Bob's Links and Rants
Saturday, April 03, 2004
Gee, ya think?
U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said Friday that part of his dramatic testimony to the U.N. Security Council before the Iraq war was based on intelligence that appears to have been unreliable. -- CNN

The rest, of course, was complete crap.

The worst administration in American history has for over three years now had way more credibility with much of the public than it ever deserved. Not much foreign policy experience? Well, they've got Powell at State. A bunch of chickenhawks? Well, there's Powell, y'know, who was in Vietnam. A bunch of silver-spoon rich white guys? Powell is black and not from a rich family.

Much of the popular story of the (first) Gulf War is a lie; the true story is a lot nastier and bloodier. But in the spring of 1991 the leaders in that war had a shiny glow about them. But Powell wasn't a prissy twit like Bush Sr., and he wasn't to blame for the lousy economy. Powell wasn't creepy like Cheney, or profane like Schwartzkopf. The appearance was that he did his job as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff with quiet competence. His glow was the brightest, and lasted the longest.

In December 2000, before the Supreme Court decided to give the presidency to aWol, the Bush campaign paraded Powell before the camera as their choice for Secretary of State. His glow hadn't worn off, and many people (myself included) were at the least confused into thinking that maybe W wouldn't be so awful in foreign policy since he would have Powell working for him. I suspect that this nomination, before they were really entitled to make it, gave the Bushies some ammunition against those who were pushing for full recounts.

I know a lot more about Powell now than I did then. He's a fraud. He tried to cover up the My Lai massacre in Vietnam. He was up to his stars in Iran-Contra. The first Gulf War was pretty much genocide of Iraqi soldiers and civilians (first by U.S. bombs, then by U.S. troops, and then by Saddam's forces against civilians while U.S. troops stood idly by and let those mass graves get filled), and Powell again was a major player in all of that. In a just world, by 2000 he would have been in a prison somewhere for war crimes. Instead, he was using his ill-gotten credibility to boost the chances of an obviously incompetent presidential candidate.

His February 2003 UN speech was not an abberation which sullied the reputation of a great man. It was the crowning achievement of a life of crime.
Slaves 'R' Us
According to the New York Times, the practice of shaving time off of employees' pay records to cut costs is rampant in the already low-wage retail and fast-food sectors.

Another reason managers shave time, experts say, is that an increasing part of their compensation comes in bonuses based on minimizing costs or maximizing profits.

"The pressures are just unbelievable to control costs and improve productivity," said George Milkovich, a longtime Cornell University professor of industrial relations and co-author of the leading textbook on compensation. "All this manipulation of payroll may be the unintended consequence of increasing the emphasis on bonuses."

Unintended? I don't think so! Store managers are granted their tiny bit of status and barely-living wages and benefits in exchange for their willingness to squeeze as many hours from their employees for as few dollars as possible.


From Mike Thompson.
Friday, April 02, 2004

From John Trever.

Trever is usually about the third or fourth worst cartoonist on the Slate cartoon pages, in my opinion. He generally sides with Bush. But I really like this one. It not only provides a different perspective, but it provides useful information (the other prices) to support that perspective.

From Kevin Siers.
Pickering Update
A few days back, I discussed the 60 Minutes segment on Charles Pickering, Bush's controversial appointee to the 5th Circuit Court from Mississippi. While fully aware that the corporate media frequently lies like a Bushie, I thought that Pickering came off looking very good. Charges of racism against him seemed to be pretty much unfounded based on what was shown and what he said on the show.

I posted this opinion on our local peace-group message board. The president of our local ACLU chapter, Mary Bejian, replied as follows:

I saw the 60 Minutes piece and was immediately suspect when it became clear they were only focusing on the sentencing in the cross burning case. There's much more to Charles Pickering regarding civil rights, all bad. Check out People for the American Way's site on Pickering and an article from Go to the website of any organization you trust and see what they have to say about Pickering. Not to mention, Don't Trust Corporate Media. Just because it's 60 Minutes doesn't mean it's reliable.

My response to Mary (and to you!):
Thanks for the response. After reading the info at those links, I certainly have more concerns about Pickering than I did Sunday night. But I don't see a real smoking gun that tells me that he is unfit to be on the court. (There may be one and I just don't see it, I'll gladly admit.) The PFAW stuff seems to include a lot of pick-and-choose stuff we're like what we're hearing from Bush about Kerry; I'm not saying it's wrong, but providing a one-sentence summary is not nearly enough to understand either a court case or a vote in the legislature. PFAW didn't provide links to the cases and votes they referred to, and their "complete case" page had less information than their "just the facts" page. It really looks like a political smear ad.

