Dean Supporters to be Purged?

Via Atrios there's a New Republic story about plans by Democratic Party regulars to take revenge on people who supported Dean. Key quote: "As one former high-ranking Clinton administration official puts it, 'Will they work again in this town again? I hope not.'"

If something like this came from Fox News I'd assume it was a deliberate provocation meant to split the party, but the people at TNR are officially Democrats. Of course, I've always wondered whether Peretz would try to destroy the party if he thought that his side was going to lose control, and maybe I know now.

I'm 100% ABB and didn't even take sides in the primaries, but this makes steam come out of my ears. I like a lot of things about Kerry and a pray to God (should there be one) that he wasn't involved in this. Dean did the Democrats an enormous amount of good by getting out ahead and showing that it was actually possible to attack Bush, and he and his supporters don't deserve this kind of treatment.

Dean did fling a bit of shit in the direction of the party pros, but they richly deserved it. Kerry won't do himself any favors by playing their creepy little game.

The Media Demand Your Love and Admiration Now!

Remember the way Bush joshed with the media and gave them nicknames, and how that was supposed to show that he was a regular guy (unlike the stiff, arrogant, Al Gore)?

My take on that is different. Bush's real message was something like this: "Welcome to the club! Sure, I'm a bigshot, but in your own way you're all bigshots too now. You're The Press. So let's all be buddies!"

In the old days, when there were lots of them, reporters were just reporters and columnists were just columnists. But as reporters grew fewer (with media consolidation and the rise of the monopoly media), individual reporters became more important. Rather than just being some guy with a B.A. who got himself a pretty good job, the new hire became A CNN Political Reporter or something like that, and he expected to be treated with respect.

Ironically, this happened while professional standards were plummetting. The lords of the new monopoly media -- Roger Ailes, Jack Welch, Rupert Murdoch, the Rev. Moon, and the others -- are kingmakers, almost a branch of government, and the authority that reporters now have comes entirely from the men who hired them. As a result, the reporter's job has become a balancing act between the old professional standards (which have not been entirely forgotten) and the need to please the boss. Since it is still forbidden to directly order the suppression of facts and the slanting of news, skilled reporters have become mind-readers and, like well-trained horses or dogs, do the right thing without being told. In this new post-professional world, success is everything: truth-tellers and whistle-blowers who get fired aren't heroes or martyrs any more, but just suckers and losers.

In this context I find it very odd to be told that internet sources, especially the anonymous ones, "lack authority". The contrast apparently is with the authority of the New York Times, Fox News, etc., etc. But as we have seen, this authority is rapidly diminishing -- partly because of the media's incompetence and corruption, but also because of the challenge from internet media.

Much as the pamphleteers of a few centuries ago challenged the claims of the nobility and the Church to a monopoly of truth, today's internet writers are challenging the mainstream media. They really can't claim to be able to replace the mainstream media and they really aren't trying to, but they're doing a pretty good job of keeping our open political system alive.

The media whores, of course, don't think this is fair. After years of hard work honing their craft, learning to express tomorrow's conventional wisdom today, and brownnosing, they finally got the big-time jobs they'd been looking for, and they thought that they'd arrived. They were going to "have authority." They were going to be the ones to say "And that's the way it is!"

But then the internet came along.

Some Salon no-name writes about anonymity
Tena of Atrios on "The Internet"

"Bloggers are not Gentlemen"
Kerry and the media (pre-intern)
Brad DeLong on the incompetent and arrogant press
The Indispensable Daily Howler

(Originally I had a long thing about the corrupt and incompetent media, the fluff story about Kerry and the intern, the flap about anonymity on the Internet, the Bush National Guard story, etc., etc. Rather than bore you with all that, I decided to go straight to my most interesting point. But just to remind you: the fight for freedom in America and Europe was fought and won by anonymous lowlife journalists relying on a new medium called "the printing press". Not by people with authority.)

