Saturday, October 30, 2004

Why I'm voting against Bush Tuesday

He has shown disrespect for the Constitution, including:

  • Nominating a running mate from the same state as him. Technically, Cheney's Wyoming citizenship came before he was sworn in, but the concept behind having pres & veep from 2 different states (12th Amendment) is to avoid undue influence of any one region. In other words, to avoid the Big Oil ticket we currently have.
  • The sneek & peek provision of the Patriot Act violates the unreasonable search and seizure provision of the 4th Amendment.
  • The Free Speech Zones violate the right to peaceably assemble, granted in the 1st Amendment.
  • Holding Jose Padilla, an American citizen, captured on U.S. soil, for an indefinite time violates his right to a speedy and public trial, as granted in the 6th Amendment. It also deprives him of his liberty, without due process of law, noted in the 5th.
  • The Patriot Act's provision gagging librarians from telling people whether the FBI has requested their library records violates the librarians' free speech rights, granted in the 1st.

Now some will point out that Lincoln suspended habeus corpus during a time of constitutional crisis. Ex Parte Milligan, 1866, upholds the right to do so, but only in areas in which martial law has been declared. To date, Bush has not declared martial law as a response to the 9/11 attacks.

Bush also adopted a policy of pre-emptive war, and then said, essentially, that the burden of proof was on the country we invaded.

The strategic goal of re-shaping the Middle East has been hampered, not helped, by the Iraq war. NPR's recent series, "Bordering on Instability", shows that Iraq's neighbors have used the Iraq war to say that now is not the time to implement reforms. Once Iraq settles down, those governments say, then they will revisit planned reforms. Not only that, but Syrians have been radicalized by the notion that they are next on the list.

The execution of the post-combat phase of the war has been abysmal. The dead-enders that Rumsfeld spoke of in the summer of 2003 are still there, with the most recent estimates coming to about 7,000 - 8,000 insurgents with an almost unlimited supply of cash. The Bush administration ignored a great deal of advice from military and state department professionals about how to handle the postwar phase.

Bush not only went the Iraq deal mostly alone, but his administration publicy berated traditional allies in doing so. (Rumsfeld linked Germany to Libya and Cuba, and also knocked Germany and France as "Old Europe".)

Afghanistan has passed Columbia as the world's largest drug producer.

Bin Laden and Zarqawi are still at large.

Bush has been the most fiscally irresponsible president of my lifetime, cutting revenue while increasing spending, both military and non-military.

Instead of fixing the Kyoto treaty, he completely abandoned it.

Bush opposed the creation of the 9/11 Commission.

Anti-Americanism in the Arab world is at an all-time high, somewhere in the 90's, depending on which poll you look at.

Bush has not used America's leverage to push for some resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. That is the foremost issue in the minds of Arabs when it comes to anti-American feelings.

A few years after Clinton declared the Era of Big Government was over, Bush expanded entitlements, despite the fact that the liabilities owed to the Baby Boomers are about due. He also created the Department of Homeland Security, which remarkably does not encompass any intelligence agencies. Actually, I'm not sure exactly what the department does outside of tracking down runaway Texas legislators, telling Americans to buy duct tape, and issuing color alerts, which will never rise to red or drop to green.

A second term would be the end of legalized abortions. I've known people who've had them, and they've never been happy about it. However, I think more people will die if it is outlawed.

Bush scoffed at free markets with his steel tariff.

Russia is by all appearances, further from democracy than 4 years ago.

North Korea has probably gone nuclear.

I am not worried about the spending plans Kerry has proposed. He'll have a Republican Congress, and a huge deficit to keep him from enacting much of those programs. He would have to spend 4 years trying to clean up Bush's mess. And if he screws it up, I'll vote him out in '08. But he deserves a crack at it.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Bad timing

BUSH EVENT IN NEW HAMPSHIRE: Event workers had been told to fire off confetti pods when Bush said, 'God Bless'... his normal closing line. But 5 minutes before the end of his speech, Bush offered a "God Bless" to Arlene Howard, mother of George Howard a Port Authority of New York/New Jersey Police Officer killed in the World Trade Center... BLAM!!!!! Everyone first ducked -- hard -- then looked up to see confetti falling. Bush looked momentarily stunned, then plain unhappy, then just went on with his speech as the confetti rained to the floor of the Verizon Wireless Arena...

Bad News Dogs Bush As Election Nears

Bad News Dogs Bush As Election Nears

1. FBI has begun investigating whether the Pentagon improperly awarded no-bid military contracts to Halliburton.

2. 400 tons of missing explosives. giuliani blames the troops.

