Saturday, May 31, 2003

Yell it loud, Yell it Hard

Kos gives us a new slogan to shout: Bush Lied People Died Sounds about right to me.

The hits just keep on coming

Straw, Powell had serious doubts over their Iraqi weapons claims Secret transcript revealed Dan Plesch and Richard Norton-Taylor Saturday May 31, 2003 The Guardian Jack Straw and his US counterpart, Colin Powell, privately expressed serious doubts about the quality of intelligence on Iraq's banned weapons programme at the very time they were publicly trumpeting it to get UN support for a war on Iraq, the Guardian has learned. Their deep concerns about the intelligence - and about claims being made by their political bosses, Tony Blair and George Bush - emerged at a private meeting between the two men shortly before a crucial UN security council session on February 5. The meeting took place at the Waldorf hotel in New York, where they discussed the growing diplomatic crisis. The exchange about the validity of their respective governments' intelligence reports on Iraq lasted less than 10 minutes, according to a diplomatic source who has read a transcript of the conversation.
So, what will it take before the media and citizens start to openly question the credibility of the people in charge?

Friday, May 30, 2003

Thinking about defeat

Over on the comments section of the DailyKOS's cattle call someone posted a question to Dean supporters about what we will do if he doesn't win the nomination. Will we be disillusioned? *sigh* This is the thing that frustrates me about Democrats so much: they spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about what they will do if they lose. Do you think Bush supporters wasted much time wondering what might happen if their man didn't win in 2000? Of course not! Democrats have got to get out of this losing mindset. Me, I don't want to waste a minute talking about what might happen if Dean loses because I'm only interested in getting him into the winners circle. Success requires a thousand handmaidens. Defeat will take care of itself.

Graham may also get it

Florida Sen. Bob Graham is blasting away at the Bush administration's suppression of important information, proving that he may be the only other leading candidate, besides Dean, who also gets it.
Graham said the Bush administration has a pattern of keeping secret information that would affect the lives of American people and that the public has a right to know. He was responding to a front-page article in London's Financial Times that said the administration kept a report out of the budget that shows the United States faces more than $44 trillion in deficits as the White House pushed for more tax cuts. The White House denied suppressing the report, with Budget Director Mitch Daniels calling the allegation "probably the most absurd thing that I can imagine." Graham said there are other examples of the administration withholding information, including documents detailing deliberations on Bush's energy policy, memos written by judicial nominee Miguel Estrada, a congressional report on the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the projected cost of war with Iraq until it was about to start. He also cited Bush's executive order to keep millions of government documents sealed that were due to be declassified after 25 years. "There has been a Nixonian stench to the continued practice of putting the American people in the dark," Graham said in a conference call with reporters. Jim Dyke, spokesman for the Republican National Committee, said, "Senator Graham might want to spend less time on conspiracy theories and more time developing positive policies."
My advice to Graham: read the motto at the top of this blog, "The snake bites hardest just before it dies", and keep hammering!

