The Beltway Bandit

An online journal of politics, culture, and sports

Saturday, October 04, 2003

MORE WINGNUTS IN THE DOCK -- Minnesota Republican Party Chairman Ron Eibensteiner has been charged with four gross misdemeanor criminal counts an alleged improper corporate campaign contribution. The White House ought to hire this guy. He sounds like their kind of hack.

Friday, October 03, 2003

IGNORANCE = SUPPORT FOR IRAQ WAR -- You may have suspected it. You may have thought it. You might have even said it to yourself once or twice. Are these people support the war just stupid or what? Well, maybe not stupid. [Not all of them anyway.] But ignorant? Yes. An expansive new study by the Program on International Policy Attitudes, based at the University of Maryland in College Park, and the polling firm, Knowledge Networks based in Menlo Park, California reveals that most Americans were badly misinformed about the circumstances surrounding the Iraq War and that the more misinformed a person was, the more likely he or she was to support the Iraq War.
The three common mistaken impressions are that:

--U.S. forces found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
--There's clear evidence that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein worked closely with the Sept. 11 terrorists.
--People in foreign countries generally either backed the U.S.-led war or were evenly split between supporting and opposing it.

Overall, 60 percent of Americans held at least one of those views in polls reported between January and September by the Program on International Policy Attitudes, based at the University of Maryland in College Park, and the polling firm, Knowledge Networks based in Menlo Park, Calif.

"While we cannot assert that these misperceptions created the support for going to war with Iraq, it does appear likely that support for the war would be substantially lower if fewer members of the public had these misperceptions," said Steven Kull, who directs Maryland's program.

In fact, no weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq. U.S. intelligence has found no clear evidence that Saddam was working closely with al-Qaida or was involved in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Gallup polls found large majorities opposed to the war in most countries.
The analysis released Thursday also correlated the misperceptions with the primary news source of the mistaken respondents. For example, 80 percent of those who said they relied on Fox News and 71 percent of those who said they relied on CBS believed at least one of the three misperceptions.

The comparable figures were 47 percent for those who said they relied most on newspapers and magazines and 23 percent for those who said they relied on PBS or National Public Radio.

The reasons for the misperceptions are numerous, Kull and other analysts said.

They noted that the Bush administration had misstated or exaggerated some of the intelligence findings, with Bush himself saying in May: "We found the weapons of mass destruction … and we'll find more as time goes by."

The Bush administration has also been a factor in persistent confusion.

Last month, for example, Bush said there was no evidence that Saddam was involved in the Sept. 11 attack after Vice President Dick Cheney suggested a link. Cheney, in a "Meet the Press" interview, had described Iraq as "the geographic base of the terrorists who had us under assault now for many years, but most especially on 9-11."

Why some news audiences had more accurate impressions than others was less clear.

Kull cited instances in which TV and newspapers gave prominent coverage to reports that banned weapons might have been found in Iraq, but only modest coverage when those reports turned out to be wrong.

Susan Moeller, a University of Maryland professor, said that much reporting had consisted of "stenographic coverage of government statements," with less attention to whether the government's statements were accurate.

The study found that belief in inaccurate information often persisted, and that misconceptions were much more likely among backers of the war. Last month, as in June, for example, nearly a quarter of those polled thought banned weapons had been found in Iraq. Nearly half thought in September that there was clear evidence that Saddam had worked closely with al-Qaida.

Among those with one of the three misconceptions, 53 percent supported the war. Among those with two, 78 percent supported it. Among those with three, 86 percent backed it. By contrast, less than a quarter of those polled who had none of the misconceptions backed the war.
So there you have it, folks. The ignorant overwhelmingly supported the war. The informed overwhelmingly did not. You know what is really scary? The few peple who were well-informed and still supported the war. Those people freak me out. The good news is that there are not too many of those people. The bad news is that they are mostly concentrated in the Bush White House and the Editorial Board of the Washington Post.

COMPARING BUSH REGIME RHETORIC ON IRAQ TO REALITY -- Let's play a fun game. It involves comparing what members of the Bush regime told us about WMD in Iraq before, during, and immediately after the Iraq War with what has actually emerged from the Kay Report. Oooh, I wonder what we'll find...

CLAIM: “Evidence indicates that Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program…Iraq could have a nuclear weapon in less than a year.” - President Bush, 10/7/02

CLAIM: “[Saddam] is actively pursuing nuclear weapons at this time.”- VP Cheney, 3/24/02

CLAIM: “We believe Saddam has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons.” - VP Cheney, 3/16/03

CLAIM: “We do know that [Saddam] is actively pursuing a nuclear weapon.”- National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, 9/10/02

CLAIM: “Iraqis were actively trying to pursue a nuclear weapons program.” - National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, 7/11/03

THE KAY REPORT: “We have not uncovered evidence that Iraq undertook significant post-1998 steps to actually build nuclear weapons or produce fissile material.”
- Bush Administration Weapons Inspector David Kay, 10/2/03
CLAIM: “We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories.”
-President Bush, on locating the mobile biological weapons labs, 5/29/03

CLAIM: “We know where the [WMD] are.” - Don Rumsfeld, 3/30/03

CLAIM: “Iraq has at least seven mobile factories for the production of biological agents - equipment mounted on trucks and rails to evade discovery.” –President Bush, 2/8/03

CLAIM: “I’m absolutely sure that there are weapons of mass destruction there and the evidence will be forthcoming. We’re just getting it now.” - Colin Powell, 5/4/03

THE KAY REPORT: “We have not yet been able to corroborate the existence of a mobile BW production effort. Technical limitations would prevent any of these processes from being ideally suited to these trailers.”
- Bush Administration Weapons Inspector David Kay, 10/2/03
CLAIM: “There can be no doubt that Saddam Hussein has biological weapons and the capability to rapidly produce more, many more…Our conservative estimate is that Iraq today has a stockpile of between 100 and 500 tons of chemical weapons agent. That is enough agent to fill 16,000 battlefield rockets.” – Colin Powell, 2/5/03

