Saturday, December 30, 2006

Blog Power

by Glenn Greenwald

This achievement by Crooks & Liars is both extremely significant and well-deserved:

A small cluster of power bloggers — focused on politics, blogging and humor — were responsible for the top 100 blog posts for 2006, according to word-of-mouth measurement firm Nielsen BuzzMetrics. . . .

Crooks and Liars' posts on Stephen Colbert's monologue at the White House, and Keith Olbermann commentary on Rumsfeld, were the number 2 and 3 posts, respectively.

Beyond those two posts, posts from C&L also occupied the number 5 position (Olbermann's remarks on President Bush) and the 7 position (Al Gore's SNL would-be "presidential address"). That means that of the 10 most linked-to posts for all of 2006, 4 of them — 40% — came from one blog: C&L. Only one post from a top Bush-loving blog made the list (a Michelle Malkin rant on the Mohammed cartoons).

There are literally millions of blogs now. For one single blog, on its own, to generate 40% of the ten most linked-to posts for the year is a truly remarkable achievement. It is a testament to the uniquely valuable role C&L plays in the blogosphere — not only in providing invaluable video content but, more importantly, in helping to shape the dialogue and agenda for the liberal blogosphere as a whole.

By definition, any blogger who blogs regularly works very hard. But few, if any, work as hard as John Amato does. Maintaining this site is incredibly labor-intensive, and a person would do this only if they were driven by genuine passion to develop a meaningful alternative to our broken national media and rotting Beltway political institutions. The power of the blogosphere — particularly the liberal/anti-Bush blogosphere — is growing inexorably, and C&L (which includes everyone who helps to maintain it) is playing a central role in that development.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Scarborough Fair

Crooks & Liars

[MSNBC's Joe] Scarborough has made a definite turn-around on Bush over the past year, but it hasn't been as evident as it was on Wednesday's Scarborough Country. Joe appears to be totally fed up with the non-stop spin and ignorance coming from the White House and Bush's press conference apparently put the final nail in that coffin. While discussing Bush's possible plan of increasing troop levels, regardless of what the generals say, Scarborough even mentioned how there would be impeachment talk if Clinton was President and saying he would ignore our top military commanders.

Video - WMV Video - QT

"There's something almost kind of alarming about it."
--panelist Michael Crowley (The New Republic)

Colbert on Time's POY


Saturday, December 16, 2006 Person of the Year: You -- Dec. 25, 2006 -- Page 1

"Who are these people? Seriously, who actually sits down after a long day at work and says, I'm not going to watch Lost tonight. I'm going to turn on my computer and make a movie starring my pet iguana? I'm going to mash up 50 Cent's vocals with Queen's instrumentals? I'm going to blog about my state of mind or the state of the nation or the steak-frites at the new bistro down the street? Who has that time and that energy and that passion?
The answer is, you do. And for seizing the reins of the global media, for founding and framing the new digital democracy, for working for nothing and beating the pros at their own game, TIME's Person of the Year for 2006 is you.
This is an opportunity to build a new kind of international understanding, not politician to politician, great man to great man, but citizen to citizen, person to person. It's a chance for people to look at a computer screen and really, genuinely wonder who's out there looking back at them. Go on. Tell us you're not just a little bit curious.

Friday, December 08, 2006

At least it's not perfidy ... [UPDATED]

talkingpointsmemo / TPM Muckracker

The times, they are a-changin'. Sen. Gordon Smith (R-OR), in a speech on the Iraq War last night:

"I, for one, am at the end of my rope when it comes to supporting a policy that has our soldiers patrolling the same streets in the same way, being blown up by the same bombs day after day. That is absurd. It may even be criminal."

Read the whole thing here.

You can see video of the speech here.

More excerpts:

"When we came to the vote on Iraq, it was an issue of great moment for me. No issue is more difficult to vote on than war and peace, because it involves the lives of our soldiers, our young men and women. It involves the expenditure of our treasure, putting on the line the prestige of our country. It is not a vote taken lightly. I have tried to be a good soldier in this Chamber. I have tried to support our President, believing at the time of the vote on the war in Iraq that we had been given good intelligence and knowing that Saddam Hussein was a menace to the world, a brutal dictator, a tyrant by any standard, and one who threatened our country in many different ways, through the financing and fomenting of terrorism. For those reasons and believing that we would find weapons of mass destruction, I voted aye.

"I have been rather silent on this question ever since. I have been rather quiet because, when I was visiting Oregon troops in Kirkuk in the Kurdish area, the soldiers said to me: Senator, don't tell me you support the troops and not our mission. That gave me pause. But since that time, there have been 2,899 American casualties. There have been over 22,000 American men and women wounded. There has been an expenditure of $290 billion a figure that approaches the expenditure we have every year on an issue as important as Medicare. We have paid a price in blood and treasure that is beyond calculation by my estimation.

"Now, as I witness the slow undoing of our efforts there, I rise to speak from my heart. I was greatly disturbed recently to read a comment by a man I admire in history, one Winston Churchill, who after the British mandate extended to the peoples of Iraq for 5 years, wrote to David Lloyd George, Prime Minister of England: 'At present we are paying 8 millions a year for the privilege of living on an ungrateful volcano.'"

"When I read that, I thought, not much has changed. We have to learn the lessons of history and sometimes they are painful because we have made mistakes."

* * * *

"Many things have been attributed to George Bush. I have heard him on this floor blamed for every ill, even the weather. But I do not believe him to be a liar. I do not believe him to be a traitor, nor do I believe all the bravado and the statements and the accusations made against him. I believe him to be a very idealistic man. I believe him to have a stubborn backbone. He is not guilty of perfidy, but I do believe he is guilty of believing bad intelligence and giving us the same."

* * * *

"I welcome the Iraq Study Group's report, but if we are ultimately going to retreat, I would rather do it sooner than later. I am looking for answers, but the current course is unacceptable to this Senator. I suppose if the President is guilty of one other thing, I find it also in the words of Winston Churchill. He said:

After the First World War, let us learn our lessons. Never, never believe that any war will be smooth and easy or that anyone who embarks on this strange voyage can measure the tides and the hurricanes. The statesman who yields to war fever must realize that once the signal is given, he is no longer the master of policy but the slave of unforeseeable and uncontrollable events.

* * * *

"We were not prepared to win the peace by clearing, holding, and building. You don't do that fast and you don't do it with too few troops. I believe now that we must either determine to do that , or we must redeploy in a way that allows us to continue to prosecute the larger war on terror. It will not be pretty. We will pay a price in world opinion. But I, for one, am tired of paying the price of 10 or more of our troops dying a day. So let's cut and run, or cut and walk, or let us fight the war on terror more intelligently than we have, because we have fought this war in a very lamentable way.

