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January 10, 2004

O'Neill tells all

From Drudge:

The Bush Administration began laying plans for an invasion of Iraq including the use of American troops within days of President Bush's inauguration in January of 2001, not eight months later after the 9/11 attacks as has been previously reported. That is what former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill says in his first interview about his time as a White House insider. O'Neill talks to Lesley Stahl in the interview, to be broadcast on 60 MINUTES Sunday, Jan. 11 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.

"From the very beginning, there was a conviction that Saddam Hussein was a bad person and that he needed to go," he tells Stahl. "For me, the notion of pre-emption, that the U.S. has the unilateral right to do whatever we decide to do is a really huge leap," says O'Neill.

It's not hard to predict how the White House will respond to this. By the end of next week, Paul O'Neill's own grandchildren (assuming he has any) are going to think his first name is "Disgruntled." Still, as it becomes increasingly obvious that Iraq's WMD program could best have been described as "imaginary", this isn't good news for Bush.

At least the economy's turning around! Oh, wait.

Lieberman's doing well...

...just not with Democrats.

In many ways, Stan Kowalski is precisely the kind of undecided voter that the campaign of Senator Joseph I. Lieberman is trying to reach.

Learning from a flier on his car that Mr. Lieberman would appear at the In a Pinch Cafe, Mr. Kowalski showed up, chatted with him and left strongly inclined to vote for him.

"I like Joe," Mr. Kowalski, a biochemist turned law student, said. "I feel like he's in touch with the middle class. He's a good man."

There was just one hitch. Mr. Kowalski, a registered Republican, cannot vote for Mr. Lieberman in the Jan. 27 Democratic primary here.

Okay, let me get this straight...

George Bush wants to cut taxes while financing his various wars and nation-building efforts...

...and go back to the moon?

Every credit card in the national wallet is maxed out, and Dad suddenly has a midlife crisis and decides he wants to buy a friggin' moon rocket.

It's no wonder the neighbors think we're crazy.

...since it's enough to drive a man to drink, let's stop by the Whiskey Bar:

The best part, though, is how Lone Star Command decided to go to both the moon and Mars:
The decision was controversial within the White House, with some aides arguing that it would make more sense to focus immediately on Mars, since humans have already landed on the moon and a Mars mission would build cleanly on the success of Spirit, the U.S. rover that landed safely on Mars last weekend.

So who helped the President make the call? The NASA administrator? His chief science advisor? A team from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory? Surely the Bush White House relied on the most qualified, technically informed experts it could find to make such a momentous decision about the future of the U.S. space program.

Of course not:

Bush himself settled the divisions, according to the sources, working from options that had been narrowed down by his senior adviser, Karl Rove.


January 09, 2004

All better


This bizarre article about Wesley Clark made me think...two things, actually. First, that it must be a really slow news day. Second, it reminded me of one of my souvenirs of the 2000 Republican convention, one of those pre-printed signs which delegates hold up by the thousands at the appropriate moment. It reads:

W is for WOMEN

You see, George Bush's middle initial is a "W"! A common synonym for "female" also begins with "W"!

What more do you need, ladies?

(...someday, it will turn up, in this glorious mess I call a studio, and I'll post a scan of the actual sign.)

Now and then

(Lifted from Kos).

"I have not seen smoking-gun, concrete evidence about the connection" between Iraq and al Qaida.
- Secretary of State Colin Powell, 1/9/04

"I want to bring to your attention today [to] the potentially much more sinister nexus between Iraq and the al-Qaida terrorist network...al-Qaida affiliates based in Baghdad now coordinate the movement of people, money and supplies into and throughout Iraq for Saddam's network, and they have now been operating freely in [Baghdad]."
- Secretary of State Colin Powell, 2/5/03


January 08, 2004

You might think...

...that as a reasonably prominent lefty cartoonist living in New York City, my mailbox would overflow with invitations to things like the Bush in 30 Seconds event next week.

You might think, but you would be wrong.

I could rant about this but I'll spare you.

At any rate, animation finalist Greg Saunders has, out of the blue, generously offered me a spare ticket. He didn't even ask for a plug in return, but if you want to take a look at his entry, "Brother Can You Spare a Job," you can do so here.

You like me, you really...

Now I have to figure out what to wear to the glamorous awards ceremony...what to say to Joan and Melissa on the red carpet...and who to thank (besides God, who clearly favored me above the other entrants)...

Why we went to war

Just in case you haven't seen this already.


January 07, 2004

Brooks redux

I really didn't even scratch the surface of his column yesterday, with its layers upon layers of sheer, forehead-slapping wrongness.

Fortunately, others did:

Josh Marshall rips into Brooks' blatantly dishonest rhetorical tactics, particularly his promotion of the nascent right-wing dream meme equating criticism of the neocons with anti-Semitism. Because everyone knows that "neocon" is code for Jooooish, even though it's, um, the term the neocons use to refer to themselves.

TBogg handles the name-caller-decrying-name-calling bit.

And let us not overlook Brooks' peculiar take on PNAC:

The full-mooners fixated on a think tank called the Project for the New American Century, which has a staff of five and issues memos on foreign policy. To hear these people describe it, PNAC is sort of a Yiddish Trilateral Commission, the nexus of the sprawling neocon tentacles.

...which "Three Hegemons" neatly dissects (via email):

Considering PNAC is signed by, among others, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfield, and Paul Wolfowitz, it doesn't seem like that unreasonable to cite it as a source for ideas on administration foreign policy.