CLAIM: “[Saddam has] amassed large, clandestine stockpiles of biological weapons, including Anthrax, botulism, toxins and possibly smallpox. He's amassed large, clandestine stockpiles of chemical weapons, including VX, Sarin and mustard gas.” --Don Rumsfeld, 9/19/02

CLAIM: “Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt that he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us.” –Vice President Cheney, 8/26/02

CLAIM: “The Iraqi regime possesses biological and chemical weapons…And according to the British government, the Iraqi regime could launch a biological or chemical attack in as little as 45 minutes.” –President Bush, 9/26/02

CLAIM: “Our intelligence officials estimate that Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent.” –President Bush, 1/28/03

CLAIM: “His regime has large, unaccounted-for stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons -- including VX, sarin, cyclosarin and mustard gas; anthrax, botulism, and possibly smallpox -- and he has an active program to acquire and develop nuclear weapons.” – Don Rumsfeld, 1/20/03

THE KAY REPORT: “Iraq did not have a large, ongoing, centrally controlled chemical weapons program after 1991… Iraq's large-scale capability to develop, produce, and fill new CW munitions was reduced - if not entirely destroyed - during Operations Desert Storm and Desert Fox, 13 years of UN sanctions and UN inspections.”
- Bush Administration Weapons Inspector David Kay, 10/2/03
Anyone else noticing a slight discrepancy there?

Senators on the Need for an Independent Investigator -- I thought all of you might be amused by some of these quotes from Republican Senators on the need for independent investigators in the executive branch.

"The reason we have this whole special counsel entity is to remove conflict of interest. It's important, if you're looking at the executive side, not to have the Department of Justice investigating the executive side."
--Chattanooga Free Press, 3/21/97: regarding campaign finance investigation

"The fundamental purpose of appointing an independent counsel was to have someone in charge who was not allied with the administration, not beholden to the administration, and not motivated in any way to favor the administration."
--Congressional Record, 9/16/97: regarding campaign finance investigation

"Both prudence and the American people's ability to have confidence that the investigation remains free of a conflict of interest warrants the appointment of an independent counsel."
--Congressional Record, 3/14/97: regarding campaign finance investigation

"To the extent that any prosecutor is accountable to the executive branch, there inevitably will be pressure not to investigate and prosecute aggressively scandals at the highest levels of government--an inherent conflict of interest."
--The Independent Counsel Statute and Questions about Its Future, Law & Contemporary Problems (Winter 1999): academic article on Independent Counsel Statute

"Where you have the possibility of the appearance of conflict of interest within the administration, you should go to independent counsel."
--Face the Nation, 03/02/97: regarding campaign finance investigation

Senator Lott said that an independent counsel is warranted where there are "allegations of illegal activity by high up officials that meet certain criteria in the administration, or conversely, where there is the appearance of the potential of conflict of interests from the attorney general, Justice Department with administration officials."
--Press Conference, 3/6/97: regarding campaign finance investigation

"A single allegation can be most worthy of a special prosecutor. If you're abusing government property, if you're abusing your status in office, it can be a single fact that makes the difference on that."
--Evans and Novak, 10/4/97: regarding campaign finance investigation

"The reason we have an independent counsel operation is because the Attorney General is indeed subject to pressure from the White House."
--Congressional Record, 3/19/97: regarding campaign finance investigation

"Criminal investigations should be taken out of politics. Prosecuting wrongdoing should be done without regard to politics. The Attorney General needs to appoint an independent counsel now."
--Congressional Record, 3/17/97: regarding campaign finance investigation

"Throughout our history in this country, when we've had problems in the White House, when people who are close to the president had problems, we've just about always had somebody independent come in and take a look at it."
--Meet the Press, 12/7/97: regarding campaign finance investigation

"It is very difficult if not impossible for the Attorney General and the Justice Department to investigate the president and other high- ranking government officials in the executive branch of government without an obvious conflict of interest."
--Government Affairs Committee Hearing, 3/17/99: regarding the reauthorization of the Independent Counsel Act

CLINTON'S IRAQ POLICY A SUCCESS -- Gregg Easterbrook at The New Republic correctly notes in Easterblogg that U.S. arms inspector David Kay, who found no WMD in Iraq, revealed that the Clinton administration's Iraq policy was more successful than anyone had known.
Here's what everyone has missed about the David Kay report of Iraqi arms: Kay finds the Iraqi atomic weapons program, always by far the greatest threat posed by Saddam, stopped in 1998. (See his statement here; I am directing you to the CIA website!) But what happened in 1998? The "Desert Fox" joint United States-British strike on Iraq. If Desert Fox stopped the Iraqi atomic weapons program, this means the Clinton administration's Saddam containment policy was far more effective than anyone, even Bill Clinton, previously realized.

Recall that in 1998, Saddam had thrown out U.N. inspectors. The United States and United Kingdom threatened airstrikes; most other Western nations waffled or counseled appeasement. In December 1998, U.S. and British aircraft bombed Iraq weapons facilities for several nights, while 400 cruise missiles were fired into Iraq. At the time, many conservatives and Republicans denounced the strikes as pinpricks and called for much more dramatic action. Clinton's decision to do everything from the air was derided as liberal fear of casualties.

Yet now it appears Desert Fox was a resounding success. Among the Iraq facilities pounded in 1998 was the Al Zaafaraniyah atomic weapons and missile complex. Al Zaafaraniyah was not bombed during the 1991 Gulf war, because the United States did not then know much about it. U.N. inspectors found the facility in the aftermath of the 1991 war; in 1993, Clinton ordered Al Zaafaraniyah hit with cruise missiles to stop Iraq atomic-weapons research; in 1998, Al Zaafaraniyah was reduced to rubble.

