What If ... ?

From the October, 2002 Joint Resolution to authorize the use of United States Armed Forces against Iraq:
Whereas Iraq both poses a continuing threat to the national security of the United States and international peace and security in the Persian Gulf region and remains in material and unacceptable breach of its international obligations by, among other things, continuing to possess and develop a significant chemical and biological weapons capability, actively seeking a nuclear weapons capability, and supporting and harboring terrorist organizations;

Whereas members of al Qaida, an organization bearing responsibility for attacks on the United States, its citizens, and interests, including the attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, are known to be in Iraq;

Whereas the attacks on the United States of September 11, 2001, underscored the gravity of the threat posed by the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction by international terrorist organizations;

Whereas Iraq's demonstrated capability and willingness to use weapons of mass destruction, the risk that the current Iraqi regime will either employ those weapons to launch a surprise attack against the United States or its Armed Forces or provide them to international terrorists who would do so, and the extreme magnitude of harm that would result to the United States and its citizens from such an attack, combine to justify action by the United States to defend itself;

Whereas United Nations Security Council Resolution 678 (1990) authorizes the use of all necessary means to enforce United Nations Security Council Resolution 660 (1990) and subsequent relevant resolutions and to compel Iraq to cease certain activities that threaten international peace and security, including the development of weapons of mass destruction ...

Whereas the United States is determined to prosecute the war on terrorism and Iraq's ongoing support for international terrorist groups combined with its development of weapons of mass destruction in direct violation of its obligations under the 1991 cease-fire and other United Nations Security Council resolutions make clear that it is in the national security interests of the United States and in furtherance of the war on terrorism that all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions be enforced, including through the use of force if necessary;

Whereas Congress has taken steps to pursue vigorously the war on terrorism through the provision of authorities and funding requested by the President to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such persons or organizations;
So ... what if Iraq DIDN'T participate in the Sept. 11 attack, and DIDN'T have weapons of mass destruction, and WASN'T working with al-Queda?



Wholesale prices increased .5 percent in June. What really happened was that energy prices increased a bunch, and the most other prices went down.

I have heard some analysts say increasing energy prices are good, because it keeps the inflation rate up, which means the threat of deflation is lower. But this doesn't sound right to me. I'm not an economist, but isn't deflation - dropping prices - a symptom of the problem rather than the problem? The problem is reduced demand. So wouldn't increasing energy prices work to further reduce demand, as people and businesses divert more and more of their spending power into paying the higher energy bills? And wouldn't this make the problem worse instead of better?

The Fear

Do you remember the fear?

The theme of the 2002 elections was this: Terrorists are everywhere, and are about to do terrible things to us. The Democrats won't protect you, but the Republicans will.

The Republicans said that Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11, had weapons of mass destruction - including and especially nukes - and was going to give those weapons to terrorists or use those weapons on us SOON unless we act. "Dirty bombs" might go off at any moment. Smallpox might hit any day. We must go to war to save ourselves. Those Democrats are against the war - are against protecting ourselves.

The threat was so imminent that we must take the unprecedented step of having a war vote just before the elections.

The Republicans campaigned that they would protect the public from this terrible, immediate, imminent, mounting threat, and the Democrats won't. Their campaign ads said Democrats are weak and wishy-washy and we must not risk delay at this time. Their radio stations and columnists said that liberals hate America (just like the terrorists), and "objectively" support Saddam. In the South they said that liberals are not good Christians; they are on the side of evil.

Remember how the terror threats were raised, and there was constant talk of the terrible dangers we faced? The public was pumped full of fear, day after day. The news was full of terrible stories about smallpox, and the horrific effects of nerve gas, even warnings about what to do if there is a nuclear explosion in your area.

But now - what happened? Where are the threats? They didn't find any weapons in Iraq, which could only mean that terrorists possess them now. Yet, the "threat level" is lowered. The budget for homeland security is reduced, but not discussed. The papers and radio and television are not warning us that terrorists will strike at any moment. What changed?

What happened to the fear?

