Bob's Links and Rants -- Fair and Balanced

Welcome to my rants page! You can contact me by e-mail: Be sure to check out my Post 9/11 website for links to lots of stuff I care about. I have put all of my 2002 rants into a single file.

Saturday, July 19, 2003

Guest Blogger: Daniel Patrick Welch
I got an e-mail from Mr. Welch with this article in it, and it expresses the hope and optimism I feel for the Kucinich campaign. We just finished four days of getting the Kucinich message out at the Ann Arbor Art Fair, and I'm glad to post this fine article. (I won't italicize like I usually do; just change the font a little so you can tell Welch's writings from mine.)

The Fire This Time:

Why Kucinich May be the Right Guy at the Right Time

Daniel Patrick Welch


Kucinich may be the only guy who can win this election. Sounds far-fetched, right? What the Brits would call Loony Left delusional thinking. The U.S. press would just ignore the whole thing, naturally, until it's no longer possible. Just plain crazy. But is it? Every finely tuned ear has recorded the spike in interest every time someone has had the guts to speak up about various aspects of the nascent fascism we are confronting. From Gore's early comments breaking the taboo of criticizing Bush to Byrd's articulate blasts, mainstream politicians have received a grateful roar from the rabble with each thrust, the bolder the better.

Of course, political parties have never been comfortable with movement politicians, and the Boy Mayor of Cleveland is no exception. But these, of course, are no ordinary times, and along the political spectrum, from Chomsky to, say, Chenoweth, people would be hard pressed to say the old rules will work this time around. Along with positive notes from Chomsky, Studs Terkel, Ben Cohen of Ben and Jerry's, Lynn Woolsey of the Progressive Caucus, and left/liberal websites like and Citizens for Legitimate Government, the Kucinich campaign crossed new threshold when he took second place in the online primary, itself a fascinating exercise in online democracy.

It's a remarkable surge in just a few days, and with the resultant influx of sorely needed cash, it is only a matter of time before people start voting where they really want to-the buzz is that Dennis is people's "I would, but.." candidate. And all the notables who take note of Kucinich, even some who overtly or implicitly endorse him, "concede" that he doesn't have a chance.

I think they may be selling their man short. My answer to those who say we can only win by playing the same game is that--what seems completely logical to me--it's the only way we can lose. The money and the media will always favor the right--unless we can learn to run an insurgent, Kucinich--type candidate and campaign and win successfully, we are screwed. Why is this news? Why should U.S. elections be so special--they are some of the most corrupt and money-polluted scams in the world.

We need to look elsewhere for models and quit whining and focusing on old-school gamesmanship. It is nothing new for progressive populists to run against moneyed candidates with "only" the Truth and the People on their side. Why should this be a losing proposition? Lula did it in Brazil. Chavez did it in Venezuela. Allende did it in Chile before the CIA mowed him down... Not only is it possible--it may be the only way to win, especially as time goes on and the demographics further favor such insurgency. It's still Jackson's model: without bringing millions of new people into the process, by energizing and mobilizing base constituencies, the left is suicidally following the right's game plan and ignoring its own overwhelming strengths. 

The Emerging Democratic Majority is ours--but we have the power to blow it by convincing future generations of Blacks, Latinos, Asians, and others that their growing numbers are not of interest to us and they have nothing to gain by participating. The right is quite justifiably following a smart strategy which is the only way they can win. They have even succeeded in getting most Democrats to follow a strategy which is the only way they can lose.

The last insurgent populist campaign the Democrats dispensed with was Jesse Jackson's, and his math is still sound. Consider this equation from his 1984 convention speech (still a great read-isn't it amazing what you can find online?):

If Blacks vote in great numbers, progressive Whites win. It's the only way progressive Whites win. If Blacks vote in great numbers, Hispanics win. When Blacks, Hispanics, and progressive Whites vote, women win. When women win, children win. When women and children win, workers win. We must all come up together. We must come up together.

Those who think that campaign never set off alarm bells in the halls of power need only remember the Newsweek cover four years later, when Jackson managed to break 50% in the Michigan primary by mobilizing tens of thousands of African American youths to vote in their first electoral experience. Somebody found a fairly scary close-up of Jackson in the throes of an intense speech, face contorted and sweaty in a way reminiscent of Hitler or Sun Yung Moon. The one-word caption, in large-type yellow letters, served as headline, heads-up, and horrified call-to-arms: Jesse?! It was apparently the moment when the establishment, although still dismissive, actually considered that he might win, and began to contemplate what it might mean.