Set aside the question of whether the United States should have invaded Iraq in 2003; history may still judge this decision favorably, as a liberation of the oppressed. But if most of the Iraq atomic weapons program stopped in 1998, as Kay concludes, then Clinton administration policy on Iraq was far more effective than once assumed; then the WMD case for invasion this year was even weaker than now assumed; and then the case for airstrikes to halt the North Korean nuclear-weapons program may be stronger than now assumed.
Naturally, you won't find The Washington Post or The New York Times or any other parts of the SCLM reminding the public of this fact, but we can all be grateful to Mr Easterbrook for noticing it [and Mr Kay for unintentionally revealing it].

DOWN TO NINE? -- Is Senator Bob Graham [D-FL] quitting the presidential race? The signals are mixed.

THE FALSE PATRIOTS -- Once again, Paul Krugman hits the nail on the head. This time, the subject is former Ambassador Joseph Wilson and his wife, CIA operative Valerie Plame, whose identity was illegally leaked to the media by a person or persons within the White House.
Unlike the self-described patriots now running America, Mr. Wilson has taken personal risks for the sake of his country. In the months before the first gulf war, he stayed on in Baghdad, helping to rescue hundreds of Americans who might otherwise have been held as hostages. The first President Bush lauded him as a "truly inspiring diplomat" who exhibited "courageous leadership."

In any case, Mr. Wilson's views and character are irrelevant. Someone high in the administration committed a felony and, in the view of the elder Mr. Bush, treason. End of story.

The hypocrisy here is breathtaking. Republicans have repeatedly impugned their opponents' patriotism. Last year Tom DeLay, the House majority leader, said Democrats "don't want to protect the American people. . . . They will do anything, spend all the time and resources they can, to avoid confronting evil."

But the true test of patriotism isn't whether you are willing to wave the flag, or agree with whatever the president says. It's whether you are willing to take risks and make sacrifices, including political sacrifices, for the sake of your country. This episode is a test for Mr. Bush and his inner circle: a true patriot wouldn't hesitate about doing the right thing in the Plame affair, whatever the political costs.

Mr. Bush is failing that test.
Why does George W Bush hate America?

THE CONSEQUENCES OF THIS LIE -- The United Nations, the Pentagon and now the CIA have found no WMD in Iraq, contrary to virtually every public utterance made by the Bush regime about Iraq over a number of years. What will be the political consequences for this administration liars and fools?
But in private, Mr. Bush's political aides concede that it does matter, and it may matter more as the politics of running for president collide with the realities of containing the chaos in occupied Iraq.

While the report by the arms inspector, David Kay, is not final, and while the inspectors may yet come upon a cache of weapons, the preliminary findings support the claims of critics, including Democratic candidates, that Mr. Bush used dubious intelligence to justify his decision to go to war. At worst, these critics say, the usual caveats and cautions of the underlying intelligence reports were ignored in the rush to war.

Without question, the gap between what Mr. Bush said existed in Iraq and what Dr. Kay has failed to find will be argued about again and again as Americans discuss whether it was right to go into Iraq in the first place, and debate what to do now.

"This presents the president with a huge problem" of explaining why the weapons have not been found, said Lee H. Hamilton, a former Democratic congressman from Indiana and now the president of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington. "He and his aides have said over and over again that they will find" unconventional weapons. "They cannot say that anymore in light of the evidence."
This is more important than just the emergence of yet another political weapon the Democrats may use against Mr Bush. It is even more important than exposing a long history of lies and obfuscation from perhaps the most venal and mendacious administration in American history. The Bush regime has severely damaged the credibility of the United States with its shameful lies and that impedes our ability to properly prosecute the real war on terror [al Qaeda and its offshoots], as well as maintain pressure on rogue states, such as North Korea, which pose an actual danger to international peace and security.
Mr. Hamilton, who dealt with intelligence issues in Congress, said the problem went beyond politics: it raised questions about whether intelligence could be trusted and used to rally the world to confront the North Korean and Iranian nuclear weapons programs.

Should Mr. Bush or his successors make a new argument for a pre-emptive strike against any country suspected of amassing arms, "persuading the world will be that much harder," Mr. Hamilton said.
That's precisely the point. Just because Iraq had no WMD does not mean other countries are similarly innocent of the manufacture and vending of such weapons. Nations like North Korea and Iran remain a grave threat and require constant and vigilant international supervision. The use of force may be required. It will be much more difficult for the next administration to make that case because most of the world simply does not believe what we say anymore. Who can blame them?

It will require very patient and skillful diplomacy on the part of the Democratic administration that takes power in January 2005 to rebuild the United States' reputation for honesty and fair-dealing. The damage that has been done is great. Let's hope the Democrats will be up to the task.

PUBLIC FINALLY TURNING ON MR BUSH -- The worst administration in--well, maybe ever--is finally receiving the scrutiny it deserves and the public does not like what it sees. according to a new poll.
The public's confidence in President Bush's ability to deal wisely with an international crisis has slid sharply over the past five months, the latest New York Times/CBS News Poll has found. And a clear majority are also uneasy about his ability to make the right decisions on the nation's economy.

Over all, the poll found, Americans are for the first time more critical than not of Mr. Bush's ability to handle both foreign and domestic problems, and a majority say the president does not share their priorities. Thirteen months before the 2004 election, a solid majority of Americans say the country is seriously on the wrong track, a classic danger sign for incumbents, and only about half of Americans approve of Mr. Bush's overall job performance. That is roughly the same as when Mr. Bush took office after the razor-close 2000 election.
The poll found that just 45 percent of Americans now have confidence in Mr. Bush's ability to deal wisely with an international crisis, down sharply from 66 percent in April, and half now say they are uneasy about his approach. Nearly 9 in 10 Americans say the war in Iraq is still going on, and 6 in 10 say the United States should not spend as much on the effort as Mr. Bush has sought. Three-quarters of Americans, including a majority of Republicans, say the administration has yet to clearly explain how long American troops will have to stay in Iraq, or how much it will cost to rebuild the country.

