2005/07/28

Final word on the DLC

The faction of the Democratic Party known as the DLC was pretty much the only player in the game from the Clinton years through 2003, when their manifest inability to win elections forced Democrats to adopt new standard-bearers and priorities. Hunter on DailyKos explains why the DLC lost their preeminence and why it's very unlikely that they'll ever win it back.
He points out that the DLC is all about framing and interpreting the issues of the day to favor Democrats, to put Democrats into a good light. How has this "framing" worked?

Name an issue in which the Democratic leadership -- any of it -- has currently made a significant impact in moving the story forward or even denting Republican efforts. Any story. Downing Street? Rove, and PlameGate? DeLay-Abramoff-Reed corruption links? Have any significant stories been propelled into the media with DLC-style Democratic leadership assistance, or have they happened in a media largely unencumbered with these remarkably shy and hard-to-pin-down "centrist" Democratic voices?

Problem is, no one can seem to recall any issue of the past decade that the DLC has effectively framed and put out there. Republicans have done this, of course. By showing crippled veteran Max Cleland as a close buddy to Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden, Republicans re-framed Cleland as a traitor to the United States. By attacking John Kerry with the Swift Boat Veterans, Republicans made it seem that Kerry's service in Vietnam wasn't all that respectable or admirable. I don't seem to remember the Swift Boat Veterans re-framed as anything, meaning they're completly free to attack the next Democratic military veteran. For all their attention to the ideas of framing, the DLC was completely unable to come up with any sort of response to these two attacks.
The DLC proved completely incompetent in the one area they claimed to have expertise in!

By DLC Democrats attempting to:

...find a midpoint of American politics defined not by a right-left, liberal-conservative axis, but upon a milquetoast blandness carefully calibrated to neither offend, nor inform, the voters[,]

the DLC leaves voters constantly unsure as to what it is Democrats stand for. As the fundamental positions of DLC Democrats are constantly changing and in flux, no one's clear from one day to the next, what the latest carefully-calibrated position is. Sure, it'd be nice to stick with a candidate who is firmly in favor of unions, but if her opinion of unions is dependent on poll numbers and one period's poll numbers cause her to abandon unions, then she ends up with the worst of both worlds. Previous support for unions makes the candidate untrustworthy to anti-union people, changing positions on unions in response to poll numbers means the candidate is a fickle, unreliable, finger-to-the-wind politician who can't be counted on in any kind of crunch.

2005/07/26

The DLC & the WOT

John Kerry struggled to bridge the gap between Tony Blair Democrats, who agreed with the president's principles but deplored his inept policies, and Michael Moore Democrats, who rejected, root and branch, the idea of a global fight against terrorism and for democracy.

The DLC quotes this line as though they approved of it. One might note the comment from the Financial Times:

Tony Blair secured an historic third term in government - but with a sharply reduced majority for Labour in the House of Commons after the Conservatives made gains in crucial marginal seats. [emphasis mine]

Conservatives couldn't capitalize on Blair's foolish Iraq adventure as much as they would have liked because they supported it root and branch. Is it really a smart idea to try and copy the Labour Party?
I also don't buy the notion that "
Michael Moore Democrats" oppose the WOT "root and branch". Seems to me that the liberal wing (Otherwise known as the "Reality-Based Coalition") would like to see a smarter WOT as opposed to the blundering idiocy that the Bush Administration has been engaged in for the past two+ years. The latest headline from the InterPress Service reads:

WASHINGTON - Growing pessimism about averting civil war in Iraq, as well as mounting concerns that the U.S. military presence there may itself be fueling the insurgency and Islamist extremism worldwide, has spurred a spate of new calls for the United States to withdraw its 140,000 troops sooner rather than later. [emphasis mine]

Sorry, but I don't think that supporting the war in Iraq is a smart strategy at all, either for Iraq or for the WOT generally. The DLC claims that:

Democrats should also attend to the other side of the balance sheet. That side shows that our forces and their allies have toppled one of the world's most odious tyrants; upheld the principle of collective security; liberated a nation of 24 million; made possible Iraq's hopeful experiment in representative self-government; and changed the strategic equation in the Arab-Israeli conflict.

