The Dirty Tricksters Win Again: More on Ritter

The post below made me take a walk through memory lane back to the pre-war anti-war days.

Anyway, here's a link to my post on the story about Ritter back in January of 2003.

If you recall, this whole thing sounded like something Nixon's Dirty Tricksters would do. I had forgotten that Thomas Spargo, the judge in the case, was likely the culprit -- the guy who broke the law in other words.

Here's a bit of the post:

The timing is, of course, very suspicious. On the eve of a war against Iraq this has all the appearances of an attempt to silence or at least discredit one of the more effective critics of the administration. First of all, the records in this case were sealed and whoever leaked them to the press was quite simply breaking the law. They have also violated Ritter's civil rights as well.

Now, also suspiciously, U.S. attorneys William Pericak and Thomas Spina, Jr. have decided the government may pursue federal charges against Ritter based on what they have heard in the press about Ritter's alleged rendezvous attempt. Pericak and Spina have received a copy of Ritter's file in the New York case just today it appears.

Of course, the most curious thing of all is who the judge in Ritter's case in 2001 was -- his judge was a fellow named Thomas J. Spargo. Spargo is not exactly a household name but, if you recall from a couple of years back, he's a well-known Republican lawyer and activist who played a role in the mob demonstration that shut down the vote-counting in Miami during the recount battle of 2000. In fact, I recall it was quite controversial that he took part in this disgraceful demonstration since he was serving as a judge at the same time in New York. Anyway, Spargo is the judge who put the seal on Ritter's record in 2001 and, presumably, was in charge of making sure that none of this information was made public.
Why haven't W and the "law and order" Republicans put someone in jail over this?

You and I know the answer, don't we?


Whatever Happened to Scott Ritter?

Right now one of the big Rove Administration talking points is that "Everyone thought Saddam had WMD's, not just Bush". This nicely supplements the main point dutifully being trotted around: "This was an intelligence failure, and Bush is going to get to the bottom of it".

However, before the war there was one guy who was quite vocal about his belief that Saddam did not have WMD's: Scott Ritter. And as a former U.N. weapons inspector in Iraq, Ritter was in a position to know what he was talking about. He was right, and almost everyone else was wrong. So where is he these days?

Well, he's not on TV. According to Bob Somerby of The Daily Howler, Ritter has been seen on national broadcast media exactly three times in the last six months -- and one of those times he was slimed by Gloria Borger. (My own Googling research turns up very little more since 2002). Meanwhile, the people who got us into this mess run from talk show to talk show and from interview to interview, explaining endlessly why it wasn't their fault and how they were basically right all along. Rumsfeld or Condoleezzea can make three national TV appearances in one day.

So why is it that we don't we see Ritter? Mostly because he was smeared. In January 2003 there was a leak of a story about a 2001 misdemeanor arrest for attempting (via the internet) to meet a minor for sexual purposes. The legal case was dropped and the records sealed -- but this was enough to permanently discredit Ritter in the eyes of the media. Since then he's been almost invisible: Ritter was disappeared.

The case shouldn't have been in the news in the first place, since court records were sealed, and in any case the sex-scandal story (a misdemeanor with the charges dropped) was never seen again after February 2003. But after the story came out, Ritter (the one guy who apparently knew what was going on in Iraq) got considerable ink in the foreign-language and British press, but almost no attention in the U.S.

We shouldn't be surprised. Sidney Blumenthal and Greg Palast can't get published in the American daily media either, and they aren't even kinky. You don't want to go overboard about this, but the controlled media we have now should bother everyone. What we're seeing goes far beyond the traditional domination of the media by centrist points of view, and approaches the situation to be found in one-party states.


Moniker pointed out in the comments that many people worldwide doubted Saddam's WMD. That's correct, and I should have made it clear that what I was talking about was an engineered American unanimity. I will write more on this soon.

SECOND UPDATE Col. David Hackworth has proposed that Ritter be nominated to the MWD probe commission. Makes perfect sense, but somehow you doubt that it will happen.

P.S. I never did tell you whether Ritter was guilty or not, did I? The answer is, I don't know, and almost no one else does either. The normal presumption when charges are dropped on a misdemeanor case is that there wasn't much there in the first place. The few facts we have are consistent with a frameup, entrapment, or blackmail, though these are not the only possible explanations. And of course, if it was blackmail, then apparently Ritter did something un-nice -- even if it was also unprosecutable.

The real point is that Ritter was right when almost everyone else was wrong, and that the media have been ignoring him since February 2003.