More on Calhoun's tall tale...

right here:

So Calhoun noticed the issue. And he didn't call his local paper and give them the scoop of their lifetime. He didn't call or write the Washington Post. Instead, he called the Bush people, who are never very concerned with image(they're more substance focused), and said, "If you need me to come forward, I will."

And the Bush people, in the eleventh hour of a presidential campaign, with a potential landmine about to go off under their feet, say, "We're hoping that won't be necessary."

And you can understand their reasoning: "We could just nip this thing right in the bud and put the allegation that our presidential candidate was AWOL during a time of war, or we can just sit back and see how this crazy thing plays out. I mean, it's not like anyone took a picture of him in a sweater, or anything. What the heck? Tell him we'll call him if we need him."

And though the rumors persisted, and occassionally popped up in newspaper stories, and though there were websites devoted to the issue, and though there were even rewards offered for a guardsman who could remember serving with Bush in Alabama, nobody in the Bush administration bothered to give Calhoun a call, and Calhoun never bothered to mention it to anyone.

Keep in mind, this is the Bush administration that spared no evidence, no matter how flimsy, on the need to invade Iraq--the African uranium, the aluminum tubes, the al-Qaeda operatives meeting with Iraqi intelligence in Prague. All of which turned out to be bullshit, but they offered it without hesitation, and sometimes over the objections of the CIA, the State Department, foreign governments, and the U.N. weapons inspectors.

But when it came to a potentially campaign ending scandal, and they had eye-witness testimony, they preferred to just let it slide and see what happened.

And when the issue resurfaced during the Democratic debates, did anyone bother to pick up the phone and say, "Calhoun, we need you"? Nope. And when it began appearing in the major newspapers and on network television, did anyone say, "Call Calhoun"? Nope. And when Tim Russert sat in the Oval Office and asked Bush about his guard service, did Bush say, "Tim, you can call Bill Calhoun. He'll tell you I showed up"? Nope.

Instead, the Bush people released a dental record.

But now that Calhoun has stepped forward, he can surely point us in the direction to put this issue to rest. Right?

Calhoun said he does not have any photographs or documents to prove Bush showed up for duty, but his ex-wife, Patsy Burks, said she remembered Calhoun's account.
Well, Christ, ex-wives are better than any ol' stupid piece of paper.
Read the rest of it. Suffice it to say there are a few logical and evidentiary holes in Calhoun's story.


Now isn't that conveeenient?

Honestly, does anyone really believe this Calhoun guy?

He apparently was put in contact with the media by some of W's sycophantic Republican supporters and, heck folks, his story even contradicts the written records they've presented already. Calhoun is now claiming W attended quite a few more drills in Alabama than W's own military records say he did.

This seems even more suspicious considering that Calhoun is in Daytona for the 500 and W is going to be there on Sunday.

I can't help but wonder if W will slip Calhoun the $100,000 briefcase in person on Sunday or if Karl Rove will do it for him.

Update 2/14/04 11:59 a.m. CST: Billmon is all over Calhoun's unlikely story in this post.

Just as I thought, Calhoun is apparently just another loyal Republican trying to help Karl and the boys out.

No Connection

My cable internet service is out for a few days. I'll be posting from dial-up only if it is absolutely necessary. Sorry, need the speed. Maybe John and 2 Thomases and Richard can post something?

The Real Man

There is, as far as I can tell, no positive evidence that Mr. Bush is a man of exceptional uprightness. When has he even accepted responsibility for something that went wrong? On the other hand, there is plenty of evidence that he is willing to cut corners when it's to his personal advantage. His business career was full of questionable deals, and whatever the full truth about his National Guard service, it was certainly not glorious.

Old history, you may say, and irrelevant to the present. And perhaps that would be true if Mr. Bush was prepared to come clean about his past. Instead, he remains evasive. On "Meet the Press" he promised to release all his records — and promptly broke that promise.

