Sunday, July 31, 2005


This Is Hilarious

The folks over in the unreality-based community are trying to use circular reasoning and, in the case of Hugh Hewitt, deceptive newspaper cites to pimp a non-story trashing AAR for things alleged to have been done by former AAR executive Evan Cohen. Cohen, by the way, is a Republican operative who hasn't been with AAR or its parent company for over a year -- and who was kicked out after AAR found out that he was a lying scumbag. (Cohen lied about so much, and did such a horrible job at AAR, that many folk suspect he was only involved in the company so he could sabotage it.) Anyway, Maha of the Mahablog has a DKos diary that disembowels the wingnuts' allegations quite nicely.

Saturday, July 30, 2005


Krugman, Toyota, And The Great Leap Northward

Paul Krugman follows up on a topic much discussed in the lefty side of the blogosphere, including this very blog: The fact that Toyota picked Canada (high-tax, high-education, single-payer-health-care) over Alabama (low-taxes-on-the-rich, low-education, no-health-care-for-the-non-rich) for its new automotive plant.


Episode #45,685 Of "If This Involved Clinton Staffers Or Other Democrats, It'd Be All Over The Evening News"

#1: The big rumor in Texas power-broker circles is that Karl Rove's committing adultery:

For years, political insiders in the Lone Star State have whispered about Rove’s close friendship with lobbyist Karen Johnson, a never-married, forty-something GOP loyalist from Austin, Texas. The two first became close when Johnson sat on the board of then-Governor George W. Bush’s Business Council over a decade ago. Their friendship reportedly deepened after Bush appointed Johnson—a little-known spokesperson for the Texas Good Roads Association—to a seat on his Transportation Department transition team in 2000. The plum appointment enabled Johnson’s lobbying firm, Infrastructure Solutions, to snare such high-paying clients as Aetna and the City of Laredo. Sources say Johnson now frequently travels between Washington D.C. and Austin, where she frequently appears at Rove’s side at parties and unofficial functions. Although there is no evidence that their relationship is anything but professional, the close association between the married White House aide and the comely lobbyist has long raised eyebrows in conservative Texas circles. Asked about the pair, a prominent political journalist who has written extensively about Rove says, “I’ve heard the stories, but I would never write about Karl and Karen. If you want to keep your job as a reporter in Texas, you make believe you don’t see them together.”
#2: Signs that the Texas GOP is starting to collapse under the weight of its own scandals. I won't hold my breath on this one, but it'll be nice to see it happening. I won't hold my breath in expectation of seeing these repudiations of the Bush/GOP Agenda make the nightly news, either.


Worst headline of the day award: "CAFTA's Deciding Votes Were Coerced"

I wish I could hang this one on the New York Times, but in fact it is the headline Truthout used to caption an e-mail mentioning a story by Edmund Andrews, which the NYT properly titled How Cafta Passed House by 2 Votes . Bribery is not coercion. And the kind of bribery described in the article ("Mr. Hastert promised to push for whatever steps he felt were necessary to restrict imports of Chinese clothing"), as opposed to the Nick-Smith-$100K-for-your-son's campaign, is just politics-as-usual. Yes, yes, the Republicans should be ashamed by the rampant hypocrisy in accusing Democrats for years of tax-and-spend politics and then doing the same. But their consciences long ago atrophied, died, and turned green; with the exception of chuckling when a family values hypocrite gets caught with his fingers in someone else's cookie jar, I have moved on. Now, I tend to think Andrews is, in effect, lying. The vote was kept open for nearly an hour. That doesn't speak of Coach Hastert giving one errant congressman a pep talk. It speaks of a bulging pork barrel being rolled out and favors being delivered to select constituents: "Opponents of the trade pact said Republicans lured many lawmakers by earmarking billions of dollars for pet projects in a $286 billion highway spending bill." It would have been nice if Andrews could have looked into the earmarks to see if they were, in fact, targeted to Congressmen who were likely opponents of the bill. But the NYT headline is OK. It's the rest of it that's so bad.

Are people doing better under Republican control?

Thanks to Brad DeLong: 0 Wages and salaries are being squeezed out by benefits. The same doctor's visit is costing more and more, while housing and tuition bit harder and harder on wages.

Is al Qaida really our biggest problem?

From the BBC: The US is temporarily closing down its consulate in the Mexican border city of Nuevo Laredo following several months of violence there. Bazookas, grenades and machine guns are said to have been used in recent clashes between rival drug cartels.

How Do You Know?

In Salon's discussion forum Table Talk, pmk did some thinking about how people think:

I have a theory that some people operate on belief, others operate on knowledge. Although I sometimes think of them as two distinct populations, people undoubtedly fall somewhere on a continuum. They may operate as belief people in some areas of their lives and knowledge people in others. For knowledge people, things need to add up, beliefs are theories that are constantly being tested. They figure out how things fit together and fill in gaps as they seek to understand their world. Belief people come to their beliefs by looking to others. They adopt conclusions and don’t need to know the basis. Beliefs are beliefs, not theories. Belief people adopt a belief because people they identify with believe it. They are influenced by the beliefs of people that "cut to the chase." They are more likely to be influenced by people who accept and respect them as they are than people who look down on them. "Knowledge people” are doomed to frustration when they try to influence "belief people" by giving them the information that would lead another knowledge person to reach some knowledge-based conclusion. A belief person doesn’t adopt their beliefs in that way. They know what they know and arguing details with them does little to change that. Certainly, some belief people may change their beliefs when enough information is thrown their way, but most don't budge until others around them do. When "everybody knows" something, they join right in. Doesn’t matter what they believed yesterday, they just adopt the new beliefs. When dealing with belief people, knowledge people need to learn to simply assert their conclusions with assurance. No need to muck up a general truth with qualifications. No need to provide the details that led them to their conclusion. Listen to Rush for a short time. You’ll notice that he just spouts a series of conclusions. Whys and wherefores are rare. Ever wondered by why polls sometimes turn on a dime? I think those giant swings are belief people flipping. Beliefs can turn on a dime. There is no need to spend time reconstructing the basis to reach a new conclusion. When some critical mass is reached and enough people have adopted a belief, that belief spreads like wildfire. There is enormous variation in how people process information and function in the world. Just like a person with a photographic memory has a hard time imagining how a person that forgets so much can function, a "knowledge person" has a hard time imagining what it is like to be a "belief person," and vice versa. Both belief people and knowledge people can be led in the wrong direction through the manipulation of information or the dissemination of "everybody knows" propaganda. There are times that faith/confidence/belief serves us much better than analysis. For example, many looked at the evidence and concluded "you’ll never get a Senator to object on January 6th". Others had confidence that it was possible, and so kept pushing. Although I might find it useful to have a photographic memory, I would hope that those with photographic memories don’t look down on those who do not. Unfortunately, knowledge people sometimes see belief people as obstinate or lazy knowledge people. As a consequence, they make unproductive negative judgments. Belief people are what they are and trying to change them into knowledge people, or trying to figure out why they are belief people, or berating them for being belief people, is not helpful. Whether or not this theory is true, it sure saves me a lot of frustration and grief. It also gives me hope. We don’t need inform or educate "everybody" – we shouldn’t even try. We can ignore misguided belief people. We just need to reach that critical mass and the misguided belief people will come around on their own.

Friday, July 29, 2005


TreasonGate: Enough Plame Blame to Go Around

Condoleezza Rice at the Center of the Plame Scandal

"We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud." It was September 2002, and then-National Security Advisor, now-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was fastening on CNN perhaps the most memorable and frightening single link in the Bush regime's chain of lies propagandizing the war on Iraq. Behind her carefully planted one-liner with its grim imagery was the whole larger hoax about Saddam Hussein possessing or about to acquire weapons of mass destruction, a deception as blatant and inflammatory as claims of the Iraqi dictator's ties to Al Qaeda. Rice's demagogic scare tactic was also very much part of the tangled history of alleged Iraqi purchases of uranium from Niger, the fabrication leading to ex-Ambassador Joseph Wilson's now famous exposé of the fraud, the administration's immediate retaliatory "outing" of Wilson's wife Valerie Plame as a CIA operative, and now the revelation that the President's supreme political strategist Karl Rove and Vice President Dick Cheney's Chief of Staff Lewis Libby were involved in that potentially criminal leak - altogether the most serious political crisis Bush has faced. In fact, though her pivotal role has been missed entirely - or deliberately ignored - in both the media feeding frenzy and the rising political clamor, now-Secretary of State Rice was also deeply embroiled in the Niger uranium-Plame scandal, arguably as much as or more so than either Rove or Libby.
The article includes a detailed timeline of both the Yellowcake and the outing scandals. The author is noteworthy:
Roger Morris was Senior Staff on the National Security Council under both Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon, until resigning over the invasion of Cambodia.
Who are you going to believe, a nonpartisan and principled expert on national security, or Robert Novak?

Don't Expect To See This On The Evening News...

...but not only are Bush's poll numbers dropping, but the poll numbers for Democrats are going up. (Thanks to Atrios for the catch.) See what happens when you actually start acting like an opposition party against an unpopular president? Filibusters are good. (And remember when the media used to follow Clinton's poll numbers oh-so-closely? Each time he dropped below 70%, it was touted gleefully as evidence that his support was finally softening in view of the myriad ginned-up scandals thrown at him. Meanwhile, with only a few brief blips, Bush has been a good twenty-plus points below 70% for much of the past year and a half, yet Bush is still treated in the press as if he were still basking in the circle-the-wagons glow of 9/11.)


UN investigates civilian massacre

You read it here weeks before media started to pick it up: Andrew Buncombe of the Independent reports on the UN-directed massacre at Cite Soleil I'm very proud of identifying early on stories that turn out to be important. I'm no prophet, but I do read a lot and can generally judge who is telling the truth. Ceasing to take the American media seriously (while understanding the different standards of journalism in, say, the UK) is a big step toward sanity. Anyway, on to the action: Evidence is mounting that United Nations peacekeepers shot and killed unarmed civilians, including children, during a recent raid in Haiti. The UN said it was ready to investigate the alleged "use of unnecessary force" . Independent witnesses say up to 23 people were killed during the raid and that many were shot in the head. Indeed, you saw photos of some of those shot that way, including young children. ....[H]uman rights groups have detailed repression of his supporters by the US-backed interim government and the HNP. A report by the human rights programme at Harvard Law School said there were also "credible allegations of human rights abuses perpetrated by Minustah"....Christophe Fournier, Médecins Sans Frontières, which has a clinic close to Cité Soleil, said: "On that day we treated 27 people for gunshot wounds. Of them, around 20 were women under the age of 18." Maybe someday even The Washington Post and The Magisterial Times will see fit to notice the straight line between Bush policy and little kids with their brains splattered on the street.

