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February 06, 2004

The Warren Commission had Allen Dulles...

(Note: this entry posted by Bob Harris)

Just a quick note, since I haven't seen it mentioned in the blogosphere yet...

I hear George W. Bush's hand-picked whitewashing of the Iraq intel failures will be co-chaired by Laurence Silberman.

Described simply as a retired federal judge by most news reports, Silberman was until recently one of the three judges of the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review, which oversees sensitive domestic surveillance issues and approves of wiretaps of suspected terrorists. After 9/11, this became the judicial body which would uphold John Ashcroft's agenda in the Patriot Act and (in the words of the ACLU -- read down in the collection of articles) "rubber-stamp government applications for intrusive surveillance warrants."

In other words, Silberman hardly seems disinterested, and more like a full-fledged member of Team Death Star.

Silberman is also one of the two judges who threw out Oliver North's Iran-Contra conviction. Later, he served as a "mentor" to American Spectator writer David Brock during the years of constant character assassination against Bill Clinton.

Yeah. We're reeeeeaaally gonna get an objective report, free of any political agenda.

PS -- It's gonna be another few weeks, but I should have pictures and more writing from my trip, plus an actual blog-related program activity, on my own site soon. Thanks for holding. Your call important to us. Please stay on the line.

PPS -- more on Silberman via Josh Marshall and (as noted by Atrios) Orcinus, who has compiled a nice laundry list of evil.

This is fun

Be sure to sit through the whole intro so you can get to the interactive part.


As many others have noted, whatever happens with Howard Dean, he certainly seems to have given the Democratic party a much-needed spine infusion. The last thing we need this election season is a repeat of Al Gore's performance during, I think, the second debate ("I agree with my opponent about that! Oh, and I agree with my opponent about that, too! And that!"). Or a repeat of the 2002 elections, for that matter.

And while we're giving credit where due, let's remember to give props to Michael Moore, for pretty much single-handedly re-introducing the topic of George Bush's military record into the public debate. He took a lot of grief for that--but here we are, a couple of weeks later, and the story's sticking. As well it should--apparently the only thing backing up Bush's version of events is a conveniently torn document. And that doesn't even identify him by name--just a stray "W" left over after Rose Mary Woods ripped the document with her foot while stretched out playing a game of Twister.

And now it looks as though the Valerie Plame story may be heating up again. We'll see where this goes. Too bad the FBI had to spend time and manpower on this, but I guess George Bush decided not to devote his life to finding the real leaker after all.

At any rate, it is my fervent hope that the eventual Democratic nominee will be enough of a fighter to bring these things up. If, once the primary season ends, that nominee decides that the American people have had enough of all the mudslinging and negative campaigning and decides to run a "nice" campaign--well, then, we are well and truly screwed, because the Republicans will suffer from no such illusions.

Speaking of the presumptive frontrunner--after this cartoon ran, in November of 2002, someone from Senator Kerry's office contacted me to request a copy. I always have mixed feelings about such requests--they are, I think, kind of a way of co-opting or de-legitimizing what I'm trying to say. If I am displeased with the performance of a politician, and write a cartoon in which I try to convey my displeasure, and the politician then writes me and asks for a copy of the cartoon, and I am flattered by the attention of the great man and promptly send it to him...it is as if I have effectively said, ha ha, just a little good-natured kidding, I didn't really mean it, we're all members of the club here...right?

So I had to think about this one awhile. I eventually decided to send it to him, but with this inscription:

Dear Senator Kerry--please prove me wrong.

I figured I could live with that. Whether or not he will prove me wrong remains to be seen.


February 03, 2004

So much for invincibility

You should always take polls with a healthy dose of salt, of course--but this one is still worth noting.

The poll underscores both Kerry's momentum after his wins in New Hampshire and Iowa, and increased favorability among Democrats in general as they dominate political news with their primaries and steady criticism of Bush.

The general election is slightly more than nine months away and Bush has yet to launch his campaign in earnest, meaning the poll numbers are all but certain to shift.

When the 562 likely voters were asked for their choice from a Bush v. Kerry race, 53 percent of those picked Kerry, and 46 percent favored Bush.