I don't know what he's hiding. But I do think he has forfeited any right to cite his character to turn away charges that his administration is lying about its policies. And that is the point: Mr. Bush may not be a particularly bad man, but he isn't the paragon his handlers portray.

Some of his critics hope that the AWOL issue will demolish the Bush myth, all at once. They're probably too optimistic — if it were that easy, the tale of Harken Energy would have already done the trick. The sad truth is that people who have been taken in by a cult of personality — a group that in this case includes a good fraction of the American people, and a considerably higher fraction of the punditocracy — are very reluctant to give up their illusions. If nothing else, that would mean admitting that they had been played for fools.

Still, we may be on our way to an election in which Mr. Bush is judged on his record, not his legend. And that, of course, is what the White House fears.


Intimidation - or When Your Company IS "The Party"

This story in today's Washington Post, GOP Activists Chafe at H&R Block Hire, says a lot more than you think it does:
"Republican activists were chattering and e-mailing one another yesterday about H&R Block -- and it wasn't about getting their taxes done.

They were angry that the tax and financial services preparation company had recently hired Nicholas J. Spaeth, a Democrat, as the company's senior vice president and chief legal officer. Spaeth, based at the company's headquarters in Kansas City, Mo., is responsible for overseeing 'the functions of the company's business units' as well as its government relations activities.

[. . .] Adding insult to injury, said one GOP activist, is the fact that H&R Block's main in-house lobbyist in Washington is Robert Weinberger, who is a member of the board of the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks political money and is considered hostile by Republicans.

"They run a Democratic shop. They're insulting to Republicans. They don't understand Republicans," said Grover Norquist, one of the forces behind the K Street Project.

"We looked at skills in doing the job, not in the points of view," she said.

She noted that the company's political action committee contributions for the 2001-2002 campaign cycle and for 2003 were split 50-50 between Republican and Democratic candidates. She also said Sarah Wilson, a legislative assistant in the Washington office, worked for then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush.

The company's even-handed PAC contributions did not impress Norquist.

"That is so 1984. So they have no interest in legislation in this town?" Norquist said. "That is so lazy."
Here we have Republicans publicly complaining that H&R Block has hired a Democrat as a VP, clearly trying to intimidate the company into firing this person and hiring a Republican instead, and threatening legislative consequences. What is between the lines in the story is what this says about all the other companies. If the Republicans feel free to openly complain because one company hired a Democrat as an executive, it means that they are used to companies being "on board" with the "game plan," "on the same page" and "reading from the same playbook" (attempt at speaking corporatese...) -- in other words, they expect companies to only hire Republicans as executives.

It seems that more and more there is a very thin line between a company and The Party (part 1, part 2)



The White House late Wednesday released a copy of a dental evaluation President Bush had in the National Guard in Alabama during the Vietnam War to rebut suggestions made by Democrats who have questioned whether the president ever showed up for duty there.

A copy of the dental examination done on Jan. 6, 1973, documents the president serving at Dannelly Air National Guard Base, which is south of Montgomery, Ala., White House press secretary Scott McClellan said in a statement. Earlier in the day, McClellan hardened its defense of Bush's Guard service, saying critics were "trolling for trash" for political gain.
But, wait, given everything W and the boys have said this just doesn't make any sense:

According to the White House, the dental exam shows Bush did report for duty in Alabama. The exam, however, was done after November 1972, when earlier reports have said Bush returned to Texas.
No, not "earlier reports" but everything the man and his minions have ever said about this has included the claim that he returned to Texas in November of 1972.

Why are they contradicting themselves all of a sudden?

What's up here?

What are they trying to hide?

I think this is what desperation looks like folks.

[Link via Atrios]

Quicker KOS

Quicker Kos: "I am a free trader, unapologetically so." But now it threatens MY job.

If It Were Clinton...