"I am very uneasy because of the war," said Joyce Austin, 69, a retired nurse's aide in Readstown, Wis., who was reinterviewed after the poll was conducted. "I don't think the Bush administration had a good plan for ending the war, and for what was going to happen afterward. I don't think they realized how much it was going to cost." Mrs. Austin paused and added, "Maybe they knew and just didn't tell us."

The nationwide telephone poll of 981 adults has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points. The poll, taken Sunday through Wednesday, was in progress when the Justice Department announced that it would investigate accusations that someone in the White House may have leaked the name of an undercover C.I.A. officer.

As the week progressed and news coverage of the investigation intensified, respondents were somewhat less likely to credit the Bush administration with bringing heightened honesty and integrity to the workings of the White House, compared with past administrations. In the end, just over one-third of the respondents said the administration had brought more honesty and integrity, while 18 percent said it had brought less and 43 percent said it was about the same as other administrations.
Even those dismal numbers are far too high for a man who spent virtually his entire time in office lying, serving the wealthy special interests who have bankrolled his political career, and perverting high-minded patriotism into a political weapon.

No punishment Mr Bush can receive would be equal to the offenses he has committed.

Thursday, October 02, 2003

"WE WERE GOING TO NAIL HIM FOR IT" -- I was reading an excellent article in Salon about the growinng disillusionment with the Bush administration among members of the military when I came upon this part of the story:

One former senior military official recalls the cynical joke making the rounds inside the Pentagon just days after the Sept. 11 attacks: "If Saddam Hussein wasn't responsible for 9/11, he should have been, because we're going to nail him for it." It was being told among officers who saw exactly where the administration hawks were taking the war on terrorism, regardless of whether the targets were connected to actual terrorist attacks.
I don't think I need to add anything to that.

THE KAY REPORT -- No weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq. That from the man the Bush regime sent to find the damn things. Let's see now...The United Nations couldn't find any WMD in Iraq. The Pentagon couldn't find any WMD in Iraq. Now the CIA has not been able to find any WMD in Iraq.

Maybe the damn things just are not there. Maybe the Bush regime lied to us all.

CRITICISM FOR NEW IRAQ U.N. DRAFT -- U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan criticized the Bush regime's U.N. draft proposal for handing over power to the Iraqis. Mr Annan said the proposal does not hand enough power over to the Iraqis and does not do it quickly enough. The French are not impressed by the Bush regime's Iraq proposal either--and for the same reasons. Another bright move by the neocons.

IRAQI GUERRILLAS 'MORE LETHAL' -- Lt. General Ricardo Sanchez, commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, says attacks against American forces by Iraqi irregulars are becoming more lethal.
The enemy has evolved. It is a little bit more lethal, little bit more complex, little bit more sophisticated and in some cases a little bit more tenacious," said Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, commander of ground forces in Iraq.

"As long as we are here the coalition need to be prepared to take casualties," he told a news conference. "We should not be surprised if one of these days we wake up to find there's been a major firefight or a major terrorist attack."

Since President Bush declared major combat over on May 1, at least 84 U.S. soldiers have been killed in action.

Wednesday, a 4th Infantry Division soldier was killed in a rocket-propelled grenade attack near the town of Samarra, a female soldier from the same division died in a remote-control bomb attack near Tikrit, and in Baghdad a soldier was shot and killed while patrolling the Mansur neighborhood.

The violence continued Thursday in the town of Falluja, a center of resistance to U.S. forces. Police said U.S. gunfire killed an Iraqi man and wounded a woman and a six-year-old girl after an American patrol was shot at Thursday. Two police officers were also wounded.

Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who led the campaign to oust Iraqi President Saddam Hussein over his alleged weapons of mass destruction, face mounting political pressure over the failure to find any.

David Kay, the CIA official directing the weapons search in Iraq, was scheduled to brief the House and Senate intelligence committees Thursday. Officials suggest Kay will say no conclusive evidence has been found of banned weapons.
The story coming out of Iraq from the soldiers themselves appears to be far more dire and far more realistic than the rosy scenario being painted for us by civilian neocons like Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, and Peter Hitchens.

BUSTAMANTE OUT? -- The California Political Review is reporting that it is "highy likely" that Lieutenant-Governor Cruz Bustamante will withdraw from the race to replace Governor Gray Davis in the California recall election, scheduled for October 7.
"As panic over a looming Republican capture of the governor’s office has spread from the Davis camp through the ranks of Democrat elected officials and donors, Bustamante has been subjected to enormous pressure to withdraw his candidacy. Top level Democrats believe Bustamante now has no hope of overtaking Arnold Schwarzenegger on the candidate portion of the ballot, and that he is, in fact, sinking so fast he could finish third, behind both Schwarzenegger and state Sen. Tom McClintock."
Note that Lt. Governor Bustamante is denying reports he might withdraw from the race before the October 7 election.

Thanks to Taegan Goddard's Political Wire.

SICK, SICK BASTARDS -- If you are a frequent reader of this site you probably know there are some Republicans who will sink to any depth in their war against liberalism and the Democratic party. You might not have expected this, though.
An aide to Missouri Republican Sen. Kit Bond left the senator's staff after it was discovered he had been running a political Web site named for the tail number of a plane that crashed in 2000, killing the Democratic Missouri governor.

The title of the site ¯ N8354N ¯ "is not random," a note on the Web site read. "It marks an inflection point in current Missouri politics. On that day, the worm began to turn."

Gov. Mel Carnahan (news - web sites) was running for Senate when his plane crashed Oct. 16, 2000. He was elected posthumously and Carnahan's widow, Jean, was appointed to take his place in the Senate. But Republican Jim Talent won the seat from her last year in a special election to finish out her husband's term.

Missouri Democrats found the Web site and made the connection to Bond's office on Wednesday.

Bond issued a statement Thursday morning saying the aide was no longer on his staff. His staff would not say who the person was.