Friday Cat Blogging

Synchronized lounging Practicing for the "Synchronized Lounging" event in the Cat Olympics.


John Roberts And Ken Starr's Ghost

I was arguing this very point yesterday over dinner:

WASHINGTON — The White House is citing the attorney-client privilege as the basis for refusing to reveal memos written by Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts Jr. when he was representing the government before the high court. At the time, Roberts was the top deputy to Solicitor Gen. Kenneth W. Starr. But it is not clear that this legal privilege shields the work of government lawyers from the eyes of government investigators — thanks to a legal ruling won by Starr himself, when he was independent counsel investigating President Clinton. Usually, the attorney-client privilege protects private lawyers from being forced to reveal what their clients told them. It also shields their notes and memos from prosecutors. This rule of secrecy is seen as vital to the adversarial process. But in 1996, Starr challenged the notion that White House lawyers who worked for Clinton could invoke the attorney-client privilege when Starr sought notes they had written. Starr argued that the lawyers worked for the people of the United States, not for the president. Democrats are making a similar argument in Roberts' case: that the solicitor general represents the public interest. The dispute was one of many legal tussles during Starr's six-year investigation of the Whitewater matter. It resulted in a broad appeals court ruling that held that government lawyers did not have the same right to keep secrets as private attorneys did.
Ah, sweet irony. Looks like you did too good of a job trashing the concept of attorney-client privilege, Johnny! Oooops! The arrogance of these Federalist Society Republicans, believing that they can write laws that they themselves will never have to heed.


Arianna Gets It RE: TreasonGate And Judy Miller

Just go here.


What Happens When You're Up For Re-Election But Your Boss Is Not?

You start finding reasons to blow off your boss, that's what:

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist on Friday threw his support behind House-passed legislation to expand federal financing for human embryonic stem cell research, breaking with President Bush and religious conservatives in a move that could impact his prospects for seeking the White House in 2008. ``It's not just a matter of faith, it's a matter of science,'' Frist, R-Tenn., said on the floor of the Senate. Frist's announcement immediately dented his support among Christian conservatives but won lavish praise from former first lady Nancy Reagan, who said it ``has the potential to alleviate so much suffering.'' Her husband, the late former President Ronald Reagan, had Alzheimer's disease.
It's not shocking that Frist blew off his Fundie backers; they've never really trusted him anyway, vastly preferring Jeb Bush even though Jeb's married to a Catholic Latina. What is shocking is that he's blowing off Bush/Rove, the people who took him from being an obscure Senator and made him Senate Majority Leader to replace Trent Lott, who was showing distressig tendencies of actually wanting the Senate to behave as an independent branch of government and not as just another arm of the Bush White House. (And you all thought it was because of Lott's Strom Thurmond eulogy. Nope, that was just the pretext.) For Frist to do this -- Frist, who is a made man for BushCo -- really does show that Second-Term Bush has got a lot less pull than did First-Term Bush. Here's the deal: Frist may well want to run for the White House in 2008, but he also has to worry about getting re-elected to the Senate in 2006. Furthermore, he cannot live on Fundie wingnut votes alone, even in the heart of Fundie wingnut country; he needs to get the mushy middle, and the mushy middle distrusts rabid Fundieism. (This goes double for the rest of the nation.) And considering that he made a very public goof with his actions in the Terri Schiavo tragedy (and his subsequent lying, and lying blatantly, about his actions), he has to really start distancing himself from the Bush-wingnut axis and to start inventing some reasons to make people think he's really a centrist. (UPDATE: It just occurred to me that Frist wouldn't be doing this if he still feared the Wrath of Rove. Wonder if he knows something that we don't?)


The Perils Of "Access"

Judith Miller went to jail not to defend the First Amendment, but to defend her "access". (She also went because she'd rather die than have it known just how deep her ties to BushCo and to Chalabi go, but that's another story.) But what does "access" get you, other than the excuse to put fancy dinners at overpriced Beltway restaurants on your expense account? Not much, according to Eric Boehlert. He notes that the access-ridden Newsweek scribes, staggering under the weight of Bush White House spin, got wrong pretty much every salient fact about Bush's Supreme Court nominee John Roberts -- even as non-access-laden regional papers such as the Miami Herald, and the bloggers that Newsweek cheerfully dissed in its Roberts profile, got all the salient facts right. If these guys really wanted to work White House sources, they'd skip the fancy expense-account dinners with Rove and crew and instead concentrate on cultivating the White House cleaning staff. For millenia, the rich and powerful have treated their servants as if they were furniture, but these folk have eyes, ears, and brains -- and a jaundiced view of their employers.

Thursday, July 28, 2005


Republican Family Values

Annatopia has the goods.


Un%$%ing the Donkey

Rick Perlstein promises us something almost as incredible as the Virgin Birth: Un#$%!ing the Donkey Please refer to your handout. The first column records some typical things "Freepers" say. The second records what the same Freeper said after the Senate voted cloture on the president's bankruptcy bill. Column A: "We are going to see a day, in our lifetimes, when schools force children to engage in homosexual acts as 'projects' or 'homework' for sex-ed." Same guy, column B: "The newly amended bankruptcy law is a criminal act perpetrated, bought and paid for by commercial pirates masquerading as legitimate businesses." I won't belabor the point that I believe that the Democrats pay a huge long-term price for those Democrats who let that bankruptcy bill go through. The Republicans understand us better than we understand ourselves. When we are not credible defenders of the economic interests of ordinary Americans, we amount to little. When we are, we're a nuclear bomb to the heart of their coalition.

The Shinola Test

In Steve Martin's movie The Jerk, his character, having been reared to the cusp of manhood, is about to leave home when his dad confronts him with a final test -- the Shinola Test. Going out to the barn the foster father points to a pile of fecal matter. Then, he pulls out a container of Shinola from his pocket. To be an adult, young Mr. Martin must be able to tell between the two. While many of our country's current leaders would have trouble with this test, a Federal judge in Washington state most certainly would not:

U.S. District Judge John Coughenour sentenced Ahmed Ressam to a 22-year prison term yesterday for attempting to bomb Los Angeles International Airport on the millennium's eve, and used the occasion to unleash a broadside against secret tribunals and other war on terrorism tactics that abandon "the ideals that set our nation apart." "The tragedy of Sept. 11 shook our sense of security and made us realize that we, too, are vulnerable to acts of terrorism," said Coughenour in a voice edged with emotion. "Unfortunately, some believe that this threat renders our Constitution obsolete. ... If that view is allowed to prevail, the terrorists will have won." [...] Coughenour said he hoped the sentencing conveyed a dual message. First, he said that the United States has the resolve to deal with terrorism, and people who engage in it should be prepared to sacrifice a major portion of their life in confinement. Second, Coughenour said that Ressam's sentencing should demonstrate to the world that the U.S. legal system can try terrorists. Coughenour devoted most of his remarks to this point, noting that Ressam received a vigorous defense, and that his guilt was determined "in the sunlight of a public trial. There were no secret proceedings, no indefinite detention, no denial of counsel." Coughenour's comments amounted to a rebuke of President Bush's terrorism policies. After 9/11, the Bush administration initially proposed secret military trials for some foreign terrorists. And, it has sent hundreds of terrorism suspects captured in Afghanistan to indefinite detention at Guantánamo Bay.
Let's see: Use the rule of law to successfully capture and punish terrorists (Shinola), or go halfheartedly lob bombs at one of the countries that harbored the terrorists, only to lose the mastermind and give up on finding him, in favor of invading a country which had nothing to do with the terrorists, thus pissing off most of the world (fecal matter). Hmmmm.


Say it clearly: This is lawlessness

(Thanks to Sam Rosenfeld at Tapped for the link to Waxman's letter Cong. Henry Waxman notes that, once again, legislation has been altered after the text was circulated to conferees. Therefore, they believed they were voting on a given bill, but the House leadership-- presumably with collusion from the Senate leadership-- is pretending that their vote was for a different bill. The last time this was done, language was inserted to allow congressional staff to go over your tax returns. I suppose they needed to check whether you were donating to the right sorts of charities or whether you needed advice on the matter. This time, $1.5 BILLION was simply handed over to oil and gas companies, one-third of it in direct spending, and all of it money that had never been appropriated. Waxman unfortunately presents this as a procedural issue. Certainly it is that. So is the difference between hanging a man before and after a trial. What this represents is a direct assault on the Constitutional powers of Congress to appropriate funds. Without the power to say what funds may or may not be spent, Congress has almost no power at all. This is lawlessness. Update. Democratic collusion came from the Congressman from GM (Dingell) and the Department of Energy's Senate satrap (Bingaman). If they represent you, you should let them know that you don't appreciate such constitutional infringements.