The Salon piece is somewhat more troubling, but mostly because of Pickering's apparent stonewalling of the Senate, not because of any great revelations about his past. His law partner in the early '60's appears to have been a racist, and Pickering may have switched parties for racist reasons. He refuses to concede these points. Background as part of an overall pattern, perhaps. But I can certainly see that his recollection of what happened 40 years ago may be a bit filtered. His partner was his friend, they lived in a society where being a racist was the norm, he probably switched parties for a number of reasons.

Don't get me wrong; I don't trust Bush, so I suspect that Pickering is horrible. It's just that I don't trust Schumer or many of the Democrats either, and if they're pick(er)ing the wrong fight, they're hurting their own ability to make a difference when the right fight comes along. And I don't trust 60 Minutes either; I just thought that they presented an excellent case, and it made me question my previous assumptions. Hopefully the Richard Clarke segment the week before had a similar effect on some people on the right.

Thursday, April 01, 2004
Shorter George W. Bush:
My one insane policy interfered with my other insane policy.

Here's the long version, from the Complete Bushisms web site:
The march to war affected the people's confidence. It's hard to make investment. See, if you're a small business owner or a large business owner and you're thinking about investing, you've got to be optimistic when you invest. Except when you're marching to war, it's not a very optimistic thought, is it? In other words, it's the opposite of optimistic when you're thinking you're going to war. ?Springfield, Mo., Feb. 9, 2004

And this isn't just a one-off gaff--he's been making this bizarre argument for months. I suggest that he complete the circle, and blame his failure in Iraq on the tax cuts. The scariest thing is that the wingnuts would STILL believe him.

Future Bushism: "See, my tax cuts didn't work because of my war, and my war didn't work because of my tax cuts. It's obviously not my fault."

A few more choice real Bushisms:
King Abdullah of Jordan, the King of Morocco, I mean, there's a series of places—Qatar, Oman—I mean, places that are developing—Bahrain—they're all developing the habits of free societies.
The ambassador and the general were briefing me on the—the vast majority of Iraqis want to live in a peaceful, free world. And we will find these people and we will bring them to justice.
See, free nations are peaceful nations. Free nations don't attack each other. Free nations don't develop weapons of mass destruction.

Powell Resigns!
Bush Apologizes!
SUV's Banned!
So Depressing
Billmon runs one of the best blogs around. I was reading this post, which concerned right-wingnut responses to yesterday's killing of four American "contractors" (actually mercenaries, apparently) in Fallujah and the dragging of their bodies through the streets and so forth. Now personally, I tend to think that dead is dead, and don't see how dragging or mutiliating a corpse is anywhere near as bad as creating one (by killing somebody). I mean, I don't do it, and would probably switch to the other side of the street if I saw a corpse-abuser coming, but in the hierarchy of crimes I rank murder as far worse. I understand that many don't agree. Anyway, Billmon pointed out some of the immediate reaction from the wingnuts at a horrible little website called "Littlee Greene Footballse." I added an extra "e" to each word hoping to prevent getting a similar reaction to what Billmon got--he actually LINKED to LGF!

And the trolls came a runnin' to his site, calling him and his usual liberal patrons every name in the book. Reading their suggestions just reminds me of how many truly warped people there are in this country. I find it very depressing.
Wednesday, March 31, 2004
I hate to say it...
But I think the White House is right:

The White House again rejected calls to tap into the nation's emergency stockpile of oil, called the Strategic Petroleum Oil Reserve. "You have to keep in mind that there are national security concerns involved when you are talking about that issue, particularly after September 11," McClellan said.

Higher gas prices, I realize, are about as popular as gangrenous hemorrhoids. But keeping gas prices low has cost us so much over the years in terms of lives, pollution, sprawl, wars, social fabric, and so on. And on this one, although they're probably just helping out their oil exec buddies, the Bushies are right. When a severe oil shortage hits, which it will, the strategic oil reserve may well be needed to provide critical heating needs in a cold winter and to keep the ambulances and firetrucks running. Depleting that reserve so we can save 10 cents a gallon now (and continue to blissfully ignore the inevitable) would be as shortsighted as, well, huge tax cuts for the rich in the face of massive deficits.