"Those are my feelings. I regret them. I would have never voted for this conflict had I reason to believe that the intelligence we had was not accurate. It was not accurate, but that is history. Now we must find a way to make the best of a terrible situation, at a minimum of loss of life for our brave fighting men and women. So I will be looking for every opportunity to clear, build, hold, and win or how to bring our troops home."


editorial comment

The inaccuracy of the pre-war intelligence on WMD is indeed "history," but as Senator Smith said a little earlier in his speech, "We have to learn the lessons of history and sometimes they are painful because we have made mistakes."

To learn the lessons of this important bit of recent history, it is necessary to focus intesely on how it came to pass that Senator Smith and all of his similarly situated congressional colleagues came to believe this flawed intelligence. It is true that we must now "find a way to make the best of a terrible situation"; but this goal is not inconsistent with actually learning history's painful lessons. If we want to avoid policy disasters like the Iraq War in the future, how does it help us to gloss over the reality of how we got into the Iraq War?

Senator Smith does not lay a foundation for his stated beliefs about the president's veracity and culpability. He is not willing, as so many seem not (yet) willing, to turn his gaze the last little inch and face the sun directly, i.e., to deal head-on with the awful implications of the accumulating historical record.

Not perfidy? Maybe not. But why not? Because he says so? Because of some taboo? Because it would be too disruptive to our system of government to insist on actual accountability, all the way up to the oval office? What? I don't get it. Is it unmentionable? A secret? What excuses him from addressing the merits presented by the prima facie historical record? (By which I mean to suggest a direct analogy to the truth-seeking mechanism of our justice system, and specifically the burden-shifting effect of a sufficient prima facie showing by a party seeking to avoid a summary judgment.)

UPDATE 12/11/06:

from crooks & liars

Senator Smith joined Wolf Blitzer on The Situation Room today and explained his new stance on Iraq.

Video-WMP :: Video-QT

(rough transcript)

Sen. Smith: I simply hit the end of the rope if you will. I felt I had to speak up because if these sacrifices are being made in pursuit of policy that cannot succeed then we need to admit it and readjust in a way that the American people and our soldiers find worth the sacrifice and this is not.—I find examples like the British generals day after day in the first world war would send thousands of their men running into machine guns and not make adjustments. I find that criminal.

And when we send our young folks out in vehicles that cannot take out, er, er accept these kind of blasts to them without taking their lives I don;t find that smart. I find that derelict in duty…
Blitzer: Who should be held accountable–I'll just use a word "fiasco" or disaster or some word along those lines?

Sen. Smith: Well, I think all of us with positions of responsibility are accountable. but clearly I can't be quiet any more.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

You're not and you don't.

David Corn

The [Iraq Study Group] report is both a political and policy document. By declaring that Bush's current approach is misguided, the Baker-Hamilton commission creates greater space for a debate over alternatives. Its report undermines Bush's recent claims that 'we're winning' in Iraq and that he has 'a strategy for victory.' You're not and you don't, the report retorts (between the lines). This slap from Baker and the other Republican members (former Attorney General Edwin Meese III, former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, former Senator Alan Simpson, and former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger) is significant. When has such a group of Washington influentials offered a stinging indictment--even if gently--of the defining mission of a president from their own party? This report comes close to being a vote of no confidence from the Republican elite.

UPDATE 12/7/06:

David Corn

Below is another take I did on the Iraq Study Group report, this one for the "Comment Is Free" group blog of The Guardian. But before you get to that, let me point you toward the best piece on Iraq I've read in years. It's by Bill Edmonds, a major in the US Army Special Forces who has served in Iraq, and the article appears on the website of The Nation magazine, my home base. Regular readers know that I don't often heap praise, and I am unfamiliar with the author. I will not spoil the reading experience by summarizing Edmonds' article. Just take my word and click here.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


Andrew Sullivan 12/2/06

There is a mood on the right at this moment that is not entirely rational. They are lashing out at the people who can rescue them from the folly of the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld policy in Iraq. They are viciously attacking those who have had the temerity to expain why they lost the last election. And they are throwing the vilest of epithets at James Baker. Please. This is not 1991. They are as graceless in defeat now as they were hubristic in premature victory three years ago. Or to put it more precisely, they are exactly what National Review accuses the Baker-Hamilton Commission of being: "driven by their own internal dynamics rather than by any connection to the real world."

It's over, guys. Your beloved Bush administration botched this so badly it's irrecoverable. You enabled them. You never fully took them on when it would have counted - and you trashed those of us who did. You knew this before the 2004 election and still cynically played the anti-Kerry card for all it was worth, telling yourselves you could sway Rummy after the election. Well, you couldn't and you didn't. Your policy was sabotaged by a defense secretary who never believed in it and by a president too weak and out-of-it to rein him in. Get over yourselves and recognize that this dream has died. And we have to fight the nightmare we now face rather than pretend your dream is still even on life-support. That's the patriotic responsibility at this point. And no, I'm not impugning your patriotism. I'm asking you to place it before your shattered dreams.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Time to Focus Intensely on Past Events


[following up on the editorial commentary in the preceding post]

In a recent memo to its clients, the white shoe firm Covington and Burling warned of the increased investigative activity soon to come from the Dem-controlled Hill -- and touted its credentials for representing corporations and individuals who may find themselves under scrutiny.

"Nearly every committee of Congress likely will participate in oversight on a broad array of issues," the memo predicts, "including those that are well anticipated, like Iraq redevelopment fraud, and those that are sometimes overlooked by the press, such as hedge fund oversight. Importantly, while the popular press will focus on high-profile actions like subpoenaing senior government officials or investigating Bush Administration failures, a broad range of private sector companies also will face scrutiny."

The new Congress will be busy ferretting out "sweetheart contracts, administrative cost overruns, waste and fraud, and narrow appropriations earmarks," the slick marketing piece predicted. Also at risk are "[c]ompanies that played a role in what are perceived as Bush Administration failures or abuses" like Katrina and the president's warrantless wiretapping program. And even though Enron was a long time ago, Covington also sees "corporate abuses" as a target area.

. . .. ... ..... ........ oOo ........ ..... ... .. . .

And check out this interesting bit of intense focus ...

& C&L 6.12.2008

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Checks & Balances

a geebus rarity: editorial comment

Words resonating today (posts of geebus past): June 30 , written in the wake of the Supreme Court's Hamdan v. Rumsfeld decision. And this one from June 6. And May 31, May 21, May 14, May 8, April 17, April 4, March 27, March 23, March 18 (the 'prairie home excoriation') March 10, March 5, March 2.

And the timeless May 2.

