2008/01/30

Answer to D'Souza's defense of Bush's 935 lies

Dinesh D'Souza presents an, uh, interesting defense of Bush against the charge that he and several other members of his administration told 935 lies in the run-up to the Iraq War. D'Souza presents the words of "liberals on campus" who "typically say"

Well, we're not saying that Bush knew for sure that there were no such weapons [of mass destruction]. We are saying that his administration stacked the data.

D'Souza then goes on to manfully and heroically blow this straw man away (And I've certainly heard "stacked the deck," but never "stacked the data." That's a new one on me). The question that this statement allegedly answers is:

If Bush actually knew that Iraq didn't possess weapons of mass destruction, and yet repeatedly told the American people that Iraq had them, didn't Bush expect that following the Iraq invasion his deception would be found out?

My answer to that would have been to recall the old statement: "Victory has a hundred fathers, but defeat is an orphan." The "victory" in this case was the one celebrated by President Bush on the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln. Had the Iraq insurgency not reared up, had Iraq been peaceful instead of turning into a full-fledged guerrilla war, there's no reason for Bush to have expected any negative consequences for his lies.

Such a belief would have had a sound foundation in historical reality. In 1846, President James K Polk launched the invasion of Mexico and the US ended up swallowing 40% of Mexico's territory. People including the young Congressman Abraham Lincoln condemned the invasion, but his condemnation proved to be unpopular and it was used against Lincoln all the way into his presidency. The Whig Party did not follow Lincoln in condemning the war and instead nominated the American commander, General Zachary Taylor, to be its candidate for 1848.

So certainly, Bush probably knew that he'd be eventually found out, but the very high likelihood is that all would have been forgiven if only the war hadn't turned into such a complete c*f*.

2008/01/28

More on conspiracy theories

Gotta buddy who I noticed was signing his messages as RonL. A few months back, I was working for JRF, the Jewish Reconstruction Federation and RonL very enthusiastically told me about a book he had been reading, The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion (PDF)

Now I was fully aware that the Protocols were a forgery with two centuries of works that led up to it and finally put together by agents of the Russian Ohkrana (Tsarist secret police) in 1905, and that it incited Russian peasants to carry out pogroms against the Jews in their midst. It was also a work cited by Adolf Hitler as he rose to power in the early 1930s. I didn't remember RonL ever demonstrating any bigoted attitudes towards anyone nor of his making any anti-semitic remarks, so I suspected he wasn't referring to it as a good source on how awful the Jewish people were. Sure enough, when I had cleaned up the coffee that I had spit out all over the floor and then asked him why, oh why, was he referring me to such a book, he replied that it was an excellent source on how conspiracies work, that it was a good primer on how the current "Establishment" got into and maintains power. Having only a general knowledge of the book, I believe that accurately characterizes some aspects of it.

Lately, RonL has also been speaking of The Illuminati, an account of 13 families that allegedly wield a disproportionate influence.


"For more than a century, ideological extremists at either end of the political spectrum have seized upon well-publicized incidents to attack the Rockefeller family for the inordinate influence they claim we wield over American political and economic institutions. Some even believe we are part of a secret cabal working against the best interests of the United States, characterizing my family and me as 'internationalists' and of conspiring with others around the world to build a more integrated global political and economic structure - one world, if you will. If that's the charge, I stand guilty, and I am proud of it."
David Rockefeller, Memoirs, 2002 - Hermes-Press.com -

Of course, the lawyer-blogger Glenn Greenwald has recently turned a suspicious eye towards a member of that very family, "AT&T's personal Senator Jay Rockefeller":

When Rockefeller smugly announces that he "thinks we will prevail," the "we" on whose behalf he is so proudly speaking is Bush and Cheney, lawbreaking telecoms, and all Republican Senators. The only parties whom Rockefeller is so happily "defeating" are civil liberties groups and members of his own party. That is what is making him feel pulsating sensations of excitement and "smugness."

This is also a most interesting comment:

Edward Mandell House [Illuminati] Had This to Say in a Private Meeting with Woodrow Wilson (President)
- “[Very] soon, every American will be required to register their biological property in a National system designed to keep track of the people and that will operate under the ancient system of pledging. By such methodology, we can compel people to submit to our agenda, which will affect our security as a chargeback for our fiat paper currency..." -
- Freedompool.org -

Interesting because it sounds like an early draft of the warrantless wiretapping that the Bush Administration has been engaged in since very shortly after they took office, long before 9-11.

There's certainly plenty there that folks can raise question about. One very familiar phrase is that of the "New World Order" that the elder Bush used shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union on, get this, 11 Sep 1990. The whole concept appears to be bound up with the cult of Freemasonry. "Freemasonry has always, admittedly, held deep occult secrets which it hides from the 'profane' and unworthy."

