What Americans Know

You probably have seen this poll reported on other blogs. I don't tend to post things I have also seen elsewhere, but this one really, really needs repeating.
"A new poll shows that 57 percent of Americans continue to believe that Saddam Hussein gave 'substantial support' to al-Qaida terrorists before the war with Iraq, despite a lack of evidence of that relationship.

In addition, 45 percent of Americans have the impression that 'clear evidence' was found that Iraq worked closely with Osama bin Laden's network, and a majority believe that before the war Iraq either had weapons of mass destruction (38 percent) or a major program for developing them (22 percent).

[. . .] among those who say most experts agree that Iraq had banned weapons, 72 percent plan to vote for Bush."
To understand Bush's support, you have to unde

Well, I don't know where the rest of this post went. It was up for a few days, and then this happened to it. Thanks, Blogger.
An e-mail I received:

While suturing a cut on the hand of a 75-year old Texas rancher (whose hand was caught in a gate while working cattle), the doctor and the old man struck up a conversation about George W. Bush being in the White House. The old Texan said, "Well, ya know, Bush is a 'post turtle'." Not being familiar with the term, the doctor asked him what a 'post turtle' was. The old rancher said, "When you're driving down a country road an you come across a fence post with a turtle balanced on top, that's a post turtle." The old man saw a puzzled look on the doctor's face, so he continued to explain, "You know he didn't get there by himself, he doesn't belong there, he doesn't know what to do while he's up there, and you just want to help the dumb bastard get down!"
Bush the Post Turtle.

Bush had his chance to win it. Get him out of there before he screws up again.

Diana Moon, has pointed out that Bush and his surrogates are 100% sure to blame the Democrats for his Iraq disaster. (Tinker Bell died because we didn't believe hard enough). The title above is my first try at what I think we should be saying.

For 32 years now Democrats have been running away from the McGovern Curse, which the DLC has interpreted to mean "No Democrat ever can oppose any war anywhere". That has to change. Democrats have to suck up their guts and go on the attack.

It'll be a rough sell. Bush's rabid core constituency is 30% of the electorate, Bush's team has close to a billion dollars to blow, the media are shallow, spineless, and venal, and many "centrists" are just airheads. It will be like the Alamo or Thermopylae -- the few and the proud, defending human civilization against the ravening Republican horde. (Take that, Samuel Huntington! Take that, Victor Davis Hansen!)

As I've been saying for a couple of years, this election will be decided by the rational conservatives and the intelligent centrists (if there are any). If they stick with Bush, we are doomed. There are plenty of signs that they're starting to shift, but I'm not counting on it. George W. Bush may be allowed to run the world off a cliff just because certain people couldn't force themselves to vote for the party of unions, affirmative action, and (gasp!) gay marriage. (The horror! The horror!)

Why Chalabi?

Digby has one very good answer.

A Hero

I don't know anything about this guy, except that after 9/11 he gave up a $3.6 million NFL football contract and enlisted in the army. He was "an exceptional student with a 3.84 grade point average through college and graduated summa cum laude with a degree in marketing" who died yesterday in Afghanistan. This was just announced and there isn't much news yet about what happened.

I don't know if he was a rabid right-winger, or a Democrat, and it doesn't matter. (I guess it does matter because if he was a Democrat the Republicans are going to start smearing him now.)

Osama Bin Laden Captured!!

Not really. There's a spam email going around saying so, though. If you clink on the link in the email, you get a nice computer parasite. (Story here).

Investigators are hot on Osama's trail, though. My sources tell me is that the latest tip is that Osama has apparently figured out that if you want to disappear from view, the Texas Air National Guard is the best place to go.


Voting Machines Story

Maryland Group Sues to Upgrade E-Voting Machines:
"A Maryland voters' group said on Wednesday it planned to force the state to add printers to electronic voting machines to ensure they can be double-checked after a disputed election, such as the 2000 presidential vote. "

The CPA Institution

Josh doesn't often crack me up, but this is funny.


Stealing an Election

Bruce Schneier offers a back-of-the-envelope estimate of what we're up against.

