2004/10/30

Case closed. Game, set, match.

It's now proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was Bush Administration dereliction of duty that led to the bad guys getting ahold of 350+ tons of HMX and RDX. KSTP has the video here. Intact seals on doors at al Qaqaa were filmed several days after US troops took custody of the base.
A friend of mine asked if that means that the US is truly to blame for the fact that unknown persons ran off with the stuff. I explained that back in the Navy, a petty officer in my office borrowed an audio tape from someone else. Someone else then stole the tape. Was the petty officer who borrowed the tape to blame for it's disappearance? Of course he was! The tape was in his custody. He had asked if he could borrow it, had it in his possession and failed to keep it safe from theft.
For ordinary explosives, we'd formally and technically blame the President anyway, but to let these particular explosives, which the US knew were there and which the US knew were dangerous, this kind of gross negligence goes straight to the top.
The Moderate Voice has examples of right-wingers trying desperately to come up with excuses for this fustercluck.

2004/10/27

Conservative take on the al Qaqaa story

Conservatives are claiming that the US is safer anyway because had Iraq not been invaded Saddam Hussein might still be in posession of those explosives. As the explosives were under lock and key by the IAEA, it's difficult to see how having looters take posession of them has made the US safer.

So the Democrats, with help from the New York Times, have produced their October Surprise. What a dud!

Uh, actually, the new Iraqi government teamed up with the IAEA to spill the beans. The New York Times didn't do anthing more strenuous than read it's mail. Nice try though! The Left usually gets blamed for trying to make everything look like a conspiracy.
The piece then reviews, accurately, what the dispute is all about.

The Times breathlessly reported that nearly 400 tons of explosives, part of Saddam Hussein's old weapons program, had disappeared from an installation south of Baghdad. The implication was that the Bush Administration was at fault for not securing the cache. Because the president skimped on troops, goes this reasoning, there were not enough U.S. soldiers to guard hundreds of weapons stockpiles. Those weapons could now be used against Americans here at home.

But then it then engages in a bit of selective quotation:

Jim Miklaszewski of NBC News reported Monday night that his network was right there, on the spot, when the 101st Airborne got to the installation south of Iraq's capital on April 10, 2003. "But these troops never found the nearly 380 tons of some of the most powerful conventional explosives called HMX and RDX" said Miklaszewski.

Here's the rest of the story as reproduced by Talking Points Memo.

Just a pit stop.

This morning (Oct 26) MSNBC interviewed one of the producers from their news crew that visited al Qaqaa as embeds with the 101st Airborne, Second brigade on April 10th, 2003.

This is the 'search' that the White House and CNN are hanging their hats on (empahsis added)...

Amy Robach: And it's still unclear exactly when those explosives disappeared. Here to help shed some light on that question is Lai Ling. She was part of an NBC news crew that traveled to that facility with the 101st Airborne Division back in April of 2003. Lai Ling, can you set the stage for us? What was the situation like when you went into the area?

Lai Ling Jew: When we went into the area, we were actually leaving Karbala and we were initially heading to Baghdad with the 101st Airborne, Second Brigade. The situation in Baghdad, the Third Infantry Division had taken over Baghdad and so they were trying to carve up the area that the 101st Airborne Division would be in charge of. Um, as a result, they had trouble figuring out who was going to take up what piece of Baghdad. They sent us over to this area in Iskanderia. We didn't know it as the Qaqaa facility at that point but when they did bring us over there we stayed there for quite a while. Almost, we stayed overnight, almost 24 hours. And we walked around, we saw the bunkers that had been bombed, and that exposed all of the ordinances that just lied dormant on the desert.

AR: Was there a search at all underway or was, did a search ensue for explosives once you got there during that 24-hour period?

LLJ: No. There wasn't a search. The mission that the brigade had was to get to Baghdad. That was more of a pit stop there for us. And, you know, the searching, I mean certainly some of the soldiers head off on their own, looked through the bunkers just to look at the vast amount of ordnance lying around. But as far as we could tell, there was no move to secure the weapons, nothing to keep looters away. But there was – at that point the roads were shut off. So it would have been very difficult, I believe, for the looters to get there.

