby dinosaurs huddled in Noah's Ark, and a colossal flood drowned the rest and scattered their fossils. The ark-borne animals repopulated the planet — meaning that folk tales about fire-breathing beasts are accounts of humans battling dinosaurs, who still roamed the planet.

Kids romping through the $1.5-million Florida theme park can bounce on a "Long Neck Liftasaurus" swing seat; launch water balloons at a T. rex and a stegosaurus, and smooth their own sandbox-size Grand Canyons, whose formation is credited to the flood. A "fossilized" pickle purports to show that dinosaur bones could have hardened quickly. Got an upcoming birthday? Dinosaur Adventure Land does pizza parties."Go to Disneyland, they teach evolution. It's subtle; signs that say, 'Millions of years ago' " said evangelist Kent Hovind, the park's founder. "This is a golden opportunity to get our point across."
The most frightening part: they're serious...
posted by JReid @ 10:49 AM  
Friday, August 26, 2005
Hurricane Katrina
This has been one hell of a storm down here. Broward County is littered with trees pulled up from the roofs, Miami apparently is seeing heavy flooding. We're learning to live without TV and the Internet, since the power is out (I'm blogging from elsewhere today...) What a mess... Pray for the folks in the Panhandle. Katrina's coming their way next, and while it was just a category 1 for those of us in southern Fla, it's forecast to be a category 3 once it hits land up north...
posted by JReid @ 3:36 PM  
Thursday, August 25, 2005
Back on the block ... Damn you ipower!
It's been a tough week of server problems, crashes, and a very bumpy change of web hosts. For those who kept checking in, thanks for hanging in there. And to think, I was forced to sit out the first wave of Pat Robertson nutty goodness and Dubya's Idaho vacation within a vacation (and the attendant "hanging loose") ... God must want me to step back and work on being nice to the expensively educated yet intellectually challenged ...

By the way now that I'm back I'd like to take this opportunity to welcome John Bolton to the U.N. Those 750 debt relief scuttling, climate change torpedoing amendments to the previous international agreement should usher you and your mustache in nicely...

Update, 9:54: One thing you learn when you have tech problems, or when you migrate web hosts, is that the Internet seems deceptively simple, but it isn't necessarily so. And when it gets complicated for you, you're forced to rely on a strange species of human being called the "IT person." They're usually male, and blessed with technical knowledge, but not always with the most pleasant or vibrant personalities ... I ran into a doozy of a techie at my new host, ace-net, and learned the hard way that while my old host had technical flaws (server meltdown and inability to resolve it for four days being the main one ...) telephone tech support was a blessing. The new guys are online "ticket" help only, and that gives them so much more freedom to be that particular kind of IT-guy snarky that makes you want to lock them in a room for 24 hours with Pat Robertson ... who, by the way, is insane.

It's good to be back...
posted by JReid @ 3:54 AM  
It's a mad, mad, mad, mad world ... for Pat Robertson

Patiently awaiting the next dispatch from the strange world of former GOP presidential candidate and non-influential head of the 2-plus million-strong 700 Club, whose frustrated call for the head of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has brought shame on the nation, and Christianity as a whole.

Previous Robertson 'Patwas':
2005: Patwa against Judges, who are 'worse than al-Qaida'
2005: Patwa against the prospect of Iraq casualties
2004: Patwa against Disney World over 'gay days'
2003: Patwa against the U.S. State Department
2003: Patwa against the Supreme Court
2001: Patwa against America for the 9/11 attacks
1985: Patwa against Hurricane Gloria

posted by JReid @ 3:08 AM  
Monday, August 22, 2005
Pimp my reporter
Apparently, MSNBC's Norah O'Donnell has officially been fitted for her George W. Bush super secret decoder ring. Filling in for Chris Matthews on Hardball last night, the trussed-up Texan managed to characterize the Democrats' official position on Iraq as "cut and run," laud the president's mention of the number of troop deaths in Iraq at least three times in 30 seconds, and join a generic white male talk host in gang tackling 9/11 truth teller Colleen Rowley, all without breaking a sweat (or letting her 'W stands for Women' lapel button show). A bravura performance if I've ever seen one... Norah O, you have officially been pimped.
posted by JReid @ 11:27 PM  
Whose constitutioon is it, anyway?
From the WashPost, a peek at the Iraqi constitutional process:
Negotiators here described American officials as playing a major role in the draft. U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad shuttled among Iraqi leaders, pushing late Monday for the inclusion of Sunnis in talks, negotiators said. U.S. Embassy staff members worked from a Kurdish party headquarters to help type up the draft and translate changes from English to Arabic for Iraqi lawmakers, negotiators said.
No wonder the Iraqis are so enthusiastic about their new government. It's like a Christmas present -- make that a Ramadan present ... from an overbearing American Santa. And Santa Claus apparently doesn't believe women should be better off than they were under Saddam:
The opponents also said women would lose gains they made during Hussein's rule, when they were guaranteed equal rights under civil law in matters including marriage, divorce and inheritance. The draft constitution says individuals can choose to have family matters decided by either religious or civil law. Supporters say a separate bill of rights would protect women, and provisions of the constitution say no law can contradict democracy or that bill of rights.

Khalilzad, speaking to CNN early Tuesday, called the proposed constitution a "very good" draft that guarantees equal rights for all. An American serving as adviser to the Kurds, Peter Galbraith, disagreed that the charter protected women's rights and condemned what he called the Bush administration's "hypocrisy" on that issue in the constitution.
Break out those Burkas, Iraqi laddies! The Americans have brought you equality with Saudi women! ... you didn't like to drive, did you?

And if Howard Fineman is right, the right won't be happy with the enshrining of Islam as the basic tenet no law can contradict. ... do you smell that? I think it's called "freedom..."!

Here's the text of Iraq's proposed new Made in the U.S.A. constitution.
posted by JReid @ 11:13 PM  
Things fall apart
Did the Pentagon have information about Mohammad Atta before 9/11 or didn't they? Now the Pentagon says they didn't. And the former intel officer, who previously admitted that the recollections of Able Danger actually were not his own, turns out not to have documentation either, because ... ahem ... his security clearance was pulled over mileage reimbursements... What will Limbaugh and the other Blame Clinton firsters do now?

Previous post:
Able Dangermice
posted by JReid @ 4:29 PM  
Mr. Bubble
This quote jumped out at me from the WashPost Sunday story about President Bush's decision not to meet with Cindy Sheehan or other war protesters:
Aides said they discussed Sheehan several more times in the days that followed, and Bush said when he and his national security team met with reporters: "I sympathize with Mrs. Sheehan. She has every right in the world to say what she believes. This is America. She has a right to her position. And I've thought long and hard about her position."

Two days later, Bush explained his approach to journalists invited to ride mountain bikes on his ranch. "I think it's important for me to be thoughtful and sensitive to those who have got something to say," he said. "But I think it's also important for me to go on with my life, to keep a balanced life."
Go on with your life??? Funny, that doesn't sound like a man who's agonizing over the deaths and maiming of thousands of American G.I.s he sent to fight in Afghanistan and Iraq... just how many naps does this guy get on a given day?
posted by JReid @ 12:05 PM  
Sunday, August 21, 2005
Sundays on the ranch with George
Thankfully, President Bush does find time to meet with American citizens on the ranch from time to time ... "just steer away from the pesky war protesters, Lance, just steer away..."
posted by JReid @ 2:05 PM  
Around the world in five days
President Bush plans to devote a whole five days to defending the Vietnam ... I mean Iraq war this week. That's just one-twelfth of the time he spent tooling around the country to promote his plan to turn Social Security into a hedge fund... sure, that should work, especially if he keeps tossing out tired rhetoric like this:
"Our troops know that they're fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere to protect their fellow Americans from a savage enemy," the president said in the recorded broadcast.

"They know that if we do not confront these evil men abroad, we will have to face them one day in our own cities and streets, and they know that the safety and security of every American is at stake in this war, and they know we will prevail."
... "On that day (Sept. 11, 2001), we learned that vast oceans and friendly neighbors no longer protect us from those who wish to harm our people," he said. "And since that day, we have taken the fight to the enemy."

Wonderful, except that the "savage enemy" that attacked us on 9/11 wasn't in Iraq, or from Iraq. It was in and from Saudi Arabia, Iran, Yemen, Egypt and Morocco, among other places we're not bombing ...

Bush will get nowhere with the American public by rehashing the same tired platitudes and attempting to tie Iraq by the hearstrings of 9/11. The two simply aren't related, except for the fact that one provided the justification for the other. The American people (at least those who aren't members of the cult) know that now. Unfortunately for Mr. Bush, more and more American troops and their families know it too. And with the Army preparing for another exctrutiating Bush presidential term's worth of time in Iraq, American's get it: we screwed up by going in there, and now we're stuck. As a famous C student once said: "Fool me once, shame on ... me ... fool me twice ... you ... you can't we can't gon' get fooled a'gin..."
posted by JReid @ 1:12 PM  
Saturday, August 20, 2005
The good news on Gaza
So far, so OK... except for those pesky Al-Qaida cells in the port of Aqaba ... a maritime threat that seems to have slipped past the GWOT junkies in the Bush administration ... Anyway, let's hope things keep moving forward, including Palestinian elections in January that hopefully will strengthen Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas against Hamas... here's hoping...
posted by JReid @ 10:57 AM  
Anything to get elected
Bill Frist -- who I hear has had some official, and very expensive, scientific training -- has come out for "intelligent design" teaching in schools. Please pass this on to all Freepers who have sworn never to vote for the nuclear-option cringing majority leader, for immediate comment.
posted by JReid @ 10:54 AM  
Friday, August 19, 2005
U.S. Navy ships targeted in Red Sea
From Debka:
Same Al Qaeda group that bombed Sharm el Sheikh and Taba claims rocket attack on US ships in Aqaba

August 19, 2005, 5:00 PM (GMT+02:00)

Signed Abdullah al-Azzam Brigades of the al Qaeda Organization in the Levant and Egypt, the Web site statement claims firing three Katyusha rockets targeting “US vessels in Jordan and (Israel’s) Eilat port” before “returning safely to base.”
“Zionists are a legitimate target and we warn the Americans… to expect even more stinging attacks.” Soon we will reach Tel Aviv.

“This is our debut operation in Jordan,” said the statement. “As we have begun to destroy the throne of the Egyptian tyrant, we warn the Jordanian tyrant to release our jailed brothers and abdicate before we force you to go.”
and this:
A Jordanian al Qaeda team controlled by Abu Mussab al Zarqawi carried out the Katyusha rocket attack that killed a Jordanian soldier in Aqaba but missed two US naval vessels docked in the port. The rocket fired at Eilat left no casualties either.

August 19, 2005, 11:47 AM (GMT+02:00)

Jordanian police discovered the rocket launcher on a rooftop, cleared the port of shipping and placed part of the town under curfew to hunt for three perpetrators.
The coordinated attack was directed at three targets:

1. Two US warships anchored in Aqaba. One, the USS Ashland landing ship with elements of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Force aboard, was just missed and damaged. The rocket struck a warehouse on a nearby pier. No US marines or sailors were hurt. Both ships have put out to sea.

2. Another rocket exploded on the Emir Haya base parade ground during drill practice and killed one Jordanian soldier and wounded others.
3. The Katyusha aimed at Eilat landed on a road outside the airport, exploded partially and injured one Israeli.

Israeli and Jordanian security are cooperating in the investigation.
Are these attacks coordinated with the Gaza pullout? If so, why? Palestinians are reading the pullout as a victory , so what would be the point? Or were they a fresh shot at the U.S. occupation of Iraq? Either way, not good news that a rocket attack could come so close to repeating the USS Cole disaster...
posted by JReid @ 4:43 PM  
Acid test
Some Israelis, including a Knesset member, are denying the acid attack stories that have played in the European press and tabloids, outraging fellow Israelis eroding the publicity advantage the evacuating Gaza settlers have been enjoying all week. The stories threaten to make clear the extremist nature of the settlement movement, which is based on a religious quest to use the Torah to define Israel's national borders. It will be interesting to see if the media climb down from the stories. Nonetheless, the withdrawal from Gaza is proceding on or ahead of schedule.

Previous posts:
posted by JReid @ 12:36 PM  
Able danger-mice
Is the Able Danger bombshell a bomb? WaPo has this interesting retrack of the story, with the intelligence officer responsible for the dustup now saying his story isn't based on his own recollections, but on those of two other people. Congressman Kurt Weldon, who has been hawking the story that intelligence officials were essentially forbidden in 2000 from passing on "data mining" information that identified 9/11 hijacker Mohammad Atta to the FBI (which the right has seized on to say the Clinton administration -- and not their successors -- are to blame for being asleep at the wheel before the attacks). Interesting that this story didn't make top headline on the WaPo website -- the editors decided instead to big-font yet another MY GOD! JOHN G. ROBERTS IS A REAGANITE CONSERVATIVE!!! barn burner... but I digress ...

Kevin Drum wrote an interesting piece on A.D. for the Washington Monthly website last week, which bears revisiting:
August 11, 2005

ABLE DANGER....Here's a funny thing. Last Friday I got an email from a PR guy for Government Security News telling me about a story they were preparing to publish later that day (link here). The story was about a U.S. Army military intelligence program called "Able Danger" that had supposedly used data mining techniques to identify the al-Qaeda cell run by Mohamed Atta a year before 9/11. Unfortunately, as the story went, nothing was done about it because Defense Department lawyers prevented the Able Danger team from telling the FBI about the Atta cell.

For better or worse, I scanned the email briefly, saw that the primary source of the story was Pennsylvania congressman Curt Weldon, and decided to pass on it. On Tuesday, though, Douglas Jehl of the New York Times ran a piece about Weldon's accusations (here) and then followed it up on Wednesday with another piece (here) that quoted a number of people wondering why this information was only being made public now and why the 9/11 commission hadn't investigated it last year. That's an especially good question, Laura Rozen says (here), because Weldon has been beating the Able Danger drum since at least 2002, when she heard him give a talk about it at the Heritage Foundation.

So who's the culprit? Why didn't the 9/11 Commission investigate this? Weldon's source for his story is a "former defense intelligence officer" who worked closely with the Able Danger program, and he told GSN exactly where he thought the fault lied:

“I personally talked with [Philip] Zelikow [executive director of the 9/11 Commission] about this,” recalled the intelligence officer. “For whatever bizarre reasons, he didn’t pass on the information.”The State Department, where Zelikow now works as a counselor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, said he was traveling and unavailable for comment.
Drum, who admits to being agnostic on the Able Danger tale, points out that Kurt Weldon has made something of a hobby out of the data mining issue, and may have an axe to grind in pushing the Atta in Data story, and he speculated that the whole thing was being plussed up a bit (perhaps by the "bored press corps seeking juicy August stories during the Congressional recess and clinging to anti-war protesters for lack of access to Natalee Holloway's mom... Damn you, Greta Van Susteren...!!!!)

...The new relevations make the plussing up theory a lot more intriguing...
posted by JReid @ 1:50 AM  
Just checking...
Doesn't actress Angela Jolie hate her father, John Voigt, in part because he left her mother for another woman...? Just wondering...

Related: Hollywood takes sides. ... Jolie "always falls for" co-stars ... But of course would never, ever, ever sleep with a married man ... ahem ...
posted by JReid @ 1:46 AM  
Krugman on elections
Just in time for Katherine Harris' run for the Senate ... Paul Krugman passes along the stark warnings from a new book on the history of American vote stealing, including rundowns of the 2000 and 2004 elections, and on the perils for voters inherent in one-party rule. His conclusion:
Our current political leaders would suffer greatly if either house of Congress changed hands in 2006, or if the presidency changed hands in 2008. The lids would come off all the simmering scandals, from the selling of the Iraq war to profiteering by politically connected companies. The Republicans will be strongly tempted to make sure that they win those elections by any means necessary. And everything we've seen suggests that they will give in to that temptation.