Saw at Atrios:

Retired Guard officer says he saw some files discarded in trash
Retired National Guard Lt. Col. Bill Burkett said Tuesday that in 1997, then-Gov. Bush's chief of staff, Joe Allbaugh, told the National Guard chief to get the Bush file and make certain "there's not anything there that will embarrass the governor."

Col. Burkett said that a few days later at Camp Mabry in Austin, he saw Mr. Bush's file and documents from it discarded in a trash can. He said he recognized the documents as retirement point summaries and pay forms.
Does anyone remember how the press went absolutely nuts with the lie about records being "shredded" at the Rose law firm, where Hillary Clinton had worked? Does anyone remember the Congressional investigations? How about Hillary's "missing billing records?" This was one subject of a special prosecutor investigation!

How is this different?

Here's how it is different: Bush is not a Democrat. That's all there is to it. That's all the press or the Congress needs.


needs one of these, right?

Boy, isn't this thing quite embarrassing given the current state of affairs?


George W. Bush and Truthslaughter

Just now over at Matt Yglesias's site, Daryl McCullough said "I agree with Bush defenders that 'lie' might be inappropriately harsh. The problem with Bush is not that he lies, but that he has a reckless disregard for the truth."

Now, that sounds exactly like the legal definition of manslaughter, as opposed to first and second degree murder. "Manslaughter" designates criminal homicide which results from a "reckless disregard for human life", but which is without intent to kill or premeditation.

So perhaps Bush isn't a liar after all. Little of what he says is true, but his intellectual recklessness and indifference to fact make one doubt that he is capable of forming the intent to lie. He just doesn't care -- he's guilty not of lying, but of truthslaughter.

If you think that Bush really is a liar you might object to this. But stop and think -- often prosecutors plea-bargain murder charges down to manslaughter just so they can get the conviction. The accusation of lying is a very serious one, and it's one which is hard to make stick. So let's just bargain it down a notch.

The way Bush has been going with his weapons of mass distraction and his wacky economic plans, I bet that even a lot of Republicans will agree by now that a lot of it does look quite a bit like truthslaughter.

(Edited to distinguish Jason from Daryl McCullough, who are both great guys, but not identical. Even the Scots suffer from stereotyping in this world of ours -- McCullough is a Scottish name, isn't it.....?)

April Fools?

Is this, at Nathan Newman an April Fools joke?
Reuters is going a step further. It told its editorial employees in an electronic posting late last week that it planned to hire six journalists in Bangalore, India, to do basic financial reporting on 3,000 small to medium-size American companies...

The reporters in Bangalore will mostly be responsible for extracting basic financial information from company news releases and quarterly earnings reports. Tasks like interviewing a company president, talking to analysts and covering breaking news, will continue to be done by more experienced journalists working in the countries where those companies operate, Mr. Schlesinger said.

While the pilot project is intentionally modest, it is related to a much larger effort, announced by Reuters late last year, that will send about 200 of its data-entry jobs to Bangalore from England and the United States.
Nathan suggests that we're about to see a change in the way the financial press covers trade and jobs issues.

So much of the press has become so completely career-minded, and they know that you write good stories about the Right or you don't HAVE a career, period. And then this. We might actually see the beginning of an awakening on the part of the people who write our news stories. The corporations that own the media will still be in control but I think we just might see the lap-dog attitude of the reporters changing soon.

This could get interesting...

WASHINGTON - The White House, facing election-year questions about President Bush (news - web sites)'s military service, is releasing pay records and other information intended to support his assertion that he fulfilled his duty as a member of the Air National Guard during the Vietnam war.

The material, to be released Tuesday, was to include pay records and annual retirement point summaries to show that Bush served.

"These records clearly document that the president fulfilled his duty," White House press secretary Scott McClellan said.

The point summaries were released during the 2000 presidential campaign but the pay records were not obtained by the White House until late Monday from the Air Reserve Personnel Center in Denver, Colo., McClellan said. He said the center, apparently acting on its own, reviewed Bush's records and came up with the pay information.