AR: And there was no talk of securing the area after you left. There was no discussion of that?

LLJ: Not for the 101st Airborne, Second Brigade. They were -- once they were in Baghdad, it was all about Baghdad, you know, and then they ended up moving north to Mosul. Once we left the area, that was the last that the brigade had anything to do with the area.

AR: Well, Lai Ling Jew, thank you so much for shedding some light into that situation. We appreciate it.

So the fact that the 101st Airborne visited the site without finding the explosives isn't terribly meaningful, is it? The heart of the conservative case is this:

Kerry and Edwards say that Bush didn't do enough to prevent the disappearance of the explosives, which could be used against Americans here at home. But the very existence of such explosives -- whether defined as weapons of mass destruction or not -- was the reason Bush led the nation into Iraq in the first place.

Why did we invade Iraq? Specifically, so dangerous weapons would not be used against us here at home -- either by Saddam Hussein's forces or by his terrorist friends. Did we miss some of these weapons? Of course. But we got a lot more than we would have gotten if we had not gone into Iraq in the first place.

If we had followed Kerry's strategy, Iraq today would have far more than 380 tons of explosives to use against us.

My reaction on reading this was "Oh, mannnn. If that's the best you guys can do...Hee, hee, hee!"
The problem with using this line of reasoning is that the IAEA inspected the al Qaqaa site 30 times from 30 Nov 2002 until 15 March 2003. Meaning the US Government knew all about it and 1. I don't remember a single speech about these explosives 2. The IAEA had plenty of chances to destroy them and 3. Yet, these dangerous materials which were components of the greatly-feared Weapons of Mass Desctruction were not secured upon US conquest of the country.
As the Chief of the Iraq Survey Group, Charlie Duelfer pointed out, the US didn't have enough troops to both seize Baghdad and secure weapons sites.

The commander of the first unit into the area told CBS he did not search it for explosives or secure it from looters. "We were still in a fight," he said. "our focus was killing bad guys." He added he would have needed four times more troops to search and secure all the ammo dumps he came across.

In other words, the Bush Administration got America into a fight it wasn't prepared to win. Bush, Rice, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz failed to see to it that the US armed forces were up to the strength necessary to complete the task assigned to them.
Were the WMD-like materials a threat to the US as they were stored in 2002? Doesn't look that way to me as the Iraqis are quite clear that the explosives didn't dissappear until after the US invasion of Iraq and again, the fault is with the lack of troops.

IAEA received the attached letter dated 10 October 2004 from the General Director of the Planning and Following Up Directorate of the Iraqi Ministry of Science and Technology. In that letter, the Iraqi authorities informed IAEA of the loss “after 9 April 2003, through the theft and looting of the governmental installations due to lack of security”,

Other Iraqis have since spoken up about this:

BAGHDAD (AFP) - A top Iraqi science official said it was impossible that 350 tonnes of high explosives could have been smuggled out of a military site south of Baghdad before the regime fell last year.
(snip)
"The officials that were inside this facility (Al-Qaqaa) beforehand confirm that not even a shred of paper left it before the fall and I spoke to them about it and they even issued certified statements to this effect which the US-led coalition was aware of."

And finally, we have a bit of what sounds an awful lot like wishful thinking:

To: yoe

I was a bit angry that Bush hasn't responded. However, I am starting to think he's just letting it work itself out in his favor.

Rope-a-dope??


2 posted on 10/27/2004 6:40:40 AM PDT by RockinRight (Bush's rallies look like World Series games. Kerry's rallies look like Little League games.)

Well, let's see how Bush's grand, masterful, master plan has worked out (with the most rancid or ridiculous passages emphasized courtesy of the TPM editorial staff) ...