In 2002, all the Congressional candidates together raised over $500M. As a result, one can conservatively conclude that affecting the balance of power in the House of Representatives is worth at least $100M to the party who would otherwise be losing. So when designing the security behind the software, one must assume an attacker with a $100M budget.

Conclusion: The risks to electronic voting machine software are even greater than first appears.

Brush off the Polack Jokes

Apparently Poland is thinking of leaving Iraq and joining Old Europe.

What's the correct term for those guys, anyway -- "piroshki-eating Holocaust monkeys"?

Our club has become even more exclusive.

Update: This is a developing story, with different people saying different things, and there's a change of government coming up soon too.





They Know

Meanwhile, back in the real world, the administration is expected to nominate John Negroponte to be our first ambassador to postwar Iraq, to take up residence in what will be the world's largest embassy after June 30.
In a blow to President Bush and his coalition partners in Iraq, Honduras followed Spain on Monday in announcing it will pull its troops out of the country.
The Hondurans know.

What OTHER Election-Manipulation Deals?

Woodward's book reveals that Bush made a deal with Saudi Arabia to reduce oil prices as an election-manipulation tactic. So the question is, WHO ELSE? What OTHER countries, corporations, etc. have Republicans made deals with to manipulate our elections? And in exchange for what?

When the Republicans started accusing Kerry of making deals with foreign governments, we should have known...

Bandar Bush is in the driver's seat

The two stories below are so flagrant that I have trouble believing them myself. I find it unbelievable that there has been so little media outcry, and that Bush supporters still are able to believe anything that the man says. These guys are tough when confronting France, but are meek and obedient with the Saudis.

Colin Powell was not told about our Iraq War plans until Bandar had approved them. Bandar wasn't easily pleased, but ultimately we got his approval for what we wanted to do.

More recently, when OPEC (led by the Saudis) decided to cut production and raise oil prices, Bandar kept Bush on a string for awhile before he agreed to increase Saudi production in time for the elections. I don't know what his quid pro quo was, but we can be sure that he got it.

(If you just tuned in, the 9/11 attackers and sponsors were mostly Saudis, and there was quite possibly no Iraqi involvement at all. We've spent several years now scouring the earth for little specks of evidence that Saddam had something to do with 9/11, while ignoring warehouses of evidence that high-level Saudis were implicated.)


"And so Bandar, who's skeptical because he knows in the first Gulf War we didn't get Saddam out, so he says to Cheney and Rumsfeld, ‘So Saddam this time is gonna be out, period?’ And Cheney - who has said nothing - says the following: ‘Prince Bandar, once we start, Saddam is toast.’"

After Bandar left, according to Woodward, Cheney said, “I wanted him to know that this is for real. We're really doing it."

But this wasn’t enough for Prince Bandar, who Woodward says wanted confirmation from the president. “Then, two days later, Bandar is called to meet with the president and the president says, ‘Their message is my message,’” says Woodward."




"Bush, who campaigned in 2000 on a pledge to persuade the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to keep oil supply plentiful, has been under fire in this election year after Saudi Arabia, the cartel's largest producer, led a push to cut OPEC output by 1 million barrels per day from April.....

Adel Al-Jubeir, foreign affairs adviser to the Saudi crown prince, told reporters in a telephone conference call that global oil inventories were at a reasonable level and blamed oil market speculators for driving up the crude price.

Joe Barnes of the James A. Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University in Texas said Riyadh was more than willing to help Washington balance energy prices by raising stocks in an emergency, like after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Right now, "the Saudis do not believe current oil prices are an emergency," he told Reuters.'

A more recent story:

"Woodward, discussing his new book, Plan of Attack, on the Bush Administration's preparations for the Iraq war, told CBS television that Prince Bandar pledged the Saudis would try to fine-tune oil prices to prime the US economy for the election - a move they understood would favour Mr Bush's re-election.