3. A new survey of deaths in Iraqi households estimates that as many as 100,000 more people may have died throughout the country in the 18 months since the U.S.-led invasion than would be expected based on the death rate before the war.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Is this some sort of elaborate October surprise?

No wonder sensitive parts of Iraq looked cleaner than a licked pussycat.

This Washington Times piece popped up as the Drudge lead today. If half of it is true, then it nullifies Kerry’s core arguments…I mean complaints…against Bush’s strategy and tactics. First, it destroys Kerry’s credibility when it comes to getting “allies” on board when you consider that while we were diplomizin’ with them, they were plotting with Hussein, aiding him to cover their own interests. That we wrangled 1441 out of them is proof of some good steadfast diplomacy on the part of Bush and Powell. That Russia never threatened a veto is remarkable. But expecting them to join in on the liberation was folly. Lesson for Kerry: countries have national interests. That is why his global test nonplussed so many folks. All politics is local.

I also think this incident shows Bush as a deft, cautious and able diplomat. In three years of war, he has done a good job maintaining the public face of diplomacy – he’s been bold, defiant and even demanding, but he’s also shown respect to every leader within the community of nations. When Chirac was mouthing off and telling other leaders and nations that they missed an opportunity to shut up, etc. – Bush consistently showed respect – acknowledging differences in a vague sense, but keeping the atmosphere positive. Some things need greasing. But in the same way that you can’t get blood from a stone, you can’t get the French government to support liberty. That we cooperate with main four antagonistic powers at all is a testament to Bush’s efforts. He’s been professional, courteous and aggressive, – I would dare say like a cowboy. And even when he knows that the antagonist powers are corrupt and double dealing, he likewise knows when to keep his mouth shut. No simple task for a gaffe prone simpleton, right? Meanwhile, Kerry has fallen into Chiracs trap. Kerry can’t make his point about allies until he insults our allies. He can be overheard calling the president a liar and a cheat & he lashes out at veterans that contest his Vietnam record. And he’s supposed to be the smart one! That’s just bad public diplomacy. His private diplomay? I haven’t the slightest clue. He apparently thinks we are so dumb he needn’t bother explaining them to us.

As for the October surprise bit…consider: The NYTimes breaks the missing weapons story ahead of CBS, who wanted to sit on it until right before the election; the story directly says that the explosives were taken since the occupation; Kerry seizes on the story and blasts angrily at Bush for not doing more to safeguard these sites; somewhere in between, NBC says that they were embedded with the 101st when they got to the facility and there was nothing there then, which is at odds with the NYTimes version; Bush does not counter-attack for a whole campaigning day. Rope-a-dope? How did the NYTimes or CBS get the story? Why was this suddenly a story? Kerry continues the attack the next day; Bush retaliates, telling Kerry he doesn’t know what he’s talking about and that is under investigation; now this story. If it has legs and can make it way to the kitchen table in homes everywhere, it could be devastating for Kerry. The play books might call it judo surprise. I’m not really a Rove conspiracy theorist – but the above thought crossed my mind.

Tag

Bush goes after Kerry for recklessly embracing the missing weapons cache story:

from Drudge

"After repeatedly calling Iraq the wrong war, and a diversion, Senator Kerry this week seemed shocked to learn that Iraq is a dangerous place, full of dangerous weapons..."

"If Senator Kerry had his way... Saddam Hussein would still be in power. He would control those all of those weapons and explosives and could share them with his terrorist friends. Now the senator is making wild charges about missing explosives, when his top foreign policy adviser admits, quote, 'We do not know the facts.' Think about that: The senator is denigrating the actions of our troops and commanders in the field without knowing the facts..."

"Our military is now investigating a number of possible scenarios, including that the explosives may have been moved before our troops even arrived at the site. This investigation is important and it's ongoing. And a political candidate who jumps to conclusions without knowing the facts is not a person you want as your commander in chief."

The newspaper endorsement breakdown

Kerry has picked up more papers than Bush, totaling a circulation of 17.5 million represented by newspapers endorsing Kerry, versus the 11.5 million endorsed by Bush. Kerry, to date, has more switches, too - papers that picked Bush in 2000, versus the switches of papers who endorsed Gore last time but are endorsing Bush this time.

It's not votes delivered, but some people may be swayed.

Anti-Americanism

Can we really be eliminating more terrorists than are being created when the situation in Iraq has come to this:

"They call American soldiers 'The Jews,' as in, 'Don't go down that street, the Jews set up a roadblock.' " - Scott Pelley of CBS News's "60 Minutes"

Republican women against Bush

From The Observer. Interestingly, one of the women is Mary Lou Halliburton, of the family who founded the oil company. She also worked in the Nixon White House.