Thursday, May 29, 2003

Getting it

Joe Trippi, campaign manager for Howard Dean, lays it on the line in response to a "Can Dean Win?" post over on the unofficial Dean 2004 blog. I'm reproducing it in full here because it says so much about why I like the Dean campaign:
I will take a shot at this. For the better part of 22 years (since at least 1980) turnout has consistently gone down in Presidential elections. At the same time the electorate (those that vote) has become increasingly conservative. The conventional wisdom increasingly has become that Democrats must move rightward in order to win. Well the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. In those 22 years we (Democrats) have lost the House and the Senate. And only one man (Bill Clinton) has won the Presidency. Now here Bill Clinton offers a quandry -- was Bill Clinton successful because of this theory that has taken over the minds of some of our party's best and brightest? Or was Bill Clinton successful because he simply was one of the most gifted politicians and communicators of our times? I subscribe to one of the most gifted along with Reagan. I believe Karl Rove gets this like few do. That in a world in which the electorate is shrinking, a world in which both parties poll -- and the first three questions in the poll are designed to boot out non-voters and only ask sure or probable voters what they think. That in that world you are going to get answers that are more to the right. In this world Democrats begin to move to the right -- to become more "electable". When you do this for over 22 years its called a death spiral. Your base becomes de-energized -- and Karl Rove knows this -- he knows that in this world -- victory for the Republicans requires nothing more than an energized base -- and that is all Bush and Rove are doing every day. Every move they make is aimed at one thing -- energizng their base -- and nothing more. Meanwhile the only candidate that is able to energize the Democratic base is rediculed as unelectable -- by the same folks that have succumed to the one theory that means staying in the death spiral. Did these guys not watch 2002? Did they not watch as Max Cleland a man that risked his life for his country -- lost limbs, medals and all -- and voted with George Bush 85% of the time go down to defeat? George McGovern will be nominated this year -- but his name will be Lieberman, Edwards, Gephart or Kerry. Its not the economy stupid, its about standing up for the America we believe in -- its about standing unequivically for what is right. Its about energizing our party as it has not been energized in decades -- from the grassroots up -- it means millions of Americans standing up and giving $10 or $100 or their time to fight for what they believe in. To win our nominee must understand that this isn't about health care, or tax cuts as much as it is a battle for the future of our country. It will not be the first time it has come to this. Elections like this one come but a few times in 100 years. We break the death spiral now -- and fight -- or odds are Karl Rove and the gang will deliver a massive turnout on the right and a major blow to the future of our party and our country. I don't expect many in my party to get this nor many pundits -- untill it is too late. The Dean campaign will become "electable" after the grassroots has energized and mobilized behind his candidacy and contributed millions of dollars -- and when the grassroots organization that carries him is so large it can not be ignored -- when that becomes clear to everyone -- when we together build that -- then Howard Dean will win the nomination -- and lead the fight to take back our country. And of course by then someone will have said we are electable. (Its the opposite of a death spiral). Trippi
The Democratic leadership has, over the last two decades, completely misread where the electorate in this country is going. I think Joe has it right that the Republicans, under Karl Rove, have not made the same mistake. Here is one clear fact that demonstrates precisely what I mean: for the last several decades, Republicans have consistently outspent Democrats when it comes to running political campaigns. The ratio of expenditures is often 3-4 to 1 (sometimes even higher). Yet, despite this huge disparity in money, Democrats as often as not still defeat their Republican opponents. Why? Because the electorate (meaning the pool of elligible voters) naturally leans Democratic. The Republicans have to spend all that money in order to fool the muddled middle into voting against their best interests. They also spend that money trying to cheapen the political process so as to discourage more and more people from voting. They do this because, as Joe points out, what is left when they leave is a larger core of dedicated Republican voters who will work to put their people into office. When most political analysts look at this they miss the deeper meaning and only focus on the shallow surface. The numbers seem to suggest that the electorate is swinging, ideologically, to the right. Nothing could be further from the truth. This country is as liberal as it ever was. It's just that the core liberal interests have become increasingly disillusioned. They are either fooled into thinking that this or that Republican can represent their interests or, even worse, they just throw up their hands and don't even bother to vote. Joe calls the response of the Democratic leadership a "death spiral". It is a very apt term for what is happening. By totally misreading the tea-leaves, the leadership is pushing the Democratic party along a path that is guaranteed to drive down its appeal among its natural constituency. This will result in increasing number of voters who will either go Republican or just give up entirely. What has to be offered, instead, is a real alternative to the Republican program and so far only Dean has shown that he understands this. Some of the other candidates have been making promising noises but they still seem to be beholden to formulaic approaches and in me-tooism. If they aren't me-tooing for Bush they are me-tooing for Howard Dean. Neither is an acceptable approach. Joe Trippi gets it. Howard Dean gets it. I just hope its not to late for the rest of the Democratic party to get it.

