All I have to say is, if you're not a regular reader of Billmon's Whiskey Bar you are missing out on great stuff. Rather than copy anything here from the great posts he puts up, just go over there and settle in for a good read.
We're blessed with a lot of really good liberal blogs (see the some links list on the right for the ones that I frequent), but Whiskey Bar has to be among the best of the best.
I've always thought it was wrong to ascribe a single motive to the Bush administration's obviously burning desire to go to war with Iraq. "No blood for oil" is simplistic even for a slogan, and it's hardly far-reaching as an explanation.
In a post today on Legal Fiction, Publius speculates as to some of the motivations of the prime movers:
Wolfowitz and the Neocons - They dreamed that their long-ridiculed domino theory of Middle East democracy would be proven true. They also had visions of securing Israel and securing themselves a place in the heart of the religious right.
Rumsfeld - He dreamed that his vision for a quicker, lighter military would be vindicated by a full-scale invasion.
Cheney and his cronies - They had visions of oil - intoxicating visions of a friendly, oil-rich outpost in the Middle East that would provide us all the oil we ever needed - and would fatten the pockets of Texas oil companies at the same time.
Condi Rice - She had visions of sounding strong and becoming one of the boys. She also had visions of future campaigns, in which she could run as a war hero.
Karl Rove - He had visions of a victorious war president. He could taste it. Bush could record a speech in the heart of Baghdad, and that speech could be broadcast in October 2004. Oh, the sweet sweet visions that Rove had in the night.
George Bush - He saw a chance to vindicate his father - a chance to kill the man who tried to kill his own blood. He also had visions of future Bush monuments on the Mall in DC. He saw himself coasting in 2004 as a victorious war president. It was a glorious vision.
I've no doubt that, somewhere in the administration (probably deep in the bowels, where policy isn't made, it's followed) there were people who believed that Saddam was a real threat, and that removing him would be a humanitarian good. I don't blame them for that, I thought the same thing from the evidence that was available to me. (I finally turned against the possibility of eventual military action when I realized that there was every reason to believe, looking at what happened in Afghanistan and the way they went about the "diplomacy" which preceded the invasion, that Bush would fuck the whole thing up, which turned out to be very much the case.)
Postscript If you head over to Legal Fiction to read his entire post, take a look at this one also, a little farther down the page, where Publius compares the reconstruction of Iraq to the reconstruction of the South after the Civil War. It's very compelling, and offers justification for my feeling that our responsibility for the mess we've made of Iraq can only be fulfilled by a long-term commitment, and that by withdrawing Bush will, in the long-run, do much more harm then he did by making war in the first place. As Publius writes: "[W]e should all be occupation hawks now." (And that's from someone who says he strongly opposed the war, not from a namby-pamby who flirted with being a liberal hawk, like myself.)
Here's something interesting that comes to me from MyFriendRoger. A close and trustworthy friend of his
happened to catch a few minutes of Pat Robertson on the 700 Club, and was absolutely shocked by what she saw today (March 10th). We don't know if the thing is broadcast live, or is pre-recorded like most shows, but if the latter, it's even more shocking that no one decided to kill it. Roberson was doing some sort of regular thing, I take it, where he responds to "challenging" letters that people send it. In this case, when asked how a Christian should respond to a non-believer who denied that he would ever go to either heaven or hell since he didn't believe in either ...
Robertson pulled out what appeared to be a real handgun on stage and waved it around! According to [the friend], his son and a woman -- wife? co-host? -- sitting on the nearby sofa appeared to be shocked, and maybe a bit embarrassed, and another woman on the set seemed to Amy to be genuinely frightened. One or the other asked if it was loaded. He waved it around, saying that if it is real, and if he were to put it to a person's head it would still be just as real even if they denied it. And if he pulled the trigger, it would kill them just the same whether they said it was real or not.
Now, I immediately tried to find something about this by Googling, and came up empty, and Roger confirmed he had done the same thing. There's no mention anywhere of Pat Robertson brandishing a gun on the set of The 700 Club that we can find.