The math, stripped of its eloquence, looks something like this: If minority constituencies could be inspired to vote in proportionate numbers and in line with their historical preferences, a populist candidate would need less than 40% of the white vote to constitute a majority. In other words, in a 100 million vote election, 12% Black at 90%, 12 Latino at 65%, Asian at 60%, White Women at 53%...leads to only 25% of white men needed…. Before you get out your calculators, remember this is only a rough sketch. The theory is that by truly energizing the progressive base, we can further effect this shift to the left.

The problem, of course, is that Kucinich isn't Black, and it remains to be seen whether he could mobilize the necessary base constituencies in sufficient numbers. Jackson had a special charisma, which Sharpton and Braun seem to lack in the same quantity. It may not only be about race, though white progressives have been saying this for generations. The difference is that the African American community still has a cohesive political consciousness: Black voters enticed to vote can largely be relied on to support progressive causes. The same can not be said for the alienated white votership, who occasionally sneak out in record numbers to vote for David Duke or worse.

And these tendencies aren't changing, much as we are led to believe otherwise. For one thing, the right would not be pouring money into vote suppression if they were. Anecdotal insights may also be instructive. A Latina friend of mine, recently naturalized, sought my advice on voting, since we often discussed politics. One caveat, she said, was that she couldn't vote for any candidate who supported abortion. I cautioned her that, given her other beliefs, she would probably find that pigeonholing along these lines might cause her to vote for some ideas she rejected with greater vehemence. Some time later, it has become apparent that she is horrified by the right wing, furious at what she felt was a GOP coup in 2000, and poised to support progressive candidates despite their reproductive rights stand. Similarly, in California, Pete Wilson and the state GOP's ugly support for anti-immigration legislation has virtually guaranteed the further entrenchment of these gains. And it can only get worse for the right if the left wakes up soon enough.

Even white people are getting the message. The Nation ran a piece in May quoting the likes of former Silicon Valley moguls on how they may have changed their minds about the need for unions, limits on corporate power and the like. The Kucinich campaign seizes on one of these transformations, maybe with a little too much hope of Things to Come (but who's to say?), a disaffected voter who, after 22 years of being a libertarian, just switched to Democrat because he finally found "someone to vote for: thank you Dennis Kucinich!"

The notion of elections actually reflecting the popular will is at the root of radical democratic thought, and provides the ground on which elements of radical democratic, anarcho-socialist, libertarian and anarchist ideas intermingle. Expanding democracy can only be a good thing. If the people's voice were truly free to be heard, would people really be against such things as raising the minimum wage? Providing health care and education? Limiting the influence of corporations, and the intrusive power of government in private lives?

The real trouble, of course, to advancing a people-focused, progressive agenda, is that democracy isn't really in the offing. The money-drenched, corporate-fixed "process" we stomach has little in common with the Greek ideal, unless you consider that women, slaves, and the poor are not included. Even before the end of American Apartheid, the hypocrisy of exporting "democracy" was a staple of the American self-perception. Florida is only the latest chapter in our national self-denial. It may seem ludicrous to many to think in terms of obtaining change through a major party candidate in the current system. Without structural changes like proportional representation, instant runoff voting and other reforms that would encourage independent and third-party participation--as well as abolishing the electoral college and other undemocratic forms of skewed representation--not to mention long overdue representation for DC--the bar is that much higher, and the dream recedes.

But there is no need to choose one path over the other. The fight is now, and it has never been more important. And Kucinich just may be the Right Guy at the Right Time. To paraphrase Jackson, who paraphrased Lazarus, who couldn't have said it better: "Give me your tired, give me your poor, your huddled masses who yearn to breathe free, and come next November there will be a change because our time has come!"

© 2003 Daniel Patrick Welch. Reprint permission granted.

Right on top of the story:
I'm getting the feeling that Jayson Blair was the most honest reporter at the NY Times (and certainly not the most dishonest Blair in the world). The Times today is reporting that the US started attacking Iraqi defenses in 2002. I knew that! You knew that!

Maybe tomorrow they'll report that there were serious irregularities in the voting in Florida in 2000. Well, better late than never, but not by much.

Here's one thing from the White House I can believe!
The president "is not a fact checker," the official said. -- NY Times.

The document also noted that the intelligence agencies had "low confidence" in some of its conclusions, including when Saddam Hussein might use weapons of mass destruction, whether he would try to attack the United States and whether he would provide chemical or biological weapons to Al Qaeda.