Blair learned well from his masters in the Bush administration

Looks like the U.S. government wasn't the only one leaning on its intelligence agencies to spin its reports as more damning of Saddam Hussein:
U.K. dossier on Iraq weapons 'unreliable' By Al Webb United Press International From the International Desk Published 5/29/2003 10:46 AM LONDON, May 29 (UPI) -- Britain's dossier on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction was rewritten on orders from Prime Minister Tony Blair's government to make it look more dramatic in the months leading up to the U.S.-led war against Baghdad, a top intelligence official said Thursday. Blair's office rejected the British Broadcasting Corp.'s report, which cited an intelligence source. "Not one word of the dossier was not entirely the work of the intelligence agencies," it said in a statement.
That's what is known as a non-denial denial. They weren't accused of putting words in the document. They were just told to re-write it in order to make it "more dramatic". So the words may have all come from within the intelligence agency. But they didn't get published until they passed muster with the head office. That's called politicizing your intelligence agencies and its a bad idea regardless of who is doing it.
"The classic example," the BBC quoted the intelligence officer as saying, "was the statement that weapons of mass destruction were ready for use (by Iraq) within 45 minutes." In the dossier, Blair had warned that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein could activate a chemical and biological arsenal in that time -- a suggestion that became a pillar of Britain's rationale for going to war alongside the United States against Baghdad. "That information was not contained in the original draft" that had been prepared for the prime minister, he said. "It was included in the dossier against our wishes because it wasn't reliable."
Here's what probably happened: Blair's people got the "unsexy" report and didn't think it was "dramatic" enough. They also saw rough-draft reports that included an "unreliable" report that Saddam could be launch ready in 45 minutes. Blair's people sent back the report telling them to include the 45 minute report, overruling the objections that it wasn't reliable. So, the "45 minutes" phrase may have originated within the intelligence agencies, but it was an unreliable report that was played up for "dramatic purposes". You see how this works?

Time for a re-write

American soldiers continue to die in Iraq at an alarming rate, 9 this past week alone (link courtesy Atrios). Yet it barely merits a mention in our establishment press. Why? Because it doesn't fit into the script. It really is that simple.


Mark Bowden, the author of "Black Hawk Down", has come out with a column saying that Bush should not be let off easy if no WMD are found:
Events have moved so swiftly, and Hussein's toppling has posed so many new pressing problems, that it would be easy to lose sight of this issue, but it is critically important. I can imagine no greater breach of public trust than to mislead a country into war. A strong case might have been made to go after Hussein just because he posed a potential threat to us and the region, because of his support for suicide bombers, and because of his ruthless oppression of his own people. But this is not the case our President chose to make. Truth in public life has always been a slippery commodity. We expect campaigning politicians or debating journalists to pitch and spin. Facts are marshaled to support arguments and causes; convenient ones are trumpeted and inconvenient ones played down or ignored. This is the political game. But when the President of the United States addresses the nation and the world, I expect the spinning to stop. He represents not just a party or a cause, but the American people. When President Bush argued that Hussein possessed stockpiles of illicit and deadly poisons, he was presumably doing so on the basis of intelligence briefings and evidence that the public could not see. He was asking us to trust him, to trust his office, to trust that he was acting legitimately in our self-defense. That's something very different from engaging in a bold policy of attempting to remake the Middle East, or undertaking a humanitarian mission to end oppression. Neither of these two justifications would have been likely to garner widespread public support. But national defense? That's an argument the President can always win. I trusted Bush, and unless something big develops on the weapons front in Iraq soon, it appears as though I was fooled by him. Perhaps he himself was taken in by his intelligence and military advisers. If so, he ought to be angry as hell, because ultimately he bears the responsibility.
As testimonials like this come out it is hard to resist the urge to grab these people by the lapels and scream in their faces, "You Idiots! Of course Bush shouldn't be trusted! This is what we've been trying to tell you all along! How could you be so gullible?!" But we have to resist this temptation because we need people like Bowden on our side. The biggest danger to Bush is the conversion of former defenders into his harshest critics. They will have a standing to get their criticism heard that none of us who have always opposed the man could ever hope to achieve. If we just ridicule them for their initial cluelessness then we will only discourage them from admitting that they were scammed. So let's welcome Mr. Bowden with open arms and not rub it it in.

And by their words you will know them

billmon has produced a devastating collection of quotes demonstrating the evolution of the WMD theme from the Bush administration. Go read it now and pass it on to everyone you know. There are liars and then there are liars. Those who would lie in order to put the lives of American soldiers at risk should be removed from power at the earliest possible moment.