Questioned about his claim at a time when oil prices are nearing a 13-year high, Woodward, a senior editor at The Washington Post, said: 'They're high. And they could go down very quickly. That's the Saudi pledge. Certainly over the summer or as we get closer to the election they could increase production several million barrels a day and the price would drop significantly.'"


Story I

Story II


Bandar Bush


Democrats and Liberals

Below I've argued that if you want to be part of the mainstream establishment you cannot be a dove. This is just part of a more general rejection of "liberalism".

Steve Teles, a Brandeis political science professor, has said that the only thing all conservatives have in common is a hatred of "liberals". Many reasonably moderate voters would never vote for a Democrat because they think the Democratic Party is liberal.

If you ask them what they mean by "liberals", however, they'll often point to pot-smoking bisexual tree-hugging pacifist ecoterrorist vegans. But these people are not Democrats: they're Greens, if anything.

In other words, the people who killed Gore by voting for Nader also hurt Gore by causing moderates to vote for Bush. Everyone knows that life isn't fair, but this particular lose-lose proposition is an especially nasty one.

The Democrats have been bullied into driving away their fringe constituency, while the Republicans have succeeded in keeping theirs on board. And the Republican fringe is plenty nasty: neo-Confederates, Armageddon Christians, "nuke'em all" warmongers, and anti-tax anarchists.

In 2000 Nader got 2.7% of the vote and Buchanan and Browne combined got 0.79% of the vote. You know that there are a lot more racists and libertarians than that out there. That's only 3.5% of the vote altogether, but suppose the proportions were switched (.79% Green votes, 2.7% Buchanan and Libertarian votes).

Gore would have got almost 2% more votes, Bush would have got almost 2% fewer, and Gore (who already had a .5% advantage in the popular vote) would have defeated Bush solidly, 50.3% to 46%. The Electoral College and the Supreme Court couldn't erase that margin.

The Democrats have to stop running away from their fringe voters.

House of Bush, House of Saud

The New York Times just ran a stupid review of Craig Unger's book House of Bush, House of Saud. I strongly recommend Unger's book, but Tepperman's Times review is worth reading too, just for a glimpse at the way the establishment group mind works.

Unger points out that the Bushes have long-established ties to the Saudis and that the Saudis have donated over a billion dollars to Bush-sponsored causes. He speculates that this may have caused the Bushes to be friendlier to the Saudis than they should have been. There's nothing really extreme about this conclusion.

But Tepperman frames the book as a "conspiracy theory" in order to dismiss Unger's main points. He actually concedes many of Unger's facts (though one fact which he does not mention is that the 9/11 attack was manned, funded, and organized by Saudis.) He concludes his review by explaining that we are slaves of the Saudis and have little choice other than to do pretty much whatever they want us to do.

Tepperman is the senior editor of the prestigious journal Foreign Affairs, which makes his mediocre dishonesty (and his hopelessness about our relationship with the Saudis) seem a bit more more alarming.

More on the Bush-Saudi connection.

Would we have been better off leaving Saddam in power?

My irascible friend Diana Moon (no link, scroll to "Sunday Morning") has asked the question: "Do you think that we would have been better off leaving Saddam in power?"

This is not actually an outrageous question. What it amounts to asking is whether George Bush the First was right to leave Saddam ("a force for stability") in power after the First Iraq War. But the very fact that it can be asked at all speaks very poorly of the younger Bush's Second Iraq War. Coming up with something better than Saddam Hussein shouldn't have been that hard.

From the American point of view, we have confirmed (at a very high cost) that Iraq never had any WMD. As for the terrorist threat, it has certainly become worse: more Islamic militants have been created, whereas nothing at all has been done to reduce terrorism (and resources have even been diverted from the real war on terror.) The war has severely stressed most of America's diplomatic relationships and has also been costly both economically and in terms of casualties.

Are the Iraqis themselves better off? At this point no one in the world has any idea who will be governing Iraq in a year's time. (As far as that goes, no one in the world knows who will be governing Iraq two months from now). But the most likely possibilities are a militant Shiite theocracy, a long civil war, and an extended American occupation. None of these are necessarily better than Saddam's rule.