I hope it is an uncontroversial notion that Americans have voted for changing course. The first step is to understand the nature of the problems we need to solve. We cannot lose sight of this imperative in the name of comity or bipartisanship or etiquette. Examining the truth about matters leaves plenty of room for comity and civility, even if it is a source of intense discomfort for a lot of people.

This is not the time to gloss over past events so that we can move forward. This is a time to focus intensely on past events so that we can move forward. I say this both because of the obvious importance of learning history's lessons, but also because of society's rapidly increasing ability (and propensity) to assemble, link, and access information effectively in the service of truthful and substantive discourse (another big theme on the geebus).

For it is precisely the historical inability of our society to perform this function in near-real-time that has enabled much of the egregious conduct we have witnessed. Reality has been too malleable; it is still too malleable, even liquid. But it is gaining viscosity. The conventional attitude that it is possible and somehow necessary to gloss over vital facts in order to move forward is now very mistaken. (I don't know how mistaken it was before, say, 5 years ago, given the expenses of investigation -- pecuniary, psychological, and otherwise.)

As evidenced by the referenced posts, many people have understood for a long time the gravity of recent events, keenly perceiving the threat to our constitutional system of government. Others have clued in only much more recently. Many, maybe the overwhelming majority of Americans, still don't get it, even as they resoundingly vote for change. People just want to move on, to return to normalcy and civility. Yet at the same time everybody demands to know "what is your plan to move us forward."

Any good plan would start out by seeking a shared understanding of where we are now, which requires a candid look at certain information about the past. That's what oversight is; that is the only path to the vaunted accountability we seek in our institutions.

It is not the case that every investigation is a diversion and a political witch hunt, and suggesting the contrary is not an adequate response on the merits presented by the prima facie record (especially today's substantial and burgeoning information-age record). In fact, the whole arsenal of rhetorical tricks that depend on distracting attention from the merits of uncomfortable assertions, the whole lot of them are becoming less and less effective. People who keep employing them anyway are more and more visibly ridiculous.

So too bad for convention as it seeks to enforce its demand that we somehow figure out how to redirect the ship's steerage without necessary information about the course on which we've been sailing, about the motivations and methods of those at the helm, about the very machinery of the ship.

. . .. ... ..... ........ oOo ........ ..... ... .. . .

updated some links 5.12.2008

flash forward: Learn History's Lessons 11.12.2008

Jim Derych: Rush Tells His Audience 'I'm Full of Crap'

The Huffington Post

Maybe I'm reading this wrong, but doesn't this sound like Rush telling his audience, right in front of God and everybody, that he's been lying to them?"

Here's a portion of the transcript of Limbaugh's 11/8/06 radio show (here's the video, linked from Crooks & Liars):

Now, I mentioned to you at the conclusion of the previous hour that people have been asking me how I feel all night long. I got, "Boy, Rush, I wouldn't want to be you tomorrow! Boy, I wouldn't want to have to do your show! Oh-ho. I'm so glad I'm not you."

Well, folks, I love being me. (I can't be anybody else, so I'm stuck with it.) The way I feel is this: I feel liberated, and I'm going to tell you as plainly as I can why. I no longer am going to have to carry the water for people who I don't think deserve having their water carried. Now, you might say, "Well, why have you been doing it?" Because the stakes are high. Even though the Republican Party let us down, to me they represent a far better future for my beliefs and therefore the country's than the Democrat Party and liberalism does. I believe my side is worthy of victory, and I believe it's much easier to reform things that are going wrong on my side from a position of strength.

Now I'm liberated from having to constantly come in here every day and try to buck up a bunch of people who don't deserve it, to try to carry the water and make excuses for people who don't deserve it. I did not want to sit here and participate, willingly, in the victory of the libs, in the victory of the Democrat Party by sabotaging my own. But now with what has happened yesterday and today, it is an entirely liberating thing. If those in our party who are going to carry the day in the future -- both in Congress and the administration -- are going to choose a different path than what most of us believe, then that's liberating. I don't say this with any animosity about anybody, and I don't mean to make this too personal.

I'm not trying to tell you that this is about me. I'm just answering questions that I've had from people about how I feel. There have been a bunch of things going on in Congress, some of this legislation coming out of there that I have just cringed at, and it has been difficult coming in here, trying to make the case for it when the people who are supposedly in favor of it can't even make the case themselves -- and to have to come in here and try to do their jobs. I'm a radio guy! I understand what this program has become in America and I understand the leadership position it has. I was doing what I thought best, but at this point, people who don't deserve to have their water carried, or have themselves explained as they would like to say things but somehow aren't able to, I'm not under that kind of pressure.

Am I making myself clear on this, Mr. Snerdley [Limbaugh's producer]?


No, I'm not lying. Snerdley's concerned. I've not lied about anything I've said. Let me try this a different way. (sigh) I'm going to have to think about this. I tried to make it as clear as I can. I'm not going to eat my own, and I'm not going to throw my own overboard, particularly in a campaign, and particularly when the country is at war -- and I'm not going to do it for selfish reasons, and I'm not going to do it to stand out, and I'm not going to do it to be different. I'm not going to do it to draw attention from our enemies. I'm not going to do anything I do so that the Drive-By Media will like me or think that, "Ooooh, Limbaugh has changed! Ooooh, Limbaugh is coming around!" That's not my thinking.

My thinking is: the left doesn't deserve to win. My thinking is: the country is imperiled with liberal victory. We may not have the best people on our side, but they're better than what we have on the left. But it has been difficult sometimes, when these people on our side have not had the guts to stand up for themselves, have not had the guts to explain what they really believe and why they're doing what they're doing. When they haven't had the courage to be who they are, when they haven't had the courage to be conservatives.

It has been a challenge to come in here and look at some of the weaknesses and some of the missed opportunities and try to cover for them and make up for them and make sure that the opportunities are not totally lost. But at some point you have to say, "I'm not them, and I can't assume the responsibility for their success. It isn't my job to make them succeed. It isn't my job to make elected Republicans look good if they can't do it themselves. It's not my job to make them understandable and understood if they can't do it themselves -- not in perpetuity, not ad infinitum." So all I can tell you is I feel a little liberated, and I think this is all going to result in a lot of cleansing in a number of areas.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT RUSH: Snerdley said, "Well give me an example of what you're talking about." Okay, let me give you an example. (I'm not going to mention any names.) I've been sticking my neck out to defend people who won't defend themselves and in the process of sticking my neck out, I get it cut off by other people who disavow what I'm doing and saying -- and yet if I didn't stick my neck out these people would have gotten swamped and defeated by far bigger margins than they did! I bring a lot of passion to my belief in conservatism, and my belief that liberalism is harmful to individuals in this country, that it leads them to lives of misery and unfulfilled potential. Those beliefs drive me, and I believe that we are the good guys, and when the people on my side, the good guys, don't have the guts to defend themselves as strongly as I'm willing to defend them, then you get to the point where, what's the point? I'm not running in their races. I'm not asking for votes. I'm not on the ballots. I'm not getting their votes. That is up to them. All I'm saying is it's a little liberating now, once I see the direction we're headed and I look at the reaction to everybody in our movement after this loss. They can take it the way they want to take it, and I'm not going to defend whatever way they go just because they're on my side if I don't believe in the method they're using or the direction they're taking. It's that simple.


