Get Your Blog Up

“This administration is populated by people who’ve spent their careers bashing government. They’re not just small-government conservatives—they’re Grover Norquist, strangle-it-in-the-bathtub conservatives. It’s a cognitive disconnect for them to be able to do something well in an arena that they have so derided and reviled all these years.”

Senator Hillary Clinton

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Kerry crosses picket fence

He may as well have, as over at the Captain's Quarters, Captain Ed shouts with glee:
In what appears to be yet another flip-flop, John Kerry reportedly crossed a picket line in Chicago to speak at a Rainbow-PUSH meeting...

First off, note the use of appears and reportedly. No real confirmation. But there is no need for any from a blogger, I guess.

He is of course talking about Kerry, who refused to cross a picket line of Boston's finest police and firefighters to speak at the Conference of Mayors. Knowing this is as close to striking as police and firemen can get, Kerry honored the union and declined to speak. Luckily someone with no such qualms jumped over the line.

Now last night Kerry spoke at the annual Rainbow-PUSH Coalition. According to this ABC Chicago affiliate article(quoted by Captain Ed), protestors were present.
Nearly a hundred African American demonstrators protested outside the Rainbow-PUSH Coalition. They accuse the Reverend Jesse Jackson of selling out the black community by allowing automotive giant Daimler Chrysler help underwrite the cost of the convention. The carmaker is accused in a lawsuit of subjecting black buyers to racially discriminatory sales policies and making derogatory racial comments about African Americans.

Ed says it is a picket line crossed, and Kerry flip flops. In reality, it boils down to a semantic argument. When Kerry said he never crosses a picket line, I took it to mean that he would never cross the line of a group of workers striking for reasons of pay, benefits, et al. In other words, Kerry would not cross a labor related picket line. Clearly the Rainbow-PUSH Coalition were not workers for anyone associated with the event, nor were they protesting their working conditions. They were against a non labor related issue. They were what the rest of the world calls protestors.

I expect to hear all about this on that daft Fox and Friends morning show.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Iraq as a sovereign nation

The handover, as everyone knows, happened two days ahead of schedule. Many speculate this was to avoid wide spread attacks tomorrow. Others (including the White House) say it was a showing of how ready Iraq was to take on the responsibility. The important thing is to now watch for changes and how the U.S. lets the new Iraq exert its control.

Changes? Not yet.
Blast In Iraq Kills Three Marines: FOX News
US letting Iraq exert control? (Via Atrios)
Prisoner 27075 learns limits of sovereignty
Iyad Akmush Kanum, 23, learnt the limits of sovereignty on Monday when US prosecutors refused to uphold an Iraqi judges' order acquitting him of attempted murder of coalition troops.

Sounds like the turnover is going well.

I grant you turning authority over to the Iraqis is the logical thing to do. And I do not want to see Iraq fail as a nation in any way. These two stories however, serve as a reminder that all that we handed over yesterday was a piece of paper.

I know our President has said that violence would continue in Iraq. My feeling is the turnover occurred so it would not be our problem any more. The Marines that got killed? Not the U.S. problem, Iraq needs to control its country. The failure of a U.S. plan to improve the electric system above prewar levels? No longer our problem either. And imagine public outcry if the U.S. had imposed martial law in Iraq, in essence putting us and our forces back in control of the country. Well, even that may look bad for Allawi in the eyes of his citizens. However, it sounds like Allawi's first step in thwarting attacks, a step that would have looked imperialistic from our end.

The main political problem for Bush in America is that success will be in part measured when the approximately 140,000 troops return home seated in airplanes and on naval carriers and not in flag draped coffins in ones and twos. Stories today that we will be sending even more troops will not help that cause.

Perhaps the real reason for the quick transfer is summed up best by James Pinkerton over at
So long as Hussein doesn't come back, so long as no weapons of mass destruction exist within its borders, Iraq, like Afghanistan before it - and like Haiti, Somalia and Vietnam before that - seems destined to drift out of our consciousness.

And we all know how well things are going in Afghanistan right? You can tell from the article entitled Hurry up with extra troops, pleads Karzai.

The Supremes vs noncustodial rights

Sometimes in a rush to go to work or get some sleep, I'll bookmark an article of interest and intend to come back to it. While cleaning up my links today, however, I found this article from June 17th on the impact of the Elk Grove Unified School Dist. v. Newdow ruling from the Supreme Court:
In avoiding the merits of the Pledge of Allegiance case, the US Supreme Court has dealt a substantial blow to the rights of noncustodial parents to use the federal courts to protect their children from alleged unconstitutional harms.
The court's 5-to-3 ruling on Monday has been largely portrayed as a dodge by the majority justices to avoid the difficult constitutional issue of whether the words "under God" in the Pledge violate the separation of church and state. But to many parents - primarily fathers - who do not share custody, the five-justice majority has just given lower-court judges the power to throw noncustodial parents out of court - even when their complaints involve possible constitutional violations against their children by the government.

I had some comments in my head prepared, but decided today to do some more research. Could this just be an unwieldy fear that will never come to a head? Apparently not.
Elk Grove places children in harm's way by limiting the ability of noncustodial parents to use the legal system to protect their children if the custodial parent is unable or unwilling to do so.

For example, in a pending Illinois case, an elementary school girl suffers from a life-threatening medical condition which requires a medical procedure. The procedure, though standard, violates the custodial mother's religious beliefs. The girl's noncustodial father has gone to court to force the mother to accede to the lifesaving operation. Now, in the wake of Elk Grove, unless the father can win custody, the judge may be compelled to rule in favor of the mother, to the serious detriment of the child.

In another pending Illinois case, a noncustodial father seeks to take legal action both against a baby-sitter who allegedly molested his son, and against the agency that placed his son in this baby-sitter's care. However, the custodial mother, apparently because of her hostility towards the father, has refused to consent to the filing of the lawsuit. Under Elk Grove, unless the father can win a substantial modification of custody, the father has no standing to file the lawsuit without the mother's consent. As a result, his traumatized son may be deprived of a potential damages award which is needed to pay for therapy, and neither the alleged molester nor the agency will be held responsible.

Elk Grove will make it more difficult for noncustodial parents to hold negligent schools, daycare centers, doctors, hospitals, sports coaches, and others accountable for harming their children.

Then the article then makes the two points I was thinking about all those weeks ago, but no doubt more eloquently then I would have.
The court's ruling also highlights the hypocrisy of the current public policy and discourse on fatherhood, wherein men are lectured to take responsibility for their children while at the same time courts and lawmakers frequently disregard their right to play a meaningful role in their children's lives. Many believe that the court used the issue of standing as a way to sidestep having to make a decision on the thorny issue of the pledge. Evidently noncustodial parents are of such little concern that the court found it more expedient to undercut their rights than to decide the pledge case.

Elk Grove will also fuel damaging and costly custody battles. Millions of divorced or separated fathers have declined to fight for custody because they did not want to put their children in the middle of a conflict, or because they wanted to respect their children's bonds with their mothers. These dads are fit parents and are an important part of their children's lives, yet by declaring that noncustodial parents have no standing, the Court has seriously undermined their parental rights.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Deeper and deeper

The New York Times reports that some of the torture memos were reactive rather than proactive.
An August 2002 memo by the Justice Department that concluded interrogators could use extreme techniques on detainees in the war on terror helped provide an after-the-fact legal basis for harsh procedures used by the C.I.A. on high-level leaders of Al Qaeda, according to current and former government officials.

The legal memo was prepared after an internal debate within the government about the methods used to extract information from Abu Zubaydah, one of Osama bin Laden's top aides, after his capture in April 2002, the officials said.

So they had treated Zubaydah humanely up to that point right? I mean, until they had figured out what was legal and what wasn't? Seems not, as he is referenced in this Washington Post article:
In March 2002, Abu Zubaida was captured, and the interrogation debate between the CIA and FBI began anew. This time, when FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III decided to withhold FBI involvement, it was a signal that the tug of war was over. "Once the CIA was given the green light . . . they had the lead role," said a senior FBI counterterrorism official.

Abu Zubaida was shot in the groin during his apprehension in Pakistan. U.S. national security officials have suggested that painkillers were used selectively in the beginning of his captivity until he agreed to cooperate more fully.

So there you go. We did not inflict severe pain on him to get him to talk, but rather withheld drugs that would ease his pain. No harm, no foul. Way to find a loophole in those Geneva conventions, kids!

The Washington Post article also reveals that the memos made it all the way to lawyers in Cheney's office for approval. And there's more:
A Justice Department official said Tuesday at a briefing that the office went "beyond what was asked for," but other lawyers and administration officials said the memo was approved by the department's criminal division and by the office of Attorney General John D. Ashcroft.

