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June 07, 2003

Speaking of impeachment...

(Note: this entry posted by Bob Harris)

John Dean, who knows a thing or two about presidential scandals, weighs in on the WMDs that aren't:

In the three decades since Watergate, this is the first potential scandal I have seen that could make Watergate pale by comparison. If the Bush Administration intentionally manipulated or misrepresented intelligence to get Congress to authorize, and the public to support, military action to take control of Iraq, then that would be a monstrous misdeed...

To put it bluntly, if Bush has taken Congress and the nation into war based on bogus information, he is cooked. Manipulation or deliberate misuse of national security intelligence data, if proven, could be "a high crime" under the Constitution's impeachment clause. It would also be a violation of federal criminal law, including the broad federal anti-conspiracy statute, which renders it a felony "to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose."

Read read read.

John Ashcroft, Genius-At-Large

(Note: this entry posted by Bob Harris)

Our Attorney General wants to make terrorist attacks against military bases or nuclear plants a capital offense.

Obviously. Nothing deters a suicide bomber quite like the death penalty.

Vanity Fair: Spanking good journalism

(Note: this entry posted by Bob Harris)

Leaving aside the second dispute over a Wolfowitz quote in less than a week, here are a few quick notes about the current Vanity Fair article re Wolfowitz, Perle, and Kristol. There's more in this article than I'm seeing discussed.

Here's Richard Perle describing his first meeting with George W. Bush:

"Two things became clear. One, he didn't know very much. The other was he had the confidence to ask questions that revealed he didn't know very much... you got the sense that if he believed something he'd pursue it tenaciously."

In other words, you couldn't ask for a better tool. Wolfowitz, apparently, agrees:

Wolfowitz, too, would soon be telling Washington acquaintances that Bush... cut through the murk, wanted to be told what needed doing and how it should be done.

We suspected this, of course. But here are two of Bush's closest insiders saying so, and quite bluntly, if you look closely (albeit the latter quote is hearsay and needs more specific sourcing before the GOP can be beaten over the head with it).

As to what this useful White House resident's marching orders would be:

In January 1998, Kristol generated an open letter to Clinton -- signed as well by Perle, Wolfowitz, and five others who now hold important positions in the Bush administration -- declaring that "containment" of Iraq had failed and the only solution was "removing Saddam's regime."

That 1998 letter, one of a constant stream of neocon recommendations churned out by the Project for a New American Century, predates the more widely-noted 2000 PNAC white paper Rebuilding America's Defenses, which has become the Bush administration's roadmap in the post-9/11 world.

What this means: many of the President's key advisors had, among themselves, settled on an invasion of Iraq five years ago.

Kinda puts the whole WMD snipe hunt thing in perspective.

Finally, as a side note, there's this account of the pivotal policy meeting four days after 9/11 -- specifically, how Wolfowitz convinced Bush to invade Iraq:

"Think about the fact that the second-largest city in Iraq" -- Basra -- "is full of Shia who hate Saddam," he told the president. Consider, too, that Basra lies "within 60 kilometers of the Kuwaiti border and within 60 percent of Iraq's total oil production."

It's from an unnamed source, but if the Vanity Fair account is correct, Wolfowitz didn't mention WMDs or human rights or the plight of the Kurds. To sell Bush on the war, he emphasized our ability to seize Iraqi oil.

Chew on that for a minute.

The spin on this last is predictable -- that oil was only mentioned as a tactical deal, not as a strategic goal. And that might even have been the case. Hard to say from the tidbits in the article, and the source isn't even named. So let's drop that for now and stick to what we definitely know.

Recapping -- and regular readers know the key points, but they bear repeating until we make a damn full-blown federal case out of it -- Bush's own advisors consider him a tool, and are stunningly clear on the point. Iraq was on the drawing board for these people at least five years before 9/11. And that the WMD rationale was exaggerated "for bureaucratic reasons," in Wolfowitz's already-notorious words, leading Powell to present the U.N. with documents later shown to be plagiarized and forged, is now public record.

Bush's own statements on matters essential to our national security (e.g. the alleged proof of Saddam's involvement in WMDs and 9/11) are no better, contradicting all current evidence with soul-numbing constance.