Brief pause for the Freeper backlash, followed by the Freeper backlash disguised as sober National Review rebuttal article...
posted by JReid @ 1:41 AM  
Iran's options
The WSJ yesterday offered a sobering assessment of the cards Iran holds in its poker deck vs. the U.S.: namely, oil, gas and Iraq.
Iran's role as both an oil producer at a time of record prices and as a player in the politics of neighboring Iraq have made it trickier for the Bush administration to get tough on Tehran in the nuclear showdown. The administration has threatened to seek United Nations sanctions against Iran in the fall if the country refuses to accept international oversight of its nuclear program.

For their part, Iran's leaders seem to sense their advantages. In recent weeks, they have made clear they believe they have plenty of leverage and are less vulnerable to economic pressures from the outside. The country's new, hard-line president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, recently said "no economic or political incentive can dissuade us from getting peaceful nuclear energy."

...

The nuclear standoff comes at a particularly inopportune time for the Bush administration. In Iraq, the administration is scrambling to help the country's factions overcome differences and hammer out a constitution, taking a crucial step toward solidifying the country so U.S. troops might eventually withdraw.

Iran, which shares a long border with Iraq, has huge sway over much of Iraq's now-dominant Shiite population, and it could disrupt the constitutional process if it so chose. Western diplomats in Tehran say Iranian officials have been blunt in recent weeks on that point, threatening to cause problems in Iraq if the Bush administration tries to punish Iran with international sanctions.

The most influential man in Iraq, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, a Shiite leader whose approval has been central to every political twist and turn, is Iranian. When Iran's foreign minister, Kamal Kharazi, visited Iraq recently he visited Mr. Sistani -- an audience so far denied to top U.S. officials. "It didn't exactly please us to see the Iranians getting face time with Sistani," said a senior American diplomat in Iraq.

At the same time, oil prices have become a domestic thorn for President Bush, and any move that might push them higher could cost him support. Oil hit a nominal record of more than $66 a barrel last week before slipping slightly to $63.25 a barrel yesterday in New York trading.

Iran pumps around 3.5 million barrels a day, or about 4% of global oil production. It is the second-largest producer of oil in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and has the world's second-largest natural-gas fields. Analysts are divided over whether Tehran would openly use its energy leverage in a diplomatic standoff, if only because the Iranian government is so dependent on oil revenue.
So much for Bush's brilliant "axis of evil" strategy. We've lashed two spokes of the axis together at the hip: Grand Ayatolla Ali al-Sistani's hip, to be exact ...
posted by JReid @ 12:29 AM  
The ten people you meet in ... "good heavens!"
Person number one: Jude Law. Poor guy. Left hanging by the paparazzi, only to have his nanny-catcher snickered at by the New York Post. I thought we loved the Brits these days! I'll take you just this far. You'll have to click the rest of the way yourself. Hey Jude, at least there's still Sienna... who's either being really kind to you for the purposes of "publicity reversal" by being seen with you the day after the photo drop, or who's very, very understanding of the ironies of Godly endowment ...
posted by JReid @ 12:00 AM  
Thursday, August 18, 2005
The Iraq conundrum
Every time I hear the president's supporters argue that "we have to succeed in Iraq" in order to make progress in "the war on terror that started on 9/11", and that "the stakes are too high for us to fail," I come back to a central, nagging point: 9/11 was visited on the U.S. by outside forces. The Iraq war was not.

We weren't forced into Iraq by circumstances, the way you could argue we were in Afghanistan. We had no attack to avenge, no terrorists to chase or to demand that Saddam Hussein turn over. We had, in fact, no impetus to attack Iraq at all. Even the original rationale for the war, Iraq's failure to account for vast stores of weapons of mass destruction it was known to have ten years earlier, and it's "desire" -- or if you believed Cheney and Condi Rice then and perhaps even now -- their initiative to build nuclear weapons -- fail to provide a cogent rationale for war. If a state we consider an enemy attempts to get WMD or nuclear weapons the Bushian argument follows that we have no choice but to attack it -- yet we aren't invading Iran, Syria or North Korea (at least not yet). If we did, it wouldn't stop terrorism either -- like the Iraq war itself, it would only further ignite it. And if an attack on the U.S. by citizens of a given country is cause enough for war, then Britain should be at war with Pakistan and we should be at war with Saudi Arabia and Egypt (the countries where the 9/11 hijackers came from).

None of it holds up. And so the idea that we "have to succeed in Iraq" doesn't hold up either. We shouldn't ever have been there, under any logical argument. It is a conflict of our own making. So our need to succeed sounds more like a need for the Bush administration to succeed. Or a sense that we broke the place, and now we have to try and fix it. Or worse, an acknowledgment that we have created what could be THE destabilizing force in the Mideast -- a haven for terrorists we drew there, but whose reach will be as global as al-Qaida's. Even if that's the case, than the Iraq war (or whatever we're calling it today), isn't a struggle against terrorism at all. It's a struggle to undo an American mistake.

Update: Cindy Sheehan is going home to take care of her mother, who had a stroke. I'm sure the president's people hope her supporters would leave. They shouldn't count on it.
posted by JReid @ 7:08 PM  
The hand that rocks the cradle: college edition
Why is an American university, Virginia Tech, offering gender-segregated classes at the behest of Saudi Arabia? For the cash, apparently: around $246,000.
posted by JReid @ 6:58 PM  
Slap fight on the Senate floor
Trent Lott to Bill Frist: you've been served.
posted by JReid @ 6:49 PM  
The Roberts Agonistes
Where are the Sandy Berger brigades on the right asking how a raft of John G. Roberts papers from his time in the Reagan Justice Department went missing from the Reagan library after being reviewed by a pair of White House and J.D. lawyers...?

And why is the Roberts nomination becoming so painful for Democrats? Because elected Democrats have little control over "the base" -- the activists and donors want the Dems to fight Bush tooth and nail on everything, including the SupCo nomination, but the electeds realize they can't fight it all -- they have to pick their battles. To be sure, in the recent pass, the D.C. Dems have been guilty of choosing no battles at all -- but now that they realize they have to become a distinct party from the GOP, not just a weak echo chamber, which battles they choose is no small matter.

In my opinion, as I've said before, the Roberts nomination is the wrong fight. To win the confidence of the majority of Americans, Democrats need to resume being the party of three basic things:

- economic fairness (decent wages, jobs that stay in America, small business flourishing amid big corporations, and a decent immigration policy);

-a sane foreign policy and responsible use of the military (no more Iraqs, cooperation with allies, better pay and treatment for our troops);

- and a 21st century economy (including scientific progress, jump-starting manufacturing through innovation, more judicious trade policy, and a balanced federal budget).

The social issues that underly the Roberts fight: abortion, gay marriage and the like -- are precisely the niche issues that are keeping the Democrats out of national contention. They are important to the interest groups who champion them, but they will not bring the country under the Democratic banner. The screaming over Roberts only highlights the Democrats' social issue baggage at the expense of nationalizing the party's core strengths.
posted by JReid @ 3:22 PM  
Pat Buchanan: hero of the anti-war left?
Pat Buchanan does it again. having come full circle from his continued defense of the Vietnam campaign, to firmly and consistently oppose the nearly identical (in its flawed reasoning and execution) Iraq war (Buchanan would differ, saying the fight against communism was no neocon fantasy). This time he takes on the Cindy Sheehan phenomenon:

Cindy Sheehan: Antiwar Catalyst

When he flew off to San Clemente, Calif., in the summer of 1969 for his August vacation, Richard Nixon was riding a wave of popularity.

He had announced the first troop withdrawal from Vietnam. He had met the Apollo 11 crew of Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins on touchdown in the Pacific. He had become the first president to visit a captive nation with a triumphal tour of Bucharest. And he had just proposed a sweeping reform of welfare praised by both parties.

But when Nixon returned in September, a storm had broken. Wrote David Broder: “It is becoming more obvious with each passing day that the men and the movement that broke Lyndon Johnson’s authority in 1968 are out to break Richard Nixon in 1969.“The likelihood is great that they will succeed again.”

They did not succeed in breaking Nixon’s presidency. He broke them. The crucial moment was his “Great Silent Majority” speech of Nov. 3, 1969, which rallied Middle America behind his war policy.

George W. Bush is approaching a similar moment of truth. And Cindy Sheehan may be the catalyst of crisis for the Bush presidency.

As a Gold Star mother of a soldier son slain in Iraq, Sheehan has authenticity and moral authority. Wedded to the passion of her protest, these make her a magnet for a bored White House press corps camped in Crawford for August. Cindy and the president are the only stories in town. And as a source of daily derogatory commentary on the president, Sheehan is using the media, and the media are using her, for the same end: to bedevil George W. Bush.

They are succeeding. When one considers the non-stop cable TV coverage given the mother of Natalie Holloway, the Alabama teen missing in Aruba, Cindy Sheehan will soon be a household name. The more media she attracts, the more people she draws to Crawford. The more people who join Cindy in Crawford, the more media coverage they will attract. It is hard to see what breaks this cycle before Labor Day and the president’s return.

The purity of Sheehan’s protest has lately been diluted by her association with the far Left, the extravagance of her language and the arrival of political operatives to manipulate and manage her. But in a slow news month, Cindy Sheehan has helped turn the focus of national debate back to the war, at a moment of special vulnerability for the president.

According to Newsweek, support for Bush’s handling of the war has fallen for the first time below 40 percent—to 34 percent, with 61 percent now disapproving of his war leadership. Compare these numbers to the 68 percent support Nixon commanded on Vietnam after that November 3 address, and the gravity of Bush’s condition becomes evident.

Put bluntly, the bottom is falling out of support for the commander in chief. What is remarkable is that no Democrat has stepped forward, as Gene McCarthy did, to lead an antiwar crusade and call for a date certain for withdrawal of U.S. troops. Cindy Sheehan is filling that vacuum.

... Americans do not want an endless no-win war, but they also do not want to cut and run, or walk away and leave a debacle, when they believe that 1,850 Americans have died and 13,000 have been wounded in a noble cause If President Bush cannot describe “victory” in terms convincing enough to Americans willing to spend blood indefinitely, he will have to persuade them to stay the course by describing what a disaster defeat will mean for Iraq and for the America’s position in the world.

But to do that would raise a question: Why, then, in heaven’s name, did America take such a risk, when Iraq was never a threat?

Read the whole thing. It's worth it. Buchanan never favored the war and has been a consistent bedeviler of the neocons. In the case of Ms. Sheehan, who has become a politicized figure thanks to the left and the right, he has nailed it. She is a sympathetic figure no matter where you stand on the war, simply on the basis of her loss. If she becomes less sympathetic when she talks to the media, she regains stature every time another parent of a son or daughter killed in Iraq steps forward to join her.

Buchanan begins his column with a story about Richard Nixon. Here's another, courtesy of Truthout:
In May of 1970, right after the Kent State shootings, when civil unrest across the nation had reached a fever pitch and opposition to the war had roared again to the forefront, Nixon woke his personal valet in the middle of the night. He grabbed a few Secret Service agents and set off for the Lincoln Memorial. There, he spent an hour talking with a large gathering of war protesters encamped around the monument.

The Time Magazine article from May 18, 1970, recalls the scene this way: "When the conversation turned to the war, Nixon told the students: 'I know you think we are a bunch of so and so's.'" Before he left, Nixon said: 'I know you want to get the war over. Sure you came here to demonstrate and shout your slogans on the ellipse. That's all right. Just keep it peaceful. Have a good time in Washington, and don't go away bitter.' The singular odyssey went on. Nixon and his small contingent wandered through the capital, then drove to the Mayflower Hotel for a breakfast of corned beef hash and eggs - his first restaurant meal in Washington since he assumed power. Then he withdrew to his study in the Executive Office Building to sit out the day of protest."
In this sense, at least, George W. Bush is no Richard Nixon.

Interesting links: a brief history of the anti-Vietnam war movement.
posted by JReid @ 11:38 AM  
Extremism everywhere
The Israeli pullout from Gaza is providing a dramatic spectacle: Israeli men, women and children dragged out of homes and synagogues (the latter often shoved in front of the cameras by their parents, seemingly unaware of the psychological damage the unseemly spectacle might cause...) soldiers and settlers weeping into each other's arms, and violent, angry protests at "Jews expelling Jews." But the narrative provided by most cable channels is missing a certain point of context: we're witnessing a brand of religious extremism in Gaza that isn't unfamiliar: it exists in Islam and in Christianity, too (remember the assorted crazy aunties who came out of hiding during the Terri Schiavo fiasco?) It's just that such extremism is rarely associated in Western circles with Judaism.

Religious fanatics, who puzzlingly, are often filled with a quite un-Godly kind of hatred for their fellow man, are the kind of people who burn their houses down so that returning refugees can't live in them. Religious extremists demand that their country expend billions of dollars and countless human resources to constantly guard the 8,000 of them against the 3.5 million Palestinians surrounding them. Extremists throw water, bottles and even acid at soldiers who are just doing their jobs. Many Americans would be surprised to know that there are terrorists among the Israelis, just as among the Palestinians, including suicidal zealots who light themselves on fire, shoot into buses full of Arabs, and wish their prime minister dead. The bottom line: there are extremists to be found in every society. They lurk on the fringes of every religion. None are immune. It almost makes you wary of religion itself.

I've always found coverage of the Mideast conflict to be unbalanced -- much like U.S. policy. There is another story here: Palestinian refugees holding onto 60-year-old deeds to homes they now have at least the hope of returning to... the majority of Israeli citizens who support the exit from Gaza, and the settlers who obey the law by peacefully --- even if reluctantly -- returning to the country they are entitled to under international law. It would be nice if the networks would cover those stories, rather than just focusing on the extremists. It would be nice, but it's not likely.
posted by JReid @ 11:08 AM  
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
Feeling unwanted?

At some point, Katherine Harris has got to start wonder what a girl's got to do to get some GOP support around here. The Florida GOP is apparently so disenchanted with her decision to run for Bill Nelson's Senate seat, they've started their own ABK (Anybody but Kathy) effort, urging cable guy Joe Scarborough to run. Aside from the inauspicious way he finished his previous stint in office, Scarborough does have his selling points: he's got a small following from his low rated but popular with conservatives cable show, and he's ardently pro-Bush, which will help him ... well ... he's ardently pro-Bush.

Harris has done everything but bake Jeb Bush a cake since co-chairing the George W. Bush campaign with him in 2000 (and also helping out with the recount, while enduring those awful makeup jokes). And yet, each time she raises her hand to run for office, it gets summarily slapped down by the forces of Republican electoral strategy -- with many of the ill winds seeming to blow from the top. (although this time, Harris' people insist that the entreaties to Scarborough have no White House ties). Just what is the going rate on delivering an election these days? Apparently it's nothing you could use to, say, fund a breast augmentation... Luckily, Ms. Harris has plenty of her own war chest (meaning money, of course) to spend. And a Harris vs. "Scarborough Country" campaign is something Floridians of every political stripe can look forward to...
posted by JReid @ 1:14 AM  
Stop making sense
Pat Buchanan does it again, this time on Iran. And by the way, remember the "Axis of Evil" -- perhaps soon to be renamed by Don "not helpful" Rumsfeld as "The triumvirate of non-cooperating nation states not yet enured to the blessings of liberty"? Well U.S. policy in confronting it is a mess. Which underscores Buchanan's central point: why even bother making threatening noises at Iran?
posted by JReid @ 1:06 AM  
The axis of futility
Interest groups on the left are pounding D.C. Democrats for essentially giving up the ghost on John Roberts. Democrats would do well to ignore the screaming. Earth to left: you can't whip the Bush machine into giving you Ruth Bader Ginsberg. Trade in Roberts and you'll get something worse, guaranteed. Let it go. Yes, he's conservative -- he likes school prayer -- tell me something shocking, please.

