San Juan River wallpaper

San Juan River wallpaper

From Military Disaster to Moral High Ground

The case for liberal interventionism — “taking a stand” — had nothing whatever to do with the Iraq war. Those of us who pressed for American-led military action in Bosnia and Kosovo did so for several reasons: because of the refusal of others (the European Union and United Nations) to engage effectively; because there was a demonstrable and immediate threat to rights and lives; and because it was clear we could be effective in this way and in no other.

None of these considerations applied in Iraq, which is why I and many others opposed the war. However, it is true that United States military intervention in urgent cases will be much harder to justify and explain in future. But that, of course, is a consequence of the Iraq debacle.

Liberal hawks have been quick to swoop down on dovish critics of the American military — condemning in particular MoveOn.org’s criticism of Gen. David Petraeus. Quickly, it has become conventional wisdom that liberals should never disparage the military.

But why not? Soldiers have to respect generals. Civilians don’t. In a free society, it is a sign of robust civic health when generals are pilloried for getting into policy issues. Liberal Democrats should ask themselves whether, amid today’s cult of military “heroes,” a president would dare cashier a Douglas MacArthur for insubordination, as Harry Truman did in 1951 — and what our liberal hawks would say if he did.

Finally: In a democracy, war should always be the last resort — no matter how good the cause. “To jaw-jaw,” as Churchill reminded Eisenhower, “is always better than to war-war.” So the next time someone waxes lyrical for armed overseas intervention in the name of liberal ideals or “defining struggles,” remember what Albert Camus had to say about his fellow intellectuals’ propensity for encouraging violence to others at a safe distance from themselves. “Mistaken ideas always end in bloodshed,” he wrote, “but in every case it is someone else’s blood. That is why some of our thinkers feel free to say just about anything.”

I had thought of myself as something of a liberal hawk, but then those like surreal Tom Friedman and the delusional Joesph Lieberman mad me rethink my self description. Sure the idea that while the invasion of Iraq was based on fabulouslistc spin maybe, just maybe things would work out for the best. Contrary to the Right’s childish accusations that liberals were hoping for failure from day one. I still believe that American military intervention can still be a force for good when used in the right place under the right circumstances. Iraq was the worse of places and circumstances. If nothing else there was no urgency. Dealing with Saddam could have been put on the back burner as one pundit wrote six years ago. We should have finished the job of destroying al-Queda in Afghanistan and Osama Bin Laden. For the neoliberals that salient fact shouldn’t be too much for them to admit. BTC News had this recent post on  Friedman – Is Thomas Friedman the stupidest pundit on the planet?

Friedman, though, can’t bring himself to admit that it wasn’t “us”, but him. He probably can’t imagine circumstances under which he could be deluded or deranged or imbecilic while a hundred million or so of his fellow citizens weren’t. Louis XIV said “L’État, c’est Moi” — “I am the State”; Tom Friedman says “Si je suis aliéné, nous sommes tous aliénés” — “If I’m insane, we’re all insane.” It’s a Friedman-centric universe.

Well, but he’s better now, and shouldn’t we welcome him back to the fold?

No. Screw him. The column, which is a broadside against Rudy Giuliani and any other presidential candidate “who runs on the 9/11 platform”, contains not a word of apology.

Cynicism is an unpleasant way of saying the truth

Charge: Desperate To Curry Favor With Bush, CBS Execs Tried Not To Run Abu Ghraib Story

The lawsuit adds elsewhere that CBS chief Sumner Redstone “considered it to be in his corporate interest to curry favor with the Bush administration.”

Again, some stuff about CBS’ foot-dragging has been known for years, but the details here are really key. If true, it’s pretty surprising that CBS, in apparent response to government pressure, allegedly tried to downplay its own scoop by airing it only once and not precede it with on-air promotion.

I wasn’t sure what to think of Mr Rather’s lawsuit. I’m still not sure. There was some evidence all along that suggests that the substance of the Killian documents was true. Now that it appears CBS and the corporate powers behind Rather’s railroading might be in the hot seat. Things could get interesting.

Recently we had this story where Congressman Moran simply questioned AIPAC’s influence in Washington and the knee jerk response from Republicans was that he was antisemitic. There is always a certain irony in Republican moaning about any kind of bias because ultimately they still carry an awful lot of baggage in the antisemetism department, International Jew Conspiracy. That would be courtesy Investor Business Daily and a right-wing blogger named Captain’s Quarters that tries to sell himself a moderate temperate conservative. And prime rib is the same thing as baloney.

There are many ways to kill something. One is to talk it to death, That MoveOn Ad

The whole fracas of Petraeus, Crocker, MoveOn, etc. has had, to a good first approximation, no impact whatsoever on anything of any significance. Bush continues to be stubborn. Republicans continue to back Bush. The war continues to go poorly and continues to be unpopular. There was nothing else that ever could have happened. A bunch of editors and politicians talked themselves into believing that this September showdown was crucially significant, but they were all wrong and their theory never made any sense.

Any one mad at MoveOn or Democrats for the ad is just using up some energy that could be constructively used on another issue. Did those who are so upset on the Democratic side think that ad made the slightest bit of difference in what Petraeus would say or his level of honesty. Bush and Republicans using fear, the troops and some perversion of patriotism for political cover is SOP. Glued to Our Seats in the Theater of WarTall Tales from the Annals of the Bush Administration

Part of the answer is revealed in the most astounding polling figure of recent weeks. A New York Times poll asked, “Who do you trust the most with successfully resolving the war in Iraq?” In response, only 5% of those polled gave the nod to the Bush administration, just 21% to Congress, but fully 68% — more than two out of three — plunked for “the military.”