Also in the story:
"Judith Allen, another lifelong Republican, has no reticence. This former Superior Court clerk is a member of Republicans for Kerry, which contributes funds to the Democrats.

'I just do not have the sense that Bush is bright. And I'm embarrassed to say that about our President,' she said."

New Yorker Magazine endorses candidate for president for the first time in 80 years.

They endorsed Kerry.

"The damage visited upon America, and upon America’s standing in the world, by the Bush Administration’s reckless mishandling of the public trust will not easily be undone. And for many voters the desire to see the damage arrested is reason enough to vote for John Kerry. "

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

some reasons why we need a change

100 facts. anyone but bush.

Round up the usual suspects

What's a scandal these days with out CBS involved? Apparently 60 Minutes had planned to run the weapons cache story on Halloween. Meanwhile, as of today, Kerry is still using it on the stump.

More on the NYTimes weapons cache story

I thought the biggest story the blogosphere would gnaw on this week was going to be the Kerry claim to have met with the whole security council in Cambodia. But it now seems like they are feeding on the NYTimes weapons cache story.

Monday, October 25, 2004

At least we had enough troops

to keep this from happening. Oh, wait. Nevermind.

But hey, freedom is winning.

What did Mrs. Edwards mean?

From a recent event covered on C-SPAN

Supporter: Kerry's going to take PA.

Liz Edwards: I know that.

Supporter: I'm just worried there's going to be riots afterwards.

Liz Edwards: Uh.....well...not if we win.

Apparently she's picking up on the same desperation of the left that RCP comments on. (Make sure to click on the "LIAR" link as it epitomizes the Democrat response to the Swiftvets) Do we want a hysterical party in power?

The Guardian Apologizes

The Guardian is apologizing for a recent Bush bashing column calling for the assassination of our leader. When will they apologize for their Bush bashing interview with Jimmy Carter?

Bunker Busting Nukes & Kerry's Opposition to Them

After reading this excellent story my main complaint about Bush was: he's only spending how much on them? Kerry can say he is strong on national security, but he simply isn't.

Kerry is a dangerous alternative

Wrong on the cold war, wrong in Central America & wrong on terrorism. An interesting split in the Wilsonian worldview is discussed in this article.

flashback: accurate outcomes over iraq

"Why We Didn't Remove Saddam" --George Bush [Sr.] and Brent Scowcroft (1998)

"Had we gone the invasion route, the U.S. could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land. It would have been a dramatically different--and perhaps barren--outcome."


"Top 10 Reasons Not to 'Do' Iraq" --from the cato institute (2002)

"Invading and occupying Iraq would distract the U.S. government from the vital task of destroying an enemy that has actually attacked the U.S. homeland--al Qaeda."

"Because the United States would probably be faced with a long occupation of Iraq to stabilize the country after the invasion, the cost is likely to be higher this time around. And unlike the Gulf War, no financial support from other nations can be expected to defray the costs."

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Just how soon are those Iraqi security forces supposed to come online?

If there are 100,000 trained, cut that number by 50, give or take. Not to mention the deterrent message this sends. But hey, freedom is winning.

Orlando Sentinel endorses Kerry

First Democrat they've endorsed in 40 years.

"Four years ago, the Orlando Sentinel endorsed Republican George W. Bush for president based on our trust in him to unite America. We expected him to forge bipartisan solutions to problems while keeping this nation secure and fiscally sound.

This president has utterly failed to fulfill our expectations."

U.S. Finishes A 'Strong Second' In Iraq War

"But remember that this was just one war," Rumsfeld added. "We'll get 'em next time."

Friday, October 22, 2004

Hayes on the Levin Report

Apparently it was piss poor.

The New Republic endorses Kerry

From their latest issue:

"The president's war on terrorism, which initially offered a striking
contrast to his special interest-driven domestic agenda, has come to resemble
it. The common thread is ideological certainty untroubled by empirical evidence,
intellectual curiosity, or open debate. The ideology that guides this
president's war on terrorism is more appealing than the corporate cronyism that
guides his domestic policy. But it has been pursued with the same sectarian,
thuggish, and ultimately self-defeating spirit. You cannot lead the world
without listening to it. You cannot make the Middle East more democratic while
making it more anti-American."

Three of Four Bush Supporters Still Believe in Iraqi WMD, al Qaeda Ties

from this poll: "Seventy-five percent of Bush supporters said they believed that Iraq was providing “substantial” support to Al Qaeda, with 20 percent asserting that Iraq was directly involved in the 9/11 attacks on New York and the Pentagon. Sixty-three percent of Bush supporters even believed that the clear evidence of such support has actually been found, and 60 percent believe that “most experts” have reached the same conclusion."