I highly doubt that Roberts on the court is the begininning of the end of the world -- unless in your view "the world" consists mainly of Roe v. Wade and gay marriage (neither of which is going to change very much any time soon, because whatever the SupCo does with those issues, voters will reject both the across-the-board banning of abortion and the blanket imposition of gay marriage soundly)... I honestly think sometimes that the hard left fails to grasp that this is why much of the country, despite its disgust with the corrupt, money gorging, incompetant foreign policy-having, bloated deficit, big spending, border ignoring, outsource-happy GOP, isn't keen to turn the country over to the boutique interest, niche cultural issue-obsessed Democratic Party. Wake up, people!
posted by JReid @ 1:00 AM  
Supporting the troops, unless they're dead
How do you show support to the troops? It's a good question. By sending supplies or raising money for families? By urging your congressman to push for better pay and healthcare for members of the uniformed military? By railing in favor of the war on talk radio or the blogosphere? By selling the policy in your official capacity at a leading newspaper? By calling for them to be brought home and misused no more? Or by trashing those who don't share your support for the war, whatever their opinion of the troops -- including those whose opinion of said troops is shaped by familial proximity ...

Here's the way one ardent war supporter found to honor the troops in Crawford: by dragging an iron pipe attached to his truck over a row of white crosses adorned with the names of troops who've died in Iraq, along with tiny American flags. Yep. Sounds like the Bush cult supports the troops like crazy. Any conflagration on the right over what should be a seminal embarassment to them? Not so far. So far, we've got Christopher Hitchens staggering through another slurry war defense/Sheehan bash, which of course starts out with a supposed Sheehan quote that both she, and ABC News, the supposed repository of the email containing said quote -- deny came from Sheehan ...

Michelle Malkin manages to squeeze in a drop of outrage over the "nutball" desecrator in between liberal bashing and Sheehan slamming... remember, this is your sides nutball, Madge... and her tracks include a few assorted tisk-tisks along with still more Sheehan whipping.

The Jawa Report offers as reasonable a deconstruction of the Sheehan issue as you're probably going to get from the right, along with a "Hitch" correction on a key point:
I don't think it outrageous to claim that Cindy Sheehan does have some moral authority that I, for instance, lack. But it seems to me that if there's such a thing as "moral standing" to comment on a war, it resides a great deal more with those who are actually serving, and especially those soldiers who have also lost friends and comrades in the fight. And it does make sense that those who pay the costs have greater moral authority that those of us who are shielded from sacrifice (by an administration that for some inexplicable reason refuses to ask very much of its citizenry). Let's be realistic.
TJR goes on to agree with Hitchens on the point of "infantilizing" the dead by presuming that by default, "they was had..."

The sad thing is, the kind of vitriol you hear coming from the House of Limbaugh, including the normally funny and non-Bush-bot Glenn Beck, who has taken to calling Ms. Sheehan a bereavement whore or some such nonsense, is exactly symmetrical with the supposed nut-job in Crawford. He was acting out the same kind of venom he probably heard that afternoon on right wing talk radio. When Freepers attack, it helps to remember who feeds them...
posted by JReid @ 12:36 AM  
A healthy scoop of nothing
The NYT's supposed big scoop on Wednesday leaves much to be desired in the "news making" department. The boffo headline: State Department Warned Sleepy Clinton Admnistration About Bin Laden in 1996. The details: Analysts at Foggy Bottom figured out that the terror mastermind -- er, "financier" at the time -- was dangerous, and that he could become more so if he moved from Sudan to Afghanistan, but they didn't know exactly how dangerous or in what context ... Brilliant. This should give Fox News, NewsMax and the Freepers something to do all day tomorrow rather than talking about Iraq, but beyond that, not impressive.
posted by JReid @ 12:24 AM  
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
The war mom chronicles
J. Marcus Xavier at Very Small Doses has a handy timeline of the Cindy Sheehan saga.
posted by JReid @ 5:36 PM  
Kelonation
I don't usually do Newsmax -- I prefer to get my right wing news from a few selected sources whom I at least respect, even if I disagree (Jawa, Wizbang, MarkInMexico, etc.) But a few days ago, NewsMax nailed it on Kelo, via a syndicated piece from Paul Graig Roberts. The bottom line -- The Kelo eminent domain case is not just flawed reasoning, its implications for private property and government control over the literal distribution of wealth are breathtaking.
Kelo does not mean the end of private property per se, but it does mean the end of anyone's secure possession, be the owner an individual or a corporation. To the extent that Americans still possess constitutional rights, Kelo could mean their end, as well.
And a few paragraphs down the road:
What if Poletown had been a Chrysler plant that GM wanted to eliminate as a competitor? Under the Kelo ruling, if GM could show that its cars are more successful and produce higher taxable profits than Chrysler's, and the eminent domain authority is not in Chrysler's pocket, GM could prevail.

Today, Toyota, for example, could seek to condemn Ford's River Rouge plant, which is known to be largely obsolete, in order to obtain the site for its own economic use. There appears to be nothing in Kelo to prevent this outcome.

Note some of the implications: According to economic theory, monopoly profits are higher than competitive profits. Kelo becomes a way to get around antitrust laws and increase concentration in the name of public benefit.
That being the case, Roberts asks, why aren't the interest groups on both sides rising up in outrage, rather than sputtering around the track for the umpteenth time over abortion? I would add, why are interest groups on the left and right flogging the justices of the peace over gay marriage? Are those things bigger than Kelo? I would say not even close. Why isn't a key question to be asked of, say, Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts, where he stands on the right to private property?

I've been disappointed in the Democratic Party for not seizing on this issue, which is the ultimate test of the little guy's power in the face of the loaded double barrels of state and corporate power. This is an issue any liberal, conservative or Libertarian should be able to love. But maybe that's the point: it doesn't polarize the country, so it doesn't matter.
posted by JReid @ 5:17 PM  
The sure thing
Told ya Roberts was in like Flynn. Now, can we move on, ladies?

Previous posts:
posted by JReid @ 8:18 AM  
Monday, August 15, 2005
The mustache chronicles
What on earth would John Bolton want with a jailed-up Judy Miller? Only Arianna knows for sure ... and BTW, HuffPo knows how to "I'm Arianna Huffington, bitch" slap a fellow female blogger, too. Cat fight!
posted by JReid @ 8:00 PM  
Goodbye, Gaza
This is an historic day for the Palestinians, who are essentially the last landless people on the planet (unless you count the Basques, Cypriots and Kurds, who are part of a country but don't want to be...) For the first time in nearly 40 years, they will control at least the majority of their destiny (Israel still controls the water and air rights over Gaza, and probably just about everything else that's worth much of anything). Anyway, here's hoping Abbas and Co. make the most of it. BTW I guess nothing ever came of that settler teen mass suicide threat... Israel also pulled out of two tiny West Bank settlements today. (Good Reuters story with great pics)

It's probably helpful to keep a sense of proportion about all this. The Gaza Strip was home to about 8,000 Jewish settlers, living in the midst of more than 1.3 million Palestinians, crammed into 360 square kilometers of land along the Mediterranean. The settlers living in the Gaza outposts include some of the most hardline right wing religious settlers, many from the U.S., and many of whose transport to Gaza was paid either by extreme right wing groups in the U.S., or by Ariel Sharon in a former life. They're getting about $300,000 apiece to move back inside Israel's legal borders, and off the land which under U.N. rules, is being illegally settled by an occupying country. On the Palestinian side, nearly half the population is aged 14 or under, poverty is rampant, emeliorated by the relatively rich Hamas militants, who dole out food and largesse Gambino-style, along with entreaties to bomb Israel back into the stone age.

By pulling out, Israel gets rid of an expensive problem -- sustaining a handful of fanatics who require a tremendous force ratio to secure them, not to mention the myriad checkpoints required to allow Jews to get from one place to another (and which restrict Palestinians from doing the same). (Many in the IDF have concluded themselves that it just wasn't worth it...) But the risk is that Hamas takes over Gaza, and Mahmoud Abbas loses control. Israel hopes neighboring Egypt will help with security, and Sharon hopes he lasts long enough in power to get it done, along with probably token withdrawals from the West Bank. Lest you think Sharon has suddenly found his softer side, I'd wager he plans to hold on to the vast majority of the W. Bank, along with all of Jerusalem, inlcuding historically Arab East Jerusalem, in exchange for handing over Gaza...

More info: CIA World Factbook
posted by JReid @ 5:27 PM  
Hillary on the march: it's all love...
More goings-on on the Hill front. Mrs. Clinton has reportedly shown some love to a former "Draft Hillary" guy by hiring him. (Darn! I knew I should have started that Hillary for President web site...!) And Senate rivalette Jeanine Pirro continues to be the political gift that keeps on giving ... to the most deserving newspaper of them all...
As Westchester County DA Jeanine Pirro began prepping for her Senate run against Hillary Rodham Clinton, her controversial hubby got busy mending fences with a potential political liability — his love child.

Jessica Hutchison, Albert Pirro's former mistress, detailed in an explosive interview with The Post how he once spent years denying he was the father of their daughter — then suddenly began behaving more like a dad to her earlier this year, sending the 22-year-old money on a monthly basis.

And last Wednesday, the very day Jeanine Pirro announced she would seek the Republican nomination to challenge Clinton, Hutchison said Albert Pirro promised to buy their daughter, Jaclyn Marciano, a new Chrysler PT Cruiser.

Hutchison called the timing of Albert Pirro's sudden interest in their daughter "kind of glaringly obvious."

"But truly, I don't care what his reason is for helping her," she said.
"She deserves his help. I'm thankful for the fact that he's doing that much for her, and I keep both my eyes open for her safety. If he rejects her again . . . the potential damage to her is beyond repair."

Even with the renewed relations, Jaclyn — who Hutchison said has mental-health problems — is forbidden from contacting her dad at the palatial Westchester County home he shares with his political-powerhouse wife.
You'll want to read the whole thing -- believe me -- complete with the scoop on what Jaclyn has to go through for just a little convo with dear old dad. [With pics] [Without registration] And if you want to know why the House of Murdoch is watering down the Hillary haterade (lightweight attack article, front page Pirro slam) here's a hint: Rupert -- like so many of us during 1990s, is doing pretty well under a Clinton...
posted by JReid @ 12:09 PM  
Unsurprising headlines
When the going gets tough, lower expectations:

U.S. Lowers Sights On What Can Be Achieved in Iraq
Administration Is Shedding 'Unreality' That Dominated Invasion, Official Says

By Robin Wright and Ellen Knickmeyer, Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, August 14, 2005; A01

The Bush administration is significantly lowering expectations of what can be achieved in Iraq, recognizing that the United States will have to settle for far less progress than originally envisioned during the transition due to end in four months, according to U.S. officials in Washington and Baghdad.

The United States no longer expects to see a model new democracy, a self-supporting oil industry or a society in which the majority of people are free from serious security or economic challenges, U.S. officials say.

"What we expected to achieve was never realistic given the timetable or what unfolded on the ground," said a senior official involved in policy since the 2003 invasion. "We are in a process of absorbing the factors of the situation we're in and shedding the unreality that dominated at the beginning."

More on the lowered expectations sweepstakes.
posted by JReid @ 11:55 AM  
The ongoing investigation chronicles
Check out this hilarious spoof on Scott McClellan.
posted by JReid @ 11:17 AM  
Idol threats?
Looks like Dick Cheney's editing the president's remarks again ... George W. Bush is talking tough once again, this time aiming his sharp, cowboy rhetoric at Iran. Bush commented on Israeli television that "we've used force in the recent past" and it remains on the table if Iran doesn't come to heel on its nuclear program. At least one writer at the Guardian believes Bush and pal Tony Blair will likely go for it, with air strikes alone, in part to shore up Bush's and the GOP's support during the mid-term elections. But other analysts, including uber-Mideast analyst Fareed Zakaria beg to differ, indicating that with our forces stretched to the breaking point in Iraq, Mr. Bush's threats may be as hollow as his presidential resume. Althought Bush's comments were helpful to Germany's Helmust Schroeder, who is running for reelection again, and could definitely use some Bush gaffes to slam.
posted by JReid @ 2:14 AM  
Sunday, August 14, 2005
Justice Sunday best
What happened to the fired-up faithful who were supposed to rally in support of their president's Supreme Court nomiee on Justice Sunday?
The broader focus of the telecast, which was broadcast to churches and Christian radio and television stations, indicates the difficulties for both the right and the left in discerning Judge Roberts's legal views from his limited judicial record. In the days before the event, several of the telecast's participants and some of their allies acknowledged that their confidence in the nominee was tempered by reports that he had contributed pro bono aid that helped a gay rights group win a landmark Supreme Court case.

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council and principal organizer of the telecast, summed up his more cautious support for President Bush's choice in an e-mail message to supporters after the report 10 days ago: "Trust but verify." In an e-mail message on Friday about the telecast, Mr. Perkins said the event's focus would not be "a pep rally" for the confirmation.
Ole! Funny that pink bunny business didn't rile them up (or reassure them, depending on how you look at it...) BTW is it just me, or is the WaPo throwing puff pieces at Roberts aimed at casting him as a straight-laced, but unquestionably straight, family man? To be honest, I think the Roberts is a homosexual stuff is probably bunk, but still ... if Tony Perkins is concerned...

Also, how does George W. Bush plan to spend at least one lazy day on the Crawford ranch during his five-week vacation? By tooling around the shrubbery on tandem bikes with Tour de France "hero" Lance Armstrong. Wonder if Lance will bring the wife along so that she and Laura can ... oh, that's right, Lance dumped his wife for that 40-something rocker chick years ago, after she nursed him through brain cancer ... hm... awkard...

... And I wonder if Lance 'n George will have to pedal their Secret Service detail around those pesky anti-war protesters ... Maybe the local radio station can send some people out to hold since saying "thank you, Lance!" and pretending to be enthusiastic about Iraq... (come on you kids, pay attention ... you look bored! Psst! The camera's on you, son!)

Meanwhile, Newsweek's August 22 edition looks to soften Bush's image with a piece on his agonizing meetings with military families. I suppose he's shelved the "who are we honoring today?" line... at least, for now.

The NY Post runs this irresistible piece on the guy who claims his wife had a fling with the rector at St. Patrick's Cathedral in NYC. Only at the Post...

Rich and Krugman tag-team Bush on the war, and on Social Security (which turned 70 years old this weekend.) Killer Rich line:
As if the right-wing pundit crackup isn't unsettling enough, Mr. Bush's top war strategists, starting with Mr. Rumsfeld and Gen. Richard Myers, have of late tried to rebrand the war in Iraq as what the defense secretary calls "a global struggle against violent extremism." A struggle is what you have with your landlord. When the war's über-managers start using euphemisms for a conflict this lethal, it's a clear sign that the battle to keep the Iraq war afloat with the American public is lost.

Ah, the GSAVE ... I miss it already ...

Also, the Times does an interesting piece on the Palestinian side of the Gaza pullout.
posted by JReid @ 10:17 PM  
Saturday, August 13, 2005
True colors
The backlash over the NCAA's ruling barring the use of Native American team names and imagery at games continues, and this time, some Floridia State University alumni are injecting a dose of stupid into the controversy:


Alums offer apology to tribe

TALLAHASSEE - A Florida State University trustee and a state senator apologized Friday for making statements casting aspersions on the ancestors of Oklahoma's Seminoles, who were forced at gunpoint to reservations on the Trail of Tears in the 1800s.

Trustee Richard McFarlain and Sen. Jim King, a Jacksonville Republican, made the statements after the NCAA last week announced that FSU -- whose sports teams are named the Seminoles -- and 17 other schools couldn't display their "hostile or abusive" Native American names and imagery during tournaments, starting in February.
King said Oklahoma's Seminoles "gave up and went to the reservation" in the early 1800s. McFarlain said they weren't "real Seminoles."

And FSU president T.K. Wetherell made a joking reference to the Trail of Tears, named for the thousands of Native Americans, particularly women and children, who died while being forced from their homes.

FSU leaders and boosters believed Oklahoma's Seminole tribe pushed for the ban on Native American imagery, and were unaware that the tribe's council voted in July not to condemn FSU and other schools that use it. Individual tribe and council members, though, were instrumental in pushing the ban.

But the Oklahoma tribe's supportive sentiment threatened to change when members read the comments -- notably McFarlain's.

