Category: George W. Bush
Scott McClellan is Bitter
Category: Media, Iraq, Abuse of Power, Plamegate, George W. Bush
A conscience is a horrible thing...but my book advance makes it a li'l better.
Scott McClellan was always my favorite White House Press Secretary.
Ari Fleischer and Tony Snow were always too comfortable in a job whose sole purpose is spin. They weren't just good at it, they enjoyed it. On the other end of the spectrum, poor Dana Perino has that ever-present look of someone who's vaguely aware that something is amiss, but as long as she does her job, everything will work out OK. And why not? Most of the things that account for her boss' rock-bottom approval ratings happened before her tenure.
But Scott McClellan, for all his blank stares and robotic repetitions of denial, had soul. You could see the effects of the spin he was in taking its toll on him. While Fleischer and Snow took evident delight in misleading the press, and Perino's denial is as deep-rooted as her loyalty to the administration, Scotty looked more and more physically uncomfortable the weaker his stories became. The cognitive dissonance on his face when he'd utter his catch phrase, "I cannot comment on an ongoing investigation," was writ as large as a Times Square billboard.
And yet - and this is what I loved about him - in the face of all of this, he did the job anyway. Fleischer and Snow, whether they believed what they were saying or not, never let it show, and Perino doesn't seem to know any better. But Scotty did, and he went ahead and lied his fool head off anyway.
Fleischer and Snow have been at the kool-aid trough long enough that they'd never regret a single thing. Perino will likely move on and try to forget this episode in her life ever happened. But I always wondered if, and when, Scotty would break.
Former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan writes in a surprisingly scathing memoir to be published next week that President Bush “veered terribly off course,” was not “open and forthright on Iraq,” and took a “permanent campaign approach” to governing at the expense of candor and competence.
Among the most explosive revelations in the 341-page book, titled “What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception” (Public Affairs, $27.95):
• McClellan charges that Bush relied on “propaganda” to sell the war.
• He says the White House press corps was too easy on the administration during the run-up to the war.
• He admits that some of his own assertions from the briefing room podium turned out to be “badly misguided.”
• The longtime Bush loyalist also suggests that two top aides held a secret West Wing meeting to get their story straight about the CIA leak case at a time when federal prosecutors were after them — and McClellan was continuing to defend them despite mounting evidence they had not given him all the facts.
• McClellan asserts that the aides — Karl Rove, the president’s senior adviser, and I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, the vice president’s chief of staff — “had at best misled” him about their role in the disclosure of former CIA operative Valerie Plame’s identity.
So, Scotty...tell us something we didn't know.
Of course, the White House is "puzzled" and thinks "it is sad" that the Scotty they knew and loved is now "disgruntled" (i.e. like a postal worker! crazy!). Former colleagues are shocked that he never expressed these reservations while serving.
Maybe because he valued his job?
The pushback is inevitable. Already Rove has likened him to a "leftwing blogger." Book sales will be touted as his sole reason for turning against his former master (although Scotty has two other very good reasons named "Rove" and "Libby"). This despite the inherent acknowledgement that Bush is extremely unpopular and Bush-bashing sells (ask Ari Fleischer how his rose-coclored memoir Taking Heat did).)
In the end, McClellan's book serves to underscore two things that come as no surprise to anyone outside of Bush's 28% dead-enders:
Between 2001 and the present, the American press failed miserably:
Just consider how remarkable that is. George Bush's own Press Secretary criticizes the American media for being "too deferential" to the Government. He lays the blame for Bush's ability to propagandize the nation on the media's uncritical dissemination of the Republican administration's falsehoods.
And...ummmm....we told you so:
Scott McClellan tells us Dirty Effing Hippies we were right about most everything. Of course, being right about everything we already knew that.