Once again, the top-rated show of the season is evidently that all-time favorite, “The Military Saves the Day,” a sequel to the smash hit of the past several seasons, “Support Our Troops.” No wonder the White House brought its hero and surge commander, General David Petraeus, on stage for the final scene in this act of a seemingly unending drama. No wonder Bush used the general as cover, not only for continuing the war, but for making his own shadowy compromises in his September 13 address to the nation (which, by the way, drew a far smaller audience than his last major speech introducing his surge plan, or “new way forward,” on Jan. 10). “General Petraeus recommends that in December, we begin transitioning to the next phase of our strategy,” the President said. “Our troops will focus on a more limited set of tasks.” It was as if, all of a sudden, the newly four-starred general, and not the President, were now the commander-in-chief.

This actually isn’t the first time Bush has put on a little sock puppet show using a military face. Remember Colin Powell’s slide show for Congress that lead up to the occupation of Iraq. Like many people I respected General Powell enough to listen even if we were on different political sides. The same is true of many Americans and General Patraeus. The American people know they have an arrogant inept frat boy in the Whitehouse, even most Republicans realize that even if they don’t admit it publicly. That’s what makes Patraeus’s recent performance all the more disappointing. The American people were looking for someone to find them a dignified way out of the Iraq. The polls haven’t changed, everybody still thinks we’re stuck in Iraq without a real plan and even a great plan at this point can’t bring back all the people that have died for Republican lies..

Cynicism is an unpleasant way of saying the truth. ~ Lillian Hellman

You might just as well say, that “I like what I get” is the same thing as “I get what I like”

Just in case you missed it an excerpt from How to Win a Fight with a Conservative by Dan Kurtzman

False Choice: Offering only two options for consideration when there are clearly other valid choices.

Example: “If we give up the fight in the streets of Baghdad, we will face the terrorists in the streets of our own cities.” —George W. Bush

Strawman: Oversimplifying, exaggerating, caricaturing, of otherwise misrepresenting your position without regard to fact. In doing this, your opponent sets up a figurative strawman that he can easily knock down to prove his point.

Example: “Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 in the attacks and prepared for war; liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers.” —Karl Rove

Shifting The Burden of Proof: Presenting an argument as commonly accepted truth, failing to support it with any evidence, and then forcing you to prove otherwise. This tactic is employed out of laziness or to mask the reality that the facts are not on your opponent’s side.

Example: “I think the burden is on those people who think he didn’t have weapons of mass destruction to tell the world where they are.” —[Former White House press secretary] Ari Fleischer, on Saddam Hussein’s alleged WMDs

Slippery Slope Leaping to wild, sometimes inexplicable conclusions—going, say, from Step One to Step Two and then all the way to Step Ten without establishing any discernible connection. By using this kind of leapfrog logic, a person can come to any conclusion he damn well pleases.

Example: “All of a sudden, we see riots, we see protests, we see people clashing. The next thing we know, there is injured or there is dead people. We don’t want to get to that extent.” —Arnold Schwarzenegger, on the dangers posed by gay marriage.

Probably the most often heard unsupported assertion we here is that Iraq is not only the front in the war on terror, a misleading statement and ultimately part of what fuels the Bush cycle of defeat, but the often shrill assertion that extracting ourselves from that quagmire will result in members of the “greatCaliphate” coming to America. The consequences,

And then we will have to be Muslims and “our women” will be forced into burkas and there will be no more music or gay bars or churches or blogs. This is an actual fear that they have — not a theoretical fear but one that is pressing, urgent, at the forefront of their worldview.

And their key political beliefs — from Iraq to Iran to executive power and surveillance theories at home — are animated by the belief that all of this is going to happen. The Republican presidential primary is, for much of the “base,” a search for who will be the toughest and strongest in protecting us from the Islamic invasion — a term that is not figurative or symbolic, but literal: the formidable effort by Islamic radicals to invade the U.S. and take over our institutions and dismantle our government and force us to submit to Islamic rule or else be killed.

This serves to remind us of some of the many contradictory accusations that the Right regurgitates regularly – liberals are communists or liberals are the rich intellectual elite. We’re neither and damn close to impossible to be both. Much like the constant accusation that liberals are hostile to religion, but they sometimes in the very next breath accuse liberals of loving jihadists. Some of the Right is well aware of the contradiction, but what counts in that they push the maximum amount of demonizing into the debate in as few barely intelligible words as possible i.e “Oversimplifying, exaggerating, caricaturing, of otherwise misrepresenting your position without regard to fact.”

Chris Floyd adds up Bush’s record in Iraq and the latest round of administration hyperbole and actions directed at Iran. Chris draws conclusions. They’re disturbing, but at this point what actions have the Bushies taken that were not maliciousness mixed with arrogance, Project Management: Bushists Through the Looking-Glass on Iran Charges

..that the Bush Administration has been fomenting sectarian and political violence in Iraq by arming – and in some cases, creating – militias, factions, terrorist groups, death squads and overt and covert “security forces.” [See Appendix below.] Based on reports taken from the publicly available sources, most often from Pentagon and White House officials, it is clear that over the course of the war, the groups thus supported and empowered by the Bush Administration have included practically every side in the kaleidoscopic conflict that has torn the conquered nation apart: Baathists, Shiites and Sunnis of various stripes, Kurds, tribes, spies, even a group of exiled Iranian cultists that Saddam Hussein had employed as brutal muscle in repressing his people.