At a meeting Wednesday, he said he "could care less" about what they thought in Oklahoma and chuckled that general Andrew Jackson, the future president, had defeated them in the mid-1800s.
Now, of course, Jim King and members of the state legislature are planning hearings on the matter and a resolution condemninig the NCAA's action. And they could use the support of the Seminole Nation in making their case. Just last week, Gov. Jeb Bush used the fact that Seminoes support the school's use of the name in his argument that the ban is "ridiculous."

Tidbit:
Attorney Barry Richard has agreed to represent the school in its case against the NCAA, Florida State President T.K. Wetherell said. Richard successfully led the legal challenge on behalf of President Bush during the 2000 election recount in Florida.

"If you have the Seminole Tribe and Gov. Bush on your side, how can you go wrong?" said Florida State Vice President Lee Hinkle.
Clearly there are lots of ways you can "go wrong." Still, I wonder if King and Co., will also use their vaunted hearings and resolutions condemn the comments, including his own, and these by FSU president Wetherall:

Wetherell said after Wednesday's meeting that "maybe the Trail of Tears should have gone farther, I don't know.''
Oh, OK I get it: the team names and "mascots" aren't racist, the people are. Yep, that should sway the NCAA.
posted by JReid @ 11:19 AM  
Friday, August 12, 2005
Rusty logic
Every so often, a member of the vast right wing conspiracy makes perfect sense. Consider this just such a winger lucid moment. From Rusty Shackleford at Jawa today, in response to a load of tin foil hattery by Crazy ole' Captain Ed:

No, Iraq Had Nothing to do with 9/11

Is the 9/11 Report flawed? Yes. But that does not mean there was a conspiracy to keep information out of the report. It is the inherent nature of government reports, all government reports, to be flawed. If you don't want a flawed government report then you should not ask the government to report on anything.

Do the Able Danger revelations impeach the entire 9/11 Report so that nothing in the report should be believed? No. Of course not. It would be silly to have ever imagined that the report represented reality unbiased and unfiltered.

The 9/11 Report represents a consensus view on intelligence failures that led to the 9/11 attrocities. Consensus views, by their very nature, are never complete and are never 100% accurate. They can't be. But the alternative to producing a consensus view is producing competing reports, each with their own set of biases, each with a different set of assumptions, and each with a different focus and emphasis.
So, when Captain Ed began speculating that there may actually have been operational ties between al Qaeda and Iraq, I was a bit taken aback...
For the right, the Iraq-9/11 link belief has always been on a hair trigger, particularly as the war has gone sour. Clearly, they understand that the belief that Saddam Hussein was involved in the horrendous attacks of that day underpinned Americans' support for the Iraq invasion, and that the erosion of that belief (along with the daily escalation in violence) has corresponded with a decline in support for the war. Americans experienced a kind of cognitive dissonance after the attacks, whereby they wouldn't -- or couldn't -- let the connection go. I have interviewed soldiers and family members who held onto the belief long after the administration's ever-shifting cases for war began to fall apart. I chalked it up to a preference to fight for something (avenging the attacks), rather than to risk dying for God knows what... I can tell you that there are members of the military who are much more jaded now.

Dr. Rusty is right: the Able Danger revelation doesn't advance the Iraq-9/11 ball any further down the road. In fact, the fact that this kind of information wasn't shared -- not with the commission, but with the National Security Council when it mattered -- is further proof that the bohemoth federal government is almost congenitally unequal to the task of managing intelligence information efficiently. Perhaps Donald Rumsfeld should give up trying to streamline the military and find a way to convince his big government national party that "transformation" begins at home...

Still, it never ceases to amaze me that so many on the right continue to hold onto an almost manic need to believe in the Saddam-9/11 fairy tale, and with it, every word that drips from the mouths of the Bush administration. Total surrender to government is a pretty unseemly quality, and not one normally associated with "conservatives" who are supposedly skeptical of government. But then, the Bush cultists are not really conservatives, are they...
posted by JReid @ 9:54 PM  
That 70's show (part 3)
Odd that the climb-down hasn't gotten the attention of the hoist-up... turns out the CIA says Ahmadinejad probably wasn't one of the Iran hostage takers...

Previous headlines:
posted by JReid @ 9:40 PM  
A-cuttin'-and-a-runnin'
From today's Times of London:
So we're going to bolt from Iraq. Where are the cries of complaint?
Matthew Parris

IN PASSING you may have noticed that a cartload of Shia bully-boy militiamen removed the Mayor of Baghdad from office this week and installed their own man, who now says he is too scared for his own life to hold on to the job. It has not been suggested that America and Britain, the guarantors of the security of the free Iraq that we went to war to create, were in any position to stop this. It came days after a great many more American soldiers were killed in Iraq: 45 already this month, as I write.
You may also have noticed that, according to The New York Times: “If the political process in Iraq remains on track and security improves, perhaps up to 30,000 troops could pull out by next spring.”

You may have asked what was meant in that sentence by the words “remains on track”. The “track” looks a curious railway with some unconventional destinations. But where it leads is ever-clearer: to a resolve by politicians to stand everyday observation on its head, and conclude that we have “won” in Iraq — and sprint back home during the incredulous pause before everyone begins to laugh.

You may have noticed, too, that our own Government is talking about massive British troop reductions in southern Iraq, possibly for “redeployment” to Afghanistan (“or tsunami relief, or Oxfam, or anywhere”, gulps Tony Blair into his shaving mirror).
The game is nearly up: not the military game, the psychological one. We can no longer take the strain in Iraq. We are going to make a bolt for it. You know that, don’t you? I suspect most British people do. It’s bearing down on us with a terrible inevitability.

Well? I am waiting. A number of us are waiting. We were expecting an angry chorus from a particular quarter. So why the silence? You could hear a pin drop. Why don’t they sing out, the armchair warriors of Fleet Street? George W. Bush and his friends are preparing to scuttle Iraq, and nobody’s complaining.

Where are they, those editorialisers whose confident “Tally-ho!” cheered our lads into Basra and Baghdad and whose cry was that we were “in this for the long haul”, to “finish the job”? Finish the job indeed — do they really think, does anybody think, that the job is finished? Does anyone seriously suggest that a free and democratic Iraq is now heading into the home straight?

Of course not. The place is going to hell in a handcart...
Sad, but just as true of our own Tally-hoes as those across the pond.
posted by JReid @ 8:29 PM  
Why is this man smiling?
Because he's going to sail through confirmation for the Supreme Court, thanks to the hysterics of groups like NARAL. The ladies have pulled the "Roberts (heart) Clinic Bombers ad, but they can't undo the compound strategic blunder: first, the ad itself, then, the "whoopsie!" yanking that followed a full day of defending the product, including in a no-win battle on "Hardball" last night. (I waited for David Gregory to point out the irony of that creepy Ginsberg guy tisk-tisking NARAL after having represented the Swift Boat hacks, but alas it was in vain ...) As a result, elected Democrats can be expected to put a healthy distance between themselves and the left's anti-Roberts argument, and he will likely be confirmed with healthy numbers.

NARAL has made the classic mistake of choosing the wrong battle for the time and circumstances you find yourself in and then fighting it the way you think the other side would (the right did it with Terri Schiavo, the left is still doing it on abortion and gay marriage). The game, it seems to me, is to choose your battles carefully and win them, not to throw everything but the kitchen sink onto the board and hope for the best. Instead, the "Roe, Roe, Roe" lobby has handed the right a victory at a time when they are sucking wind through every orafice (between Iraq, the middle class squeeze, oil prices and the assorted crazy aunties on the religious right).

Update: Just when you thought the Roberts silly season couldn't get any sillier... meet the Conservative Bloggers Who Support The Gay Judge Roberts. Even Bob Novak couldn't hate that...

Previous posts:
posted by JReid @ 6:00 PM  
Thursday, August 11, 2005
WWJD ('What Would Jimi Do')?
How did rock legend Jimi Hendrix get out of the military at the height of Vietnam?
In regular visits to the base psychiatrist at Fort Campbell, Ky., in spring 1962, Hendrix complained that he was in love with one of his squad mates and that he had become addicted to masturbating, Cross writes. Finally, Capt. John Halbert recommended him for discharge, citing his "homosexual tendencies."

Hendrix's legendary appetite for women negates the notion that he might have been gay, Cross writes. Nor, Cross says, was his stunt politically motivated: Contrary to his later image, Hendrix was an avowed anti-communist who exhibited little unease about the escalating U.S. role in Vietnam.

He just wanted to escape the Army to play music — he had enlisted to avoid jail time after being repeatedly arrested in stolen cars in Seattle, his hometown.
Sad thing is, if he tried that today, the Army recruiter would just alter the paperwork and sign him up for Iraq duty anyway.
posted by JReid @ 5:54 PM  
Media doubletake
How wide is the chasm between the broad support on the part of fellow journalists for Jim DeFede (whose column regularly ran afowl of powerful interests in Miami but who lost his job after secretly taping a source) and the quiet disdain for Robert Novak (whose column regularly serves powerful interests in Washington and who lost his CNN job after cussing like a sixth grader but not his column after outing a CIA agent.

Update: Fiedler in food fight with New Times over DeFede firing and "corporate cowardice."
posted by JReid @ 5:25 PM  
Cracking the geezers
Did somebody in the Bush White House get to Mick Jagger? One minute you're an edgy rock god taking on The Man with a controversial new song ("Sweet Neo-Con") and a bad attitude ("It is direct," Mick Jagger told Newsweek. "Keith said [he breaks into a dead-on Keith imitation], 'It's not really metaphorical.' I think he's a bit worried because he lives in the U.S." Jagger smiles "But I don't."), and the next, you're insisting that your torch song ain't meant to torch the president after all. Lyrics:
“How come you’re so wrong? My sweet neo-con, where’s the money gone, in the Pentagon,” goes one refrain.

The song also includes the line: “It’s liberty for all, democracy’s our style, unless you are against us, then it’s prison without trial.”
Backpedal:

The Rolling Stones’ upcoming album contains a song seemingly critical of President Bush, but Mick Jagger denies it’s directed at him, according to the syndicated TV show “Extra.”

“It is not really aimed at anyone,” Jagger said on the entertainment-news show’s Wednesday edition. “It’s not aimed, personally aimed, at President Bush. It wouldn’t be called ’Sweet Neo Con’ if it was.”

“It is certainly very critical of certain policies of the administration, but so what! Lots of people are critical,” Jagger told “Extra.”
...publicist Denial (hat tip to Eric at Classical Values):

Britain's New Musical Express publication, which calls itself "the world's biggest-selling rock weekly," reported last week that Sweet Neo-Con "is believed to be an attack on the politics of George Bush and the Republican administration." Various other publications have made similar reports, and the Rolling Stones Fan Club of Europe says Virgin Records has been telling people the song has "a political message about moralism in the White House."

Not so, says Stones publicist Fran Curtis. The song "is not about nor does it mention Bush or his administration." Curtis did not say what it is about, but no matter: It's Only Rock 'n Roll.

Could it be that certain leaked background files were waved in Mick's general direction? Or is it a sudden burst of marketing savvy -- and a desire to sell concert tickets to an as-yet-un-sold out concert tour...? Bloody geezers ... where have all the rebels gone...?

Previous posts:
posted by JReid @ 4:55 PM  
Trashing Specialst Sheehan('s mom)
The trashing of Cindy Sheehan is in full force on the Free Republic and elsewhere. The posts are normally dotted with cardboard compassion ("w're just so genuinely sorry for her loss") followed by full throated venom. She's with the enemy, she's anti-American, she's anti-semitic, she's an "anti-war pig"... What's this the right says about the left being vitriolic?

The trashing of this military mom is a disgrace, especially coming from a cadre of chicken hawks who would never walk in her shoes, because neither they nor their sons and daughters have any intention of enlisting for service in Iraq. The right even attempts to prove Sheehan is a liar, citing a June 2004 article in her hometown paper about her meeting with the president which they say contradicts her later statements about Bush's impersonal, cold tone. But while that vaunted article portrays other members of her family as favorably disposed toward Bush, it says this about Sheehan:

Surreal soon seemed like an understatement, as the Sheehans - one of 17 families who met Thursday with Bush - were whisked in a matter of days to the Army post and given the VIP treatment from the military. But as their meeting with the president approached, the family was faced with a dilemma as to what to say when faced with Casey's commander-in-chief. "We haven't been happy with the way the war has been handled," Cindy said. "The president has changed his reasons for being over there every time a reason is proven false or an objective reached."

The 10 minutes of face time with the president could have given the family a chance to vent their frustrations or ask Bush some of the difficult questions they have been asking themselves, such as whether Casey's sacrifice would make the world a safer place. But in the end, the family decided against such talk, deferring to how they believed Casey would have wanted them to act. In addition, Pat noted that Bush wasn't stumping for votes or trying to gain a political edge for the upcoming election. "We have a lot of respect for the office of the president, and I have a new respect for him because he was sincere and he didn't have to take the time to meet with us," Pat said. [Editorial note: Pat is not protesting in Crawford, Cindy is...]

Sincerity was something Cindy had hoped to find in the meeting. Shortly after Casey died, Bush sent the family a form letter expressing his condolences, and Cindy said she felt it was an impersonal gesture.
Sorry, but I don't see the contradiction... Sheehan was disillusioned with Mr. Bush then as now. Only a year later, she has watched other mothers join her grim club, and watched the war spiral out of control, while George W. Bush pretends that everything is just fine -- so fine, he's giving himself a five-week vacation.

Cindy Sheehan has every reason to be disillusioned with this war and this preseident. Hell, at this point, the only people who aren't feeling that way (including being pretty sour on neocons) are the hard-core Bush robots on the blogs and the sycophants on right wing radio and Fox News...

Previous posts:
posted by JReid @ 1:30 PM  
Burning questions (from the right)
From Jawa (Dr. Rusty is right ... meaning correct, for a change): Who is the Idiot that Refused to Pass on Atta's Name to the FBI?

Is MSNBC's management team on crack? Why take a swipe at the best show host you've got? BTW HuffPo is right on Keith, wrong on Rita -- the saucy voice is part of her Fox-esque, cheesey shlock news charm. She and Keith make a powerful combo -- legit Daily Show with Jacko stick puppets backed by faux Fox News show with blonde news puppet (and they've provided the additional service of bumping that annoying Tucker Carlson into the dead air slot at 11...) Put it in your calendar: MSNBC weeknights from 8 to 10. Don't miss it!
posted by JReid @ 1:20 PM  
Crochety Oil Guy vs. The Designer Pantsuit
If Bob Woodward is right, it will be Hillary v. Cheney in 2008. Not sure I'm buying Cheney running for president (he will have already led the country for eight years, so there would be no novelty in it, though the lure of bringing his particular brand of unadulterated evil to center stage might be just too much for the old guy to resist...) but just for fun, let's say he does run:

The primary would be a bloodbath: McCain swift boated with claims he joined the Viet Cong and ritually married one -- maybe two -- of their women during his "stay" in the Hanoi Hilton, Rudy's scandal bag busted wide open (as his gay friends leak all sorts of juicy tidbits to the press in retaliation for his sudden refusal to return their phonecalls), Bill Frist desperately clawing at Focus on the Family's door Sunday after justice Sunday, begging for forgiveness and just five minutes onstage, George Allen unable to wipe that goofy smile off his face and ultimately creeping out both the media and the electorate, and Rick Santorum's people offering bribes to get him back on "The Daily Show." All while Karl Rove releases the FBI files of all of the above to Fox News and Dick Cheney's other henchmen reprogram the box on Dubya's back so that he's only able to speak when his "subordinate" presses a certain button on a well-guarded remote control ...

Wow. That ought to make the Hillary vs. Edwards vs. Kerry primary seem like an episode of the Partidge Family. I wonder where they'll hold the nominating convention ... Can I get a "Guantanamo Bay"...?
posted by JReid @ 11:41 AM  
Bush fiddles while the world burns
Dubya's throwing a little get together for his foreign policy and defense teams today, down at the ranch. The AP sums it up nicely:
The unhurried pace of this one-stoplight town stands in sharp contrast to events across the globe: Suicide bombings in Iraq. On-again, off-again negotiations with the reclusive North Korea. Iran's decision to restart sensitive nuclear work in defiance of European-led negotiations. The pullout next week of some 9,000 Jewish settlers in the Gaza Strip and West Bank.
The "what, me worry?" president strikes again.