In addition, Timothy E. Flanigan -- then deputy White House counsel -- discussed a draft of the document with lawyers at the Office of Legal Counsel before it was finalized, the officials said. David S. Addington, Cheney's counsel, also weighed in with remarks during at least one meeting he held with Justice lawyers involved with writing the opinion. He was particularly concerned, sources said, that the opinion include a clear-cut section on the president's authority.

The memos went "beyond what was asked for." In other words, if this report is true, the Bush Administration sought to justify torture and got more than it thought possible. Also they wanted to make clear the extreme powers the President had now in a time of war, including those to seemingly override the Constituion itself. Remember that part?
The commander in chief section of the opinion said laws prohibiting torture do "not apply to the President's detention and interrogation of enemy combatants" in his role as commander in chief. Congress, which has signed international laws prohibiting torture, "may no more regulate the President's ability to detain and interrogate enemy combatants than it may regulate his ability to direct troop movements on the battlefield," according to the August memorandum.

But all this "non torture" got us quality information right? Atrios points to the answer from Newsweek:
U.S. intelligence officials tell NEWSWEEK that al-Libi was a crucial source for one of the more dramatic assertions made by President George W. Bush and his top aides: that Iraq had provided training in "poisons and deadly gases" for Al Qaeda. Al-Libi, who once ran one of bin Laden's biggest training camps, was captured in Pakistan in November 2001 and soon began talking to CIA interrogators. Although he never mentioned his name, Secretary of State Colin Powell prominently referred to al-Libi's claims in his February 2003 speech to the United Nations; he recounted how a "senior terrorist operative" said Qaeda leaders were frustrated by their inability to make chemical or biological agents in Afghanistan and turned for help to Iraq. Continuing to rely on al-Libi's version, Powell then told how a bin Laden operative seeking help in acquiring poisons and gases had forged a "successful" relationship with Iraqi officials in the late 1990s and that, as recently as December 2000, Iraq had offered "chemical or biological weapons training for two Al Qaeda associates."

But more recently, sources said, U.S. interrogators went back to al-Libi with new evidence from other detainees that cast doubt on his claims. Al-Libi "subsequently recounted a different story," said one U.S. official. "It's not clear which version is correct. We are still sorting this out." Some officials now suspect that al-Libi, facing aggressive interrogation techniques, had previously said what U.S. officials wanted to hear.

Which would come as no surprise to anyone, I think.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

That's what I call sovereignty!

From The Washington Post:
U.S. administrator L. Paul Bremer has issued a raft of edicts revising Iraq's legal code and has appointed at least two dozen Iraqis to government jobs with multi-year terms in an attempt to promote his concepts of governance long after the planned handover of political authority on Wednesday.


Some Iraqi officials condemn Bremer's edicts and appointments as an effort to exert U.S. control over the country after the transfer of political authority. "They have established a system to meddle in our affairs," said Mahmoud Othman, a member of the Governing Council, a recently dissolved body that advised Bremer for the past year. "Iraqis should decide many of these issues."


The orders include rules that cap tax rates at 15 percent, prohibit piracy of intellectual property, ban children younger than 15 from working, and a new traffic code that stipulates the use of a car horn in "emergency conditions only" and requires a driver to "hold the steering wheel with both hands."

Duck Soup Leftovers

Katie at The Resplendent Mango shares the e-mails she's received from both the Bush and Kerry campaigns on all the Nazi imagery flying around.
The current ad brouhaha is over Bush's "Coalition of the Wild-Eyed" commercial, which could also have been titled "Gore's Gone Wild" or "Democrats in the Mist."

The email that accompanies the ad reads: Dear Katie,

This new video shows something unprecedented in politics - the coalition that John Kerry is building to defeat our President - a Coalition of the Wild-eyed: [HERE]
As the video shows, the faces of John Kerry's Democratic Party are ones of pessimism, rage, and baseless attacks. The choice will be clear in November. This is not a time for pessimism and rage. It's a time for optimism, steady leadership, and progress.

The video shows, using the words of the Bush campaign, "the faces of John Kerry's Democratic Party." An odd choice of phrasing for the video that shows Hitler. But that's beside the point. As I said before, it is naive to think the Bush campaign or even some conservatives did not see the confusion that would arise from all of this. Let's move on.
Two hours and two minutes later, the voice of righteousness, Mary Beth Cahill, strikes back.
"Dear Friend,

Yesterday, the Bush-Cheney campaign, losing any last sense of decency, placed a disgusting ad called "The Faces of John Kerry's Democratic Party" as the main feature on its website. Bizarrely, and without explanation, the ad places Adolf Hitler among those faces.

Not quite... First, the Hitler images are labeled as being from, because that's who's ads they're from. Second, the only person who gets compared to Hitler in the ad is BUSH. Continuing on...

Again, it's easier to claim that produced the ad, but remember the ad was part of a on-line contest sponsored by It was not produced by the organization and never ran as an official ad for the Kerry campaign. The ad was pulled shortly after it was posted. I will say that should have take some responsibility for those images as they appeared on the website, and feel they did when they issued their apology.

I think the Kerry campaign is pretty factual here, however. The ad is called "The Faces of John Kerry's Democratic Party." It is the main feature on the website. It does not explain why Adolf Hitler is among the faces, only showing the clips come from It could just as well say the clips are pulled from There is nothing there that makes clear why the clips are being used. The intention of the clips usage is not clear judging by the controversy brewing. A simple remedy for all the "brouhaha" would be a block of text before the clips stating the true circumstances of the images. That would dispel all confusion.

P.S. It's hard to believe that the Bush campaign would use images of Adolf Hitler. See it for yourself:

It's hard to believe that the Kerry campaign would be incapable of recognizing the irony and hypocrisy of these statements, or not realize that perhaps this could come back to bite them in the butt, but here it is.

Not hard for me to believe, because I do not see the "irony and hypocrisy of these statements" either.

The Bush campaign tries to point them out in their response, quoted by Katie again:
On Thursday, the campaign launched a web video titled Kerry's Coalition of the Wild-eyed. The video featured Democrats who support John Kerry making negative and baseless attacks against the President. Interspersed in the video were segments of two ads that appeared on a website sponsored by - a group campaigning for Kerry - in January.

On Friday night, John Kerry's campaign denounced our use of these ads, and called that use "disgusting."

The Kerry campaign says, "The use of Adolf Hitler by any campaign, politician or party is simply wrong."

We agree. These ads, like much of the hate-filled, angry rhetoric of Kerry's coalition of the Wild-eyed, are disgusting.
This has to be my favorite moment. Read that again and let it sink in.
The Kerry campaign says, "The use of Adolf Hitler by any campaign, politician or party is simply wrong."

We agree.

I can't help but laugh. If the Bush campaign agrees that "the use of Adolf Hitler by any campaign politician or party is wrong," then why would they continue to try and defend the ad? I know they try and make a point here, but the whole thing backfires on the crux of that statement alone.

The Bush campaign email then goes on to denounce not the Kerry campaign, politician or official party spokesman for quotes not using Adolf Hitler. Aside from that, the campaign itself must be held to a higher standard then those of its supporters. The campaigns are the official word of the candidates, and they have little control over those that do not directly work for the campaign.

Apparently the ad now features the following disclaimer at the beginning:
The following video contains remarks made by and images from ads sponsored by Kerry Supporters. John Kerry has denounced our use of these ads attacking the President. He has not denounced liberal supporters like Al Gore, George Soros, and many others who have made speeches comparing the President to Adolf Hitler.

Good start, but factually wrong. No liberal supporter has made a speech that I have read comparing the President to Adolf Hitler. They do make references to things occurring during Nazi Germany, but then as previously noted, Republican supporters who have access to the public airwaves of America make those same references to John Kerry.

On a sidenote, Katie now has a image saying she is "a proud member of Al Gore's brownshirts."

Please keep in mind that I believe neither side show be throwing around Nazi images, especially if they did not have to struggle through Nazi Europe. The brutal oppression of that era is something we hopefully will never see in this country, and to use images and make references to any of it shows just how jaded and full of vitriol both sides have become.

I was listening to C-Span this morning and listened to a man full of rage denouncing the liberal view. He went on to say that Middle Eastern children are being taught hatred for Americans. I wondered what he would teach his kids about the liberal viewpoint in America today.

I'm afraid that liberals and conservatives now seem to be teaching a hatred for each other in America today. This, first and foremost, is the greatest threat opposing America today. Not destruction from the outside, but destruction from within. Is this what the terrorists wanted? I'm not able to say, but I'm pretty sure they don't care how the country comes down as long as it does. Civil discussions are and lack of name calling is the key to turning this country around.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Signs of a power grab?