Friday, July 18, 2003

House Republican Debate Tactics: Call the Cops
The gloves appear to be coming off in the House of Representatives.

The partisan bickering later spilled over onto the House floor, where Democrats and Republicans offered conflicting accounts about what happened in the Ways and Means Committee meeting on a pension plan bill.

The whole thing blew up, witnesses said, when Democrats complained of the way committee's Republican chairman, Rep. Bill Thomas of California, was running the session.

The Democrats said they needed more time to review some changes in the legislation after getting them only the night before.

When they could not to get a line-by-line reading of the bill, a common parliamentary tactic, they walked out and gathered to talk in a library at the back of the meeting room. Thomas, who has a reputation for being blunt, had his staff call the cops.

Democrats said Thomas called police to get them out of the room. Republicans said the police were called because one Democrat, Rep. Pete Stark of California, got out of hand.
-- from CNN

Fortunately, the Dems are stepping up:

"How outrageous," Pelosi said before introducing a resolution to condemn Thomas for the way he handled the hearing. The resolution failed on a party line vote.

"The Ways and Means Democrats were subjected to an indignity, an indignity no member should have to endure," said Pelosi.

"Make no mistake about this the police were summoned to remove these Democratic members because the chairman didn't want them in the room and for no other reason."

Atrios has much more here and here. The second post suggests ways uo can help.

Online Poll
Lou Dobbs asks: "Who is responsible for the WMD intelligence controversy?"

Currently it's Bush 62%, Democrats 34%, CIA 3%, British 1%.

CBS News Exposes Supermarket Club Cards: A minor story compared to the president lying to us so he can go to war, but still something to watch. Long-time blog readers already know that I hate the Kroger Plus card, Farmer Jack's Savings Card, and all similar wallet-cramming scams. I avoid Krogers, Farmer Jack's and Hillers like the plague, shopping mostly at the People's Food Coop and the Merchant of Vino, with occasional trips to Meijer's and Busch's. Not only do these cards not save you money, they are an invasion of your privacy and discriminatory as well. They're also a pain when they add fifteen seconds or so to the checkout of every person ahead of you in line while they look for their stupid cards or key tags.

Check out Katherine Albrecht's CASPIAN web site for much more on the evil of supermarket cards.

Go Debbie! Go Debbie!
I was very pleased last fall when both of my senators, Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow, along with my outgoing rep in the House Lynn Rivers and new rep (to me) John Dingell, voted against the resolution giving W authority to go to war with Iraq. Since then, Levin and Dingell have both made good statements opposing Bush policies, although not with the clarity or force of Robert Byrd or Dennis Kucinich. Stabenow, unfortunately, has been fairly silent, generally spouting the "support our troops" line. That is, until now. Here's what she said Wednesday on the Senate floor:

Madam President, I rise to . . . commend our service men and women who have served us so well in Iraq, as well as around the world.

We join in our pride and gratitude for their courage and their service.

However, I must rise today to express my deep concern about revelation after revelation of the fragile nature of the facts presented to the American public and the world about the reasons we had to preemptively, unilaterally attack Iraq.

Those misleading words in the President's State of the Union Address this past January have brought into question the credibility of our Government. This is extremely serious. It hurts our country because Iraq is not the only threat to our Nation, as the Senator from New Jersey indicated. We continue to be threatened by terrorists in emerging nuclear countries such as Iran and North Korea. In order to win the war on terrorism and ultimately disarm Iran and North Korea, we are going to have to work with
NATO and other allies to protect American citizens.

Unfortunately, the misleading statements about Iraq attempting to purchase uranium from Niger will make building such coalitions even more difficult. This means our homeland will be less safe and our American citizens less secure. This is a deep concern of mine. I wish the misleading statements about Iraq and Niger were the only statements in question that the President and his administration have made to the American people. Unfortunately, there have been others.

First, let's go through what transpired with the statements on Iraq and Niger. Before the State of the Union referencing Iraqi purchases of uranium from Africa, the administration, at the direction of the CIA, took out a nearly identical line in a speech the President gave in Cincinnati last October justifying the use of force in Iraq. Then, the African uranium purchase was back in the State of the Union Address, although we were told now this was a mistake by the CIA director George Tenet. Then, the African reference was dropped from Secretary of State Powell's presentation on Iraqi weapons capabilities to the United Nations just 8
days later. Then, Saddam's nuclear weapons came back with certainty when Vice President Cheney appeared on Meet the Press in March and said, "We believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons.''