And this is what Americans have to show for the Iraq War? Sure, the Iraq War "
toppled one of the world's most odious tyrants", but that was achieved back in early 2003. Iraqis agreed that getting rid of Hussein was indeed a marvelous thing to have done. But as America travels further and further down the road in Iraq, that achievement gets smaller and smaller in the rear-view mirror. Iraqis are fully aware that Hussein managed to repair most of the damage from the 1991 war within a few months and to get everything back online and functioning again. The headline from the latest Knight-Ridder story is that "Despite $2 Billion Spent, Residents say Baghdad is Crumbling". Sure, "a nation of 24 million" has been liberated, but a fierce guerrilla war has been waged against the US occupation for over two years now. Billmon talks about how successful the Iraq War has been in serving US interests:

The shortest speech [at the inauguration of the Kurdistan National Assembly in Erbil] was given by the head of the Iranian intelligence service in Erbil, a man known to the Kurds as Agha Panayi. Staring directly at Ms. Bodine, he said simply, "This is a great day. Throughout Iraq, the people we supported are in power." He did not add "Thank you, George Bush." The unstated was understood. (emphasis added)

I mean, if the US wants to take credit for Iranian gains in Iraq, then sure, it's a great day there. If the US wants to plug for its own success and for the success of a "representative self-government", well, there's not a whole lot to plug. Has the US succeeded in doing anything vis-a-vis the Arab-Israeli conflict? Sure, Yassir Arafat is dead, but I'm not sure that anything else of consequence has happened there.

In fact, the Bush Administration has itself conceded that the larger WOT has not been very successful after all. The New York Times says: "New Name for 'War on Terror' Reflects Wider U.S. Campaign". Obviously, if the WOT strategy had been successful, the Bush Administration would not feel the need to change the name. As it is, it's abundantly clear that when you can't easily change the strategy, at least put a little daylight between yourselves and failure by changing the name for the strategy.

I'm sorry, but the DLC is suggesting an extremely stupid idea, to essentially take the albatross from the necks of the Republicans and for Democrats to put it on their own. Yes, I and other progressives agree we need a smarter WOT that truly takes account of the world's complexities and comes up with an answer, but the DLC and their favored candidates don't have any idea what that smarter strategy might entail. It most certainly does not entail lining up behind the Iraq War.

Update: "So what would YOU do?" They sneeringly ask. Well, seems to me that a certain "French-looking" Senator came up with a pretty good idea:

I will use our military when necessary, but it is not primarily a military operation. It's an intelligence-gathering, law-enforcement, public-diplomacy effort

Hillary Clinton & the DLC

Hillary Clinton now seeks Democratic Party unity via the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC). I agree with DailyKos, the DLC has proven to be a loser time and again. The Congressional mid-term elections of 2002 showed them to be an ineffectual group that had lost whatever they once had. The DLC was pretty much the undisputed head of the Democratic Party, without serious competition in party ranks. Usually, the opposition party does well in mid-term elections and the DLC led the party to defeat without even being able to supply Democrats with a common theme that they could all use.

Fortunately for the Democrats, Howard Dean shook the party up and introduced some real populist elements and got things going enough to make John Kerry a serious contender for 2004. He might very well have won by a few million votes (as another blogger has suggested, even if we accept the official vote count, losing by only 110K votes is not all that bad a record considering that the vote totals were extremely high that year), but as the computerized voting machines were all owned by companies which were in turn owned by Republican businessmen, he lost. The DLC has, to my knowledge, shown absolutely zero interest in getting paper, or at least verifiable, ballots in place. That's not to say other Democrats have done better, that's just to say that the DLC has been about as useful as a lump on a log when it comes to winning elections.

Hillary is wasting her time, money and credibility working with the DLC. She'd be better off working with truly unification-friendly outfits that are actually interested in winning elections.

2005/07/20

Comment on USAToday article

Bloggers, on your mark
Right-wing Internet bloggers dogged Dan Rather in "Memogate" so effectively that it might have cost him his anchor chair at CBS News.

Left-wing bloggers discredited Ed Klein's book, The Truth About Hillary, so fiercely that even Clinton haters called the book a hatchet job.

There are plenty of other examples of how bloggers on both sides of the political aisle, when aroused, have sunk their teeth into an issue or person in the news.

This set of passages brings into focus the Fox News slogan "Fair and Balanced". My question is "Is it always possible to do both? Are there times when you have to choose?" To me, being fair means you follow the evidence where it leads. You examine the facts and then draw your conclusions. Being balanced means you make each side appear equally culpable/innocent, foolish/wise or oblivious/aware. How do the two definitions work in this case?

Vladimir Putin was under the impression that Dan Rather had been fired because he dared to criticize President Bush. So sure, we'll give the right-wing bloggers "Memogate" because for all intents and purposes, they did indeed "bring down" Rather.

Was The Truth About Hillary discredited? Certainly in my view it was. How about the general public? As of 20Jul05, Amazon.com is offering the book as both a hardcover and as an audio CD and it's rated at #66, several notches above the Secret Man, Woodward & Bernstein's book on "Deep Throat" and well below Jon Stewart's America, so I'd have a difficult time saying that the book was "brought down" or "discredited".