Sell me out once, shame on you, Sell me out twice, Gregory Meeks, shame on NY

Paul Waldman has a worthwhile article on this one These people sold you out on CAFTA Bean Cooper Cuellar Dicks Hinojosa Jefferson Matheson Meeks (NY) Moore (KS) Moran (VA) Ortiz Skelton Snyder Tanner Towns These people sold you out on the MBNA Debt Slavery Act Rep. Harold E. Ford, Jr. (D-TN) Rep. Artur Davis (D-AL) Rep. Gregory W. Meeks (D-NY) Rep. Ellen O. Tauscher (D-CA) Rep. John Larson (D-CT) Rep. Jim Davis (D-FL) Rep. Ed Case (D-HI) Rep. Melissa Bean (D-IL) Rep. Dennis Moore (D-KS) Rep. Mike McIntyre (D-NC) Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-NV) Rep. Steve J. Israel (D-NY) Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-NY) Rep. David Wu (D-OR) Rep. Darlene Hooley (D-OR) Rep. Stephanie Herseth (D-SD) Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA) Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) Rep. Robert E. Andrews (D-NJ) Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA) Shame on the people of New York if they give Gregory Meeks another term.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005


Paul Hackett: The Blogosphere And The Grass Roots Flex Their Muscles

Ohio's second Congressional district has for the past twenty years been so securely Republican that only once during that time has a Democrat received so much as 30% of the vote. But that's about to change. Paul Hackett, a lawyer and Iraq war veteran, is currently neck and neck with Republican Jean Schmidt for the special election coming up next week. And it's because the blogosphere and the grass roots flexed their muscles. Been wondering why the DLC and Blue Doggers are suddenly going hard on the attack against the Democratic rank-and-filers that make up the grass roots and the lefty part of the blogosphere? It's because they're about to lose their control of the Democratic party.


North Korea: Absence Of Bolton Makes For Progress

Much has been made over the last few days of the change in attitude of the US towards North Korea. For the first time since Bush took office, real progress is being made towards pacifying one of the world's biggest trouble spots (well, after the US itself, of course). But hasn't been mentioned in this last week's worth of news flurries is that the main reason for this progress is the absence of Bush's proposed UN Ambassador, John Bolton, who until this January was in charge of nuclear non-proliferation issues at the State Department -- and whose arrogant mulish belligerence (and glee at pissing off Pyongyang) caused the North Koreans to speed up their nuke-building program.


An open letter to the DLC.

I'm planning to send this to Ed Schultz. If you are so inspired, consider calling or e-mailing him on this issue. Better to burst the boil before election season starts. __________________________________ Dear Mr. Marshall, Mr. Bayh, Ms. Clinton, and other self-styled "centrist" Democrats: All my life, I have voted for, worked for, and given money to Democrats, even when I felt the candidates were not of the caliber that would bring credit to the Democratic Party. I've done what I can to heal the divide between real centrists and liberals, working with liberals to help understand tax, workplace, and religious issues, while working with centrists to explain the real history behind labor issues, reproductive rights, US military intervention, and Great Society programs, a history that has been systematically distorted and suppressed by the right. When President Clinton was unfairly attacked, I defended him (unlike Joe Lieberman, Bob Kerrey, and others of your organization). These are elements of what it means to be a team player. The DLC claims to represent centrism. If that were so, it would reach out to liberals and traditional conservatives. Instead, it attacks them as unpatriotic, isolationist, and just plain stupid. Shouldn't such venom be reserved for the party that has led this nation into historic budget deficits and what is conceded to be an unwinnable war? The DLC routinely sides with large corporations against working people. The DLC forgets that the Democratic Party of Harry Truman, which it so admires, was the Democratic Party of southern apartheid and patronage politics. That party was held together by the gratitude that the American people felt toward FDR. As soon as FDR was off the stage, Democrats started losing elections, as Republicans exploited wedge issues like white supremacy, anti-intellectualism, and xenophobia. The DLC wants to return to an America that no longer exists. The DLC does make bows and curtsies to traditional Democratic values, as it tries to present as viable what some call the Third Way and others call pandering. Many liberal Democrats are ignorant about issues relating to taxes, business, and religion. Some have been annoyingly self-righteous on issues such as gun ownership and reproductive rights. But rather than criticize their character, why not help to reconcile different points of view? The DLC poses as a reconciler but, unlike Bill Clinton, it does not seem to realize that there has to be substance behind the reconciliation for it to work. For example, what the DLC calls "muscular internationalism" has, for the last four years, been an endorsement of preventive war using the UN as cover and a use of "free trade" to destroy unions, wreck manufacturing, and erode American living standards. As John Kerry learned, it's not enough to criticize George Bush for ineptitude. What safeguards would the DLC put in place to reverse the damage? Would it submit the US to the discipline of answering to the International Criminal Court, so that abuses like Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib can be stopped? Would it submit itself to some form of international discipline against reckless interventionism, such as making it illegal to go to war without the support of two-thirds of the Security Council? Will it accept some form of industrial policy so that "free trade" does not turn the United States into an economic colony? It is not centrist to accept military action that the rest of the world regards as criminal and that working people regard as personal betrayal. Finally, let's take a frank look at Bill Clinton's presidency, since that is the DLC's principal claim to legitimacy. I liked Bill Clinton. He eliminated a deficit that in 1992 was threatening to wreck this country. On his watch, employment improved, and wages even went up after years of decline. America was largely at peace and the missteps were relatively minor. He won re-election and is still internationally beloved. And yet the fact is that he made serious mistakes. He failed to push for campaign finance reform and so dirty dollars put Republicans in power in1994. Newt Gingrich used money from a children's charity to help win that election. Clinton pushed NAFTA while neglecting the side agreements on labor and environmental rights that would have made it acceptable in union households. His Third Way healthcare reform proposal was so complicated that he could not explain it to the American people, allowing Republicans to turn it into a weapon against him. He pushed for media consolidation and created a media monopoly that Republicans could use as a propaganda weapon. He left the Democratic Party as a whole weaker in 2000 than it was in 1992. His clever positioning was great for his personal popularity, but core Democratic values became so blurred that the Democrats are no longer recognized as the party of working people. Worst, it was Bill Clinton's Justice Department that permitted the Florida debacle of 2000. Had they opened an investigation, Ashcroft probably could not have shut it down. We may note, inter alia, that there are suspicions that the reason Al Gore failed to act to defend his 2000 victory was that the DLC told him they would turn on him if he did. I hope that's not true, but since we have yet to hear an honest accounting of what happened. But, since the DLC has developed a record of opportunism and betrayal, those suspicions will remain. The DLC seems to be incapable of admitting that it has made any mistakes. Before the war, who was closer to the truth that Iraq would turn into a national tragedy, Michael Moore or Al From? The DLC seems to be incapable of listening to other points of view. Who better understands the real functioning of capitalism, George Soros or Bruce Reed? And what sort of idiots warn Democrats to not speak out against Republican treason? The DLC no longer has any standing to call itself a source of leadership. It is not centrist. It is ethically conflicted and morally confused. It will be terrible for America if the Republicans win the next election. However, if the Democrats lose people like me because we can no longer stand the cynical opportunism and personal corruption of this country's elite, they will not win. Sadly, I sense that is what the DLC wants: a debacle so that it can blame those who oppose the increasingly useless DLC. Let's not oblige them. There are lots of good candidates in difficult districts, almost all of them Democrats, who deserve our support. Let the MBNA Democrats get their money from the corporations they serve and let the rest of us support candidates who serve the people.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005


GOP Double Standard, Example #368,423,812

CapitolBuzz makes a point:

Does anyone else find it ironic that the Repubs are getting all worked up about people taking a look at Mrs. Roberts' advocacy for overturning Roe v. Wade, but have no problem with the White House going after Joe Wilson's wife?


Billmon flags an important article on Iraq

What can I say? Some days, there are lot of important articles. Here's one recommended by Billmon: Ann Bodine, the head of the American embassy office in Kirkuk, spoke at the ceremony, congratulating the newly minted parliamentarians, and affirming the US commitment to an Iraq that is, she said, "democratic, federal, pluralistic, and united." The phrase evidently did not apply in Erbil. In their oath, the parliamentarians were asked to swear loyalty to the unity of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. Many pointedly dropped the "of Iraq." The shortest speech was given by the head of the Iranian intelligence service in Erbil, a man known to the Kurds as Agha Panayi. Staring directly at Ms. Bodine, he said simply, "This is a great day. Throughout Iraq, the people we supported are in power." He did not add "Thank you, George Bush." The unstated was understood. Here's more interesting tidbits: Recently, the Kurds identified the retired Iraqi officer who personally carried out the 1983 execution of more than five thousand members of the tribe of the Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani. The killer's son holds a senior security position in Iraq, appointed by the American occupation authorities. ... Iraq's Shiite oil minister is promoting construction of an export pipeline for petroleum from Basra to the Iranian port city of Abadan, creating an economic and strategic link between the two historic adversaries that would have been unthinkable until now Through its spies, infiltrators, and sympathizers, Iran has a presence in Iraq's security forces and military. It is virtually certain that Iran has access to any intelligence that the Iraqis have. ... On February 15, 1991, the first President Bush called on the Iraqi people and military to overthrow Saddam Hussein. The Shiites made the mistake of believing he meant it. ...a Shiite rebellion began ...Then Saddam counterattacked with great ferocity. Three hundred thousand Shiites ultimately died. Not only did the elder President Bush not help, his administration refused even to hear the pleas of the more and more desperate Shiites. While the elder Bush's behavior may have many explanations, no Shiite I know of sees it as anything other than a calculated plan to have them slaughtered. Oh, heck. Just read it.