This was one of the main assertions used that took us to war, and I believe the American people have a right to know which it is. If it was good intelligence, why the constant change of mind? Either Iraq had nuclear weapons or it didn't. If it was bad intelligence, who kept pushing to use it in the administration speeches and interviews? We need to know the answers to these questions. It is important for the credibility of our country and for the trust of the American people in our Government.

It does not end there. We heard much about specially-made aluminum tubes that could be used to build centrifuges to create weapons-grade uranium. In the same State of the Union where he referenced uranium purchases from Africa, President Bush also said: Our intelligence sources tell us that he has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production.

But, in fact, an unclassified intelligence assessment back in October stated some intelligence specialists "believe that those tubes are probably intended for conventional weapons programs.''

Last February, Secretary of State Colin Powell told the U.N. Security Council that "we all know there are differences of opinion,'' and that "there is controversy about what these tubes are for.''

However, the International Atomic Energy Agency, after conducting its own study, concluded the uranium tubes were not for uranium enrichment.

Which is it? Enough time has gone by; we should have and are entitled to answers. We are entitled to the truth. Most importantly, the American people are entitled to the truth. Although we now have more than 140,000 troops in Iraq, we have not yet found chemical or biological weapons or even the plants needed to make them. We have not found evidence of al-Qaida training camps, although in the run-up to the war the administration not only said they were there in Iraq but that they knew
precise locations.

Again, this administration has taken us into a new age, an age where we claim the right to unilaterally, preemptively strike another nation because we believe our national survival is at stake. In such a world, the intelligence used as proof for striking first has to be unassailable, has to be totally credible, or the American people and our allies will be deeply suspicious of any future claims.

The claims led to decisions to put American men and women in harm's way and in too many instances have led to the loss of life. We need to find out the truth behind the various claims and questions, legitimate questions that have arisen, questions that have been asked by colleagues on both sides of the aisle, questions that have taken us into the deserts of Iraq and put our men and women in harm's way.

The only way we can get to the bottom of this is to set up an independent commission to get the facts, a bipartisan commission, a way to objectively look at what happened so it does not happen again.

There is nothing more serious than a potential nuclear threat to our people. If there was ever a need for an independent commission, it is now. We now face potential nuclear threats from Iran, from North Korea. We could face more in the future. American families and our American troops deserve answers to the questions that have been raised. We all deserve answers. We all deserve the truth.

I hope my colleagues will join in support developing this independent commission. I believe nothing less than the credibility of our country is at stake. I hope we all join in supporting the Corzine amendment.

US halts Britons' terror hearings -- BBC.
Two British nationals were among the six "detainees" at Guantanamo Bay that the Bushies had said they were going to bring before military tribunals, possibly leading to the death penalty. Now, at Tony Blair's request, they are backing off, at least a little.

Does this stink of a setup or what? These "detainees" have been held at Gitmo for over a year, with very little changing in their circumstances except for getting older. All of a sudden, a couple of weeks ago, the Bushies announce that six detainees, including two Brits and an Aussie, would be the first to be tried. I'm pretty sure they knew at the time that Bush's poodle was coming to visit, and they decided this would be a way to toss him a bone without really giving up anything.

Poodle barks for restraint:
Agence France-Presse said a Blair spokesman promised a full inquiry if the body proved to be Dr. Kelly's. "It goes without saying that the government will cooperate fully," the spokesman said, adding. "I do not think today is the time to rush to judgment or jump to conclusions." (

That's right, Tony. You and George have been rushing to judgment and jumping to conclusions for a year now. Time to take a break.

From Boondocks.

From today's Krugman:
There's no mystery about why the administration's budget projections have borne so little resemblance to reality: realistic budget numbers would have undermined the case for tax cuts. So budget analysts were pressured to high-ball estimates of future revenues and low-ball estimates of future expenditures. Any resemblance to the way the threat from Iraq was exaggerated is no coincidence at all.

Thursday, July 17, 2003

Republican 101: When caught in a lie, lie louder.

"I take responsibility for putting our troops into action," Mr. Bush said. "And I made that decision because Saddam Hussein was a threat to our security and a threat to the security of other nations."

"I take responsibility for making the decision, the tough decision to put together a coalition to remove Saddam Hussein, because the intelligence — not only our intelligence but the intelligence of this great country," Mr. Bush continued, referring to Mr. Blair's Britain, "made a clear and compelling case that Saddam Hussein was a threat to security and peace."
-- NY Times.

Kucinich Booth at Ann Arbor Art Fair!