LINKS: I have parked links to this story here. I have also added links to stories about the movie Ritter made in 2001 (before 9/11) with funding from an Iraqi businessmen. The film has also been used to discredit Ritter, but I think that the case against him is weak.

While checking up on the film story, I did find that Ritter is sort of an oaf, with rather odd mannerisms, and thus not the best spokesman for his case. Or at least, that's how slick media people feel about him.

Bush Appoints Silberman

Bush appointed Laurence Silberman to head the "independent" investigation of Iraq intelligence. This might be the one person even less independent than Kissinger.

He first shows up as one of the people from the Reagan campaign who met with the Iranians in the Iran Hostage Crisis:
"In September 1980, Allen got a call from Robert McFarlane, then an authority on Iran for the Senate Armed Services Committee. McFarlane told Allen that he knew a representative of the Iranian government who might be useful. `McFarlane wanted us to meet him; he was emphatic,' recalls Allen. `And against my better judgment, I agreed.' Allen asked another campaign advisor, Laurence Silberman, to accompany him."
Then he's one of the judges who let Ollie North off the hook on a technicality.

Later he shows up as one of the main behind-the-scenes Clinton-haters:
Laurence Silberman, appointed by Supreme Court Chief Justice Rehnquist to sit on the review panel, is known by many as an ally of the Federalist Society and the judge who overturned Oliver North's convictions.

In "Blinded by the Right," David Brock suggests Silberman was a driving force behind the conservative muckraker's "The Real Anita Hill," which trashed the woman who challenged Clarence Thomas, and of the "troopergate" articles that eventually produced Paula Jones.

According to Brock,
though he was a sitting federal judge who would rule on matters to which the Clinton administration was party, Larry strongly urged me to go forward. By now, after his almost daily dealings with me as I wrote "The Real Anita Hill," Larry must have known I always deferred to his judgment. He also had keen psychological insight. He wrapped his advice in an appeal to my ego. The trooper story would be much bigger than the Anita Hill book, he predicted. Clinton would be "devastated," and therefore the story could only greatly enhance my reputation. Sitting in his favorite tan leather club chair, scotch in hand, the judge told me he felt sure that if the same story had been written about Ronald Reagan, it would have toppled him from office. Clinton, he surmised, might be toppled as well. Of course, the liberal media might ignore the story to protect Clinton, but in conservative circles, I would be king. When I heard that I was over the fence.
Later, as Brock indicates, Silberman ruled on Clinton matters, including whether Clinton's bodyguards could be compelled to testify in the Lewinsky case. He famously asked in an opinion, "Can it be said that the president of the United States has declared war on the United States," when he disagreed with the administration's tactics. His court also backed the leaks to the media from the office of his friend Ken Starr.

[. . .] Brock's account also alleges that Silberman was good at moving dirt behind the scenes, acting as a source, both on and off the record, for "The Real Anita Hill." Brock relates the story of his finishing a chapter alleging Sen. Paul Simon leaked confidential papers on Hill to the press. After Brock drops it through Silberman's mail slot, the judge and his wife call their young cub reporter.

"They were passing the phone to each other, marveling at my 'genius' at the top of their lungs," Brock says. "'You got him. You nailed him. You fucked him. You killed him,' they sang. The state of manic euphoria that gripped the Silbermans that evening is impossible to describe to a normal person."
This appointment says all we need to know about the "independence" of this commission.


The Kerry Smear -- Spotted Again

I have been following a certain kind of smear that appears to be a tactic of the Republicans for the election. Anonymous callers to talk shows, anonymous letter writers, all with stories about how John Kerry is a nasty rich elitist who does thing like push in front of people in lines at supermarkets. I wrote about it here and, especially here. Now in Murdoch's NY Post (Murcoch owns Fox News), there's this (thanks to Atrios):
"ONE of the surest ways to get the phones ringing on any Massachusetts talk-radio show is to ask people to call in and tell their John Kerry stories. The phone lines are soon filled, and most of the stories have a common theme: our junior senator pulling rank on one of his constituents, breaking in line, demanding to pay less (or nothing) or ducking out before the bill arrives.

The tales often have one other common thread. Most end with Sen. Kerry inquiring of the lesser mortal: "Do you know who I am?"
It's time to write to your local papers, warning people of this tactic.

(Cross-posted at the american street.)

Lies Lies Lies Yeah Part 2,357

From this bombshell UPI story:

Federal law-enforcement officials said that they have developed hard evidence of possible criminal misconduct by two employees of Vice President Dick Cheney's office related to the unlawful exposure of a CIA officer's identity last year. The investigation, which is continuing, could lead to indictments, a Justice Department official said.