This Changes Everything

Atrios points to Oliver Willis, who remind us:
Condi June 8, Meet the Press: "We did not know at the time - no one knew at the time, in our circles - maybe someone knew down in the bowels of the agency, but no one in our circles knew that there were doubts and suspicions that this might be a forgery."
Today's news:
"There was even some discussion on that specific sentence, so that it reflected better what the CIA thought and the speech was cleared," Rice said.
"Some specifics about amount and place were taken out...with the change in that sentence, the speech was cleared."
What are we talking about here? CBS News:
CIA officials warned members of the President’s National Security Council staff the intelligence was not good enough to make the flat statement Iraq tried to buy uranium from Africa.

The White House officials responded that a paper issued by the British government contained the unequivocal assertion: “Iraq has ... sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.” As long as the statement was attributed to British Intelligence, the White House officials argued, it would be factually accurate. The CIA officials dropped their objections and that’s how it was delivered.

“The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa,” Mr. Bush said.

The statement was technically correct, since it accurately reflected the British paper. But the bottom line is the White House knowingly included in a presidential address information its own CIA had explicitly warned might not be true.
Put the pieces together. They changed the speech to say "The British government has learned," AFTER the CIA said the story was bogus. But on June 8, Rice said on Meet the Press, "We did not know at the time - no one knew at the time, in our circles - maybe someone knew down in the bowels of the agency, but no one in our circles knew that there were doubts and suspicions that this might be a forgery."

We now know that June 8 statement was a flat-out lie. As far as I know this is the first instance of indisputable documentation of a flat-out, indisputable lie on the part of the Bush administration on this issue. This changes everything. This is no longer a "He said, She said" dispute. It is now a matter of how much of this was a lie, a plot to influence the 2002 elections, a plot to manipulate data to gain support for the conquest of a country?


They Didn't Retract It

CBS News : Bush Knew Iraq Info Was False:
“The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa,” Mr. Bush said.

The statement was technically correct, since it accurately reflected the British paper. But the bottom line is the White House knowingly included in a presidential address information its own CIA had explicitly warned might not be true.

Today at a press conference during the President’s trip to Africa, Secretary of State Colin Powell portrayed it as an honest mistake.

“There was no effort or attempt on the part of the president or anyone else in the administration to mislead or to deceive the American people,” said Powell.

But eight days after the State of the Union, when Powell addressed the U.N., he deliberately left out any reference to Iraqi attempts to buy uranium from Africa.

“I didn’t use the uranium at that point because I didn’t think that was sufficiently strong as evidence to present before the world,” Powell said.

Strong Statement

Dean Says Those Who Misled Nation Should Resign :
Manchester, NH -- Governor Howard Dean issued the following statement today:
'Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld's statement yesterday -- that he only found out that the Niger documents were forgeries -- “within recent days” was stunning.

'What is now clear is that there are those in this administration that misled the President, misled the nation, and misled the world in making the case for the war in Iraq.

'They know who they are. And they should resign today.

'There will be investigations, and the truth will come out - the American people must know the truth - and those in this administration must be held accountable for their failure to give us the truth before we went to war.

'But we do not need to wait for the investigations to rid these people from our government - they can resign on their own today.

'I am now convinced more than ever that it was a mistake to have given this administration a blank check to engage in this war - as too many in Congress did when they supported the Iraqi war resolution.'"

They Knew It Was A Lie When They Went To War

In "Is there a plumber in the house?," over at Left Coaster, Mary points out that even if, as the White House is claiming, Bush didn't know that the Niger uranium story was a lie when he used it in the State of the Union speech, he DID know it was a lie when we went to war.

The public's support for the war (and the President) was based partly - if not mostly - on belief and fear that Iraq was developing nuclear weapons, a belief the public held because Bush had told them this story in the State of the Union speech. The story was not retracted until this week.

More Focus Group Language?

Bush again uses the "attempts to rewrite history" charge. I heard Rumsfield say the same the other day. Also on the right-wing radio shows. Focus groups and polls must have shown this to be a phrase that provides them some cover.

Greens - Go Take The Pledge!

Repentant Nader Voter...because Bush is so bad.