Did "Clinton haters" draw their conclusion based on what lefty bloggers had to say about it? I can't imagine them "bowing to" or even deeply considering what lefty bloggers say about anything. Obviously, they take some of their cues from the larger right wing and as we know, Bush thinks so little of the left wing's opinion of anything that he consistently argues against "straw men" whenever he makes a major speech. His latest arguments in favor of the long-discredited "Flypaper" theory concerning Iraq and the military resistance and foreign terrorists illustrates this.

If we look at the Klein book from a right-winger's perspective, it's not at all difficult to see why they oppose it. Klein's book is described by Amazon in the included Publisher's Weekly review as a stale, boring rehash of old news and discredited lies that:

While glossing over such provocative-and substantive-Clinton issues as Whitewater, Travel-gate and Vince Foster's suicide, [Klein] concentrates nearly half of his 250 pages on-you guessed it-Monica Lewinsky.

Klein is said to make an unconvincing case that Hillary "played" the wronged wife or that there was anything deliberate or planned about her reaction to her husband's stupid behavior.

Obviously, if opponents can point to serious credibility problems in a book, the whole book and its' thesis is then much easier to ignore than if one makes an airtight case that doesn't include any obvious problems.

Sorry, but the idea that the right wing is willing to knock Klein only because lefty bloggers are "fiercely" attacking him is just plain silly.

The following quote also struck me for it's sheer idiocy:

"No fact checkers, no editors, no professional rules of the road will make the nominee a high-profile blogger catch — unless they were a hermit for their careers, which is highly unlikely or they would not even make the short list."

Excuse me, but the only way that critics, online or otherwise, can make any progress against ANY political figure is if the facts are on their side. Opposition research is much easier these days due to bloggers and search engines and people sharing information and resources, but simply being loud or numerous doesn't make a political case. Very recently, right-wingers got all excitable about the "revelation" that there were some contacts between Saddam Hussein's people and al Qaeda back in the late '90s (Powerline "That was then, this is now" July 15th) and as people like myself were aware of these contacts since at least late 2002, the "issue" very quickly died out. There was nothing about people being bloggers that permitted the issue to stay current or serious for any longer than it did.

BTW, the current theory among left-wing bloggers on the Supreme Court pick is that if there is any sort of problem with the choice of John Roberts, then Democrat Senators should pick one issue and focus on that. If it's reproductive choice, let's go all-out on that, if it's privacy, let's go all-out on that. The LAST thing we need to do is a mish-mashed grab-bag of miscellaneous issues. Democrats need to use the hearings to draw a clear distinction between them and the opposition. They need to answer the questions of "Why should we vote for you? What difference will it make for us to get you guys into office?"

Ken Mehlman makes an amusing claim

The Republican National Committe Chairman (The Republican equivalent to Howard Dean.) made an amusing claim:

But if you think about it, what changed over the past week was that two pieces of information came out, they were both used as a way to smear Karl Rove. And, in fact if you look at that information, the information says that Bob Novak's source was somebody else, not Karl Rove, and it says in the case of Matt Cooper, that Karl Rove discouraged Matt Cooper from writing a story, which in fact turned out to be the right thing to do because a lot of what Joe Wilson said was wrong.

Okay, let's look at these claims. If Bob Novak's source was "not Karl Rove" and was instead Matt Cooper, who in turn got his information from Rove, then Rove is only one step away from having provided information directly to Novak. In certain circles, we call this a distinction without a difference.
The second point involves a claim (Not a fact, a claim. There's a difference.) that Rove was trying to set the record straight. First of all, Cooper disagrees. In Cooper's own words:

Was it through my conversation with Rove that I learned for the first time that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA and may have been responsible for sending him? Yes.
Second, absolutely no one except highly-placed Republicans are trying to claim that Rove was trying to discourage anything. In fact, Rove appears to have been encouragiing reporters to leak information that was classified. In Congressman Waxman's account of the SF 312, Rove had an affirmative duty to see to it that the information he was passing on was unclassified before he passed it on to a reporter.

Sorry Ken, but you aimed for two home runs and got two strikes instead.

2005/07/19

Pathetic!

Rep Henry Waxman has published a PDF that explains SF 312 and how it relates to Karl Rove's leaking of the identity of a CIA agent working on WMD issues. Rove had an affirmative duty to verify that the information he was passing on to a reporter was unclassified. For him to say "I didn't know it was classified" is an unsatisfactory defense. The CarpetBagger Report has more on SF 312 and Seeing The Forest has more reports from all over.