"It was our impression from the Texas Air National Guard — they stated they didn't have them," he said. "It was also our impression those records didn't exist." Bush on Sunday authorized the release of his Guard records. McClellan said the latest material apparently is all of Bush's records.

The pay information documented the dates when Bush showed up for Guard duty, the spokesman said. "You are paid for the dates you served," McClellan added.
You know it's a bad week when you're having to do stuff like this.

Of course, there's also this and this and this to respond to as well.

Not a good week for the administration.

Not a good week at all -- and it's only Tuesday.


A comment I left, to this post at Eschaton:
Free-trade economists seem to ignore a very basic rule -- supply and demand. If you have a free market in JOBS, in a world with hundreds of millions of unemployed, then NECESSARILY wages must fall to the point where enough people starve off, and the remaining people work for a subsistence-only wage! DUH!

We MUST impose policies that increase wages, not decrease wages. We MUST require tariffs on imports to protect wages here. The POINT of those tariffs is to pressure those countries to PAY THEIR WORKERS MORE SO THEY CAN BUY THINGS WE MAKE, TOO! Otherwise we are NECESSARILY in a "race to the bottom."

Mexico has been losing jobs to Vietnam. Vietnam is losing jobs to China. Even India is losing jobs to China. And in China you are put in jail if you try to form a union.

Yes, one day things WILL even out -- but not in our lifetimes, and not, at this rate, with an INCREASE in the living standards. They will even out at the bottom unless governments intervene with regulations that INCREASE wages.
So there.


My goodness

I just now figured out that Yoshida is one of those wingnut trolls who is merely seeking attention -- any way he can get it.

I mean, heck folks, you can't write stuff like this and be sane after all:

If the Democrats were still in power today, Saddam Hussein would be as well. Period. The Democrats don’t have the stomach or the will to fight the terrorists, as they have shown us over a period of several decades. The Democrat Party is the party of appeasement, cowardice, and treason.

There is no moral difference now between giving money to Howard Dean and giving money to al-Qaeda. While the two have ideological differences, they have the same ultimate goal: the defeat of George W. Bush.

A vote for the Democrats is a vote for the victory of the terrorists. This is not meant as an insult, it is simply the truth. Just as a vote for the Democrats in 1864 was a vote for disunion, a vote for the Democrats today is a vote for the victory of the Islamists.
(And I'm not getting into psycho-analyzing the Canadian guy who is apparently -- eek -- a David Frum "Republican-Canadian" wannabe -- that would just be too cruel of me.)

Anyway, Yoshida must really be having a tough time right now, huh? What with his boy W apparently on the way down and all. I think I'll leave him alone in his agony.

Why oh why did I give this guy any attention? His insane musings were apparently discovered by folks like Jesse Taylor a couple of weeks after I retired my blog so I didn't realize he was just one of these living wingnut cartoon characters you hear about all the time.

If I'd have realized he was one of those guys, I really wouldn't have put up that last post. I really don't like to give folks like Yoshida the attention.

I'll stop it now.

Is It Possible to Fight Back?

(Cross-posted at american street)

In the last couple of years I have researched and written about the massive communications “infrastructure” that the Right has built. Many of us bloggers refer to this infrastructure as the "Wurlitzer."

The Right's infrastructure is massively funded. One study, $1 Billion for Conservative Ideas, by David Callahan, showed that in the 1990s the Right's funders pumped more than $1 billion into this ideological indoctrination campaign.

A good description of this infrastructure can be found in my report The Attack on Trial Lawyers and Tort Law. This report is written to trial lawyers and their organizations, discussing how and why they are under attack from the Right. (The real fun of this report is following the footnotes and reading the online sources I used.)