Curious article about bin Laden

from the Arizona Daily Star (hat time to the Kerry Spot)

Kerry's secret bargaining chip to bring more allies to our side?

Krauthammer thinks he means to Sell out Israel.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Austin Bay reports

The Trials and Tribulations of Zarqwai

AT WAR WITH WHAT OR WHOM?

wow. sensible.

"But we conquered Afghanistan and caught Saddam Hussein, who presumably will eventually be hanged, but nothing much has happened to lower the intensity of our rhetoric -- we have become warriors through and through. The only thing that makes this plausible is that a fight rages on in Iraq. Although we conquered Baghdad, we have not quelled the anti-Americans. On top of which, we came to lose sight of just what it is that has provoked them to anti-Americanism."

the case against bush

anyone but bush

Stephen Hayes on Carl Levin

here

Kerry didn't seem to have a problem with how Tora Bora was handled back in 2001

From Mickey Kaus.

I'd always figured Kerry was on relatively strong ground criticizing the "outsourced" approach at Tora Bora because he must have criticized it at the time. But Tom Maguire of JustOneMinute has come up with a transcript of a "Larry King Live" broadcast on Dec. 14, 2001, during the month-long battle, in which (responding to a question about why we weren't up in the caves using "napalm or flamethrowers"**) Kerry appears to actually endorse a play-it-safe, minimize-U.S.-casualties approach:

"But for the moment, what we are doing, I think, is having its impact and it is the best way to protect our troops and sort of minimalize the proximity, if you will. I think we have been doing this pretty effectively and we should continue to do it that way."

Perhaps Kerry was only referring here to the failure to use flamethrowers (though his language can just as easily be read more broadly). But earlier in the same interview-- in response to the question "how goes it so far in Afghanistan, in your opinion?"-- Kerry generally praises the U.S.'s strategy, which even as he spoke was relying heavily on proxies:

"I think we have been smart, I think the administration leadership has done it well and we are on right track."

Kerry certainly isn't critical of the "outsourcing." Nor was this interview at the beginning of the Tora Bora seige, when its contours were unclear. It was in the battle's final days, more than a week after bin Laden (by some accounts) had already escaped, at a time when even Donald Rumsfeld was having public doubts about our likely success. ... P.S.: If anyone has evidence of real-time Kerry criticism of the Tora Bora strategy (which may well exist) I'll be glad to reference it. Update: Silence. ...

After hearing his endless drone about flu vaccines, outsourcing, allies and Tora Bora, I bet Kerry would give his left nut for a real talking point.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Bordering on instability

From NPR's series. It's an interesting examination of how the Iraq invasion and the Bush administration's laissez-faire approach to the Israeli-Palistinian issue have shaped perceptions of America in the Middle East. So far, Syria, Jordan and Kuwait. The series continues through the week.

Brad Whitford approved this ad.

Here.

Some reforms in Morocco and Egypt

This is slightly old news but worth mentioning. It is welcome.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Bush in New Jersey

Bush had a solid speech in New Jersey today. He's all over Kerry's world view:

THE PRESIDENT: This kind of September the 10th attitude is no way to protect our country. (Applause.) The war on terror is a real war, with deadly enemies, not simply a police operation. In an era of weapons of mass destruction, waiting for threats to arrive at our doorsteps is to invite disaster. Tyrants and terrorists will not give us polite notice before they attack our country. As long as I'm the Commander-in-Chief, I will confront dangers abroad so we do not have to face them here at home.

The case of one terrorist shows what is at stake. The terrorist leader we face in Iraq today, the one responsible for beheading American hostages, the one responsible for many of the car bombings and attacks against Iraq is a man named Zarqawi. Before September the 11th, Zarqawi ran a camp in Afghanistan that trained terrorists in the use of explosives and poisons, until coalition forces destroyed that camp. (Applause.) He fled to Saddam Hussein's Iraq, where he received medical care and set up operations with some two dozen terrorist associates. He operated in Baghdad and worked with associates in northern Iraq, who ran camps to train terrorists, and conducted chemical and biological experiments, until coalition forces arrived and ended those operations. (Applause.) With nowhere to operate openly, Zarqawi has gone underground and is making a stand in Iraq.

Here, the difference between my opponent and me is very clear. Senator Kerry believes that fighting Zarqawi and other terrorists in Iraq is a "diversion" from the war on terror. I believe that fighting and defeating these killers in Iraq is a central commitment in the war on terror. (Applause.)

If Zarqawi and his associates were not busy fighting American forces in Iraq, does Senator Kerry think they would be leading productive and peaceful lives? (Laughter.) Clearly, these killers would be plotting and acting to murder innocent civilians in free nations, including our own. By facing these terrorists far away, our military is making the United States of America more secure.