Update: Here's a look at what's on George W's "While You Were Out" list:

...and on and on and on, ad nauseum. What a hell of a time to take a vacation...

posted by JReid @ 10:35 AM  
The war at home

Watching the third installment of "Over There" (a show that has become must-see TV at my house) it struck me that the war in Iraq sorely lacks a narrative. WWI made the world safe for democracy. WWII was about defeating the forces of Naziism and fascism. The Cold War was a titanic battle between democracy and communism. Even Vietnam was about the same thing, in its own ill-fated way. The invasion of Afghanistan: all about 9/11 (or that Caspian pipeline, depending on your point of view).

In the end, the Iraq war may turn out to be more like Korea, a war whose narrative was essentially provided by a hit TV show: "M.A.S.H."

With no fewer than three rationales for war long since shot down (weapons of mass destruction, Iraq's supposed nuclear program and liberation theology/democracy -- which clearly is crumbling as that country struggles to cobble together something like an Islamic fragmented republic of mini-Iran) we're left with a war to end the war, hopefully with some shred of American dignity left (if the return of Abu Ghraib and assorted other scandals, including PlameGate, don't completely crush the reputations of the United States military and its commander in chief).

The Bush administration at one point attempted to supply a narrative (for both Iraq and Afghanistan, as if the latter needed one). Unfortunately they used outright lies to weave heroic war stories like those of Jessica Lynch and Pat Tillman. They used the nuclear boogeyman and trashed Collin Powell's reputation by shoving him in front of the United Nations. As a result, the images that resonate from the Iraq war are either false (Lynch and Tillman), tragic (Powell's discarding of his credibility at the House of Kofi), repulsive (Abu Ghraib) or staged (that memorable statue toppling). But for the capture of Saddam Hussein, which may also have been a stage-up, there are no durable, dramatic images of the conflict that give it a cohesive meaning. (While Afghanistan, arguably the more necessary conflict, has become a war in the shadows, with the deaths of CIA agent Johnny Michael Spann -- the first person to die in that conflict, the capture of John Walker Lindh, the escape of Osama bin Laden at Tora Bora and other stories long lost in the day to day meat grinder of Iraq.)

What's worse, the administration's Castroesque handling of its critics, including attempts to trash and destroy anyone who got in their way (Richard Clarke, Paul O'Neill, CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson and her husband, all of whom have given years and years of service to their country) has made the war all the more unseemly. Team Bush is quick to prosecute the underling soldiers and absolve the commanders. It is slow to tell the truth about the progress (or lack of progress) of the war. And the commander in chief takesa five-week vacation while his troops keep dying in the long, hard slog.

All of which leaves the writing of the Iraq war narrative wide open to all comers, and the result is a peacemeal, confusing picture. Into the vacuum come the bloggers, pro and con, the troops themselves, through the unprecedented forward leaps of technology (i.e., the "milblogs", and via books, and honest talk on cable TV (after they've left active duty). The media is doing a piss-poor job of narrating the war in many ways, because they are so reliant on the governmen for information, and on Iraq war-booster-tainted think tanks for analysis. So for now, the war is being narrated in real time by the troops, interpreted by the bloggers, and made for TV by Stephen Bochco.
posted by JReid @ 2:27 AM  
I'm with Leahy
Sen. Pat Leahy says all of the pro- and anti- John G. Roberts ads are a waste of time and money. I wholeheartedly agree. What on earth was NARAL thinking blowing half a mil on a ridiculous ad that tries to turn the straight laced Roberts into Randall Terry? Give it a rest ladies, you're speeding into irrelevancy. John Roberts isn't my vision of a perfect SupCo justice, and I have my doubts about his ever having personally met anyone who isn't white -- though I clearly can't confirm -- but he's no wild-eyed radical. Save some cash for when Dubya nominates a real nut-job. ... on second thought, keep it up -- that way, when Hillary stiff-arms you it will boost her centrist street cred even more for 2008...
posted by JReid @ 2:20 AM  
Cindy Sheehan's odyssey
Peace activist and mother of a slain U.S. soldier Cindy Sheehan is gaining momentum. She's even being called the Rosa Parks of the anti-war movement. I still doubt Bush will have the smarts or more importantly, the humility, to meet with her (though political calculations could get him to do just about anything), but clearly, her vigil is timely given the continued downward spiral in Iraq, and the increasing certainty that we are waging a war whose main effect seems to have been cementing new ties between the Shiites of Iraq and Iran. Other than that, I have a hard time seeing what we've accomplished. That being the case, and with more than 1,840 American troops dead and thousands more maimed, every mother of every soldier and Marine in Iraq should be asking the questions Ms. Sheehan is asking.

Previous posts:
posted by JReid @ 2:15 AM  
Havana on the Potomac
Tucked deep in the NYT's follow-up story on the 9/11 commission's apparently ignoring information on military intelligence's Atta discoveries a year before the terror attacks is this telling paragraph:


Mr. Felzenberg confirmed an account by Mr. Weldon's staff that the briefing, at the commission's offices in Washington, had been conducted by Dietrich L. Snell, one of the panel's lead investigators, and had been attended by a Pentagon employee acting as an observer for the Defense Department; over the commission's protests, the Bush administration had insisted that an administration "minder" attend all the panel's major interviews with executive branch employees. Mr. Snell referred questions to Mr. Felzenberg. [emphasis added]
Backing up a bit, here is more info on Felzenberg and the briefing in question, from an earlier paragraph:


Al Felzenberg, who served as the commission's chief spokesman, said earlier this week that staff members who were briefed about Able Danger at a first meeting, in October 2003, did not remember hearing anything about Mr. Atta or an American terrorist cell. On Wednesday, however, Mr. Felzenberg said the uniformed officer who briefed two staff members in July 2004 had indeed mentioned Mr. Atta.
To paraphrase poor old Dick Durbin, if I were to read these passages to you, without telling you what country I was talking about, you might think I was talking about the government of Cuba or the former dictatorship in Iraq, not an elected government of the free and democratic United States of America ...
posted by JReid @ 12:56 AM  
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
Day 10 of George W. Bush's fabulous five-week vacation
It's pork barrels for everyone, as a tanned an well-rested George Dubya takes a quick swing away from the el rancho to let fly the tax dollars for the new "transportation bill."

There's more than one way to skin a war on pork, and this one's coming up 100 percent pure pork rinds.

"Hey Turd Blossom: give my buddy Denny, here, a nice, juicy pig chop on me ... wait a minute, on second thought, make that bill out to the doofus American taxpayer! They've given me political capital, and I'm going to spend it ... every last dime! Yee-haw!!!"
posted by JReid @ 10:00 PM  
The hand that rocks the cradle 2
From Robert Scheer in the LAT today (color me a "linker" this morning...):


Mortgaged to the House of Saud

August 9, 2005

THE ONLY EVIDENCE you need that President Bush is losing the "war on terror" is this: On Sunday, the foreign minister of Saudi Arabia said that relations with the United States "couldn't be better."

Tell that to the parents of those who have died in two wars defending this corrupt spawning ground of violent extremism. Never mind the ugly facts: We are deeply entwined with Saudi Arabia even though it shares none of our values and supports our enemies.

Yet on Friday, Bush's father and Vice President Dick Cheney made another in a long line of obsequious American pilgrimages to Riyadh to assure the Saudis that we continue to be grateful for the punishment they dish out.

"The relationship has tremendously improved with the United States," Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al Faisal told a news conference in Riyadh. "With the government, of course, it is very harmonious, as it ever was. Whether it has returned to the same level as it was before in terms of public opinion [in both countries], that is debatable."

Well, score one for public opinion. It makes sense to distrust the mercenary and distasteful alliance between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. We protect the repressive kingdom that spawned Osama bin Laden, and most of the 9/11 hijackers, in exchange for the Saudis keeping our fecklessly oil-addicted country lubricated.
The question is: what will it take to decouple the United States government and the Saudi kingdom? Clearly, this administration won't take a single step away from their bosom friends in Riyadh -- the relationships run far too deep, whether we're talking about the Bushes, or Dick Cheney, or Condi Rice or even Collin Powell -- the Bush team (past and present) are soaked in Saudi oil. Oil soaks everything in the current administration, from its curious relationship with Vlad Putin to the shared paranoia between Washington and Caracas (Russia -- believe it or not -- is the world's largest crude oil producer -- and Venezuela supplies the U.S. with 14 percent o our oil supply).

And don't look to Congress either, judging by the recent energy bill: their only concern is lopping off healthy slabs of fat-laden pork for the greedy political mouths who slobber the fundage back into their political campaigns.

If we had a different administration -- one with a more Kennedyesque outlook -- we wouldn't be looking for a way to get the decrepit shuttle system to lead us to Mars, we'd be looking for a way to make viable new sources of energy a reality, and our bad marriage tothe Saudis history.

Previous posts:
The hand that rocks the cradle
posted by JReid @ 11:21 AM  
The man who loves Bin Laden
No, not that man , another one ... Fascinating article in the San Fran Chronicle today:

To look like, and admire, bin Laden

Jerusalem — "Who do you think my father looks like?" a grinning Ashraf Maraqa asked from behind the counter of his electronics shop as his father spoke to a customer nearby.

His grin widened as he answered his own question. "Osama bin Laden!" he said. "Don't you think so?"

The resemblance is undeniable — Sheikh Bessam Maraqa not only wears the same white amama turban, flowing dishdasha and broad-sleeved abaya affected by the world's most wanted terrorist, he also shares bin Laden's flowing salt-and-pepper beard, his long nose and his soft speaking voice. And he agrees with many of the al Qaeda leader's ideas. More...
posted by JReid @ 11:14 AM  
Gathering no moss
Growing up, the Rolling Stones were always one of those groups in my secret rock stash (back before MTV reworked itself into musical eclecticism, we were only supposed to be listening to rap and R&B -- no straying into "white music...") Now there's yet another reason to love these right-happy geezers:

Stones target "hypocrite" patriots in new song

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The Rolling Stones, not exactly a band at the forefront of rock 'n' roll activism, are taking aim at the American right with a new song on their upcoming album, according to Newsweek magazine.

The track, "Sweet Neo Con," boasts the line, "You call yourself a Christian, I call you a hypocrite/You call yourself a patriot, well I think you're full of s---," according to the weekly newsmagazine.

"It is direct," singer Mick Jagger was quoted as saying, adding that his collaborator, Keith Richards, was "a bit worried" about a backlash because the guitarist lives in the United States and Jagger does not.

"Sweet Neo Con" is one of 16 tracks featured on the Stones' new album, "A Bigger Bang," which comes out in the United States on September 6, and a day earlier internationally. It was not featured on a 12-track advance CD circulated to critics. The group's publicist was traveling and not able to confirm the quoted lyrics or provide the complete lyrics.
Don't worry Keith. We'll protect you from the Angry Freepers. Besides, they don't really listen to FM radio anymore, except for the country stations (particularly following that traumatic Springsteen experience during the 2004 campaign ...) Undercover (Australia) had more on the track last month:

One track 'Neo-Con' is reported to question the political ambitions of Bush's war ethics.

Some fans are already questioning if the politically correct Stones go through with releasing the song on the album. The lyrics don't flatter in any way National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice.

The album was recorded late 2004 and early 2005 in France.
Guess it would be unrealistic to look for Condi to guest on a 2005 remake of "Brown Sugar". (Here's Undervcover's update from this week)

And while we're on the subject of mossy old Rolling Stones ... you won't want to miss Keith Richards joining Johnny Depp in the "Pirates of the Caribbean" sequel. Can't wait for that -- loved the first film (Depp was THE best, campiest pirate I've ever seen on film.)
posted by JReid @ 10:30 AM  
Hillary on the march
From the upcoming Newsweek:


Aug. 15, 2005 issue - When Republican guru Arthur Finkelstein launched a campaign in March to ruin Sen. Hillary Clinton's presidential prospects, she appeared to be in for a Swift Boat Veterans-style thrashing. Stophernow.com threatened to pull in millions to buy ads tagging her as a liberal. By mid-June, the group had produced its first radio spot and executive director Will Black was confident it would have the money to air it that month.

Ever the nimble fund-raiser, Clinton dispatched an e-mail to supporters: "You may have seen stories about these 'anti-Hillary' campaigns lately," she wrote. "And with your continued help... we will fight back... against the right wing attack machine."

Now, months later, that machine has yet to fire a shot. The Stop Her Now ad still hasn't run. The group reported a single contribution of $500 last quarter, which covers the period from its launch through June 30. It held off on the ad for strategic reasons, says Black. "The money was not gushing in because we did not go out and solicit it," he says. Still, the Web site urges believers to donate. "That is odd," says Larry Noble of the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, of the site's dismal performance. "That is not the sign of a potentially successful group."

If Stop Her Now is stalled, it's been a boon to the senator's efforts. After sounding the alarm, Clinton raised $6 million during the last quarter from all of her fund-raising efforts. (Her Marc Jacobs-designed T shirt is a big seller at $40 a pop.) ...
Question: how do you beat a candidate with Marc Jacobs in her pocket? Answer: you don't. Hillary Clinton, if she does choose to run, will have a better than good shot at winning the White House for three reasons:

1. Marketing: The Clintons are masters at it, and the Hillary brand by the time the '08 race gets underway will be as solidly identified with centrism and "21st century womanhood" as the name Clinton is ID'd with prosperity (and indiscipline). In fact, the more the hard left balks at Hillary's transformation, the more effective that transformation becomes. Americans are so over the 90s scandals, which look puny and silly in comparison with the war lies of the current administration, and many Republicans have even developed Clinton-hating fatigue. By the time she runs, the right with its SwiftBooks and Limbaugh blathering will have all-but run out of gas. Point: Hillary.

2. Name recognition: the poor relation of campaigns, almost always overlooked, but often more important than nearly every other factor. Hillary's hovers at around 100 percent. Point: Hillary.

3. Money: She'll have more of it than God.

Bottom line: Get ready for eight very long years, starting in January 2009, my right wing friends...
posted by JReid @ 10:25 AM  
Tuesday, August 09, 2005
MSNB-fabulous
Oh Rita, Rita, Rita ... your brand new MSNBC show is just too damned addictive! Tonight we learned the following:

1. Jurors are stupid -- I guess that's why they're available to spend five months ruminating on the sexual habits of Michael Jackson. Okay they're not all stupid, but a significant number of them are apparently completely lacking in basic integrity. Does anybody really believe that the anti-finger pointing granny was intimidated by a couple of clowns snorting "not my Michael!"? If these jurors really believed Jackson was guilty, and voted "not guilty" to put him back on the street anyway, they're either idiots or menaces to society. I'd like to see California whip up another one of those referendums and pass a law that puts these screwballs in jail.

2. Scott Peterson's sister in law carbon copies Rita on her letters to her bro ... and her house overlooks both the beach where Laci's body washed up and San Quentin. Did the cops take a look at her during the investigation? Why exactly does she want to get out of town?

3. That Kalpoe kid knows his freaking rights!

4. Heidi Fleiss needs the aid of a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon ... now. And after she finishes opening her brand new Vegas brothel, she plans to devote her life to building low income housing... See? America really does have a soul...