No Surprises in McClellan Tell-All
Category: Media, Abuse of Power, Plamegate, George W. Bush, RFL Big Story, Dick Cheney
President Bush has no shortage of critics these days, and tonight he can add another to the list. Scott McClellan used to occupy an office just steps away from the Oval Office just down the hall, but now he's written a book that's rocked the White House and set the political talk show circuit on fire.
This morning the White House issued a terse statement saying McClellan is disgruntled about his experiences as Press Secretary. The statement went on to say, "This is not the Scott we knew."
The White House's reaction aside, what's really sad is how McClellan's claims barely raise an eyebrow anymore.
In fact, things have gotten so bad these past eight years that an inner circle confidant of the president claiming the war to be a "grave unnecessary mistake," saying he was lied to about the Plame affair, saying his White House was in "denial" as people died during Katrina...Somehow this doesn't surprise, but merely confirms what we've sadly come to accept under our fearless leader.
I've always been dumbfounded how anyone, even the most diehard Republican, could give this president and his administration a positive approval rating. Sure he's got the lowest numbers in history, but have we really sunk so low that this abomination of an 8 year chapter could be considered as anything but a nightmare?
Forget critics; consider what former employees have said. His Treasury Secretary described him as a "blind man in a room full of deaf people." And appointees from his former Secretary of State to the Director of Faith-Based Initiatives, they all said Cheney pulled the strings in a White House that always put politics above principle.
Maybe the only surprise in McClellan's tell-all is the tough truth from a former Press Secretary to many of my friends in the media: You have served as enablers to a president who needed a watchdog not a cheering section. Shame on all of us, Scott McClellan included.
And there are more books to come.
More of the president's former confidents will attempt to shock us with stories of the hypocrisy and hubris that are already such a large part of this White House legacy. The only surprise is that, no matter what is written, for many of us it will come as no surprise at all.
Category: George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Wingnuttery
"You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."
- Inigo Montoya, The Princess Bride
Ouch. That's gonna leave a mark.
Category: Iraq, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney
We recently passed another in a long series of bloody milestones in Iraq, but one no more - or less - important than the other 3,999 moments we didn't commemorate:
These kinds of milestones and the inevitable media infatuation with them make me somewhat queasy. It's as if the 4000th person killed there was more important than the 3,999th, or the 4,001st. To me, and I would say to most Americans, every American killed in Iraq, everyday, is of equal importance...What does the 4000-death mark mean to me? It means that today, like yesterday and tomorrow, we will lose some of the finest Americans we have. That is a harsh reminder that disastrous policy decisions have tragic consequences.
To President Bush and Dick Cheney, it may be just another comma in their open-ended war in Iraq, but to many others, 4000 dead US troops in Iraq ought to give one pause:
And to this, Dick Cheney says "So?"...The occupation of Iraq has taken a back seat during the presidential primary season and the media has all but forgotten the ongoing madness we created. Perhaps this sad milestone will ignite more passion, protest and attention to both forgotten battlefields where American, Iraqi and Afghani bodies continue to pile up.
Vet Voice notes another number that's not as big, but just as important. 25:
American forces have just experienced the most violent two-week period in Iraq since September 2007...We hear talk of attacks against Americans "ebbing," ceasefires holding, and of the situation in Iraq being "not that fragile," but this is all a bunch of happy-talk nonsense...The violence in Iraq is cyclical and will remain so until we remove the bulk of our forces. And with 25 dead in two weeks, we are not headed in the right direction.
Yesterday, our Vice President dismissed the consequence of his own actions, saying those 4000 dead volunteered, as if that somehow excuses the administration's disastrous policy. Yes, they volunteered, and they accept that death is a possible consequence. They also expect their elected leaders to have a plan before sending them off to war. It's a reasonable request.
And Dick Cheney is famous for his reasonable-ness. Also for his sensitivity, compassion, and generosity. Specifically, for having no discernable trace of any of those qualities. Washing his hands of the 4,000 dead, Cheney invoked 9/11 as the reason those men and women volunteered:
“A lot of men and women sign up because sometimes they will see developments. For example, 9/11 stimulated a lot of folks to volunteer for the military because they wanted to be involved in defending the country.”