I liked this endorsement from Captain Ed, which crystallized my thoughts. The NYTimes second Kerry endorsement could not tempt me to stray. Finally, since the Austrailian re-election of John Howard failed to find headline space, here's Mark Stein on the subject.

David Zucker

has a funny ad

Friday, October 15, 2004

Krauthammer on Edward's cure promises

Snake oil

Koizumi voices support for Bush

I don't know how wise it is for Koizumi to say anything because of the implications of a Kerry victory, but his comment is welcome just the same.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Bush, bad steward of the land

Environment worsened under Bush in many key areas, data show:

"Over the past 30 years, the nation's air and water have become dramatically cleaner, but the steady improvement has stalled or gone into reverse in several areas since Bush took office, according to government statistics."

and from the montana standard:

The ‘‘Clear Skies'' initiative of 2003 is a blatant misnomer and a gift to coal-burning power plants. By the year 2020, ‘‘Clear Skies'' will allow 478 tons of mercury into the environment; the Clean Air Act, which it replaced, would have limited those emissions to 204 tons.


Dems Eye Election Lawsuits

from the NYPost

Monday, October 11, 2004

The Belmont Club

has a take on the Kerry's Undeclared War from the NY Times.

the quote that sticks out to me:

[when asked how 9/11 changed Kerry personally or politically]

''It accelerated -- '' He paused. ''I mean, it didn't change me much at all. It just sort of accelerated, confirmed in me, the urgency of doing the things I thought we needed to be doing. I mean, to me, it wasn't as transformational as it was a kind of anger, a frustration and an urgency that we weren't doing the kinds of things necessary to prevent it and to deal with it.''
Sickening

Stephen Hayes

on the Duelfer Report.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Iran rethinks its rejection of Kerry's proposed proposal

I wonder what changed their mind.

GREAT NEWS FOR THE U.S. IN THE WAR ON TERROR

Australia re-elects Prime Minister John Howard, one of our staunchest allies.

Afghan elections passed peacefully.

More ramifications of reckless fiscal policy

Getting increasingly indebted to China cannot be good for American interests.

An interesting take on Carter's presidential legacy

From yesterday's Kansas City Star business section:

"One of the most critical moments in America's economic history occurred 25 years ago this week. Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker unveiled what proved to be his highly successful plan to slay the hyperinflation dragon.
The resulting agony doomed Jimmy Carter to a one-term presidency, which Carter probably sensed was his fate when he chose Volcker to be his general in the war against inflation. Thus, Carter deserves much more credit than he gets for his political courage in the name of ridding the economy of hyperinflation's curse.
Unless Carter had chosen a person with the strength of Volcker's convictions, it's unlikely the past two decades of prosperity would have been possible."

Friday, October 08, 2004

UN Oil for Fraud getting more exposure with Duelfer report

Bush can use the fraud angle to show that Saddam was beating the UN sanctions (or as Bush already said yesterday, that he was 'gaming the system,') to validate the timing of the war. He can also use it to dismantle Kerry's claim that he can bring allies on board as well as his charge that Bush failed the global test. Some takes on the report & the scandal here and here and here. Bush will have to delicately avoid coming down on the countries that were heavily involved in the scandal, lest he put off our allies as well.

Bremer explains himself

from NYTimes

October 7th Bushism

from my Daily Bushism calendar:

in reference to Dick Cheney; Nightline; July 21, 2000

Ted Koppel: So he's your lightning rod?
Gov. Bush: More than that, he's my sounding rod.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Newsweek lays and egg

Gosh, where to begin. I must admit that I felt tired immediately after reading the Newsweek article, Rewriting History, because the authors are bent primarily on dismantling the administration and not on trying to determine the real history of this war. I’m a self-admitted pro-Bush hack. The writers of the Newsweek article, Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball, are award-winning journalists and, therefore, assume an air of objectivity and authority. They’ve been on the terrorism beat professionally for years and they have access to resources I don’t. And yet, if I may be so bold, these two fellows wrote an article that from the very first sentence is anything but objective or authoritative.

“With virtually all of the administration’s original case for war in Iraq in tatters…” Tatters? Hardly. Even by the article’s own admission, several of the “original” arguments are true: Iraq was recognized as a state sponsor of terror, it harbored Abu Nidal in Baghdad & it paid the families of Palestinian suicide bombers $25K. Those facts aren’t disputed. However, the authors seem to believe that these are insignificant because Syria was a sponsor of terror, Abu Nidal was killed before the war and several other Arab countries supported the families of suicide bombers. Granted, because Syria is a state sponsoring terror it would be foolish to press Iraq’s sponsorship of terror to them to get them to pass a resolution. But does that make it less of a concern for the U.S.? Or that Saudi Arabia assists the families of suicide bombers? As for Abu Nidal, the fact that we knew he was in Baghdad is significant because Saddam’s willingness to deal with such a character (regardless of whether he ultimately had him killed) strongly suggests that Saddam is very capable of associating and using terrorists.