I wrote this report because believe that we can -- and must -- recognize and fight back against the Right's machine, by building a counter-infrastructure or our own. But doing so takes money. Trial lawyers are a major source of funding for moderates and progressives, which is why they are being attacked by the Right. So I did the research and wrote the report, describing what is happening to trial lawyers, and how, and why, appealing to them to begin funding organizations to counter the Right’s machine. The report has been embraced by the American Trial Lawyers Association, and they have passed it along to the state trial lawyer organizations, and several of these have publicized (another example here) and/or sent the report to their members.

I am working on similar reports (if I can find the funding to continue) written for Organized Labor, School Employees, Mainstream Religious Organizations and Philanthropic Foundations, each describing the Right’s attack on their particular interests and making the case for funding a counter-infrastructure to counter the Right. Each of these groups have been major funders of moderate and progressive activities in the past (which is why they are under attack from the Right) and I am hoping that with enough information about the Right's efforts to attack their interests they can be persuaded direct their funding efforts toward a broad counter-attack. If you know of individuals or organizations that would be interested in assisting me with this effort by helping to fund these reports, please contact me.

Also, for your enjoyment and terror, I have collected what I think is the most complete collection of links to online sources of information about the "conservative movement" here. (Please let me know of any significant articles, reports, etc. that might be missing.)

So all of this is my humble attempt to help trigger an organized, funded response to the Right’s decades-long effort to swing the country toward their ideological belief system. It’s a dirty job, but…

It IS Possible to Fight Back

The beneficiaries of the Right’s efforts are the corporations, and the corporations have donated a lot of money to the Right’s efforts.

But the beneficiaries of OUR efforts are THE PEOPLE. And there are a LOT of people! In the last national election Al Gore received 51 million votes. (Actually, 50,999,897, but who’s counting -- especially in Florida.)

Howard Dean is on to something when he talks about raising $200 million from 2 million people, each giving $100. He is really, really on to something. I want to push this idea further. If each committed Progressive donated $100 each year toward fighting the Right, we would raise hundreds of millions of dollars – over the next decade this would add up to billions, far surpassing that $1 billion the Right spent in the 1990s on their organizations.

I think we should introduce a new ethic into Moderate and Progressive thinking. I think we need to see that it is our duty to donate money to help build and continue to fund organizations that will fight back against the Right. I think we can all see the need for this now. I think we can all feel the urgency. I propose a campaign to persuade every single Moderate and Progressive that it is their duty to donate at least $100 each per year to Moderate and Progressive organizations. We can call this effort something like "The Earth is Worth $100," or "The Fight-the-Right Tax is $100 Per Year." Think of it as cheap tithing.

If each Gore voter donated $100 this would raise more than $5 BILLION each year. This is not realistic, but I am demonstrating that even without the traditional funding sources – labor, foundations, etc. – it IS possible to raise the amounts of money necessary to take on the Right.

The site counter for this [american street] website shows that the average daily readership of the american street is 1470 individuals. If each of these readers gave $100 american street would raise $147,000. Yes, if our readers followed the $100 commitment principle, just this weblog alone could raise $147,000, which is almost enough for seed money to launch one organization. With this money an organization could begin hiring and start serious fundraising and PR efforts to reach another 10,000 people donating $100 each, raising $1,000,000 for operations. I'm not saying we should do this today -- I'm showing how the $100 principle would enable even small groups to start building an organization that works to counter the Right’s propaganda.

DailyKOS' hit counter says its average daily readership is 109,610. If each of those readers donated $100 that would raise $10,961,000, sufficient to launch and fund for a year three or four serious organizations. And those 109,000 people are still only a fraction of the number of Moderates and Progressives in the United States. This is serious money we're talking about.

Projecting an aura of defeat is one of the Right’s tactics against us. So many of us believe the fight is hopeless, that the RIght has all the money and it is useless to even try to respond. But never forget that there are more of us than them, and never forget that we are fighting AGAINST war, and FOR the earth, and FOR helping others, and that Progressive ideals of sustainability, and building community, and sharing, and cooperating and nurturing are healthier and stronger than the dark, negative, intolerant, fearful, materialistic, divisive, hateful, jealous and cultish ideology of the Right. We not only CAN win, we MUST win!