And since the GOP itself taught us that deception is sufficient cause, there's one conclusion: the cooking of the books to make this war happen absolutely should be an impeachment-level scandal.

One final note: this Vanity Fair article is, like all great journalism, sandwiched between numerous pictures of buxom teenage starlets flouncing in their underwear.

I guess that gives Ashcroft a reason to try to pull it off the racks.

Erratum: As several kind emailers have noted, the phrase "five years before 9/11" should read either "three years before 9/11" or "five years ago." My bad. I remember going back and forth in editing; apparently my 2 am brain split the difference shortly before dimming out.

Y'know, when I was younger, I used to much more interesting mistakes at 2 am on Friday night...

--------------------

June 06, 2003

The real problem with the Times

The incessant barrage of articles about the trials and travails of upscale New Yorkers--like this one, about couples who simply can't decide where to purchase their second home.

Everything you need to know about the Times' "biases" is right there.

Your government at work, part two
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Halliburton Co. on Friday said it expects to delay the bankruptcies of two units until the third quarter, a move that could enable the company to pay less money than expected to settle asbestos lawsuits under a proposed U.S. Congressional bill.

--snip--

A reduced payout would result from U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch's efforts to pass asbestos legislation to set up a $108 billion trust fund to pay asbestos injury claims over the next 25 years to 30 years.

The legislation, intended to stop a flood of asbestos-related lawsuits that studies say could end up costing more than $200 billion, could very well scuttle existing settlements, like Halliburton's, that are still being negotiated.

More.

Your government at work, part one

...or, "The poor really make him sick":

WASHINGTON, June 5 The Senate voted overwhelmingly today to give an increased child tax credit to millions of low-income families who did not receive it in the new tax law, moving rapidly to quell an issue that Democrats had used to portray Republicans as brutish toward the poor.

--snip--

Although almost every Senate Republican voted for the bill, some clearly were unhappy at having to do so under what they considered public pressure from liberal groups and Democrats. Senator Trent Lott of Mississippi voted for the bill, but as he did so he stuck his tongue out, put his finger in his mouth and made a gagging sound, indicating his apparent distaste for the bill.

Story.

Interesting quote...

...from the Associated Press, March 17, 2003 (thanks to the alert reader who caught this one):

Iraq also handed over videotapes of mobile biological weapons laboratories to inspectors. Iraq says the videos show that the laboratories do not violate UN resolutions.

For what it's worth...

Same old song and dance

I know I'm just a simple uneducated cartoonist, and not a bigshot think tank analyst type, but I couldn't even count how many times I've made this basic point over the years: the people who are most vociferous in their support of tax cuts for the rich are usually the very people who will pay the highest price for those cuts:

Three successive tax cuts pushed by President Bush will leave middle-income taxpayers paying a greater share of all federal taxes by the end of the decade, according to new analyses of the Bush administration's tax policies.

As critics of the tax cuts in 2001, 2002 and 2003 have noted, the very wealthiest Americans -- those earning $337,000 or more per year -- will be the greatest beneficiaries of the changes in the nation's tax laws. And, as administration officials have argued, low-income taxpayers will also enjoy a disproportionately lighter tax burden.

The result is that a broad swath of lower-middle, middle- and upper-middle-income people, as well as some rich Americans, will carry a greater share of the federal tax burden after the laws passed in the past three years are fully implemented. While taxes are scheduled to decline for all income groups, those earning more than $28,000 but less than $337,000 will end up paying a greater share of the taxes than they did before the changes.

And let's not forget state and city taxes which will inevitably increase to offset the loss of federal money. Come on, kids. This isn't hard to figure out. Your boys are screwing you blind, and believe me, they're not going to be sending over a bouquet of flowers in the morning.

Question for Times staffers

Reading this and this and this (and pretty much any other article on the subject), it looks to me like Raines wasn't able to ride out the Blair scandal because, basically, everyone on staff hated him and moved in for the kill at the first sign of weakness. Nonetheless, the usual self-important bloggers are claiming that this outcome was only possible due to their tireless efforts and enormous influence. So what's the view from inside? Did the whining of a few online gadflies really help bring down Raines, or do these people simply need to get over themselves? (Serious question. Anonymity guaranteed if anyone wants to respond.)