International news briefs: Haiti, Italy, Lebanon

AI finally gets around to noticing that something might be wrong in Haiti: Haiti: Arbitrary arrest/prisoner of conscience: Gérard Jean-Juste (m), aged 59, Catholic priest ... Catholic priest Gérard Jean-Juste was taken into custody at a police station "for his own protection" on 21 July, after he was assaulted, but while he was at the police station he was accused of murder. He was abroad at the time of the murder of which he has been accused, but he is a prominent opponent of the government. Amnesty International considers him a prisoner of conscience, detained solely because he has peacefully exercised his right to freedom of expression. He risks spending a long time in custody awaiting trial on apparently trumped-up charges. Someday they might notice the senseless shootings of civilians by troops under Brazilian command in Cite Soleil. Even the Miami Herald, so skilled at ignoring injustices, managed to print this excellent piece by novelist Edwidge Danticat : On July 28, 1915, U.S. forces invaded Haiti, launching an occupation that would last 19 years....Wilson's administration...shut down the press, installed a lame-duck government, rewrote the constitution to give foreigners land-owning rights, took charge of Haiti's banks and customs and instituted a system of compulsory labor for poor Haitians. Those who resisted the occupation -- among them a militant peasant-run group called Cacos -- were crushed. In 1919, U.S. Marines in blackface ambushed and killed the Cacos' fearless leader, Charlemagne Peralte, mutilated his corpse and displayed it in a public square for days. By the end of the occupation, more than 15,000 Haitians had lost their lives. A Haitian gendarmerie was trained to replace the U.S. Marines, then proceeded to form juntas, organize coups and terrorize Haitians for decades. (via Info Clearing House) Meanwhile reconstruction in Iraq going wonderfully According to the LA Times, the Italian opera bouffant on pretending to arrest CIA agents is in Act II An Italian appeals court ordered the arrest of six additional CIA operatives Monday in connection with the disappearance of a radical Muslim cleric who was snatched from the streets of Milan two years ago, a prosecutor said. The arrest warrants bring to 19 the number of operatives being sought by Italian justice officials. None is believed to be in Italy currently, and no one has been arrested in connection with the case. But there have been serious, serious repercussions: Although most of the names used were probably aliases, the identity of the former CIA station chief in Milan was exposed and has been printed widely in the Italian press and some American press. He no longer works for the agency and has vanished from a retirement home he purchased near Turin. (via Truthout Unlike Valerie Plame, the identities of CIA station chiefs are often a thinly-held secret. But watch for the righties to denounce this outing. And Lebanese politics returns to normal after Syrian withdrawal At least one person has been killed and several others wounded in clashes that broke out in Beirut after the Lebanese parliament granted former militia leader Samir Geagea amnesty.The violence began when sticks and rocks were used in fighting between members of the Shia Amal movement and Christian Maronite supporters of Geagea. I can't wait to see what Robert Fisk and Juan Cole, who were much more optimistic than I about the consequences of Syrian withdrawal have to say about this development.

Word on our little brown brothers

A couple of articles worth reading. First, our little brown brothers in Afghanistan have not been entirely grateful for the gallant services of our troops there and have had some hard words to say outside of the infamous Bagram prison: At least 1,000 protesters have staged a demonstration outside the main US base of Bagram in Afghanistan. The demonstrators, chanting "Die America", were angry at the arrest of a number of villagers on Monday night..."We have supported the Americans for years. We should be treated with dignity," local resident Shah Aghar told the Associated Press news agency. "They are arresting our people without the permission of the government. They are breaking into our houses and offending the people. We are very angry," he said. Extraterritoriality laws have a long and unhappy history of upsetting those who don't know America's saintly record of invasions and occupations. Anyway, apparently the troops were chasing four guys who broke out Bagram. In Lebanon, which the right wing has yet to discover has long been a Middle Eastern democracy, at least when it wasn't prevented from doing so by outside intervention, the Beeb has a program so that we can know the players. Excerpts: The Martyr Rafik Hariri list, led by Saad Hariri, a Sunni Muslim and Rafik Hariri's son, is fielding candidates for all of Beirut's 19 seats. ...expected to ...form one of the biggest blocs in parliament...has already secured at least nine of the capital's seats, with their candidates standing unopposed. They are promising to stop corruption, which is pretty amusing considering the financial dealings of the Martyr Rafik Hariri in life. Lebanon's two main Shia groups, Hezbollah and Amal, have formed the Resistance, Liberation and Development list in their heartland in the south. The alliance is fielding 23 candidates in south Lebanon and is expected to win most of the seats there. ... And they are not the only paramilitary political party. The parties of former civil war enemies Druze leader Walid Jumblatt and jailed Maronite militia leader Samir Geagea have announced a joint list in the Druze heartland of Al-Shouf district. Walid Jumblatt's Progressive Socialist Party (PSP) and its parliamentary bloc, the Democratic Gathering, have been at the forefront of the recent protests against Syria's influence in Lebanon. ...The Lebanese Forces Movement is a former Christian militia and anti-Syrian opposition group. Its leader, Samir Geagea, has been in prison since 1994 for assassinations carried out during the civil war. ...The Free Patriotic Movement is the group of the fiercely anti-Syrian Christian leader Michel Aoun. The party calls for the reform of Lebanon's political system on a non-sectarian basis and the restoration of Lebanese sovereignty. Former army chief Michel Aoun was forced into exile after launching a bloody rebellion against Syrian forces in 1989 Wouldn't you want to put an assassin and a military guy not unwilling to shed innocent blood in charge of your country? Eric Rudolph and Lieutenant Calley, for example. Those are the best. Here's the rest: ...The Qornet Shehwan Gathering is an alliance of Maronite Christian politicians and one of the main voices for the Christian community's opposition to Syria's role in Lebanon.

The first woman Pope?

My Kate is determined to be the first (official) woman Pope (see historical note). I think she'd have to become a Catholic first, but for Really Big Thinkers, such matters are mere details. At any rate, there's good news for her ambitions: Nine 'women clerics' defy Vatican The ceremony took place aboard a tour boat near Canada's capital, Ottawa. The women - seven Americans, a Canadian and a German - were ordained by three female bishops, who were also unofficially anointed in 2003. Seven women who were ordained in 2002 despite the Vatican's ban on female priests were later excommunicated. But a recent story suggests that perhaps she has set her sights too low. From The Chicago Tribune via Christianity Today: God's Phone Number In the movie Bruce Almighty Jim Carrey plays an angry, down-on-his-luck television newsman. After tiring of the newsman's complaints, God offers him the chance to take over the Almighty's job. Something else unusual happens in this movie. God's phone number appears on the Carrey character's pager when the deity tries to call him, and although movies and television shows usually use a phony 555 telephone exchange, this time the seven-digit number displayed in the movie is real, at least for certain area codes. As a result, all over the country people are dialing their area code and then that number, leading to some fascinating contacts between callers and those who are unwittingly acting as God's answering service. One woman told the answering machine at Radio Colorado Network, "I'm in jail right now. Like I said to you last night, 'I love you.'" She promised to go straight and prayed to be able to return to her husband and children. Another caller said, "Hey God, I've done some really bad things in my life, and I need to repent. So please answer my prayers." Another caller said, "I know this isn't the number for God. But I'm calling to see if you have the other number." In San Diego, callers who used the movie number got a business cell phone number for Cathy Romano, president of a company that manages the practices of 70 doctors. After overcoming her initial irritation at getting as many as 40 calls a day from Bruce Almighty watchers, the busy executive started playing along. "Hello, this is God," she answered one call, on a whim. Her woman caller gushed, "I can't believe it; it's God, and it's a woman!" Judith Graham, "Phone Calls to God Are Bedeviling," Chicago Tribune (5-29-03); submitted by Lee Eclov, Lake Forest, Illinois For all those who stand up to the current Vatican, headed now by a man who joined the Nazis in his youth and (if not officially, unofficially) Opus Dei in his maturity, for all those who demand that the Church deal compassionately with the very real problems of women and confront honestly the problems in the priesthood, may the road rise up to meet them.

Monday, July 25, 2005


The WaPo: Thirty years of mythmaking punctured by Watergate editor-- and an important truth revealed

Via one of America's last investigative reportersMurray Waas, we get linked to a key figure in breaking Watergate. Were Woodward and Bernstein central to breaking the story? Did Deep Throat provide critical information? Not according to Barry Sussman, who was the editor managing the story. In October 1972, Deep Throat gave us confirmation on an important story dealing with dirty tricks. But that’s it... An investigator in Miami who helped us one time was a lot more important than Deep Throat....On Aug. 1, 1972, we reported that contributions to Nixon had flowed directly from his re-election committee into a Miami bank account of Watergate burglar Bernard Barker. Prosecutors in Washington and the FBI – and thus, presumably, Deep Throat – had known about these transfers since the end of June. The Post found out about them, however, not from him but rather through a Dade County state’s attorney investigator, Martin Dardis....The case is pretty strong that the Dahlberg check story was the single biggest contribution the Washington Post made in the course of the scandal. It led to creation of the Ervin Committee, thus to the knowledge of the existence of the Nixon tapes, the payment of hush money and Nixon’s subsequent demise...The Post’s managing editor, the late Howard Simons, stayed at work late that night because of another story, so it was fitting that he should be there to make space for the Dahlberg check story. From the beginning, Simons was the main force behind the Post’s Watergate coverage....Bradlee came to the story fairly late. Reading Sussman, it's very hard to figure out what, exactly, Woodstein and Bradlee did to get any credit. But all that is water under the bridge. What's important about this article is that Sussman understands just how huge the Watergate scandal was: A great oddity about Watergate, then and now, is that few people had or have any real idea of what the scandal encompassed. From the moment Nixon took office in 1969, he and several of his chief aides took an us-against-them attitude, with us being the White House and its political allies, and them being everyone else, especially people who might not support Nixon on the Vietnam war. ... Watergate also came to include Nixon Administration or re-election committee bribery, massive campaign finance fraud and political extortion, perjury and suborning perjury, lying to the FBI, contempt of court and contempt of Congress, destruction of evidence, embezzlement, distributing false campaign literature, slander, libel, malicious use of the courts, IRS audits done for political reasons and the secret bombing of Cambodia (only a handful of members of Congress were aware of it) during the Vietnam war. Looked at in this light, the Watergate break-in was just a routine raid by White House thugs who thought they were above the law and who couldn’t distinguish tough politics from crime. The FBI, including Mark Felt, also was deep into illegal activities, infiltrating antiwar groups and at times prodding them to actions, including bombings that they might not have committed on their own. The difference between Bush and Nixon is that Nixon had to contend with a Democratic Congress and an independent judiciary, so he had to be a little more careful.

False Symmetry, False Equivalency...