My own take on conspiracy theories is that I found the evidence collected by cooperativeresearch.org (Since folded into 911Truth.org) back in 2002 to be compelling, not because of any one element, but because there were simply too many unexplained or insufficiently-detailed elements for the official story to be believable. Captain Eric H. May is currently detailing how the Bush Administration attempted to follow up 9-11 with a small nuclear bomb on Texas City, within Congressman Ron Paul's district:

Feb. 3, 2006: Texas City British Petroleum Employee Heard 'Strange Abort Signal' on Local Radio Station The Morning Army Intel Officer Predicted Nuclear Strike At Plant. BP employee also said "other strange events" occurred, leaving her "nervous and on edge." Galveston Daily News follows up with story, finding WMD military support team was conducting a training session at a location near Texas City.

I'm far from alone in my suspicions. Zogby revealed that "51% of Americans Want Congress to Probe Bush/Cheney Regarding 9/11 Attacks" and that "67% also fault 9/11 Commission for not investigating anomalous collapse of World Trade Center 7." The PNAC plan to establish the US as the supervisor of a "benevolent global hegemony" is so uncontroversially true that Daily Kos, a website that refuses to run "wild" conspiracy theories, ran a 10th anniversary piece on PNACs first letter to President Clinton urging the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.

Now, as I pointed out in another piece, not every conspiracy theory works out as neatly as one might imagine. Allegedly, Israel controls US Mideast policy, but 75% of Israelis think Bush's recent trip there was just a photo-op. I'm willing to keep an open mind on these matters. Just about everything has a more innocent possible interpretation. That's why we have courts where both sides can present exhaustive arguments and where a jury of regular citizens can weigh the evidence and ultimately render a verdict. Sunshine is, after all, the best disinfectant and the very best way to deal with questions.

2008/01/22

Voter fraud: How big an issue?

The Inky ran an excellent editorial on 12 January about the Supreme Court picking up the case concerning Indiana's solution to the perceived "problem" of voter fraud (If you do a Google search, remember that the keywords are "votER fraud", not "vote fraud" as voter fraud refers to individuals trying to cast illegal ballots whereas vote fraud refers to rigging vote counts). The editorial made it quite clear that while the impact of widespread voter ID laws would not affect racial voting patterns, at least not directly, they would directly and immediately affect Democratic vs Republican constituencies and their ability to vote. Voters likely to vote Democrat (including, of course, racial minorities) would find their ability to vote adversely affected in the event that voter ID laws are successfully passed.

The whole point of the poll taxes that were made a condition of voting in many Southern states was precisely to disenfranchise Native Americans, African-Americans and recent immigrants. The purpose of voter ID laws is slightly different as they are aimed more at a political party than an ethnicity, but it is entirely justifiable to call a voter ID law a latter-day poll tax as the effect of such laws will be to reduce votes for Democrats.

The Inky added: "There's no documented outbreak of voter impersonation that might justify the push for photo ID at the polls - beyond anecdote and urban legend, that is." It's a very serious concern that TPM Muckraker helped to uncover a deliberate policy push to get US Attorneys to prosecute vote fraud cases right before the November 2006 mid-term elections. What raised concern in their minds was the status of vote fraud as being a complete non-problem. The strange case of the American Center for Voting Rights details how the issue of voter fraud first gained currency as an actual problem that genuinely required attention.

Consisting of little more than a post-office box and some staffers who wrote reports and gave helpful quotes about the pervasive problems of voter fraud to the press, the group identified Democratic cities as hot spots for voter fraud, then pushed the line that "election integrity" required making it harder for people to vote. The group issued reports (PDF) on areas in the country of special concern, areas that coincidentally tended to be presidential battleground states. In many of these places, it now appears the White House was pressuring U.S. attorneys to bring more voter-fraud prosecutions.
--------
Sure, one can find a rare case of someone voting in two jurisdictions, but nothing extensive or systematic [in the area of voter fraud] has been unearthed or documented.

The piece also examines the practical difficulties of successfully affecting elections through voter fraud and concludes that such a method would prove extremely (to use the computer geek term) kludgy - "a clumsy or inelegant solution to a problem" and easy to detect and prosecute. Deborah Leavy of the Inky's sister paper, the Daily News makes the further point that a successfully prosecuted case of voter fraud could mean that "For a non-citizen to vote would involve four counts of federal crimes risking 20 years in prison, $40,000 in fines and deportation, all for one measly vote." Seems like an awfully big risk for the voter just to get in an illegal vote.

Nevertheless, the Inky has run two recent letters complaining that voter fraud is a real problem, indicating that they're getting lots and lots of letters on the issue. The above-cited editorial in the Daily News indicates that the voter fraud issue is riding a wave of anti-immigrant hysteria and that right-wing politicians are cheerfully exploiting the issue to help their own political careers.

The right-wing site World Net Daily makes the charge that former President Bill Clinton is sending out a package to unregistered voters that contains the following instructions:

"Here is your personal Voter Identification Card. Sign your name, then detach your card. Bring your card with you to your polling place on Election Day. It will help your voting go more smoothly."

I'd need to see more context and detail to determine whether this package would actually be accepted by polling places as legitimate registrations, as WND charges. Seems to me that fraudulent voters would be taking a big risk (Yes, if Hillary Clinton wins the election, she could make the legal problem for the fraudulent voter go away, but with a $40,000 fine and jail time in the balance, that's a big "if") and that such a polling place would be derelict to accept such a "Voter Identification Card" as legal proof of anything. But it shows that the right wing takes the issue of voter fraud quite seriously.