I can only speak for myself here, but I reckon that many of the brave young men and women who volunteered after 9/11 did so with the expectation that they would be hunting down those that actually attacked us that day; not that they would be put in an impossible situation (in a country that had nothing whatsoever to do with the attack on us) where they are expected to mediate a religious civil war that has raged for thousands of years. In fact, it’s a disservice to their heroic sacrifice to expect them to do so.
And Dick "five draft deferments" Cheney knows so much about heroism and sacrifice. And to hear him tell it, so does the President, who Cheney says "bears the biggest Burden, obviously". Got that? Not the families of those 4,000 dead, but Bush. Sorry, Mr. and Mrs. Hubbard, but despite the fact that he "sleeps a lot better than people assume," it's the president, not you, that bears the biggest burden. Perhaps we should shed a tear for him:
The Hubbards gave up two of their sons to the Iraq war, and the third had to see his brother's body pulled from the wreckage in which he died. Maybe, just maybe, they carry quite a burden themselves...Bush carries the responsibility for the lives of those boys, but their family carries the unbearable weight of their loss. The former is an abstraction; the second is a giant hole in one's heart.
I wish Mr. Cheney could acknowledge the difference-but I suppose having a heart is a prerequisite for understanding a broken one.
And generous? Dick is so generous he's giving our troops two, three even four tours of duty or more. And if that's a problem for them, well, Dick's just sorry there's nothing that can be done:
When asked about the toll multiple deployments have taken on U.S. military members, Cheney fired back with a question.
“Of course it is, Martha,” Cheney said. “So what would be the solution to that? I mean how would you deal with that?”
From Cheney’s perspective, you don’t deal with that at all. Withdrawal is out of the question, a draw-down is off the table, and the Webb Amendment about giving troops more down time after their deployments has been rejected by Republicans on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. So, to hear the VP tell it, there is no “solution” — the administration’s policy of multiple deployments will continue to take its toll on servicemen, servicewomen, and their families.
If they don’t like it, tough. They shouldn’t have volunteered to serve in the military in Bush’s America.
Remind me which side of the political divide is supposed to be more enthusiastically “pro-military”?
Generosity, sensitivity, compassion.
He makes Attila the Hun look like Mother Theresa.
Meanwhile, In Non-Spitzer-Related News, The Pentagon Declares the Blindingly Obvious
Category: Iraq, Abuse of Power, George W. Bush, Terrorism, Dick Cheney
From the Department of Tell Us Something We Didn't Know:
An exhaustive review of more than 600,000 Iraqi documents that were captured after the 2003 U.S. invasion has found no evidence that Saddam Hussein's regime had any operational links with Osama bin Laden's al Qaida terrorist network.
B-b-b-but...Dick Cheney said there was “overwhelming evidence?” Rumsfeld said that evidence was "bulletproof?" And President Bush supposedly put the whole issue to rest in 2004, "The reason I keep insisting that there was a relationship between Iraq and Saddam and al Qaeda, because there was a relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda." What are we to make of this? They were
lying misinformed lying?
The Iraq-Al Qaeda link was cultivated through hundreds of the 935 false statements the Bush Administration made in the run-up to war. Without it, there would be no pivot from Afghanistan to Iraq, no case made to the public that both wars represented the same fight against terrorism.
Oh, right. That. So, where did this "evidence" come from? I'm sure you'll be
waterboarded shocked to find out:
Intelligence failures had much to do with the atrocity of September 11, but those had nothing to do with a lack of torture. Let me be clear on one crucial point: it is the terrorists whom we won over with humane methods in the 1990s who continue to provide the most reliable intelligence we have in the fight against al-Qaeda. And it is the testimony of terrorists we tortured after 9/11 who have provided the most unreliable information, such as stories about a close connection between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein.