...or just plain cowardice? Whatever you call it, it's been the hallmark of American journalism for nigh on the past three decades now. Matt Yglesias dissects a particularly vile example:

NAME NAMES! There was a weirdly infuriating editorial in yesterday's Washington Post on the subject of the estate tax. Everything they said -- namely that the case against it is based almost entirely on lies -- was perfectly correct, but the authors seemed to have trouble forming words like "Republicans," "Democrats," "conservatives," and "liberals" that would have let readers know who was behind the lies, who was peddling them, who was trying to debunk them, and who should be held accountable for bad policymaking. Instead we got "members of Congress debating the issue now ought to look at the facts assembled by the CBO -- not the misinformation peddled by those maneuvering to make repeal permanent" as if the issue on the Hill was genuinely confusion and ignorance rather than deception, and as if there was just some kind of bipartisan fog rather than a clear ideological division. Now as it happens, the Post's readership has an unusually high degree of political awareness, but I see this sort of thing in editorials and news stories in all sorts of media outlets. Deeds and misdeeds will be vaguely attributed to "Congress" rather than to the congressional Republicans who are actually doing them. For professional political reporters, of course, it goes without saying that "Congress" means "the congressional leadership" means "the Republican Party," but this is actually non-obvious to most people. Polls show that most voters don't know which party controls Congress and it's clear that the overwhelming majority of people don't understand the mechanisms of leadership control that allow rather narrow majorities to utterly control the agenda. Unless reporters name names rather explicitly, viewers and readers walk away from these kinds of stories with just a vague distaste for the powers that be rather than real comprehension of what's happening. --Matthew Yglesias Posted at 10:21 AM


Are the Wheels Coming off the GOP Smear Machine?

Salon's War Room reports that Larry Johnson, who went through CIA training with Valerie Plame and has slammed the Republicans for claiming "undercover" agents never go to CIA headquarters, is the latest target of the Busheviks' kneejerk reaction of replying to criticism by killing the messengers.

The problem, though, is that there isn't any dirt to throw at Johnson, a registered Republican who entered the CIA with a letter of recommendation from Senator Orin Hatch, R-Utah. So in a new Weekly Standard piece titled "Meet Larry Johnson," the best that Gary Schmitt, director of the neoconservative Project for a New American Century, could muster was to accuse Johnson of having a "pre-9/11 mindset." Schmitt points to an Op-Ed that Johnson published in The New York Times on July 10, 2001, called "The Declining Terrorist Threat," in which he argued that fears of terrorist attacks in the U.S. were overblown. We read Johnson's piece and, we'll admit, it does make him look foolish. But there's a good reason why Johnson's argument suffers from a pre-9/11 mindset. Namely, he wrote it before 9/11.
Is this is the best they can do? Their go-to guy for smear campaigns must be a little bit distracted right now.

Sunday, July 24, 2005


TreasonGate: The Room Is Full of Elephants

Reading the AP report about Gonzales waiting 12 hours to tell the White House staff to "preserve any materials related to the case", I suddenly noticed yet another elephant in the room.

Gonzales said Justice Department lawyers notified him of the investigation around 8 p.m.
What, I asked myself, are normal business hours at the Justice Department? When — at what exact time of day, I mean — was the decision officially made to launch the criminal investigation? Why was Gonzales notified at 8:00 at night? Who notified him, who made the decision to do it outside of normal business hours, which would give Gonzales an excuse to delay giving official notification to the White House staff? Yes, what I'm really thinking is: who in the Justice Department decided to give Alberto Gonzales the opportunity to obstruct the invetigation? And has Patrick Fitzgerald asked himself that question?

So... exactly how many millions of tax dollars did you spend invading privacy and breaking the law, Mr. Obermann?

Occasionally a government agency does something so brainless that it actually merits a Proxmire Golden Fleece award. Sen. William Proxmire, who created the awards, unfortunately spent too much time railing against things that he simply didn't understand. For example, he gave a Golden Fleece for funding research on the sex life of the cockroach. It made for a good laugh line at campaign events, but there are a lot of pest control companies and their customers who would like to know a lot more about exactly when and how cockroaches get it on so they could promote cockroachis interruptis. My guess is that a third of Golden Fleeces were deserved and the other two thirds were political gimmicks. Not one of them was close to what Bushco does on a daily basis. One wonders what Proxmire would make of the Transportation Safety Administration managing to simultaneously (a) break the law. (b) invade the privacy of Americans on a mass scale, and (c) waste tax dollars to discover that there is more than one person named John Smith in the United States [T]he agency actually took 43,000 names of passengers and [like the state of Florida in its assault on voting rights] used about 200,000 variations of those names - who turned out to be real people who may not have flown that month, the GAO said. A TSA contractor collected 100 million records [what they bought at the grocery store, whether they like Jack Daniels or gin, which doctors they visited, what movies they rented, etc.-- 5000 (!) records per person] on those names. Justin Oberman, the TSA official in charge of Secure Flight, said that was a highly instructive test. "When you cannot distinguish one John Smith from another, you're going to get records from John Smiths who aren't boarding flights on an order of magnitude we can't handle," Oberman said. So... exactly how many millions of tax dollars did you waste discovering this, Mr. Oberman?

TreasonGate: In Which All Effing Hell Is About To Break Loose

Think Progress points out Frank Rich's seminal column on Gonzales' role in TreasonGate, and also the signal fact that the corporate US news media is actually following up on what Rich wrote:

On CBS’s Face the Nation, host Bob Schieffer noted that this time gap would have “give[n] people time to shred documents and do any number of things.” Gonzales argued that he asked for and received permission from the Justice Department to wait until the next morning to order White House staff to preserve all documents regarding their contacts with journalists about Valerie Plame. But he did tell one person the night before…

SCHIEFFER: Let me just ask you the obvious question, Mr. Attorney General. Did you tell anybody at the White House, get ready for this, here it comes?

GONZALES: I, I told one person, ah, in, in the White House of, of the notification, and, and —


GONZALES: - and immediately — ah, I told the chief of staff. And immediately the next morning, I told the President and, shortly thereafter, there was a notification sent out to all the members of the White House staff.

Check out the video of this at Crooks and Liars.
So the one person who knew that an investigation was underway was Chief of Staff Andrew Card, who also happened to be aboard Air Force One in July 2003 with Ari Fleischer, Colin Powell, and the top secret State Department document that contained the identity of Valerie Wilson. So, did Card tell Rove or Libby or anyone for that matter the night before Alberto Gonzales sent out the email to staff that they would soon be asked to preserve all documents?
I think it's actually sinking into the thick, expensively-coiffed heads of the nation's pampered national press parrots that a) real crimes were committed here, and b) somebody -- or rather, multiple somebodies -- will be paying for them. And soon.


TreasonGate: Newsweek And Alcibiades

Kos diarist Route66 gives us Newsweek. Arianna Huffington gives us Alcibades.

Saturday, July 23, 2005


TreasonGate: Powell's Revenge

Thanks to Kos diarist Seesdifferent for this NYT piece (which is also cited in the Frank Rich column mentioned in my last post):

The New York Times is reporting that several officials of the Bush administration spoke with the FBI without consulting attorneys. Powell was among these. (I suspect that Powell was the source of this piece; he seems to be leaking like a racehorse). This would certainly increase the possibility of Section Ten Oh Ones ("False Statements") for those folks. The article has a pretty good time line of the
political trench warfare, Washington-style, an early exchange in what would become an enduring conflict over the administration's use of prewar intelligence. But in the enthusiasm of the campaign to discredit Mr. Wilson, someone would expose the real job of the diplomat's wife, Valerie, a C.I.A. officer who had worked under cover for two decades, hiding her position from even close friends and relatives.
There follows a pretty good timeline of events in the second week of July, 2003, with a good roster of who was where and what is known about who talked with whom. Straightens out some Republican talking points. All in all quite a good piece, compliments Fitz.
Colin Powell, like George Tenet, seems to have engineered some payback for being hung out to dry by BushCo. Powell may no longer be in the Bush Cabinet, but at least some of his former employers may soon be in Leavenworth.


TreasonGate: The Gonzales Angle

Like Paul Krugman, Frank Rich is so damned perceptive, I'm astonished that he's allowed to state his opinions in the New York Times nowadays. Get a load of this (via Atrios):

But the scandal has metastasized so much at this point that the forgotten man Mr. Bush did not nominate to the Supreme Court is as much a window into the White House's panic and stonewalling as its haste to put forward the man he did. When the president decided not to replace Sandra Day O'Connor with a woman, why did he pick a white guy and not nominate the first Hispanic justice, his friend Alberto Gonzales? Mr. Bush was surely not scared off by Gonzales critics on the right (who find him soft on abortion) or left (who find him soft on the Geneva Conventions). It's Mr. Gonzales's proximity to this scandal that inspires real fear. As White House counsel, he was the one first notified that the Justice Department, at the request of the C.I.A., had opened an investigation into the outing of Joseph Wilson's wife. That notification came at 8:30 p.m. on Sept. 29, 2003, but it took Mr. Gonzales 12 more hours to inform the White House staff that it must "preserve all materials" relevant to the investigation. This 12-hour delay, he has said, was sanctioned by the Justice Department, but since the department was then run by John Ashcroft, a Bush loyalist who refused to recuse himself from the Plame case, inquiring Senate Democrats would examine this 12-hour delay as closely as an 18½-minute tape gap. "Every good prosecutor knows that any delay could give a culprit time to destroy the evidence," said Senator Charles Schumer, correctly, back when the missing 12 hours was first revealed almost two years ago. A new Gonzales confirmation process now would have quickly devolved into a neo-Watergate hearing. Mr. Gonzales was in the thick of the Plame investigation, all told, for 16 months. Thus is Mr. Gonzales's Supreme Court aspiration the first White House casualty of this affair. It won't be the last. When you look at the early timeline of this case, rather than the latest investigatory scraps, two damning story lines emerge and both have legs.
Oh, yes: Rich reminds us that around the same time the Bush White House outed Valerie Plame, they also outed ABC News reporter Jeffrey Kofman as a gay man (even though he was already out) shortly after a damning World News Tonight piece featuring US troops in Falluja complaining about how the war was going. Rich also reminds us that Rove is known for going after the sex lives of his opponents. Pattern and practice, Mr. Fitzgerald. Pattern and practice.


Some Perspective On Iraq

Commenter and Eschaton regular HandOver Fist has this reminder for us all tonight:

18 US servicemen died in Somalia and the Repugs wanted heads to roll (ignoring the fact that Bush Sr. gave Somalia to Clinton as a Thanksgiving present). Les Aspin, Secretary of Defense, resigned. Now, ONE HUNDRED times as many US soldiers have died and not a damn peep. And Rumsfeld just stays in his office, doing what, I haven't a fucking clue.
Neither does Rumsfeld, but it doesn't matter so long as the corporate media is on his side.