From The Australian:
Iraq's tenuous security situation could delay national elections, slated for January, by two months, interim prime minister Iyad Allawi told America's CBS television network today.

"We are committed to elections, and one of the tasks is really to work towards achieving these objectives," he said.

"However, security will be the main feature of whether we will be able to do it in January, February or March."

Let's hope that this is not an attempt by Allawi to remain in power if things look bad for him.

Duck Soup

I was going to post about this yesterday, but ran out of time in my rush to work. I was reading response to the Gore speech yesterday across the blogosphere, and I noted a few expressing outrage at the Gore use of the phrase "Brown shirts" here:
The Administration works closely with a network of "rapid response" digital Brown Shirts who work to pressure reporters and their editors for "undermining support for our troops." Paul Krugman, the New York Times columnist, was one of the first journalists to regularly expose the President's consistent distortions of the facts. Krugman writes, "Let's not overlook the role of intimidation. After 9/11, if you were thinking of saying anything negative of the President, you had to expect right-wing pundits and publications to do all they could to ruin your reputation.

Response from Hugh Hewitt?
Al Gore's gone around the bend, and if the Democrats let him speak at the national convention, I'll be surprised. As I tried to convey to a 15-year old caller yesterday, when a party nominates and rallies behind a man who a scant three-plus years later is raving about "betrayal," and using Nazi analogies, you have to ask not about the qualities of that particular individual, but about the collective judgment of the party that nominated him. I fully expect John Kerry to be shouting out garbled conspiracy theories and Hitler analogies in 52 months, but some will be surprised.

Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit goes with it, too, grabbing this post from James Lileks:

Today Al Gore upped the ante. He coined a new term for the Internet critics of his positions: digital brownshirts. Yes, yes, it's over the top. But it's not the sentiment that raises eyebrows, it's the position of the person who’s saying it. We don't expect presidential candidates past or present to indulge in Usenet flame-war lingo. We don't expect serious party elders to call the other side Nazis, and for good reason: it's obscene. The brownshirts were evil. The brownshirts kicked the Jews in the streets and made the little kids put their hands on their heads as they stumbled off to the trains. The brownshirts were not interested in refuting arguments. They were interested in killing the people who dared argue at all.

At some point, I fear, the political discourse of 2004 is going to seem horribly irrelevant and misplaced in the face of some loud new wretched horror; it will seem as oddly disconnected from reality as the Condit / Killer-Shark news reports of August 2001. An indolent luxury.

And even Ann Althouse makes a back handed admonishment of him:
Quite aside from the general inadvisability of calling your political opponents fascists, you'd think that if Al Gore wanted to call someone a fascist, the last synonym he'd pick from the thesaurus would be "brownshirt," considering that he was famous for literally wearing a brown shirt.

Al Gore should parse words because of his fashion sense. That's what I get from the last part of that one.

All that aside, there is general disdain for Gore's remark. Notice that he doesn't call anyone a Nazi, or compare anyone to a Nazi by name. I guess you could imply that he calls Georgie Bush one as they would be his brown shirts, and I can even cede that point if I must.

But there is no outrage when those on the right get in on the Nazi name calling game. Michael Savage calling Clinton's new book Mien Kampf, Savage comparing George Soros to Joseph Goebbels, Christopher Hitchens and New York Post film critic Jonathan Foreman comparing Michael Moore to Nazi-propaganda filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl, or Bill O'Reilly comparing Moore and radio host Al Franken to Goebbels.
All of these (well, with the exception of the Clinton one) can be taken to the same extreme the brown shirt argument could be taken to as likening a party's candidate with Hitler.

And Glenn Reynolds does Lileks a grave disservice by not posting the rest of his response:
Look. We don't have to agree on the big hard issues, but we can certainly agree that we share common values that set us apart, and that it profits no one to identify the opposition as something outside the American experience. Liberals are not Communists. Republicans are not fascists. We have a nice window of opportunity here where we can come together by choice, instead of being thrown together by events. I say we get a head start on national unity, and turn on anyone who floats the Nazi analogy. Shun 'em. No links, no reviews, no radio interviews, no newspaper pieces, nothing. From now on, the Nazi parallel buys you bupkis. This means that the right doesn't get to parade around the mutterings of high-profile wackjobs as illustrative of the heart of everyone who votes D, (my emphasis) and the left doesn't get to do the whole "he's wrong in his overheated critique, BUT" dodge. Enough. ENOUGH! For Christ's sake, enough!

Why the italics? What is Lileks referring to? Well, some would claim the outrage only applies because Al Gore was a former Vice-President. Well, Lileks is taking to task a sitting president! That's right, the official re-election site for Bush has a new ad posted with images of Hitler dispersed between Gore, Moore, Dick Gephardt, and even John Kerry himself. The ad is supposed to remind us of a briefly shown and quickly pulled contest entry at Move which compared Bush to Hitler. The visual impression it leaves, however, is that Gore, Gephardt, Moore, and Kerry all yell and rant like Hitler himself did (go and see the ad here). The right's response? Shock and outrage that the Kerry camapign is shocked and outraged!

Josh Chafetz at OxBlog writes:
A friend forwards this mass email from the Kerry Campaign. The email comes with the subject line, "Disgusting":

Dear [Name Withheld],

Yesterday, the Bush-Cheney campaign, losing any last sense of decency, placed a disgusting ad called "The Faces of John Kerry's Democratic Party" as the main feature on its website. Bizarrely, and without explanation, the ad places Adolf Hitler among those faces.

The Bush-Cheney campaign must pull this ad off of its website. The use of Adolf Hitler by any campaign, politician or party is simply wrong.

Chafetz continues:
In response, the Kerry Campaign sends out this incredibly dishonest email suggesting that Bush has compared his opponents to Hitler and asking for money.

Both campaigns have their share of over-the-top supporters, and I don't think it's really fair to tar Kerry with Michael Moore and MoveOn.Org. That said, it's really unfair of the Kerry Campaign to suggest that Bush is comparing Kerry supporters to Hitler, when in fact all he's doing is pointing out that Kerry supporters have compared him to Hitler.

I'm not sure whether this is malice or incompetence on the part of the Kerry Campaign -- and I suspect the answer is incompetence -- but it doesn't bode well for them either way.

The problem here is that these arguments are made not in the world of reality, but the world of perceptions. If the Bush campaign intended to try and discredit Democrats by using the ad, they need to make it a lot clearer. If the Kerry campaign is really upset at what they think is a comparison of Democrats to Hitler, they should make that clear. But the "h" word pops up again when you discredit one sides implications on an issue, but make your own implications to support your cause. No one should be naive enough to think that the Bush campaign or the Kerry campaign did not see the implications that many would draw.

Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit decides to continue the debate with updates:
UPDATE: A couple of readers think that the real unfairness is in the Bush campaign's use of a couple of fringe elements to suggest that the Democratic mainstream is comparing Bush to Hitler. The trouble with this argument, though, is that the Democratic mainstream is making such comparisons. Just ask Al Gore, or Guido Calabresi. . . .

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Jared Walczak emails:

You wrote that some of your readers objected to the Bush campaign's association of liberal fringe elements with the Kerry campaign re the Hitler ads. However, as an email from the Bush campaign today notes, there is a connection: Zack Exley, the man behind, is now employed by the Kerry campaign as the director of internet operations.

Good point.

Al Gore as the Democratic mainstream? Sure, I can see that, in the same light as Michael Savage, Bill O'Rielly and the like can be seen as representing the Republican mainstream. A judge that few people have heard about(that's Guido Calabresi)? That's a bit of a stretch.

The Zack Exley connection as a "good point?" Maybe. It would be if had failed to apologize for the "ad." But they did.
None of these was our ad, nor did their appearance constitute endorsement or sponsorship by Voter Fund. They will not appear on TV. We do not support the sentiment expressed in the two Hitler submissions. They were voted down by our members and the public, who reviewed the ads and submitted nearly 3 million critiques in the process of choosing the 15 finalist entries.

We agree that the two ads in question were in poor taste and deeply regret that they slipped through our screening process. In the future, if we publish or broadcast raw material, we will create a more effective filtering system.

I'm sorry this is such a long post featuring so many references to so many things. Here's the point. If one side's surrogates are using the Nazi image to fight for their candidate, they can't logically get upset when the other side does the same. I don't really support either side in this issue, but I find the references to be misplaced and out of line in general. However, for someone who is actually running for president to use Hitler's image for political gain is abhorrent. Regardless of the intended connotation, it has no place in this election, especially from a "compassionate conservative" like George Bush. MoveOn.Org apologized for their mistake, and I hope Bush can do the same.

Friday, June 25, 2004

The dirty bomb

Cheney dropped it, but the media has picked it up and ran with it:
Vice President Cheney today acknowledged that he had a bitter exchange on the Senate floor with a senior Democratic senator, in which Cheney uttered a big-time obscenity, but said he had no regrets and that he "felt better after I had done it."