The best and simplest way to address the impending oil shortage is by substantially raising the gasoline tax. Unfortunately, the two Skull & Bones candidates are trying to outdo each other in saying how stupid this great idea is.

Poppy the Wimp Defends aWol the Idiot
I guess it's appropriate that our second worst president ever would defend the worst.

An emotional former President George H.W. Bush on Tuesday defended his son's Iraq war and lashed out at White House critics.

It is "deeply offensive and contemptible" to hear "elites and intellectuals on the campaign trail" dismiss progress in Iraq since last year's overthrow of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, the elder Bush said in a speech to the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association annual convention.

"There is something ignorant in the way they dismiss the overthrow of a brutal dictator and the sowing of the seeds of basic human freedom in that troubled part of the world," he said.
"Iraq is moving forward in hope and not sliding back into despair and terrorism," he said.
-- Reuters

I guess he doesn't read the news either.

Go with slow
John Ashcroft before September 11 had refused to increase counterterrorism funds and had not placed terrorism in the top-priority issues for the Justice Department. When I and one of my staff met with Ashcroft early in the Administration, we were left wondering if his discussion with us had been an act. My associate asked me on the drive back to the White House, "He can't really be that slow, can he? I mean, you can't get to be the Attorney General of the United States and be like that, right?"

I wasn't sure. "I don't know," I said. "Maybe he's just cagey, but after all, he did lose a Senate reelection to a dead man."
-- Richard Clarke, Against All Enemies, p. 256.

Clarke continues:
What Ashcroft and others did in the case of Padilla, and in proposing to amend the Patriot Act to allow for actions without judicial review, was to fundamentally shake the confidence of many Americans in the government's ability to safeguard our rights. At a time when we need greater citizen trust in the government so that we can adapt to the terrorist threat, Ashcroft is doing such things as engaging in a war of words with America's librarians over whether the FBI can scan reading records. The probability of the FBI ever needing to do that is so remote that this controversy should never have been allowed to develop. The Battle with the Librarians, the case of Jose Padilla, and the request for Patriot Act II make it very difficult to gain consensus to do the things that are needed to improve security, because trust in government's sensitivity to civil liberties is eroded.

I just finished reading the book. I don't agree with Clarke on everything. But unlike Bush, Ashcroft or Rice, he gives the distinct impression that he really knows what he is talking about, and is therefore far more deserving of the benefit of the doubt. His criticism of the war in Iraq is scathing and comprehensive. No reason, no need, poorly explained, poorly executed, costly, and a total failure. Plus a few more things besides!

One more quote, for now:
September 11 erased memories of the unique process whereby George Bush had been selected as President a few months earlier. Now, as he stood with an arm around a New York fireman promising to get those who had destroyed the World Trade Center, he was every American's President. His polls soared. He had a unique opportunity to unite America, to bring the United States together with allies around the world to fight terrorism and hate, to eliminate al Qaeda, to eliminate our vulnerabilities, to strengthen important nations threatened by radicalism. He did none of those things. He invaded Iraq.
After a thorough one-hour investigation while the fires were still burning...
The FBI has determined that it was NOT, repeat NOT, an act of terrorism. What wasn't an act of terrorism? A series of explosions at the nation's third largest oil refinery, a BP-Amoco facility in Texas City (near Houston). According to Reuters, the FBI had just issued warnings a few days ago about possible terrorist attacks on refineries.

How could they possibly rule it out so quickly? The first explosion happened at 7:15 Tuesday evening, and the story was apparently on the 11 o'clock news in Houston, including the bit about the FBI saying it wasn't terrorism. They didn't say they knew what it was, just what it wasn't. I can see ruling out certain types of terrorist acts through a quick investigation: No airplanes crashing, no car bombs. But how could they rule out a bomb on a timer or with cell-phone activation, or an inside job of sabotage? Maybe the thing just blew up on its own. But I don't see how they can possibly be sure that quickly.