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Blogs Take Lead in Reporting Polling Problems, With Supporting Evidence on YouTube

New York Times

That the blog now has a firm place in the choreography of national events — and in elections perhaps more so than in any other cultural exercise — is a boon to the democratic process, said Jonathan Zittrain, a professor of Internet governance at Oxford University and a co-founder of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard.

“In a lot of ways they’re helping to set the agenda for the mainstream media in fast-moving events like this,” Mr. Zittrain said. “They just need to be able to produce enough that’s credible quickly to give a lead.”

Alluding to some of the voter intimidation reports (see e.g. here) that unfolded on Election Day, he added, “There’s also a real difference between hearing about a call that tells someone they’re not allowed to vote and actually hearing the call as if you are receiving it.”

Some bloggers placed what were said to be digital recordings of such calls online (e.g. here) for the world to hear. (See also MSNBC's report about the blog/robocall angle, linked from TPM.)

Elsewhere online, voting machine problems also filled many posts on Talking Points Memo (e.g. here), a liberal site that seemed to take the initiative in tracking complaints, malfunctions and alleged malfeasance by Republicans (another fine example here; see also Bradblog, run by Brad Friedman, perhaps the most dogged critic of electronic voting machine technology in the blogosphere, also mentioned in the NYT Article.)

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Monday, November 06, 2006

The American Conservative Magazine: GOP Must Go!

Breaking the Silence
The American Conservative [about]

It should surprise few readers that we think a vote that is seen—in America and the world at large—as a decisive “No” vote on the Bush presidency is the best outcome. We need not dwell on George W. Bush’s failed effort to jam a poorly disguised amnesty for illegal aliens through Congress or the assaults on the Constitution carried out under the pretext of fighting terrorism or his administration’s endorsement of torture. Faced on Sept. 11, 2001 with a great challenge, President Bush made little effort to understand who had attacked us and why—thus ignoring the prerequisite for crafting an effective response. He seemingly did not want to find out, and he had staffed his national-security team with people who either did not want to know or were committed to a prefabricated answer.

As a consequence, he rushed America into a war against Iraq, a war we are now losing and cannot win, one that has done far more to strengthen Islamist terrorists than anything they could possibly have done for themselves. Bush’s decision to seize Iraq will almost surely leave behind a broken state divided into warring ethnic enclaves, with hundreds of thousands killed and maimed and thousands more thirsting for revenge against the country that crossed the ocean to attack them. The invasion failed at every level: if securing Israel was part of the administration’s calculation—as the record suggests it was for several of his top aides—the result is also clear: the strengthening of Iran’s hand in the Persian Gulf, with a reach up to Israel’s northern border, and the elimination of the most powerful Arab state that might stem Iranian regional hegemony.

The war will continue as long as Bush is in office, for no other reason than the feckless president can’t face the embarrassment of admitting defeat. The chain of events is not complete: Bush, having learned little from his mistakes, may yet seek to embroil America in new wars against Iran and Syria.

Meanwhile, America’s image in the world, its capacity to persuade others that its interests are common interests, is lower than it has been in memory. All over the world people look at Bush and yearn for this country—which once symbolized hope and justice—to be humbled. The professionals in the Bush administration (and there are some) realize the damage his presidency has done to American prestige and diplomacy. But there is not much they can do.

There may be little Americans can do to atone for this presidency, which will stain our country’s reputation for a long time. But the process of recovering our good name must begin somewhere, and the logical place is in the voting booth this Nov. 7. If we are fortunate, we can produce a result that is seen—in Washington, in Peoria, and in world capitals from Prague to Kuala Lumpur—as a repudiation of George W. Bush and the war of aggression he launched against Iraq.

Lies and the Revisionist Liars who Tell Them

by Glenn Greenwald
Crooks & Liars

It is not news to anybody that Bush followers lie repeatedly and aggressively. But what does continue to amaze is that there is literally no limit on their willingness to do so even when — especially when — it requires them to ignore and contradict even the most glaring facts which everyone can see, as clear as day, right in front of our faces.

In this superb post, Digby uses two examples from this past week – the John Kerry "controversy" and the publication by the Bush administration of how-to nuclear documents – to describe precisely how this process works.

And the Editors provides the illustrated cartoon version of what Digby is describing — a cartoon which would be hilarious if it didn't so accurately convey the process which has destroyed our nation's political dialogue and enabled the most radical and destructive policies imaginable.

This is why I spent the last couple of days focused so heavily on Michael Ledeen's weekend lie in National Review that he "opposed the military invasion of Iraq before it took place" even though he repeatedly wrote and said the exact opposite. It's not because Ledeen himself matters per se, but because this straightforward incident illustrates the dynamic so perfectly.

Ledeen has no compunction at all about blatantly lying even in the face of a literal wave of conclusive evidence showing that he is lying — and his National Review editors such as Rich Lowry are content to remain silent about it because it's not news to them that their magazine is printing demonstrable falsehoods. It doesn't even warrant a response, let alone a correction, retraction or apology. That's because lying has become not only a perfectly acceptable tactic, but one that is central to their movement. Lying is not something they do sometimes It is who they are. Lying is a central and consciously adopted part of their ideology.

The grandfather of neoconservatism, Irving Kristol, long ago explained the "justification" for lying in an interview with Reason's Ronald Bailey (h/t Mona):

There are different kinds of truths for different kinds of people . . . There are truths appropriate for children; truths that are appropriate for students; truths that are appropriate for educated adults; and truths that are appropriate for highly educated adults, and the notion that there should be one set of truths available to everyone is a modern democratic fallacy. It doesn't work.
It is from that rotted Stalinist root that the right-wing Ideology of Lying emerged, as embodied by the now-infamous warning issued to Ron Suskind by a Bush "senior advisor" after Suskind wrote an article about Karen Hughes which displeased the Leader: ''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out."

The authoritarian Bush movement is so Wise (in the case of neoconservatives) and so Good (in the case of the religious fundamentalists who are their loyal comrades) that everything, including the most blatant lies, is not only justifiable, but necessary. Reality can and must be fundamentally distorted for our own good. As Mona put it — and as the two posts linked above illustrate — "for neoconservatives [which has subsumed the so-called "conservative" movement itself], falsehood is a feature, not a bug."