A President must be consistent. After repeatedly calling Iraq the wrong war and a diversion, Senator Kerry this week seemed shocked to learn that Iraq was a dangerous place full of dangerous weapons. (Laughter.) The Senator used to know that, even though he seems to have forgotten it over the course of this campaign. But, after all, that's why we went into Iraq. Iraq was a dangerous place, run by a dangerous tyrant who hated America and who had a lot of weapons. We've seized or destroyed more than 400,000 tons of munitions, including explosives, at more than thousands of sites. And we're continuing to round up the weapons almost every day.

I want to remind the American people, if Senator Kerry had his way, we would still be taking our global test.

AUDIENCE: Booo!

THE PRESIDENT: Saddam Hussein would still be in power.

AUDIENCE: Booo!

THE PRESIDENT: He would control all those weapons and explosives and could have shared them with our terrorist enemies.

AUDIENCE: Booo!

THE PRESIDENT: Now the Senator is making wild charges about missing explosives, when his top foreign policy advisor admits "we don't know the facts." End quote. Think about that. The Senator is denigrating the actions of our troops and commanders in the field without knowing the facts. Unfortunately, that's part of the pattern of saying anything it takes to get elected. Like when he charged that our military failed to get Osama bin Laden at Tora Bora, even though our top military commander, General Tommy Franks, said, "The Senator's understanding of events does not square with reality," and intelligence reports place bin Laden in any of several different countries at the time.

See, our military is now investigating a number of possible scenarios, including this one -- that explosives may have been moved before our troops even arrived, even arrived at the site. The investigation is important and ongoing. And a political candidate who jumps to conclusions without knowing the facts is not the person you want as the Commander-in-Chief. (Applause.)

Very hard not to start getting overconfident about this. These guys obviously don't have it together.

2004/10/24

Conservatives vs Neo-Conservatives

The blogger Steve Gilliard reproduces an article from Pat Buchanan's website. Pat makes the point that Bush's spiritual forefathers are Leon Trotsky, Plato and Leo Strauss. I read Plato's Republic when I was about 14 and was thoroughlly repulsed. I rank Plato right down there with Josef Stalin as a philosopher, though I've read in recent years that Plato's later works are actually pretty good. Leo Strauss is in agreement with Leon Trotsky that humanity must be lead by a self-selected elite, who must drag the rest of humanity, kicking and screaming if need be, towards the bright future. This is a vicious and evil philosophy which allows Neo-Conservatives to ignore events like the peace marches of 15 February 2003, when about 10 million people marched worldwide to protest the upcoming Iraq War.
Pat Buchanan concludes (And Steve Gilliard & I heartily agree) that Bush and the Neo-Conservatives are an embarrassment to real Conservatives.

2004/10/22

Is Bush competent to wage the War On Terror?

In the Washington Post's assessment of how well the War On Terror (WOT) is going, I found these passages:

Published and classified documents and interviews with officials at many levels portray a war plan that scored major victories in its first months. Notable among them were the destruction of al Qaeda's Afghan sanctuary, the death or capture of leading jihadists, and effective U.S. demands for action by reluctant foreign governments.

But at least a dozen current and former officials who have held key positions in conducting the war now say they see diminishing returns in Bush's decapitation strategy

(snip)

Classified tallies made available to The Washington Post have identified 28 of the approximately 30 names on the unpublished HVT [High Value Target] List. Half -- 14 -- are known to be dead or in custody. Those at large include three of the five men on the highest echelon: bin Laden, his deputy Ayman Zawahiri and operational planner Saif al-Adel.

More significant than the bottom line, government analysts said, is the trend. Of the al Qaeda leaders accounted for, eight were killed or captured by the end of 2002. Five followed in 2003 -- notably Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the principal planner of the Sept. 11 attack. This year only one more name -- Hassan Ghul, a senior courier captured infiltrating Iraq -- could be crossed off.

This phenomenon is unfortunately not difficult to account for. It's called Diminishing Marginal Utility. The Wikipedia defines that as:

In economics, marginal utility is the additional utility (satisfaction or benefit) that a consumer derives from an additional unit of a commodity or service. The concept grew out of attempts by 19th-century economists to explain the fundamental economic reality of price. It was a term coined by the Austrian economist Friedrich von Wieser.