I remember when, two months after September 11, an American Airlines plane crashed in the Rockaway Beach neigborhood of Queens near JFK Airport. The crash happened about 9 AM. At 12:30, then White House press secretary Ari Fleischer was asked if it was a terrorist attack. In probably one of the few times he ever told the truth, Ari answered that it was too early to tell. But then, about an hour later, Colin Powell is making a statement that it absolutely was not terrorism. What the Secretary of State has to do with investigating a plane crash I'm not sure, but I was quite sure that his statement was based entirely on politics and not at all on facts. September 11 had, with LOTS of help from the media, made Bush look "resolute" and "determined" in "leading the nation" through the tough times. Another terrorist attack so soon might have caused people to start thinking that "incompetent" and "unprepared" were better words to describe him. So Powell pre-empts that discussion and says "not terrorism." And back in November 2001 Powell still had a rather substantial reservoir of credibility. It's bone dry now.

So when I hear the FBI say "not terrorism" I hear "terrorism." Conditioned response.
600 Reasons Why Bush Should Be Impeached
Five more soldiers killed near Fallujah, bringing the total U.S. killed to 600. And not one of them for a good reason.
Tuesday, March 30, 2004
She shook her head and waved away my words of sympathy, "It's ok- really- I'm one of the lucky ones... all they did was beat me."

The Iraqi-based blog Baghdad Burning has a story about a family being dragged off to Baghdad's notorious Abu Ghraib prison by American troops.

M. and her uncle later learned that a certain neighbor had made the false accusation against her family. The neighbor's 20-year-old son was still bitter over a fight he had several years ago with one of M.'s brothers. All he had to do was contact a certain translator who worked for the troops and give M.'s address. It was that easy.
Jesus returns, questions war on Iraq; White House goes on the attack
The White House, still reeling from this week's surprise return of Jesus Christ and His condemnation of the Bush administration's war in Iraq, has gone on the defensive.

An administration aide admitted to growing White House frustration that staffers had been "caught napping," not only by Mr. Christ's unexpected return, which the aide likened to "a thief in the night," but especially by His strongly worded condemnation of Bush's foreign policy. "After all," stated the staff member on condition of anonymity, "we've been working since day one to bring about Armageddon specifically to hasten the Lord's return. Then He does this. I've got to question both His loyalty and His timing."

In a blitz of morning show appearances yesterday, administration officials sought to cast doubt on the savior's credibility, as well as His motivations. National security advisor Condoleeza Rice stated on NBC's Today Show that the King of Kings "Never gave us a plan to follow, really. We would have welcomed his input, but He was apparently too busy converting water into wine."
Appearing on conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh's program, Vice President Dick Cheney questioned the Everlasting Light's credibility in His scathing critique of the Iraq war. "Frankly, He was out of the loop. I mean, where's He been for the past 2,000 years?" Cheney asked. "And now He suddenly makes Himself manifest in an election year?"

Fox News released a transcript purporting to show four different versions of the Messiah's story. Former Republican governor James Thompson referred to Fox's story stating "Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John. At least three of these are lies." "I'm from the Midwest," Thompson added.

More here! I found it a blog called A-Changin' Times; they link it to DailyKos, but I couldn't find it there. So I really don't know who wrote it.

And Big Jim? I'm from the Midwest, too!

The War on Terror
It's working--for al Qaeda. Nineteen die in Uzbekistan, while bombing plots are apparently foiled in England and the Philippines.

The president of Egypt said, "If you invade Iraq, you will create a hundred bin Ladens." He lives in the Arab world. He knows. It's turned out to be true. It is now much more difficult for us to win the battle of ideas as well as arresting and killing them, and we're going to face a second generation of al-Qaeda. We're going to catch bin Laden. I have no doubt about that. In the next few months, he'll be found dead or alive. But it's two years too late because during those two years, al-Qaeda has morphed into a hydra-headed organization, independent cells like the organization that did the attack in Madrid. -- Richard Clarke on Meet the Press, 3/28/04.

From Tom Toles.
Kerry whoring on gas prices
Occasionally I get my moments of doubt. I should lay off John Kerry--he's better than Bush, one of them is going to win, better Kerry than Bush, etc. I've heard all the arguments, and they sometimes make a dent. But then Kerry opens his mouth again and reminds me what a total sellout sleazebag he is.

He's now announcing a plan to cut gas prices, which as I've tried to point out again and again are WAY TOO LOW for the good of the country and the world.

With gasoline prices at a record high, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry is calling for the government to stop pumping oil into its emergency stockpile.

Kerry says that's one of several steps President Bush could take to slow the soaring cost of gasoline, which reached a national average of almost $1.80 a gallon in the past two weeks, according the private Lundberg Survey.