The only thing that Bush has succeed at is the intensification and prolonging of the violence and sectarian divisions in Iraq. All the while of course using the boots on the ground as expendable pawns – something of a well established standard operation procedure of the Mayberry Machiavellis.

How good lawyers sprout whiskers and top hats after drinking too much national-security punch

Early in the argument in the first case, Hepting v. AT&T, Judge McKeown asked Deputy Solicitor General Gregory G. Garre whether President Bush still stood behind his statement that the government does no domestic wiretapping without first obtaining a court warrant. Garre said yes. McKeown wondered aloud how it can possibly be “a state secret” that that the government is not intercepting millions of customers’ communications illegally. How can the absence of an illegal program be a secret?

In a rhetorical flourish that would impress even the March Hare, Garre responded that if the appeals court allowed that issue to proceed to trial, the plaintiffs would be “forcing the government to prove a negative … that takes us precisely into the heartland of state secrets.” Follow along, little children: If the government had to prove that something that doesn’t happen, doesn’t happen, it would have to divulge everything that does happen. Um, how’s that?

March Hare: You might just as well say, that “I like what I get” is the same thing as “I get what I like”!
The Dormouse: You might just as well say, that “I breathe when I sleep” is the same thing as “I sleep when I breathe”! – from Alice in Wonderland

Ignorance is the parent of fear

Republican blogger American Thinker, August 16, 2007, It’s Not Just Scott Beauchamp, By Randall Hoven

Scott Beauchamp, The New Republic (2007). Lying. TNR hired this U.S. Army private and husband of one of its own reporters to write first-hand accounts from Iraq. One of his accounts, supposedly demonstrating the dehumanizing effects of the Iraq war on him and fellow soldiers, occurred in Kuwait before Beauchamp even entered Iraq. Other parts of his writing are likely false, and if not, constitute military crimes on his part. In fact, his anonymous writing from a war zone is likely against military rules. This story is currently unfolding.

Is the story unfolding or did Beauchamp/TNR lie. So far there is no proof that Beauchamp lied, only that he got one detail in one story wrong. In just this one entry American Thinker matches Beauchamp’s and TNR’s record. If AT is fed up with the media not getting the details right they might want to start with some housekeeping of their own. The media is flawed as are all of America’s institutions, but as usual that is not AT’s problem, not really. The idea is to take cases of sloppy reporting and just plan old laziness and use them to prove that the MEDIA is not to be trusted until Conservatives, a special hybrid of homo sapiens blessed with special knowledge of the truth gives the story their nod of approval. Funny how he lets Mark Halperin of ABC off with a well he admitted it in regards to pimping for George Bush. Even funnier how there is one conspicuously missing name from the AT list, New York Times war cheerleader Judith Miller.

And I didn’t notice anything about right-wing blogger Ben Domenech and his fact free plagiaristic romps while at the Washington Post.

Yes its an editorial so one has to give them some slack since it is not a straight up news story, but the opinions expressed are based on factual errors, Perfect. Fred Hiatt’s WaPo Edit Page Still Pushing Bogus “Petraeus Report” Line

Yesterday I wondered whether the big news orgs would continue describing the imminent September Iraq progress report as representing solely the word of General Petraeus — as the Gospel According To Petraeus — now that we know that the report is being written by the White House. As Atrios put it, “a major test of our media right now is whether this bait and switch enters the basic narrative or not.”

Well, we now have our first major failure of that test, and fittingly, it’s The Washington Post’s editorial page, which at this point is devoting its powerful opinion-shaping real estate to little more than a rearguard effort to salvage what’s left of the reputations of Beltway war supporters. And not only does WaPo’s editorial page today not acknowledge that “bait and switch,” it actually continues to try and maintain the fiction that the September report will represent the sole word of Petraeus.

Hiatt belongs to the same rhetorical country club as the AT blog. Given the space in one of the country’s leading opinion pages Hiatt doesn’t use that space to inform readers, he in fact uses it to mislead people into thinking the upcoming report from General Petraeus will be the unvarnished truth from the general. The contrary is true, the general will be part of a ventriloquists act with the White writing the script and pulling the strings. The Right, the self portrayed holy guardians of and noble seekers of the truth and nothing but the truth given a platform in the same media that they constantly accuse of being too liberal or generally untrustworthy because same media can’t get the facts straight mangled the facts. They even seem to parrot a faxed set of talking points from the Bush Whitehouse. Reid: Administration Owes Congress, American People An Honest Report On Iraq in September

“The White House’s effort to prevent General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker from testifying openly and candidly beforeCongress about the situation in Iraq is unacceptable. Not only does it contradict the law President Bush himself signed in May, but it appears to be yet another politically driven attempt to avoid giving Congress and the American people an honest and open assessment of a war we can all see is headed in the wrong direction.