Diminishing marginal utility implies that marginal utility from one additional unit is inversely related to the number of units already owned. For example, the marginal utility of one slice of bread offered to a family that has five slices will be great, since the family will be less hungry and the difference between five and six is proportionally significant. An extra slice offered to a family that has 30 slices will have less marginal utility to the family, since the difference between 30 and 31 is proportionally smaller and the family's appetite may be satisfied by what it already has. Note that this example assumes that nothing else has changed. If the family that starts with only five slices also has much more cake than the family with 30 slices, then diminishing marginal utility need not apply. Also, if tastes or preferences vary between families or over time, this kind of differences in marginal utility need not apply. (Note also that this example assumes that each family has a unified utility function, rather than being a collection of individuals each with his or her own preferences.)

As the US deploys more personnel, money, time and effort, the rate of return from each additional unit grows smaller and smaller. If it cost $10 million to nab the first HVT, it probably cost $70 or $80 million to nab the latest HVT. So how has our president responded? Has he changed and adapted? Has he altered the tactics to meet conditions?

Whatever its results, the manhunt remains at the center of Bush's war. He mentions little else, save the Taliban's expulsion from power, when describing progress against al Qaeda. According to people who have briefed him, Bush still marks changes by hand on a copy of the HVT list.

So what does it all mean? What are the ultimate results of America's WOT as it's currently being fought?

Bush's focus on the instruments of force, the officials said, has been slow to adapt to a swiftly changing enemy. Al Qaeda, they said, no longer exerts centralized control over a network of operational cells. It has rather become the inspirational hub of a global movement, fomenting terrorism that it neither funds nor directs. Internal government assessments describe this change with a disquieting metaphor: They say jihadist terrorism is "metastasizing."

Major General George McClellan served as the commander of the Army of the Potomac in 1861 & 1862. He was a fine-looking fellow and cut an impressive figure (To be fair, he was also an excellent organizer and trainer) and gave impressive speeches and was popular with the Union troops, but he couldn't fight effectively. He was incompetent to lead soldiers into battle. He bungled time after time. Finally, President Lincoln lost patience with him and replaced him. Lincoln had to replace a few more generals before he appointed General Grant (General Grant also needed to gain experience until he was ready to take over the Army of the Potomac.) who was up to the standards necessary to lead the Union Army to victory. Yes, the phrase 'Don't change horses in the middle of the stream" has some validity, but it's not an absolute rule.
Bush has proved that he's incompetent to conduct the WOT. We need to replace him with his challenger.

"Stolen Honor" - The Anti-Kerry Vietnam War Movie

I finally saw the script for this movie. It's not like I've tried real hard to find it, but I've been very hesitant to go down and protest it as I haven't enough detailed knowledge to talk about it intelligently. My reading of the script shows that the first 20 minutes or so jumps directly from complaining that war protesters, including a young John Kerry, were making it sound as though American soldiers were committing atrocities in Vietnam to vivid descriptions of POW's lives in the Hanoi Hilton.
This is kind of like looking through a straw at a very large and sprawling canvas. They treat atrocities by soldiers as simple allegations without any attempt to gauge whether the allegations had any merit and take a very small group of American soldiers who unquestionably did suffer horrible abuses at the hands of the Vietnamese.
The resulting picture leaves out vastly more than it puts in and cannot be described as in any concievable way fair or balanced. I'm inclined to agree that this picture is pure propaganda.

2004/10/21

Jon Stewart of Comedy Central's The Daily Show on CNN's Crossfire

The appearance of Jon Stewart on Crossfire was initially greeted with plenty of laughter as people were obviously expecting him to be there as a funnyman and to promote his new book with smiles and laughter. He surprised hosts Paul Begala (The ostensible liberal) and Tucker Carlson (The conservative - "'How old are you?' 'Thirty-five,' Tucker answered. Stewart nodded. 'And you wear a bow tie.'") by being serious and berating them for running a show that was all fluff and filler with guests essentially screaming at each other. IFilm.com featured a clip called "Jon Stewart's Brutal Exchange with CNN Host" that collected over 670,000 hits by 11:00 Tuesday night. Crossfire normally draws 615,000 viewers. Other download sites bring the total number of hits to over a million. Amazingly, Carlson was claiming the match as a victory for CNN, which many other viewers claim was a resounding victory by Stewart.