"If it keeps going up like that, folks, Dick Cheney and President Bush are going to have to car pool to work together," Kerry said at a fund-raiser Monday night in San Francisco, California.
-- CNN

Digging into the strategic oil reserve was the Gore plan in 2000 that convinced me that he wasn't serious about his environmental positions, and Kerry's suggesting the same thing.

Plus, that car pool joke is really stupid. First off, carpooling is a good idea, and Kerry seems to be suggesting that it's asking way too much of people or something. Second, Bush doesn't drive to work--he lives in the dang office!

Kerry needs to be attacking Bush on his greatest vulnerability--the war in Iraq and how it has made us much less safe while costing thousands of lives and billions of dollars. Everything is in place: the policy has been shown not just to be wrong, but to be criminal in many ways. And since one of the real reasons for the war was to corner the market on world oil, Kerry needs to be informing people that it is a limited resource, that prices WILL go up, and if we're unwilling to make a few sacrifices now we'll be forced to make much greater sacrifices later. Instead, he panders on an issue that is of greatest concern to those who have been wasting oil prodigiously--the SUV driving commuters and soccer moms.

It's all just a game to Kerry, pretty much like it is to Karl Rove. Regardless of the facts or common sense, Kerry will say whatever he thinks will buy him a few votes. Those on the left who have unconditionally given him their support already just enable him to slide farther right. Maybe he actually is a liberal, and will resort to those policies once elected. But the pandering just validates the ridiculous arguments on the right and prevents the uninformed voters from learning what is really happening. And they REALLY need to know. If they did, Bush wouldn't stand a chance against Kerry, or Nader--or Satan, for that matter.
Testify! Testify!
CNN is reporting that the White House will now allow Condiliar to testify publicly under oath before the 9/11 Commission. Which, of course, she would like nothing better than, according to her 60 Minutes interview:

The secretary of state, defense, the director of the CIA, have all testified in public under oath before the commission. If - if you can talk to us and other news programs, why can't you talk to the commission in public and under oath?

Nothing would be better, from my point of view, than to be able to testify. I would really like to do that.

I sure wish Max Cleland were still on the commission. I'm not sure if I trust any of the current commission members to cook Rice properly.
Takin' it to Turd Blossom
Hundreds rallied Sunday outside the home of Karl Rove, President Bush's chief political adviser, urging legislation that would allow undocumented immigrants who graduate from high school to legalize their status and qualify for in-state college tuition.

Protesters stood outside Rove's Washington house to show their support for the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, or the DREAM Act.
-- CNN.

From Doug Marlette.

From Dwane Powell.

From R.J. Matson.

From Steve Greenberg.

From Jim Day.

From Kirk Anderson.

From Steve Sack.

From Mike Thompson, who deserves a Pulitzer for that!

Here's the quote and a link:

"When you are dealing with secretive regimes that want to deceive, you're never going to be able to be positive" about intelligence, Rice told NBC on Thursday. -- CNN, January 30, 2004
Monday, March 29, 2004
Stealing a post from Left I
Eli at left I had this post regarding the shutting down of a paper in Baghdad:

From The New York Times:
American soldiers shut down a popular Baghdad newspaper on Sunday and tightened chains across the doors after the occupation authorities accused it of printing lies that incited violence.

Thousands of outraged Iraqis protested the closing as an act of American hypocrisy, laying bare the hostility many feel toward the United States a year after the invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.

"No, no, America!" and "Where is democracy now?" screamed protesters who hoisted banners and shook clenched fists in a hastily organized rally against the closing of the newspaper, Al Hawza, a radical Shiite weekly.

A newspaper? Printing lies and inciting violence? I have just a few things to say:

The New York Times. Judith Miller. Invasion of Iraq. Tens of thousands of Iraqis and Americans and others dead or permanently injured.

Short and to the point!
A letter to the Ann Arbor News:
Democracy in Iraq. Wow. And at the point of a sword. A page out of Moslem proselytizing. Too bad the CIA and father Bush kept it from the Iraqis by keeping Saddam in power for 35 years.

If all the Arab-Moslems are suspected of being terrorists, should all Catholics be suspected of being child molesters?

Sahag Avedisian, Ann Arbor

Paul Craig Roberts gets it
Roberts is a conservative who used to write for the Washington Times (I don't see him there at the Moonie Times anymore--the Times is owned by Rev. Sun-Yung Moon, a long-time Reagan and Bush supporter). Here is Roberts' take on what I think is Richard Clarke's most damaging assertion: That what the Bushies have done since 9/11, particularly in Iraq, has made us LESS safe.