So Much For Fighting the War 'Over There'

Poll: Many Fear Iraq Hurting Terror Fight

Almost half, 47 percent, say the war in Iraq has hurt the fight against terrorism — the highest number to say that since the war began in March 2003, according to the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. And about the same number, 45 percent, said soon after the first round of subway bombings in London that the war in Iraq was raising the risk of terrorism in this country. That's up from 36 percent last fall. ... Only a fourth of those polled, 27 percent, said President Bush has a clear plan for bringing the situation in Iraq to a successful conclusion. That's the lowest number on that measure since the start of the war.
Oops. Bush's claim that we're fighting the terrorists over there so we don't have to fight them here seems to have passed its sell-by date. I think this means the Bushevik tactic of raising the terror alert level to push Bush's approval rating up has gone sour, too.

One-Stop Shopping for Rove Scandals

Failure Is Impossible has compiled lists of articles all about Karl Rove. The lists are incomplete but rapidly expanding, especially as the revelations about his role in outing Valerie Plame pile up. If you have a link to a new report or informative blog post that isn't included in the FII page, post it in a comment so it can be added to the rap sheet list.


The Ministry Of Truth Tour!

The Kenosha Kid follows the intrepid journey of a bunch of right-wing hate-radio blowhards as they decide to uncover the hidden truth about all the really good and cool and neato things happening in Iraq. Their first experience of Iraq comes from a fair and balanced CENTCOM briefing Stateside. They get another taste as they brave the savage wilds that exist poolside at an exclusive Kuwaiti resort that exactly replicates (not) the experience of US troops stationed in Iraq. Finally, they come to Iraq itself -- where they get to hear bullshit from a guy who seems to be reading from the Book of Chalabi. They wind up spending two whole days in Iraq! Wow! And they explored all of it! Well, most of it. Well, only the airport and Baghdad's Green Zone. But they learned a lot! Really!


The tax tangle

People understand in general terms that the country is running deficits every year and that eventually those have to be paid for by a combination of raised interest rates and slower growth, a weaker dollar, cuts in services (or the looting of Social Security), and higher taxes. But they may not understand exactly how difficult politically it will be to repair the damage, because the Republicans have created the conditions to pit one group against another. One of the worst problems has to do with the alternative minimum tax. Burman, Gale, and Rohaly of the Tax Policy Center write (caution: PDF, but a small file) Both the original minimum tax and its successor, the individual alternative minimum tax (AMT), have applied in the past to a small minority of high-income households. But barring a change in law, this “class tax” will soon be a “mass tax.” Current projections show the number of AMT taxpayers skyrocketing from one million in 1999 to almost 31 million in 2010. Without reform, virtually all upper-middle-class families with two or more children will be paying the AMT by decade’s end. The AMT is notoriously complex, and its record on fairness and efficiency is mixed at best. But because of its widening reach, fixing the AMT will be expensive. By the end of the decade, repealing the AMT will cost more than repealing the regular income tax. So, the trap is laid. The AMT will increasingly hit lawyers, doctors, small business owners, and other well-paid professionals, especially in urban areas. These are people FDR was careful to include inside the New Deal Coalition (while opposing the "economic royalists") because they are opinion leaders. There are few Richard Mellon Scaifes. If each is opposed by a few hundred doctors or lawyers or small business owners, they can be beaten. The net upshot is that when the bill for Bush's debauch comes due, the tax burden will have been effectively shifted from the very wealthy to the well-to-do. Any tax reform will have to cut taxes on the latter while raising them on the former. The rich have the money to buy protection, at least for a time. The well-to-do have the means to paralyze efforts at reform, as the doctors did so effectively in the healthcare debate of 1993-4. Meanwhile, the average person will be made jealous of any tax cut delivered to someone earning $100-$500K. All the while, we can expect a decline in the productive capacity of the nation due to low growth, high interest rates, and a weak dollar. It's a tangle that will be politically difficult to resolve. What's likely is a donnybrook that will delay reform until a financial crisis of the magnitude of the Great Depression intervenes. Even a decade of breadlines and Hoovervilles would probably be just the beginning of paying for the folly of the Bush years.

In Lieu Of The Darby Abu Ghraib Pictures...

...which BushCo has blocked from being publicly released, here's some information from July of last year about coverage in the international media -- including artist's renderings of testimony concerning the abuse of, among others, an eight-year-old girl.


Hey, CNN! What About This Missing Woman?

Atrios wonders if this missing woman will get the same wall-to-wall national coverage as has the missing girl who vanished in Aruba.

Friday, July 22, 2005


Christian persecution you'll never hear about

Catholic priest assaulted by probable paramilitary squads in church As the well-dressed people continued yelling at Fr. Jean-Juste, the prayer service nearly turned into a riot....Well-dressed men and women continued to scream and threaten Fr. Gerry as they moved by us into the church. Then a crowd of 15 or 20 or more young men, not dressed at all for the funeral came into the sacristy and the mood turned uglier and more menacing. At that point, the security forces melted away [a likely signal that the young men were from paramilitary forces]. The young men continued the screaming started by the well-dressed people and then started pushing and hitting Pere Jean-Juste. At that point a young woman came out of the funeral crowd and embraced Fr. Jean-Juste shielding him with her body from the blows and the increasingly loud and angry young men. She started praying loudly and saying "mon pere, mon pere." After days of harassment, questioned over laughable accusations that he had been running guns and otherwise participating in a plot to overthrow the "government", Father Jean-Juste was arrested, charged with a murder he could not possibly have committed. Action: Write or fax UN Special Representative Juan Gabriel Valdés, urging him to release MINUSTAH's prison report immediately, and to resist pressure from the Haitian police to minimize the number of casualties. ... Mr. Valdés speaks English, French and Spanish. His fax number is (dial 011 first from the US for an international line) 509 244 3512. Mr Juan Gabriel Valdés Special Representative of the Secretary-General United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti 387, avenue John Brown Port-au-Prince, Haïti Or pick American, French, or Canadian officials to write to.

Jim Marcinkowski Speaks. You Listen.

...especially if you're one of the folks who's bought into the Rovian/GOP garbage about TreasonGate. Via David Corn.


Grannies With Guts

These ladies are doing what Jonah Goldberg will never do:

TUCSON, Arizona (AP) -- A group of anti-war senior citizens calling themselves the "Tucson Raging Grannies" say they want to enlist in the U.S. Army and go to Iraq so that their children and grandchildren can come home. Five members of the group -- which is associated with the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom -- are due in court Monday to face trespassing charges after trying to enlist at a military recruitment center last week. The group has protested every week for the last three years outside the recruitment center. "We went in asking to be sent to Iraq so our kids and grandchildren can be sent home, but rather than listening to us, they called the police," said 74-year-old Betty Schroeder. "It was their place to tell us the qualifications, but they wouldn't even speak to us. They should've said, `You're too old."' Schroeder said her group may approach the Pentagon to see if they could be sent to Iraq.


Well, Now We Know What Today's Friday News Dump Is

Guess what?

Bush Administration Files 11th Hour Papers Blocking the Release of Darby CD Photos and Video Of Abu Ghraib Torture Synopsis On July 22, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) denounced the latest efforts of the Bush Administration to block the release of the Darby photos and videos depicting torture at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison facility. On June 2, 2004, CCR, along with the ACLU, Physicians for Human Rights, Veterans for Common Sense, and Veterans for Peace filed papers with the U.S. District Court, charging the Department of Defense and other government agencies with illegally withholding records concerning the abuse of detainees in American military custody. Since then, the organizations have been repeatedly rebuffed in their efforts to investigate what happened at the prison. In June, the government requested and received an extension from the judge stating that they needed time in order to redact the faces of the men, women and children believed to be shown in the photographs and videos. They were given until today to produce the images, but at the eleventh hour filed a motion to oppose the release of the photos and videos, based on an entirely new argument: they are now requesting a 7(F) exemption from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act to withhold law enforcement-related information in order to protect the physical safety of individuals. Today’s move is the latest in a series of attempts by the government to keep the images from being made public and to cover up the torture of detainees in U.S. custody around the world. Joseph Darby was the U.S reservist who turned over the photos and videos to U.S. Army officials and touched off the Abu Ghraib scandal in April 2004.
And if you're wondering what a few more photos could do -- well, it turns out that the Darby ones make the previous pics look positively innocuous by comparison:
Signaling the worst revelations are yet to come, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said the additional photos show "acts that can only be described as blatantly sadistic, cruel and inhuman." [...] The unreleased images show American soldiers beating one prisoner almost to death, apparently raping a female prisoner, acting inappropriately with a dead body, and taping Iraqi guards raping young boys, according to NBC News. Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said the scandal is "going to get worse" and warned that the most "disturbing" revelations haven't yet been made public. "The American public needs to understand, we're talking about rape and murder here," he said. "We're not just talking about giving people a humiliating experience; we're talking about rape and murder and some very serious charges."
So of course, Bush wants to make sure the word never gets out. Let's spread the word, people:,,,; National Public Radio: 1-800-989-TALK (8255); MSNBC: 1-888-MSNBC-USA.


Friday Cat Blogging

Alex, the perfect catloaf Lightfoot, so cute when she's sleeping


Breaking News: The Emperor Has Got No Clothes On

Jonathan Chait writes in the Los Angeles Times:

A week ago, when President Bush met with Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III to interview him for a potential Supreme Court nomination, the conversation turned to exercise. When asked by the president of the United States how often he exercised, Wilkinson impressively responded that he runs 3 1/2 miles a day. Bush urged him to adopt more cross-training. "He warned me of impending doom," Wilkinson told the New York Times. Am I the only person who finds this disturbing? I don't mean the fact that Bush would vet his selection for the highest court in the land in part on something utterly trivial. That's expected. What I mean is the fact that Bush has an obsession with exercise that borders on the creepy. ... Bush can bench press 185 pounds five times, and, before a recent knee injury, he ran three miles at a 6-minute, 45-second pace. That's better than I could manage when I played two sports in high school. And I wasn't holding the most powerful office on Earth. Which is sort of my point: Does the leader of the free world need to attain that level of physical achievement?
This obsessive and narcissistic behavior has been obvious since Bush took the White House. What's remarkable about this piece is that somebody in the mainstream media has noticed "that boy just ain't right," as we say back home — and is calling attention to it. (Longer-lasting link courtesy of The Smirking Chimp)

This Explains A Lot

I was wondering about what seemed to me to be George Tenet's gormless, grovelling statement in which he took on all responsibility for the whole WMD screwup (and carefully avoided spotlighting anyone in the Bush White House, much less the infamous Office of Special Plans). As Josh Marshall points out, it's because Karl Rove and Scooter Libby wrote it for him.