Jack Cloonan, a twenty-five-year veteran of the FBI, was a special agent for the Bureau's Osama bin Laden unit from 1996 to 2002.
Hmmm. Torture provides unreliable information? You don't say. Next they'll be telling us smoking causes cancer, or some other nutty conspiracy theory. In the meantime, the Pentagon's report is a major black eye for Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell...really, the entire right side of the American political spectrum going back to, say, Sept. 12, 2001:
The only ones who think that OBL and SH were working together, closely, are complete and utter fools. These two were enemies. Sure, Saddam used religion whenever useful, but he was basically a secular dictator, who didn't have a whole lot of patience with religious extremists. All the more so because they posed a threat to his regime.
Which is almost word for word what I was saying back in 2002 while the big wingnut meme of the day was MOHAMMED ATTA WAS IN PRAGUE!!!
(Note: This also turned out to be false)
The Pentagon was going to put the report online yesterday and then hold a press briefing with its authors. Then they abruptly cancelled the briefing and annouced the report would not be made available online; they wouldn't even email it to reporters. If you want to see it, they'll send you a DVD via snail mail. It's almost like someone doesn't want this report to get much attention:
If asked, I'm certain (Press Secretary) Dana Perino would insist, with a mostly straight face, that the White House never contacted the Pentagon about this, and it was solely the decision of military officials, who, for whatever reason, preferred to hide its own report.
And no one will believe her.
I hate to say I told you so, but......Wait, no I don't.
I told you so.
Bush Press Conference: The Accidental Tourist
Category: Iraq, Abuse of Power, George W. Bush, Economy
Watching Bush's press conference yesterday was like watching a floral-shirted / Bermuda-shorted tourist in a foreign nation, trying to speak to the locals, assuming that if they just repeat themselves LOUDER AND MORE EMPHATICALLY, people will understand them. In this case, while people heard and understood the individual words Bush was saying, their combined meaning was no more coherant or believable than it was the first time around. One such example was his claim that if we don't give them immunity, telecom companies will refuse to help the government in the future. This might be a concern, if it were true. But it's not:
When surveillance is conducted pursuant to the law, there is no question of whether telecom firms will "cooperate" or "participate", like children at day camp. They will comply, and they will do it because they are required to.
Lawful = FISA; government asking companies to assist in FISA surveillance.
Unlawful = surveillance outside of FISA; government asking companies to assist in surveillance outside of FISA.
If Bush is afraid that telecom companies won't help the government do illegal things in the future if they aren't given immunity for the illegal things they've done in the past, then the government shouldn't be asking them to do anything illegal.
President Bush also repeated his assertion that progress was being made in Iraq, wherein "progress" is apparently defined as "going backwards":
An Iraqi leader utilized his constitutional right to veto yesterday, which the president seemed quite pleased about today. The veto was proof, he said, of a “healthy” process, and a system in which Iraqis are “thinking through” legislation.
You’ll notice, of course, that the president was a little vague about what, exactly, was vetoed. There’s a very good reason for that.
The measure that was rejected was held up by the Bush administration as an example of political progress.
So much for what was to be just the second of 18 political benchmarks set by the U.S. that Iraq needed to reach; a political structure for Iraq’s provincial governments and establishing a basis for elections in October.
Then the president repeated oft-cited criticisms of Obama for his willingness to talk to dictators who imprison their own people for their political beliefs.
Pot, meet kettle:
The idea that Bush - who regularly hangs out with…the leaders of Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, Russia, China, and Egypt - would ever try and take a strong, principled stand against meeting with, much less supporting, repressive autocrats…well, it's what my grandmother would call chutzpah, and what the rest of us would call "nonsense on stilts."
Dictator is as dictator does...
"He may be a son-of-a-b*tch..."
"...but he's OUR son-of-a-b*tch"
But my personal favorite was Bush demanding Turkey cease its invasion of northern Iraq, as it is a sovereign country, and to achieve their objective quickly and get out.