I've been coordinating volunteers for the booth and making sure things go smoothly, which is why blogging has been light today. If you're coming to the art fair, be sure to visit us! We're booth 56 in the non-profit/activism section, which is on Liberty Street between Fifth and Division. We're part of a long line of peace-oriented booths; the local United Nations association is on one side, and the Megiddo Peace Project is on the other. There's even a booth for the "Global Renaissance" group, which is promoting Kucinich's Department of Peace. These booths have to be staffed twelve hours a day for four days, but there doesn't seem to be a shortage of local activists willing to help!

Good Doggie!

Tony Blair receives a standing ovation from Congress, the majority of whom did just what he did: went along with George Bush's evil plans in the face of all logic and evidence (or lack thereof).

Senate votes down independent commission which would have investigated the hundreds of lies from the Bush administration which have already caused so much death and destruction. (NY Times)

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Just in case you were wondering, soldiers...
None of us that wear this uniform are free to say anything disparaging about the secretary of defense or the president of the United States," General Abizaid said during his Pentagon briefing.

I hope THAT is plastered all over the wall behind Bush the next time he struts in to talk to the troops, just so people don't get the wrong idea. It's not that people in the military don't want to heckle and boo him and throw rotten vegetables in his general direction--it's just that they're not free to.

They know that aWol and Rummy sent them to hell on a bunch of lies, but they're not allowed to speak out?

Hey Dad! Anything you can do, I can do better...
A U.S. soldier was killed Wednesday in an attack on a convoy in Baghdad, bringing the number of American battle deaths in the Iraqi conflict to 148 -- the same number as in the 1991 Persian Gulf War. -- CNN.

That's just the cover story. They were really looking for Saddam's WMD's.
HAMPTON TOWNSHIP, Michigan (AP) -- Authorities dug under a backyard pool in a residential neighborhood Wednesday in search of clues to the disappearance of ex-Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa but came up empty after a six-hour search.

94% NO!
Wolf Blitzer asks "Do you have confidence in the way President Bush is handling the situation in Iraq?" VOTE!

Ann Arbor to Mark: We Won't Miss You!

From today's Ann Arbor News Letters to the Editor:

I was enjoying the Fourth of July celebration in Ann Arbor after having run the Independence Day 5 K when my wife suggested we stay and watch the parade.

To my shock and dismay I proceeded to watch a protest march disguised as a parade. I realize that the Ann Arbor area is left-of-center. However, people should put aside their animus toward the Bush administration and enjoy the day.

In my opinion, a parade celebrating the nation's birth is not an appropriate place for protest (especially when you have young children attending like my two-year-old daughter).

Needless to say my family and I will not be attending the parade next year.

Mark Vaeth, Livonia

By the way, Mark, I had a GREAT time! And read the old Declaration of Independence again; you seem to have forgotten what the Fourth of July is supposed to be about. Hopefully your daughter will learn better than you did; I'm glad to have done my part in her education!

Ann Arbor News article on Rabih Haddad's deportation.

Good Stuff From BartCop:

Detroit Free Press Lives Up to its Name:
Monday, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer dismissed as "a bunch of bull" the very idea that fear of Hussein building nuclear weapons was central to the president's decision to go to war.


With an anxious world hanging on his every word, was it just careless to leave those 16 words in the president's State of the Union speech, or did somebody decide it was OK to embellish the case for a preemptive war? How good is the intelligence upon which the United States government makes momentous decisions to send Americans to war, destroy foreign dictatorships and undertake the rebuilding of a hostile nation? If the basis for the nuclear claim was shaky, how firm was the information about Hussein's arsenal and his ties to terrorism? How realistic were the estimates of what would be involved in the postwar restart of Iraqi society?

Given the danger facing American forces in Iraq today, given the failure to find weapons of mass destruction there, given the lack of clear and convincing evidence linking the Iraqi regime to Al Qaeda or the 9/11 attacks, these are questions worth asking. They should not be summarily dismissed by an administration that's quick to holler "national security" and clam up.

This is about 16 words, sure. But it's about a lot more. It's about things the American people are entitled to know, because it is their security that is involved, and their lives being laid on the line to defend it.

And that is no bull.
-- from a Free Press editorial on Tuesday.