I don’t understand the angle that because you put one argument for the war in front of the others that the others lose their value. God forbid that the administration craft its arguments in such a way as to actually win support in the U.N. or even among the American people! (Incidentally, there’s a reason why the WMD argument rose to the forefront, and it wasn’t entirely the doing of the Bush administration – but that can be discussed later).
The article states:


“But except for the allegation about Iraqi ties to al Qaeda – a claim that is now more in question than ever – the other examples cited by Cheney in Tuesday night’s debate never have been previously emphasized by Bush administrations officials, and for good reasons.”


The article then goes on to relate Powell’s case before the Security Council and what he didn’t mention. Big deal. Powell was relating his case to the resolutions, so it naturally focused on WMDs. And suggesting that allegations about Iraqi ties to al Qaeda are now questioned more than ever is not entirely true. For the most part, it has been the same people who have dismissed these ties all along, with a few stray quotes from some other officials thrown into the mix.

The article erroneously states that the September 11th Commission “concluded there was no ‘collaborative operational relationship’ between Iraq and al Qaeda.” The commission never said that. Here’s the full quote from the report from page 66:

“But to date we have seen no evidence that these or earlier contacts ever developed into a collaborative operational relation. Nor have we seen evidence indicating that Iraq cooperated with al Qaeda in developing or carrying out any contacts against the United States.”

That is different than what the article says they said. First, the role of the 9/11 Commission was not to find ties between Iraq and al Qaeda, but to assess the pre 9/11 intelligence situation. As such, their job is not to validate or invalidate such a connection. Second, the Commission found no evidence regarding an operational connection, but they did not conclude there was not one. How could they?

The article then discusses Zarqawi. That Zarqawi received medical treatment in Baghdad is not really questioned. Personally, I consider that, in and of itself, harboring a terrorist. Somehow, the authors think that because Zarqawi went first to Iran, he must therefore not have a consequential relationship with Iraq. And because he supervised a poison facility in the Kurdish north, that it must not have had anything to do with Saddam. Absurd! The article doesn’t explain that the Kurdish group in that area was at odds with other Kurd factions and had some relations with Saddam. Also, Iranians don’t like Kurds either. Does that mean that Zarqawi’s visit to Iran was insignificant? To believe the way the authors believe, you would have to think it is impossible for two groups unfriendly with each other to ever form an alliance. But history proves time and again that this is not true.

The article is harsh on Cheney for saying that “I have not suggested there’s no connection between Iraq and 9/11.” The authors think he did make such a suggestion because he referred to the Mohammed Atta’s meeting in Prague with Iraqi intelligence officials in April 2001. The article again misrepresents the 9/11 Commission report when it says the commission debunked the allegation when the panel found “abundant evidence that Atta was actually in the United States at the time the rendezvous supposedly took place.” First, there was no debunking. The commission was unable to confirm or deny the allegation. The “abundant evidence” suggesting the allegation was false is not abundant at all. The report says that the Czech intelligence claim is from a single eye-witness source and that the Czech intelligence agency says that they are 70% certain of the claim.

The “abundant evidence” to the contrary is from the FBI:

1) On 4/4 there is a photo of Atta from a surveillance camera in Virginia Beach, FL.
2) On 4/6, 4/9, 4/10 & 4/11 there is cell phone activity from Coral Springs, FL on Atta cell phone account.


Neither the U.S. or the Czech Republic was able to find a paper trail of Atta leaving or arriving either country during that time. They do not know if he used an alias, but cite that he didn’t during previous trips. (Of course, if I was meeting with Iraqi intelligence, I would make an exception to my normal practices and try to go about the meeting in an inconspicuous way).

Regarding the cell phone activity, the report states:


“We cannot confirm that he [Atta] placed those calls.”

The report later says:

“…These findings cannot absolutely rule out the possibility that Atta was in Prague on April 9, 2001.”

The report also says:

“The available evidence does not support the original Czeck report of an Atta-Ani meeting.”

Cheney was wrong when he said in 2001 that the Czech claim was “pretty well confirmed…” but he was correct when he later said “we’ve never been able to develop anymore of the yet, either in terms of confirming it or discrediting it. We just don’t know.” Regardless, though, saying that Atta met with Iraqis does not mean that Iraqis were involved in the attacks. But it does raise questions of such involvement.