When that same group was asked to pick between Edwards and Bush, the numbers were 49 percent for Edwards and 48 percent for Bush. With a Bush/Clark face-off, Bush was favored by 50 percent of those surveyed and Clark, 47 percent.

Two Democratic contenders beating Bush, one by well over the margin of error. And two more nipping at his heels. Karl Rove will not sleep well tonight.

Down the memory hole

To follow up on the previous post--if you've paid attention over the past few days, you've seen the mainstream media timidly and dutifully reporting the current conventional wisdom--that there is no proof that the Bushies cherry-picked the intel and/or pressured intelligence agencies to tell them what they wanted to hear.

But if you were paying attention last year, you can only wonder: what the fuck? Do these people not read their own newspapers? (Or, in some cases, their own columns--see Marshall's comments on Hoagland for more about that.)

It's not some craaaazy conspiracy theory--it's a reported and substantiated fact that Rumsfeld set up his own intel-gathering unit because he wasn't happy with what the CIA was giving him.

You remember that movie Dark City, a few years back? Malevolent creatures rewrite reality each night as the population sleeps, and no one ever seems to notice.

You probably see where I'm headed with that.

Anyway, my friend Jason Vest has co-authored a timely piece in Mother Jones on this very topic, if you're needing a reality check. (Unfortunately there's only a little bit of it online, so you may have to go to one of those places, with the books, where you walk in and give them the money--you know what I mean.)

* * *

I have a busy day or two ahead, so there probably won't be much for you here.


February 01, 2004


You kids remember that Rumsfeld was so unhappy with the intelligence he was getting that he set up his own intelligence unit, right?

It's been common knowledge for a year that the Bushies were cherry picking the intel to fit their preconceptions.

And now it's time to launch an investigation. But of course.

A new cold weather fun game

Ran across this bit of triumphalist crowing via Atrios--dating back, obviously, to those heady, wonderful post-statue-pulling-down days when the world was young and victory was at hand:

SOMETIMES it's necessary to beat a dead horse. Many recriminations pieces have been written since the end of the war (here, for starters) and while they may seem like simple gloating, they're not. It's crucial to keep score on public commentators because if you bat .115 in the bigs, you get canned. Bob Herbert gets to write for forever.

Just for the record, here are some of the statements which the Weekly Standard found so laughably off-base:

But, as we have heard the military saying goes, "Hope is not a plan." The plan was Bush's and Cheney's and Rumsfeld's, and as a result of it, hundreds of thousands of American and British soldiers are now stuck in what could prove to be a much more harrowing situation than those planners promised. . . .

--Scott Rosenberg, Salon, March 28, 2003

The war machine is loose, apparently unstoppable. An escalating air war, a rush of reinforcements, an enemy that surprises, demonstrators in the streets, a nation divided. But as before [in Vietnam], Washington's war policy is made in fantasyland--and is even now being exposed as such.

--James Carroll, the Boston Globe, April 1, 2003

The pre-invasion hype had all been about festive Iraqis stocking up on flowers to give the kind of toothy colonial welcome the Queen gets from dancing Maoris on a royal tour. Now look what's happened. Our boys are faced with a medieval siege of Baghdad, and the reprisals of Saddam's death squads, with nothing to prepare the American public but the DVD of "Black Hawk Down."

--Tina Brown, the London Times, April 3, 2003

Boy, could those crazy lefties have been more wrong?

Well, yes. Because they were not very wrong at all.

At any rate, I do remember this game of archive-sifting being popular among the conservative columnists and bloggers, back in the days following the pulling down of the statue, when it was clear to everyone with eyes that triumph was at hand and the faces of those who opposed the war were caked thick with dried egg blah blah blah.

Well, what's good for the goose, etc., etc. So here's the game: go back and find the most egregious examples of post-statue-toppling we-were-right-and-you-were-wrong chest-thumping and general gloating, and send them in. I'll post the most ludicrous and we'll all share a hearty chuckle. Heck, maybe I'll give out an Andrew Sullivan-style award. In fact, maybe I'll even call it the "Sullivan Award"...for premature triumphalism...


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