I watched the talk news shows this morning as I was waiting to leave work. Those over at FOX News seemed to justify the action by saying Leahy probably deserved it. It's also the excuse most bloggers for Bush seemed to use. Only after I read the article did I see why:
Later in the interview, Cheney added, laughing, that "a lot of my colleagues felt that what I had said badly needed to be said, that it was long overdue."

And Orrin Hatch weighs in too:
Republicans did their best to defend the vice president. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah), while pointing out that he was unaware of the incident, described Cheney as "very honest" and said: "I don't blame anyone for standing up for his integrity."

So that's it then. No apology. No indignation from fellow Republicans. No shame on his part at all. He's a man of integrity for using the "F" word. Guess that absolves John Kerry, too then, huh?

But maybe that's why Cheney doesn't want to release all those energy documents. Maybe they are laced with profanity.

More on the torture docs

From the New York Times:
The section of the August 2002 memorandum specifically disavowed by the White House, concerning the president's power as commander in chief to ignore laws against torture, drew particular scorn.

"If the president has commander-in-chief power to commit torture," [Harold Hongju Koh, dean of the Yale Law School] said, "he has the power to commit genocide, to sanction slavery, to promote apartheid, to license summary execution."

The Dean went on to give the documents a C+ grade at best.

Economy not as strong as we thought

While still solid, economic growth was slower than expected last quarter:
The downward revision to economic growth reflected a drag from the swollen trade deficit and more modest spending by consumers, the lifeblood of the economy.

The 3.9 percent growth rate marked the slowest pace since the second quarter of 2003.


The yawning trade deficit, meanwhile, shaved 0.7l percentage point off the first-quarter GDP - twice as much as previously estimated.

Expectations were for the growth rate to hold steady at 4.4 percent growth. Hopefully this is not a sign that people are earning less compared to costs , which would further slow the growth, or so I've been led to believe. Also I've still read nothing from the current administration about curtailing the "yawning trade deficit" that had such an impact.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Al Gore speaks:

The myth that Iraq and al Qaeda were working together was no accident -- the President and Vice President deliberately ignored warnings before the war from international intelligence services, the CIA, and their own Pentagon that the claim was false. Europe’s top terrorism investigator said in 2002, "We have found no evidence of links between Iraq and Al Qaeda. If there were such links, we would have found them. But we have found no serious connections whatsoever." A classified October 2002 CIA report given to the White House directly undercut the Iraq-al Qaeda claim. Top officials in the Pentagon told reporters in 2002 that the rhetoric being used by President Bush and Vice President Cheney was "an exaggeration."


They have such an overwhelming political interest in sustaining the belief in the minds of the American people that Hussein was in partnership with bin Laden that they dare not admit the truth lest they look like complete fools for launching our country into a reckless, discretionary war against a nation that posed no immediate threat to us whatsoever. But the damage they have done to our country is not limited to misallocation of military economic political resources. Whenever a chief executive spends prodigious amounts of energy convincing people of lies, he damages the fabric of democracy, and the belief in the fundamental integrity of our self-government.


The Bush administration’s objective of establishing U.S. domination over any potential adversary led to the hubristic, tragic miscalculation of the Iraq war, a painful adventure marked by one disaster after another based on one mistaken assumption after another. But the people who paid the price have been the U.S. soldiers trapped over there and the Iraqis in prison.

The RNC responds:
“Al Gore's history of denial of the threat of terrorism is no less dangerous today in his role as John Kerry’s surrogate than it was in the 1990s in his role as Vice President, a time when Osama Bin Laden was declaring war on the United States five different times,” said RNC Communications Director Jim Dyke.

And Tristero rebuts:
And what did the GOP serve up? Not a lie, and of course not a word in response to Gore's assertions. No, they issed a fucking baldfaced lie on top of another one:

"Al Gore's history of denial of the threat of terrorism [Gore NEVER denied the threat of terrorism] is no less dangerous today in his role as John Kerry's surrogate [Gore speaks for himself, not Kerry] than it was in the 1990s in his role as vice president, a time when Osama Bin Laden was declaring war on the United States five different times," [and a time when the GOP made every effort to deflect attention from Clinton's attempt to detail with bin Laden by pruriently focusing on Clinton's wee-wee. ]RNC Communications Director Jim Dyke said in a written statement.

Ohio again?

Why do I keep reporting on Ohio? Well, for one it will play an important role in the election. No Republican has won the White House without going through Ohio to do it. It also happens to be my home state. So when I read Cincinnati is the city that lost the most residents last year, and Cleveland is in the top ten, it pains me to see the Buckeye State on it's way to becoming a vast wasteland of space.

Nothing like kicking someone while they are down. I blame the media. First, from
A government report says Ohio continues to lead the nation in levels of air pollution - and it's getting worse.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reported Wednesday that Ohio businesses released 133.9 million pounds of toxic chemicals into the air in 2002, a 10 percent increase from 2001.

Then from The Morning Journal:
Ford Motor Co.'s Lorain Assembly Plant will close in August 2005, and its Econoline operations will be consolidated at the Ohio Assembly Plant in Avon Lake, workers at both plants said they were told yesterday by company officials and plant managers.

The closing and consolidation will result in the loss of 1,200 jobs out of a total of 3,500 jobs at both Ford plants, according to a source.

Neither, do I need to say, bodes well for a Bush reelection.

Class personified

Via Wonkette:
CNN is reporting that on the floor of the Senate yesterday, Dick Cheney told Sen. Pat Leahy, "Go fuck yourself." We agree! Go fuck yourself -- while it's still legal!

UPDATE: Speaking of sodomy. . . Wonkette operatives tell us that the fighting words sprang from an exchange in which Cheney told Leahy he didn't like what Leahy had been saying about Halliburton, to which Leahy replied that he didn't like Cheney calling him a bad Catholic. So you'd see how "Go fuck yourself" is the only appropriate response.

Maybe he and Orrin Hatch could get together for a talk sometime.

Parry and thrust

Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz:
"Frankly, part of our problem is a lot of the press are afraid to travel very much, so they sit in Baghdad and they publish rumors."

Maureen Dowd responds:
Beyond sliming journalists (much as he slimes his hair with his own saliva in Michael Moore's new movie) who are risking their lives traveling around Iraq to cover the cakewalk that became chaos, Mr. Wolfowitz dodges the responsibility he bears for turning Iraq into a shooting gallery and Al Qaeda recruitment center.

Remember these are the guys we support

Please do not take this as a claim I support the Palestinians or the Isreal view in their war. I just can clearly say I can't support this.
Israeli military police have interrogated five reserve soldiers who put on an art exhibition detailing their gratuitous harassment and abuse of Palestinians in the city of Hebron.

Testimonies by 70 soldiers used in the exhibition Breaking the Silence reveal the use of Palestinians as human shields and graffiti reading "Arabs to the gas chambers".


The testimonies describe a routine humiliation of Palestinians and the soldiers' dismay at the behaviour of the 600 Jewish settlers they protect.

Some tell of harassing a Palestinian bride and groom, others of throwing stun grenades at children for fun. The soldiers behind the exhibition say they want to show Israel how its young soldiers, as well as the Palestinians, become brutalised by the reality of occupation.

Hugh Hewitt on Health Care

I read his stuff, if only to get some perspective on the other side of the street. He writes today:
Kerry decision to have his television commercial focus on health insurance paperwork and his speeches focusing on patients' bill-of-rights seems so out-of-sync with the times in which we live as to cause you to wonder whether his own internal polling numbers are looking at(sic) are so bad as to defy common-sense strategies of keeping it close and hoping for some breaks. Zarqawi yesterday was warning of war with the infidel until the rule of Islam spread over the earth, and Kerry is talking about W's opposition to a Texas proposal on HMOs when Bush was governor. If the Washington Post/ABC news poll from earlier this week --showing the President no longer enjoying an advantage over Kerry on matters of terrorism--had been remotely accurate, wouldn't you have expected Kerry to follow up his surge with forceful rhetoric? Instead he is talking about controversies --small ones, at that-- from Bush's Texas years? Yeah, that'll excite the public.

This is a part of his larger view on the campaign, which according to him should be solely about the war on terror. This is from his latest book: (via Infinite Monkeys)
...The war in which we find ourselves is likely to continue for many election cycles. It is the single issue on which the campaign of 2004 ought to be conducted, and almost certainly the single issue on which the campaigns of 2006, 2008, and beyond ought to be conducted.