Tort Reform

If you are interested in tort reform, here is an index to the P.L.A. weblog's writings on this issue:
Missing Class Can be Costly


The Damages Cap

Defensive Medicine

Tort Reform and Frivolous Suits

Tort Reform Quiz

A Different Kind of Medical Malpractice Reform

No Pricing Power

More Tort Reform and the Damages Cap

Tort Reform Stalls In the Senate

Like a Good Neighbor

George Bush’s Perverse View of Juries

Eliminate Junk Science—A Tort Reform Proposal

Curbing Frivolous Lawsuits – A Tort Reform Proposal

Medical Malpractice – By the Numbers

Mort Zuckerman Gets Busted


Meetup Numbers

I was curious so I looked up the Meetup numbers for the different candidates as of today:
Dean 59,661
Kerry 5,467
Clark 3,910
Kucinich 1,025
Edwards 974
Gephardt 302
Leiberman 128
Graham 90
Sharpton 55
Mosley-Braun 55
All the candidates have Meetups. All of them have websites. All of them take contributions online. I don't think it's the Internet that is behind Dean's grassroots popularity. I think Dean's grassroots popularity is what is behind his Internet activity.


Fighting The Last War

Good post over at Situation Room. It seems we're fighting a fourth generation war with techniques designed for 2nd and 3rd generation wars.

Bush No Friend of Military

Take a look at The Salt Lake Tribune -- No friend of military
One of the most hypocritical sights I've ever seen was George W. Bush in full flight gear strutting around the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln at the end of the Iraq invasion. Given that he was AWOL from his National Guard post for over a year, Bush's actions were insulting to all former and present military personnel.
Now, according to The Army Times, we learn that the White House fought a proposal to double the $6,000 gratuity paid to families of troops who die on active duty, and it wants to roll back recent increases in monthly imminent-danger pay (from $225 to $150) and family-separation allowance (from $250 to $100) for troops getting shot at in combat zones.
The White House budget proposal for 2004 also cuts $1.5 billion of the $9.2 billion military construction request, ensuring that a lot of military housing will remain substandard. President Bush's fiscal year 2004 budget plan even proposes to cut Impact Aid funding by over $200 million, with the entire reduction to come from the portion designed to support the education of children of military personnel.
As hundreds of thousands of our sons and daughters are still in harm's way, his cuts are particularly offensive. Except for political show, President Bush is no friend of the military.
I encourage readers to write similar letters to the editors of your local papers.

Big Electronic Voting Machines Story

Scoop: Inside A U.S. Election Vote Counting Program.

This story says that votes can be changed in the software used at a county election headquarters, where the voting machines send their data after the election - and shows some evidence that suggests the software is set up for this!


Is It Legal?

GOP.gov? Is that even legal?

Precinct Work

There's a guest post at Interesting Times, talking about how to do precinct work. THIS is how you win elections! Please go read this, and start thinking about it.

If YOU could do this where YOU live, starting soon, getting your neighbors registered to vote, and then getting them to the polls on election day, it really can make enough of a difference to change the election results! This is the old-fashioned way, and it works.

It's Not Just The Information

In previous posts I have said that if more Americans were getting actual news they might change their opinion of President Bush and the far right. Recent polls showing that Americans still believe that Iraq was at least partly behind 9/11 are examples of beliefs based on lack of information or misinformation.

Today I was reading the comments over at tacitus' blog. In particular this post. And in particular there look for comments from "carter." Or, if you can stand it, go read any comments over at Free Republic on any given day. I think the problem is deeper than just information, it goes to the context for understanding the information. For some, simply being told (by the right people, with the right code words) that Bush is "a good Christian" is enough, and after that it simply does not matter what he does or says, they'll support him.

For others, knowing that Bush supports the correct policies of the right is enough, and it simply does not matter what else he does or says - even if he publicly says something completely opposite of what they know his position to be; the lying doesn't matter, doesn't bother them at all. An example of this is in the comments is AmeriCorps where the commenter faults Bush for starving AmeriCorps rather than killing it. So he understands that Bush is starving it - but in public Bush SUPPORTS AmeriCorps! I guess that's OK. That's something I have noticed - the lying is OK as long as you they think Bush is on "their side."

Virtual Journalist

Virtual Journalist