"The actions of a member of my staff in using official computers to make hurtful personal attacks on public servants were totally unacceptable and will not be tolerated," Bond said in the statement. "I had no knowledge of this until last night. I offer my sincere apologies, and those of my staff, to all those offended by these messages.

"There will be no place in my office, or in my campaign, for this type of attack. The person responsible will no longer be a member of my staff," Bond said.

It's not against Senate rules to operate such a Web site, so long as Senate resources are not used. However, the aide also apparently used a Senate computer to post comments on a similar Web site, and that is against the rules.

Democrats were angry at the aide's actions.

"This is not just a matter of rules," said Marc Farinella, a longtime adviser to Carnahan and his wife, Jean. "This is about personal decency. This is not political dialogue. This was meant to hurt people who are still grieving from that plane crash."

By Thursday morning, content had been stripped from the site,
I wonder if Senator Bond [R-MO] is asking himself how such a cretin could be on his staff. Probably not.

[From The Associated Press]

SLIME AND DEFEND -- Dogged by questions about illegal leaking in the Plame scandal, the White House is looking to contain the damage. How, you ask? Get to the truth? Conduct a genuine and aggressive arms-length investigation to find the culprit and prosecute him/her to the fullest extent of the law? Please. If you think that you don't know much about this White House.
The White House encouraged Republicans to portray the former diplomat at the center of the case, Joseph C. Wilson IV, as a partisan Democrat with an agenda and the Democratic Party as scandalmongering. At the same time, the administration and the Republican leadership on Capitol Hill worked to ensure that no Republicans in Congress break ranks and call for an independent inquiry outside the direct control of the Justice Department.

"It's slime and defend," said one Republican aide on Capitol Hill, describing the White House's effort to raise questions about Mr. Wilson's motivations and its simultaneous effort to shore up support in the Republican ranks.

"So far so good," the aide said.
Pretty much what most of us you have been following this White House would expect. Nevertheless, one member of John Ashcroft's Justice Department acknowledged that "a likely possibility" that the investigation could lead into the White House.

ARNIE APOLOGIZES FOR BEING A LOUT -- Riding high in the polls, but dogged by new allegations of sexual harassment, GOP candidate for Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger apologized for being a crude lout towards women.
The superstar actor, who has been dogged throughout the recall campaign over allegations about sexist attitudes toward women, said that although many of the stories were politically motivated, "where there is smoke there is fire."

"Yes, I have behaved badly some times, yes it is true that I was on rowdy movie sets ... and I have done things I thought were playful that now I recognize that I have offended people," Schwarzenegger told a rally in San Diego to kick off a four-day bus tour of the state.

"I want to say to them that I am deeply sorry about that, and I apologize because that is not what I was trying to do. When I am governor I will prove to women that I will be a champion for women. I hope you will give me the chance to prove this."
I wonder what his wife Maria Shriver thinks of all this. And I wonder if conservatives, who blamed Hillary Clinton for staying with her husband despite infidelities, will do the same to Ms Shriver.

Fat chance.

THE BUSH ECONOMY -- Filings for state unemployment insurance rose by 13,000 last week to almost 400,000 total.

RUSH LIMBAUGH: PILL-POPPER? -- Right-wing talk radio king Rush Limbaugh is under investigation for allegedly buying thousands of dollars worth of addictive prescription painkillers from a black market drug ring. Mr Limbaugh was turned in by his former housekeeper, Wilma Cline, who says she was his intermediary with the drug ring for years.
Cline told the [National] Enquirer she went to prosecutors with information about Limbaugh and others after four years of drug deals that included clandestine handoffs in a Denny's parking lot.

She said she wore a wire during her last two deliveries to the conservative commentator and gave the tapes to authorities.

She also gave the Enquirer a ledger documenting how many pills she claimed to have bought for him - 4,350 in one 47-day period - and E-mails she claimed Limbaugh sent her.

In one missive, Limbaugh pushed Cline to get more "little blues" - code for OxyContin, the powerful narcotic nicknamed hillbilly heroin, she said.

"You know how this stuff works ... the more you get used to, the more it takes," the May 2002 E-mail reads. "But I will try and cut down to help out."
An interesting developing story. Mr Limbaugh has shown little pity for drug addicts during his radio rants on the subject. Let's see how this one goes and if there is any meat to the story.

RUSH LIMBAUGH RESIGNS... from the ESPN football show that hired him to be the "voice of the average fan." [What Mr Limbaugh has in common with the average fan is another matter.] Anyway, see my comments on the matter.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

AMERICANS WANT WH LEAK INVESTIGATED -- Most Americans think the Plame affair is a serious matter and think someone in the White House broke the law by leaking Ms. Plame's identity to Robert Novak, according to a new Washington Post/ABC News poll. Support for these beliefs crossed party lines, as did the notion that a special prosecutor should be named to investigate the matter, rather than John Ashcroft's Justice Department.

RUSH LIMBAUGH IS AN IDIOT -- Rush Limbaugh does not have a very high opinion of Philadelphia Eagles QB Donovan McNabb. Last Sunday, Mr. Limbaugh, who now works as an "analyst" on the ESPN Sunday football show, in addition to his regular gig delivering three-hour political monologues to an audience of "dittoheads" five days a week, also thinks "the media" [translation: evil liberals who want Negroes and lesbians to take over the world] has been unfairly promoting Donovan McNabb because of the color of his skin.

"I don't think he's [McNabb] been that good from the get-go. I think what we've had here is a little social concern in the NFL. The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well," Mr. Limbaugh said, adding that he also thinks the media want black coaches to do well. "There is a little hope invested in McNabb and he got a lot of credit for the performance of this team that he didn't deserve. The defense carried this team."

Now, Mr. Limbaugh is perfectly entitled to his views. So am I. And unlike his show, this is a place where differing opinions may be offered. So here is mine: Rush Limbaugh is an idiot.

Philadelphia Eagles Offensive Coordinator Brad Childress called Mr. Limbaugh's remarks "preposterous." I think that's a very polite word to use to describe the verbal excrement spilling out of Mr. Limbaugh's fat piehole.