The ABC News poll shows that roughly three-quarters of all three groups, Independents, Democrats and Republicans think Rove should be fired.

As DailyKos puts it:

September 29, 2003:

McClellan: "If anyone in this administration was involved in it [the improper disclosure of an undercover CIA operative's identity], they would no longer be in this administration."

September 30, 2003

"Bush: "If somebody did leak classified information, I'd like to know it, and we'll take the appropriate action."

Today:

Bush: "If someone committed a crime, they will no longer work in my administration."

Do I believe Bush is telling the truth when he claims that he didn't know Rove, a person with whom he's worked with for over a decade, outed a CIA agent? Sure, as long as we accept that we're using a Clintonian parsing of phrases. Remember, when Clinton said “I have not had sex with that woman.” he was telling the truth. It's just that people thought that when he said “sex”, he was referring to sex in a very general manner. Anything more risque than holding hands, that is. They didn't know that Clinton was referring to sex in a very highly specific manner, to mean “sexual intercourse”. They thought sex meant doing anything in the way of man-woman intimacy.

So has Bush known for the past two years that Rove was the fellow who betrayed his oath of office and the national security of the United States of America? I'm willing to believe he hasn't, but only if we define “known” in a very precise manner.

2005/07/16

Did people know of Valerie's career?

One thing that's really bothered me about the Plame/Rove case has been the suggestion that Valerie's cover wasn't a secret or not an important secret. David Corn sets us straight:

Conservative columnist Byron York was also on that NPR show. He's one of the more reasonable rightwing reporters I know. But he, too, parroted the pro-Rove spin, saying, in his mild manner, that it was unclear to him whether Valerie Wilson was undercover in any significant way. From the start of this controversy, conservatives have been insinuating that Valerie Wilson was not under serious cover. their point: this leak was no biggie. In the early days of the controversy, Clifford May, a former New York Times reporter who went on to become a GOP spokesperson, maintained that it was widely known throughout Washington that Valerie Wilson worked at the CIA. Since then, there's been absolutely no evidence to support May's claim. But back to York's observation. Valerie Wilson worked at the CIA under what's called "nonofficial cover." She was a NOC. This means that when she worked overseas she did not have a diplomatic passport and did not pass herself off as an embassy official. If anything happened to her, she'd be in mucho trouble. And she worked with a front group that was set up to give her--and maybe other CIA officials working in the field of WMDs--cover as energy analysts. When the leak occurred, she was indeed at a desk job at the CIA. But NOCs can come and go from CIA headquarters. They maintain their cover so they can return to the field if necessary and to protect the operations they previously worked on and the people (sources, agents, fellow officers) they previously worked with. Outing a NOC can endanger more than the particular person.

Moreover, the CIA thought the leak justified an investigation. It requested that the Justice Department pursue the matter. The Justice Department eventually handed the case to Fitzgerald, and he has seen reason to mount a fierce inquiry. And several federal judges who have reviewed his court filings--in the cases involving Matt Cooper and Judith Miller--all supported Fitzgerald's claim that the leak amounted to a serious breach. True, we still don't know exactly what Valerie Wilson did as a NOC. But York's gentle suggestion that her CIA identity was a minor and not-all-that-important secret is contradicted by the public record.

Keep in mind also, that no one has popped up to say "I knew that Valarie was a CIA agent". Saying "Everybody knew" is simply not the same as being able to state that "Joe Whoziswhatsis knew"

2005/07/14

The "few bad apples" excuse dies

To the complete lack of surprise to most of the left blogosphere, it turns out that the abuses of Abu Ghraib were not, after all, invented there.

The techniques, approved by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld for use in interrogating Mohamed Qahtani -- the alleged "20th hijacker" in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks -- were used at Guantanamo Bay in late 2002 as part of a special interrogation plan aimed at breaking down the silent detainee.
----------

The investigation also supports the idea that soldiers believed that placing hoods on detainees, forcing them to appear nude in front of women and sexually humiliating them were approved interrogation techniques for use on detainees.

A central figure in the investigation, Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, who commanded the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay and later helped set up U.S. operations at Abu Ghraib, was accused of failing to properly supervise Qahtani's interrogation plan and was recommended for reprimand by investigators. Miller would have been the highest-ranking officer to face discipline for detainee abuses so far, but Gen. Bantz Craddock, head of the U.S. Southern Command, declined to follow the recommendation.