From Roberts' latest column on

There are no excuses for the invasion of Iraq. Intelligence failures notwithstanding, terrorist attacks are surprises by definition, but we knew beforehand that Iraq had nothing to do with 911.
Prior to the US invasion on March 19, 2003, Iraq was not a major problem for the US. One year later, it is. The occupation strains our military and budget. The US seeks to install a puppet regime, but the majority Shi’ites are having none of it. Will civil war and the breakup of the country come next?
Stung by criticisms that the invasion of Iraq has undermined the war on terrorism, the Bush administration has pressured its Pakistani puppet to risk the stability of his own rule by sending his army into tribal areas in search of bin Laden.

The Pew poll found that 65% of Pakistanis have a positive view of Osama bin Laden, but only 7% have a positive view of President Bush. A symbolic capture of bin Laden that resulted in the overthrow of the US puppet, Musharraf, would be a bad bargain.
The invasion of Iraq is a far greater intelligence failure than 911. The mistake is too great to be acknowledged. Denial will rule while unintended consequences play out to America’s disadvantage.

The question for the 911 Commission is not whether the Clinton administration missed chances to assassinate bin Laden or whether the Bush administration’s loose immigration controls and interagency communication failures ensured the terrorists’ success. The only question is: why does the US persist with a foreign policy that breeds terrorism?

The challenge for the US is to break free from the folly and arrogance that power begets.

Conservatives like Roberts and Pat Buchanan get it:

Why does the US persist with a foreign policy that breeds terrorism?

Why can't John Kerry get it too?


You can still vote in this poll! (Here, on the left, about halfway down.)
Israel and the Iraq War
From Juan Cole:
The fact is that Israeli intelligence failures in Iraq contributed to drawing the United States into the war (pace the Knesset report). Undersecretary of Defense for Planning Douglas Feith, a representative of the American branch of the Likud Party, met repeatedly with Israeli generals at the Pentagon (who were not properly signed in, contrary to post-9/11 regulations), and they gave him fodder for his pre-determined insistence on ginning up a war against Iraq, reinforcing what was being said by liars like Ahmad Chalabi. They were conveying Israeli intelligence to a key American policy maker, and it was wrong.

Of course, being wrong is one thing. Deliberately being wrong is another. Although the subcommittee report refuses to consider the possibility, it seems clear that there were conspiracies within the intelligence and military services of the UK, Israel and the US intended to draw the US into war against Iraq. One sees reports in the British press of a "Rockingham Group" in the UK ministry of defense pushing for war, and of British intelligence planting anti-Iraq stories in the US press.

I'm surprised that someone this smart was actually in the Bush administration at all
MR. RUSSERT: But if you were willing to go forward, and, as you say, "spin" on behalf of the president, then why shouldn't people now think that this book is also spin? Why should people believe you?

MR. CLARKE: Because I have no obligation anymore to spin. When you're in the White House, you spin. And people have been doing a lot of that against me this week. You know, they're engaged in a campaign. People on the taxpayers' rolls, dozens of people, are engaged in the campaign to destroy me, personally and professionally, because I had the temerity to suggest that the American people should consider whether or not the president had done a good job on the war on terrorism. The issue is not me. The issue is the president's job on the role on terrorism.

Check out the whole Meet The Press transcript.

More excerpts:

MR. RUSSERT: On a scale of one to 10, how would you rate President Bush's performance on the war on terror prior to September 11?

MR. CLARKE: Well, there wasn't any personal performance by the president prior to September 11.
MR. RUSSERT: It sounds like a failing grade.

MR. CLARKE: Well, I think they deserve a failing grade for what they did before because, frankly, they didn't do--they never got around to doing anything. They held interim meetings, but they never actually decided anything before September 11.