According to these sources, John Hannah and Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, were the two Cheney employees. "We believe that Hannah was the major player in this," one federal law-enforcement officer said. Calls to the vice president's office were not returned, nor did Hannah and Libby return calls.
From an October 6, 2003 press conference by Scott McClellan:

Q Scott, the President just expressed his desire to get to the bottom of this CIA leak issue. And he said he wanted to hold accountable whoever was responsible --

MR. McCLELLAN: Absolutely.

Q -- responsible for this. But can you confirm that the President would fire anyone on his staff found to have leaked classified information?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think I made that very clear last week. The topic came up, and I said that if anyone in this administration was responsible for the leaking of classified information, they would no longer work in this administration. This is a very serious matter. The President made it very clear just a short time ago in the East Room, and he has always said that leaking of classified information is a serious matter. And that's why he wants to get to the bottom of this. And the sooner we get to the bottom of it, the better.
From an October 10, 2003 press conference by Scott McClellan:

Q Scott, earlier this week you told us that neither Karl Rove, Elliot Abrams nor Lewis Libby disclosed any classified information with regard to the leak. I wondered if you could tell us more specifically whether any of them told any reporter that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA?

MR. McCLELLAN: Those individuals -- I talked -- I spoke with those individuals, as I pointed out, and those individuals assured me they were not involved in this. And that's where it stands.

Q So none of them told any reporter that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA?

MR. McCLELLAN: They assured me that they were not involved in this.

Now, explain to me why Scooter and Hannah still have jobs? Didn't the White House say they'd immediately fire any person who was involved in this?

Apparently, Libby and Hannah are the sacrificial lambs. But why did the White House lie about Libby's involvement? How did they think they could get away with that? I mean, heck folks, most of the people in that room KNEW for a fact that McClellan was lying. Surely they knew it was bound to come out that Libby was involved sooner or later, right?

However, I've got one eensy teensy (but important) question:

Who told Libby and Hannah that Plame was a CIA operative?

Are you thinking what I'm thinking?

The New Ad

The new ad is a dating service FOR PROGRESSIVES.

I can see the need for this. I went out with a Libertarian once. Ugh!

No One Remembers

Does anyone remember this, from Dec. 7, 2002? Iraq Delivers Arms Declaration to U.N.:
"BAGHDAD, Iraq - Iraq handed over its long-awaited arms declaration to the United Nations on Saturday, denying it has doomsday weapons, and President Saddam Hussein grudgingly apologized to Kuwait for his 1990 invasion.

[. . .] The declaration will "answer all the questions,'' said Lt. Gen. Hossam Mohammed Amin, its chief author. If the United States "has the minimum level of fairness and braveness,'' it will accept it as the truth, he said.

[. . .]But new teams of U.N. arms inspectors are now crisscrossing Iraq in search of signs of weapons of mass destruction, and the Bush administration says it is sure Baghdad still has such weapons. It has threatened war to enforce Iraqi disarmament.

The huge Iraqi declaration, summarizing largely civilian industrial activity, was an anticlimax, since the Iraqi denial has been repeated endlessly, including by Gen. Amin on Saturday. ``I reiterate here Iraq has no weapons of mass destruction,'' he told reporters."
Of course, TODAY'S excuse is that Saddam didn't know that he didn't have WMD, and that's why Bush thought they did.

They're In Charge Now

From Dr. Strangelove:
"I can no longer sit back and allow Communist infiltration , Communist indoctrination, Communist subversion, and the international Communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids... " -Base Commander Ripper
This wingnut was modeled after the John Birch Society wingnuts. Well, people, now those wingnuts run the country.

July 2002

In one of my first Seeing the Forest posts I wrote:
"After this November's election the Democratic Party is going to have to start asking Democrats for money instead of hitting up corporate Republicans as they have been doing. They are used to getting large chunks of cash from corporations and now they have to raise lots of smaller chunks from actual Democrats. I think the changes they will have to make to tailor their message to actual Demcorats is going to make a huge difference in the message of the Democratic Party.

I've been to a few Democratic clubs and other meetings lately and have to say that the mood of the grass roots is nothing like the message that the Democratic Party has been putting out. Grass-roots Democrats are not at all happy with the way House and Senate Democrats have been voting for several years. I think we are likely to see a very strong populist resurgence."
And look what has happened! Taking away the corporate money HAS changed the party.

W's Alternate Universe

Because we acted, nations of the Middle East no longer need to fear reckless aggression from a ruthless dictator who had the intent and capability to inflict great harm on his people and people around the world.
That's true I guess.

Unfortunately, now the nations of the Middle East need to fear reckless agression from the United States.