Miller traveled to Iraq in September 2003 to assist in Abu Ghraib's startup, and he later sent in "Tiger Teams" of Guantanamo Bay interrogators and analysts as advisers and trainers. Within weeks of his departure from Abu Ghraib, military working dogs were being used in interrogations, and naked detainees were humiliated and abused by military police soldiers working the night shift.
--------

The abuses at Abu Ghraib included military police taking photos of themselves mimicking the tactics used at Guantanamo Bay. Several photographs taken in late 2003 at the prison outside Baghdad show detainees wearing women's underwear on their heads, detainees shackled to their cell doors or beds in awkward positions, and naked detainees standing before female soldiers. Perhaps the most famous image is of Pfc. Lynndie England holding a leash attached to a detainee's neck.

Qahtani, according to the investigative report, was once attached to a leash and made to walk around the room and "perform a series of dog tricks." The report also notes the use of "gender coercion," in which women straddle a detainee or get too close to them, violating prohibitions for devout Muslim men on contact with women. Interrogators also threatened to tell other detainees that an individual is gay, according to the report. Detainees at Abu Ghraib were posed in mock homosexual positions and photographed.

Allegedly, the abuse of Qahtani produced actionable intel, but that's impossible to verify. What is known is that the abuse and tortures that the low-ranking soldiers of Abu Ghraib were found guilty of was a small part of the abuses that were performed from Guantanamo to Bagram in Afghanistan and who-knows-where-else? These tortures have severely damaged the image of the United States around the world and have bolstered the credibility of people who hate America everywhere. The assertion by Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) that the Guantanamo abuses form relatively "minor incidents" that should not be a matter of national interest is simply too ridiculous to take seriously. The United States used to be above this sort of thing. As this information was dragged out by an investigation as opposed to being announced at the highest levels, it's absolutely ludicrous to make the presumption that we've heard the last of revelations concerning it or that Americans now know the full extent of it.

Of course, the left blogosphere would find yet another revelation completely unsurprising, that Bush was kept fully informed and approved every step. That wouldn't surprise much of anybody on our side of the aisle.



Wingnuts getting desperate

Ann Coulter:
Wilson's report was a hoax. His government bureaucrat wife wanted to get him out of the house, so she sent him on a taxpayer-funded government boondoggle.

Now, if Wilson had gotten a trip to Barcelona or Monaco, this might make some sense. Niger? You've gotta be kidding me!

The noose draws tighter

On Scarborough Country July 12th:


JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST: That still doesn't justify Karl Rove or anybody—and we don't know if Rove did it for sure—but justify the outing of CIA agent, does it?


REP. PETER KING ®, NEW YORK: It's only wrong if he knew that she was undercover and that the CIA was making every attempt to keep her undercover. He didn't give her name. He didn't know she was undercover.



An interesting assertion considering:


Well, as Think Progress noted, it seems quite clear that classified information was disclosed, so the only question is whether it was knowingly. The "knowingness" would be the only thing standing between Rove and a crime, theoretically.


Today we hear from the LA Times...

Luskin declined to say whether Rove knew that Plame was a covert agent, even if he did not know her name, which analysts said was a crucial factor in determining whether the law was broken.

He certainly hasn't declined before. That sounds pretty darn close to Game, Set, Match.


One main thing seems pretty clear at this point. Bush will not fire Rove for this. Rove is much too valuable to the Republican Party to be fired. Even if Rove continues to work from behind the scenes for Bush, firing him would puncture his aura of invincibility. Can't have that. Nah, if given the choice of keeping a promise made to the American people or firing a personal buddy, the American people will lose.


2005/07/12

"Frog-Marching" Karl Rove

President Bush, at an Oval Office photo opportunity Tuesday, was asked directly whether he would fire Rove -- in keeping with a pledge in June, 2004, to dismiss any leakers in the case. The president did not respond.
-----------
"The liberal blogosphere is aflame with animosity toward Karl Rove"

Gee, I wonder why?

Kurtz reproduces an interesting quote.


John Hinderaker of Power Line explores the legal liability question:

"A violation of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act seems highly unlikely. It is doubtful whether Rove or any other administration source knew of Plame's affiliation with the CIA through access to classified materials; it is further questionable whether Rove or any other source knew that she was a 'covert' employee, or that the government was making an effort to keep her affiliation with the Agency a secret. (In fact, it is unclear whether the Agency did make such an effort.) As to the third situation covered by the statute, neither Rove nor any other administration source identified Plame as part of a 'pattern of activities intended to identify or expose covert agents' for the purpose of impairing national security.