Tom Tomorrow's whole cartoon is on Salon (brief ad-viewing required).
Sunday, March 28, 2004
Kerry's got a halo now
You've probably seen those staged photos of Bush with a halo around his head. Here's one of Kerry from the Detroit Free Press:

60 Minutes
Shorter Bob's rant on 60 Minutes: Rice bad, Pickering okay, Adu--can't wait until Saturday!

I just watched 60 Minutes. It's hard to imagine that Condiliar convinced anyone with her performance. She practically gave away the game anyway by saying that they continued with the Clinton anti-terror policy for eight months (and the questions aren't so much about the policy, anyway, as they are about how diligently they were pursuing it). She cited long-standing precedence, supposedly, about National Security Advisors not appearing before Congress. But the 9/11 Commission isn't Congress, or even Congressionally-appointed, and besides, who cares? As Ed Bradley said, why not waive precedent for an unprecedented event like 9/11? Clarke 2 billion, Rice 0.

The segment on Charles Pickering was certainly interesting. Maybe it was a setup, but I thought Judge Pickering came off looking great, while his critics like Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) looked petty. Sixty Minutes had several people, mostly African-Americans who have dealt personally with Pickering, vouch for him. The only argument presented by Schumer was that in one case, Pickering reduced a sentence for cross-burning from 7 1/2 years to 2 1/2 years. Pickering made a reasonable explanation for his ruling, I thought. I don't know what would actually be an appropriate sentence for cross-burning, but it certainly seemed as though Pickering took the defendant's previous record (none) into account and lowered the sentence in at least an arguably reasonable way. Mandatory minimums are not a good idea, even for hate crimes, IMHO. Overall, Pickering made a pretty good case for a long pattern of fair and non-racist behavior on his part, and Schumer could only respond by taking a single case and blowing it out of proportion without really considering the facts (very much like Bush's current attack ads on Kerry).

And then there was this:

Charles Evers: You know, maybe you don't know, you know that Charles Pickering is a man helped us to break the Ku Klux Klan. Did you know that?

Clarence McGee: I heard that statement made.

Charles Evers: I mean, I know that. Do you know that?

Clarence McGee: I don't know that.

Charles Evers: I know that. Do you know about the young black man that was accused of robbing the young white woman. You know about that?

Clarence McGee: Nope.

Charles Evers: So Charles Pickering took the case. Came to trial and won the case and the young man became free.

Clarence McGee: I don't know about that.

Charles Evers: But did you also know that Charles Pickering is the man who helped integrate his churches. You know about that?

Clarence McGee: No.

Charles Evers: Well, you don't know a thing about Charles Pickering.

Clarence McGee heads the NAACP in Hattiesburg; Charles Evers is the brother of murdered civil rights leader Medgar Evers. Both are black.

Maybe the whole Pickering thing was 60 Minutes' way of making up to the Bush administration for the Clarke and Rice interviews. But unless the whole thing was faked, I think Democrats like Schumer look really stupid trying to attack Pickering as a racist. Complain about his position on abortion or find something else, but don't pick one case out of hundreds to label him a racist without talking to the people who have worked with him.

And then there's Freddie Adu, the 14-year-old soccer phenom who will debut for DC United next Saturday. The kid is amazing, and just as likeable as can be. I'm a soccer nut, and I can't wait to watch him play!
Government Of the Corporations, By the Corporations, and For the Corporations
Left I On the News cites two recent news stories about how the Bushies have been handing out the grandkids money to their corporate buddies.

One article concerns a huge giveaway to Boeing for aerial refueling tankers. The funding was stuck into one of the post-9/11 pork bills by Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), and had/has the support of House Speaker Dennis Hastert (from Boeing's headquarters state of Illinois) and Rep. Norman D. Dicks (from Boeing's manufacturing base in Washington state), as well, of course, of the White House. Boeing itself was given the "task" of rewriting the specifications for the tankers, eliminating 19 of 26 requested features so that it's 767 could meet the requirements and "beat out" competitor Airbus' bid (which met more of the requirements and was $10 billion less, but they're FRENCH, y'know).

Among the original Air Force requirements Boeing eliminated was that the new tanker be equipped to refuel all the military services' aircraft, refuel multiple aircraft simultaneously, and carry passengers, wounded troops and cargo. Boeing also eliminated an Air Force requirement that the new tankers be at least as effective and efficient as the 40-year-old KC-135 tankers they would replace.

Well, when you're only paying $23 billion, you can't expect everything. And kudos to Sen. John McCain for making a stink about this.