And the people of Iraq have learned the United States has the capability to inflict great harm, haven't they?

Dean - Wisconsin Or Out

Dean says he must win Wisconsin or leave the race. He is asking supporters to donate $700,000 by Sunday to pay for ads. I have put "the bat" back up - click on it to give, even $5.

What do I think? I think he's being realistic. I also think he might be pretty sure he has a good chance of winning Wisconsin. If he does that helps propel him into the BIG March 2 primaries including California and New York. And it will be a very interesting time up to the convention, with FOUR candidates blasting Bush on the news every single night. YES!

Last night's Redwood City Meetup was surprising. About 1/3 of the people there were at their first Dean Meetup. I wonder what it was like in the rest of the country?

All I can say is, we'll see.

Ghostwriting Republican Trash Talk

(Matt Yglesias linked to a query from warblogger Tacitus asking for examples of "Bill Clinton's policy lies". Fun was had by all, especially by his resident trolls. This is a rewritten version of my contribution.)

I believe in the division of labor and comparative advantage. I'm sure that the Republicans have already found every lie Clinton ever told, along with a lot that he didn't tell -- as Reagan said, there's gotta be a pony somewhere in all that shit. As far as I'm concerned, our job is just to shovel away the shit.

Why we're running errands for Tacitus, I don't know. For people who need to believe that there's a decent conservative in the world, apparently he's the man. But from what I've read, he's just as nasty as the others -- he's just painfully trained himself to keep a civil tongue in his head. For the sake of the common good, Tacitus always demands that we meet him half way, but I have never seen him starting off by meeting us half way. He just struts over with a chip on his shoulder to make his demands.

I'm hardly a Clinton loyalist -- he double-crossed my wing of the party up one side and down the other -- but my doubts about Clinton aren't to be shared with Tacitus, who I'm sure enjoyed watching a Democrat do the Republicans' work.

During the Dukakis campaign, the Democrat's response was to stop campaigning for a minute to decide whether Boston Harbor was really that bad. When the Republicans insinuated that Clinton's mother was a whore -- yes, they really did do that -- the Democratic response was to ask if it was strictly true, and to hold a symposium on the role of women in today's world. So now we're ghost-writing trash-talk for Bush's Republican defenders.

Civility in American politics came to an end in the 1994 Congressional campaign, when one of the nastiest guys in American politics became Speaker of the House with the help of a ludicrous and vicious smear. The Republicans have done nothing since then to improve the situation, and they've held on to their gains.

Democrats play fair, and Republicans don't. Democrats are openminded and thoughtful, and Republicans aren't. We have the high moral ground, and they have the Presidency, Congress, and the Supreme Court.

(Unnecessary personal references omitted. There are many fine people who still believe that dialogue with Republicans is possible, though when I visit their sites I wonder why they bother to try.)


I checked back on the Yglesias thread, and apparently the Tacitus thread was not trolling for "Clinton was just as bad" slime, but was straightforwardly intended.

Someone else has also given me evidence that my judgement of Tacitus (based on fifteen minutes at his site plus his comments here and there) was unfair.

On the other hand, by being an asshole I succeeded in drawing more attention to myself than I otherwise would have gotten. My self-promotion skills are improving, I guess.


What's my name?

Why Bush Won't Allow His National Guard Records To Be Released

I suspect the reason Bush won't let his Service Records to be released is they will show he accepted pay for dates he did not show up.

I mean, we already know he never completed training to become a fighter pilot because he stopped flying rather than take a physical after they announced a new policy of drug testing. He already admits there was quite a bit of time he wasn't there. (He claims he made it up.) His "honorable discharge" papers show that he left a year early. So what does he still have to hide? Why won't he allow the records to be released?


THIS at Billmon's Whiskey Bar is why I read weblogs, and read the professional pundits less and less often. Oh, wait, newspapers CAN'T do what bloggers do - because bloggers can link to stories, and you can leave comments!

On the deficits:
""Gulp," says the House Republican Caucus. "You mean you want us to handle it?"

"Naturally," replies the president. "What other suckers would I have in mind?"

And so the Great Barbecue of 2003 finally reaches its greasy end. The meal has been devoured -- all those rich tax cuts and thick slices of pork, topped off by that enormous ice cream sundae of prescription drug benefits. The check is on the table. The guests are frantically trying to avoid eye contact."
Don't worry, their kids will cover the bill.