I don't have much to add to that. The comedy writes itself.
In an interesting follow-up, claiming their mission was accomplished, Turkey did, in fact, pull back out of Kurdish Iraq. The irony of all this was semingly lost on Bush, who appears to have all the self-awareness of a pet rock.
It's news to our President that analysts are predicting $4 a gallon gasoline - but he doesn't know the answer to a question about his Presidential library because he's been focused on other things, like - wait for it - gasoline prices.
To be fair, his claim to be focused on gas prices came a whole 15 minutes or so after being unaware of them. Perhaps the president defines "focused" as "something I heard someone say briefly in passing."
But being unaware of the conclusions of experts (or just not heeding them) is nothing new for this president; in his bubble, HE is the expert. And if he needs a second opinion, he just asks Cheney, or Rice, or one of his supporters, and they dutifully tell him what he wants to hear. For example, the president doesn't think we're heading for a recession, just a "slowdown," which is sort of like an economic coma - still alive, just doesn't move very fast.
Too bad most of the nation's leading economists disagree with him. Given his track record on the economy and in business in general, I think I'll trust the experts instead of the man who bankrupted two different companies.
Those "experts" obviously never got inside the bubble. Recession? What recession? How can we be on the brink of a recession? All the people the president knows, their economies are doing just fine:
When you don't know what a gallon of gas, or a gallon of milk costs, you have no right talking about understanding what the American people want.
Nobody in America is for a WEAK dollar. The dollar is just WEAKENING because we've been growing our economy on false hope and borrowed money for the last four years and now we're waking up to that.
Right now the American dollar is the 98lb weakling of global currencies. We are still stronger than the Indian rupee, but thanks to outsourtcing, perhaps for not much longer:
He says the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is good for America. It will bring more jobs to our country. Tell the people of my hometown that. They've lost the two biggest companies in town. They moved overseas. And more are getting ready to. NAFTA hasn't been good for the people of this NC town. And we don't have any companies about to move in. No NAFTA is not good for this country.
And president Bush hasn't been good for this country either.
Well, that's never going to make it inside the bubble.
Maybe if you repeat it to him. Slowly. And louder.
"Support the Troops"
Category: Iraq, Abuse of Power, George W. Bush
"Support the troops." It's a well-worn phrase the president and Republicans love to admonish war critics with. To them, it's metaphorical, meaning to cheer the troops on in their mission; right or wrong, for better or worse. But when we ask our soldiers to risk the ultimate sacrifice, "support the troops" should mean something more, like making sure they have the vehicle armor they need to stay alive:
Hundreds of U.S. Marines have been killed or injured by roadside bombs in Iraq because Marine Corps bureaucrats refused an urgent request in 2005 from battlefield commanders for blast-resistant vehicles, an internal military study concludes.
Our president is once again calling Democrats soft on national security and at the same time an internal Defense Department study says that the Bush administration's malfeasance killed and injured 100s of Marines unnecessarily.
Marine Corps officials actually cited "cost" as a reason for refusing MRAP vehicles...like we're not already spending enough money on the war. But the administration's "support for the troops" doesn't end there:
The Bush Pentagon placed a $74 million contract for helmets from Sioux Manufacturing – as the company was being sued for making Kevlar that wasn’t up to military standards, and had covered it up. Tapes during their trial showed that even the quality assurance officer at the company was well aware of what they were doing.
Seems that $74 million could've been better spent. In fact, most of it could be better spent - or at the very least kept track of. On the other hand, maybe the problem isn't with the definition of "support," but with the word "troops." Apparently, to Bush, "troops" means contractors like Halliburton and Blackwater and the military-industrial complex:
The bloated, outsized defense budget is being propped up by wars and threats of wars. It's how the Air Force can claim that $144 billion is not enough of a budget and that they need more for things like "dorm furnishings"...