I went to the previous broadcasts archive of the 700 Club on the Christian Broadcasting Network website and looked at the program for March 10. There is indeed a segment at the end called "Bring It On" which starts at 54:15 into that show, and which is introduced by a slide showing Pat Robertson's face and the title "Bring It On". They were indeed answering viewer e-mail, but Pat Robertson was not doing the answering, another man and a woman were. (I had seen them both earlier in the program doing faith-healing-at-a-distance along with Robertson, so I assume they are co-hosts or guest hosts -- clearly, I am not a regular viewer of The 700 Club.)
What's interesting is that the very first question answered was about a man who asked how to deal with a friend who was a non-believer and didn't think he would go to hell because he didn't believe in it. The answer, which was provided by the man, indeed invoked belief and the nature of reality, but there was no Pat Robertson, and certainly no gun.
I looked at the "Bring It On" segment for several other days in the archives, and it seems to be usual for Robertson to provide the answers. (Which makes sense, after all , it's his face which introduces the segment.)
[Update:Bring It On is the title of one of Robertson's books, in which he "gives real answers to Christians with tough questions." The blurb for the book on the CBN site says that is is "Derived from the actual questions answered on his 700 Club television segment of the same name," which confirms my thought that it is usual for Robertson to answer the questions.]
I have no reason to doubt Roger's friend, nor do I know (nor can I find out by Googling) whether The 700 Club goes out live or pre-recorded, but how's this for a scenario: The program broadcasts with Robertson doing the answering and waving around the gun, and, after the fact, someone decides that it's really too far over the line to be acceptable, so they re-record the segment for the archives and (as far as I know) for repeat broadcasts.
(I checked Roberton's website to see if there was anything there about him "taking a break" or anything like that, and didn't find any mention of it, nor was there anything of relevance on Google News.)
I know that "a friend of a friend" is one of those things that usually introduces an urban legend, and I'd be much happier if I could find any backing for this on the web, but I trust Roger, who's been a close online friend of mine for 5 years, and, as I said, I've no reason at all to distrust his friend (who was for a while a relatively inactive member of an online discussion group I'm a moderator of).
If anyone has any further information on this, or thoughts on how it can be verified, please drop me a note.
I also think that both accusations are true. I think Bush waffles a lot, particularly on (what he perceives as) peripheral issues, because I don't think the man stands for much of anything. He is clearly not for smaller government. He's not for reducing social programs. The only issue on which he seems to be steadfast is reducing taxes. But when he realizes that an issue is important, particularly one that is critical to re-election, he makes a decision, and he'll distort the facts to support it. His resolution is not based on any ideology but on the ideas that making money and having power are good in and of themselves.
In some respects, he is worse than an ideologue, whom you can predict at least. Bush is irrational and thus unpredictable, hence the reason he is a conservative squish. But he is not a pragmatic, problem solver either, as evidenced by his manipulating contradicting facts. As anyone who truly solves problems can tell you, your real focus is on solving the problem, not a specific solution, and you are willing to admit when a solution has failed. In fact, I would argue that from my experience, good problem solving requires an absence of ego. If you focus on yourself, then you will generally fail to solve the problem well. And, if you are preoccupied with securing power for yourself, you're focused on yourself, not the problems at hand.
I think it's an unresolved quandry, whether Bush is an ideologue or not, just as it's unresolved how much he's in charge and how much things are run by his handlers. Certainly, one can say that, compared to his father, for instance, he's taken positions that are much more distinctly ideologically-motivated, but whether the motivation is his own or not is difficult to determine.