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Richard Dawkins Interview

Dawkins: "I am aware that there are a large number of died-in-the-wool faith-heads who will never be changed, but I think there is a big middle ground of people who actually haven't thought about it very much, but think of themselves as religious, but haven't given it very much thought and I really hope they might be changed."

Richard Dawkins Questions Ted Haggard

Crooks and Liars » Scientist Richard Dawkins Questions Pastor Haggard (6:09)

Excerpt from The Root of All Evil - The God Delusion

More Richard Dawkins on religion (13:14)

Excerpt from The Root of All Evil - The God Delusion

Here is the whole show:

The God Delusion (47:51)

I believe this is part 2 (42:54)

The Root of All Evil -
The Virus of Faith

Talking Points Memo on Perle's Vanity Fair Article

Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall
November 04, 2006 -- 02:39 PM EST

"I'm afraid Richard Perle's Vanity Fair concession that had he known then what he knows now he would never have supported the Iraq War is going to grab the headlines.

"But Perle hardly sounds chastened by the disaster, pointing fingers this way and that:

"'Huge mistakes were made, and I want to be very clear on this: They were not made by neoconservatives, who had almost no voice in what happened, and certainly almost no voice in what happened after the downfall of the regime in Baghdad,' he said. 'I'm getting damn tired of being described as an architect of the war. I was in favor of bringing down Saddam. Nobody said, "Go design the campaign to do that." I had no responsibility for that.'"

"Instead he blames the disaster on 'disloyalty' to President Bush from within the Administration. The LA Times suggests this is a swipe at Rumsfeld, but to me it sounds like another knife in Colin Powell's back.
Late Update: Kevin Drum has more on neocon revisionism.

-- TPM Reader DK

Friday, November 03, 2006

Neo Culpa

Andrew Sullivan

I'm just beginning to absorb the full impact of the fact that Richard Perle and my good friend Ken Adelman have just unleashed a critique of the Bush administration that is as brutal as anything I have been writing for the past three years. Coming from them, it's the equivalent of "no confidence" in the Bush administration. From the neocons. Money quote from Ken:
Fearing that worse is still to come, Adelman believes that neoconservatism itself — what he defines as "the idea of a tough foreign policy on behalf of morality, the idea of using our power for moral good in the world"—is dead, at least for a generation. After Iraq, he says, "it's not going to sell."
And if he, too, had his time over, Adelman says, "I would write an article that would be skeptical over whether there would be a performance that would be good enough to implement our policy. The policy can be absolutely right, and noble, beneficial, but if you can't execute it, it's useless, just useless. I guess that's what I would have said: that Bush's arguments are absolutely right, but you know what, you just have to put them in the drawer marked CAN'T DO. And that's very different from LET'S GO."
Thanks, Ken. You're a patriot. You've told the truth about men whom you know and care about. Because America comes first. And this country and its honor must be rescued from this incompetent cabal.

Update: David Frum responds. Money quote:
"I always believed as a speechwriter that if you could persuade the president to commit himself to certain words, he would feel himself committed to the ideas that underlay those words. And the big shock to me has been that although the president said the words, he just did not absorb the ideas. And that is the root of, maybe, everything."

* * *

& flash forward 10.21.2008

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Frank Rich: Tremendous Sense of Frustration

Eat The Press Frank Rich
The Huffington Post

"What I've found everywhere else — whether in Seattle or Kansas City, though Houston is yet to come — is a tremendous sense of frustration at having been misled and lied to about the Iraq war, an appetite for harder-hitting media that can be trusted, and concern about whether the Democrats will be any better at leading the country out of the morass.

"Three big issues, and he nails them. There can be no doubt that

the spin is off the Iraq war — see the desperation pervading these final days as the attacks on the left (or perceived left) are carried out willy-nilly — but it is also clear that the Democrats are basically running on a campaign of backlash. As for the media, Rich makes an important point about how the news was filtered in the run-up to war:

We now know that Jonathan Landay and Warren Strobel of the Knight-Ridder Washington bureau — now McClatchy newspapers — were on to the story ahead of most others. We also know that there were reporters at the Washington Post and the New York Times who were on to the story, but whose stuff was unfortunately downplayed, compared to the big-footing journalists who got it wrong on page one. There were people like [Walter] Pincus and [James] Risen and others who were on to it but went unnoticed.

"And, for the people who continue to pooh-pooh the real work behind the Daily Show: '[Jon Stewart] was the first person to do what television news should have been doing, which is go to the video clips and see what they said two months ago' [see also]. As for his colleagues in the TV news biz: 'I think there's nothing to be said for television news at all.' Yikes. (Though Rich does note that, now that the tide has turned against the administration, everyone is on the bandwagon, which is good.)

"Rich has some thoughts on the liberal hawks who supported the war way back when: 'The only one who, in my view, successfully fessed up to it and did the reporting to redeem himself is George PackerThe Assassin's Gate' (not, as Rich has noted, Peter Beinart). On Bob Woodward: 'State of Denial fills in some very interesting details on a story that Bob Woodward seems to be among the last of major journalists to figure out.' Oh, zing.

"It's a very interesting interview and available here — worth a read just for the reminder about what that famous quote about ignoring "the reality-based community" really meant (hint: It meant plotting to sell the Iraq war, 'like Cheerios'). Worth remembering."

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Of Bubbles and Eyebrows

Al Kamen - An Administration Ally Goes Off-Message -

Sensing GOP vulnerability, the Democrats' campaign ads focus on voter unhappiness with the Iraq war. The Republicans, in turn, prefer to talk about keeping us safe from terrorism.

So eyebrows popped up last week when none other than Richard Perle, former Reagan assistant secretary of defense, former Bush brain-truster on the Defense Policy Board, and a key promoter of the war to find Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, blistered the administration as "dysfunctional" when it comes to stopping someone from bringing "a nuclear weapon or even nuclear material into the United States."

"Knowing that there are people who wish to do that," Perle said, "knowing they are seeking weapons of mass destruction, you would think that we would have put in place a system or at least be working assiduously in the development of a system that would allow us to detect nuclear material entering the New York Harbor or Boston Harbor or what have you.

"But we haven't done that," he said at a Center for Strategic and International Studies gathering [wmv 1.25 hr]. "And the reason we haven't done that is hopeless bureaucratic obstruction. Somebody needs to shake that loose." Perle added that while some have tried to overcome the bureaucracy, no one has succeeded.

"I think we have an administration today that is dysfunctional," Perle said. "And if it can't get itself together to organize a serious program for finding nuclear material on its way to the United States, then it ought to be replaced by an administration that can."