I’ve never claimed to put much stock, if any, in the 9/11 Report because I thought it was held too soon and was bound to be hip deep in politics, pro and anti Bush. However, alarm bells go off in my head every time that I hear it wrongly used to suggest Bush lied. Likewise, knowing that we have a mountain of Iraqi documents that have been un-translated, I find it hard to understand how Charles Duelfer, in his recent report, can conclude, according to the article, “once and for all that Iraq had no chemical weapons at the time of the U.S. invasion.” Is the weapon inspector so certain that the stockpiles were destroyed after the first war?

The article also suggests that the recent report from Duelfer claims that Saddam’s nuke program was not being reconstituted but was actually decaying. A previous story on the same subject said the report indicated it was dormant. Which is it?

Quite frankly, I take what comes out of these reports with a grain of salt. Again, I’ll say that I don’t think our intelligence failed in Iraq. What strikes me, though, is how little they know for sure, before the war and after. That’s part and parcel of the intelligence game. There are always questions and misconceptions and false information, etc. when dealing with intelligence. Playing the hindsight game with our intelligence in order to dismantle the reasons for the war is a fool’s game and is counter-productive for the success of the war. An objective analysis is one thing, but that is not was the authors of this article are striving for. It doesn’t matter that they try to balance their story with chaff in the form of Edward’s false claims. Their main goal is to paint Cheney as a liar and it doesn’t seem to matter to them that they have to be deceptive in order to do it.


Unfortunately, the way the world works, the administration cannot adequately defend the nation using only foolproof evidence from our intelligence agencies that will stand up in court. Bush had to base his decision on what was known, what was thought to be known and what was not known. He had to consider Saddam’s and al Qaeda’s hatred of the U.S., their past behavior, etc. That several states in the Middle East support terror doesn’t mean you can’t go after one in particular. It’s also not necessarily wise to go after one state over another because you believe their ties to terror are closer. At least Bush has his eye on the whole region when dealing with Iraq. His critics don’t. He recognizes that taking out Saddam is vital in reforming the region. It puts us in a better position to deal with Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia and the rest of region. That’s why we went to war before Iraq was an imminent threat.

CATBLOGGING

from Iraq

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Hunting Zarqawi

In the debate, Cheney said of Zarqawi,

He set up shop in Baghdad, where he oversaw the poisons facility up at Kermal
(ph), where the terrorists were developing ricin and other deadly substances to
use.
We know he's still in Baghdad today. He is responsible for most of the
major car bombings that have killed or maimed thousands of people. He's the one
you will see on the evening news beheading hostages.


So, if he was there before the war, and if he was a reason for us to invade, and if we know he's still in Baghdad today, why haven't we caught him? Is it because we have too few troops to do the job, even today? The administration's claims of winning the war on terror are tiresome, especially when Zarqawi and Bin Laden are still out there.

Cheney rewrites history

From Newsweek.

Democrats fail....

to bring back the draft. I guess they managed to scare a few kids with it, though.

Dangerfield

Dead

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

An article regarding John Kerry's trade policies.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

The first debate

Look, the victor trails blood!

The undecided voters have a pretty clear choice between the two candidates. The visions on both sides were well stated, but many Bush pundits were disappointed because they expected Bush to deliver some deathblows to Kerry. In contrast, Kerry supporters were very happy that Kerry not only survived, but kept his cool and came about as close as he has come to planting his feet into something resembling a stance. The problem, though, for Kerry is that his stance is near the Howard Dean position. That’s about the same as ceding national security as an issue altogether. For a candidate that has concluded that the main issue is the war, what does he have left?

Kerry suffered some deep cuts from the debate. Both candidates headed back to the campaign trail. Kerry has some momentum and has temporarily pacified his base. But he doesn’t have much in the way of new ammunition to use against Bush. Meanwhile, he gave the president a couple of talking points that will haunt him for the next month:

KERRY: [referring to the decision to use force] But if and when you do it, Jim, you have to do it in a way that passes the test, that passes the global test where your countrymen, your people understand fully why you're doing what you're doing and you can prove to the world that you did it for legitimate reasons.

The global test…no matter how he wants to explain this, it’s a loser for the general electorate, though it doubtless shored up his base. It is consistent with his root message of allowing more time for the inspections and building the coalition. Nevermind how unrealistic that is.

KERRY: Right now the president is spending hundreds of millions of dollars to research bunker-busting nuclear weapons. The United States is pursuing a new set of nuclear weapons. It doesn't make sense. You talk about mixed messages. We're telling other people, "You can't have nuclear weapons," but we're pursuing a new nuclear weapon that we might even contemplate using. Not this president. I'm going to shut that program down, and we're going to make it clear to the world we're serious about containing nuclear proliferation.