--------------------

June 05, 2003

It's either this, or Joe Lieberman dressed in a flight suit

(Note: this entry posted by Bob Harris)

The fine folks at TomPaine.com have a new Op-Ad advising the Democratic party to stop being such a bunch of weenies, grow some yarbles, and win the next election by standing on principles, attracting actual, excited Democrats eager to fight for something they actually believe in, instead of disillusioning working people further by continuing to sell out and play pretend-Republicans.

In response, DLC leadership will surely condemn the very idea that an informed debate might have two sides.

Our fine allies, Saudi Arabia

(Note: this entry posted by Bob Harris)

From the Arab News, a Saudi English-language daily I can't recommend enough for its unblinkingly proud insights into the horrific medieval theocratic dictatorship America has maintained as a cherished ally for decades:

Kingdom's Leading Executioner Says: 'I Lead A Normal Life'

Saudi Arabia's leading executioner Muhammad Saad Al-Beshi will behead up to seven people in a day.

"It doesn't matter to me: Two, four, 10 -- As long as I'm doing God's will, it doesn't matter how many people I execute," he told Okaz newspaper in an interview...

An executioner's life, of course, is not all killing. Sometimes it can be amputation of hands and legs. "I use a special sharp knife, not a sword," he explains. "When I cut off a hand I cut it from the joint. If it is a leg the authorities specify where it is to be taken off, so I follow that."

Well, obviously.

We get to feel civilized right about here, incidentally, because our president didn't do punitive mutilations in Texas. Just death penalties.

If you wander around the site, you can also get the weather -- it's 109 F in Riyadh today -- football scores from the King Fahd Cup, and helpful advice on applying Islam in your daily life, which might seem odd in a newspaper, but heck, our newspapers routinely include astrology. Rational thought just ain't a real strong point in 21st century humanity.

For a just slightly more Westernized Arab view, check out the Kuwait-based Arab Times, whose entertainment section, for example, will look pretty damn familiar.

Fear: how dictators maintain power

(Note: this entry posted by Bob Harris)

Today's L.A. Times reports that an Iraqi Weapons Expert Insists Search Is Futile:

[Iraqi Brigadier General Alaa] Saeed, perhaps the most senior weapons scientist to speak to a reporter since the war, says he would gladly accept a $200,000 reward U.S. officials here have quietly offered to anyone who can lead them to the poison gases, germ weapons and other illegal weapons that President Bush repeatedly insisted were secretly deployed in prewar Iraq. But Saeed said he cannot take them to what he insists no longer exists...

Saeed insists that the combined blitz of allied bombing and intense U.N. inspections in the 1990s effectively destroyed Hussein's chemical, biological and nuclear programs. U.N. sanctions, he said, stopped Baghdad from importing the raw materials, equipment and spare parts needed to secretly reconstitute the illegal programs, even after U.N. inspectors left the country in 1998...

U.N. inspectors who worked with Saeed for a decade confirmed his identity and role. They cautioned that the story he tells today is consistent with what he told the U.N. after 1995: that all chemical bulk agents and munitions, as well as many key records and reports, were destroyed by 1994...

Saeed arguably knows more than any other Iraqi about Hussein's former chemical weapons programs.

Then again...

Like many Iraqis, Saeed is convinced Hussein is still alive. His hands still tremble when he describes how Hussein's security agents suddenly appeared at his office in late 1997. They ordered him into a car with shades drawn and took him to an unknown location. The dictator was waiting inside.

"He thanked me for my work," he recalled. His voice dropped. "But I am still shaking."

So he could be lying out of fear. Along with every other captured Iraqi, not to mention the top 87 (and counting) "prime" (yet weaponless) WMD sites themselves.

Wolfowitz: Rumsfeld was lying

(Note: this entry posted by Bob Harris)

Comedy writer Jon Schwarz points out that the recent widely-discussed Wolfowitz quote:

Look, the primarily difference -- to put it a little too simply -- between North Korea and Iraq is that we had virtually no economic options with Iraq because the country floats on a sea of oil.

if nothing else does clarify that oil was at least one vital consideration. Compare and contrast with this categorical Rumsfeld statement:

Steve Kroft: Mr. Secretary, what do you say to people who think this is about oil?