Reagan presented the same problem during his tenure in office: is he is charge, or just a mouthpiece? These questions were never asked of any other recent President I can think of. Certainly there was no doubt that LBJ was in charge, or Kennedy, or Nixon, or Carter, for that matter. (Ford wasn't around long enough for the question to come up.) Is it just a coincidence that the two administrations which have done the most to tear down the infrastructure of the post-war liberal state and institute right-wing oriented "solutions" have had at the helm men about whom it's difficult to know if they're in charge, or did someone realize that to push through that radical agenda it was necessary that a certain amount of distance be created between the guy in the White House and what was being done to the country?
In poll after poll, the American people, when presented with Democratic/liberal solution versus Republican/conservative solutions, almost always opt for the former over the latter, and because of this the leaders of the right have surely realized that if they're upfront and honest about what their goals and intentions are, they'd never achieve them -- because the voters would reject them outright. So the solution is to mask their agenda by employing as a figurehead a personable and nice guy against whom (they hope) it's difficult for people to hold animus.
If he is a figurehead, I mean. But it really doesn't matter if he is or not, he's reponsible for everything done in his name, whether he's a puppet or a take-charge leader.
For the past month and a half I've been watching and charting the development of the Bush/AWOL story as it was recorded in the number of hits to various search parameters on Google News. It's been interesting watching the slow build up, then the various spikes of interest, and then the gradual flattening out of interest, but the exercise seems to have become a futile one, because the press seems to have gotten off the story almost completely. The "Friday dump" of papers seems to have worked, against all my expectations that the attack dogs of the media would keep at it.
So, with no particular reason to continue, I'm going to call off my AWOL watch -- at least until I'm aware of something happening, in which case I'll pick it up again.
Just to put a final cap on it, I've updated the charts through yesterday (Sunday March 7th) -- as always, count of stories is on the top graph, and daily adds of stories is on the bottom one.
Just to make a note of it, I had to add another negative search term for the "National Guard" line to filter out extraneous stories about Venezuela. The final search terms were:
"deserter" = Bush +deserter -AWOL
"AWOL" = Bush -deserter +AWOL
both = Bush +deserter +AWOL
"service record" = Bush -deserter -AWOL +"service record"
"National Guard" = Bush -deserter -AWOL -"service record" -governors +"National Guard" -venezuela
My original post when I first started counting is here.
Notes I made after beginning to graph the data are here.
Continuing comments are here.
And another series of comments are here.
Over on Daily Kos they've got a reader-generated list of Bush's flip-flops, which puts any similar list of Kerry's to shame (especially since Kerry's list spans a 20 year career in the legislature, during which time conditions and situations change, while Bush's all happen over the course of 4 years or less).
It's a impressive list, but it does seem to put the lie to the argument I've made here that Bush's problem is that he doesn't change his course of action once he's started out on one. And that's right, I should have remembered one thing that will inevitably change Bush's mind about anything, and that is when Karl Rove tells him it's better for Bush politically to do so.
So, the long and short of it is that changing your mind isn't necessarily a bad thing, it all depends on the context, the circumstances, the situation. Of course, that's a liberal's answer and doesn't particularly help to counter the insidious meme (the GOP's first official Goring of Kerry) that Kerry is a "flip-flopper." I suspect that the answer isn't to justify Kerry's changes of direction or to point to Bush and say "he's one too," instead the answer may be to attack Bush in another, but related way -- such as "Bush can't be trusted."
Also, part two of the Boston Globe profile I've mentioned before deals with Kerry's war service.
In a way, I'm glad that Bush's surrogates are pusing smears against Kerry's military record, because it will, I hope, bring up the AWOL issue once again, and, no matter how you compare them, Bush's record will not stand up against Kerry's.
As for the issue of Bush using 9/11 imagery to run on, check out some past presidents who have done the same. (And this as well.)
The American Prospect has some suggestions for Kerry on who he should pick as his running mate. According to various contributors, he should consider: Tom Vilsack, Dick Durbin, John Edwards, Jim Jeffords, John Lewis, Bill Richardson, John McCain, Kathleen Sebelius and Eric Shinseki.