Ask The Simple Question

I wish the press would ask Republicans why they didn't think it was "outrageous and baseless" to call President Clinton a "draft-dodger."
Republicans roared back on Tuesday, accusing Mr. Kerry of "smear tactics" for saying the president should answer questions about his service record.
I wish someone would ask Republicans if they also think it was "smear tactics" to accuse President Clinton of ... jeeze, think of all the things they accused him of!
Ralph Reed, the Bush campaign's Southeast regional chairman, went even further. "It's gutter politics," Mr. Reed said in an interview. "We're absolutely convinced that the American people will reject these smear tactics."
Did the American people reject the Republicans for their tactics against President Clinton? How did the Republicans fare, after years of the nastiest kind of sleazy attacks on Clinton? Oh yeah, I remember, now they countrol the House, they control the Senate, and they control the White House.

Taxpayer Money Paying For Bush Campaign Ads!

The government will be spending $9.5 million to run blatantly political pro-Republican election ads, in English and Spanish, promoting Bush's Medicare Destruction bill that was passed by a few votes.

From The Progress Report:
"THE AD'S DISTORTIONS: The new Medicare ads urge citizens to call 1-800-MEDICARE to hear more about the new law. And in 'Big Brother' style, when you call that number you have to actually say out loud 'Medicare improvement' in order to get information. The information you then receive is filled with distortions. The hotline claims the new Medicare 'is the same Medicare you have always counted on' -- failing to disclose that the law includes provisions which try to force more seniors into private HMOs. The hotline claims that seniors will be able to find 'immediate savings between 10% to 15% from a new drug discount card program.' But the cards, which were written into the bill by one of President Bush's closest business associates, actually do not guarantee any savings at all. The hotline also says the new prescription drug program under Medicare 'will provide significant savings for seniors.' But as the Center for Economic and Policy Research notes, 'seniors in the middle income quintile will pay an average of $1,650 a year in out-of-pocket expenses for prescription drugs in 2006 - a figure nearly 60% more than they paid in 2000.'"
You have to SAY "Medicare Improvement." This is basic marketing -- repeat the message. Getting rid of Medicare is "improvement." And making you actually SAY it...

Call your Congressional Representative and demand these Bush campaign ads be taken down, and those responsible be sent to jail!

Also, read the whole thing at the Center for American Progress. There is a lot more, including reminding us how the government spent $30 million to mail a letter telling all Americans that Bush had provided "long-term tax relief for all Americans who pay income taxes" and that "you will be receiving a check [so] you need to take no additional steps." Remember how the term "tax relief" works for the Republicans.

And they just get away with this stuff! There is no accountability. Clinton would have gone to jail if he had even thought about doing anything like this. Are we approaching the time when we need to be in the streets demanding an end to this kind of corruption and destruction of our system?


Is This For Real?

This post: Kerry Beat Dean in New Hampshire by Only 1.5% When Computers Weren't Doing the Counting says that where machines counted the votes, Kerry beat Dean by a big margin, but when the votes were counted by hand he did not. Read the post.

Is this for real, or is someone just making stuff up? Should Dean ask for a hand recount? (These are paper ballots - it was optical scan machines counting them v.s. hand counts.)

A Comment I Left At The Dean Blog

Here's a comment I just left at the Dean blog. What do you think?
"The number one question about your candidacy is “Can you be elected?” The public is asking it, the press is asking it, and your supporters are asking it.

Answer it. Don’t talk about anything else until this is answered.

You should be starting every single sentence with “I will beat George Bush because…” and not saying anything else. You need to have this as your message, and nothing else, until it is no longer a question that people ask. You should have no other message because THERE IS NO OTHER QUESTION. Period.

Short message. Answer the number one question. Repeat and repeat – that’s basic marketing.

Answer this question and all the people who “support Dean, but,” will be back voting for you!
I heard they actually read the blog comments. (And STF.)

Update - I guess it resonated. Other people are copying and reposting my message in the comments. (Repetition works.)

Update - Exit polls confirm what I'm saying.

In Command

The Republican Drudge Report site has the big headline "In Command" up again, with a picture of Kerry. (No, I won't provide a link to Drudge.)

And, I hate to get into this game, but I saw Kerry interviewed on CNN, and his forehead and eyebrows did not move at all, not once, not even a little bit, not even when he blinked. No question about it -- Drudge was right.

Bobby Knight makes a fool of himself again

Bob Knight has done it again. If you recall, I went to IU for my doctorate and I've commented on this before:
Strangely, my parents went to Texas Tech and have now begun to cheer for Knight's Tech squad. I keep telling them that it's only a matter of time before he goes ballistic there. And, with what appears to be another coddling university administration that is catering to Knight's every whim, the explosion is actually likely to come sooner rather than later. Of course, like a ticking time bomb, we all can't help but watch, fascinated, waiting for the inevitable.