But President Bush , Perle emphasized, is not to blame for this sorry state of affairs. "I haven't the slightest doubt that if one could . . . put this proposition to the president, he would first be shocked to learn that we don't have the capability. Secondly, [he] would immediately order that we develop it."

[Editorial Comment: The buck stops with the president. If a president runs his administration in such a way that news of this sort doesn't reach him, then he is to blame in the most fundamental way. Especially for a so-called unitary executive president. Ultimate responsibility is a concomitant of ultimate power. This does not minimize in any way the responsibility of others, especially those who, as Mr. Perle believes, are responsible for distorting the president's view of reality to such an extent as to produce the present "sorry state of affairs." There is no plausible deniability here.]

Monday, October 30, 2006

The Ethics Committee investigation of Hastert and the Foley Scandal: Recent History Does not Inspire Confidence - Center for Media and Democracy

The Ethics Committee investigation of Hastert and the Foley Scandal: Recent History Does not Inspire Confidence - Center for Media and Democracy

As our regular readers undoubtedly know, the House Ethics Committee is in the process of investigating the response of the Republican House leadership to early warning signs in the Mark Foley page scandal. Last week we learned that the committee is expected to issue a report, but not until after next week's elections. The cynical response that this revelation begs is fairly reasonable, especially considering that House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) has a recent history of attempting to muzzle the committee. The following history can be found on the Congresspedia page on the House Ethics Commmittee and is another demonstration on how this "citizens' encyclopedia on Congress" can be an essential guide to understanding the news of the day.

In 2004, the Ethics Committee under then-Chairman Joel Hefley (R-Colo.) aggressively pursued allegations of misconduct against then-Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas). The committee did not officially sanction DeLay with violations of any House rules, but it did admonish him for three incidents which the committee said could lead to the perception of impropriety in Congress. Many Republicans were enraged by the Republican-led panel’s actions. In October, not long after the last of the admonishments, Hefley was quoted in The Hill as saying “I’ve been attacked; I’ve been threatened,” in reference to members of his own party.

On February 3, 2005, at the start of the 109th Congress, Hastert replaced Hefley with Rep. Doc Hastings, a Washington Republican seen as more loyal to the Republican leadership. Hastert also ousted two other Republican panel members, Reps. Kenny Hulshof and Steve LaTourette, who had voted with Hefley to admonish DeLay and voted against an internal Republican rule change meant to protect DeLay as majority leader in the case of his indictment in a Texas investigation into his behavior. In the place of the removed lawmakers, Hastert appointed Reps. Melissa Hart (R-Pa.), Lamar Smith (R-Texas), and Tom Cole (R-Okla.). According to Common Cause, all three voted for the caucus rule change. Even more notably, Smith and Cole donated thousands of dollars ($10,000 and $5,000 respectively) to DeLay’s legal defense fund. Dissenting Republican congressmen were not the only victims of the Ethics Committee purge. Upon assuming his position as chairman, Hastings fired both the committee’s longtime staff director and its chief spokesperson. He attempted to replace the former with his personal office’s chief of staff.

House Republicans also unilaterally imposed several modifications to the rules governing the committee. Previously an investigation would automatically be triggered if the committee was deadlocked on a complaint for more than 45 days. Instead, the complaint would now be dismissed. Given the committee's composition of five Republicans and five Democrats, this rule would have essentially meant that either party could have killed any investigation with a party line vote. The other two new rules allowed the preparation of witnesses by the same lawyer — a process previously discouraged to prevent witness cooperation — and the requirement that a member of Congress be allowed to contest the facts of the letter informing him that he was under investigation before it was publicly released.

House Democrats were enraged by both the rule changes and the placement of a partisan chief of staff in a position previously considered non-partisan. Rather than go along with either development, Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-W.V.), then the ranking Democrat on the committee, opted to shut the committee down by simply refusing to attend its inaugural meeting, which preventinged it from being constituted. At the end of March 2006, the Republicans caved to Democratic demands and rolled back the rule changes. In early July, the committee was finally able to resume operation after Hastings and Mollohan reached a deal where their personal staff would be their liaisons to the committee but the actual committee staff would be non-partisan.

While that particular Ethics Committee battle was resolved almost a year and a half ago, the members named to the committee by Hastert in January 2005 remain. While an investigation into the Republican leadership's actions prior to the breaking of the Foley scandal was politically necessary in the wake of the public outrage over the matter, it remains to be seen if Hastert's hand-picked jurors will find any fault in his actions.

—with Congresspedia intern Tim Malacarne

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Slashdot | Bush Signs Bill Enabling Martial Law

Slashdot Bush Signs Bill Enabling Martial Law:

"An anonymous reader writes to point us to an article on the meaning of a new law that President Bush signed on Oct. 17. It seems to allow the President to impose martial law on any state or territory, using federal troops and/or the state's own, or other states', National Guard troops. From the article:

'In a stealth maneuver, President Bush has signed into law a provision which, according to Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), will actually encourage the President to declare federal martial law. It does so by revising the Insurrection Act, a set of laws that limits the President's ability to deploy troops within the United States. The Insurrection Act (10 U.S.C.331 -335) has historically, along with the Posse Comitatus Act (18 U.S.C.1385), helped to enforce strict prohibitions on military involvement in domestic law enforcement. With one cloaked swipe of his pen, Bush is seeking to undo those prohibitions.'

Here is a link to the bill in question. The relevant part is Sec. 1076 about 3/4 of the way down the page."

Note: the site hosting the article is already sluggish; I was unable to prime the CoralCDN cache with it. Please consider mirroring this article if you are able.

AP seeks action on detained photographer - Yahoo! News

AP seeks action on detained photographer - Yahoo! News:

via Andrew Sullivan

NEW ORLEANS - The U.S. military's indefinite detention of an Associated Press photographer in Iraq, without charges, is an outrage and should be seen as such by the journalistic community, AP editors said Friday.

"We are angry, and we hope you are, too," AP International Editor John Daniszewski told a gathering of the Associated Press Managing Editors.

In interviews, the leaders of APME and the American Society of Newspaper Editors shared frustration with the case of Bilal Hussein and said they would urge the Pentagon to release the photographer, who has been held by the military since April, or to provide the AP with justification for his continued detention.

The president of the Associated Press Photo Managers, Steve Gonzales, said in an e-mail that his group would sign onto that effort, saying it understands "the necessity of unbiased visual journalism in theaters of conflict."

The AP similarly has called for the military to release the photographer or charge him with a crime.
Hussein was arrested in April and accused, "vaguely," of being a security threat, said Santiago Lyon, the AP's director of photography. The military has said Hussein was in the company of two alleged insurgents. Daniszewski said that when the news cooperative pressed for further details, the best it could learn was that Hussein was allegedly involved in the kidnapping of two journalists by insurgents in Ramadi.