“From the very beginning of this war, the Bush Administration has refused to level with the American people about its flawed policy. It has instead done everything in its power to escape accountability and mislead us about the reality on the ground. The result: an open-ended civil war that has taken nearly 4,000 American soldiers’ lives and an Iraqi government that refuses to take responsibility for its own country.

An embarrassed Fox News hits Wikipedia

Fox News tried to exploit Wikipedia, and got caught, so naturally it’s time to undermine the source of the network’s embarrassment. Typical.

As in the case of Scott Beauchamp, John Murtha, the Haditha story, Sen. John Kerry, the Katrina disaster their first and last impulse is to attack and smear.

Of course the NYT is liberal, well maybe not NY Times reported Rove claims about Clinton’s votes on surveillance without noting they are false

In writing about Karl Rove’s August 15 appearance on Rush Limbaugh’s radio show, New York Times reporter Patrick Healy reported that Rove claimed Sen. Hillary Clinton “opposed the USA Patriot Act, domestic surveillance programs and other antiterrorism measures.” The Times did not note that Clinton, in fact, voted for both the original USA Patriot Act in 2001 and its reauthorization in 2006. Healy also misrepresented what Rove actually said when he falsely accused Clinton of opposing certain changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

There is a tremendous amount of false framing that goes with this liberal media clown party that the Right likes to throw on a regular basis. Some of what they site as liberal bias is simply poor reporting or human error. In some cases they represent a column from the editorial page as a news story and since those, like Hiatt’s express opinions the Right points to that opinion as proof of liberal reporting when its an apples and oranges comparison. The press in many ways has been intimidated by the Right. The broadcast media in particular sticks a microphone in some Republican spokesman’s face, gets a statement, doesn’t questions the particulars of the statement yet considers his job done for the day. Editor and Publisher in writing about a few flaks in a news room cheering when Rove resigned, Seattle Editor Declares, Keep Political Views to Yourself — Then Responds to Reaction

I ask you all to leave your personal politics at the front door for one simple reason: A good newsroom is a sacred and magical place in which we can and should test every assumption, challenge each other’s thinking, ask the fundamental questions those in power hope we will overlook.

If we wore our politics on our sleeves in here, I have no doubt that in this and in most other mainstream newsrooms in America, the majority of those sleeves would be of the same color: blue. Survey after survey over the years have demonstrated that most of the people who go into this business tend to vote Democratic, at least in national elections. That is not particularly surprising, given how people make career decisions and that social service and activism is a primary driver for many journalists.

But if we allowed our news meetings to evolve into a liberal latte klatch, I have no doubt that a pathological case of group-think would soon set in. One of the advances of which I’m most proud over the years is our willingness to question and challenge each other as we work to give our readers the most valuable, meaningful journalism we can.

The result: A newspaper that is known nationally for aggressive watchdog and investigative reporting, without fear or favor. From a Democratic United States senator (Brock Adams) to our region’s biggest employer (Boeing) to a large advertiser (Nordstrom) to our school districts and courts and police, we have confronted them all with tough questions to which they had no good answers. The result has been a better community, laws changed, lives saved.

It’s not about “balance,” which is a false construct. It isn’t even about “objectivity,” which is a laudable but probably unattainable goal. It is about independent thinking and sound, facts-based journalism — the difference between what we do and the myopic screed that is passed off as “advocacy” journalism these days.

The Right will never acknowledge the reality of a regular news room. An individual reporter might belong to one party or the other, but first and foremost they belong to the club of journalism and that is their first loyalty. The national memory is as many have said is about two weeks long, some of the people reading this post were toddlers when for almost his entire presidency the press, especially the NYT and Newsweek went into 24/7 attack mode against President Bill Clinton. When is the last time you heard a right-wing pundit lament Bill’s treatment at the hands of the same press they insist in so liberal. The media’s first loyalty is getting the big juicy story. Where are those reporters now with an administration so scandal ridden that the memories of last year’s scandals, and the year before become a blur. Where are the loops of video of Bush, Cheney, Rice, Gonzales and Rumsfeld lying played over and over again.

Michelle Malkin among others fonds all over the AT post. Which brings up the absurd generality that the MEDIA is liberal. Malkin is the media – blogs, newspaper columns, books, TV show guest and host.

O’Reilly – radio, books, TV and newspapers. He is the media. The same for Hannity and Limbaugh. Ann Coulter – books, internet and newspaper columns. Frequent guest on TV. Hugh Hewitt right-wing radio, internet, etc..

So when the Right says MEDIA, that’s just Republispeak for anyone that tells truths they don’t like.

“Ignorance is the parent of fear . . .” – from Moby Dick by Herman Melville

update: FBI Director’s Notes Contradict Gonzales’s Version Of Ashcroft Visit

Mueller’s description of Ashcroft’s physical condition that night contrasts with testimony last month from Gonzales, who told the Senate Judiciary Committee that Ashcroft was “lucid” and “did most of the talking” during the brief visit. It also confirms an account of the episode by former deputy attorney general James B. Comey, who said Ashcroft told the two men he was not well enough to make decisions in the hospital.

Why is it that so much of the time the truth seems to have a liberal bias.

Poor Bill Richardson, he was really running for vice-president or Secretary of State anyway, Richardson Aide Quits After Brothel Link Discovery

One of Democratic presidential candidate Bill Richardson’s top organizers in rural Nevada resigned Thursday after the campaign learned he had worked for a brothel and was wanted on a felony arrest warrant in California.