For his players' sake, I really hope it doesn't happen.

Unfortunately, we all know it will, don't we?
Apparently, yesterday it did.

It really is about time for him to go, don't you think?

Hullabaloo, on Kerry

Go read Hullabaloo:
"Kerry had better get his rhetoric together and stop with the 'IIIII led the fight against the Dingell-Daschle compromise in 1986 when my goooood friend the Senatooor from Delawaaaare and I stood firm for working women and the Contras in the funding for the Omnibus Spending bill 227 that offered nothing for the nuclear freeze under the Salt III treaty banning all long range ballistic child care vouuuuchers. I stoooood firrrrrm then and I'll stand firrrrm agaaaain!'

The Republicans are going to reply, 'When America was attacked, George Bush knew what to do. He kept you safe.' "
He nails it.

Even MORE great Dibgy here:
"Whining about the media's unfairness or RNC cheating or primary voter's laziness or the Supreme Court stopping the vote count is useless. It does not matter how it happens, the end justifies the means. If you can't make it happen, you don't deserve to win, even if the deck is stacked, the media are useless lemmings or the other side hacks into the Diebold voting machines. If the game is rigged a true winner would make sure it's rigged in his favor. That's the American Way."
"By drawing out the primaries the way they did, the Democrats had far too much time to think about who they were voting for and they often voted for someone who wasn't a winner. If Bill Clinton couldn't win Iowa and New Hampshire, he had no business being the nominee. But, nobody told the voters or the press (who were fixated on Ross Perot at the time) so he managed to eke out the nomination when it was obvious that either Tom Harkin or Paul Tsongas should have run against George Bush."

More Smears

Does this sound a LOT like what I wrote about hearing on the radio the other day?

You're going to hear a LOT of this sort of thing in the coming months. And you're NOT going to hear about even more of it, because it will be "under the radar." Every single local newspaper, church newsletter, radio call-in show, local music radio DJ anecdote, internet mailing list, e-mail chain-letter, and EVERY OTHER SOURCE of information that most Americans have. THIS is where Bush will be spending a good chunk of his $2-300 million.

What do we do about it?

The Media are Playing for the Other Team

The Democrats have four good candidates in the Presidential race. Any one of them can be elected, any one of them would be a far better President than George W. Bush, and whichever one runs will be slimed by the combined efforts of the RNC and the national media.

That's why I don't think that we should put a lot of energy into thinking about the various candidates' different vulnerabilities. If Max Cleland can be slimed, anyone can be. The Democratic candidate is going to have to run over the media, because the great majority of the media are going to be playing for the other team.

Cases in point: the Bush AWOL issue, the Bush budget, and the recent attempts to blame the intelligence failures leading up to Iraq War II on the CIA.

The facts about Bush's military service have been readily available for a couple of years. There is room for differences of opinion, but there's unquestionably a real issue here. But the major media either ignore the issue, claim that Bush has been vindicated, or claim that no one really knows. Any of them could educate himself by clicking on one of the following links and spending half an hour, but none of them has bothered. (Links: DeLong, Daily Howler, and Orcinus.)

Second, there's the Bush budget. For months Brad DeLong has been commenting on the disastrous Bush fiscal policies and the compliant coverage it's been getting in the press. Here's his recent piece on the budget just presented. This budget is massively fraudulent, simply leaving out information normally included in budgets whenever that information happens to be embarassing to the Bush Administration. But the Post doesn't tell you that. Outrageous and impossible assertions are presented as if they make sense. (DeLong's followup).

Finally, the Iraq intelligence fiasco. People who read the papers and have a memory that goes back two years know that the CIA was more cautious than the White House about connecting WMD and Al Qaeda to Saddam. At the time, the CIA was blamed harshly for this, and a free-lance amateur intelligence service was set up in Cheney's office to doctor the evidence to administration specifications. (Slacktivist has collected the relevant stories here. And here's a neo-com book arguing the previous administration line in great detail: Laurie Mylroie's "How the CIA and the State Department Tried to Stop the War on Terror".)

The new story, though, is that the Bush Administration overestimated the Iraqi threat because it had been misled by the CIA-- exactly the opposite of the truth! So many columnists have agreed upon exactly the same cover story that it's difficult to believe that it hasn't been a coordinated effort.

And here's where we get to the interesting part. David Brooks, who used to be widely-respected as a conservative commentator, now works for the "liberal New York Times". But here he simply repeats the Bush Administration spin on the intelligence fiasco, right on schedule.