Condiliar is on 60 Minutes Tonight
I hope Ed Bradley makes her take an oath before she starts talking.
Clarke is Way Smarter Than the Bushies
The former chief counterterrorism adviser at the White House, who has criticized the Bush administration's preparedness for the attacks, said he would welcome the attempt by leading Republicans to declassify 2-year-old congressional testimony. -- NY Times

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has been suggesting that Clarke perjured himself by contradicting what he told to Congress two years ago with his testimony. Frist was probably counting on the previous testimony remaining classified so that he could slime Clarke without having to actually deliver the evidence. But just as he did with his opening statement apology on Wednesday, Clarke has immediately taken the wind out of the attack dogs' sails.

With the apology, he took away the argument "How can you blame this all on Bush? Don't you bear some of the responsibility for 9/11?" Clarke took responsibility right from the beginning. And with this statement, Clarke is saying "I have nothing to hide. Bring it on." Frist was bluffing, and Clarke has called his bluff.

Paul O'Neill was shaky from the start. He was unsure of what he was saying, and unwilling or unable to stand up to the heat. He deserves credit for opening the door, but he wasn't ready to really go after the Bushies. Clarke has apparently been preparing for it for a year, and has taken what happened to O'Neill into account. He's credible, he's smart, and he's prepared. If he manages to bring down the Bush administration, he will be one of the greatest American heroes of all time, IMHO!

Not that I want to help Bush get re-elected, but if he were smart (which he isn't) this is what I would suggest that he do:

Immediately stop attacking Clarke. Go on TV and apologize to Clarke for the attacks, and recognize his decades of dedicated service to protecting America--INCLUDING writing his book, talking to 60 Minutes, and testifying before the 9/11 commission. Apologize to the American people for failing to stop 9/11, along the lines of Clarke's apology.

Of course, the only way Bush can possibly pull this off is to admit that he was at least somewhat out of the loop, and was deceived by his subordinates (but not Clarke). This means heads must roll. Condi for sure, then probably Cheney and Wolfowitz, and maybe Rumsfeld and Hadley as well. Then offer Clarke any of the openings created, with a free hand to change things and unlimited access to the president.

It might actually work, but Bush is more likely to balance the budget than he is to apologize. It seems much more likely that they'll try to Wellstone1 Clarke, so I hope he's got some good bodyguards and stays out of small planes.

(1. Wellstone (vt): To kill someone in a small plane and make it look like an accident. See also Carnahan, Mel, and Kennedy, John F. Jr.)
The incomparable Thomas Friedman
Demonstrates once again what a moron he is:
I have a confession to make: I am the foreign affairs columnist for The New York Times and I didn't listen to one second of the 9/11 hearings and I didn't read one story in the paper about them. Not one second. Not one story.

Lord knows, it's not out of indifference to 9/11. It's because I made up my mind about that event a long time ago: It was not a failure of intelligence, it was a failure of imagination.
I am so hungry for a positive surprise. I am so hungry to hear a politician, a statesman, a business leader surprise me in a good way.

Not hungry enough, apparently, to listen to Richard Clarke and all the other witnesses testify in the 9/11 hearings, however. Friedman made up his mind a long time ago, and doesn't want any facts to get in his way.

By the way, Tom Tomorrow has an argument going on with the NY Times over several recent cases where their op-ed columnists Friedman, William Safire, and David Brooks apparently just made up crap to support their opinions. Go Tom! Too bad you don't still have Sparky to help you out! (Obscure reference: Tom Tomorrow's This Modern World cartoons feature a caustic liberal penguin named Sparky. Unfortunately, Sparky was recently hit in the head with a flying toilet and turned Republican.)
Iraq punished for not having WMD's; Libya rewarded for having them
The World Socialist Web Site points out the numerous hypocrisies involved in comparing the U.S. and British treatments of Saddam Hussein and Moamar Khaddafi.

Here's a summary:
Okay, we already know that Bush and Blair are hypocrites. But why are they being hypocritical with Khaddafi in such a different way than they were with Saddam? The WSWS suggests:

WSWS concludes:

The diametrically opposed treatment of Iraq and Libya is not due to fundamental differences between the regimes of Saddam Hussein and Colonel Gadhaffi. Notwithstanding the invocations of humanitarian concern for the Iraqi people and other rhetoric associated with the so-called “war on terror,” Iraq was conquered so that the US could establish its hegemony over the oil-rich Middle East. Libya is now being courted out of the same essential considerations. London may have stolen a march on its European rivals, but the Bush administration will demand the lion’s share of Libyan oil contracts as payback for its billion-dollar [? Try hundreds of billions--Ed] investment in the Iraq war.

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