It's not that the military doesn't require funding and equipment, especially after years of war. It's that the expenditures are completely misplaced, going to contractors who police themselves and outdated weapons systems instead of what the troops need to save their lives.
But it's not just equipment. In his State of the Union address, Bush wanted a good crowd pleaser to "show" he "supported the troops," so he called on Congress to allow U.S. troops to transfer their unused education benefits to family members. Everyone cheered and a good time was had by all, but when government analysts later told him it would cost $1-2 billion a year, he left it out of his $3.1 trillion dollar budget:
How despicable is that? He wanted to make a dramatic announcement, but he didn't want to bother actually developing a policy to announce…Bush wants $170,000,000,000 more for the Iraq War, next year, but helping educate the families of those fighting the war is too expensive. All Bush can do is to cynically use the idea as an applause line, before a national television audience, but when the cameras are off, the families of the troops no longer matter.
"Support the troops" means nothing if you don't put your money - and your equipment - where your mouth is.
The Farewell Performance
Category: George W. Bush
The president's annual state of the union address has long been, at least since the invention of television*, a piece of political theater (*SOTU trivia: The first president to give the SOTU on tv was the oft-compared-to-Bush Harry Truman). And George W. Bush's farewell performance last night had it all, from comedic tragedy...:
Bush actually said…:
"We will insure that decisions about your medical care are made in the privacy of your doctor's office, not in the halls of Congress. "
I'll respond with four words: Terri Schiavo, Jane Roe.
Nothing was a bigger tell of the desperation here than the heroic centerpiece of Bush's address. It's pretty safe to say that before the Bush administration, most Americans had no idea what an earmark was. But Bush, the earmark president, the man who presided over and enabled the Republican Congress during the Jack Abramoff and Duke Cunningham scandals, changed that. And now he's decided that he's really going to bring the hammer down on the practice now that the Republicans no longer run Congress (actually not so much bring the hammer down as threaten to bring the hammer down right before he leaves office).
And what's good theater without suspension of disbelief and creating your own reality?
"There has not been another attack on our soil since 9/11"
-- Anthrax! Anthrax! Oh well. For some reason that whole episode has been officially erased from the historical record or something.
Individually, Bush's performance last night is unlikely to win any awards. But the production values were so luscious, the script so filled with reliable crowd-pleasers, it hardly mattered. It was a D.C. masterpiece that will go down in history for the way it took American political theater into a new whole new genre:
This Washington revival does ample justice to the definition of Theater of the Absurd as "broad comedy, often similar to Vaudeville, mixed with horrific or tragic images; characters caught in hopeless situations forced to do repetitive or meaningless actions; dialogue full of clichés, wordplay, and nonsense; plots that are cyclical or absurdly expansive; either a parody or dismissal of realism."
Or to paraphrase,
And then is heard no more:
It is a tale told by a Bush, full of sound and fury,
SO(TU) Long, SO(TU) Well, Auf Wiedersehen, Good-bye
Category: George W. Bush
For years, President Bush and his advisers expressed frustration that the White House received little credit for the nation's strong economic performance because of public discontent about the Iraq war. Today, the president is getting little credit for improved security in Iraq, as the public increasingly focuses on a struggling U.S. economy.
But the reason people never gave Bush much credit for the economy was that for most people the economy was never that awesome. While Iraq is something that most people don't experience directly, the economy is. And if they aren't completely thrilled about it, there's probably a reason.
Back to the Post:
That is the problem Bush faces as he prepares to deliver his seventh and probably final State of the Union address tonight. For the first time in four years, he will come before Congress able to report some progress in tamping down violence in Iraq. Yet the public appears to have moved on from the war -- and possibly from Bush himself.
To follow up on Dr. Atrios' point, as the economy for most people was never as great as the administration said it was, the "improved security in Iraq" may not be the festival of ponies they're advertising it as either.