Rumsfeld: Nonsense. It just isn't. There are certain things like that, myths, that are floating around. I'm glad you asked. It has nothing to do with oil, literally nothing to do with oil.

Not that it's a giant shock to anybody, but more proof to throw on the stack, and pretty damn solid, looking at it: these people have been lying their pants off from the get-go.

Krugman or somebody decent in the mainstream press really ought to run with this.

Update: yes, the Wolfowitz quote was overspun by the Guardian. Yup. And still: even if you accept that perhaps he was only speaking of tactics available because sanctions had little impact on Saddam's military (also plainly false, incidentally) or some similar such, still, there it is -- oil was part of the equation.

Rumsfeld's dismissal of the entire subject of oil -- at a time when the Iraq/North Korea policy contrast was made constantly, and rebutted with WMD or hey-we-just-discovered-human-rights guff -- never admitting that oil was, indeed, a factor -- was sweeping and categorical.

So, in my reading anyway, bang, lying, done.

Your mileage may vary.

Pardon me, my pants are screaming "shut up!"

(Note: this entry posted by Bob Harris)

Finally, a Pocket Bill O'Reilly.

(Thanks to alert reader John.)

Howell's out

Fox News is reporting that Howell Raines will resign, and the simplistic types on the right who view this as a liberal/conservative issue are undoubtedly popping the champagne corks even as I write this. In reality, of course, the Times' problems cut across ideological lines--anybody remember Whitewater? Wen Ho Lee?--but I doubt you'll hear much about that in the days ahead, either on the media roundup shows or from the right half of the blogosphere, which will now be well and truly convinced that it is The Mouse That Roared.

--------------------

June 04, 2003

Sigh...

Susan Estrich (one of Fox News' Designated Democrats) on the lack of WMD's:

What do we do to make this case more effectively, how do we make the case that--not that we're attacking the President or calling him a liar, but that we've got a critical problem here in terms of the quality of the intelligence, that's the way I see it, it's not about calling the President a liar, it's a question of was our intelligence adequate and if not, why not, are we not getting our case across?

From Hannity & Colmes, a few moments ago, transcription courtesy of this space.

Looks like some Democrats want to take the Gallant approach...

Presumably of interest...

...to at least some of the political junkies who frequent this site: Hitchens and Alterman duke it out debate foreign policy on Charlie Rose tonight.
UPDATE: looks like they've bumped this segment to Thursday night.

Now that's patriotism
A US brothel is offering free sex to US troops who took part in the war against Iraq to thank them for their endeavours abroad.

The Moonlight Bunnyranch in Carson City, Nevada, where brothels are legal, has produced a more erotic version of the standard TA-50 army kits issued to troops headed into battle.

Instead of a compass, toothbrush and soap, the pack handed to soldiers who turn up at the brothel includes condoms, lubricant and a free sex session - with a value of up to $1,000.

The offer's only good for the first fifty veterans of Gulf War II who show up, so if you're in the service, don't delay.

(Via Cursor, which also brings our attention to this photo of Sean Hannity posing with some Bunnyranch denziens.)

Minnie's just a beard, you know
ORLANDO, Fla. -- The airspace above Walt Disney World has been free of aircraft since March, when the government said the resort was a terrorism target of symbolic value. But a Christian organization that wants to send banner-towing planes over the theme park during this week's Gay Days festivities believes the no-fly zone equals no free speech.

The Virginia-based Family Policy Network seeks to preach during Gay Days "the truth that Christ can set them free from the sin of homosexuality," according to the organization's Web site.

Story, via the graduate.

Your wish, my command

In response to everyone who wants to know where to see the Franken/O'Reilly thing for themselves: look no further.

Woops, my bad

This is how the Guardian described a comment Paul Wolfowitz made:

The US deputy defence secretary, Paul Wolfowitz - who has already undermined Tony Blair's position over weapons of mass destruction (WMD) by describing them as a "bureaucratic" excuse for war - has now gone further by claiming the real motive was that Iraq is "swimming" in oil.

The latest comments were made by Mr Wolfowitz in an address to delegates at an Asian security summit in Singapore at the weekend, and reported today by German newspapers Der Tagesspiegel and Die Welt.