I don’t know jokes; I just watch the government and report the facts

Speaking of wing-nuts lying, 9/11 workers outraged by new Rudy claim

“This is not a mayor or a governor or a President who’s sitting in an ivory tower,” Giuliani said. “I was at Ground Zero as often, if not more, than most of the workers. I was there working with them. I was exposed to exactly the same things they were exposed to. So in that sense, I’m one of them.”

His statement rang false to Queens paramedic Marvin Bethea, who said he suffered a stroke, posttraumatic stress disorder and breathing problems after responding to the attacks.

“I personally find that very, very insulting,” he said.

Giuliani’s Ground Zero Claim: ‘I’m One of Them’

Reacting even more strongly, Fire Captain James Riches, whose firefighter son lost his life in the attacks, called Giuliani “a liar” and said he was “living in a dreamland.”

But hey don’t pay attention to Rudy’s fabrications, the New Republic/Scott Beauchamp story is what’s important. When a prominent Republican tells the most blatant and in this case insulting and immoral lies and the right-wing bloggers are strangely silent and not in the least determined to get the truth out. Not a strange phenomenon at all, just another day.

Are GOP leaders leaking secrets to America’s enemies?

In an opinion article published in the New York Post Thursday, Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich., reported the top-secret budget for human spying had decreased — the type of detail normally kept under wraps for national security reasons.

Indeed, Hoekstra’s penchant for openness appears to be selective. He has aggressively attacked unnamed opponents guilty of such leaking, accusing them of “recklessly and illegally” disclosing secrets “for political or other motives” in reports published by his committee.

This would be the same Hoekstra that falsely accused a Democratic aid of leaks. For which if we had a government that operated in the best interests of the people and rule of law Hoekstra would have been booted out of office.  Then of course there was House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio who was blabbing secrets to Neil Cavuto on Faux just recently. When a Republican leaks it smells like roses. One set of rules for the elite and one set for the rest of us. The CarpetBagger points out that the financial/manpower information Hoekstra leaked was in the classified portion of the legislation – Another illegal GOP leak?

Another day another Scott Beauchamp update, The New Republic here, A Scott Beauchamp Update

Here’s what we know: On July 26, Beauchamp told us that he signed several statements under what he described as pressure from the Army. He told us that these statements did not contradict his articles. Moreover, on the same day he signed these statements for the Army, he gave us a statement standing behind his articles, which we published at tnr.com. Goldfarb has written, “It’s pretty clear the New Republic is standing by a story that even the author does not stand by.” In fact, it is our understanding that Beauchamp continues to stand by his stories and insists that he has not recanted them. The Army, meanwhile, has refused our requests to see copies of the statements it obtained from Beauchamp–or even to publicly acknowledge that they exist.

The Democratic Daily, who has been following this story closely here, Sadists On Parade. Just a couple points: Phil Carter is someone who I admire and was disappointed that he rushed to such a sloppy judgment. The Rightie blogs are still lying about what is known about Beauchamp’s stories. So the idea that they are genuinely interested in the truth dies another death at the keyboard warrior’s blistered pinkies. Talking Point Memo writes the post I would have written if I was a better writer, Beauchamp Update

If you’ve been following the Scott Thomas Beauchamp Affair, I strongly recommend reading the latest update from The New Republic. The short version is that the Army’s investigation of the case appears to be confined to a) releasing no information about their investigation or details of its findings, b) leaking alleged details to the Weekly Standard, which no one will confirm on the record and c) keeping Beauchamp himself in communications lockdown where no one but family members in monitored conversations can communicate with him.

Perhaps Beauchamp made this stuff up. And that’s not a throwaway line; I freely concede it may turn out to be the case. There’s no getting around the fact that the legacy of the Glass Affair puts an extra hurdle of credibility in TNR’s way.

The Beauchamp story is riddled with the kind of subtle details the Righties hate. They want to reduce the whole thing to he lied, end of story. What we know so far just doesn’t boil down to a story that simplistic. Conservatives are above things like lying and sleaze that’s why they’re so attuned to stories like Beauchamps, RNC Voter “Audit” Letter Raises Questions

What 83 year-old William Sidwell of Queen City, Missouri found in his mailbox last week scared him. It was a letter from the Republican National Committee, but it seemed to bear grave news: “Our records show that you registered as a member of our Party in Schuyler County, MO,” the letter said. “But a recent audit of your Party affiliation turned up some irregularities.”

Audit? Irregularities? Was he in trouble? Were they threatening him? Sidwell went immediately to his ask his son, Dennis, a licensed public accountant, for advice. You can see the letter, and the accompanying “Voter Registration Verification and Audit Form,” right here. Particularly puzzling to the both of them, Dennis told me, is that his father is a life-long Democrat.

Not to worry the mighty Rightie bloggers will get to the bottom of this scam to shake down a 83 year old voter because like the truth matters dude.