And did Mr. Abramowitz read his own article? The public "appears" to have "possibly" moved on from Bush? A mere 6 paragraphs later, he answers his own question, citing Bush's low low low approval rating, 32%. Yeah, I'd say they're over him. And if you wanted to know why, Mr. Abramowitz provides the answer in paragraph #5:
White House officials and their allies argue that the turmoil in the nation's housing and financial markets provides Bush a new opportunity to lead...
No. Stop right there. Watching the fire spread from the fireplace to the rug to the curtains until the whole house is ablaze AND THEN offering to get a bucket of water is NOT leadership. The time to lead would've been BEFORE the mortgage crisis exploded, BEFORE the economy needed a stmulating package. That opportunity has long passed.
But that won't stop the president this evening from taking to the airwaves and offering to close the barn door, sans cheval.
A president's final State of the Union address is generally seen as the official starting point for lame duck status, so expectations are even lower than usual. But Larry Kudlow, blogging at the Corner, urges President Bush to chin up, Buckaroo:
While all is never perfect, you have delivered on the most fundamental hopes for the nation: peace and prosperity. America’s greatness is grounded on optimism and freedom. You have spoken loudly in support of these great themes. You have succeeded to a far-greater degree than the intellectual elites will ever admit. Stay the course, Mr. President. Stay optimistic.
Puh-wha? Peace? We're at war in two countries right now, and Bush is hankering for a third. Prosperity? Mortgage Crisis! Optimism and Freedom? We practice torture and spy on our own citizens! I'm not sure what country Mr. Kudlow is talking about. Perhaps it's the one inside the president's bubble:
Bush is likely going to praise the bipartisan stimulus deal as a cure-all while continuing to tell us that America has been doing exactly the right thing for the past seven years--fighting the terrorists over there so we don't have to fight them here. No bad decisions were ever made, no recession is occurring, no heads need roll.
That's to be expected from this dead-ender president.
We will see tonight the usual predictable moments. The state of our union will be called strong. New Orleans and Katrina will be mentioned only in passing if at all. Democrats will be attacked for ______, ______ and ______, followed by a plea that they should all "work together". At least one truly nutty, he-said-what? proposal will be floated, i.e. Mars. And of course, the special guest stars:
Chances are he'll have some white guy from a red state who started a business in 2007 and hired two black guys sitting next to Laura Bush, right there in the seat Ahmad Chalabi used to occupy. He'll point to that guy, who created two whole jobs, as emblematic of the success of endless tax cuts for giant corporations like Countrywide. Maybe he'll even bring back that "uniquely American" woman with the disabled son who works three jobs -- assuming she can get the time off.
Tonight's speech will have it all: the disconnect, the petulance, the duplicity. The mangled syntax. But one thing it won't have? A reason for anyone to watch:
Tune in tonight to Bush's final State of the Union address to hear what a president with an overall 32% approval rating, and only 30% on Iraq and 28% on the economy, has to say about issues no one with a functioning brain trusts him to competently address.
Yeah, but some of us will watch anyway, if for no other reason than it's the last time we'll have to watch him do this.
Only 935? Seems Like It Would've Been Higher...
Category: Iraq, Abuse of Power, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney
As the saying goes, there are lies, damned lies, and statistics. And then there are damned lies that are statistics:
President George W. Bush and seven of his administration's top officials, including Vice President Dick Cheney, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, made at least 935 false statements in the two years following September 11, 2001, about the national security threat posed by Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Nearly five years after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, an exhaustive examination of the record shows that the statements were part of an orchestrated campaign that effectively galvanized public opinion and, in the process, led the nation to war under decidedly false pretenses.
That the run-up to the Iraq War was preceded by a litany of false statements from the Bush administration is nothing new. But seeing them all together, and the timeline of deception it creates, is pretty impressive. Naturally, rightwing bloggers are outraged that anyone would dare bring this up again. So what do they do? Attack the messenger!