Asked why a nuclear power such as North Korea was being treated differently from Iraq, where hardly any weapons of mass destruction had been found, the deputy defence minister said: "Let's look at it simply. The most important difference between North Korea and Iraq is that economically, we just had no choice in Iraq. The country swims on a sea of oil."

I initially took this at face value. But this is what Wolfowitz actually said:

"Look, the primarily difference -- to put it a little too simply -- between North Korea and Iraq is that we had virtually no economic options with Iraq because the country floats on a sea of oil. In the case of North Korea, the country is teetering on the edge of economic collapse and that I believe is a major point of leverage whereas the military picture with North Korea is very different from that with Iraq. The problems in both cases have some similarities but the solutions have got to be tailored to the circumstances which are very different."

This space is no friend of Paul Wolfowitz, but bad information really annoys me. These guys do enough, it's not like anyone has to make up stuff about them to make them seem worse.

Afterthought: not meaning to indicate that Wolfowitz's argument is defensible, or even particularly plausible--i.e., we simply had to attack Iraq because their vast wealth made them otherwise invulnerable, unlike North Korea, which has a weaker economy, and um, nukes, not that that plays into our decision in any way...

One more addition: the eminently reasonable Calpundit weighs in:

It's just dumb to see a supposedly damning quote from Wolfowitz made in a public forum and accept it uncritically. Even if Wolfowitz does think the whole war was about oil, there's not a reporter in the world who could trick him into saying it. So just give up on the idea that it's going to happen.

I suspect that what we're seeing at work in this particular case is the real bias of the press. What reporters really want is not a liberal or conservative take on things, what they really want is to see their byline above the fold on the front page. They don't care who they're interviewing or what side of the aisle they're on, if they see a chance to print something that seems like an attention grabber, they'll go with it. This out-of-context quote looked good, so someone went with it. That's all.

...Oh, and was the war all about oil? This is tiresome. Of course it was about oil. The reason we care about the stability of the Middle East in the first place is oil, and if it weren't for that we'd just lend our support to Israel and otherwise stay out of things there. On the other hand, was it about taking direct control of Iraq's oil and pumping it straight into our Strategic Petroleum Reserve? No. We just didn't want Saddam threatening the Mideast oil supply.

(Entry revised for clarity and accuracy.)

Dead horse, flogged again

Time has been sending a form response to readers who've written in to point out that the Thomas J. Stokes letter was actually GOP propaganda, but they have yet to acknowledge or explain the situation in the pages of their magazine. I think you know what to do.

Blogging around

An entry from Tbogg, presented in its glorious entirety:

I think I've heard this one before.

"A man running late for his flight to Phoenix called in a phony bomb threat Monday in hopes that the plane would be delayed long enough for him to get on board, police said."

Oh yeah.

"A President faltering in the polls called in a phony WMD report to the American public in the hope that it would distract the voters from his economic failings long enough for him to get re-elected, the media didn't report."

Hey, look who's back

August is in the game again.

Terror alert down

But al Qaeda's gonna nuke us all!

Except, um, probably not really. As Steve writes:

Under the thoroughly sensational and misleading headline ("CIA Says al-Qaeda Ready to Use Nukes"), there's really nothing to it--that is, nothing we haven't seen before. It's just a recapitulation of old intelligence and old speculation, most of it culled from manuals and documents obtained in Afghanistan over the past couple of years.

But the political purpose of leaking it is clear enough. The people must have the frisson of imminent, unprecedented danger, and the Bushmen must have a fresh distraction from their many continuing failures in Iraq, not least the failure to find anything resembling WMDs or serious facilities for their construction. The rest of the world won't buy it, but the folks at home will still believe anything.


More notable quotables

Second in a series from Billmon.

--------------------

June 03, 2003

Full disclosure

(Note: this entry posted by Bob Harris)

According to an email from his Southern California campaign office, presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich will soon announce his projected cabinet, more than a year in advance of the elections.

Pretty neat idea. Candidates often discuss possible judicial appointments this far in advance; this is just the next step. Probably ought to become standard.

Maybe in 2004, Bush will even be kind enough to provide us with a complete list of the countries he intends to invade, treaties he intends to violate, and civil liberties he intends to obliterate.