Shorter Tom Tomorrow: that David Brooks sure is some kind of bonehead, isn't he?

...oops! And of course the Daily Howler is on Brooks like flies on, um, you know. As is MWO.


January 06, 2004

Right, and wrong

David Brooks' column is probably the strongest evidence of pervasive liberal bias at the Times. Okay, the editors thought, we've taken some hits lately with this whole Blair/Raines business. We'll reassert our objectivity by adding a conservative voice to the Op-Ed page. But--they say, allowing themselves just a hint of a smile--it has to be the biggest nitwit we can find.

And so David Brooks was given his own column. And today's entry is no disappointment.

There have been hundreds of references, for example, to Richard Perle's insidious power over administration policy, but I've been told by senior administration officials that he has had no significant meetings with Bush or Cheney since they assumed office. If he's shaping their decisions, he must be microwaving his ideas into their fillings.

You see, David Brooks knows that Richard Perle's influence has been overstated because senior administration officials told him so. And anyone who disbelieves senior administration officials--anyone who tries to look at the history and public record of people in power in order to try to understand their underlying motives--well, that person is clearly some kind of loon, some wacky conspiracy theorist who believes that secret messages can be microwaved into dental fillings!

Oh, the devastatingly dismissive wit!

And speaking of conservative Times columnists...

Awhile back, I wrote about William Safire's odd two-step concerning the allegations that Bush's plane was specifically and credibly targeted on 9/11. On September 12, 2001, Safire was initially critical of Bush's scared-bunny act:

Bush should have insisted on coming right back to the Washington area, broadcasting -- live and calm -- from some secure facility not far from the White House.

However, on September 13, 2001, Safire did a quick about-face:

"It would have been irresponsible of him to come back, pounding his chest," says my source, "when hostile aircraft may have been headed our way. Any suggestion that he should have done so is ludicrous."

Confession: I made just that suggestion in yesterday's column, which stimulated two set-it-straight calls. Why didn't the V.P. make an appearance during that long afternoon in Bush's stead? The official reason is that Cheney was busy in the basement; the real reason, I think, is that he was unduly concerned it would appear presumptuous.

The most worrisome aspect of these revelations has to do with the credibility of the "Air Force One is next" message. It is described clearly as a threat, not a friendly warning -- but if so, why would the terrorists send the message? More to the point, how did they get the code-word information and transponder know-how that established their mala fides?

That knowledge of code words and presidential whereabouts and possession of secret procedures indicates that the terrorists may have a mole in the White House -- that, or informants in the Secret Service, F.B.I., F.A.A. or C.I.A. If so, the first thing our war on terror needs is an Angleton-type counterspy.

The storyline in which terrorists had secret codewords and knowledge of Air Force One was quickly abandoned, and to my knowledge, Safire has never mentioned it again.

So why am I rehashing all of this, at this late date? Well, in his Dec. 29, 2003 column, in the context of scolding Dick Cheney for his secretive energy task force, Safire wrote:

I've known Cheney since our Nixon days. He's thoughtful, calmly conservative, nonpompous, decisive and was accessible to me over the phone on the hectic morning after 9/11.

Ah ha, I thought to myself.

The morning after 9/11, the morning Safire's critical column appeared in the Times, Cheney was "accessible" to Safire. So doesn't it seem plausible that the source for the false story--to put it less politely, the flat out lie--about the omniscient terrorists in possession of Air Force One access codes (not to mention the bit about modest ol' Dick Cheney worrying that he might appear presumptuous) was Dick Cheney himself? (At the very least he would have had a chance to confirm or deny, and he clearly did not do the latter.)

Looks that way to me, at least. Of course, I am trying to draw conclusions which are contrary to the official public statements of senior administration officials, which puts me in tinfoil hat territory as far as David Brooks is concerned.

Now you'll have to excuse me; there's a new message coming in through my fillings.

(Edited for clarity, because the aliens told me to.)


January 05, 2004


I'm not sold on the guy for any number of reasons. His offhand dismissal of single payer in yesterday's debate, for instance, didn't do a lot to win me over. Nonetheless, there is a very good chance that he'll be the Democratic nominee, and honestly, the story line that's developing in the media really pisses me off (hence the last couple of cartoons). One small example from today's Times:

For sheer comedic appeal, the Democratic presidential debate on Sunday was short a Sharpton, though it had its moments. As when Howard Dean offhandedly promised to balance the budget "in the sixth or seventh year of my administration."

Someone howled, and the audience, noticeably short of Dean partisans, broke up at the presumptuousness. Dr. Dean seemed not to realize that he was the butt of the joke, and even his campaign manager, Joe Trippi, later said he thought the crowd was laughing with him.

You know, I watched that debate too, but unlike the author of this article, I lacked the psychic ability to determine why the crowd was laughing. I suppose you could interpret it as laughter at his "presumptiousness," but I think any such interpretation, if it were honest, would necessarily be preceeded by the statement "it seemed to this reporter." Analysis pieces always get a bit more leeway from the Times' editors, but still--a subjective impression is being reported as an objective fact. The crowd was also hungry, a little bored, tired of being away from its home in New York, and hoping it would get back to the hotel in time to meet its deadline...

...imagine Bush getting this treatment in 2000: The crowd laughed derisively at his blank deer-in-the-headlights gaze and his seeming inability to form a single coherent sentence...

...while we're on the topic, Kos has several entries on the AP's coverage of the debate.

Bob's in Sydney

After you read his new entry, you might wish you were too.


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