The NFL is all about winning. Quarterbacks who win get jobs. Those who do not lose them. The same goes for coaches. If winning is the measure of a quarterback then Donovan McNabb is one of the best. McNabb has led his team to the playoffs the last three years and to the NFC Championship game the last two years. His record in the playoffs is 4-3 and his four playoff victories are the most by any quarterback in Eagles history. [Remember that McNabb is still only 26 years old.] Among active starting quarterbacks with at least 45 starts, McNabb is tied for third with a .646 winning percentage.

Of course, Mr. Limbaugh would say it is all the defense. McNabb's own numbers, however, tell a very different story. McNabb also ranks fourth on the NFL's all-time list in TD:INT ratio (1.87) and third in interception percentage (2.31). Perhaps that is why McNabb's teammates voted him the team MVP in 2000 and 2001. Perhaps that is why McNabb finished second in MVP voting a few years ago. McNabb has also appeared in the last three Pro Bowl games, a measure of the respect he has earned from his fellow NFL players, not some fictional "liberal media." And Donovan McNabb has done all this without having a star wide receiver or running back to help him out.

Players who perform well in nationally televised games on primetime television tend to get more attention and McNabb has been a star of stars in those games. In the eight games McNabb has started during primetime television hours, including one playoff game, his record is 8-0. And it wasn't all the defense either. In those eight games, McNabb completed 157 of 254 passes for 1794 yards, 13 TD and only 3 interceptions. In addition, McNabb also ran for 346 yards and two TD in those eight games. In other words, McNabb accounted for 15 TD and only two interceptions in those eight games. Those are the numbers of a true star, Mr. Limbaugh, not an affirmative action star. For crying out loud, we're talking about a man who once threw four touchdown passes in a game last year while playing on a broken ankle! This one isn't even close, people--it is an open-and-shut case.

Those are the facts. I've got the facts. What does Mr. Limbaugh have? Well, not the facts, that's for sure. Mr. Limbaugh offered no facts when he asserted that Donovan McNabb is a creation of the so-called liberal media. All Mr. Limbaugh offered was his opinion. Well, his opinion may be all it takes on his radio show--where those with differing views are cut off--but in the big wide sports we live in now, intelligent commentators are [normally] expected to have some facts on their side. This is not the standards mistake one would expect of someone like Mr. Limbaugh. [For example, he recently said the St. Louis Rams had never made a Super Bowl under Mike Martz, ignoring the Rams-Patriots Super Bowl of January 2002.] Mr. Limbaugh condemned the media and Donovan McNabb and all black head coaches--and he used the volatile subject of race to do it. And, as usual, he did it without offering any facts at all. That's why Rush Limbaugh is an idiot.

So Rush Limbaugh is an idiot. But is he a racist? Well, consider the following and make your own judgments:

-- When Salvador Garcia, a Mexican, won the 1991 New York City Marathon, Mr. Limbaugh suggested he won because "an immigration agent chased him for the last 10 miles."
-- Mr. Limbaugh told an African-American radio-show caller, "take that bone out of your nose and call me back."
-- Mr. Limbaugh said "the NAACP should have riot rehearsal. They should get a liquor store and practice robberies."
-- In response to a caller who said the country should hear African-American voices, Mr. Limbaugh replied: "they are 12 percent of the population. Who the hell cares?"
-- Mr. Limbaugh played the Jeffersons theme whenever discussing Carol Mosley-Braun, the first African-American woman elected to the U.S. Senate.
-- Mr. Limbaugh said "have you ever noticed how all composite pictures of wanted criminals resemble Jesse Jackson?"
[Souce: Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, June 7, 2000. See]

So, is Mr. Limbaugh a racist? Well, I won't presume to know the man's mind, but I sure do see a pattern developing in those remarks. And throw in what he said about Donovan McNabb and...well, you know where I'm going with it.

Mr. Limbaugh is not alone in piling on Donovan McNabb during the Eagles' 0-2 start to the 2003 season, but he is, to my knowledge, the first to bring race into the matter. It is true that McNabb did not play well in those two games, but neither did the defense. The Buccaneers and the Patriots combined to score 48 points in those games. In other words, the Eagles have lost because the entire team has not played well. Last week in Buffalo against the Bills, McNabb played well and so did the defense. Result: the Eagles won. During the two-game losing streak, McNabb did what quarterbacks are expected to do: he took responsibility for everything---even the stuff that wasn't his fault. He never expected to be called a quota hire, though. That's because he's never dealt with Rush Limbaugh before.

The Eagles quarterback is bemused and saddened by the entire matter. "It's sad that you've got to go to skin color. I thought we were through with that whole deal," McNabb told the Philadelphia Daily News.

Sorry, Donovan, we're not through with it. Not while people like Rush Limbaugh are still around.

"IT SICKENS ME" -- So sayeth Larry Johnson, a Republican and former counter-terrorism official with the CIA and State Department. He spoke last night on the PBS "NewsHour." Here's a bit of it...
This not an alleged abuse. This is a confirmed abuse. I worked with this woman. She started training with me. She has been under cover for three decades. She is not as Bob Novak suggested a "CIA analyst." Given that, i was a CIA analyst for 4 years. I was under cover. I could not divulge to my family outside of my wife that I worked for the CIA unti I left the Intelligence Agency on Sept. 30, 1989. At that point I could admit it. The fact that she was under cover for three decades and that has been divulged is outrageous. She was put undercover for certain reasons. One, she works in an area where people she works with overseas could be compromised...

For these journalists to argue that this is no big deal... and if I hear another Republican operative suggesting that, well, this was just an analyst. Fine. Let them go undercover. Let's put them go overseas. Let's out them and see how they like it...

