He had seen outside of his life, not learned it within

Hatch puts spin on ‘brainless’ comment

Sen. Orrin Hatch backpedaled Tuesday from a recent claim he made asserting that deposed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was supporting al-Qaida, and that “Nobody with brains” would deny the connec- tion.
The assertion was striking not so much for its audacious tone, but because it contradicted the findings of multiple intelligence reviews, including the 9-11 Commission’s report and a review by the Senate Intelligence Committee, on which Hatch sits.
Appearing before a group of Iron County, Utah, business leaders Saturday, Hatch said: “And, more importantly, we’ve stopped a mass murderer in Saddam Hussein. Nobody denies that he was supporting al-Qaida,” he said, according to The Spectrum newspaper in St. George. “Well, I shouldn’t say nobody. Nobody with brains.”
Said John Pike, director of the national security think tank GlobalSecurity.org: “I guess I don’t have a brain, then.
“There’s no doubt that [Iraq] had contact with [al-Qaida]. OK. But I think that it would be something of a stretch to suggest they provided material assistance to them.”
Michael O’Hanlon, a terrorism expert at The Brookings Institution, said there were indeed meetings, but, “I think Senator Hatch went way too far and indeed the body of evidence was that there was no substantiated link.”

Hatch’s original assertion was both batty and irresponsible, especially from a U.S. Senator on the Intelligence Committee. That he’s hedging his correction reminds me of a child in some playground transgression and being forced to apologize, only while doing so he garbles the apology while kicking dirt.

While we’re on the subject of Iraq myths; a myth that I’ve only noticed in the last year so far as gaining any traction is that the Russian intelligence service helped Saddam more his supposed WMD to Syria. Bill O’Reilly and Fox News analyst Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney are doing their part to keep the myth alive. These guys are old enough to know better, the Billster has been written off as a shrill nutcase long ago, but there’s no excuse for McInerney…Arms Move to Syria ‘Unlikely,’ Report Says,

Mr. Duelfer reported that his group, the Iraq Survey Group, believed “it was unlikely that an official transfer of W.M.D. material from Iraq to Syria took place. However, I.S.G. was unable to rule out unofficial movement of limited W.M.D.-related materials.”

In the addendum, he also comes to largely the same conclusion that international weapons inspectors and some European nations argued before the war: that Mr. Hussein’s weapons ambitions were defeated by inspections.


RoboScam: Not Your Father’s Push Poll

The plot thickens. The automated calls we noted Friday received in the New York Congressional District of Republican Congressman John Sweeney (as reported by the Glen Falls, NY Post Star and the Albany Times Union) do not appear to be an isolated incident. Very similar calls have been received in Iowa and at least three other congressional districts held by Democrats that match the pattern of a classic “push poll” dirty trick. Why such calls were also made about a Republican remain unclear, but the answer may be a new high tech development in the inglorious history of political dirty tricks.

[ ]….You want to spread the rumor or exploit the issue without leaving fingerprints. So you hire a telemarketer to make phone calls that pretend to be a political poll. You “ask” only a question or two aimed at spreading the rumor (example: “would you be more or less likely to support John McCain if you knew he had fathered an illegitimate child who was black?”). You want to make as many calls as quickly as possible, so you do not bother with the time consuming tasks performed by most real pollsters, such as asking a lot of questions or asking to speak to a specific or random individual within the household.

new trailer for A Scanner Darkly based on the book by Philip K. Dick, Quicktime

Minifig Famous People # 17: Dick Cheney’s hunting accident constructed in Legos

Anna Leader photography, I liked the landscapes, but there are other subjects too. Even though there’s a Flash interface it loads fairly quick.

Arab Co., White House Had Secret Agreement

The administration did not require Dubai Ports to keep copies of business records on U.S. soil, where they would be subject to court orders. It also did not require the company to designate an American citizen to accommodate U.S. government requests. Outside legal experts said such obligations are routinely attached to U.S. approvals of foreign sales in other industries.

Continuing the last posts theme that Democrats are not allowed to criticize Bush, but conservatives are. Slate’s John Dickerson on “Bush critics you can trust”

“Bush is no conservative … He’s a bad CEO … He was hellbent on war.”

Now, one or two or three of those items may sound familiar to readers of this and other liberal blogs, or any daily newspaper, weekly magazine, monthly or quarterly journal, or pretty much anything other than the children’s menu at a fast food restaurant. That’s because Bush is and has been manifestly radical, incompetent and messianically intent on invading Iraq, and despite the best efforts of reporters and commentators to conform to the Bush as hyper-competent, judicious manly man, it shows. He spends like a drunken sailor, he places cronies in critical management slots, and a mountain of circumstantial and documentary evidence, from O’Neill’s comments to a slew of British memos to Andy Card’s comment about the administration’s marketing effort on the invasion to the embrace of absurdities such as the Niger uranium and the aluminum tubes to, most recently, former CIA official Paul Pillar’s broadside against the administration in Foreign Affairs magazine, that Bush was determined to invade Iraq no matter what.

In Dickerson’s world, though, the attention liberals have paid to those issues has been the product of Bush hating and not observation or analysis. We’re right, you see, but it’s accidental.

I’m not sure that I’m comfortable with the meme that Bush is not really a conservative. To some degree it lets conservatism off the hook and makes Bush’s incompetence, arrogance, and cronyism completely personal. The roots of Bush conservatism surely didn’t grow out of the democratic or libertarian school of governance. As the post at BTC notes, “As more Republicans join the chorus, most of them insiders who have participated in the madness for five years and are now acting purely from an instinct for self preservation…” Whether it was Bush, Rove, or Cheney there was an acknowledgement that the social safety net, largely Medicare and Social Security could not be privatized completely or done away with per conservative doctrine, so they did the next best thing. They made Medicare a windfall for private corporations, and they’ve tried to make Social Security, at least in part a slush fund for Wall Street. Bush has had ample opportunity to rein in ear marks and spending, but what economic up turns we’ve seen in large part have been driven by government spending, with corporate America being one of the biggest recipients. Bush-Rove didn’t turn their backs on conservatism completely, they just bastardized it in a way that at least gave the appearance to some voters that they were compassionate conservatives to win enough votes to eak out election victories..

Something–and this reached him with a pang–that he, John Marcher, hadn’t; the proof of which was precisely John Marcher’s arid end. No passion had ever touched him, for this was what passion meant; he had survived and maundered and pined, but where had been his deep ravage? The extraordinary thing we speak of was the sudden rush of the result of this question. The sight that had just met his eyes named to him, as in letters of quick flame, something he had utterly, insanely missed, and what he had missed made these things a train of fire, made them mark themselves in an anguish of inward throbs. He had seen outside of his life, not learned it within, the way a woman was mourned when she had been loved for herself; such was the force of his conviction of the meaning of the stranger’s face, which still flared for him as a smoky torch. It hadn’t come to him, the knowledge, on the wings of experience; it had brushed him, jostled him, upset him, with the disrespect of chance, the insolence of accident. Now that the illumination had begun, however, it blazed to the zenith, and what he presently stood there gazing at was the sounded void of his life. He gazed, he drew breath, in pain; he turned in his dismay, and, turning, he had before him in sharper incision than ever the open page of his story.

excerpt from The Beast in the Jungle by Henry James