Thank you, Rita Cosby. You've made watching MSNBC fun again...
posted by JReid @ 9:52 PM  
Day 9 of George W. Bush's fabulous five-week vacation

George Dubya's guide to a swell Texas vacation:

Lesson #1: Don't read the newspaper.
Lesson #2: have "Turd Blossom" hide the poll data.
Lesson #3: try not to think about Iran ... or Venezuela ... or anybody else we might be planning to invade... hell, for that matter, try to block out any thought of the countries we've already invaded, cause they ain't going great shakes either...
Lesson #4: look busy, in case anybody from that pesky media is watching ...
Lesson #5: whatever you do, don't go outside ... not even to pretend you're clearing brush...
posted by JReid @ 1:36 PM  
Gold stars and protests
Still no meeting for the angry mother of a slain G.I. Cindy Sheehan, of Gold Star Families for Peace, continues her high-profile protest outside Bush's Crawford ranch. I have no doubt that Sheehan's membership in a clearly anti-Bush, anti-war organization is the reason she's not getting a meeting. The Bushies aren't going to give the group that publicity opportunity. The most Sheehan may get is a televised arrest ... The protest lacks the subtle hand of planning of say, the Rosa Parks bus protest -- but then again subtlety doesn't seem to be the objective. Mostly, Ms. Sheehan's protest is shining a glaring spotlight on Bush's refusal to make public expression of whatever angst he might feel over the deaths and maiming of young men and women he sent to Iraq. ... assuming he feels such angst, of course, which I really hate to say, is not entirely clear.

Bush's certitude about everything, including Iraq, is at its most unsettling in times like these. He seems to lack a core quality of leadership that normally rises to the surface most dramatically in times of peril: the ability to project empathy. Bill Clinton had it in spades following the terrorist bombing in Oklahoma City and during his moving, landmark visit to Africa (he still has it, as evidenced by his continued activism on behalf of tsunami and AIDS victims). Ronald Reagan surprised even me -- an anti-Reagan high school kid, when he put the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster into perfect universal context. The Bushes, father and sons, seem almost clinically incapable of it. Whether mocking a death row inmate, puzzling over the price of bread, cracking that irrascible smirk at just the worst times, or exhorting Iraqi insurgents to "bring it on," George W. Bush almost always seems to get it wrong. He is miscalculating again, I think, with Ms. Sheehan. He could choose to show real leadership, and face her, even at her most angry and even at her most political, because at the end of the day, she represents the families impacted by the war Mr. Bush has chosen to wage. And he, as president, supposedly, represents her.
posted by JReid @ 1:27 PM  
Army mystery
Eventually I suppose we'll find out what the mysterious "personal conduct" was that got the Army's top training general sacked.
posted by JReid @ 12:33 PM  
Alarming rumors
According to Debka file, coded signals flying around the Middle East indicate that Osama bin Laden may be looking to relocate:
Coded electronic signals bandied in recent days among al Qaeda Middle Eastern elements across secret Internet sites all carry the same message: the supreme leader, Osama bin Laden, has come out of hiding in Afghanistan and set out, or is about to set out, for Iraq. This is the sense gained from this correspondence by DEBKAfile’s exclusive counter-terror sources.

Some of the signals schedule his date of arrival as the second half of September when
Ramadan is estimated to begin. His arrival in Iraq is planned to signal the launching of the biggest offensive his organization has ever launched against the US army. If these signals are a true representation of bin Laden’s plans and not a red herring, what is planned is a dramatic landmark battle in the global war on terror and the Iraqi conflict.

The signals cap a secret exchange of messages in recent weeks in which al Qaeda’s Iraq commander Abu Musab al –Zarqawi attempted to persuade bin Laden to leave Afghanistan and take command of the Ramadan offensive in Iraq. Zarqawi argued the importance of his transferring from Afghanistan to Iraq on two grounds: to boost al Qaeda’s standing as it embarks on an “offensive whose scale and importance rival the September 2001 operation.” and in the interests of his own personal safety.

Zarqawi stressed, according to our sources, that bin Laden will be safer in Iraq than in Afghanistan – an indication of Jordanian terrorist’s inflated self-confidence.
I'm not sure how credible this is, though Debka has been on point before, including about the African connection to the UK tube bombings ... the report also has some other tidbits, including the allegation that al-Qaida has established a marine base and smuggling routes in an inlet of the Persian Gulf, and that a move by bin Laden to bring the "ultimate battle" to Iraq could actually have implications for U.S. military strategy:
If he does indeed make it to Iraq, the public airing of his presence in the Land of the Two Rivers, would have a radical impact on the nature of the Iraq conflict. No longer a mere guerrilla campaign, it would escalate to a full-scale fight to the finish against al Qaeda in Iraq, analogous to the all-out hostilities in Afghanistan.
Again, not sure this is altogether credible, but definitely provides food for thought: namely that the U.S. war in Iraq seems to have effectively made that country safe (at least theoretically) ... for terrorists.
posted by JReid @ 12:28 PM  
The Jacko files
Rita Cosby brought her special brand of Fox News tabloid goodness to MSNBC last night, interviewing two of the jurors from the Michael Jackson child molestation trial who now say ... shock of all shocks ... that they thought Mike was guilty all along. Funny thing, that -- both voted 14 times to acquit, and now, as their books prepare to go to print, they've changed their respective tunes... Jackson's lawyer rightly ridiculed the pair over their flip-floppery, as Dan Abrams has been doing for days. And neither the finger-wagging granny (who's selling "don't you point that finger at me, sweetie" T-shirts ("for charity") nor the mustachioed wussy-pop "Juror #1" -- who's logged more airtime justifying the verdict than pooh-poohing it -- owned up to their own guilt in letting a man they now say was guilty, fly off to Bahrain with impunity. Between this twosome and the clod juror who attended the Jacko victory party, I think it's safe to say that the American justice system (along with any last shred of MSNBC's dignity) is officially in tatters ...
posted by JReid @ 12:14 PM  
Monday, August 08, 2005
The bad news Bush
There's no good news to be had for George W. inside today's CNN/USAT/Gallup poll:

- The percentage of voters who strongly disapprove of Bush's handling of his job as president has hit a four-year high of 38 percent ... strong approvers have hit a four-year low of 25 percent ...

- About the same percentage (51 percent) of respondents would like to see John G. Roberts confirmed for the Supreme Court as favored Ruth Bader Ginsberg's ascension in Jan 1993 (53 percent). One in five have no opinion whatsoever ... (Robert Bork's pro-confirmation percentage in August 1987 was a lowly 31 percent).

- 56 percent of those polled said the government should fund research using embryonic stem cells, 40 percent said it should not ...

- The percentage of Americans saying that sending troops to Iraq was a mistake has hit a high of 54 percent verus 44 percent who get their news from Sean Hannity. That's still below the 60 percent peak hit during the Vietnam war in January 1973 and well below the 74 percent who agreed with John Kerry in hindsight in 1990.

- Most Americans no longer believe the war was worth it (54 percent), most think it's going badly (56 percent) and a full third say we should pull our troops out post haste. Only about a third think the Iraq war has made the U.S. safer, while 48 percent say it has made the U.S. more vulnerable to terrorist attacks ...

- On the 2008 horse race, Rudy "I left my wife in San Francisco" Giuliani now leads John McCain among Republican registered voters by just 3 percentage points (and he's only got one in five voters' support), while Mrs. Bush (a/k/a Condoleezza Rice is coming on strong with 19 percent of registered GOPers on her side). Hillary trounces her field at 40 percent critical mass ...

- Very few Americans have given much thought to who they would support in 2008 ...

- But of those who are thinking, 68 percent consider Hillary C a "strong and decisive leader", 60 percent say she's likable, 54 percent say she cares and more say she's honest (53 percent) than say the president is ... Even more fascinating, 57 percent say Hillary would be very or somewhat effective in dealing with terrorism if she were elected president (and six in ten said divorcing Bill would have no impact on their willingness to vote for her) ...

- And in perhaps the worst news for Dubya of all, only 37 percent of respondents reported being fans of Major League Baseball. So much for that presidency-saving publicity stunt reacquiring Sammy Sosa for the Texas Rangers ...

Read the complete poll results here. And read the similarly dismal Newsweek poll here.
posted by JReid @ 11:43 PM  
The Hillary Agonistes
The LA Times takes a turn tossing the "is Hillary really a centrist" football.
posted by JReid @ 9:37 AM  
Novak unplugged
Courtesy of Romanesko: PressThink crawls inside Robert Novak's bile and scandal-addled brain. Here's hoping Think was wearing rubber gloves... Meanwhile the Ragin' Cajun says that by ripping off his mic and cussing his way into news industry oblivion, The Prince of F#%^g Darkness was simply dodging the barf bag in front of him. (Photo from BadInfluence)
posted by JReid @ 2:34 AM  
Peter Jennings dies
How tragic for his family and for us all. The evening news has changed drastically in the last few years, and not for the better... now there's no Brokaw, no Rather and no Jennings. ...

Jennings' departure so soon after he announced he had lung cancer is truly frightening. And he was only 67 -- late middle age by modern standards. ... Cancer is a bitch and somehow science has got to beat it...

Update: TVNewser serves up a slew of Jennings remembrances.
posted by JReid @ 2:02 AM  
The media panic defense
The question of whether the Miami Herald erred in firing columnist Jim DeFede for taping a phone call with a distraught politician (his "friend") shortly before that politician (former local pol and onetime Reagan administration appointee Art Teele) shot himself to death in the Herald lobby continues to burn up newspaper ink and TV time. (DeFede was interviewed on the local ABC affiliate's post-Stephanopoulos news hour on Sunday) and the St. Pete Times does its redux as well.

Right now the uncomfortable spotlight is being put on editor Tom Fiedler, whom DeFede charges was the man behind his ouster (supposedly DeFede was told, after getting assurances that the taping would not cost him his column, that "Fielder wants you gone.")
"To me, it has the smell of corporate panic about it," said Carl Hiaasen, a Herald columnist and novelist. "I think there's a lot of very serious resentment at the newspaper, and I think the scars are going to take a long time to heal." [SP Times]

Hiaasen's view has been echoed by a string of Herald columnists, right in the paper, and by some 500 journos who have signed a petition calling on the Herald to bring DeFede back. Other columnists have weighed in sympathizing with DeFede's actions and spanking the Herald in the process...

The problem for DeFede is that he has admitted to continuing to tape Teele after the distraught man refused to talk to him on the record. He says he hit the record button spontaneously, trying to preserve the final message of a man clearly losing his tether. That's a tough sell. But it's also unclear whether DeFede's actions were illegal -- and I would wager he won't be prosecuted in the end, since it's so murky a thing. As I've said before, on balance, I think DeFede should have been allowed to stay, and I know from personal experience that the Herald can be harsh. But in the present news environment, with blogs and critics of all sorts constantly besieging news organizations for every error, the Herald can be excused for pannicking.

But having pannicked, and reaped the whirlwind, here's hoping the paper now takes a step back, thinks about it, and then rehires Jim DeFede.

Previous posts:
posted by JReid @ 12:12 AM  
Sunday, August 07, 2005
Day 6 of George W. Bush's fabulous five-week vacation

Reminiscing about the one that got away...
posted by JReid @ 7:54 PM  
Sunday best
NYT has a review of two books revealing how some Southern slave owners defied Jefferson, who said Americans couldn't just follow their "rights of man" ideals and emancipate. (you may have to register for this link but it's worth it). Same page: there's also a profile of V.S. Naipaul.

CSM has a timely article about Israel and the limits of dissent, as tested by the Gaza pullout. Already we've seen terrorism, threats of mass suicide, and extremist violence from the settlers, plus government threats to re-invade Gaza if there is violence from the Palestinian side once the pullout begins this week. Also, Netanyahu has resigned as finance minister in protest (Netanyahu generally seems to hold a harsh view of the Palestinians, let alone any rights they might have to a state of their own... )

According to WaPo, here come the liberal think tanks ... Also from WaPo, an interesting look at how terrorists have adapted to the Internet age.

In the NYTimes, why is the military drawing up plans to reduce U.S. forces by up to 30,000 next spring? Even Newt Gingrich can't hide the answer: the 2006 mid-term elections. And NYT has a profile of the Ohio Marine unit once dubbed 'lucky Lima'.
posted by JReid @ 12:32 PM  
Out on a limb?
Not content with mere revelations of Bin Laden coke dealing, the New York Post goes for it again, this time claiming that Scotland Yard fears "baby and female" bombers will strike London next. I suppose anything's possible, but I can't find this "bombshell" story on any of the respectable British tabs...
posted by JReid @ 12:28 PM  
Sundays on the tube with George
More proof that Stephanopoulos' show is kicking Russert's butt. "This Week" had the exclusive tape of John G. Roberts as legal analyst, offering a revealing look at his thought process and temperament. Verdict: this guy would be tough to oppose. He comes across as conservative, to be sure, but reasonable to a fault. Hold your fire and wait for the next nominee, PFAW -- This guy's going to get a good deal more than 60 votes to confirm...

Stephanopoulos also interviewed Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich, who managed to tamp down his opposition to the Iraq war to show notable warmth and support to the parents of two Marines killed recently in Iraq. Moving interviews. (Though I kept wondering, is it bad etiquete for Kucinich to repeatedly say "soldiers" when referring to Marines? Just curious...)

"This Week" also had the panel hot hand -- gotta love Sam Donaldson spoofing the Novak meltdown. (Need we say more about Novak being finished? To quote Donaldson: "love me or hate me, just don't laugh at me...")

And speaking of laughs: best line of the week goes to Conan O'Brien (paraphrasing): "The president starts his five week vacation this week ... five weeks ... which is why his new secret service code name is Kevin Federline."
posted by JReid @ 12:09 PM  
Saturday, August 06, 2005
Day 5 of George W. Bush's fabulous five-week vacation

That pesky military mom screws up the old golf game...
posted by JReid @ 10:00 AM  
Friday, August 05, 2005
Day 4 of George Bush's fabulous 5-week vacation
Yee-haw! George is on vacation ... again ... Dubya is about to set a record for presidential OOTO (though the last time he took a memorable respite on the ranch, he was so relaxed he and Condi were too busy jogging side-by-side on the treadmill and pretending to chop wood that they overlooked a little intelligence memorandum entitled "Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States...")

Oh, what the hell, we're at war!!! (or "in struggle" ... I can't remember which at this point, it's all so confusing ... The Commander in Chief is entitled to a little R&R just like the troops ... oh wait ... they're still fighting... (pic courtesy of BushWhackedUSA)
posted by JReid @ 5:36 PM  
Pop goes the Novak
Apparently, the Prince of Leaky Darkness finally cracked yesterday on the air. Damned sorry I missed that one. Crooks and Liars didn't, thankfully (and cheers to BradBlog for the great pic). Novak has now been suspended by CNN for his actions (the walking off, not the publishing a covert CIA operative's name and refusing to be candid about his involvement in the possibly criminal matter, that is...)
posted by JReid @ 5:28 PM  
Thursday, August 04, 2005
Zawahiri talks, Bush vacations
Yep, he looks real concerned...
posted by JReid @ 5:55 PM  
He's done, bitches
Charlie Murphy says 'No more Chappelle's Show..." Get ready to buy that DVD.
posted by JReid @ 10:43 AM  
A world of confusion
It's hard to argue at this point that the Iraq situtation has not spun completely out of control. Even the administration can't seem to get the story straight. Are we preparing to cut our losses and get the hell out of there (in time for the 2006 midterm elections, of course), as the Pentagon seems to be indicating, or are we staying the course, as Bush insisted after the deaths of the first 14 of 21 Marines this week? Bush and Rumsfeld don't seem to be on the same page on much of anything these days, including what to call the "war on terror." I think at this stage, after all the bungled planning and execution in Washington, the American people are entitled to ask 'who's running this damned war, anyway?'
posted by JReid @ 10:32 AM  
Torpedoing the GSAVE?
Mr. President, you're confusing me... have we already won the Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism??? Is that why you're dropping it so soon and restarting the war on terror???
posted by JReid @ 10:06 AM  
Britain and Israel, a nuclear diary
The BBC unearths documents showing how the British helped Israel get hold of a key component of its nuclear weapons program. (hat tip to Mark in Mexico, who also linked to the version in The Guardian). Apparently the U.S. was kept in the dark, something that "shocked" JFK's defense chief, Robert MacNamara. Israel is one of only a handful of countries who officially or unofficially have nukes, and fear of its program is a key reason Iran and probably Syria are racing to get the bomb.
posted by JReid @ 3:00 AM  
Mining the WaPo
Sorry, but I'm loving the fact that Judy Miller is jailed up with Zacharias Moussaoui and Robert Hanssen...