2004/10/18

Explanation of "Reality-Based Community"

We on the blogs have now decided that we need a positive-sounding name that draws together all the anti-Bush people into one group. The name “Reality-Based Community” from Ron Suskind’s article (Excerpts below) strikes many of us as appropriate. Bush’s people are of course, “the other guys”.

The Faith-Based Presidency
By Ron Suskind

''Just in the past few months,'' Bartlett said, ''I think a light has gone off for people who've spent time up close to Bush: that this instinct he's always talking about is this sort of weird, Messianic idea of what he thinks God has told him to do.'' Bartlett, a 53-year-old columnist and self-described libertarian Republican who has lately been a champion for traditional Republicans concerned about Bush's governance, went on to say: ''This is why George W. Bush is so clear-eyed about Al Qaeda and the Islamic fundamentalist enemy. He believes you have to kill them all. They can't be persuaded, that they're extremists, driven by a dark vision. He understands them, because he's just like them. . . .

''This is why he dispenses with people who confront him with inconvenient facts,'' Bartlett went on to say. ''He truly believes he's on a mission from God. Absolute faith like that overwhelms a need for analysis. The whole thing about faith is to believe things for which there is no empirical evidence.'' Bartlett paused, then said, ''But you can't run the world on faith.'' In the summer of 2002, after I had written an article in Esquire that the White House didn't like about Bush's former communications director, Karen Hughes, I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush. He expressed the White House's displeasure, and then he told me something that at the time I didn't fully comprehend -- but which I now believe gets to the very heart of the Bush presidency.

The aide said that guys like me were ''in what we call the reality-based community,'' which he defined as people who ''believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.'' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ''That's not the way the world really works anymore,'' he continued. ''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.''

And for those who don't get it? That was explained to me in late 2002 by Mark McKinnon, a longtime senior media adviser to Bush, who now runs his own consulting firm and helps the president. He started by challenging me. ''You think he's an idiot, don't you?'' I said, no, I didn't. ''No, you do, all of you do, up and down the West Coast, the East Coast, a few blocks in southern Manhattan called Wall Street. Let me clue you in. We don't care. You see, you're outnumbered 2 to 1 by folks in the big, wide middle of America, busy working people who don't read The New York Times or Washington Post or The L.A. Times. And you know what they like? They like the way he walks and the way he points, the way he exudes confidence. They have faith in him. And when you attack him for his malaprops, his jumbled syntax, it's good for us. Because you know what those folks don't like? They don't like you!'' In this instance, the final ''you,'' of course, meant the entire reality-based community.


This is of course, by my own subjective lights, complete insanity. The French king, Louis XIV, also thought he was up above and beyond ordinary reality. I remember reading a passage where Louis was upset because his imported fish kept dying. He just couldn’t comprehend why these gosh-darn fish didn’t live when he, the great Louis, wanted them to live. Mme de Maintenon, his mistress, remarked that on the way back to the palace after a feast, the men would get out of the carriages and relieve themselves in the bushes. The women, of course, did not join them because why on Earth would modest and delicate females want to relieve themselves in the woods, where only rough men would want to do so? Besides, they didn’t have to go anyway.

Many of the women created health problems for themselves by holding it in for so long. Of course Louis would start wars without being terribly concerned about casualties or how well-equipped the troops were. Why, it was their imperial duty to fight for their king! Bush’s attitude appears to be a throwback to that earlier era.