So what do YOU think? Is this an idea worth persuing? And if so, how? Are YOU giving at least $100 per year? Is a commitment to give $100 per year to Moderate and Progressive organizations too much to ask to take America back from the nightmare we find ourselves in?

A Suggestion for Libertarians

I'm a liberal Democrat and all, but I have a bold and original suggestion for libertarians (including libertarian Republicans). Don't get mad until you hear what it is:

Maybe 2004 would be a good year for y'all to vote for the Libertarian candidate.

I realize that most of the time most of you vote for the Republican as the lesser evil. Usually that makes sense, but this year is it even true?

From your point of view, Bush is as about as bad as a Democrat on tariffs, government spending and "little government" issues. He's worse on fiscal responsibility, civil liberties, and privacy rights. And he gave us this godawful war.

Some of you might think you should support Bush during the present state of emergency, but we can be confident that this state of emergency is going last forever. (Who is our enemy, again? For a long time I thought this was The War on Terrorism, but now I'm hearing that it's really The War Against Evil. Somehow I think that either one of those wars will last awhile).

If you want to vote for the Democrat, of course that would be great. But I can see that Kerry, our likely nominee, is not your cup of tea, and granted that he supported both the war and the Patriot Act, I get your point. (Though changing his mind would be a lot easier for him than it would be for Bush).

There's never going to be a better time. If the Libertarians don't make a good showing this year, they never will. They might as well fold up their tents and quit.

P.S. So am I a fiendish operative throwing a monkey wrench into the Bush machine? Or am I just telling you that right at the moment you and I really have something in common?

Your call.

Daily News Online

Important new news site: Daily News Online. Take a look.


Adam Yoshida's response to Kevin's post is priceless.

Open mouth. Insert foot.

Yoshida's comment on Kevin's comment board was pretty funny too. I like this part:

This is more treasonous nonsense from a pack of liars and scumbags.
How's that for a tempered intellectual response?

BTW, I hadn't realized it but Hesiod had talked about this more than a year ago. This document shows that Bush had to sign a document acknowledging he was being re-assigned to this disciplinary guard unit.

So, well well well, the president lied about his draft record just yesterday morning.

I'm impressed. How about you?


Bush AWOL mystery solved?

Go here. Calpundit may have the goods on the Bush AWOL mystery.

Someone said that the reason Bush was letting the rumors fly is that the truth was worse than the rumor. Looks like they were right.

You heard it here second.


Diana Moon of Letter From Gotham suggests two questions, the first one for Bush and second one for his war buddies:

"Mister President, can you give us the names of three National Guard Service colleagues who served with you between May 1972 and October 1973?"


"Any American who can document that he was in the National Guard between May 1972 and October 1973 and remembers serving with Bush during that period should contact the news departments of CNN, Fox, CBS, NBC, and ABC to verify that Bush wasn't AWOL. That way, we can stop refighting the Vietnam War and focus our attention on current issues."

Sounds like a plan.

Totalitarian Unanimity

American unanimity on the Iraqi threat before the second Iraq War can only be described as totalitarian. I remember thinking at the time that Saddam probably did not have a significant WMD capacity and that he was not a major threat to the U.S., but I just didn't think that it was worth saying so. I didn't have any special information, and almost all of the experts (and essentially all of the media) were supporting the Bush line. So mostly I argued for multilateralism and/or containment.

But Ritter wasn't the only expert who disagreed: Hans Blix also did. And even without a sex-crimes charge, he too was marginalized by what amounted to smear campaign -- as indeed were the French, the Germans and most of Old Europe. The unanimity of opinion on the WMD question was a local American phenomenon not to be found elsewhere in the world.

This kind of engineered unanimism is usually only seen in one-party states. Dissenting voices were swamped in a flood of coordinated, on-message repetitions of the Bush Administration's unfounded and false claims about the Iraqi threat. The vast majority of the major media were working for the administration, and only a few people with independent sources of information were in a position to know how weak the administration's case really was.