George W. Bush finally distinguishes himself as a president: setting the all time vacation record. And he did it during wartime ... I mean, amid the Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism... talk about a profile in courage...

Somebody call Ken Blackwell's speech writer! He's tagged the wrong political party as the Washington big spenders... now why is it that we are supposed to want to elect Republicans again? They suck at war planning, and they spend too much of our money... clearly, I'm confused...

And below the fold: if you're trying to learn Spanish, this is one guilty pleasure you should indulge in: Telenovelas. They're better than Fox News for pure D. entertainment.
posted by JReid @ 2:41 AM  
What's that saying about 'removing all doubt?'
"Part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought . . . You're asking me whether or not people ought to be exposed to different ideas, and the answer is yes." -- President George W. Bush on 'intelligent design'
posted by JReid @ 2:30 AM  
And now this
Forbes.com: Military chases mystery infection in Iraq. (HT to Lawnorder)
posted by JReid @ 1:12 AM  
Putting the 'uniform' in military justice
More proof that the "new patriotism" is a lot like the old patriotism, only in Cuba. From someone called "Daisy Cutter":
The Justice of Paul Hackett's Defeat

Hackett said he opposed the Iraq War. He is certainly free as an American and as a candidate for Congress to believe and say this. But a Marine officer knows that his opinions should be shared only so far as they do not undermine the chain-of-command, particularly in a time of war. If politics conflicts with an officer's duty, politics loses.

Beyond questioning the war itself, though, Hackett said several outrageous things that are over the line for any congressional candidate, much less a Marine. For one thing, he called Pres. Bush a "son-of-a-bitch", and then he refused to apologize. He also said that, in a world where OBL and Zarqawi are on the loose, that Pres. Bush is actually the most dangerous man in the world. This is out of the bounds of both sanity and propriety.

Then, to attempt to steal away with the coveted congressional seat in a conservative district, Hackett campaigned essentially as a supporter of the President, emphasizing the "stay the course" message on Iraq. For some reason, he didn't mention that he is a favorite of the Daily Kossacks, or that he is an ultra-liberal. Was our man Hackett less than forthcoming?

But he can't be all that, right? After all, he volunteered for dangerous duty in Iraq.

Yet, I have to ask: He volunteered for a mission he didn't believe in? Call me a skeptic, but this strikes me as odd. Very odd. It sounds like the actions of a young Navy lieutenant who entered the Navy while opposed to Viet Nam War ... and vowed to become the next JFK. Is this what our man Hackett did? We can't know for sure, but the evidence points that way. None of the fawning MSM appear to have asked Hackett why he felt compelled to volunteer in what he believes to be a colossal mistake.

What to say about one who would use the privilege of military service in a conflict they don't support to create a political billboard? For one thing, it smacks of the dishonest tactics used by ambulance-chasing trial lawyers. But that wouldn't fit our man Hackett, or would it?
Is there a cult deprogrammer in the house? Paul Hackett criticizes the commandant and "poof!" he's John Kerry, another "turncoat" who had the nerve to volunteer to serve his country while "Dubya" was picking his nose in Alabama, or wherever the hell he was when he was supposed to be flying with the National Guard??? He dared to exercise his constitutional rights to run for a "coveted congressional seat in a conservative district" and to criticize the president in the process and for that he's a bad Marine? Spare me. Hackett didn't give up his rights as an American citizen when he put on the uniform. And I highly doubt -- in fact I know for certain -- that he's far from the only member of the military who believes that the Iraq war was a colossal mistake.

George W. Bush is responsible for the deaths of those 20 Ohio Marines and the continuing carnage in Iraq, and Paul Hackett's defeat brings no "justice" to them or their loved ones. Do you honestly think their families are thinking "I lost my son/husband/brother in Iraq, but at least that Hackett won't be going to Congress" to bad-mouth the president..." The very thought is absurd beyond belief. The president (and the congress that abetted him) are the ones who bear responsibility for the deaths of more than 1,800 brave American G.I.s, and men like Hackett are among the few Americans with the balls not only to say so, but to go into harms way to defend the office of the president anyway, even when that office is occupied by the likes of George W. Bush. In fact, Hackett is likely headed back to Iraq. I don't see many Schmidts signing their kids up to head over there with him, do you?

The Schmidts (and Hannitys and Limbaughs etc.) and apparently, the Daisy Cutters of the world seem to feel that service to country consists solely of dropping down and licking the president's boots, so long as those boots are standard issue G.O.P. Teddy Roosevelt must be spinning in his grave. (It's alright to call the day of Bill Clinton's election "Black Tuesday" but don't dare breathe an ill word about Precious Dubya? Is he eight years old and overly sensitive??? Have I descended into in Freeper hell??? And as for conduct befitting a congressional candidate, I seem to remember a certain congressman named Burton calling then commander in chief Bill Clinton a "scumbag"... and elected Republicans regularly savaged President Clinton while our troops were in harms way in Bosnia and Kosovo, but then that was probably A.O.K. with you, since Clinton was a Democrat...)

Bottom line, while George W. Bush, Dick "Better things to do" Cheney and their Party were busy devising ever-more egregious, statist tax giveaways to the oil industry even as oil-soaked Iraq is rationing gasoline, Paul Hackett was implementing the Bush foreign policy in harms way in Iraq. I think that gives him some latitude to criticise, don't you?

Show me where in the constitution it says that a member of the uniformed military cannot call the commander in chief a chickenhawk or an S.O.B. In this country we get to call them as we see them, even Marine Majors. Marines stick together? You're the one attacking a Marine, Daisy! You're also breaking the cardinal rule of citizenship in a free nation: worshipping the president rather than the democracy he serves. "Shut up" about the Dear Leader might be in Cuba or North Korea's founding documents, but it sure isn't in ours.
posted by JReid @ 12:28 AM  
Hack attack
The Paul Hackett campaign proved a few things: first, that there's no such thing as a "red" district -- Democrats should contest everything; second, that men and women in uniform are among those in the best position to articulate the duality of the basic Democratic position on the war (against it conceptually, but for finishing it with honor); and third, that candidate recruitment is key (but an effective get-out-the-vote effort is "keyer.")

There are at least three more OIF Dems running across the country, and there's also Eric Massa, a retired Naval officer who was General Wesley Clark's aide when Clark was the Supreme Allied Commander in the Southern Command and Europe. He is running for Congress in 2006 in the supposedly crimson 29th district in New York. Here's his site, and here's his blog. The Clarkies are all over this guy because of his ties to their man, and they were also very supportive of Hackett. As someone who also was very much for Wes Clark during the Dem primary, I can tell you that it can be an uphill battle sometimes, pushing for a military candidate among the more military-wary factions on the left. But if Democrats want to win, it's time to start running these "JFK Democrats" and sticking with them -- something that's sure to cause more friction between the Kos kids and the DLCers.

Already, there are some recriminations on the left (plus a bit of snarking on the right) about having spent so much time, money and blog love on Hackett, since he ultimately lost. I disagree. I think it's important for Democrats to go after these kinds of seats, to lay a foundation with voters for 2006 and 2008. Remember the velociraptors in "Jurassic Park"? The ones who kept testing the humans' defences and perimeters in preparation for dinner time? The only way to demonstrate that Democrats are credible leaders on the key national issues is to put credible Democratic candidates before the voters in "red" territory, and to test the opposition's defenses. Hackett's candidacy did that, and primed the ground for 2006 (it also sent a message to the GOP -- that no district is necessarily safe -- see Charlie Cook. And recall that he GOP had said it would "bury" Hackett for calling Bush an S.O.B. They hardly even got dirt on the guy...)

The Hackett candidacy was a calculated risk, at the end of the day, but I believe it was a good one. The left-most quadrant of the party may not love the Hackett type candidacy (or the centrist race Hillary will likely run), but pragmatism is the beginning of victory, and Democrats have to learn to be much more pragmatic if they want to win national elections.

As for Republicans, I'll let wise old Newt Gingrich say it (while I proceed to choke on the words "wise old Newt Gingrich"...):
Former House speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.) warned fellow Republicans yesterday not to ignore the implications of the party's narrow victory in Tuesday's special election in Ohio, saying the public mood heading into next year's midterm elections appears to helping Democrats and hurting Republicans.

"It should serve as a wake-up call to Republicans, and I certainly take it very seriously in analyzing how the public mood evidences itself," Gingrich said. "Who is willing to show up and vote is different than who answers a public opinion poll. Clearly, there's a pretty strong signal for Republicans thinking about 2006 that they need to do some very serious planning and not just assume that everything is going to be automatically okay."


Previous post:

posted by JReid @ 12:17 AM  
Wednesday, August 03, 2005
What's the matter with Ohio?
Original post 1:15 a.m.: I can't wait to read the interviews with your average man- or woman-on-the-street who voted Schmidt to Congress over a Marine who served in Iraq. These are the same folks who think that a ten-day tour with OIF public information officers gives a talk show host more credibility on the subject of how we're doing in Iraq than either a veteran or an actual reporter... People, pay attention. This is Republican government at work in Ohio. And This is why you don't send a yes-woman to Capitol Hill. She may well be able to provide the president with the full Monica, which I'm sure he'll enjoy, but that won't do diddly for the local boys who are fighting and dying in Iraq.

Still, great work, Paul Hackett. You done good.

Update: On the up-side, most political observers see the narrow margin in this heavily Republican district as proof that Bush is slipping in Ohio. Not that that means anything when even 52 percent of people in a key district are willing to vote for someone whose only discernible platform is verbally massaging the president...

Update 2 11:14 a.m.: Daily Kos has the all-important Charlie Cook analysis from before the vote tally. Read it. It's good stuff. Here's the rub:

... even assuming a GOP win tonight, the margin of victory can give us some insight into just how radioactive the governor's troubles and the "time for a change" sentiment in the state will be for other Republicans in the Buckeye State nextyear. If Schmidt's victory margin is in double digits, this tells us that there is not much of an anti-GOP wind in Ohio right now. If the margin is say six to nine points for Schmidt, then there is a wind, but certainly no hurricane. A Schmidt win of less than five points should be a very serious warning sign for Ohio Republicans that something is very, very wrong, while a Hackett victorywould be a devastating blow to the Ohio GOP.
Hm...

Update 3: Billmon and other bloggers are asking some of the obvious questions after the Hackett near-win in Ohio. Was it strange that Cleremont County came in so late? Did the ballots really stick? Why were they hand counted, and is that suspicious? Did WXIX really call the race for Hackett at 10 p.m. and then for Schmidt an hour later? And could this narrow vote have been tampered with? According to a source at the Fox affiliate WXIX in Cincinnati, here's how the poop went down:
  • At the top of their 10 p.m. newscast (most other stations go on at 11), they reported Hackett ahead of Schmidt -- but Cleremont County -- Schmidt's home turf had yet to post results;
  • The station called the race for Schmidt at 10:53, but it was assumed long before then that she would win, since Cleremont is her stronghold (Schmidt was strong in the large, suburban precincts and affluent exurbs like fast-growing Warren County, while Hackett was doing well in the eastern part of the 2nd district, including heavily rural precincts like Brown and Adams Counties.
  • WXIX sent a reporter and photog to the Cleremont County supervisor of elections office, and asked him what the holdup was; his answer: humidity had caused the ballots to stick, forcing the election workers to feed the punch card ballots into the machines by hand. He noted that the ballots weren't counted by hand, they were fed into the machine and counted electronically;
  • There were rumors -- though the station didn't go on air with them, that a local Clear Channel radio station went off the air with 30 minutes left to vote; at the time either the Randi Rhodes show or a local deejay was exorting voters to go to the polls for Hackett. (It has since been confirmed that the station did go down, with the official cause being some sort of transformer fire...)

The Fox guy felt that the results reflected more of a suburban "get mine" party line vote for more tax cuts and more government goodies, rather than an anti-Hackett (or pro-Bush) vote. The turnout of around 20 percent was higher than expected, and most analysts agree that the better turnout helped Hackett, who clearly won Republican votes, not just Dems who came out of hte woodwork in this heavily GOP district. That's just one guy's take, of course... Apparently another talk station, WLW 700, sent a reporter to Hackett's concession party and the guy got louded, big time, by someone there over the station's Bush-bot afternoon drive deejay.

It's a tough call, since Ohio is like Florida in the shaky vote department, whether there is cause for concern in the Hackett-Schmidt vote. From my understanding (which is limited), Warren and Cleremont counties -- the ones which gave Schmidt the win, are affluent and suburban -- prime GOP real estate. Hackett may have had more luck if Hamilton County contained more than the small sliver of Cincinnati that it did (which might have meant more minority voters). But who knows. It's all speculation at this stage.

The best you can say is that Hackett is a hell of a candidate, and should run again, once he returns from his next tour of duty in Iraq. Stay safe, man.

Previous posts:

posted by JReid @ 11:14 PM  
Freebirds
BET.com has disabled its message boards ... wonder why? Could it be that they're getting inundated with angry "106 & Park" fans? Hm... There are many, many, many reasons to dislike BET -- their lack of interest in public affairs and news programming being two big ones. Casting aside air personalities after they've built your most popular show is just another log on the fire.
posted by JReid @ 11:53 AM  
Reporter slain in Basra
More on Steven Vincent, the American reporter found shot to death in Iraq. Coincidentally, he recently authored a piece about insurgent infiltration of the Iraqi police... Eerie given this and this.
posted by JReid @ 2:57 AM  
360
Anderson Cooper's Niger coverage has been heart-rending but top notch. It's a pity the network wasted so much of today on that plane crash in which no one died. Seems a shame with access to real reporting like this...
posted by JReid @ 2:45 AM  
CIA war games
WaPo has another front page story on the CIA's involvement in the interrogation -- some would say torture -- of detainees in Iraq. The piece outlines the intense pressure U.S. forces were under to get intelligence, and underscores the fact that they believed the tactics they used were approved by higher-ups. In fact, it has long since emerged that "fear up" and other "stress techniques" that violate the Geneva conventions were approved by the White House and Pentagon, and that then- White House counsel Al Gonzalez essentially advised the president that the Iraq war was Geneva-optional. Still, only the troops are being prosecuted (no surprise there).

The WaPo piece also describes alleged CIA-run Iraqi paramilitary squads (approved by the president in early 2002 -- a full year before the war) called the Scorpions, whose job was first, to foment rebellion and aid "regime change" (illegal as a cause for war, according to international law) and to help U.S. forces and interrogators:

If they did not get what they wanted, the interrogators would deliver the detainees to a small team of the CIA-sponsored Iraqi paramilitary squads, code-named Scorpions, according to a military source familiar with the operation. The Jan. 18 memo indicates that it was "likely that indigenous personnel in the employ of the CIA interrogated MG Mowhoush."

Sometimes, soldiers and intelligence officers used the mere existence of the paramilitary unit as a threat to induce detainees to talk, one Army soldier said in an interview. "Detainees knew that if they went to those people, bad things would happen," the soldier said. "It was used as a motivator to get them to talk. They didn't want to go with the masked men."

The Scorpions went by nicknames such as Alligator and Cobra. They were set up by the CIA before the war to conduct light sabotage. After the fall of Baghdad, they worked with their CIA handlers to infiltrate the insurgency and as interpreters, according to military investigative documents, defense officials, and former and current intelligence officials.
The Post also reports that after a time, the U.S. largely lost direct control over these Scorpion squads, which really sucks because now it's suspected that the other side has trained commandoes inside the Iraqi security forces, who may now be killing American troops (or setting them up for ambushes). It doesn't take a tin foil hat to wonder if all of these "Scorpions" are entirely loyal to the U.S. cause...

What year is this? Is Kissinger still in the West Wing? This is yet more proof that the U.S. military isn't a tool to be used for democracy building (or whatever we're fighting the Iraq war for today). Their bag is war -- killing the enemy. That's it. The misuse and systematic dismantlement of our military and its perversion by the Pentagon and CIA is a crime, and the people committing the crime will never see the inside of a jail.