There are so many things I want to say to all of this. First off a recent Gallup Poll shows that health care is the third biggest problem facing Americans today, behind the War on Iraq and Terrorism in general. Zogby has a news alert on their site stating that "a new ‘Investor Anxiety-Confidence Index’ produced by Zogby International and PBS’ Wall $treet Week with FORTUNE reveals that the investor next door would be more likely to unload stocks if they lost their health care benefits than if there was another terrorist attack in the U.S." We head to Pennsylvania, a key battleground state for the results of another poll on Health Care issues:
Fully half of those who participated in the April poll (50%) said the rising cost of health care was a big problem for their family; about one-quarter (24%) said it was the most important problem they face. Health care (including Medicare) costs ranked below only the economy and Iraq in importance as a voting issue for registered voters in the upcoming November Presidential election.

Clearly concerns on health care are not that pressing in our society today.

Futher, by bringing up Bush's flip-flop on the issue, it creates doubts about his honesty and truthfulness, something the Republicans have been trying to do since Kerry emerged as the Democratic nominee. Demonstrating Bush's lack of support, support, then lack of support again for health care rights in America, it paints a picture of a man seemingly unconcerned about the people in general. Once you see a man in this light, you are forced to question his views on everything, including the war on Iraq and the war on terror.

I would dare say that the blurb from his book was written well before the latest WaPo/ABC poll that showed Kerry even with Bush on who is trusted to lead the fight on terrorism. When he wrote it, however, Bush held a strong lead. It is no wonder Hugh would have wanted to trumpet that aspect of the election.

Bush and Cheney say now it is the job of tgovernmentent to make America more secure. When I could not afford insurance I certainly did not feel secure. Even now that I have health care coverage, my out of pocket cost still make me think twice about visiting a doctor's office.

Certianly the war on terror is and will be a major issue in elections to come. But it seems that Hugh and co. would like to bang the war drum so loudly it drowns out the other concerns of the rest of the nation. Health care will continue to be important issue to Americans who struggle to provide it for themselves and their loved ones as well. If Hugh does not have that worry, then I am happy for him and any family he can cover. Claims that health care ads are out-of-sync with the time, however, show that Hugh Hewitt is out-of-sync with America.

The Bush economy

The Gadflyer points out Bush's job creation numbers aren't that strong after all.
Because population growth requires the economy to produce about 150,000 jobs per month – a point Kerry adviser Tad Devine tried to explain to Judy Woodruff on CNN today – that means that the Administration must create more than 150,000 jobs each month outpace the expanding size of the employable national workforce, thereby creating net new jobs and lowering the unemployment rates.

Those rates are holding steady, which should raise flags in the media. For the innumerate scribes out there, the math is so simple you can do it without removing your shoes:

Because 9 x 150,000 is 1.35 million, and because subtracting this figure from 1.4 million yields the miniscule total of 50,000 jobs, the president’s policies during the past three quarters have created an average of fewer than 6,000 net new jobs per month during the past nine months above and beyond the jobs needed to meet an expanding employable population.

For a larger collection of stories on the Bush economy, head to The Talent Show.

The Cheney Ruling

So it seems, much like the "under god" ruling, that the Supreme Court is afraid to rule one way or another on an important political issue. Rather than decide on the release of documents during Cheney's meeting with energy executives, they sent it back to a lower court with strict instructions.
The seven-justice majority, in an opinion written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, emphasized that it was directing the appeals court to set a very high threshold for disclosure of documents from the task force.

The justices assailed the sweeping request for documents by the Sierra Club and Judicial Watch, calling it “unbounded in scope” and “anything but appropriate.”

Cheney’s adversaries, the court said, had asked for “everything under the sky.”


Why do the president and his advisers need to be shielded from document searches by groups such as the Sierra Club? The justices answered that question by stressing “the paramount necessity of protecting the Executive Branch from vexatious litigation that might distract it from the energetic performance of its constitutional duties.”

It added that “all courts should be mindful of the burdens imposed on the Executive Branch in any future proceedings.”

Of course, this is a victory for Cheney and the Bushies becuase it prevents the release of any documents before the election, when they could do the most damage. For more, of course,

The law and Michael Moore

I haven't said much on the Michael Moore issue, nor do I intend too, at least until I see the movie. I will report, however, that the FEC may rule that ads for the film after July 30th violate federal law.
In a draft advisory opinion placed on the FEC’s agenda for today’s meeting, the agency’s general counsel states that political documentary filmmakers may not air television or radio ads referring to federal candidates within 30 days of a primary election or 60 days of a general election.

The opinion is generated under the new McCain-Feingold campaign-finance law, which prohibits corporate-funded ads that identify a federal candidate before a primary or general election.

The proscription is broadly defined. Section 100.29 of the federal election regulations defines restricted corporate-funded ads as those that identify a candidate by his “name, nickname, photograph or drawing” or make it “otherwise apparent through an unambiguous reference.”

Later in the article is a quick blurb about David Bossie's (the president of Citizens United) plan to sue Moore, alleging that “Fahrenheit 9/11” violates federal election law because “Moore has publicly indicated his goal is to impact this election season.” I headed over to the Citizens United website and found no mention, probably because the lawsuit has yet to be filed. I'd be interested to know how if violate federal election law, though. Any help?

*UPDATE* Just headed over to the Citizens United website, and there is now mention of the law suit, only its not a law suit, and it makes no new claims.

Citizens United, today filed a formal complaint to the Federal Election Commission and other federal government agencies against Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9/11.”

The complaint alleges that Michael Moore and the companies and individuals involved in the marketing and distribution of the film are about to violate the Federal Election Campaign Act. Paid broadcast advertisements for the film, which include visual images and sound clips of President Bush and other candidates for federal office, are subject to the restrictions and regulatory requirements of federal campaign law.

So as far as I can tell, if Moore and co. advertise the movie without sound clips of Bush and other candidates for federal office, then he can continue to advertise the film, right? Way to add to the publicity, David Bossie!

Shhh. It's a secret again

Ashcroft gets sued.

Citing national security, Ashcroft recently classified documents related to the case of Sibel Edmonds, a former linguist at the FBI. The lawsuit charged that reclassifying materials that had previously been in the public domain is illegal and unconstitutional.

POGO (Project on Government Oversight) claims the documents do not meet the criteria of reclassification as they were posted on the web and therefore unrecoverable. Head over to for more.

Kerry to Bush: Flip Flop this!

From the NY Times:
Seizing on an issue that is popular among voters but has been stymied in Congress, Mr. Kerry called President Bush a hypocrite for opposing a patients' rights bill while governor of Texas, then campaigning on it in 2000, then sending his solicitor general to fight it. His campaign aides said the so-called bill of rights to regulate managed health care would be an increasing focus of Mr. Kerry's health care platform.

He also called Bush "the greatest divider as president in the modern history of this country." Not really a claim one can argue with. And if you do, you may help prove my point.

Why do I even read the NRO?

It seems Eric Pfeiffer at The National Review has a problem understanding Bush's arguement on the difference between Iraq and Bin Laden having ties to 9/11 and ties between the two in general:

Meanwhile, the 9/11 commissioners continue to contradict each other regarding bin Laden and Hussein. Appearing on Sunday's Meet the Press, commissioner Richard Ben-Veniste declared, "Take it to the bank, there was no Iraqi involvement in 9/11. Let's put that to bed. That's what our commission found." Fellow commissioner John Lehman followed this on the same program stating, "There's really very little difference between what our staff found, what the administration is saying today and what the Clinton administration said. The Clinton administration portrayed the relationship between al Qaeda and Saddam's intelligence services as one of cooperating in weapons development. There's abundant evidence of that.... It confirms the cooperative relationship, which were the words of the Clinton administration, between al Qaeda and Iraqi intelligence."

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Ashcroft gives possibly false testimony

Two officials contridict sworn testimony by Attorney General John Ashcroft that he did not dismiss reports of an Al Qaida threat in the US in early July of 2001 MSNBC reports.
"When you get two people coming forth and basically challenging a sworn statement by the attorney general regarding a critical meeting in the history of the 9/11 event, you raise serious questions about the Attorney General's truthfulness," says Paul Light, a government reform expert and New York University professor.

I would think so.

Delicious irony

(I know this ws reported a few days ago, but I am still playing catch up froma harsh week at work with no internet access to speak of.)

Remember the "torture memo" we've heard so much about, especially the part that states soldiers can use "following orders" as a defense against torture? Well, here it comes, maybe even back to bite Bush himself.
Defense lawyers said they will prove that members of 372nd Military Police Company, a reserve unit from Cresaptown, Md., were following orders to break detainees down for interrogation amid an atmosphere created by public statements by Bush and rulings by top military officials.

Pohl ruled the lawyers could question Gen. John Abizaid, head of the U.S. Central Command; Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, commander of the forces in Iraq; and other top commanders in Iraq.