Wednesday, May 28, 2003

The Google News Democratic Presidential Poll for 5/28/2003

Time for the 2nd edition of the Google News poll. I've added a 2nd column to display the previous weeks results and rankings.
John Kerry(1) 2760(1) 3250
Bob Graham(2) 2320(2) 2590
Howard Dean(3) 2200(3) 2470
Joe Lieberman(4) 2220(5) 2070
John Edwards(5) 2080(4) 2230
Dick Gephardt(6) 1640(6) 1820
Al Sharpton(7) 1090(7) 1130
Dennis Kucinich(8) 1020(8) 1020
Carol Moseley Braun(9) 732(9) 749
The numbers for all the leading candidates are down this week, probably because of a lack of focus on the Democratic race as a whole what with increased coverage on Bush's tax cut and his push on the Middle-East roadmap for peace. Lieberman bumped off Edwards, possibly because of his involvement in the story about the abuse of Homeland Security by the Texas Republicans. Wampum does a much more thorough analysis of news coverage of the various candidates here. She has much more patience with this than I do. My system is simple number crunching. However, he ranks Dean much lower than the Google News poll does.

Democrats have no plans for this country?

A common criticism of the Democratic party is that it has no comprehensive plan to counter the Republican agenda. All they are about is criticizing what the Republicans are doing. To a certain extent, this is correct. But if you consider that the Republican plan is to essentially keep doing the same things that have made life in this country worse for nearly everyone (both economically and with respect to national security) is focusing on criticizing that plan all that bad a thing? After all, if you are heading towards a cliff and the driver's response to this information is to step on the gas, yelling "STOP!" and grabbing the wheel sounds like a pretty good plan to me. (Note: I don't actually by the media myth that the Democrats have no plans. They do, they just don't get the coverage that the Republicans do because of the advantage of Bush's bully pulpit.)

Around the blogs

Oliver Willis, an Edwards supporter, posts some very positive comments about Dean.

Tuesday, May 27, 2003


Atrios hits on something that has been a pet peeve of mine for quite some time:
It's clear that the infamous Dean Broder is Dean of nothing more than an ethically challenged press and the Moron-Americans that dominate our discourse. Suddenly he discovers that maybe the 5 year plan of Dear Leader might actually cause a bit of pain and suffering. Well, at least Bush didn't wear Earth tones you useless relic.
David Broder represents an institutional form of journalism that believes that it is more important for journalists to keep the system from falling apart than it is to uncover the truth. For example, in 2000, regardless of who he thought was the legitimate victory in the election, he would never say outright say it was Gore. He wouldn't say it because he knows that the Republicans would bring more chaos to the institutions of government if their man did not get into power. So he was willing to let them have it for the sake of the unity of the country. Bah! This is the same kind of paternalistic attitude that suggests that it was better for the country that Ford pardon Nixon because having him go on trial would have torn this country further apart (profiles in courage my ass!) No, you idiots. Putting Nixon on trial would have proven to all Americans, and the rest of the world, that we mean it when we say that all of us are equal before the eyes of the law. Broder is what happens when journalists become part of the systems of power instead of just reporters on its machinations. They become the enablers of that system, its courtiers, more interested in keeping the illusion of a well-ordered system running than in pointing out the faults that will inevitably bring it crashing to the ground. Broder and his ilk are a sickness on the body politic and the sooner they are removed from positions of influence the sooner this country will be able to restore some of its greatness.