"Sixteen words" was the LAST lie to be exposed:
By Jan. 28, in fact, the intelligence report concerning Iraqi attempts to buy uranium from Africa -- although now almost entirely disproved -- was the only publicly unchallenged element of the administration's case that Iraq had restarted its nuclear program. -- Washington Post. Combined with yesterday's article, it looks like the Post wants to take the lead on highlighting Bush's lies (I was going to say "exposing," but the lies are already exposed, and have been for some time--they've just been largely ignored). The NY Times seems willing to move on to something else as soon as possible; of course they, especially Judith Miller, played a major role in promoting Bush's lies.

We need more protection. We've seen enough. We've stayed in Iraq long enough. -- Spc. Carlos McKenzie, US Army, after one soldier was killed and two wounded on a highway west of Baghdad.

A sad day in Ann Arbor
From the Ann Arbor Area Committee for Peace:
You may have already heard the news that Rabih Haddad has been deported. He arrived in Lebanon earlier this evening, where he was detained at the airport. His circumstances at present are unclear.

Rabih's deportation was done quickly. His family was not notified until he was in Amsterdam, on a stop-over during his flight. It is also unclear how much
longer his wife and children will remain in the U.S.

The Ann Arbor Area Committee for Peace has supported due process and the civil liberties of Rabih Haddad since he was arrested on December 14, 2001. Many of us have become friends with Rabih's family and friends. Our communities have grown closer during this time -- probably the one positive result of Rabih's detention. The bonds of friendship that have been developed are especially important now, as the Muslim community grieves the deportation of one of its most esteemed and loved members. Please express your support in whatever ways you can.

I will forward more information as it becomes available, and will also pass on specific requests for assistance for the Haddad family.

Rabih Haddad was a respected member of the Ann Arbor community. He was arrested in front of his family on 12/14/01, and has been held without charges ever since. No real explanation for his arrest or continued confinement was ever given. While I didn't know him personally, I know many people who did, and all agree that he is a kind and peaceful man who would not have had anything to do with terrorism.

A pattern of lies and deception...
The Bushies were planning to exaggerate Syria's WMD capability too, but the CIA put the brakes on harder this time.

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Check This Out! All the CIA's fault, huh?

Bush's latest lie was caught on video: It's available from the White House web site: Click on the "Play Video" underneath "President Reaffirms Strong Position on Liberia."

The quote is, in response to a question about Iraq: "We gave him a chance to allow the inspectors in, and he wouldn't let them in."

Pitiful Item Number One: UN General Secretary Kofi Annan was sitting right next to Bush when he said it.

Pitiful Item Number Two: One of Bush's aides had at least twice tried to stop the questions, but Bush insisted on allowing that one last question.

Pitiful Item Number Three: While the Washington Post did an excellent job of ripping this and other lies (from the same video) to shreds, none of the other major media seem to have picked up on it.

From Mike Thompson.

Words for Ari Fleischer's Tombstone:
We don't know if it's true -- but nobody, but nobody, can say it is wrong.

From his last White House press briefing yesterday.

We'll see how long the new guy lasts.

[Update:] I'm watching it right now (; he won't last long, I'd say! He doesn't believe what he's saying. Ari Fleischer's don't come along every day.

[Update 2:] He's already citing 9/11 as justification for Iraq. He sounds like a high-school debater who doesn't have a case or evidence.

[Update 3--still watching the press briefing:] The guy's name is Scott McClellan. The Bushies are in serious trouble with him taking Ari's place. He's either going to quit screaming or make a major gaffe--maybe both. He doesn't believe what he's saying. He's getting paid to lie, and he knows it.

[Update 4:] He just mentioned the "mobile labs," which the British said were for producing hydrogen. I guess he doesn't trust the British on this one.

Don't miss! Atrios has a summary of Wolf Blitzer's comments about recent online polls he has had which suggest that practically nobody believes Bush. For example, the poll from yesterday/today, which you can still vote in BTW, asks:

Do you believe Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction on the eve of the war? Currently 87% NO, 13% YES.

As Atrios says, Torture Wolf Now! (By voting in his poll, that is. Bob's Links and Rants is opposed to physical torture, and psychological torture beyond that required to make the right-wing media see the errors in their ways.)

Krugman's Back!
More than half of the U.S. Army's combat strength is now bogged down in Iraq, which didn't have significant weapons of mass destruction and wasn't supporting Al Qaeda. We have lost all credibility with allies who might have provided meaningful support; Tony Blair is still with us, but has lost the trust of his public. All this puts us in a very weak position for dealing with real threats. Did I mention that North Korea has been extracting fissionable material from its fuel rods?

How did we get into this mess? The case of the bogus uranium purchases wasn't an isolated instance. It was part of a broad pattern of politicized, corrupted intelligence.