I say this as a registered Republican. I am on record giving contributions to the George Bush campaign. This is not about partisan politics. This is about a betrayal, a political smear, of an individual who had no relevance to the story. Publishing her name in that story added nothing to it because the entire intent was, correctly as Amb. Wilson noted, to intimidate, to suggest taht there was some impropriety that somehow his wife was in a decision-making position to influence his ability to go over and savage a stupid policy, an erroneous policy, and frankly what was a false policy of suggesting that there was nuclear material in Iraq that required this war. This was about a political attack. To pretend it was something else, to get into this parsing of words.

I tell you, it sickens me to be a Republican to see this.
As a Democrat--hell, as an American, it sickens me, too. People have to go to prison for this.

GOP LEADER SAYS IT IS "WORSE THAN WATERGATE" -- Yep, that's what Ed Gillespie said on MSNBC's "Hardball" program.
Hardball (MSNBC - 9/30/03):

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Don't you think it's more serious than Watergate, when you think about it?

RNC CHAIRMAN ED GILLESPIE: I think if the allegation is true, to reveal the identity of an undercover CIA operative -- it's abhorrent, and it should be a crime, and it is a crime.

CHRIS MATTHEWS: It'd be worse than Watergate, wouldn't it?

GILLESPIE: It's -- Yeah, I suppose in terms of the real world implications of it. It's not just politics.
Thanks to Atrios.

4 MORE DEAD AMERICANS IN IRAQ -- The agony is endless.

L'AFFAIRE PLAME -- Julian Borger of The Guardian has been all over the Plame affair and he is at it again with this article about how the growing scandal could affect Mr Bush politically.

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

BELTWAY BANDIT POWER POLL: WEEK TWO -- The BB Power Poll is a bit more stable at the top this week, but plenty of exciting movement in the middle of the pack. Read on...

01. Kansas City Chiefs [4-0]: RS Dante Hall is the most exciting football player in the world right now. [No change]

02. Tampa Bay Buccaneers [3-1]: If the Bucs are going to win, I prefer they do it without me having to watch Warren Sapp shake his prodigious moneymaker. Therefore, I approved of their most recent victory. [No change]

03. Indianapolis Colts [4-0]: Whoo, doggie! Do these guys look great or what? Tony Dungy would never let his offense play in Tampa, but he inherited a great quarterback and wideout in Indy and appears content to leave them alone. Meanwhile, he has built an excellent defense very quickly. Look out for these guys. [+1]

04. Seattle Seahawks[3-0]: Mike Holmgren spent bye week exchanging tips with Dave Wannstedt on the proper maintenance of a grabowski mustache. [-1]

05. Denver Broncos [4-0]: A tough win over the Lions without Clinton Portis shows just how much the young tailback means to his team. The Broncos still have not faced a good team, though. [No change]

06. Tennessee Titans [3-1]: Courageous QB Steve McNair shreds defenses, even with 300-pound linemen hanging on to him. The Titans are officially back! [+2]

07. Minnesota Vikings [4-0]: No Daunte? No problem! Why didn't Gus ever play that well for his other teams? [+3]

08. Miami Dolphins [2-1]: Rested and healthy Dolphins prepare for the New York Giants, who are similarly rested and healthy. Beating the Giants in the Meadowlands would be a big statement win for Dave Wannstedt's crew. [-1]

09. Carolina Panthers [4-0]: Stephen Davis is dominating defenses and looks like an MVP finalist. [+2]

10. New York Giants [2-1]: Jim Fassel spent bye week thinking up cool public promises he could make to solidify his rep as a tough guy. [+3]

11. Buffalo Bills [2-2]: Hmmm. Offense has been dominated two weeks in a row. What happened to these guys and when will we see the fun Bills again? [-4]

12. St Louis Rams [2-2]: They threw 42 times, but ran 41 times? Now, that's calling a game like an NFL coach, Mr Martz. Keep it up and your guys might just have a chance. Like most passers, Marc Bulger works best with a running game. [+5]

13. Washington Redskins [3-1]: They've been making a slow, but steady climb up the hR Power Poll since opening day by taking advantage of injured opponents. Well, that's better than not taking advantage of injured opponents. [+3]

14. Green Bay Packers [2-2]: Exorcised the ghosts of that awful loss to Arizona by eviscerating the Bears in Chicago on national television. This is still a Jeckyll and Hyde team, though. If the running game is working they can score on anyone. If it is not, Favre does not have the wideouts to win through the air anymore. [+5]

15. New England Patriots [2-2]: Just won't be a good team until they get healthy again. Bill Belichick is doing a great job just keeping them competitive. [-6]

16. Philadelphia Eagles [1-2]: Their secondary is battered and missing its best players, but Donovan McNabb found his touch and a few receivers on Sunday. If these guys are back, everyone else better look out. [+4]

17. Baltimore Ravens [2-2]: If there is such a thing as a quality loss, the Ravens had one on Sunday against the Chiefs. No one has played the Kansas City offense half as well as the Ravens did this year, but RS Dante Hall got 'em. Be of good cheer, Ravens. You're just another in a long line of Dante Hall victims. [-2]

18. Pittsburgh Steelers [2-2]: A Steelers team that does not run the ball? They're not going to win many games that way. Lucky for them they play in the AFC North and don't have to be good to win the division. [-6]

19. Oakland Raiders [2-2]: Two very unimpressive victories over the Bengals and the Chargers leave me doubting Oakland even more than their losses to good teams. [-5]

20. Dallas Cowboys [2-1]: Well, well, well. What do you know? The Cowboys with a winning record! Let's see how long they can keep it that way. [+1]

21. San Francisco 49ers [1-3]: Terrell Owens' disgraceful tirade is a microcosm of what this team is going through. Owens will be playing somewhere else next year and the team will probably be pulled apart. The process has already begun. [-3]

22. Houston Texans [2-2]: Dom Capers has taken his team from the basement almost to respectability. [+3]

23. Cincinnati Bengals [1-3]: A good road win in Cleveland is the natural progression for a team that is playing tough, close games this year. Marvin Lewis' greatest task is coming along nicely. [+7]