Monday, May 26, 2003

Republican's have earned the right to be smug

Dave Johnson of Seeing The Forest posts some interesting thoughts on the different ways right-wing and left-wing philanthropists spend their money on political causes:
Here's how the right manages to have such an infrastructure in place, while progressives and moderates are left struggling with each other and barely getting their messages out to the public. There's a lot of money out there on the right, but there's also a lot of moderate and progressive money out there. The difference is that the right uses its money to provide general operating funding to "advocacy" organizations that exist to come up with ways to convince the public to vote Republican. The organizations on the right are funded just to exist, and the money continues year after year, so they do not have to spend so much of their time raising money, instead concentrating on effectively carrying out their ideological objectives. On the other hand, moderate and progressive philanthropists have traditionally provided money for specific programs with the intent of doing good in specific ways. This system of "program funding" evolved as the best way to apply scarce resources to projects with goals for which there was a general public consensus of support. This system evolved at a time when helping the poor, protecting the environment were all widely supported by the public.
I found this interesting because it ties into a lesson I learned from an online acquaintance during the course of the Clinton Wars. I used to be a "candidate, not the party" type voter. I thought political parties were passe and only non-thinking individuals just voted straight party tickets instead of examining the candidates and finding out what they really believed in. This acquaintance corrected my thinking on this matter by pointing out the simple fact that we can never really know what any candidate believes in because they all say whatever they need in order to get elected. Even their own spouses probably don't know what they really believe in. However, if you vote by party affiliation, you have a much better chance of predicting what it is they will accomplish once they are in office. For one thing, they will naturally ally themselves with members of their own party when it comes to drafting public policy. There may be the occasional outlier, like a Zell Miller for the Dems or a Lincoln Chafee for the Republicans, but their mere presence in the chamber gives their party leadership one more voice in the chorus. When you vote for David Democrat or Ronald Republican you aren't just voting for the individual. You are also giving power to the entire political apparatus that they are connected to. If you generally find that the one of the parties is closer to your ideal of what the country should be like than the other than you should always vote for that parties candidates (with the usual caveat that all rules must have there exceptions). I am a registered Independent. I am socially liberal but economically conservative. I have never, in the past, tied myself to one political party or another. But I have to admit that I believe this world would be better all around if Democrats were in charge more often than Republicans. Yes, even incompetent Democrats are usually better than Republicans (especially competent ones, who might actually do some real damage). I think Dave Johnson has hit on something important in his post: right-wing philanthropists do not focus their money on specific issues because they know that if they can just get Republicans in charge than most of what they want will come to pass in the natural course of time. This is equivalent to Solomon wishing for wisdom over riches and getting rich in the process because he was wise. Left-wingers and moderates, as Dave points out, waste money on issue advocacy, in the course of which they lose the bigger battles of who actually gets to set the agenda for discussing those issues. You can't get your legislation passed if you can't get it past a committee chair that is occupied by a member of the opposition. Every left-wing and moderate philanthropist and organization needs to understand this: their particular issue is, at this moment, irrelevant, because as long as the Republicans have a strangle-hold on the system they will never get a fair hearing. It's pointless to even push for something like single-payer healthcare until we have a political establishment that is willing to give the idea a fair shake. You will just be wasting your time, your money and delighting an opposition who will be laughing at you to your face because of your blinkered stupidity. The 2004 election will quite possibly be the most important election of my lifetime (God please let me never have to go through this kind of shit again). It is important that we not get bogged down on the question of whose bread is getting buttered this week. There is no single issue that is more pressing on the body politic than removing George W. Bush and the rest of the Republican, right-wing apparatus from power. All other issues take a distant 2nd place. The Republicans learned this lesson back in 64 with the defeat of Barry Goldwater. What will it take for the Democrats to learn it as well?

Sunday, May 25, 2003

Which Democrat Will Speak Fiscal Truth?
By Roger C. Altman ... Juxtaposed against the gargantuan Social Security and Medicare actuarial deficits, [Bush's tax cuts are] ruinous fiscal policy and even worse social policy. But in raw political terms, it is brilliant. It paints the Democrats, and particularly their presidential candidates, into a corner. They are forced to support even larger deficits or call for a rollback of certain tax cuts or accept the utter absence of budget resources to pay for any new initiatives, from health care on down. Each of these choices is politically excruciating, just as the White House planned it. But, perversely, there is a bright side. Problems this big lend themselves to simple approaches, such as these: (1) The Bush tax cuts are excessive and, in part, should be rolled back; and (2) future budget deficits should be smaller than the president is proposing. A Democrat with the courage to adopt these principles and communicate them effectively becomes the truth-teller and could go far.
Gov. Dean, meet Mr. Altman. Mr. Altman, meet Gov. Dean. I can tell from recent news reports that Howard Dean is still below the media radar for much of the establishment press. For example, the other day I was watching Chris Mathews (I was just surfing, honest) when the topic of Robert Byrd's recent floor speech came up. Mathews, Gergen, and some other woman all said that Byrd represented an old style of Democrat and that NONE of the Democratic candidates for President had the courage to stand up and say the kind of things Byrd was saying. To bad Howard Fineman wasn't there. He might have mentioned that Dean has been saying the same things that Byrd said and has been doing so for more than a year. What we might be seeing here is not just a case of Dean's lack of name recognition but the adoption of yet another "storyline" by the mainstream press: Bush is on fire and Democrats are hapless (except for ineffective examples like Byrd). Anyone who doesn't fit this storyline (such as Dean) is ignored because journalism is so much easier if all you have to do is regurgitate the same story that everyone else is doing. Fortunately, this habit of the press could be used to Dean's advantage. There are few things the press loves more than a David vs. Goliath story and the Doctor is out there swinging his sling just waiting for an opening.