2004/10/13

Fox News & The Media Critic

The (British) Guardian gives us:

Fox News apologises for Kerry fabrication

Oliver Burkeman in New York
Monday October 4, 2004
The Guardian

Fox News, the influential rightwing US television network, said yesterday it had "reprimanded" its chief political correspondent after its website carried fabricated quotes attributed to John Kerry, in which he called himself a "metrosexual" who enjoys getting manicures.

The network, owned by Rupert Murdoch, apologised for the article in which the Democratic challenger was quoted telling a rally in Florida: "Didn't my nails and cuticles look great? What a good debate!" Comparing himself to the president, Mr Kerry was supposed to have said: "I'm metrosexual - he's a cowboy." Women voters, he purportedly added, "should like me! I do manicures."

The article appeared under the byline of Carl Cameron, who has been following Mr Kerry on the campaign trail. It had been posted on the site, the network said in a statement, because of "fatigue and bad judgment, rather than malice."

"Carl Cameron made a stupid mistake and he has been reprimanded for his lapse in judgment. It was a poor attempt at humour and he regrets it," a Fox spokesman, Paul Schur, told the Los Angeles Times, though he would not give details of what action would be taken against Mr Cameron.

From Talking Points Memo:

Okay some more details on that bogus Kerry story that ran this morning on the Fox News website. As we noted earlier, this morning the front page of the Fox website a story with a series of phony Kerry quotes (see post below). After questions were asked the offending material was quickly pulled from the site, without explanation.

So what happened?

Late this afternoon I spoke to Fox spokesman Paul Schur who told me the following ...

“Carl [Cameron] made a stupid mistake which he regrets. And he has been reprimanded for his lapse in judgment. It was a poor attempt at humor.”

So the Fox reporter covering the Kerry campaign puts together this Kerry-bashing parody right out of the RNC playbook with phony quotes intended to peg him as girlish fool and somehow it found its way on the Fox website as a news item.

Imagine that.


Later on, Josh reprints a piece stating that no one has any idea how, or obviously if, Carl was disciplined. Nor, he makes it clear, does anyone know how the story appeared on the website. Fox claims Carl was tired. Does the website not have an editor? Does no one keep track of what a major news organization is telling millions of people all over the world? How on Earth does the website get updated in the first place? Is it done by techies who just sort of grab whatever material they find and post it? By the reporters themselves? By an organized process involving authorizations, sign-offs, requests, and decisions by executives? Maybe it’s just because I’'ve worked in large organizations, but I have a very hard time believing it'’s not the last answer.

So, how does a media critic from a major newspaper handle this? I've reproduced the four times that Howard Kurtz from the Washington Post was asked about the incident.

New York, N.Y.: Your thoughts please on the Carl Cameron reporting of phony quotes attributed to John Kerry. Has he been reassigned away from the Kerry campaign-- if not, do you feel that this incident calls his objectivity into question?

Howard Kurtz: I deal with this in today's column. Sure it calls his objectivity into question. But Cameron was writing a parody that was not meant to be published or broadcast, and which was mistakenly posted on Fox's Web site.
------------------------------------------
Ramsey, N.J.: Have you actually tried to find out what, if anything, has Fox News done to punish Carl Cameron? He is obviously still covering a the campaign of a man he wants to lose.

Howard Kurtz: Fox executives say Cameron has been disciplined. Obviously, they haven't taken him off the Kerry campaign.
----------------------------------------
Bethesda, Md.: The thought of the story being "mistakenly" placed on a Fox News web-site strains credibility. But what makes me giggle even more is the notion posted by one of the chatters above that Cameron shouldn't be allowed to cover Kerry because he "obviously wants him to lose". Using that criteria regarding an alleged rooting interest, practically no one currently covering the Bush campaign for most of the TV networks should be allowed to do so ...

Howard Kurtz: I'm not buying your comparison, but even if it were true, the test isn't whether journalists have opinions but whether they can keep those opinions out of their work. As for the notion that the Fox posting was no accident, this doesn't make sense. Why would a news organization put up a story it KNEW to be false, since that would cause great embarrassment and require a correction? Remember, these bogus quotes were attributed to Kerry, so it's not like no one would notice.
----------------------------------------
Anonymous: Excuse me?