Note: standard entry ends; related personal disclosure begins here

PS -- I've been meaning to mention that I'm a Kucinich supporter and have volunteered here and there for the Congressman's campaign. (Buncha reasons: he's co-chair of the Progressive Caucus, the guy I agree with most on a slew of issues -- Iraq, the FCC, the Patriot Act, health care, etc. -- and a decent working-class guy from my hometown who has upset Republican incumbents his entire career. So there's that.)

But I'd also like to clarify that nothing I ever say, write, or do is on behalf of the Kucinich folks or anything remotely like that, and I have no intention of using this space to hype the guy unfairly, which TMW readers would spot in seconds.

So, bottom line, I'm writing what I would anyway, but that's a fuller backstory, revealed for all to see up front. You should also know I have longtime friends working on the campaign, and I like them and the Congressman very much. So there.

If you like my contributions here, you might support Kucinich, too. If not, cool. It's a free country, and will remain so for perhaps another year and a half, the way things are going.

PPS -- while we're on the topic, I've posted a couple of animations you might like (Yahoo membership required).

FCC'd up

(Note: this entry posted by Bob Harris)

Courtesy alert reader Kevin in Indiana, here's an online, searchable database of Clear Channel's radio holdings.

Thanks to Michael Powell, coming soon to a TV and newspaper industry near you...

--------------------

June 02, 2003

The perfect gift for that special someone

The farting President.

The slow erosion of civil liberties

The Justice Department's Inspector General finds significant problems in the treatment of post-9/11 detainees. (Thanks to the alert reader who pointed this one out.)

Bill O'Reilly is completely insane

This is a transcript of comments he made on his radio show regarding his little feud with Al Franken:

What this guy writes and says does not matter to me, other than, Mike, he insulted me in a forum where I was at a decided disadvantage*, you know, he went over his time limit. It was very, very sneaky, and you know, as I said at the top of the broadcast, somebody calls you a liar to your face, you don't just laugh that off. That's an insult. In the old west, that woulda got you shot. See in the old west, and I woulda loved to have been in the old west, Al and I woulda just had a little, uh, a little shootout. You know? We woulda went out, on Wilshire Avenue, and uh, six shooters, now he's a much smaller target than I am, about four foot eleven, but he's wider, and it woulda been you know, Clint Eastwood time. I woulda had the cheroot, the serape, woulda given my squint, and I woulda put a bullet right between his head. Woulda been wrong, woulda been wrong, but it was the old west, and I would not have known any better, so I wouldn't have been held accountable because I would not have known any--now I do, now in 2003 that would have been wrong.

*In other words, a forum in which O'Reilly could not shout "cut his mic! cut his mic!"

(Transcribed from an audio file up on Uggabugga.)


Afghanistan, Iraq... and now, Head Start

(Note: this entry posted by Bob Harris)

From an editorial in the Waco Tribune-Herald, on the Bush administration's attack on Head Start:

Educators across the country are voicing alarm over an administration plan to effectively convert Head Start from a federal program to one run by states through block grants. Opponents see this as the end of Head Start. Principally, they worry that states, facing immense fiscal pressures, are not good candidates for entrusting the highly successful pre-kindergarten program.

And though an administration official has threatened Head Start professionals with sanctions for complaining in this fashion, it's clear the critics will not shut up. [Emphasis mine.]

The threat came in a letter from Windy M. Hill, associate commissioner of the Head Start Bureau. She said that those who speak out against the block-grant plan could be cited under the Hatch Act, which restricts political activities by civil servants.

Political activities? Well, everything is political when it comes to government. But we're talking about public policy.

Imagine, someone telling child development professionals they can't talk about child development. We exported free speech to Iraq and imported tyranny to the Department of Health and Human Services.

Let's review:

Teachers. Threatened. By the Bush administration. For using their right of free speech. To try to protect one of our most successful, popular, and valuable educational programs.

Background article here. You can also visit the SaveHeadStart.org website.

Terrorist sympathizers

When someone like Noam Chomsky or Susan Sontag dares to criticize United States foreign policy, they are quickly labeled "terrorist sympathizers," and roundly denounced. Well, I wonder how soon the vociferious denunciations of these actual terrorist sympathizers will begin.