“I don’t know jokes; I just watch the government and report the facts.” – Will Rogers

08/10/07 DoD Identifies Marine Casualty
Cpl. Reynold Armand, 21, of Rochester, N.Y., died Aug. 7 in Balad, Iraq. He was assigned to 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.
08/10/07 WaPo: In the Land of the Blood Feuds
“We are in the land of the blood feuds,” said Maj. Rick Williams, a liaison to tribes in the area. “It’s very difficult to tell a tribal fight from a sectarian fight because interests are pretty mixed. You can’t just put up a fence.”
08/10/07 iol: Car bomb claims 11 lives (update)
A car bomb killed 11 people and wounded 45 others near a market in a Kurdish district of the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk on Friday, police said.
08/10/07 MoD Identifies Army Casualties
Lance Sergeant Casey and Lance Corporal Redpath were killed when their Snatch Armoured Land Rover was hit by an Improvised Explosive Device during an operation to the north of the Rumaylah oilfields, which is to the west of Basra City.
08/10/07 Reuters: 3 bodies found in Rutba
Police said they found the bodies of three people in the western Iraqi town of Rutba, near the Jordanian border.

For every credibility gap there is a gullibility fill

I was going to try and post the pertinent details of what happened with changes to FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act). It appears according to TalkLeft that the compromise Democrats had worked out was trashed and they caved to Bush’s demands (The FISA Upshot)/ There are troubling aspects to this bill not the least of which is the Justice Department or really Attorney General Alberto “I Don’t recall” Gonzales will be given greater powers over the program. Letting the inmates run the asylum is a clue to how much these revisions will further erode the civil liberties of every American. What the White House Doesn’t Like About the FISA Fix– Oversight

First, the bill does not immunize telecommunications companies for violating FISA during the past six years. It does offer immunization for their participation in programs authorized under the proposed bill.

All legal challenges to the Bushies program have been thrown out of court except one with administration lawyers arguing that any court proceedings would compromise national security. From now on it looks as though any communications company that cooperates will get automatic legal immunity so even filing suit would be a waste of time. The administration with the consent of a weak kneed Congress will be able to treat everyone and anyone as a suspect. Not much of a change from current state of affairs they have just formalized the series of rubber stamps and given telecommunications companies more protection from liability. More Tales from the “Unitary” Executive (or, What’s Going On with the FISA Fix/Mess?) – the short version is the Whitehouse had agreed to what many consider extraordinary expansion of FISA then at the last minute said that wasn’t enough they wanted more and of course played the we’re all gonna die card because Democrats won’t give President 29% Approval Rating what he wants. As Democrats and their pollsters sit around scratching their heads over why their approval rating isn’t much better then Bush’s look no further then their failure to face down Bush over the most fundamental violations of American values and legal precedent. As Marty Lederman points out the original FISA law was debated and hearings were held over the course of 3 years. Is there hope. yes, if the House stands its ground. Then again remember that regardless of the final revamp of FISA, Gonzo loyalty to Bush first, the rule of law last will be in charge.

Almost as regularly as Old Faithfuls eruptions we seem to have some kind of prostitution eruption associated with Republicans, Scott Thomas Beauchamp

And it turns out that the Weekly Standard, which did one of the slimiest hatchet-jobs under the byline of Michael Goldfarb, relied in large part on the word of a former porn star-cum-prostitute (who is currently being investigated by the Marine Corps for soliciting private donations to fund a deployment to Iraq he apparently never made) to level its charges that the TNR pieces were fabrications.

UPDATED: Weekly Standard used alleged former male escort Matt Sanchez as source to attack credibility of a TNR “Baghdad Diarist”

In an effort to undermine a New Republic article by Army Pvt. Scott Thomas Beauchamp about alleged inappropriate conduct by U.S. troops in Iraq, an article by Weekly Standard reporter Matthew Goldfarb relied on Marine Cpl. Matt Sanchez as the only military source identified by name but did not reveal facts that weigh on the credibility of Sanchez’s attacks on The New Republic article: that Sanchez, whose website describes him as a “Marine Reservist” who is “[p]resently in Iraq interviewing the troops,” has reportedly been under investigation by the Marines over allegations that he bilked private donors out of $12,000 for a deployment to Iraq he never made and that he apparently once worked as a male escort. He has also admitted to having been in gay porn films, a fact he has acknowledged “leaving … off my curriculum vitae.”

So in the frenzy of the right-wing hate fest they seem to have brought a notorious right-wing nut case into the limelight. As I was writing this the right-wing blogs that refer to Sanchez as their ultimate authority and the final word on Beauchamp’s credibility includes – Confederate Yankee, Flopping Aces, Weekly Standard, baldilocks, michellemalkin.com, Townhall.com, Wake up America, Power Line, A Blog For All, QandO and Little Green Footballs. So lets all stand and give a big salute to these paragons of credibility for siting a male prostitute/con man as their unassailable rock solid source. The facts don’t support their attacks on Beauchamp and his fellow soldiers, but in some ways as is usually the case that isn’t the point. They threw a little feast for the crumb eaters that hang out in their comment sections who dutifully ate all the little bits, their hate satiated crawled off to sleep content that their echo chamber had assured them their tidy twisted world view is still intact.

“For every credibility gap there is a gullibility fill.” – Richard Clopton

Isn’t it sad, beleaguered, and familiar?