Think about it. As a conservative ideologue, Brooks was not thought of as a partisan hack. But since he moved to the Times, he seems to have become one. (There are many other examples). Doesn't this tell us that the fix is on, and that we are playing against the entire media -- even the liberal New York Times? I really don't think that there's an innocent explanation for the major media's failure to get these three stories right.

Oddly enough, there still are many don't trust anything they read on the internet. (As I have said elsewhere, we are not gentlemen.) But there's really been an inversion. Increasingly it's the "reliable sources" which can't be trusted.

PS: Maybe something's changing. Here's Dan Froomkin on the National Guard story. I'd love to be wrong about all this!

Another Thought On Dean

Reading yet another article on what went wrong with the Dean campaign, I realize I haven't seen a single one that addresses what I think went wrong. Putting it simply: Dean did not efectively address the "electability" question.

I think any volunteer who had been working at the street level could tell you that the number one question asked was, "Can he be elected?" And the Iowa caucuses proved that this was the number one question on Democrats' minds. And it certainly was a question being asked by the press. You can't blame the press for asking the question if the candidate is not answering it effectively. And if he were answering it effectively, maybe they would stop asking.

I used to think that Dean is the most electable of the candidates, because he understands how the Republicans are going to campaign, and was going to fight back effectively. He is a centrist, endorsed by the NRA, clearly able to build a movement of activated, enthusiastic volunteers, ready to go door-to-door and donate money as necessary.

My opinion has, of course, changed. First, the campaign did not effectively respond to "the scream." I think this was an example of "Photoshopping" a candidate. They enhanced the sound in that tape, filtered out the crowd noise, and made is seem that Dean was just going nuts, when in fact he was raising his voice because the crowd was going wild. I'm not complaining here that he was unfairly smeared, I'm complaining that the candidate who had said he was ready to fight back WASN'T ready, when it came down to it. I had counted on Dean to assemble an effective response team, ready to respond to smears and tricks like this, and this did not happen.

Second, Dean never effectively addressed the big issue - electability! An effective ad would say, "A centrist governor, endorsed by the NRA, etc., etc." and would lay out the case that he IS electable. Such an ad should have been the ONLY thing running for weeks in Iowa.

Come to think of it, there's still time. Governor, if you really ARE electable, tell us why, over and over, and don't talk about anything else until that question is settled. We'll vote for you if you prove you really can beat Bush!


North Korea

Read about what's going on in North Korea. And this is coming from the BBC, so the Bush problem doesn't come into play, does it?

Why Kerry Instead Of Dean?

I have a post over at the american street, discussing my thoughts about why so many voters went for Kerry instead of Dean in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Update - A comment over at that post points to this, and says, "When is somebody going to point out that John Kerry is going to get reamed in the general election because of the book cover for "The New Soldier"? There on the cover is his name above a group of men mimicing the revered Iwo Jima memorial for WW2 vets with an upside down flag. [. . .] This is why the conservative media has been soft on Kerry and it's the Democrats who are going to have to pay for not alerting voters to the kinds of problems that this candidate will have to face if he becomes our nominee."

Read the whole page. It shows what's coming if Kerry is the nominee. If you think his status as a Vietnam Vet is going to help... read it. I'm not knocking Kerry for anything here. What I'm saying is that Vietnam Vet isn't going to be a plus for him. Remember how Clinton was accused of being unpatriotic for protesting against the war? Well, Kerry threw his medals away, and posed for pictures like this with upside-down flags. I think he was right to do so, but you KNOW what the Right is going to do with this. Remember Max Cleland - and he never protested against the war.

Who Were the Suckers?

Calpundit tells us about a new blog for liberal hawks called "Iraq'd". The guy (Spencer Ackerman) pretty much takes the bull by the horns and admits that he and his friends had been conned.

I know that recriminations and fingerpointing are very wrong and bad, but couldn't we at least get an acknowledgement that this time around it was the naive, unrealistic, lost-in-the-Sixties ideologues who called it right, and the sharp, realistic, tough-minded wonks who got suckered? Some of us left-wing Dems have been at the receiving end of TNR's snarky disdain for more than two decades now, and it really should be our turn now.

"It's not false just because George Bush says it". That was one of the liberal hawks' main arguments, and it turned out to be a very poor one. From 9/11 onward it's been clear that Bush was going to capitalize on the crisis for all kinds of unrelated political purposes, and there always were plenty of reasons to believe that his Iraq war plan itself was riddled with fraud.

Even if Iraq War II had been a great triumph, I don't think that the liberal hawks would have gained much from their stand. They probably would have improved their position within the weakened Democratic Party, but Bush wouldn't have needed them anymore for anything, and they would have found themselves discarded like used Kleenex.