24. Cleveland Browns [1-3]: The heat is back on big-time. Nothing angers Browns fans more than a loss to hated Cincinnati. [-2]

25. New Orleans Saints [1-3]: A disgraceful blowout loss at home confirms what most everyone already suspected: this team has no heart. A new head coach will be needed. A new starting quarterback might also be needed. An entirely different defense, too. [-2]

26. Atlanta Falcons [1-3]: The last three weeks have made it clear that Doug Johnson belongs on the sideline. At the rate the Falcons are losing games, though, Michael Vick might not return in time to save the season. [-2]

27. Arizona Cardinals [1-3]: St. Louis fans must have really enjoyed watching their new team humiliate their old team. Arizona fans must have…well, there are no Arizona fans now, are there? [-1]

28. Detroit Lions [1-3]: Hung tough with the Broncos for a while but stupid mistakes prove to Mariucci that he still has plenty of work to do with the Kittens. [No change]

29. New York Jets [0-4]: Losing to the Redskins was bad enough. Losing to The Tuna and his Cowboys must be torture. Owner Woody Johnson needs to leave Head Coach Herman Edwards alone, though. There are no playmakers on this team and the linebackers are all on their last legs. [-2]

30. Jacksonville Jaguars [0-4]: A tough first start for QB Byron Leftwich, but that's how it goes for everyone. Mark my words, though: This guy is the next Dan Marino. Note to the Chicago Bears: Starting the kid is what a smart coach does when his team has no hope. [-1]

31. San Diego Chargers [0-4]: They had a mediocre Raiders team down in the fourth quarter and let it slip away. [No change]

32. Chicago Bears [0-3]: The stadium looks weird and the team looks dreadful. Nobody on that defense is playing the run at all right now. Dick Jauron is another coach in the walking dead category. Why don't they start Rex Grossman now? What are they waiting for, a winning streak? [No change]

A RECORD OF ABUSE AND INIMIDATION -- Below are some examples of how the Bush regime treats those with the temerity to speak the truth about this administration of fools.LINDSEY FIRED FOR TELLING THE TRUTH ABOUT COSTS

“Top White House adviser Larry Lindsey [was fired] when he told a newspaper that an Iraq war could cost $200 billion.”
--Christian Science Monitor, 12/17/02


“General Anthony Zinni, a retired Marine general who was Bush's Middle East mediator, angered the White House when he told a foreign policy forum in October that Bush had far more pressing foreign policy priorities than Iraq and suggested there could be a prolonged, difficult aftermath to a war. He was not reappointed as Mideast envoy.”
--Associated Press, 7/27/03


“None of us that wear this uniform are free to say anything disparaging about the secretary of defense, or the president of the United States. Whatever action may be taken, whether it's a verbal reprimand or something more stringent, is up to the commanders on the scene."
--Gen. John Abizaid, commenting after soldiers in Iraq criticized the Bush Administration for misleading them, 7/16/03


“AWhite House operative alerted cyber-gossip Matt Drudge to the fact that [ABC News correspondent Jeffrey] Kofman is not only openly gay, he's Canadian. Drudge said he was unaware of the ABC story until ‘someone from the White House communications shop tipped me to it’…White House press secretary Scott McClellan tried to be nonchalant, indicating that he wasn't planning an investigation of the incident.”
–-Washington Post, 7/18/03 and 7/20/03


Despite the fact that it appears he was probably accurate, “Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz criticized the Army's chief of staff, Gen. Eric Shinseki, after Shinseki told Congress in February that the occupation could require ‘several hundred thousand troops.’ Wolfowitz called Shinseki's estimate ‘wildly off the mark.’”
--USA Today, 6/3/03


Despite the CIA having made advance objections to the White House about the false Iraq-Nuclear claim, “President Bush and his national security adviser yesterday placed full responsibility on the Central Intelligence Agency for the inclusion in this year's State of the Union address of questionable allegations that Iraq's Saddam Hussein was trying to buy nuclear weapons.”
--Washington Post, 7/12/03 and 7/14/03


According to government sources, “Administration officials leaked the name of an undercover CIA officer to a journalist after her husband, former U.S. ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, publicly challenged President Bush's claim that Iraq had tried to buy uranium ore from Africa. ‘Clearly, it was meant purely and simply for revenge,’ a senior official said of the alleged leak.”
--Washington Post, 9/28/03

My thanks to the good people Center for American Progress.



"The president does have very deep concerns about anything that would be inappropriately leaked that could in any way endanger America's ability to gather intelligence information, and even that could harm our ability to maintain sources and methods and anything that could interfere with America's ability to fight the war on terrorism."
--White House spokesman Ari Fleischer, 6/21/02


"I have nothing but contempt and anger for those who betray the trust by exposing the names of our sources. They are, in my view, the most insidious of traitors."
--President George H.W. Bush, 4/26/99


"Leaks put people's lives at risk. And I think that the people in any branch of government have an obligation to manage their mouths in a way that does not put people's lives at risk. Folks that leak and put people's lives at risk ought to be in jail."
--Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, 2/13/03


"The Congress has carefully drafted this bill so that it focuses only on those who would transgress the bounds of decency; not those who would exercise their legitimate right of dissent. This carefully drawn act recognizes that the revelation of the names of secret agents adds
nothing to legitimate public debate over intelligence policy."
--President Ronald Reagan, 6/23/82, upon signing legislation
criminalizing the exposing of undercover intelligence agents


"Leaks of classified information do substantial damage to the security interests of the nation."
--Attorney General John Ashcroft, 12/11/01> , upon creating a
task force to investigate government leaks


"You know, a single allegation can be most worthy of a special prosecutor. If you're abusing government property, if you're abusing your status in office, it can be a single fact that makes the difference on that."
--John Ashcroft, 10/4/97, CNN Evans and NOVAK

"President George W. Bush has no plans to ask his staff members whether they played a role in revealing the name of an undercover CIA officer."
--Washington Post, 9/29/03