As I've said before, I really think this year is not the time to pussy-foot around trying to elevate an obscure person into the limelight, so that criteria eliminates Vilsack, Sebelius and Shinseki. (And if you take Shinseki, isn't that just a complete slap in the face of Wesley Clark -- why would you want to piss-off all the good people who supported him?)
Richardson is tainted from when he ran the Department of Energy. 'Nuff said.
People know Jeffords' name but not who he is -- and, in any case, how many non-Democrats are going to be attracted to a Republican who turned Independent and handed the Senate to the Dems? I thought it was great, and that Jeffords' reasons were good, but to the uninitiated folks who are America's swing voters doesn't it look a lot like lack of loyalty on his part? And, as I said about the suggestion that Bill Clinton be considered, why would you want to rile up the opposition party like that, so they redouble their efforts to get out their base?
Dick Durbin? Come on, let's be serious, please, we have an election to win.
John Edwards. Of course, you sillies.
John Lewis? Interesting thought. I'm going to have to mull that over.
I can't remember where, exactly, I first saw the suggestion of John McCain for Kerry's v.p., but I thought it was pretty off-the-wall at the time. Now I'm not so sure. Such a fusion ticket might do wonders at getting across the party-line barrier, and any objections to McCain's politics (and there are many) that liberals would have can be mollified by the simple fact that vice presidents basically don't do anything. (Plus, putting him into Blair House takes a Republican Senator out of the Senate, not a bad thing in itself.) I rather doubt that McCain would do it, though.
Incidentally, Political Oddsmaker has Durbin and Vilsack at 100 to 1, Richardson at 5 to 1 and Edwards at 4 to 1. He doesn't rate any of the other candidates suggested above.
Update: Some second (or third) thoughts about McCain. Just thinking about how the announcement of Kerry picking McCain might play among liberals in general, and I don't think it would go over very well. I think there's a real danger that it would alienate quite a few of them, especially the Deanites already smarting from their primary smackdown.
Would liberals really not vote for Kerry, knowing that the alternative was Bush? I really hope that wouldn't be the case, but I do come across a lot of comments on the blogs from disgruntled liberals or lefities who are already kind of pissed off about Kerry winning the nomination, and McCain could well be the back-breaking straw.
Would McCain pull in more votes than he might lose? Hard to say, but the totality of the situation means that McCain is probably not the best choice for Kerry to make. It would certainly be a bold choice, though. If he were to make it, I hope he's got a plan for keeping everyone in the fold.
For Image, they suggest Edwards; for Passion, Dean; to get votes in the Swing States, Ed Rendell, Gephardt, Graham or Bayh; to appeal to Minorities, Richardson; for Military appeal, Clark; to get the Women's vote, Hillary; to bring a Washington Outsider onto the ticket, Vilsack; for Regional Balance, Feinstein, Vilsack, Gephardt, Edwards or Clark; to get the Southern vote, Clark, Edwards or Graham; and for pure Star power, Hillary.
And if that wasn't enough for you, they tack on a list of all the other possible candidates:
Louisiana Sens. John Breaux and Mary Landrieu, Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, former Georgia Sens. Max Cleland and Sam Nunn, Washington Gov. Gary Locke, former Nebraska Sen. Bob Kerrey, Virginia Gov. Mark Warner, West Virginia Sen. Jay Rockefeller, former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, Illinois Sen. Richard Durbin and New Jersey Rep. Robert Menendez.
Also, New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, Georgia Rep. John Lewis, Arizona Sen. John McCain (a Republican), former Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes, former New Jersey Sen. Bill Bradley, Michigan Sens. Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow, and California Reps. Nancy Pelosi (the House minority leader) and Ellen Tauscher
Way to go, Dallas Morning News, now that's real kitchen sink reporting!
I do have one question, though -- who's Kerry's best choice for a running mate?