The judge denied defense attorneys' requests to question Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld but said he would reconsider the decision if attorneys can show it is relevant to their case.

Defense attorney Paul Bergrin, representing Staff Sgt. Javal Davis, told reporters that he hoped to eventually question Bush. He told Pohl in court, "One of the last words my client heard before being deployed was the president of the United States saying that this is a war on terrorism and the Geneva Conventions do not apply."

I would love to see the President duck and dodge that question under oath.

The community theatre of terrorists

If Al Qaida was Broadway...
Saddam Hussein's regime did have ties to terrorists - but those who got his support were either secondary players with narrow agendas or former A-list members well past their prime - not groups with global ambitions.

That is the conclusion of several experts on terrorism in the Middle East, one of whom said Friday that Hussein was running a "hospice for retired terrorists" and had nothing to offer a sophisticated network such as al-Qaida in any case.

"They didn't need help from Iraq, which was at best a third-rate intelligence service, a gang that couldn't shoot straight," said Peter Bergen, a scholar at Johns Hopkins' School of Advanced International Studies. "The Iraqis killed Iraqi dissidents overseas. That's all they did. They were good at that. That's it."

Ironically, a similar conclusion was reached by the U.S. State Department in annual reports on terrorism issued in the years before the Bush administration decided to wage war against Hussein in 2003.

It's a yes or no question.

In a scene reminiscent of The Breakfast Club (answer the question, Claire), from The White House Press Briefing:
Q But, Scott, the President has been clear that his order went down that any interrogation technique should conform to U.S. law and to treaty obligations. But we also know that at various levels within the administration there was the exploration of other techniques that may, kind of, go up to that line, particularly with the goal of getting intelligence to prevent another terror attack.

I'm wondering, because the President has been asked this question and has dodged it, whether or not he believes that torture works ever as an interrogation technique, and are there techniques that fall just short of torture that are beyond what, say, the Geneva Convention recognizes that he believes could be useful?

MR. McCLELLAN: David, as we wage this war on terrorism, it's important that we gather intelligence. And we will work to do that to prevent an attack from happening in the first place. But the President expects that as we do that, that it is consistent with our laws and consistent with our treaty obligations.

He does not condone torture and he has never authorized the use of torture. The President has made that very clear in the past and he continues to hold that view, because we are a nation of certain laws and certain values. And torture is not consistent with our values and with our laws. And --

Q So his position is a moral position? Or does he, in addition to that, believe that torture is not effective, just doesn't work?

MR. McCLELLAN: He has spoken out against torture. The United States is a leader when it comes to --

Q Does he think it works?

MR. McCLELLAN: -- confronting torture and speaking out against torture. And he does not condone it. Nor does he authorize torture. Let me be very clear on that.

Q You're not being clear about my question -- does he think it works?

MR. McCLELLAN: In terms of where, he spoke out on it last year, he spoke out on it in other circumstances prior to that when he was asked about this very issue.

Q -- had he seen any of the memos --

Q I'm asking a specific question: Does he think it's effective, ever?

MR. McCLELLAN: Again, you're getting into hypothetical situations. He does not condone torture. Let me repeat --

Q I don't think anybody that heard that question thought it was hypothetical.

MR. McCLELLAN: -- he would never authorize the use of torture.

Q Would never? Has never, or would never?

MR. McCLELLAN: He has never, and he has no intention of ever authorizing the use of torture.

Q So none of the memos ever came to him, that have been revealed now?

MR. McCLELLAN: Go ahead, Dana.

How else would you define it

US Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz at the House Armed Services Committee:
Mr. Secretary, I don't see an end in sight," said Representative Ike Skelton, the ranking Democrat. "We're stuck."

"We're not stuck, Mr. Skelton," Wolfowitz shot back.

Wolfowitz said the US will have achieved success in Iraqi when Iraqis assume the fight for the country's security themselves with US help.

"I can't tell you how long that's going to take," he told the committee, drawing a comparison to Bosnia where US troops are only now preparing to leave eight years after they were sent in for what was to be a one-year stay.

"This is a vastly more important mission for our national security. And it is important to stay and finish it," he said.

Skelton said it sounded as if the US forces would be in Iraq for "a good many years."

"That is entirely possible," said Wolfowitz.

Call me a pessimist, but I think the fact that we are there indefinitely with no real plan to leave and no end in sight would mean that we are, by definition, stuck.

The Ohio jobs report, revisited

I posted recently my confusion over the strong economy in Ohio. Shortly after the post, I learned of a drop in the unemployment rate in Ohio from last month, and updated the claim in the post.

In honor of Bush's trip to Ohio yesterday, the campaign launched a new radio ad trumpeting the creation of over 1000 new jobs in May. And technically it's true. From The Columbus Dispatch:
What the ad doesn’t say, however, is that the job growth reported for May is based on a downward revision of the jobs number for April.

Instead of adding 4,300 nonfarm payroll jobs in April, as was reported initially last month, Ohio actually lost 700 jobs in April, according to the revised numbers.

That means, had the April numbers not been revised, Ohio would have lost 3,900 jobs in May instead of gaining 1,100, based on the preliminary data.

It's a question of trust

Once again the conservatives cry foul over a new ABC News/Washington Post poll that shows more Americans now think John Kerry would better handle the war on terror than George Bush would. The margin is slim, by one point, and that would fall into the margin of error. Their argument is about the methodology of the poll. But rather than blame the poll itself, I thought maybe I would try to figure out if there is any reason that Bush has lost 13 points of his support there, and why Americans could possibly find that Kerry is seen as more honest and trustworthy by a margin of 13 points.

Here's one. As reported earlier, the Bush administration misjudged its terror report numbers. How far were they off? By about half.

The state department said 625 people were killed in 2003, compared with the 307 it claimed in April.


The number wounded leapt from 2,013 in 2002 to 3,646 last year. April's document had reported a fall to 1,593.

The death of our troops and civilians in Iraq were considered a part of war efforts and not counted in the terrorist attack figures. Does that mean the car bombs in Iraq are not terrorist attacks, but legitimate weapons of war now? Just curious as to how the Bush Administration would spin that one.

So there is news of poorly reported numbers, to be fair. Were their initial numbers "lies?" Well, technically yes. But I don't think they underreported on purpose, as revised numbers upwards would cause, oh, a story like this to appear and make the administration look bad.

Then of course there is the WMD we have yet to find.

And then there is the 9/11 commission finding. The very fact that so many thought this report nullified administration claims shows how cynically the administration sold them.

I give the Bushies credit, however, for being grammatically correct as they attempt to refute these claims. So while my level of trust continues in them falls, I would support them officiating next years Grammar Marathon.

The danger of the 24 hour news cycle.

It seems that everyone wants to be the newsbreaker nowadays. Michael Ledeen of The National Review is no exception. He claims to have the skinny on the capture of British ships by Iran that occurred yesterday. Guess what? It's to get Kerry elected, of course!
There's a perfectly straightforward explanation for the whole episode: The Brits were laying down a network of sensors to detect the movement of ships toward major Iraqi oil terminals. The Iranians considered that a bit of a threat. So they attacked.

And why, you might ask, did the Iranians feel threatened?

Because they were planning to attack (or have their surrogates attack) the oil terminals, silly.

And why attack the oil terminals?

Because they want to defeat President Bush in November, and they figure if they can get the price of oil up to around $60 a barrel, he'll lose to Kerry.

I read the whole article. Maybe this would be the one that convinced me that Kerry was wrong on terror and that I should vote Bush in the fall. I looked for proof of his assertions. Facts to back his claims. Nothing. Just wild speculation, it seemed. The Iranians did even "attack" really. Just captured eight sailors on three boats.

So I googled. And found a number of articles with Iranian claims of what was on board the ship.
Official sources said the small patrol boats were armed with heavy machine-guns, and identified the detained Britons as "Royal Navy commandos".

Iranian state television's Arabic-language channel, Al-Alam, said Iranian forces had also seized GPS (Global Positioning Satellite) devices, assault rifles, pistols, cameras and detailed maps of the Iran-Iraq border area.

Now I would think if Ledeen was right, they would have made some mention of the sensors as it would strength their case for capture. The map would have had special markings of where to drop the sensors.

Now after earlier announcements that prosecution of these men was imminent comes reports that they may be set free.
There are, meanwhile, unofficial reports that the Britons may indeed be freed soon, but it is likely that, behind the scenes, there are dissenting hardline voices who want at least to spin the affair out and teach the British a lesson about Iranian resolve and sovereignty.

The release of the men is not yet a foregone conclusion, but it is looking increasingly likely to be a matter of time.

Which would make little sense in Ledeen's hypothesis was right.