TreasonGate Trifecta?

It's starting to look that way. Poor widdle Mouth of Sauron Ari!


The Blogosphere Did It

Paul Hackett has a good shot at becoming Ohio's newest United States Representative in Congress. And it's all because of the blogosphere.


Another CityPages Twofer

Our Village Voice-owned City Pages has a couple of interesting articles this week: Here's a piece on how TV coverage, never that liberal to begin with, has swung even farther right after the 2004 elections -- even as Bush's ratings sink to historic lows. (It's a fairly fluffy piece, but it's remarkable just the same, as acknowledgement of the right-wing bias of the boob tube is rare even in the alternative press.) But here's one that examines the recent report on civilian casualties in Iraq (guess what? Coalition troops have still killed far more civilians than have the insurgents -- though the insurgents are doing their damndest to catch up). And here's one that detonates PowerLine dork Scott "Big Trunk" Johnson's exurban-white-boy-panic musings on "Murderapolis".

Thursday, July 21, 2005


TreasonGate: And The Hits Just Keep On Comin'

From Bloomberg (with hat tips to Atrios and Raw Story):

Rove, Libby Accounts in CIA Case Differ With Those of Reporters By Richard Keil July 22 (Bloomberg) — Two top White House aides have given accounts to the special prosecutor about how reporters told them the identity of a CIA agent that are at odds with what the reporters have said, according to persons familiar with the case. Lewis “Scooter'’ Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, told special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald that he first learned from NBC News reporter Tim Russert of the identity of CIA agent Valerie Plame, the wife of former ambassador and Bush administration critic Joseph Wilson. Russert has testified before a federal grand jury that he didn’t tell Libby of Plame’s identity. White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove told Fitzgerald that he first learned the identity of the CIA agent from syndicated columnist Robert Novak, who was first to report Plame’s name and connection to Wilson. Novak, according to a source familiar with the matter, has given a somewhat different version to the special prosecutor. [...] There also is a discrepancy between accounts given by Rove and Time magazine reporter Matt Cooper. The White House aide mentioned Wilson’s wife — though not by name — in a July 11, 2003 conversation with Cooper. Rove says that Cooper called him to talk about welfare reform and the Wilson connection was mentioned later in passing. Cooper wrote in Time magazine last week that he told the grand jury that he never discussed welfare reform with Rove in that call.
Froggy went a-marchin', he did ride, uh-huh...


Problem solved!

Via We all know that Iraq has had terrible security problems. But now, thanks to the brilliance of Our Dear Leader, the problem is solved! From this day forward, Iran will guard Iraq No, that's not quite what Juan Cole said. What he said was this: The two governments went into a tizzy of wheeling and dealing of a sort not seen since Texas oil millionaires found out about Saudi Arabia. Oil pipelines, port access, pilgrimage, trade, security, military assistance, were all on the table in Tehran. All the sorts of contracts and deals that U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney had imagined for Halliburton, and that the Pentagon neoconservatives had hoped for Israel, were heading instead due east. He also had this interesting comment about Khalq, which I described as one of the most puzzling organizations in the region: Iranian leaders pressed Jaafari on the continued presence in Iraq of the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK), an Iranian terrorist organization with ties to the Pentagon, elements in the Israeli lobby, and members of the U.S. Congress and Senate. So, now we have Iran-- with plenty of leverage-- working on a Shiite leader to evict the same people that the Pentagon is probably using to make war on Iran. However, since Khalq hangs out in Kurdish territory, the US can probably protect this terrorist organization. Under George Bush's own criteria, the American army should invade ... America. Iran occupies Iraq, America occupies America... Problem solved!

"Republicans stand for Treason; Democrats stand for Reason"

Alan Bisbort with a suggestion for a campaign slogan Key point: Among those who voted to stand for treason, in the Senate vote cited at the top of this piece, were Republican "moderates" like John McCain, Olympia Snowe, Lincoln Chaffee, Susan Collins, Richard Lugar, Lindsay Graham, etc. "Moderate" Republicans can not keep claiming that they don't side with the lunatic right-wing fringe of their party -- the ones who claim Rove as a hero and Bush's war as "spreading democracy" or "defeating terrorism" or whatever happy horse[$#@!] they're peddling this week -- if they continue to support every initiative, bill and spin the right wing brings to the table.

It's All Fun And Games Until Somebody Loses Their Life

Kos diarist Sherlock Google makes some provocative speculation about an unknown CIA agent that lost his or her life while on duty in 2003, very likely after Valerie Plame Wilson's cover was blown. We'll probably never know if this unnamed agent died because of Karl Rove. But we can be fairly certain that Plame's non-CIA contacts abroad came in for a rough time of it.


How The RNC's Spinning John Roberts

Kos has the goods. Pretty much what you'd expect.


Mistah Rove, He Frogged

From the Washington Post via Atrios:

A classified State Department memorandum central to a federal leak investigation contained information about CIA officer Valerie Plame in a paragraph marked "(S)" for secret, a clear indication that any Bush administration official who read it should have been aware the information was classified, according to current and former government officials. Plame -- who is referred to by her married name, Valerie Wilson, in the memo -- is mentioned in the second paragraph of the three-page document, which was written on June 10, 2003, by an analyst in the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), according to a source who described the memo to The Washington Post. The paragraph identifying her as the wife of former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV was clearly marked to show that it contained classified material at the "secret" level, two sources said. The CIA classifies as "secret" the names of officers whose identities are covert, according to former senior agency officials. Anyone reading that paragraph should have been aware that it contained secret information, though that designation was not specifically attached to Plame's name and did not describe her status as covert, the sources said. It is a federal crime, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, for a federal official to knowingly disclose the identity of a covert CIA official if the person knows the government is trying to keep it secret.
The irony is that Rove is likely going to be nailed for violating an Executive Order amended by George W. Bush himself -- which means that Rove wrote the amended text and had Bush sign off on it. Oh, and we should all give a great big hug to Paula Corbin Jones -- or better yet, to her ex-husband and Svengali, Steve Jones, who is a longtime Republican operative high up in the Arkansas GOP -- for her role in helping to establish the clear legal precedent that Secret Service personnel, including those who provide personal security for the president and others, may be compelled to appear before grand juries and investigators and assist in recalling who was where when, who saw which and said what, and so forth. Ribbit, ribbit.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005