Add Totally Clueless to the Impeachment Charges:
Bush said the CIA's doubts about the charge -- that Iraq sought to buy "yellowcake" uranium ore in Africa -- were "subsequent" to the Jan. 28 State of the Union speech in which Bush made the allegation. Defending the broader decision to go to war with Iraq, the president said the decision was made after he gave Saddam Hussein "a chance to allow the inspectors in, and he wouldn't let them in."

Bush's position was at odds with those of his own aides, who acknowledged over the weekend that the CIA raised doubts that Iraq sought to buy uranium from Niger more than four months before Bush's speech.
-- Washington Post.

Who's the revisionist historian? Inspectors had been in Iraq for months when Bush ordered them out to start the war. And the White House was denying all winter that they had already decided to go to war, so if Bush is now claiming that he decided on war last fall before the inspectors returned, he is admitting to repeatedly lying.

[Update] I've finished reading that Washington Post article, and it is remarkable in that it actually points out numerous contradictions in the Bushies' story lines. So many "news" articles in the past year have quoted administration officials saying things that are obviously false, or which at the least contradict some other thing they've said. But rarely have the reporters pointed this out. It's good to see it finally happening.

Monday, July 14, 2003

From Peace Action. They are placing these ads in the DC Metro and other subway systems, and running similar ads in newspapers.

Don't miss the Sunday Talk Show Breakdown on Liberal Oasis. This conversation between George Stephanopoulos and Rummy should open some eyes:

STEPHANOPOULOS: …Is it plausible that perhaps Saddam Hussein, by the time the war began, really didn’t have an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction?

RUMSFELD: I think it's unlikely…

…It seems to me that he could have had billions and billions of dollars of revenues from his oil lifting, if he had wanted to do what other countries did…and say, "Come in here, inspect."

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, it could be for the reason those scientists said…

…But you say, in the end, it's unlikely that he didn't have an arsenal but not impossible?

RUMSFELD: You know…until we've done this job and talked to enough people and been through it, we won't know precisely what we'll find.

Stephanopoulos was referring to reports that many Iraqi scientists have said that all Iraqi WMD's had been eliminated by the mid-90's. And while I can't blame Stephanopoulos for choosing one lie to pursue over another, I sure wish he had pointed out that inspectors had returned to Iraq when the Bushies called the whole process off. It seems quite plausible to me that for several years Saddam thought it was in his best interest, both internally and internationally, to let people think he had WMD's, even if he didn't. Bush's rabid sabre-rattling in 2002 changed that calculation, and Saddam let the inspectors in. If the UN inspectors had found substantial quantities of weapons and evidence that Iraq had ways to threaten the US with them, I might have to grudgingly give Bush some credit for his mad-dog approach, even though it was clearly illegal. But the reality is very far from that. Bush had almost no evidence of WMD's, the inspectors returned, found nothing, Bush invaded anyway, and found nothing. Bush's crime is doubled. Violating international law is an impeachable offense. Doing so on false pretenses is a crime of the highest order.

How am I supposed to vote on this poll from Time?
Does the Niger uranium fiasco alter your view on Bush's case for invading Iraq? Yes and No are the only choices. I felt that Bush had no case for invading Iraq a month ago, or four months ago. I still feel that way. So I should vote "no?" Who makes up this stuff?

Core of weapons case crumbling:
More than just "sixteen words:"
Of the nine main conclusions in the British government document "Iraq's weapons of mass destruction", not one has been shown to be conclusively true. -- BBC.

The buck stops here, George:
If all George W. Bush does, is read prepared speeches written by others, vetted by others, put onto ready to read scrolling devices for the lips of the President, does that make the one that utters the words a puppet? A void and vacuous being whose only purpose is to mouth the threats and words of others.
We have someone in our highest office who will not take responsibility for his words. Do you think that George W. Bush will take responsibility for the rest of what he has created? George W. Bush demanded that our Congress give him the power to decide who, where and when our military would make this “pre-emptive” attack. George W. Bush demanded that we ignore the reservations of other nations on the United Nations Security Council. George W. Bush ordered the attacks. George W. Bush is responsible.
-- Bridget Gibson.

Sunday, July 13, 2003

If at first you don't succeed...
Sort of like an underage drinker with a fake ID, Bush kept running the bogus uranium story past the CIA until they finally signed off on it. According to the Washington Post, the CIA successfully had the uranium lies removed from an earlier Bush speech.