The Center for Public Integrity hardly qualifies as "independent". It gets much of its funding from George Soros, who has thrown millions of dollars behind Democratic political candidates, and explicitly campaigned to defeat George Bush in 2004...
...Besides Soros, it gets financing from the Streisand Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and the Los Angeles Times Foundation.
Streisand? ZOMG! And Ford? Total Commies. And everyone knows anything even remotely associated with Soros has the stench of brimstone on it. Wingnut Welfare, on the other hand, I'm told smells like roses.
...However...that would only explain the impetus behind someone taking on a project like this. It's not like Richard Mellon Scaife is going to pay anyone to put this together. Who commissioned it doesn't change any of the statements themselves, which were all a matter of public record. So their next trick, dripping in Clintonian irony, is to argue what the definition of the word "lie" is:
This is the crux of the matter. Being proven wrong is not “lying.”
The study is entitled, “False Pretenses: Following 9/11, President Bush and seven top officials of his administration waged a carefully orchestrated campaign of misinformation about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.” Quite clearly, then, the authors contend that the statements were made with full knowledge that they were wrong in order to lead the nation to war.
The study finds no such thing.
The most damning examples are along these lines:
In July 2002, Rumsfeld had a one-word answer for reporters who asked whether Iraq had relationships with Al Qaeda terrorists: “Sure.” In fact, an assessment issued that same month by the Defense Intelligence Agency (and confirmed weeks later by CIA Director Tenet) found an absence of “compelling evidence demonstrating direct cooperation between the government of Iraq and Al Qaeda.” What’s more, an earlier DIA assessment said that “the nature of the regime’s relationship with Al Qaeda is unclear.”
Of course, there’s no evidence here that Rumsfeld was aware of these reports. SECDEFs don’t read things that don’t make it to the top of the chain of command, after all.
My strong suspicion, though, is that Rumsfeld knew that an unequivocal “Sure” overstated the case. This, I think, reflects the consensus view of all but the most rabid pro- or anti-Bush observers that the administration 1) thought Saddam was dangerous, 2) believed he had an active WMD program if not WMD possession, 3) feared Saddam would transfer said technology to terrorists and other enemies of the United States and 4) cherry picked information that bolstered their case for action while downplaying dissenting views and evidence.
That’s bad. It’s not the way democracies are supposed to work and undermines the public’s confidence in their leaders. But it’s light years away from simply lying to the people about WMD known not to exist, which is what the report alleges.
(emphasis in the original)
If I say the earth is flat just because I don't believe all the evidence that it's round, does that make me a liar? Maybe not, but it would make me dangerously ignorant. Now, what if I had a lot of money riding on a bet that I could convince a number of people that the earth is flat, but in order to do that successfully, I've got to obscure all the information that contradicts my point? Am I a liar then? What if, after I've convinced a bunch of people the earth is flat, I look at some of the evidence that the earth is round and find, in my heart of hearts, that it's pretty convincing and maybe I was wrong - AND THEN - I continue telling people the earth is flat because I don't want to look like an utter jackass...Am I a liar then? As you can see, there's more than one way to tell a lie:
Such an argument, however, relies heavily on a parsing of what the word "lie" means. Any parent is familiar with their kids using "lying by omission" to get out of trouble. That's where you don't present facts you know but which would would shed culpatory light on your false statements. In that respect, it isn't the many false statements themselves which are a mark of guilt - it's the many instances of "we are sure", "Certain" and "know without a doubt" - the "slam dunk" qualifiers - that convict Bush and his administration of lies. In every case, as James admit, they had alternative interpretations, contrary intelligence or flat-out evidence that what they were saying was untrue and continued to press their narrative anyway. That's lying by omission.
The report only covers a two year period ending in 2003......where it will all end?
Now that 935 lies to get us into Iraq have been documented, collated and counted, how many more is it taking to keep us there?
That's for another day and another, much larger, report.
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