Again, his core will agree to this, but the rest of us are scared stiff. What doesn’t make sense? Afghanistan showed a need and a use for bunker busting nukes. What happened to promising that our forces would be the best equipped in the world?

The exchange that led up to this point was also telling:

LEHRER: If you are elected president, what will you take to that office thinking is the single most serious threat to the national security to the United States?

KERRY:
Nuclear proliferation. Nuclear proliferation. There's some 600-plus tons of unsecured material still in the former Soviet Union and Russia. At the rate that the president is currently securing it, it'll take 13 years to get it…

BUSH: I agree with my opponent that the biggest threat facing this country is weapons of mass destruction in the hands of a terrorist network…

When asked to clarify, the difference became more apparent:

LEHRER: Just for this one-minute discussion here, just for whatever seconds it takes: So it's correct to say, that if somebody is listening to this, that both of you agree, if you're reelected, Mr. President, and if you are elected, the single most serious threat you believe, both of you believe, is nuclear proliferation?


BUSH: In the hands of a terrorist enemy.

KERRY: Weapons of mass destruction, nuclear proliferation.

So Bush is primarily concerned about keeping WMDs from the hands of terrorists. Kerry believes in eliminating the weapons so they will not be available to terrorists. Kerry thinks we should lead the way in disarming and voluntarily stop developing our own programs. Bush believes in maintaining an edge in nuclear forces while dealing with the terrorists. Kerry seems partial to a cold war stance, a few decades late.

Bush started the debate pretty strongly, but after about 30 minutes he had pretty much said what he had to say. He probably should have expanded his arguments. His circling attacks about Kerry dismissing the contributions of our allies and his mixed messages no doubt nauseated some, but those charges are going to stick to Kerry in a way that Kerry hasn’t been able to get anything to stick to Bush. Stubborness? Please. Most American’s I know pride themselves on being seen as stubborn. That’s not a trait you want lacking in your wartime president.

Kerry had to contort more awkwardly when changing from Iraq to N. Korea. When Kerry said he wanted both bilateral and 6-party talks, Bush nailed him:

BUSH: The minute we have bilateral talks, the six-party talks will unwind. That's exactly what Kim Jong Il wants.

There’s no real contradiction when Bush defends going into Iraq without France or Germany and then insists that we need six way talks including strong Chinese involvement, to deal with N. Korea. Kerry needed to show some innovative way in dealing with N. Korea that was better than what the Bush administration has. He didn’t do that.

On Iran, Kerry also showed weakness:

KERRY: I think the United States should have offered the opportunity to provide the nuclear fuel, test them, see whether or not they were actually looking for it for peaceful purposes. If they weren't willing to work a deal, then we could have put sanctions together. The president did nothing.

BUSH: … my opponent said where he worked to put sanctions on Iran -- we've already sanctioned Iran. We can't sanction them any more. There are sanctions in place on Iran.

Again, no preferrable option was offered. In fact, Kerry's plan is to provide nuclear fuel to the Iranians.

Kerry also seemed hazy on some stray facts (one of the few consistencies in his campaign):

KERRY:… And smart means not diverting your attention from the real war on terror in Afghanistan against Osama bin Laden and taking if off to Iraq where the 9/11 Commission confirms there was no connection to 9/11 itself and Saddam Hussein, and where the reason for going to war was weapons of mass destruction, not the removal of Saddam Hussein.

Bless his heart, he tried to be more accurate by specifying 9/11 instead of al Qaeda, but the statement is still untrue. The 9/11 Commission never confirmed there was no connection, it simply said the had no evidence to suggest direct connections. Also, there were more reasons than one for going to war with Iraq. The removal of Saddam was one of them.

Kerry later let his guard down regarding the distinction between Al Qaida and9/11:

Kerry: But what he has said is that, even knowing there were no weapons of mass destruction, even knowing there was no imminent threat, even knowing there was no connection with Al Qaida, he would still have done everything the same way. Those are his words.

No wonder Bush looks so annoyed in those reaction shots. What outlandish accusations. No imminent threat? That again? Bush never said Iraq was an imminent threat. We know Saddam had weapons programs that he wanted to resume. We know there was a connection between Al Qaida and Saddam. The nature of that connection can be argued over, but there was a connection. But how does Kerry characterize such a disingenuous remark:

KERRY:
So what I'm trying to do is just talk the truth to the American people and to the world.

That’s right, just talk the truth, keep it real! For the next month, Bush will be able to hammer Kerry on “global tests”, bunker busters and bilateral talks with N. Korea. Aside from a clever DNC video of Bush’s facial expressions, Kerry came away with nothing substantive from the debates.

Kerry may be happy now, but that's because he doesn't realize he's bleeding.