"It is hard to see how Rove could be indicted for violation of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, and it is very unlikely that he would have been foolish enough to testify falsely before the grand jury about his conversations with journalists. None of this will matter much, though, when it is publicly acknowledged that Rove was one of the sources of the Plame 'leak.' (This isn't, by the way, the sort of communication that is ordinarily referred to as a 'leak.') We can expect a media feeding frenzy or potentially unprecedented proportions."

As I've pointed out in other posts, this is all mind-reading. Hindraker gives himself away with phrases like: "It is doubtful", "it is further questionable", "it is unclear", "It is hard to see", etc. What's absolutely crystal clear here is that Hindraker is, as the saying goes, talking out of his butt. He's guessing. It's clear that he has no evidence to back up anything he's stabbing in the dark at.

"Rove presumably told the President that he was one of the sources of the Plame information long ago. It is interesting that Bush didn't take the path of least resistance and ease Rove out of the administration at the end of his first term. The President's reputation for loyalty to has aides is certainly well-deserved."

Let's take a look at what Bush actually said at the time:

QUESTION: Yesterday we were told that Karl Rove had no role in it. . .

THE PRESIDENT: Yes.

QUESTION: Have you talked to Karl and do you have confidence in him . . .

THE PRESIDENT: Listen, I know of nobody -- I don't know of anybody in my administration who leaked classified information. If somebody did leak classified information, I'd like to know it, and we'll take the appropriate action.

George W. Bush
Remarks to Reporters
September 30, 2003

No, what Bush is demonstrating here is not loyalty, but dishonesty. Bush himself said that leaking the name of a CIA agent was a bad thing to have done and that if he found out who did it, then "appropriate action" would be taken. Remember, Bush himself pledged that the leaker would be fired. Now that the culprit has been clearly identified, Bush is completely silent. Rove has not been fired. If Bush meant what he said earllier, Rove would be out the door by now.
Where does this "path of least resistance" come from? Who would Bush be trying to mollify? If Rove confided to Bush a long time ago that he was the leaker, why didn't Bush take action then? Loyalty is all very fine and well, but should loyalty to one's buddy be placed above the safety of the country? As the Plame leak hurt US national security, then obviously Hindraker feels that "loyalty" to a buddy should come above and beyond Bush's loyalty to the United States of America.

2005/07/11

Wow! Press corps wakes up

Press Secretary Scott McClellan responding to press "gaggle" today on the Rove/Plame story:

QUESTION: You’re in a bad spot here, Scott…
(LAUGHTER)
… because after the investigation began — after the criminal investigation was under way — you said, October 10th, 2003, I spoke with those individuals, Rove, Abrams and Libby. As I pointed out, those individuals assured me they were not involved in this, from that podium. That’s after the criminal investigation began.

Now that Rove has essentially been caught red-handed peddling this information, all of a sudden you have respect for the sanctity of the criminal investigation.

MCCLELLAN: No, that’s not a correct characterization. And I think you are well aware of that.
We know each other very well. And it was after that period that the investigators had requested that we not get into commenting on an ongoing criminal investigation.

And we want to be helpful so that they can get to the bottom of this. Because no one wants to get to the bottom of it more than the president of the United States.

I am well aware of what was said previously. I remember well what was said previously. And at some point I look forward to talking about it. But until the investigation is complete, I’m just not going to do that.

-----------
Ooh! Slap! Yowza!!

Bush still pushes "Flypaper" theory

Kind of amazing to see President Bush draw exactly the wrong conclusion from the utter failure of the "Flypaper" theory.

"Bush: London attacks show need to stay on offense"

And of course we get the standard, obligatory 9/11 reference: "Bush said the London attacks were a reminder of the 'evil' of the Sept. 11 attacks and underscored that the United States and its allies were fighting a 'global war on terror.' "

Then we get the old, usual comment about the long-discredited "flypaper" theory: " 'We will stay on the offense, fighting the terrorists abroad so we do not have to face them at home,' Bush said.".

Do Bush's followers notice that London got bombed even though the US Army was fully engaged in Iraq? Can't Bush's followers see that the Iraq War is not diverting anything from anywhere? That the war is not helping Americans to be safe at home? What is so difficult about this?

2005/07/09

Conservative griping about freedom & democracy

After giving us a lot of "Rah-rah-sis-boom-bah!! Go troops! Yayyy!" concerning the Iraq War, Rumsfeld continues:

The secretary also commented on media reports that suggest support for military action in Iraq is eroding. Such reports led Army Gen. John Abizaid, commander of U.S. Central Command, to say before the Senate Armed Services Committee in June that, "We cannot win without the support of the American people."

Although "it's fine" to have "debate and discussion" on the military situation in Iraq, Rumsfeld said, it is important that "we recognize that there are effects from our words."