People Still Think...

Counterspin Central has results of a Newsweek poll:
"'Do you think Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq was DIRECTLY involved in planning, financing, or carrying out the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, or not?'

Jan. 29-30, 2004

Was -- 49%

Was Not -- 39%

Don't Know -- 16%'"
The good news is, this can only go down.

Pop Quiz

Take the Pop Quiz, over at Whiskey Bar.



Let me open this up for discussion before I go to bed. I think it's obvious that Kerry was and is the GOP choice for who they want to run against. Look at the level of attacks on Dean compared to the lack of attacks on Kerry. Lots of the anti-Dean stuff originated at places like Drudge, meaning from the Republicans, and I saw a "Kerry in Command" headline at Drudge the other day. There are few press attacks on Kerry -- even a 60 Minutes puff-piece last week. They have tons of oppo research on him, and he has plenty of votes they can twist into an anti-American fervor. He is married to an extremely wealthy woman, which they will find SO many ways to use as a model of hypocrisy. AND his voting record is very close to Ted Kennedy. On national security they can neutralize him, and on domestic issues they can tear him apart. Where Dean was the Centrist (endorsed by the NRA) who was cast as a liberal, Kerry is the liberal they can cast as ... well, think about it. This one really IS a liberal from New England.

Not to mention that his style is, to say the least, NOT one that most Americans are going to warm up to.

In my opinion the Republicans have been absolutely rejoicing at the prospect of running against another liberal from Massachusetts. What do you think? Was Kerry the GOP's plan all along?

Monday Update - Calpundit notices, too.

Americans Deserve a Profound Apology...

Imagine that you are the parent, or the brother or sister, or the wife, husband or child of a young man or woman killed in Iraq - one of the 138 who died in the march on Baghdad, or one of the 384 who have died there since May 1, when major combat was pronounced over.

Imagine, for that matter, that your loved one is among the almost 3,000 men and women who have been wounded in Iraq since the war began - many of whom will forever bear their horrible injuries as a reminder of where they were and why.

The why of it was torn apart last week.

Now, imagine how appalled the friends and the beloved of Iraq's casualties must have been last week to hear David Kay, the recently retired chief U.S. weapons inspector in Iraq tell the world, "It turns out we were all wrong."

Or to hear President Bush - who ordered the war in Iraq on the basis of "wrong" intelligence - changing his story, saying now that it was still a justified war because Saddam Hussein was such a bad guy and just the sort who would have developed and used weapons of mass destruction as only he could have.

Or Sen. John W. Warner of Virginia, the Republican chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, badgering Kay into acknowledging the very remote possibility that some day, somewhere, someone just may find evidence that Iraq had some sort of weapons program to justify the invasion and the cost in American lives and resources.

Or Vice President Dick Cheney still handing out the baloney about some trailers found in Iraq being tied to production of weapons of mass destruction even though Kay and all others have said it isn't so.

Imagine how the loved ones of the dead may feel as they watch the spectacle of political jockeying over who should take the blame for a war being started on the basis of flawed intelligence, over whether there will be an investigation, and over the effect the timing of such an investigation may have on Bush's campaign to get himself re-elected.

If I were such a parent, or spouse, or child, or wounded soldier, I expect my fury would be visceral and overwhelming. I would not let these men forget what they had done to my family. Blood is on their hands.

Read the rest of it.

A Smear

Today, driving to the store to buy a lightbulb, about 2:35pm Pacific time, I listened to a caller to the Bob Brinker radio show - a financial advice call-in show - someone calls in to talk about how "5 years ago" John Kerry came to California to tour the defense contractor plant where she works, and that night there was a company dinner. Employees were asked to contribute to his campaign, she says. One secretary she knows was afraid to not contribute because she was sure she would be fired. The host, Brinker, says of course she would have been fired, this is how it works, pure intimidation. Unnamed caller, unnamed company.

I will bet a week's pay this was a planted call from the Republicans, designed to smear Kerry. The call got past the producer, even though the call was not asking for financial advice. This is a national radio show with a large audience. I have no doubt that calls like this are showing up on talk shows all across the country, national and local. (Bush has already spent even more than Dean on his "primary" campaign, even though he is unopposed.)

Republicans ALWAYS accuse the opposition of things they are themselves doing. Intimidating employees to contribute is what Republicans do, not Democrats. Executives are "asked" to contribute the max to the Republicans. Of course anyone that isn't "on the same page" doesn't fit in at that company, etc...

That Virus

Checking my mail just now there were 95 messages that had the virus attached.