My conclusion? The National Review is read only by conservatives to be believed and by liberals who shake their head and wonder how they can report such things.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

I wish I could say I was surprised

It seems that once again the Bush/Cheney team has been a little loose and fast with their facts. Those that Vice President Dick Cheney has called them "the worst of a very bad lot," the prisoners we hold in Guantanamo may not be that bad after all. And their import to the war on terror is questionable as well.
In interviews, dozens of high-level military, intelligence and law-enforcement officials in the United States, Europe and the Middle East said that contrary to the repeated assertions of senior administration officials, none of the detainees at the United States Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay ranked as leaders or senior operatives of Al Qaeda. They said only a relative handful - some put the number at about a dozen, others more than two dozen - were sworn Qaeda members or other militants able to elucidate the organization's inner workings.

While some Guantanamo intelligence has aided terrorism investigations, none of it has enabled intelligence or law-enforcement services to foil imminent attacks, the officials said. Compared with the higher-profile Qaeda operatives held elsewhere by the C.I.A., the Guantanamo detainees have provided only a trickle of intelligence with current value, the officials said. Because nearly all of that intelligence is classified, most of the officials would discuss it only on the condition of anonymity.

"When you have the overall mosaic of all the intelligence picked up all over the world, Guantanamo provided a very small piece of that mosaic," said a senior American official who has reviewed the intelligence in detail. "It's been helpful and valuable in certain areas. Was it the mother lode of intelligence? No."

In September 2002, eight months after the detainees began to arrive in Cuba, a top-secret study by the Central Intelligence Agency raised questions about their significance, suggesting that many of the accused terrorists appeared to be low-level recruits who went to Afghanistan to support the Taliban or even innocent men swept up in the chaos of the war, current and former officials who read the assessment said.

Nearly two years later, military officials said, the evidence against many of the detainees is still so sparse that investigators have been able to deliver cases for military prosecution against only 15 of the suspects, 6 of whom have already been designated as eligible for trial by President Bush. Investigators are now preparing 35 to 40 other cases for the military tribunals, those officials said.

Go read the article for more. Pay particular attention to which techniques of interrogation used elicited the best results. Here's a hint:
Over a series of interrogations that extended into the fall of 2002, the agent slowly built a rapport with Mr. Kahtani, approaching him with respect and restraint, officials said. "He prays with them, he has tea with them, and it works," a senior official said, speaking generally of the agent's approach to terrorist suspects.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

More unrest in Afghanistan

Remember a few days ago when Bush touted Afghanistan as a model for Iraq? Of course Bush did not see modern events once again coming back to haunt his words, as yesterday Afgahni insurgents took control of an Afghan town and now seem to have their sights set on another one.
Taliban insurgents attacked a government office in southern Afghanistan, sparking a gunfight with Afghan troops that killed seven people, police said Saturday.

Just to the north, the U.S. military said two American soldiers were wounded and their Afghan interpreter killed when their vehicle hit a mine.

Meanwhile, President Hamid Karzai sent troops to the town of Chagcharan in Ghor province, some 350 miles west of Kabul, which was overrun Thursday by a group of local warlords, forcing out the governor and the provincial security chiefs.

All of this has caused a Nato security general to call for more help in Afghanistan (which, ironically, does seem to serve as a model for Iraq):
Nato Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer has made an impassioned plea for member states to commit resources to existing operations, notably in Afghanistan.

Speaking in London, Mr de Hoop Scheffer said it was "simply intolerable" that he was forced to get out his begging bowl as a standard operating procedure.

Nato has not provided extra personnel and equipment for Afghanistan
Nato's members, he said, announced political decisions to undertake missions, but "then we suddenly find out that nations are not prepared to make available the necessary capabilities".


Mr de Hoop Scheffer said Nato had to "devise a formula that both encourages and enables nations to honour their collective decisions and commitments".

De Hoop Scheffer feels allies have been distracted by Iraq
The alliance had no choice but to deliver, making sure its means matched its ambitions, he added. He wants to reform the planning process.

The allies, he said, should consider common funding of essential capabilities, like airlift and medical facilities.

He is also clearly worried that Nato leaders are thinking too much about Iraq at a time when they should be making good on their promises to Afghanistan.

I could not have said it better myself.

A little catch up

Working nights for the past four days has led to a little lag in the blogging. Yesterday an AP article came out commenting on Bush's re-election bankroll.
President Bush has spent seven of every $10 he has raised for his re-election campaign, more than half of it on television ads, and is asking supporters for more money.

Bush has collected at least $218 million since he began fund raising in May 2003, easily outpacing Democratic rival John Kerry. But Kerry raised about $25 million to Bush's $13 million in May as the president scaled back his record-setting drive to hold fund-raisers for other Republicans.


By the end of this month, Bush and Kerry together will have spent more than $140 million since March on television ads. Bush will have spent more than $80 million and Kerry more than $60 million.

This means Bush has already spent more than half his money in the campaign, most of it on TV ads. And that Bush has out spent Kerry on TV ads by a 4-3 margin. So one would expect the Bush campaign to have made an impact so far, right?

Well, yes and no according to a new AP article today:
President Bush's re-election team drove up negative impressions of John Kerry during a relentless $80 million advertising campaign the last three months, but the Republicans failed to undercut the Democrat's standing as a viable alternative to Bush.

As the Bush-Cheney campaign's spring push draws to a close, the Republicans have succeeded in changing voters' perception of Kerry - from a positive opinion held by a majority of Americans to a largely divided view.

So more voters now view Kerry less favorably then they did before (it is a 50-40 split, down from a 2-1 favorability factor before the ad blitz), but overall poll numbers show despite that success, the election is still pretty much a toss up.

Eight years ago, the Clinton re-election team, relying on an aggressive ad campaign, turned a 4 percentage-point lead over Dole in January into a 16-point advantage in June. Recent surveys show Kerry either tied with Bush or one candidate holding a slight advantage over the other with more than four months remaining before Election Day.

All this says to me that while the Bush campaign has had to actively paint Kerry unfavorably, people seem to find Bush just as unworthy naturally. Not a bad thing for Kerry at all.

*UPDATE* Of course, someone who has time and gets paid to write articles comes to the same conclusion, and I find it moments after I post.

Friday, June 18, 2004

It's the media's fault again

Andy McCarthy at The Corner, on the horrible revalition if the beheading of Paul Johnson:
There are two possible story lines here: choice (a) Paul Johnson was viciously beheaded today, becoming just the latest of thousands of victims slaughtered by a menace that cannot be managed, need not be culturally understood, and must be totally eradicated; or choice (b) Paul Johnson died today; an Arabic website, upon first breaking the news, explained that his death was retaliation for the scandalous abuse of Iraqi prisoners by occupying U.S. forces in Baghdad, where the Bush administration is alleged to have employed harsh interrogation tactics -- in violation of the Geneva Conventions -- in order to press for intelligence about weapons of mass destruction which have yet to be found.

Once again it's the media's fault those abuses occurred and came to light. I have a few questions, very quickly before I am late to work.
1) If hundreds of thousands chased down the horrific Nick Berg beheading on-line, would they not have done the same for the torture pictures at Abu Ghraib?
2)US reporting of our justification for torture claims is different from reporting the reason for their claims of torture is different how again?
3) Does Andy McCarthy really claim there that we need not culturally understand anti-American Muslims, and that if we did understand them it would be of no help in the war on terror?

Discrediting Putin

Thanks, No More Mister Nice Blog:
A commenter at Daily Kos quotes this from a March 20, 2003, article about a Putin speech:

The Russian leader told Washington that he had seen no evidence to support US allegations that Iraq was linked to international terror groups, and said the White House's declared intention of removing President Saddam was illegal.

"What's more, up until the start of (military) operation, Iraq did not represent any danger to its neighbours, or to other countries or regions of the world," he said....

Which would directly contradict claims made this morning.

From the mouth of Orrin Hatch

After voting down a subpoena request sponsered by Democrats to have the White House release the so called "torture memoes, (a release he supports, it seems), Hatch had some choice words to share (not suitable for family values). From the Washington Post:
(Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah)) described the Democrats' subpoena request as a "dumb-ass thing to do" and a "fishing expedition . . . to make a political point" but added that "I think the White House should comply" with the committee's earlier requests for the documents.

How cordial.

That answers that

When writing earlier about the bill allowing churches to endorse candidates, I deleted part of the entry on Bush's faith based initiave program. I was going to wonder if groups could sue over excutive orders not passed by Congress. Turns out they can.
A group brought a lawsuit on Thursday against the Bush administration over the president's religion-based initiative, alleging that the program illegally favors religious organizations for federal contracts.


The suit cites various agencies with offices set up to help religious groups apply for grants.