Reid: President’s Flawed Iraq Strategy Distracts Us From Effectively Fighting An Emboldened Al Qaeda

“Despite what the President would like us to believe, it has been established that Al Qaeda had no active cells in Iraq when we invaded, and we have long known that we were not attacked from Iraq on 9/11. Saying otherwise does not make it so. The Administration’s own National Intelligence Estimate reported last week that the war is Al Qaeda’s most effective tool for recruiting terrorists and raising money. Meanwhile, Al Qaeda is growing stronger and Osama bin Laden operates freely along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border nearly six years after the Sept. 11 attacks. (emphasis mine)

Senator Reid demonstrates how to get on the right-wing hit list. Just speak the truth. The truth is the Right’s biggest enemy and the reason we have the r-w noise machine – Fox News, The Washington Times, the AM radio shock jocks, the conservative newspaper columnists and the beltway mentality typified by Matthews and Russert. The hope is they throw up enough dirt that people can’t see the truth – GOP picks a villain: Harry Reid

Senate Republicans are preparing to take aim at Majority Leader Harry Reid over the August recess for being “all talk but no action” and helping drag the Democrat-led Congress’ approval rating to a historic low, according to a document distributed to caucus members.

Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona, chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, is meeting with members yesterday and today to disseminate a message critical of Democrats for endlessly debating the Iraq war, stalling judicial nominations and squandering time on at least 300 investigations of the Bush administration.

“We really ought to be asking why this Democrat leadership won’t allow Congress to move forward on serious policy debates,” Mr. Kyl said, when asked about the talking-points memorandum he is circulating.

As The Carpetbagger points out it is Kyl and his hypocritical brethren in the Senate, aided and a bedded by the media that are obstructing any progress. Want more sunshine and less unnecessary autocratic secrecy in government, Kyl was there to stop reform of the Freedom of Information Act. Most Americans think the president should adhere to laws passed by Congress including FISA laws in regards to domestic surveillance, Kyl was there to obstruct the vote on issuing subpoenas – in other words he did his best to obstruct justice. It is Kyl among most other Republicans that are blocking legislation from even coming to a vote. What are Republicans afraid of – apparently the will of the American people, GOP Gets Desperate, Hits Harry Reid Over Debating Iraq. If this was just politics as usual one could almost be thankful for Republicans engaging in such blatant dishonesty, but their maniacal intent on continued failure in Iraq is costing lives everyday. Senators like Kyl will likely pay in the 2008 election cycle, but in the perverse world of the Right they see themselves as martyrs for the cause. The righty spin masters might have turned up the volume too soon, a bit of premature false outrage. The public has plenty of time to sort out the facts and since the NASCAR dads and soccer moms have been lied to so often in the last six years about everything from WMD to falling skies a few might just be checking the actual records of the dead enders like Kyl and look at the Democratic record,

Democratic Accomplishments in the 110th Congress: Leading America in a New Direction
Less than six months into the 110th Congress, Senate Democrats have made significant strides in passing important, common-sense legislation that reflect the priorities of the American people. After nearly a decade of Republican control, Democrats have worked to restore fiscal responsibility in Washington and pass key legislation on Iraq policy, homeland security, troop readiness, veterans’ health care, economic competitiveness, ethics reform, the minimum wage, health care, education, energy independence, stem cell research, and Gulf Coast revitalization.

Sure they could do better, but Democrats have to deal with Bush’s sudden discovery of the veto and Republicans who will not let important legislation even come up for a vote. This was the same party that when they were the majority threatened the “nuclear” option on the filibuster. How quickly the worm turns.

Most Americans are outraged at the spectacle of a man we have as Attorney General. Part of me finds Alberto Gonzales morally repugnant, yet part of me is fascinated by the spectacle. Gonzales as the flashing neon light of Bush administration corruption, This Guy’s Still Here?

“Good,” Gonzales says, which he must immediately regret, because it’s a trap. After some whispering from the row of aides sitting behind him, Gonzales says that he “did misspeak” at the June press conference, “but I went back and clarified it with a reporter.” Which reporter? More whispering. “Dan Eggen, at the Washington Post, two days later.” Schumer presses. Gonzales repeats, “I clarified my statement to the reporter.” Then, after more questions and more whispering, “I didn’t speak directly to the reporter.” There’s an intake of breath around the room, and it’s not just from the women wearing pink whose hats and banner and mouth tape read “Fire Gonzales.”

“What did your spokespeople say to him?” Schumer asks.

“I don’t know,” Gonzales answers.

This is either a petty hunt or precisely what is wrong with Gonzales as attorney general. He says one thing, then he says another; he tries again, then runs over himself. “If you want to be attorney general, you should be able to clarify yourself,” Schumer scolds him.

What is bothering me and many Americans is the lack of shame and the lack of effort to tell a plausible lie. By his actions Gonzales is saying in so many ways that his boss has assured him as is this administration’s custom that it will stand by its inept cronies no matter how corrupt. In this case it makes sense because Alberto just did what Bush/Rove told him to do.

“Isn’t it sad, beleaguered, and familiar?” – Emily Bazelon

Daff never misses a cue

The Commander Guy has decided that betraying your country and severely compromising our national security is no big deal and let’s just call it a day, he’s tired of hearing about, For First Time, President Acknowledges Role of an Administration Official in Leak of CIA Operative

Bush did not discuss his reasoning in depth yesterday. “It’s been a tough issue for a lot of people in the White House, and it’s run its course and now we’re going to move on,” he said.