Why would you buy into that lame excuse provided by Fox News? Are you trying to be fair and balanced? Or are you attempting to obfuscate the fact that more than likely, those people at Fox News knew exactly what they were doing when they "leaked" Cameron's parody of Kerry.

They make news, remember?

Fair and balanced they are not.

Howard Kurtz: I still don't see how this episode helps Fox. Executives there are angry at Carl Cameron and see this as a setback for their credibility.

Keep in mind, this is after Kurtz has said at the beginning of the call-in:

Consumers used to get their news from newspapers, magazines and evening broadcasts from the three television networks. Now, with the Internet, cable TV and 24-hour news networks, the news cycle is faster and more constant, with every minute carrying a new deadline. But clearly more news and more news outlets are not necessarily better. And just because the press has the ability to cover a story doesn't always mean they should -- or that they'll do it well.

So, where’s the research? Where is any sign whatsoever that Kurtz did anything more strenuous than pick up a phone and chat with some Fox executives? This is a guy who gets paid more than a shelf-stocker at a grocery store, i.e. minimum wage? Yeesh!

2004/10/09

Impressions of Debate #3

For Bush: Yelling. Lots of jumping up and down and pounding of fists on tables and expressions saying "Look dummy, I'll spell it out for you."
For Kerry: Calm, collected, having to raise his voice only because the jackass over there is raising his. Kerry had to explain things several times because Bush obviously didn't get them the first time.
Bush made several arguments that appeared to make perfect sense, but only until you remembered what the situation actually was. Bush's comments on how Kerry would make terrible economic decisions was especially bizarre. Had he run the economy in a decent manner, he might have a smidgen of credibility when it came to assessing how the other guy would do. His comments on creating one & something million jobs was positively bizarre. With an absolutely crappy job-creation record, with a four-year total that roughly approaches what a one-year record should look like, Bush is simply in no position whatsoever to criticize anybody's economic plans.
Saying that the US has 30 countries on our side in Iraq sounds real impressive until you realize that France, Germany and Russia are not among them and that eight countries have left.

2004/10/07

Jonah Goldberg's column on Kerry's "Global Test" idea

John Kerry is supposed to be the man of nuance. But he can't seem to grasp the
implications of his boldest foreign policy statement in last week's presidential
debate - a principle that might be described as the "Mother, May I?" doctrine.


Unsurprisingly, I believe it’s Jonah that lacks nuance here and that there are subtle, but real differences between Kerry’s ‘global test’ idea and the ‘Mother, May I?’ notion. As a fellow Navy veteran to Kerry (I served during peacetime two decades later and in the Atlantic theater), I think what Kerry has in mind is what we in the Navy call a ‘command decision’ (The other three services may have the same concept, but I can't speak for them). Say an Ensign makes a decision that only his Lieutenant is properly authorized to make. The Ensign had to make the decision because the Lieutenant was not available and the decision had to be made right away.
The Ensign will say to the sailors carrying out his order that “Okay, I’m making a command decision here.” and will then proceed to tell them what to do. The sailors will carry out the decision in the knowledge that the Lieutenant may disagree with what they’ve done and may order the decision to be reversed.
The Ensign will consider the problem from the vantage point of knowing that he’ll probably have to explain his decision, but that he’ll most likely be explaining himself to a friendly and understanding audience in an atmosphere where they won’t be disturbed and where he won’t be embarrassed by being yelled at in front of his people.
Does the Lieutenant have veto power over the Ensign’s command decision? In a way, yes. The lower-ranking sailors will carry out the order in any event as they know that the Ensign will take the blame if there’s a problem. The main deterrent effect is in the mind of the Ensign. The Ensign is going to want to make absolutely certain that the facts are on his side and that he sincerely would have located the Lieutenant or another solution had there been time.