The lawsuit asks a judge to bar the use of taxpayer money for religion-based endeavors and require new rules to bar financing of social service organizations that include religion as an integral component of their services.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Nick Shulz vs media restraint

Over at the National Review Online is an opinion piece by Nick Shulz. First, however, the editor must weigh in to warn of the graphic detail Nick will go into and hopes the news media will show us the pictures from Sadaam's days as a torturer.
On principle this is newsworthy - and weighing heavily on our deliberations was the fact that a group of United States senators held a press conference on June 2 during which they showed the horrific video and near no one covered it - in fact, to this date, I am aware of no mainstream news organization other than the New York Post yesterday - in an opinion column - that has even mentioned that this new, Department of Defense-provided, video exists and has been shown on the Hill.

On principle this is newsworthy - why? No one disputes that Sadaam was a bad man who tortured his own people. I have not read one single story that claims otherwise. So why is it newsworthy to show video footing that must have been taken over a year ago at least proving things we already knew? Shulz himself says I could make this argument (and obviously I will) but seeing these videos will help one "grasp the indescribably monstrous horror, the Satanic villainy, the unrivaled evil of Saddam's regime." Again, not a claim anyone refutes. And when I hear a man gets his hand cut off, I don't need a video to gather how brutal and disgusting it must have been.

And the nature of the thing, when reading Shulz's account, reads like scenes from the banned Faces of Death series. The NRO wants that on the six o'clock news? The NRO wants our kids to be exposed to that on TV? Shulz' conclusion? Yes.
But a few things, reported by the major media, lead me to the conclusion that the press has an obligation to report on these tapes, and has a further obligation to release at least some portions of them, in some way.

I think, though that Shulz would forget what is my main tenet when it comes to the US/Iraqi abuse photos. The reason the US abuse pictures are shocking is not because of the images on film, but rather that such images could and seemingly were encouraged to occur by us, the country that went to war at some point to prevent torture and humiliation of prisoners from happening.

There are many stories of US abuse that sound horrible, too. Bush claims that this was a battle of good vs evil. But when the good do evil things, what then? How can we claim a moral high ground when our own actions in Iraq result in the death of twenty-seven prisoners and abuse of seventy five more? Is the only thing that makes us better is we don't have video tapes of these events, or at least they haven't been released? Would Shulz advocate the US news media showing these instances to our children at dinner time as well? To leave it to parents to explain why the good US soldier is suffocating a man in a sleeping bag and throwing cold water on him until he dies?
Shulz tries to avoid this question by framing it against the media.
I've no doubt the videos and stills of Americans torturing captives still unseen by the public are wretched and that the potential damage that can be done if they are broadcast would be immense. And now that the media have run with the first round of photos and videos, it will be difficult for them to justify not showing another, this time more horrid, round.

If these videos do come out, and the news media shows them, and they are just as gory as Shulz claims the Hussien tapes are, then I will eat crow and apologize to the guy. I really will. For now, however, I think the media's restraint is a reasonable response to an obscene situation.

Someone explain to me "strong economy"

According the the official George W. Bush Blog, the economy is looking strong in Ohio.

Now having read quite a few blogs in the past month, I know that people will try and cut out parts of the article they do not want you to see. They like to flaunt their case and hope the portion of the article is all that you read without thinking about what it is they claim. So let's examine the article the Bush campaign links to. Here's the part that is quoted:
The economy of a four-state region that includes all of Ohio remained strong over the last six weeks, the Cleveland branch of the Federal Reserve reports.

The Cleveland Fed's "biege book" report, made Wednesday, mirrored the central bank's national findings, which concluded the U.S. economy "continued to expand" in April and May.

The Cleveland branch oversees the Federal Reserve's fourth district, which covers Ohio, eastern Kentucky, western Pennsylvania and the northern panhandle of West Virginia. It compiles its beige book by surveying business executives in the area.

Looks good for Bush, right? Well, first I'd like to point out that the Bush campaign tries to use this report to say that things are looking up in Ohio. One would have to ignore the fact that this covers parts of Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia as well. Truth is, things in Ohio are not so rosy. The last unemployment numbers? Up in April from March. A few clicks on the US Dept of Labor website finds that all states included in this forecast around Ohio have unemployment rates at least .5% lower than Ohio itself.

But this report is from June, and those numbers are from April. Fair enough. What does the article that the Bushies quote from say about job growth?
Hiring, the companies told the Cleveland Fed, is "likely to be limited for the remainder of the year."

Hiring is to remain limited. That is an example of Bush claim of the economy "remaining strong." Virtually no new job growth.

Other points of interest in the article?
This time around, many companies in the district reported increases in raw materials costs during the spring, which they largely passed on to customers.

Awesome news for the average working man! The "strong growth" is allowing businesses to pass costs along to the consumer. Things will cost more for the average working man! Great news, according to Bush!
Production levels remained flat or rose for manufacturers in the district, with most producers expecting modest growth over the next few months.

Now don't get me wrong, modest growth is better than no growth at all. But it does not seem to be a sign of strong economy that the Bushies claim.
Retailers reported steady sales over the last six weeks, but specialty apparel stores and department stores said sales subsided after a spring surge. Discount retailers reported slight increases in sales. Retailers reported fewer markdowns and promotions, compared with last year, which increased margins.

Ah, retail sales were steady. Strong growth! And, good news for buyers, in that fewer markdowns and sales means the average working man is spending more for things than he paid last year, which drove up profit margins for retailers! Awesome! Any wage increase the average worker earned is now helping stores increase their profit margins.

That's the kind of "strong economy" the average worker in Ohio wants to hear about: Limited job growth and higher prices.

*UPDATE* To be fair, it is my struggle to understand why these factors would lead to claims of a "strong economy." My only problem is that the numbers, especially in Ohio, seem to contradict that fact. But Bush can claim "strong growth," as the federal reserve say so in this corridor. Just not specific to Ohio itself.

*UPDATE, TOO* Never let it be said that I cannot admit mistakes. New unemployment numbers appeared shortly after this post, and it showed great news for Buckeyes, as the unemployment rate for May dropped in Ohio to 5.4%, putting Ohio more in line with its neighbors. The link is nonspecific about types of jobs, and right now I do not have the time to look into it (another perk of the 12 hour work week.) Stay tuned.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

The Al Qaida-Iraq connection

Here's the "extensive link":
The commission's report says bin Laden "explored possible cooperation with Iraq during his time in Sudan, despite his opposition to [Saddam] Hussein's secular regime. Bin Laden had in fact at one time sponsored anti-Saddam Islamists in Iraqi Kurdistan.

"The Sudanese, to protect their own ties with Iraq, reportedly persuaded bin Laden to cease this support and arranged for contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda."

A senior Iraqi intelligence officer reportedly made three visits to Sudan, finally meeting bin Laden in 1994.

Bin Laden is said to have requested space to establish training camps, as well as assistance in procuring weapons, but Iraq apparently never responded.

"There have been reports that contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda also occurred after bin Laden had returned to Afghanistan, but they do not appear to have resulted in a collaborative relationship," the report said.

"Two senior bin Laden associates have adamantly denied" any relationship, the report said.

The panel also dismissed reports that Atta met with an Iraqi intelligence officer in the Czech Republic on April 9, 2000. "We do not believe that such a meeting occurred."

There it is. Al Qaeda asked for Iraqi help, and it Iraq rebuked them. That's the "extensive link" Cheney and Bush have been playing up in the media for the last few days. It seems that the US has stronger ties to Bin Ladin, because we actually supplied him with arms and training.

Those on the right will decry the report as partisan and an attempt at a cover up. And that's their deluded right. But for those of saying this report refutes nothing the Bush Administration has said, try this from report from the BBC in September, 2002.
The United States has accused Iraq of having long-standing links with the al-Qaeda network.
Two senior Bush administration figures, Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, made the allegations - without giving detailed information to back them up.

We have what we consider to be very reliable reporting of possible chemical and biological agent training

They said that Washington had evidence that Baghdad had been providing al-Qaeda operatives with training in the development of chemical weapons.

"We do have solid evidence of the presence in Iraq of al-Qaeda members, including some that have been in Baghdad," Mr Rumsfeld said.

"We have what we consider to be very reliable reporting of senior-level contacts going back a decade and of possible chemical and biological agent training," he added.

Questioned by reporters on how recent the information was, he said that the information was "current".

Prayers are with him

Fight on, Johnny Ramone. Fight on.

Did he really mean to say that?

From the President's speech, earlier today:
This was a regime(Iraq) that tortured children in front of their parents.

From Yahoo! News:
A military intelligence analyst who recently completed duty at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq (news - web sites) said Wednesday that the 16-year-old son of a detainee there was abused by U.S. soldiers to break his father's resistance to interrogators.

Not exactly the type of thing I'd bring up.