2001: A Timeline Of What Could Have Been

December 1, 2000: Sandra Day O'Connor has a horrifically vivid dream of how the ascension of George W. Bush to the Oval Office would mean the destruction of the American economy, the senseless deaths of hundreds of thousands of people worldwide, the loss of American prestige both at home and abroad, and -- worst of all -- the utter dissolution of her beloved Republican Party as, upon being deserted by even the corporate media, it suffers a series of definitive electoral ass-kickings in 2006, 2008, and 2010 before giving up the ghost. She goes on to provide the swing vote that allows the Florida count to continue, thus guaranteeing that Al Gore's election is confirmed. Media pundits attack O'Connor so viciously that she decides to retire three weeks later. January 20, 2001: Albert Arnold Gore, Jr., is sworn in as the forty-third President of the United States of America. His election is widely condemned in the press as illegitimate despite his solid majorities in both the popular and electoral votes, and despite his high approval ratings. January - February, 2001: Not wanting to waste time trying to get his nominees past a hostile Republican Congress, and not feeling the need for much housecleaning in any event, Gore leaves in place his cabinet, as well as the entire national security team he inherited from the previous administration. He also continues the submarine watch that his predecessor Bill Clinton had set to electronically monitor the terrorist activities of Osama bin Laden and his group Al-Qaeda in their base in Afghanistan. Even though Al-Qaeda has been linked to the failed 1993 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City, most media outlets choose to ignore this fact, preferring to refer to bin Laden merely as a "Saudi Arabian financier". Media pundits mock Gore for what they as his paranoiac "wag the dog" efforts to distract attention from various alleged scandals from his tenure as Vice President. February through April, 2001: The members of the Republican Congress, with the US corporate media backing them up, start a barrage of conservative legislation -- tax cuts for the rich, gutting environmental laws, et cetera -- that they plan to browbeat Gore into signing. President Gore vetoes each bill and the vetoes are sustained. He is called "obstructionist" by Tucker Carlson, Robert Novak, and the spokespersons of the Heritage Foundation, the Club for Growth, and the American Nazi Party. April 1, 2001: As part of the Republican Congress' campaign to sabotage the new President's legislative initiatives, former Reagan and Bush administration officials Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz are called forth from their corporate boards to attack Gore's request that Congress move to pass laws freezing Osama bin Laden's assets. Rumsfeld, Cheney and Wolfowitz, who are all members of a shadowy group known as the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), accuse Gore of ignoring what they claim is a grave threat emanating from Iraq's Saddam Hussein in favor of "casting aspersions against a respected member of the worldwide financial community", meaning bin Laden. April 5, 2001: Scandal-plagued Louis Freeh, a Republican judge who Bill Clinton had appointed as FBI Director as an olive branch to the GOP, abruptly resigns from office before he could be fired. In return for Gore's not charging him with any crimes, the Republican Congress allows Gore's nominee, former Georgia Senator Sam Nunn, to replace Freeh at the cost of only a week's worth of haranguing on the Senate floor. May 5, 2001: National Security chief Sandy Berger, at the urging of his staffers John O'Neill and Richard Clarke, presents President Gore with a PDB (Presidential Daily Briefing) warning of imminent plans by bin Laden to attack New York, America's financial center, with hijacked commercial jets used as flying bombs. The suspicion is that Al-Qaeda will try to succeed where they had failed eight years earlier and attack the World Trade Center. May 6, 2001: In response to the May 5 PDB, Gore orders the FAA to implement the proposals made by his 1996 commission on airport security, but which the Democratic party had backed away from after the airlines had protested. Northwest and Delta Airlines further weaken their precarious financial states by buying millions of dollars of radio ads depicting the new procedures as wasteful and costly to the air traveler. Gore, per O'Neill's and Clarke's recommendations, also orders the FAA to watch for Middle Eastern students at flight schools who are interested only in steering planes, not in performing takeoffs or landings. On his syndicated radio program, Rush Limbaugh proclaims that "Crazy Al Gore is out to kill off the airline industry!" June 1, 2001: Republican Senators James Jeffords and Lincoln Chafee, disgusted with the demagoguery of the GOP, switch parties and become Independents who inhabit the Democratic Senate Caucus. This throws control of the Senate into Democratic hands. June 5, 2001: Jobless numbers for the month of April fell by 300,000, continuing a strong pattern of job growth that Gore inherited from Clinton. New numbers from the Office of Management and Budget indicated that Gore's fiscal policies were paying down the Federal debt faster than predicted. Federal Reserve Chair Alan Greenspan, noting that the soft economic landing of 1999 and 2000 had been followed by the dramatic rise of the stock market in the first months of the Gore term, warned yet again to beware of "irrational exuberance". July 10, 2001: Kenneth Williams, an 11-year veteran of the counter-terrorism squad of the FBI in Phoenix, notified FBI Headquarters that several Saudi, Algerian, United Arab Emirates and Pakistani flight school students in his area could be followers of Osama bin Laden, and that they might be terrorists learning how to fly so that they could hijack a passenger plane. After interrogating several of them and noting their hostility to the United States, he recognized that these students were suspiciously well informed about security measures at American airports. He suggested that the FBI conduct a nationwide survey of Arab students who were attending American flight schools; Director Nunn, after consulting with Sandy Berger, agrees. August 10, 2001: Coleen Rowley, an FBI agent in the Bureau's Minneapolis offices, is contacted by John Rosengren of the Pam Am International Flight Academy in Eagan, Minnesota. Rosengren informs her that a student at the academy is not interested in learning takeoffs or landings. Rowley investigates the man's background, and discovers through French intelligence services that the student, Moroccan-born French and British resident Zacharias Moussaoui, has connections to Al-Qaeda. She orders his arrest and informs her superiors of her findings, which are passed on to Berger, O'Neil and Clarke. August 13, 2001: Moussaoui, under FBI questioning, reveals key details of an Al-Qaeda plot scheduled for next month to attack the Pentagon, the White House and the World Trade Center. These details are corroborated by the testimony of the students Williams had interviewed in Phoenix a month earlier. August - early September, 2001: Dozens of students at flight schools are arrested in a major FBI operation. Thirteen of these students turn out to be directly involved in what will come to be called "the September Plot". September 11, 2001: At the Houston, LAX and Minneapolis International airports, seven Saudi and Algerian men were forbidden from boarding their flights after airport security personnel found box cutters, wire and other banned items on their persons. These men turn out to be the remnants of the band of Al-Qaeda's September Plotters; all the others had been caught in the FBI's sweep of the flight schools. Armed with this evidence, Gore demands and gets Congressional authorization to send US troops to Afghanistan. MSNBC's Joe Scarborough ridicules the idea that "idiots with box cutters" could take over an airliner. Rush Limbaugh claims that Gore is "sending our young men and women off on a wild goose chase." Bill O'Reilly, William Kristol, and Ann Coulter demand that Gore invade Iraq, even though none of the would-be hijackers is Iraqi or has any connection to Iraq or to Saddam Hussein. September 12, 2001: UN Secretary General Kofi Annan agrees to a call by Madeline Albright, US Ambassdor to the UN, for an international force to enter Afghanistan to root out Al-Qaeda. France and Britain, whose intelligence services have worked closely with US intelligence agencies, strongly back the Gore Administration's position as copious evidence of planned Al-Qaeda attacks in Europe has come to light. To buttress further the case for invasion, well-documented human rights abuses committed by Afghanistan's Taliban government, which is allied with Al-Qaeda, are brought forth as evidence. PNAC's Donald Rumsfeld, while taking care not to seem to oppose the planned intervention in Afghanistan, goes onto Rush Limbaugh's radio program to complain that even though Afghanistan's terrain is ruggedly mountainous and therefore has proved to be historically less vulnerable to aerial attacks than other, flatter nations, recent developments in high-tech weaponry mean that the US need not send quite so many troops Kabul's way -- and besides, the real problem is in Iraq! September 16, 2001: 150,000 UN-led troops, 100,000 of whom are US forces, leave for Afghanistan. Saddam Hussein, who as a secularist Muslim leader despises Osama bin Laden and is in any event eager to get back in the world's good graces, assists in setting up staging areas Iraq for the UN. In Teheran, Iran's moderate leadership, which needs the help of the world community in beating back the conservative mullahs, agrees to let UN troops and planes pass through Iran unhindered. November 8, 2001: The first battle of the Al-Qaeda War is started. November 18, 2001: Osama bin Laden and his top lieutenants are killed at Tora Bora after a weeklong battle. Afghanistan's Taliban government, backed against a wall, agrees to step down; the UN troops remain in Afghanistan until a civilian government is formed. This ends the Al-Qaeda War. President Gore and the UN announce a New Marshall Plan for Afghanistan. Aid and aid workers, protected by the large troop presence, flow into the country. On NBC's Meet the Press, PNAC's Dick Cheney, while applauding the death of bin Laden and the destruction of Al-Qaeda, complains that by allowing Iraq and Iran to assist in the effort, President Gore "has weakened America's moral authority". November 26, 2001: Federal charges are brought against Kenneth Lay and other employees of the energy giant Enron over seven deaths that occurred in California over the summer due to heat stroke. The victims, all of whom lived in parts of California which had privatized their power utilities, had stopped paying their electric bills when the charges topped $20,000 per month apiece due to deliberate and illegal price and supply manipulations by Enron and other private energy firms. MSNBC's Chris Matthews accuses the Federal government of overreaching; FOX's Sean Hannity claims that "Enron is being punished by the Socialist Al Gore for daring to prove that capitalism works." December 4, 2001: The investigation into Enron's price manipulation reveals that, far from being a titanic moneymaker, Enron and its accounting firm Arthur Andersen relied on heavily-cooked books to create what one Enron employee would later describe as "illusory profits". Enron, which was the darling of the pro-privatization movement and which employed several prominent Republican military-industrial complex activists such as Thomas White, promptly collapses in a flurry of lawsuits. January 22, 2002: President Gore in his State of the Union speech informs the American people that the nation is more prosperous than ever, and that more Americans than ever before are sharing in that prosperity. Gore also touts the success in foiling the September Plot and in tracking down and punishing "despoilers of the public trust" such as the crooks behind Enron. He also announces a plan, based on the one implemented in Vermont by Governor Howard Dean, to bring universal health care to Americans under the age of eighteen, and affordable health care to all adult Americans. This plan, created with assistance from Gore's Vice President, Joe Lieberman, relies on strengthening the existing health insurance programs run by the states and uniting them into one cooperative network. Republican Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott calls the plan "yet another example of Democrats trying the same old kinds of failed government programs." Private insurance companies immediately start a multi-million-dollar TV and radio ad campaign denouncing the plan as "something that will destroy America's high standard of health care." March 2, 2002: PNAC member and Halliburton CEO Dick Cheney is under investigation by a Federal grand jury for using shell companies to have oil dealings with Iran despite former President Clinton's 1996 Executive Order forbidding this. Fellow PNAC member Ahmad Chalabi, who is a convicted embezzler, denounces the action as "a naked attempt to silence a great humanitarian and his calls for a free Iraq." May 1, 2002: The first troop withdrawals occur as a stable civil government is formed in Afghanistan, thanks to the New Marshall Plan and its emphasis on fixing the country's infrastructure. November 5, 2002: The Miracle of 1998 -- where for the first time in nearly two hundred years, the party of a sitting president gained seats during the second-term mid-term elections -- is repeated, and the Democrats gain firm control of both Houses of Congress. Victorious Democrats include Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone, who turned down a trip on a charted plane that crashed the next day in a snowy Minnesota field. Exit polling showed that American contentment with the continuing Clinton-era prosperity, combined with a successful fight against terror and the Enron and Cheney scandals, helped put the Democrats over the top. Religious-right leader Paul Weyrich of the Free Congress Foundation laments the "pervasive immorality" in American culture that fostered such a result. January 20, 2003: In his State of the Union speech, President Gore welcomes the new Democratic Congress and states that his first order of business will be to ask that Congress to pass "The Eisenhower Plan", which reinstates the Eisenhower-era taxation levels on those making over $200,000 a year. The resulting increase in tax revenue will wipe out all of the National Debt within five years and enable, among other things, the financing of the proposed universal child health care plan. Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott, reviving Newt Gingrich's 1993 anti-tax battle cry, claims that this will kill the American economy in six months if passed. February 17-20, 2003: The Eisenhower Plan passes both Houses of Congress on party-line votes. March 3-5, 2003: Gore's universal health care plan for children passes both Houses on party-line votes. Crossfire's Pat Buchanan decries this as "Socialism run amok." April 5, 2003: Having waited for over two years for this moment, President Gore nominates renowned Constitutional scholar Lawrence Tribe to take Sandra Day O'Connor's spot on the Supreme Court. After two weeks of hearings, he is confirmed on a party-line vote. Dr. James Dobson states that "with the nation's highest court overrun by secular humanists, the End Times must be at hand." May 9, 2003: The final US-led troops leave Afghanistan; a token UN peacekeeping force remains to safeguard the new schools for girls from the few remaining Taliban holdouts. The General Accounting Office releases figures showing that the total cost of the Al-Qaeda War and the subsequent occupation and rebuilding of Afghanistan was $20 billion. Congressional Republicans raise a stink about the excessive cost; Gore informs them that if he had invaded Iraq, as they had wished, the cost would have been ten times that, both in money and lives. January 23, 2004: In his State of the Union Address, President Gore describes the success of both the new Afghan government and the new universal child health care plan. Public opinion polls give him a 70% approval rating.

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