And while it is encouraging to see the Post sticking with this even after Bush said the matter was closed, they still insist on muddling it up:

Another senior official with knowledge of the intelligence said the CIA had doubts about the accuracy of the documents underlying the allegation, which months later turned out to be forged. Wrong. The documents were forged at the time, and the CIA probably suspected as much. Months later, but still before the war, it was public knowledge that the documents were forged. But they were forged all along.

A senior administration official said Bush's chief speechwriter, Michael J. Gerson, does not remember who wrote the line that has wound up causing the White House so much grief. Cause the White House grief? What about those thousands of dead Iraqis? The families of the over 200 US dead, and the 1000+ solidiers who were wounded? It's about time the White House got some grief--the more, the better.

And then there's Condaliar Rice: "It is ludicrous to suggest that the president of the United States went to war on the question of whether Saddam Hussein sought uranium from Africa," Rice said on "Fox News Sunday."

Where do they get these lines? This is like the old question "Have you stopped beating your wife?" How do you answer Rice's assertion? "No, it is not ludicrous to suggest...?"

I think this is the approach:

  1. The Bushies claim(ed) that pre-emptive wars may be necessary to prevent attacks on America, using 9/11 as justification. (Lots to argue with here, but let's humor them for a moment.)
  2. They claimed that Iraq was violating various UN resolutions and continued to possess or develop so-called weapons of mass destruction. This definition included extremely dangerous nuclear weapons, as well as chemical and biological weapons, which while nasty are not significantly more dangerous than many so-called conventional weapons. Chem and bio weapons are also bulky and hazardous to transport, and Iraq did not have any way to get large quantities of these into America. If they had been intent on a chem or bio attack on the US, they would have had a much better chance of creating the weapons here (or just blowing up any one of thousands of industrial or military facilities around the US).
  3. If Bush had based his argument for war strictly on the threat of chemical and biological weapons, these arguments would have gotten the attention they deserved and the case for war would have been repudiated.
  4. Therefore, Bush had to claim that Iraq might have nuclear weapons, or would soon (his "mushroom cloud" reference in Cincinnati).
  5. There was precious little evidence, even bad evidence, to suggest that Iraq had nuclear weapons or was likely to any time soon. In fact, all of the best evidence indicated the opposite. But Bush wanted his war, so he played up the lies, passed them on to the British, convinced them on one lie, and then quoted them on it.

So what is ludicrous to suggest is that Bush could have made even the weak case he did make for war without lying about uranium from Africa and aluminum tubes. We also can't let the quibbling about who's to blame for the sixteen words obscure the fact that


From Tim Menees.

From Drew Sheneman.

Kucinich on Uraniumgate:
It is clear, in the lead-up to war against Iraq, the Administration from the top on down orchestrated an organized campaign of false and misleading statements to persuade the Congress of the United States and American pubic to support a war against Iraq.

We now know that multiple claims made by the President, Vice President, Secretary of Defense, and other Administration officials about Iraq's nuclear weapons programs were false and used solely to play on the fears of Americans to conjure an excuse for war.

The President of the United States is simply using the CIA as a scapegoat to shift blame from those truly responsible.

The Administration's attempt to shift blame to the CIA is transparent and ridiculous in light of the active role that the Vice President played in the misuse of intelligence before the war. We know that the Office of the Vice President knew almost a year before the President’s State of the Union Address that reports that Iraq was trying to purchase uranium from Niger were false. We also know that the Vice President, and his top staff, made multiple unprecedented trips to the CIA before the war, in order to pressure the CIA analyst to disseminate unreliable information.

It is time for the President to step forward and take responsibility for the pattern of false and misleading statements that he, and other members of his Administration, made in the lead-up to war in Iraq. It is also time for Congress to step forward and hold full and public hearings on these matters. The American public deserves no less.

Combine that with John McCain's statement on Friday, "We need to have an investigation, find out who was responsible for it and fire them," and we're on to something!

I think this was written just to make the SOTU look truthful by comparison. Viceroy Paul Bremer packs a huge lie per sentence quotient into his op-ed in today's NY Times.

As President Bush has made clear, we are committed to establishing the conditions for security, prosperity and democracy. America has no designs on Iraq and its wealth. We will finish our job here and stay not one day longer than necessary.
Once our work is over, the reward will be great: a free, democratic and independent Iraq that stands not as a threat to its neighbors or the world, but as a beacon of freedom and justice.

Excuse me, Mr. Viceroy sir, but we've had troops in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait for over a decade, and democracy hasn't even started to break out in those places. You, sir, are a liar.