2008/01/16

Liberal blog demonstrates muscle

Can Daily Kos claim victory for Mitt Romney's success in Michigan's primary? We'll have to wait and see for all of the analyses to be completed, but Rasmussen reported that their last Wednesday's poll had Romney beating John McCain by only 1% (26% to 25%) and at a little after 9:00pm on the 15th, NRO had Romney at 35% and McCain at 29%. On the 10th, Markos Moulitsas (Who runs Daily Kos) suggested: "Let's have some fun in Michigan" by throwing votes to Romney (Who is predicted to be a general election loser at 13% preference to McCain's 22% and Mike Huckabee's 21%, so it's very much in the interest of Democrats to keep Romney in the race) and well, Michigan liberals did! Markos suggested that all loyal Kossacks cross party lines and vote in the Republican primary for Romney. As John Bambenek, a Republican, thought that sounded illegal and launched a lawsuit [Incorrect: he filed a letter with the AG] over it, Kagro X used the suit as an excuse to explain in detail why, no it wasn't illegal. In short, Michigan has no restrictions on voters in presidential primaries crossing party lines. So "the Great Orange Satan" (DKos) triumphs again!!! Woo-hoo!

2008/01/08

Conspiracy theories

I don't really know what this means or how it really fits in with theories that Zionists are controlling US Mideast policy, but 75% of Israelis think that Bush's Mideast peace initiative of only six weeks ago was little more than a photo-op. Oh, and violence has risen. In December, Hamas fired 303 rockets from the Gaza Strip into Israel. It might simply mean that Israelis are discouraged from having entrusted their foreign policy hopes to a President who was incompetent to see to it that those hopes were met.
I watched the film No End in Sight tonight. It's about the incredible c*f* that was and, very sadly, still is the occupation of Iraq. I thought back to all the times since the fall of Baghdad that I just stared at the latest news from that benighted country and wondered how the inhabitants could put up with it. Unfortunately, of course, the answer to that is that they often don't. What are the latest figures? In October 2007, 1.1 million Iraqis had been internally displaced with two million having left the country.
Thinking of the film, not many people count it as an infamous Bush vacation, but I see his August 2003 vacation as one of Bush's most ill-advised. That was taken at a time when it had become clear to citizens like myself that Iraq was undergoing a full-blown insurgency. The Middle East Institute published a study of the Iraq Insurgency during that month (The Pentagon found the study so useful that they asked the author to do an update a year later). What our President needed to do was to cut his vacation down to a week or ten days and to get back to Washington and figure out how to get his Iraq policy back on track. One may find it possible to forgive a war leader for having initially followed a bad plan, but failing to adjust when the plan is a clear failure is utterly unforgivable. The film makes it clear that the screw-ups continued long after that.

2008/01/07

This is from a right-wing source?

Kind of interesting to see that this piece is actually from a right-wing source as it makes precisely the same complaints about our frivolous, decadent press corps that many liberals make (Hat tip to GG). Especially telling were these commenters:


Fred [Thompson] won't kowtow to the media's useful idiots. I'd rather hear a candidate say what he really thinks about the matters that are important to the country, than one who just utters talking points and lies down like a rug for some talking head.

What can I say? Yee-hah!! That was followed by (Another comment further down):

I would consider voting for Fred just for the entertainment value of watching him spend four years slapping around the drooling half-wits in the MSM. 

and another:


The MSM including FOX has gone out of its way to ignore and minimize Fred's viability. They are running as fast as they can away from Conservatism.

and:

In treating the media dolts exactly they way deserve to be treated.
I heard him do a similar slap down on Fox this a.m. When asked why he wasn't making more progress, he pointedly stated that it would be helpful if Fox had reported his success in Iowa, rather than ignoring him completely. 

and this one combines sharp analysis with a reminder that this is, after all, a conservative blog:

For the MSM, It's all about

Column inches and air time! For the reporters of the press and TVs talking heads, exposure equals higher salaries and more power. Still celebrating their role in the Vietnam War defeat they have been humiliated by their failure to take down George Bush and are trying to again become kingmakers. That Fred pretty much refuses to spend time discussing the minutia of the campaign, preferring instead to discuss the serious and important issues that a president will be expected to face, rankles them to no end. Hilarys laugh, Edwards hairdo, Romneys religion, those are the subjects the media wants to discuss, not the important issues that this country faces. No wonder the public rates the media somewhere lower than whale poop!

Hm. The "MSM's" "failure to take down George Bush" eh? Erm, since when did they ever attempt to do so? A press corps that was trying to "take down" Bush would be talking up warrantless wiretapping and Chris Dodd's attempt to filibuster a bill that would have legalized it and the full-court press against Dodd and the Constitution that followed. As former Senator George McGovern points out, it's not like the press would be taking Bush down due to any unworthy motives.

But anyway, it's very interesting to see the right and left-wing blogs agree on something.