We obviously need a complete post-mortem. (Here and here are two tidbits from Atrios on how the media worked -- the point of the Pincus story is that it was a good story buried on page seventeen.) There really need to be some mea culpas, some resignations, and multiple apologies to Ritter and Blix. I really don't think that we'll see any of that, but until it happens, we're still really as bad off as we ever were, since the same corrupt media still control the airwaves.

We're really in Nader-Chomsky territory. The Democrats should have listened.

Comments on Meet the Press

Extreme softball. They didn't have to submit the questions in advance because Russert did not ask one question that was a surprise, in order to catch Bush unprepared so the country could see how he responds. Did he ask ANY follow-up questions? For example, on Bush's military record Russert did not follow up and ask why Bush refused to take his medical exam and stopped flying, after the government had spent over $1 million to train him as a pilot. That is a very important question and the public has the right to know the answer. The press has an obligation to ask, and Russert did not.

One thing for sure, the focus groups have found that "not going to trust a madman" is working better than other phrases. He used the word "madman" over and over again.

On the U.N., keep in mind that we're talking about a country that DID NOT HAVE weapons:
"You mentioned "preemption." If I might, I went to the United Nations and said, Here is what we know, you know, at this moment, and you need to act. After all, you are the body that issued resolution after resolution after resolution, and he ignored those resolutions.

So, in other words, when you say "preemption," it almost sounds like, Well, Mr. President, you decided to move. What I decided to do was to go to the international community and see if we could not disarm Saddam Hussein peacefully through international pressure.

You remember U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441 clearly stated show us your arms and destroy them, or your programs and destroy them. And we said, there are serious consequences if you don't. That was a unanimous verdict. In other words, the worlds of the U.N. Security Council said we're unanimous and you're a danger. So, it wasn't just me and the United States. The world thought he was dangerous and needed to be disarmed.

And, of course, he defied the world once again.

In my judgment, when the United States says there will be serious consequences, and if there isn't serious consequences, it creates adverse consequences. People look at us and say, they don't mean what they say, they are not willing to follow through."
But these were resolutions saying Iraq should disarm. DISARM WHAT? And of course, no follow up: "Mr. President, you made a terrible mistake and got us into a war. Now there are over 10,000 Iraqi dead, over 500 American dead, the country is flat broke, the military is dangerously overextended and the country has no credibility in the world. Shouldn't there be consequences for mistakes of such magnitude?"

On free elections in Iraq -- simple evasion.
Russert: If the Iraqis choose, however, an Islamic extremist regime, would you accept that, and would that be better for the United States than Saddam Hussein?

President Bush: They're not going to develop that. And the reason I can say that is because I'm very aware of this basic law they're writing. They're not going to develop that because right here in the Oval Office I sat down with Mr. Pachachi and Chalabi and al Hakim, people from different parts of the country that have made the firm commitment, that they want a constitution eventually written that recognizes minority rights and freedom of religion.

I remember speaking to Mr. al Hakim here, who is a fellow who has lost 63 family members during the Saddam reign. His brother was one of the people that was assassinated early on in this past year. I expected to see a very bitter person. If 63 members of your family had been killed by a group of people, you would be a little bitter. He obviously was concerned, but he I said, you know, I'm a Methodist, what are my chances of success in your country and your vision? And he said, it's going to be a free society where you can worship freely. This is a Shiia fellow.

And my only point to you is these people are committed to a pluralistic society. And it's not going to be easy. The road to democracy is bumpy. It's bumpy particularly because these are folks that have been terrorized, tortured, brutalized by Saddam Hussein.
In other words, they won't choose an Islamist government because the people WE have chosen to set up the government aren't Islamists. No follow-up from Russert on what happens if the people of Iraq vote for different leaders than the ones we have set up.

This guy is in way over his head.