I often wonder just how my friends on the right can look at President Bush and say they truly believe that such a man is the best America had to offer -- that this is the kind of leadership America -- and the American military -- deserves. This man is bloated with a sense of entitlement and smug moral superiority, incurious to a fault and smirk-ready cavalier with the lives of the men he is charged with commanding, though he refused to step forward and fight for his country when it was his turn (I just read in an unauuthorized bio of the Bush family that Jebbie considered becoming a conscientious objector to avoid Vietnam if he had too, and Poppy told him he'd stand by that decision). Sorry, but the man you elected is as mediocre a character as I think I've ever even heard of in public life. A self-involved frat boy playing commander in chief. He has destroyed America's reputation abroad and literally made it unsafe to travel the world as an American. Paul Hackett was dead right about him. I find it staggering that this man still enjoys so much, and such strong, support among people who are supposedly paying attention...

Yet another reason we needed more Paul Hacketts and fewer brown-nosing Jean Schmidts to supervise this administration. God help us all, we've got nearly three more years of this...
posted by JReid @ 1:55 AM  
Out of Africa, continued
More on the East African connection to the London terror bombings, including an in-depth look at the Africa-al-Qaida connection dating back to the early 90s ...

Previous posts:
posted by JReid @ 1:00 AM  
Tuesday, August 02, 2005
John Bolton .. Paleocon?
Updated -- The Jawans throw out the red meat regarding the Bolton recess appointment:


This was the right thing to do on a personal level--Bush has a reputation for loyalty to his staff and he backed Bolton all the way. But he was backing him in the first place because it's sound policy-- we need a firm hand in steering the UN. Bolton's a great guy for this job and I'm glad Bush followed through.

He's also right for this job because in many ways, Bolton doesn't fit in with the neocon/pro-spreading-democracy tenor of much Bush's cabinet. I've heard Bolton described as a paleocon and he's certainly not a fan of excessive US entanglements nor of the advance of international law and the enthroning of international institutions.
Whatchu talkin' bout, Willis ...? ... Bolton not a neocon? Actually it's not the first time the subject has been brought up for debate. To be sure, Bolton is thought of by most of us in the reality-based community as a neocon, mostly because he shares the Vulcans' relentless determination to invade Iraq. CSM's neocon bible lists Bolton as a card-carrying member, and he was a director of the neocon-leaning American Enterprise Institute (no to mention the Project for a New American Century). Despite that, here's the oppo take from a U.K. outfit called the Henry Jackson Society (which I assume is in tribute to "Scoop"):
(July 20, 2005) America’s probable new ambassador to the UN, whilst he deserves credit for enduring an especially sanctimonious confirmation process in the Senate (see anything said by Senator Biden), does not deserve to be called a ‘neocon’.

In the label-obsession of American political discourse he is, in that awkward epithet, a paelo-con, a traditional conservative who thinks that the national interest takes precedence over schemes to make the world anew. He is a prototypical foreign policy realist. He found the 1999 Kosovo war ‘very troubling’. His exclusion from the seminal works of pre-Iraq war neoconservatism suggests he was not seen as one of them – and vice versa. His work does not inform the growing neoconservative canon. He does not write and did not write significantly for any of the small, influential magazines that frame the neoconservative debate.
Still, Bolton gets the label (and like any good neoconservative, he gets booed as he enters his new digs at the U.N.). But is he one of them or isn't he? I don't tend to think of Dick Cheney as a neoconservative either -- and he is Bolton's biggest champion (and probably the one who ordered his underling, George, to appoint him). Cheney and Bolton seem cut from a different cloth than the Wilsonian, idealistic (and I would argue, irrational) neocon interventionists. And while it seems odd to group Bolton with the paleocons -- the Pat Buchanan types who didn't support the Iraq invasion because it clearly didn't involve pressing U.S. security interests, there is his positionon Bosnia to shore that theory up.

So where does Mr. Mustache fit in? The Cheneys of the world seem to be in it for the raw pursuit of material gain and beligerant power-mongering, and Bolton is clearly in that camp --yet his willingness to cajole, bully and twist the intelligence analysts and their products in order to bring about the Iraq invasion smacks of neocon-style invasion desperation (or of a "kiss-up, kick-down" personality, which might be the better explanation ...)

Bottom line, Bolton won't likely go to the U.N., look around the room and see countries to reform using American might, as a necon would -- he'll more likely see a room full of American resources under other people's soil, and Third World bugs to squash during the extraction.

Update 3: However you want to classify him, John Bolton has distinguished himself as rabidly anti-U.N., anti-international treaty, and even anti-voting rights ("In the 1980s he participated in Republican Party efforts to beat back the voter registration campaigns organized by labor and black organizations.4" and he was the guy who marched into the Tallahassee library during the 2000 recount and said ‘I’m with the Bush-Cheney team, and I’m here to stop the vote’.”) He's also anti-land mine treaty, anti-child soldier ban and more!) Here's the full Bolton. He may lack the windy-minded idealism of the classic neocons, but like Cheney, he adds a dose of raw belligerence to their ideology that's probably been very helpful in bringing Bush and other new-jacks to heel. New verdict: He's a neocon.

Update 2: More Bolton press reax. Hint: it ain't good.

Update: Crooks and Liars has the can't miss Video of Bolton being booed on his way in to work at the U.N. (via Olbermann). God, I miss New York!

Previous headlines:
posted by JReid @ 12:40 AM  
Monday, August 01, 2005
Please elect this Marine (part 2)
In case you missed the original "son of a bitch" article that steamed Ms. Schmidt, here's the USA Today article in which Paul Hackett, who hopefully will be representing Ohio's 2nd district soon, slammed President Bush for his "incredibly stupid" "bring 'em on" comment. Win or lose, Hackett won't be the only OIF veteran running for office, and so far, most are running as Democrats...

Previous posts:
posted by JReid @ 10:46 PM  
Then and now...
Then (June 24, 2005): Bush rejects timetable for withdrawal from Iraq

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush struck back Friday against growing calls to schedule a U.S. pullout from Iraq, vowing there would be no timetable to withdraw troops.

To do so would be "conceding too much to the enemy," Bush said at a news conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari at the White House.
Now (August 1, 2005): U.S. ambassador in Iraq discusses withdrawal of U.S. troops

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Aug. 1 - As Iraqi leaders reaffirmed their decision to finish writing the country's constitution by the middle of the month, the new American ambassador here spoke in specific terms about the pending withdrawal of American troops from the country.

In his first press conference, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said that American forces would hand over control of specific areas to Iraqi forces and "withdraw its own units from these areas." He declined to say which Iraqis cities American soldiers would leave first, but said he had formed a committee with Iraqi leaders to draw up a detailed withdrawal plan.
Moral: continual bad news plus impending mid-term elections equals major policy flip-flop.
posted by JReid @ 10:10 PM  
The prince of whiney darkness
Robert Novak finally breaks his silence, in order to carp about the recent WaPo article by Pincus and VandeHei, which portrayed him as a lout who can't follow directions, for apparently disregarding the strong admonition of the then- CIA spokesman not to publish Valerie Plame Wilson's name. Said the P.O.D. in his column today:

In the course of a front-page story in last Wednesday's Washington Post, Walter Pincus and Jim VandeHei quoted ex-CIA spokesman Bill Harlow describing his testimony to the grand jury. In response to my question about Valerie Plame Wilson's role in former ambassador Wilson's trip to Niger, Harlow told me she "had not authorized the mission." Harlow was quoted as later saying to me "the story Novak had related to him was wrong."

This gave the impression I ignored an official's statement that I had the facts wrong but wrote it anyway for the sake of publishing the story. That would be inexcusable for any journalist and particularly a veteran of 48 years in Washington. The truth is otherwise, and that is why I feel compelled to write this column.

We're listening, Mr. Darkness...


Harlow said to the Post that he did not tell me Mrs. Wilson "was undercover because that was classified." What he did say was, as I reported in a previous column, "she probably never again would be given a foreign assignment but that exposure of her name might cause 'difficulties.' " According to CIA sources, she was brought home from foreign assignments in 1997, when agency officials feared she had been "outed" by the traitor Aldrich Ames.

I have previously said that I never would have written those sentences if Harlow, then-CIA Director George Tenet or anybody else from the agency had told me that Valerie Plame Wilson's disclosure would endanger herself or anybody.
Novak goes on to pick up the administration trash talk against Joe Wilson, which isn't really worth repeating since it probably abuses Novak's integrity as a journalist to be caught mouthing Bush-bot talking points.

But here's the thing, Bob old boy, the point isn't just whether publishing Ms. Plame-Wilson's name would "endanger herself or anybody," the point is that the endangerment question was not for you to decide based on your impressions of a telephone conversation. The CIA spokesman made it pretty clear to you, it seems, that the information about Ms. Plame-Wilson -- not just the name of Joe Wilson's wife, but the association between the name of Joe Wilson's and the CIA -- was secret. In other words, the CIA did not want it known. How much clearer could it be? You shouldn't have had to have been given threats of mortal danger to her person or to anybody else in order to follow the clear request of the CIA spokesman not to do what you did: namely, publish her name after they asked you not to "in the strongest possible terms without revealing classified information."

Knowing only what we all know now, I think the Chicago Sun-Times should have Jim DeFede'd Mr. Novak long ago. Either that or the left-wing blogs should have Dan Rathered him...

Previous posts:
posted by JReid @ 9:44 PM  
Mustache on the Hudson
Reuters

The Guardian headline speaks for itself: "Bush installs neo-con at U.N." I'm not so sure you can characterize the recess appointment as an abuse of power, as HoDo and others have, since the president has the constitutional authority to do it. The real question is, can he be effective, having been appointed to office without the confidence of the U.S. Senate, and having had his dirty employment laundry aired around the world via the Internet and cable news. I think Sen. Harry Reid put it pretty succinctly in an email statement today:

At a time when we need to reassert our diplomatic power in the world, President Bush has decided to send a seriously flawed and weakened candidate to the United Nations. It's an unnecessary result, and the latest abuse of power by the Bush White House.


The reason Bolton is being recess appointed is because the President chose to stonewall the Senate. Mr. Bolton could have had his up or down vote had President Bush given Senators the information they needed. Instead, Bolton arrives at the United Nations with a cloud hanging over his head.

One thing is for sure: I'll bet Mr. Mustache won't want those ten floors demolished now, because he might be on or under them.

Update: Here's a link to the best John Bolton story ever.

Update 2: The reaction to Bolton's nomination has been underwhelming, though not entirely negative. And clearly George W. Bush has learned nothing about the world in five years in office:


Bush made clear that he thinks the only opinion that matters is his.

"I'm sending Ambassador Bolton to New York with my complete confidence,'' Bush said in announcing the appointment. "He will speak for me on critical issues facing the international community.'' Later, Bush added: "Bolton's standing in the world depends upon my confidence in Bolton, and I've got a lot of confidence in Bolton.''
Perhaps someone should explain to Mr. Bush his standing in the world...
posted by JReid @ 3:09 PM  
Are we ready yet?
A British writer surmises that America is not yet ready for a woman president (namely, Hillary Clinton). I have to disagree, and believe that the key line in this otherwise downtrodden look at American culture, is this:

"...it is more than 20 years since the only time a woman has been put forward by a major political party in the presidential race: Geraldine Ferraro's failed vice-presidency bid in 1984. ..."

Who votes in America? Old people -- by the largest numbers and percentages, and with the most reliability. If you are, say, 60 years old, and a woman, and the last shot you had at electing a woman president was nearly 25 years ago (by 2008), would you take a chance on being around 25 years from now to get another chance? Older women will vote for Hillary.

Who doesn't bother to vote? Young people -- even last year, Generation iPod only accounted for 17 percent of the vote, same as in 2000. But if you're, say, 20 years old, and a woman, how cool would you think it is to elect a woman to the White House? You're too young to really remember Monicagate, and even if you do, so the hell what if the president was hooking up with that heifer? Young women will vote for Hillary.

And you know what? Liberals will vote for her too, even if it's kicking and screaming. And I'll bet more than a few GOP wives will lie to their husbands and vote for her too. Hillary Clinton has something going for her in the 2008 race: girl power. Women are sick of hearing that "America isn't ready." Hell, American women are ready (except the really creepy super-Christian stepford wives who get their news from Sean Hannity and spend signicant amounts of time praying for George W. Bush... they definitely are not ready...)

Given the shaky state of the real economy (the one lived by the middle class, not the low unemployment on paper and data-manipulated world of Wall Street), and the continuing mess in Iraq, Hillary would benefit from the return of the gender gap, which was so helpful to her husband. (And she'll benefit from having him as a campaign advisor). Besides, the Bush's have basically screwed up the entire damned world, so setting some things back to the way they were in the 1990s will have a certain appeal. On military issues, Hillary need only put Wes Clark on the ticket to add weight and depth.

The best shot the GOP has at taking her down is with John McCain, assuming they can slap down the Freepers and the religious extremists and get him through the primaries without Karl Rove push-calling voters about his "nigger daughter..."
posted by JReid @ 3:06 PM  
The Plame truth
They didn't learn it from the media. From E&P Sunday:

NEW YORK Time magazine is reporting today on its Web site that according to its sources "some" White House officials may have learned that CIA officer Valerie Plame was married to former ambassador Joseph Wilson "weeks before his July 6, 2003, Op-Ed piece criticizing the Administration. That prospect increases the chances that White House official Karl Rove and others learned about Plame from within the Administration rather than from media contacts. Rove has told investigators he believes he learned of her directly or indirectly from reporters, according to his lawyer."

The Time account reveals that in the first week of June 2003 the CIA's public-affairs office received an inquiry about Wilson's trip to Africa from veteran Washington Post reporter Walter Pincus. "That office then contacted Plame's unit, which had sent Wilson to Niger, but stopped short of drafting an internal report," according to the magazine. "The same week, Under Secretary of State Marc Grossman asked for and received a memo on the Wilson trip from Carl Ford, head of the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research." Sources familiar with the memo "say Secretary of State Colin Powell read it in mid-June." Deputy Secretary Richard Armitage may have received a copy too.

After Pincus' article ran on June 12, a former intelligence officer told Time, "there was general discussion with the National Security Council and the White House and State Department and others" about Wilson's trip and its origins.

The article concludes: "A source familiar with the memo says neither Powell nor Armitage spoke to the White House about it until after July 6. John McLaughlin, then deputy head of the CIA, confirms that the White House asked about the Wilson trip, but can't remember exactly when. One thing he's sure of, says McLaughlin, who has been interviewed by prosecutors, is that 'we looked into it and found the facts of it, and passed it on.'"
Meanwhile the Committee to Protect Journalists tries to boost the Judy Miller sympathy factor with a jailhouse visit. Sorry, but it ain't working on me. Send Tom Brokaw to visit Lil' Kim and then we'll talk (Kim has held the mic for MTV so she should be eligible...)

Previous posts:
posted by JReid @ 12:32 AM  
Journalists and sources
The issue has never been more sensitive, as Miami Herald's top editor recently found out. In the current climate -- between Rathergate and the Judith-to-jail saga surrounding PlameGate, the Herald may have felt it had no choice but to fire Jim DeFede for taping a source without his knowledge (the late Art Teele).

I'm not sure I agree with that, and while I have tremendous respect for Tom Fiedler (the editor), and take him at his word that the paper feels it did the right thing, in his place I probably would have suspended DeFede temporarily and left it at that. His transgression certainly wasn't the worst thing I've seen a columnist or other newspaperman do (Armstrong Williams comes to mind, as do others who've made up quotes...) And having sat across from Jim DeFede on the local NPR affiliate last year for a post-election wrap-up, and having found him funny, intelligent and engaging -- just like his columns -- this one is especially galling. Way to take other people with you, Mr. Teele.
posted by JReid @ 12:21 AM  
ReidBlog: The Obama Interview
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"I am for enhanced interrogation. I don't believe waterboarding is torture... I'll do it. I'll do it for charity." -- Sean Hannity
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