We're frequently told that we've liberated the Iraqi women, but that's just because you always have to talk about the ill-treatment of women when you talk about Islam. Iraqi women, per se, were better off under Saddam than they are now under the mullahs, just as they were better off in Afghanistan under Communism than they have been since the Communists were overthrown. (No, this doesn't justify either Saddam or Communism, but the secular governments were much better about educating women and letting them work).

And democracy now looks like the longest of long shots, with a real risk of getting an anti-American, anti-Israeli democracy.

This is not the war we were sold, and we will not be able to make a success of it without a long, costly, and probably brutal occupation. Hawks assure us that we have no other choice, but most of what they told us last time turned out not to be true.

Bush's war has been a complete failure unless its whole purpose was to get the U.S. involved in a longer and wider war.

Not A Political Statement

Now KPIG's playing Reggae Accident:
This is not a political statement
Nor is it a farce
In the land of the great bald bird
The rasta man is sparse

He does not like our urban jungle
Or our capitalistic nightmare
He does not believe in auto insurance
Mon I don't believe that is fair

It was a reggae accident
Four rastas in a rambler
A reggae accident
They came from out of nowhere
A reggae accident
They were smoking some spliff cigars
A reggae accident
They totaled out my car

I lost the case that sealed my fate
Last week in municipal court
The judge ruled for rasta restitution
Of a most peculiar sort

Now there's four stoned faces at my dinner table
And my wife wonders how come
She does not mind the extra mouths to feed
As much as she minds those after dinner drums

We sing was a reggae accident
Four rastas eating pasta
A reggae accident
Pass the parmesan please
A reggae accident
How does a rasta spell relief
A reggae accident
No problem mon, pass the spliff

Oh reggae down...

Now the sun shines on the isle of Jamaica
As it's done since time began
No problem says the rasta mon
When I asked to join his band

You see I sold my house I quit my job
I left that narrow-minded wife
And I moved to the island of Jamaica ya
Just to live that rasta life
Another KPIG favorite is Warren Zevon's Lawyers, Guns and Money, which is now the Bush theme song (along with "If I Only Had A Brain").
Send lawyers, guns and money
Dad, get me out of this
With the thoughts you'd be thinkin'
You could be another Lincoln
If you only had a brain
For a Sunday afternoon.

Why there was no moderate anti-war movement

Matt Yglesias (April 17 and 18, "Were Anti-War Arguments Wrong", no permalinks) has recently published a piece admitting that he was wrong when he initially supported the Iraq war. He distinguishes his own confession of error from the expected flood of weaselly fake mea culpas, of which David Brooks' supremely weaselly piece is presumably only the first. ("I was wrong but I was right anyway": Matt's paraphrase).

Matt, who is anti-dove, then asks why mainstream anti-war voices were so few before the war. His own answer and those of his commenters miss the point, however.

Since the end of the Vietnam War, or 1980 at the latest, not being a dove has been one of the criteria for being part of the mainstream at all. Before the decision on Iraq War II had been definitively made, there was in fact a great deal of mainstream anti-war opinion (look here and here.) But when crunch time came, those opponents all folded -- because if they had not done so, they would have become pariahs. (As Scott Ritter and, more recently, Richard Clarke have seen).

This consensus also probably accounts for a great deal of the media's writing-to-a-script, as repeatedly exposed by Bob Somerby. Up-and-coming young journalists learn what kinds of things they must say in order to continue to be up-and-coming.

Nothing has changed. The policy-makers and opinion-leaders who were wrong are still in place. No one either in the media or in government has lost his job or suffered a demotion because of his mistakes. So you should plan to see the same old opinion-leaders, in endless parade, passing the buck and covering their butts at a dollar a word.

But don't even hope to hear from the ones who were right all along.

"Bring It On"

This NY Times story includes this line: "Yet the killing will almost certainly have political consequences..."

But actions that inflame the entire Arab world have other, more immediate consequences if you are a family with someone serving in Iraq: Report: 11 U.S. Troops, Dozens of Iraqis Killed.