However, Daniszewski said the two journalists were asked by AP about the incident and that they recalled Hussein as a "hero," who helped evacuate them from harm's way.

Lyon said he reviewed Hussein's images and interviewed his colleagues and found nothing to suggest he was doing more than his job in a war zone. The vast majority of images depicts the realities of war, Lyon said, and "may be an inconvenient truth, but a truth nonetheless."

David Zeeck, president of ASNE and executive editor of The News Tribune, of Tacoma, Wash., called Hussein's detention without charges "contrary to American values."

"This is how Saddam Hussein dealt with reporters; he would hold them incommunicado," Zeeck said.

Some of Bilal Hussein's images were shown to the newspaper editors Friday. One showed a man sweeping up a blood-drenched floor; another, a row of four dead children and others of wounded Iraqis. Lyon said Hussein captured important and compelling images of the effects of war.

Hussein is an Iraqi national, as are nearly all AP journalists in the war-torn country, Lyon said. He also is one of about 13,000 men and women being detained in Iraq without getting a trial, Daniszewski said.

Suki Dardarian, deputy managing editor of The Seattle Times and outgoing president of the APME, said what's happened with Hussein could have a chilling effect on the work of other journalists. Hussein's detention has virtually halted the production of photographs from the dangerous region in which Hussein worked, Daniszewski said.

Rosemary Goudreau, editorial page editor of The Tampa Tribune, asked AP Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll what papers like hers could do.

"You run an editorial page, as I recall," Carroll said.

Where the right went wrong -

I caught today's installment of CNN's Broken Government series. I watched this in part because Lynne Cheney was complaining about it to Wolf Blitzer earlier today, but mostly because I happened to be flipping channels when it came on. It sure is nice to see this message being hammered home on CNN, instead of just coursing through the blogosphere. Somewhere during the program I saw the slogan "Lose one for the Gipper." Clever!

By Jeff Greenfield
CNN Senior Analyst

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Fifty years ago, when a 29-year-old Yale graduate named William F. Buckley Jr. funded National Review magazine, conservatism was a small insurgency, fighting the dominant tide of liberalism that had governed the United States for a quarter century.

Today, the right is politically dominant. The president is an avowed conservative; so are the vast majority of Republicans who control the Congress. The courts have moved to the right; conservative voices are prominent in the media; and three Americans call themselves conservative for every two who say they are liberal.

Yet now, at what should be the floodtide of conservative power, many on the right are expressing open, even passionate disagreement with what has been done in their name. (Watch what's angered the right -- 1:34 Video)

"I believe that as a movement we have veered off course into the dangerous and uncharted waters of big government Republicanism," said Mike Pence, a three-term representative from Indiana.

Pence is one of a number of conservatives who finds himself dismayed by much of what has happened under Republican rule.

And others, like Buckley, are concerned by what is in the future. He foresees a repudiation of what has been done in the name of the right.

"At the Republican convention in '08 there will be a lot of rhetoric, which will deplore what has been done in the name of conservatism and Republicanism. And I think it will bring the house down," Buckley told me for our "Broken Government: Right Gone Wrong."

"Because I think there's always a queasy feeling when you violate your own canons."

The discontent includes the sharp growth in government spending -- including the kind of domestic spending conservatives have long deplored -- to the growth of "pork-barrel" projects once seen as an emblem of how big government politicians hold power.

"They have increased the amount of government spending by a degree that no Democrat would ever dream of getting away with," said columnist Andrew Sullivan.

Many of the sharpest attacks on the mix of lobbyists and politicians that have sent prominent public figures to prison come from these voices on the right.

There are social conservatives who say the Republicans have taken them for granted -- and libertarians like Dick Armey and Sullivan, who say government has no more business in the bedroom than the boardroom. In "Right Gone Wrong," you'll see the sharp split over Bush's foreign policy, especially his sweeping goal of promoting democracy around the world. ("Loony," William Buckley calls it).

While conservatives overwhelmingly support Bush on his tax cuts and judicial appointments -- and while many, if not most, back his claim of broad executive authority to wage the war on terror, the discontent on the right has grown so intense that a number of well-known conservatives have openly argued that the Republicans should lose their hold on Congress this year, either to punish conservatives for abandoning the cause, or because divided government actually produces better policy results.

And beyond the November elections, the conservative movement finds itself in a debate that will shape the future of this movement: "How do we mesh power and principle?"

Friday, October 27, 2006

Business as usual in "up-is-down world"

YouTube - Bush Reserves The Right To Repeat Katrina Failures

from Crooks and Liars

President Bush asserted his right last week via signing statement to ignore a Congressional mandate that the next FEMA Director have at least five years of disaster response experience.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

U.S. Generals Call for Democratic Takeover

Two retired senior Army generals, who served in Iraq and previously voted Republican, are now openly endorsing a Democratic takeover of Congress. The generals, and an active-duty senior military official, told Salon in separate interviews that they believe a Democratic victory will help reverse course from what they consider to be a disastrous Bush administration policy in Iraq. The two retired generals, Maj. Gen. John Batiste and Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, first openly criticized the handling of the war last spring, when they called for the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
"The best thing that can happen right now is for one or both of our houses to go Democratic so we can have some oversight," Batiste, who led the Army's 1st Infantry Division in Iraq in 2004 and 2005, told Salon. Batiste describes himself as a "lifelong Republican." But now, he said, "It is time for a change."
Eaton, who was in charge of training the Iraqi military from 2003 to 2004, agrees that Democratic control of Congress could be the best way to wrest control from the Bush administration and steer the United States away from a gravely flawed strategy in Iraq. "The way out that I see is to hand the House and the Senate to the Democrats and get this thing turned around," Eaton explained, adding that such sentiment is growing among retired and active-duty military leaders. "Most of us see two more years of the same if the Republicans stay in power," he said. He also noted, "You could not have tortured me enough to vote for Mr. Kerry or Mr. Gore, but I'm not at all thrilled with who I did vote for."
An active-duty senior military official who also served in Iraq said that, among a surprising number of his otherwise "very conservative" colleagues, there is hope that Democrats will gain control of Congress. "I will tell you, in the circles I talk to, the only way to enable or enact change is to change the leadership," he said.
Political experts say there is no evidence of a large exodus of military voters from the GOP, and it remains unclear how Iraq will affect military voters at the polls. Particularly among officers and the top brass, the military has long been heavily Republican. President Bush led John Kerry 73 percent to 18 percent just prior to the 2004 election in a Military Times poll, which largely surveyed higher ranking and career members of the military. Three separate studies in the past decade, including one due in dissertation form from Columbia University next spring, have put the ratio of Republicans to Democrats in the upper ranks of the military at 8-to-1.
But last spring a handful of retired commanders shook the military establishment to its core by publicly calling for the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. And palpable frustration and anger among officers over the Bush administration's Iraq strategy clearly is driving some to do what was previously unthinkable: switch their allegiance to the Democratic Party, at least for the time being.
That may also be the case among the rank and file. As Salon reported recently, there are signs that support for Bush and the GOP is eroding in a Virginia congressional district saturated with military voters. Salon has also learned that more than 100 current members of the military have now joined a campaign formally appealing to Congress to immediately withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq.
"The rest of us still in uniform cannot publicly articulate our own concerns, but there is a whole bunch of people out there who feel [this] way," said the active-duty senior military official. When asked if he was a Republican, he responded, "I was in the past." He railed against the Bush administration's head-in-the-sand approach to the war. "What do we have today? Holy shit. Now you have sectarian violence? That is a new term, by the way," the official fumed, emphasizing that before the war and even well into a volatile occupation nobody in the Bush administration "would even believe there would be an insurgency."
It's not that the current and former military leaders are suddenly eager to see liberal House Democratic leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi take more power in Congress if the Democrats win control. Instead, the embrace of the Democrats, they say, is purely pragmatic. They hope the Democrats will succeed where Republicans failed and conduct critical oversight to help the Bush administration fix its stalled and failing strategy for Iraq. "Over five years our Congress has abrogated [its] oversight responsibilities," Batiste said. "They have not held serious hearings about this war."