When people make inaccurate statements that the United States in is a quagmire in Iraq, that gives "encouragement to people who then say to themselves, 'Well, if we just hold out, we may win this thing in Iraq,'" Rumsfeld added.

"Our goal is not to give encouragement to them," he said.

Commenting on the effect the media can have on public opinion, the secretary told Bill Cunningham of 700 WLW in Cincinnati, "If people constantly hear only negative things on television and read it in the media or a large measure they hear eight negatives for one positive, one ought not to be surprised that they're concerned about it."

However, he added, "Given sufficient information they (Americans) find their way to right decisions, and I have a lot of confidence in the American people."

Rush Limbaugh also commented in much the same vein (In a much cruder and less sophisticated manner, of course.)

Later on in this story, Sen. Boxer is quoted as saying, "The insurgents are winning the propaganda wars now." With whose help, Senator, are they winning the propaganda war? Sen. Durbin? The New York Times? Abu Ghraib and Gitmo protests? The ACLU [American Civil Liberties Union]? A couple of federal judges? Who's helping the terrorists? Who's helping the insurgent terrorists win the propaganda war? Who is it that when the terrorists speak and some Americans speak -- who is it that sounds like the terrorists? Who is it that has the same criticisms of this country that the terrorists do? It's your party, Ms. Boxer. It's the American left. The worldwide left.

When bin Laden talks about the "evils" of the United States and why it must be attacked -- it sounds like John Kerry in his 2004 presidential campaign. When whoever did this in London explains why they did it -- sounds like any liberal criticizing a successful capitalist country to me. So when you want to talk about, Sen. Boxer, the insurgents are winning the propaganda war, my question is, "Who's helping them? Who's assisting them? Who's going ape and bananas over Abu Ghraib and Gitmo? Who is aiding and abetting them? Who, who is it when they speak in this country -- the terrorists sit back and laugh themselves silly?" It's you, Sen. Boxer, and members of your party.

Two conservative spokespeople telling American critics of the Iraq War to basically "SHUT UP!!" Neither of them appears to have the slightest idea of just what exactly separates a democracy from a tyranny and why the distinction is important. Success in wartime has never resulted from critics holding their tongues or stifling their writings.
Success has always come about by PERSUADING citizens that they need to support the country's latest effort.
Succes has always resulted from citizens VOLUNTARILY toeing the line, from what the German General Heinz Guderian identified as "confident collaboration from below."
Success has not come from a forced, silent, sullen citizenry since the French Revolution introduced the concept of the Levée en masse in 1793. Wars since then have depended on an enthusiastic, committed citizenry. Immediately after September 11, 2001, Bush advised Americans to "go shopping" and has done absolutely nothing to mobilize Americans to fight thee war in Iraq.
My suspicon of course, is that Rumsfeld and other conservative spokespeople know full well that the Iraq War is being lost and are trying to establish blame, a "stab-in-the-back" theory that they can use as an ex-post-facto justification for losing it.

2005/07/08

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi

"They seek him here, they seek him there.
Those Frenchmen seek him everywhere.
Is he in Heaven? - Is he in hell?
That damned annoying Pimpernel."

(from The Scarlet Pimpernel)

A journalist from Asia Times looks at the ever-elusive but ubiquitous Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who seems to be everywhere yet nowhere in and around Iraq. Most of the Jordanians he meets are all of similar opinion: they don't think Zarqawi exists or perhaps alive, but they support the cause that he supposedly backs. A typical sentiment: "He doesn't exist except in the minds of American policy-makers."
And:

"His wife and their three children still live over there," he adds. "But don't go talk to them. They won't allow it." He believes Zarqawi was killed, "100%," and then says emphatically, "If he is still alive, why not show a recent photo of him? All of these they show in the media are quite old."

And:

Our driver insists that Zarqawi is alive and well in Iraq. "I'm certain of it, because if he was dead they would show his picture and make the announcement. He has always been so strong. When we were in Afghanistan, any time we got a new machine to learn or French missiles, he was the first to learn them."

The most obviously true statement was the following:

"The jihad in Iraq is not just Zarqawi. It is up to Allah if we prevail, not dependent on the hand of Zarqawi. If he is killed, the jihad will continue there."

The bombings in London

I thought about London today and remembered a very recent statement from our President. I looked and sure enough, it was only on the 21st of last month:

Our troops are fighting these terrorists in Iraq so you will not have to face them here at home.