PEACHTREE, N.C., June 1 Betty Howard made many people happy today, and it was not for her daily special. Around noon, Mrs. Howard walked outside, glanced up at the sign in front of her diner and decided to change the lettering on the marquee from "Roast Turkey Baked Ham" to "Pray for Eric Rudolph."

"Bless his heart," Mrs. Howard said. "Eric needs our help."

Mrs. Howard said she was going to start an Eric Rudolph legal defense fund. Many customers have already said they would chip in.

And from an article in yesterday's Times:

Crystal Davis doesn't quite side with Eric Rudolph, but she sympathizes with him.

"He's a Christian and I'm a Christian and he dedicated his life to fighting abortion," said Mrs. Davis, 25, mother of four. "Those are our values. And I don't see what he did as a terrorist act."

Yes, and--if the charges turn out to be true--nothing represents the values of the good, decent, salt of the earth, hardworking, churchgoing, loyal and patriotic citizens of backwoods North Carolina like planting a goddamn pipe bomb in the middle of the Olympics.

And then there's this (from the first linked article again):

"I didn't see him bomb nobody," said Hoke Henson, 77. "You can't always trust the feds."

Except when it comes to WMDs in Iraq, and then you can trust the federal government implicitly because they'd never lie. Speaking of which, it appears that--at least, according to the hard right NewsMax site--Paul Wolfowitz is now floating the idea that Saddam was not only the mastermind behind 9/11, but was also responsible for Oklahoma City and the 1993 WTC bombing. Wonder if the folks in Peachtree are gonna trust the feds on that one.

--------------------

June 01, 2003

WMD vs. Fluffy

(Note: this entry posted by Bob Harris)

Today's Dallas Morning News:

Operation Fluffy was a success. Fluffy, a 2-year-old German shepherd that served and protected American troops in the Iraqi conflict, had been denied entry into the United States because of a debate over whether he was a pet or a military dog. But the issue has been resolved, and Fluffy was scheduled to arrive Sunday morning at Charleston Air Force Base in South Carolina.
Meanwhile, outside U.S. borders, from the Independent, a story entitled The Lies That Led Us Into War:
US and British leaders repeatedly referred to the UN inspectors' estimate that Iraq produced 1.5 tonnes of VX before 1990. But... Iraq's production method created nerve agent that lasted only six to eight weeks.

So... blatant official falsehoods (precisely the offense which so shamed the previous president, but in large numbers, regarding vastly more serious matters), or a cwute, fwuzzy dwog?

Granted, I've cherry-picked here. But you can spend all day looking at multiple medium-sized U.S. news outlets, and few have even anything like the UK entry, above -- not just in today's edition, but even in their archives.

I'm in Ohio right now, visiting family. The folks in the suburb where I grew up -- good, honest people I truly care about -- read their paper every single day, and are almost assuredly under the illusion that they're informing themselves about the world. Quite plainly the opposite. I'll say it again: What they're consuming is actually negative information, worse than illiterate blankness in that it provides both a false worldview and confidence in it. Sheer ignorance and an open mind would seem preferable.

In other words, when it comes to national news, I'm almost convinced my hometown would be better off reading blank sheets of paper. That way, when truth eventually surfaces, it wouldn't have to fight six months of falsehoods to be understood.

Everybody knows it but us. Everybody.

(Note: this entry posted by Bob Harris)

From a Sydney Morning Herald article flatly stating Australia's spies knew the United States was lying about Iraq's WMD programme.

Australian intelligence agencies made it clear to the Government all along that Iraq did not have a massive WMD program (that dubious honour remains restricted to at least China, France, India, Iran, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Syria, Britain and the US). Nor was Saddam Hussein co-operating actively with al-Qaeda. And there was no indication Iraq was intending to pass WMDs to terrorists.

There could not have been any doubt whatsoever about all this in the mind of the Prime Minister or of any member of the national security committee of cabinet.

Make up your own snarky comment here. But first make sure you're really good and determined to get everyone you know to realize what this means.

Horses--- and dogs--- apparently remained perfectly acceptable

(Note: this entry posted by Bob Harris)

From New questions about U.S. intelligence regarding Iraq's weapons of mass terror in the latest U.S. News & World Report:

At one point during the rehearsal, Powell tossed several pages in the air. "I'm not reading this," he declared. "This is bulls---."

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