My question here though, is: Do the other nations of the world have some effective after-the-fact veto power anyway? I would argue that they do and that formalizing that power would be to the ultimate advantage of the United States. .
Looking at the PNAC proposal and various statements by John Bolton and Condoleezza Rice, it seems pretty clear to me that were it not for the difficulties Iraqis were giving us in our occupation of their country, the US would have long since followed up the Iraq War by invading either Syria or Iran. The troops that the US was clearly expecting from Pakistan and/or India would have made the occupation much easier and would have made such a redeployment possible. The governments of those countries appear to have been willing to comply but their people weren’t.
The ‘Super Power of Peace’ as the New York Times called it, exercised its veto and forbade any other countries to join in after the initial invasion was completed.
By ceding a form of a formal veto power to the rest of the world, President Kerry would simply be recognizing reality and giving the ‘Super Power of Peace’ what it already has.

2004/10/03

The first round of the Bush-Kerry debates

Robert Parry of the Consortium News points out Bush's statement on WMD:


"I went there [the United Nations] hoping that once and for all the free world would act in concert to get Saddam Hussein to listen to our demands," Bush said. "They [the Security Council] passed a resolution that said disclose, disarm or face serious consequences. I believe when an international body speaks, it must mean what it says.

"But Saddam Hussein had no intention of disarming. Why should he? He had 16 other resolutions and nothing took place. As a matter of fact, my opponent talks about inspectors. The facts are that he [Hussein] was systematically deceiving the inspectors. That wasn't going to work. That's kind of a pre-Sept. 10 mentality, the hope that somehow resolutions and failed inspections would make this world a more peaceful place."

16 resolutions accomplished nothing? Did the US find any WMD after Iraq was occupied? Didn't Hussein turn in a 12,000 page document stating he had no WMDs? Has anything significant in that document been proven false? Granted, the Bush Administration immediately complained that Iraq had failed to account for the uranium that US intelligence agencies just knew it had. This uranium was of course the yellowcake uranium that Niger supposedly supplied without the French-led consortium of nations controlling Niger's mines knowing anything about it and moved several railroad cars worth of uranium ore through the heavily militarized Mideast without America or Israel being able to catch it. How the Iraqis were able to do anything useful with the uranium while under sanctions was never explained either.

Update 7 Oct 04: I just read that the facilities needed to process the uranium ore into usable fissionable material would have to be 16 soccer fields big. Hardly a facility one could hide.

As Parry points out, Bush is either living in a fantasy world or is confident that no one will call him on this and that Americans are too stupid to remember recent history. The fact that no one has printed anything in the mainstream media about this is disturbing. It's like the US media can deal with shadings of the truth and misinterpretations, but blatantly outright fabrications requires the expression of an opinion or bias, so the media shies away from doing that.

I also noted this when it happend:


Bush slipped into another cozy distortion when he justified the Iraq invasion by declaring that "the enemy attacked us," thus linking Iraq to al-Qaeda's Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington. That prompted a retort from Kerry, who reminded Bush that "Saddam Hussein didn't attack us; Osama bin Laden attacked us." An annoyed Bush responded by saying, "Of course, I know Osama bin Laden attacked us."

I suspect in this case, Kerry may have been confident that people could catch that one and that they'd realize that Bush was talking out of his butt. Parry correctly pointed out that covering for a presidential candidate is not universal and seems to apply just to either Bush or to Republicans in general/


But Bush has not suffered any sustained criticism for his recurring misstatements about the Iraq War. By contrast, in Campaign 2000, the national news media denounced Vice President Al Gore as a "liar" for minor errors, such as his recollection that he had visited a disaster site with the director of the Federal Emergency Management Administration when Gore actually was with a FEMA deputy.


Again, the media
can handle minor and obviously inadvertant slip-ups, but doesn't seem to be capable of dealing with outright lies. Back about 50 years ago, Joe McCarthy made wild, unsubstantiated charges. The media put those charges on the front pages. The media would then investigate the charge, find it false and put the correction on page A17, by which time McCarthy would come up with a new, equally wild accusation. Today, the media seems equally unable to deal with a president telling fantastical and fanciful tales

Very disurbing that the media has not figured out a way to deal with this.