Bloggers discussed this "Flypaper" theory back a year or so ago and concluded it was a completely idiotic notion. There is no fixed or solid "lump of terrorism" and never will be. The number of people engaged in terroristic tactics depends on many, many factors that have very little to do with purely military responses.
It's been pointed out that the attack in London was a very low-tecch operation, one that didn't require a lot of money, equipment or fancy resources. Even if the war in Iraq was diverting jihadists from fighting Americans "here at home", then very obviously, the war will never divert enough manpower or resources to prevent attacks like this.
Bush offers false comfort. The "flypaper" theory is an idiots game.
The esteemed Juan Cole gives his view on the bombing as al Qaida has been strongly suspected of being behind it. Cole refers to Bush's "incompetent crusade" in Iraq and interprets the bombings as serving a larger theatrical purpose.

2005/07/06

Beginning of the push-back?

Progressive blogs, websites, Democratic politicians and some military people have been warning for months that the US military is overstretched and is having a hard time dealing with the Iraq War. Compounding the problem has been the refusal of Republicans from President Bush on down to call upon Americans to sign up to be infantrymen for this "War on Terror" Looks like the SCO, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, composed of Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan is now asking the US when it plans to abandon its' bases in Afghanistan.

``We support and will support the international coalition, which is carrying out an anti-terror campaign in Afghanistan, and we have taken note of the progress made in the effort to stabilize the situation,'' the SCO said in a declaration at a summit in the Kazakh capital.

``As the active military phase in the anti-terror operation in Afghanistan is nearing completion, the SCO would like the coalition's members to decide on the deadline for the use of the temporary infrastructure and for their military contingents' presence in those countries,'' it said.
-----------
A Kremlin foreign policy adviser, Sergei Prikhodko, said the group had not demanded an immediate withdrawal. But he added it was ``important for the SCO members to know when the (U.S.) troops will go home.''

What could their motivation possibly be? Well, it appeared that the US was "encouraging the overthrow of Central Asia's pro-Russian authoritarian governments." a few months back, at least according to Bush's "good friend" "Pooty-poot" (Putin)

The Left Coaster points out that:

Remember your opposition to the Iranian gas pipeline deal between Iran, India, and Pakistan, George? Wanna know what good you did?

It wasn't good for the country you claim to lead!

Iran, India and Pakistan joined the SCO Tuesday as observers.
If they become fully fledged members, the group will represent half the world's population.
[emphasis in original]

Situation's not looking too good for people who want to play "world domination". Seems they forgot they're not dealing with a static situation. The US attempt to bully Iran may backfire badly with Iran already suspicious of US intentions, but the US not really able to do anything to carry out it's more aggressive designs.
Bears close watching.

Follow-up:
The US has rejected the call from the SCO to set a withdrawal date from airbases in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.under the justification of still being needed in Afghanistan. Secretary of State Rice: "...there are still a lot of terrorist activities in Afghanistan."

2005/07/04

It's looking like Karl Rove is our boy

It was revealed on the McLaughlin Show that it was Karl Rove, the president's long-time advisor, who leaked Valerie Plame's name as a CIA agent whose portfolio involved stopping Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) from being proliferated. The speculation on DailyKos is that the investigator may have learned this quite some time ago and is seeking testimony from Matthew Cooper (Time Magazine) and Judith Miller (New York Times) that Rove and/or Bush committed perjury in his initial statement to the investigator. Lots of intriguing comments after both posts. A very interesting question in all this is: how did Rove get the name of a CIA agent in the first place? Atrios notes that if the story were untrue, then Rove has now had plenty of time to have disputed it.

UPDATE: I looked around for a summary of the Plame leak and found it inDKospedia. Don't mind the people trying to suggest that leaking her name wasn't a crime. The leak was treason.

Further update on Karl Rove: A few weeks back, Rove gave a speech on how liberals and conservatives respond to terror attacks. BTC News does a graph showing how Clinton's and Bush's terms compare in terms of casualties from terror attacks. It does NOT flatter conservatives!

2005/07/01

Suggestions for how to respond to Supreme Court battle

As DailyKos points out, the replacement of Sandra Day O'Connor is a great deal more important than if Rehnquist had announced his retirement as O'Connor has been in the pro-choice camp and has been somewhat moderate on other issues.
Following are the website's recommendations for what activists can do right now:

Supreme Court: What You Can Do RIGHT NOW

Fri Jul 1st, 2005 at 09:20:35 PDT

Whatever happens with the Supreme Court nomination battle that is about to ensue, it's going to happen fast. Here are some things you can do right now:

If you have any other action items, please post them in the comments below, with links.

Update [2005-7-1 11:33:32 by DavidNYC]: If you have a blog, please post these action items on your site. If you don't, e-mail them to your like-minded buddies and relatives.