General Batiste:

General Eaton:

Here's Dan Drezner articulating the same "we need a Democratic Congress" message on Bloggingheads tv. Drezner, a lifelong Republican says that he doesn't recognize his party anymore, and believes that they badly need to be checked. He apparently realized this a while ago, because he says he voted for Kerry in 2004. Interestingly, he is diavlogging with Ann Althouse, who says she voted Democratic all down the line, up until 2004, when she voted for Bush.

Olbermann on 'Stay the Course'


And here's an expanded stay-the-course medley from Olbermann on 10/25/06:

Video - WMV Video - QT

UPDATE 10/27/06: New Lieberman edition of stay-the-course ad:

George Lakoff on the linguistic significance of the stay-the-course thing.

Staying 'the stay the course' course: WE'VE NEVER BEEN

Another solid piece (this one a commercial) from our now easily searchable history.

It isn't just that they repeated their "stay the course" talking point one thousand times and suddenly decided maybe they should change course, it is the words "WE'VE NEVER BEEN stay the course." NEVER he proclaims. It exemplifies so much about this adminstration's approach to truth. I guess when you back yourself so far into a corner, the only way to get out is to deny history. It fits the Orwellian script they seem to be following. Oceania was never at war with Eastasia, they had always been at war with Eurasia.

However Orwell, like Bush, didn't anticipate "the Google."

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Arianna Huffington on Fearmongering

CBS via Crooks & Liars

Video WMP Video-QT

Let’s face it: "The sky is falling" or "the nukes are coming" is a frighteningly effective sales pitch.

Don’t get me wrong: North Korea testing a nuke is real bad news. But I couldn't help but wonder what political use Karl Rove and the president would put this real bad news to. After all, banging the fear gong and trying to scare the hell out of us has worked like a charm for President Bush and the GOP.

Ever since 9/11, "be afraid" has been their No. 1 talking point. They sold us on invading Iraq with warnings from Condoleezza Rice that the "smoking gun might be a mushroom cloud" and dire predictions from Bush and Cheney about all the ways Saddam could rain death and destruction on us. And it's remarkable how the terror rhetoric always seems to hit Red just before elections.

Whether it's the specter of North Korean nukes or Iraqi insurgents making their way to Main Street USA, fear is a powerful, universal emotion — always there to be exploited. So as Election Day draws near, be on the lookout for those attempting to scare us into voting our fears.

To quote FDR, "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself." And those who use it for their own political purposes.

11/1/06 UPDATE:

Wes Clark Ad on the same subject:

W's attempt to cut and run from 'Stay the Course'

Crooks and Liars » The Strategy in Iraq Has Never Been “Stay the Course”… Right?

Ken Mehlman tried this last August, attempting to substitute "Adapt and Win" for "Stay the Course." Jon Stewart nailed him for it.

Oh, and it appears that Mrs. W had it all wrong as recently as September.

And Boehner in July.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Olbermann Strikes Again

Keith issued arguably his most powerful Special Comment yet tonight. This time he takes on the GOP's newest fearmongering ad which quotes Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri superimposed over pictures of explosions with the sound of a ticking bomb in the background. As if that wasn't enough, it's topped off with the cryptic message echoing LBJ's 1960 "Daisy" ad that ran just once: These are the stakes.

Here is the commercial:

Sidney Blumenthal: Bumpy Ride Ahead

Los Angeles CityBeat

We’re headed into a potential constitutional crisis if the Democrats get one or both houses of Congress. They will certainly have subpoena power and I think the Bush administration is likely to resist the production of documents. (Like this.)

The idea in my book is that Bush has created a radical presidency that is unaccountable. And if a check-and-balance is introduced for the first time to Bush, instead of one-party rule, we’re going to have another crisis. The conflict will increase, not diminish. As Bette Davis said, “Fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.”

Previous Blumenthal post.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Darn that internet: Bush: ‘We’ve Never Been Stay The Course’ via Think Progress

Think Progress » Bush: ‘We’ve Never Been Stay The Course’

Bush: ‘We’ve Never Been Stay The Course’

During an interview today on ABC’s This Week, President Bush tried to distance himself from what has been his core strategy in Iraq for the last three years. George Stephanopoulos asked about James Baker’s plan to develop a strategy for Iraq that is “between ’stay the course’ and ‘cut and run.’”

Bush responded, ‘We’ve never been stay the course, George!’

Bush is lying:

BUSH: We will stay the course. [8/30/06]

BUSH: We will stay the course, we will complete the job in Iraq. [8/4/05]

BUSH: We will stay the course until the job is done, Steve. And the temptation is to try to get the President or somebody to put a timetable on the definition of getting the job done. We’re just going to stay the course. [12/15/03]

BUSH: And my message today to those in Iraq is: We’ll stay the course. [4/13/04]

BUSH: And that’s why we’re going to stay the course in Iraq. And that’s why when we say something in Iraq, we’re going to do it. [4/16/04]

BUSH: And so we’ve got tough action in Iraq. But we will stay the course. [4/5/04]

Full transcript:

STEPHANOPOULOS: James Baker says that he’s looking for something between “cut and run” and “stay the course.”

BUSH: Well, hey, listen, we’ve never been “stay the course,” George. We have been — we will complete the mission, we will do our job, and help achieve the goal, but we’re constantly adjusting to tactics. Constantly.