Liberal as in fair minded and accurate. No one can accuse ABC and Jake Tapper of either fair or accurate today, ABC Hit Piece On Reid Embraced By Right Wing
While I was over at Think Progress reading the post on Tapper’s hackery I followed this link to a report by the Center for American Progress, Reclaiming Control of U.S. Security in the Middle East

The current Iraq strategy is exactly what Al Qaeda wants—the United States distracted and pinned down by Iraq’s internal conflicts and trapped in a quagmire that has become the perfect rallying cry and recruitment tool for Al Qaeda. The United States has no good options given the strategic and tactical mistakes made on Iraq since 2002, but simply staying the course with an indefinite military presence is not advancing U.S. interests.

Instead, the United States must reset its strategy by looking beyond the deteriorating situation in Iraq in order to counter the threat from global terrorist groups and ensure stability in the entire Middle East and Gulf region. To do this, we need to develop a new overall Middle East strategy, not just a series of tactics focused heavily on Iraq. Retired Marine Corps General John Sheehan succinctly identified the main problem when turning down the Bush administration’s offer to serve as the White House “czar” for Iraq and Afghanistan:

“What I found in discussions with current and former members of this administration is that there is no agreed-upon strategic view of the Iraq problem or the region … the current Washington decision-making process lacks a linkage to a broader view of the region and how the parts fit together strategically.”

No one likes to click the links, but American Progress’s study refutes much of the Conservative spin that seems to dominate the TV airwaves. If Mr. Tapper and ABC ever become interested in a more accurate point by point description of a moderate sane view of the situation in Iraq there are contacts for American Progress at the bottom of the report. Yes ABC if you give a truly balanced picture of the current Iraq debacle you’ll get some hate mail and threats from the rabid Right, but that flack comes with the job of being responsible and fair in coverage of important issues. Tapper could benefit in that he can show he can have a little give and take with something other then paper tigers of his own invention.

This is probably causing Bush and Joe Lieberman fits. Taking away the cornerstone of the bomb Iran before its too late movement, Iran agrees to U.N. nuclear inspection

A comment a TPM reader left was promoted to the front page, Having It Both Ways

I may have missed any commentary on this, but no one seems to be pointing out that Bush spent the whole press conference say we are fighting Al Queda, then concluded by disagreeing that Al Queda is stronger then it was in 2001. In 2001, they highjacked four airliners using box cutters and today, according to administration spin, they have the entire United States Army bogged down! How do people sit there and not start laughing, I don’t know.

Great common sense, but the problem is common sense is wasted on the Right. They don’t care if they contradict themselves every other day. The whole idea is to create noise and from the noise enough confusion and contention they get a good segment of the American people to throw up their hands in disgust and give up.

Bugs Bunny: Daff never misses a cue.

Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003)

Republican delusions are after all cheaper then Prozac

New Gallup data show confidence in Congress at all time low

Just 14% of Americans have a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in Congress.

Of course the fringe Right is all over this, but as usual their take is all spin and little substance. The Right is part of the poll and of course they get pissed over whenever Senator Reid suggests that the generals that Bush chooses to run the quagmire in the Middle-East have been better at kissing up to The Decider then they have been stellar strategists. The reason many rand and file Democrats and a growing number of moderate Republicans are unhappy is the perception at least that Democrats are not doing enough to get us out of the Iraq debacle. So people aren’t mad at Democrats for what they’re doing, they’re mad because of what they’re not during. I’m sure the movers and shakers at Democrat central have seen the poll. If Congressional Democrats were afraid to be too agressive on cutting spending for Iraq, they now have the official blessing of the American people to block funds until Bush agrees to some time lines. The recent news that American troops might be Iraq for the next decade probably hurt Democrats more then Bush. Ten more years of wasted lives and tax dollars is exactly what Bush and the war dead enders want. If Democrats want to pick up a quick thirty point increase all they have to do is stonewall spending for the mess in Mesopotamia. The wing-nuttery such as Glenn Reynolds, Right Wing News, etc has to be truly delusional if they interpret this poll as meaning voters want to bring back Tom Delay and the glory days of the best Congress that dirty money could buy. The Republican Congress that guarded against investigations into Bush’s history making lies about Iraq like a gang of eager little guard beavers. The Right is welcome to continue to swallow in such nonsense if they choose, Republican delusions are after all cheaper then Prozac.

The fights on the right – This is a ridiculous column by Jeff Jacoby about how the Right is just so lively and so engaged in ideas because of some differences over Iraq, abortion, and immigration. Republicans politicians who have controlled every brnach of government for seven years have suddenly decided that its an issue and that is the only hot button issue truly showing a party fissure – its the business Right that enjoys the benefit of cheap labor from illegals versus the xenophobic Right. That family sore spot has always been there and is a large part of why Republicans have given the issue nothing but lip service for years. It’s never was an ideas issue, it was and always will be for the Right about money versus fear. Crooked Timber writing about the same article,

Let’s take it from the top: if the Republicans have got a guy who wants to spend money building a wall against Canada, that’s intellectual vibrancy. If the Democrats get someone who wants to expand health insurance or combat global warming, that’s a canary dying in the coalmine of the Democratic party’s political extremism?

It’s a nice illustration of a dilemma for Democrats. The only way they can get credit for ‘having ideas’ is by turning Republican…

Just for the record the only Republican that has any measurably different views on Iraq is Ron Paul, No Debating It: Republicans Offer No Plan for Iraq, Fail to Challenge 50 Year Strategy – June 6, 2007