(Anyway where's Bill Clinton, the two Al's -- Gore and Sharpton, Dennis Kucinich, Carol Mosley-Braun, Eric Shinseki, Jim Jeffords, Joe Lewis, Kathleen Sebelius and Joe Lieberman on their list? And surely someone, somewhere has mentioned the Dems buying off Ralph Nader with the v.p. slot? Come on, Dallas Morning News get back on to Google and do some more world-class reporting!)
Update (3/9): Kos starts a Kerry v.p. cattle call. Current ranking: (1) Cleland, (2) Edwards, (3) Rockefeller, (4) Warner, (5) Vilsack, (6) Gephardt, (7) Clark, (8) Landrieu, (9) Graham, (10) Richardson. He also quotes a bit from Opinion Journal speculating about... Tom Brokaw?
Cleland would be a good sentimental choice among Democrats, of course, but I can't help but think that the GOP already knows how to get to Cleland. Rockefeller is, I think, hobbled by a name that will only serve to reinforce the perception of Kerry as a rich guy. The others I've already discussed and dismissed, except for Edwards, of course, and Warner, about whom I don't have much to say.
[W]e are told things about the world [today] by people whom we do not know, working in places we have not been. Trust is no longer bestowed on familiar individuals; it is accorded to institutions and abstract capacities thought to reside in certain institutions.... We trust the truth of specialized and esoteric scientific knowledge without knowing the scientists who are the authors of its claims.... The gentleman has been replaced by the scientific expert, personal virtue by the possession of specialized knowledge, a calling by a job, a nexus of face-to-face intervention by faceless institutions, individual free action by institutional surveillance.
John Ziman "Non-instrumental Roles of Science,"
Science and Engineering Ethics, Vol. 9 (2003), pp. 17–27.
quoted by Richard Horton in
"The Dawn of McScience" New York Review of Books (3/11/2004)
From Protestants for the Common Good comes this suggestion for a consitutional amendment that's more in line with Biblical practices than the one that Bush offered up:
A. Marriage in the United States shall consist of a union between one man and one or more women. (Gen 29:17-28; II Sam 3:2-5)
B. Marriage shall not impede a man's right to take concubines in addition to his wife or wives. (II Sam 5:13; I Kings 11:3; II Chron 11:21)
C. A marriage shall be considered valid only if the wife is a virgin. If the wife is not a virgin, she shall be executed. (Deut 22:13-21)
D. Marriage of a believer and a non-believer shall be forbidden. (Gen 24:3; Num 25:1-9; Ezra 9:12; Neh 10:30)
E. Since marriage is for life, neither this Constitution nor the constitution of any State, nor any state or federal law, shall be construed to permit divorce. (Deut 22:19; Mark 10:9)
F. If a married man dies without children, his brother shall marry the widow. If he refuses to marry his brother's widow or deliberately does not give her children, he shall pay a fine of one shoe and be otherwise punished in a manner to be determined by law. (Gen. 38:6-10; Deut 25:5-10)
G. In lieu of marriage, if there are no acceptable men in your town, it is required that you get your dad drunk and have sex with him (even if he had previously offered you up as a sex toy to men young and old), tag-teaming with any sisters you may have. Of course, this rule applies only if you are female. (Gen 19:31-36)
I've seen various lists similar to this making the rounds (and I have to admit that I have not checked the Biblical citations for accuracy, but I do recall thumbing through a Bible last summer and coming across stuff that was similar to this, only about slavery), but the original source may be this piece by Mary-Ann Greanier in the Boston Phoenix last November.
Over two centuries ago, John Adams spoke eloquently about the need to let facts and evidence guide actions and policies. He said, "Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence." Listen to those words again, and you can hear John Adams speaking to us now about Iraq. "Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence."
Tragically, in making the decision to go to war in Iraq, the Bush Administration allowed its wishes, its inclinations and its passions to alter the state of facts and the evidence of the threat we faced from Iraq.
Ted Kennedy's recent speech to the Council on Foreign Relations is getting a lot of attention, as well it should. While no great feat of rhetoric, it is a wonderful litany of the lies, insinuations and misleading statements used by the Bush administration to justify the invasion of Iraq.
Kennedy deals with the misuse of intelligence, the lies about WMDs, the non-existant links between Saddam and al-Qaeda, and he makes particularly good use of the list compiled by the Center for American Progress of all the instances where, despite their denials now that they ever said anything like it, the Bush administration referred to Saddam Hussein's Iraq as an "imminent threat."
In the march to war, the President exaggerated the threat anyway. It was not subtle. It was not nuanced. It was pure, unadulterated fear-mongering, based on a devious strategy to convince the American people that Saddam's ability to provide nuclear weapons to Al Qaeda justified immediate war.
Why would the Administration go to such lengths to go to war? Was it trying to change the subject from its failed economic policy, the corporate scandals, and its failed effort to capture Osama bin Laden? The only imminent threat was the November Congressional election. The politics of the election trumped the stubborn facts.
Kennedy concludes, saying:
The evidence so far leads to only one conclusion. What happened was not merely a failure of intelligence, but the result of manipulation and distortion of the intelligence and selective use of unreliable intelligence to justify a decision to go to war. The Administration had made up its mind, and would not let stubborn facts stand in the way.
America went to war in Iraq because President Bush insisted that nuclear weapons in the hands of Saddam Hussein and his ties to Al Qaeda were too dangerous to ignore. Congress never would have voted to authorize the war if we had known the facts.
The Bush Administration is obviously digging in its heels against any further serious investigation of the reasons we went to war.
The Administration's highest priority is to prevent any more additional stubborn facts about this fateful issue from coming to light before the election in November.
This debate will go on anyway in Congress and in communities across the country. The most important decision any President makes is the decision on war or peace. No President who misleads the country on the need for war deserves to be reelected. A President who does so must be held accountable. The last thing our nation needs is a sign on the desk in the Oval Office in the White House that says, "The buck doesn't stop here any more."
hostile to science
lacking in empathy
lacking in public spirit
out of control
Thanks to: Breeze, Chuck, Ivan Raikov, Kaiju, Kathy, Roger, Shirley, S.M. Dixon
i've got a little list...
Steven Abrams (Kansas BofE)
Howard Fieldstead Ahmanson
Roger Ailes (FNC)
Alan Bonsell (Dover BofE)
Bill Buckingham (Dover BofE)
George W. Bush
Bruce Chapman (DI)
The Coors Family
William A. Dembski
Leonard Downie (WaPo)
John Gibson (FNC)
Fred Hiatt (WaPo)
James F. Inhofe
Philip E. Johnson
by Joel Pelletier
(click on image for more info)
Stephen C. Meyer (DI)
Judith Miller (ex-NYT)
Sun Myung Moon
Elspeth Reeve (TNR)
Martin Peretz (TNR)
Richard Mellon Scaife
Susan Schmidt (WaPo)
John Solomon (WaPo)
Richard Thompson (TMLC)
Bob Woodward (WaPo)
All the fine sites I've
Be sure to visit them all!!
Arthur C. Clarke
Daniel C. Dennett
Philip K. Dick
Stephen Jay Gould
"The Harder They Come"
Ursula K. LeGuin
The Marx Brothers
Michael C. Penta
Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger
"The Red Shoes"
"Singin' in the Rain"
Talking Heads/David Byrne
Hunter S. Thompson
"2001: A Space Odyssey"
If you read unfutz at least once a week, without fail, your teeth will be whiter and your love life more satisfying.
If you read it daily, I will come to your house, kiss you on the forehead, bathe your feet, and cook pancakes for you, with yummy syrup and everything.
(You might want to keep a watch on me, though, just to avoid the syrup ending up on your feet and the pancakes on your forehead.)
Finally, on a more mundane level, since I don't believe that anyone actually reads this stuff, I make this offer: I'll give five bucks to the first person who contacts me and asks for it -- and, believe me, right now five bucks might as well be five hundred, so this is no trivial offer.