Dover Bitch

Monday, April 30, 2007

Signs of 'surrender' in the media

In an earlier post, DB highlighted a Vanity Fair article by historian Robert Dallek, in which he reveals a conversation between President Richard Nixon and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger:

"In Saigon the tendency is to fight the war to victory," Nixon told Kissinger, according to the transcript of a 1969 phone conversation. "But you and I know it won't happen—it is impossible." Even so, according to Haldeman's unpublished diaries, Nixon later urged that Democratic critics making this same point should be labeled "the party of surrender."

Ten thousand Americans died in Vietnam after Nixon told Kissinger that victory was impossible.

That would have been enough of a reason for me to link to Dallek's column, but I chose to link to it earlier to point out that the White House is trotting out the same "party of surrender" talk, characterizing the funding bill as requiring a "surrender date."

Today on "Hardball," Washington Post reporter Lois Romano had this to say of the upcoming Republican presidential debate:

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Lois, do you think they'll all be trooping in line to show their party loyalty by showing their Bush loyalty? Or how do you think they going to nuance this thing?

LOIS ROMANO: Well, I think, obviously, they have to play a little bit to the base because they need to win the nomination first. But they're facing an extremely unpopular war so they have to thread a very narrow needle on how they want to deal with the war and still, you know, basically embrace Bush a little bit.

I think what you're going to hear them say is 'We don't think this is a good war but we don't think we should surrender.' "

To be fair, Romano said the Republicans would use the word "surrender." But she didn't make it clear that "surrender" is their word. It's just one of the two options (and obviously, the one the Republicans reject).

The word "surrender" is part of the GOP political strategy, so we can expect Republican officials and "strategists" to use it with abandon (and they already are).

But we've already seen the media faithfully adopt GOP talking points. For example, the way they immediately accepted the Bush administration label "Terrorist Surveillance Program" instead of "domestic wiretapping." Are we going to hear more and more journalists suggesting that the Democrats are on the verge of becoming "the party of surrender?"

UPDATE: Video here at Real Clear Politics.

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The only thing we have to fear

Once again, Atrios beats DB to the punch.

Our leaders showed more courage when they informed us that "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself " instead of telling us to be scared all of the time. True leaders will move us past the notion that what we want is a Great Protector to keep away the demons.

I didn't get to write anything about the debate last week because I was heading out of town that night. But, for me, the worst part of the entire thing was when Biden was asked what three nations represent the biggest threat to America.

The answer to that is what Atrios wrote. Fear is the top enemy facing our country. If the last six years have taught us anything it should be that we do stupid things when we act out of fear. There is a small, but loud, group of people in America who want nothing more than all-out war. They are, quite frankly, lunatics.

But when the entire country is in a fear-driven tailspin, as we were after 9/11, these nutcases start sounding reasonable to the average person. Especially somebody too busy with work and family to pay attention to all the details and comb through the dissembling.

Who are the top three enemies? That question doesn't deserve an answer because looking at the world that way is a recipe for disaster. The Axis of Evil was a blunder of epic proportions. Foreign policy based on a ranked system of threats to be eliminated is a worldview underscored with death, not diplomacy.

By the way, here's how Biden answered:

Brian Williams: Time is up, Senator.

Senator Biden, from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, what three nations, other than Iraq, represent, to you, the biggest threat to the United States?

Biden: The biggest threat to the United States is, right now, North Korea.

Iran not as big a threat, but a long-term threat.

And quite frankly, the tendency of Putin to move in a totalitarian direction, which would unhinge all that's going on positively in Europe.

And it requires us to make two fundamental changes in this administration's policy.

We have to jettison this notion of preemption as a doctrine, and we have to jettison the notion of regime change. Replace it with prevention; open our ears and talk, before things become crises.

And, two, we have to move in the direction of making sure that we deal with the one thing that no one's talking about, and that is conduct change, not regime change.

Think of the folly of what this administration has acted on. It has said, "By the way, give up your weapons, the very thing that's us from attacking you. And once you give them up, then we're going to take you out."

That's the logic of this administration. That's why we've lost respect all over the world.

My goal would be to reestablish America's place in the world.

It's not a horrible answer. Conduct change as opposed to regime change sounds like a winning strategy to me. But it would be nice if some of our leaders would remind us all that America is the greatest force for good in the world when we keep a level head about us. When we are so scared that Bill Kristol speaks for the majority... that's not so pretty.

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Snowjob back in action

Tony Snow, today:

Wait a minute, Chris. The president has been saying exactly that all along. I don’t know what the headline is. As a matter of fact, I can remember right after September 11 sitting here when I was a journalist and some of your colleagues, I believe Charlie Gibson may have been there at the time as well. The fact is the president made it clear before the State of the Union in 2002 that there was no link between Saddam Hussein and September 11. So Im afraid what’s happened there is that George Tenet may have been referring to something that has been misreported or at least twisted by people with political motives, but there has been no attempt to try to link Saddam to September 11.

George W. Bush, March 18, 2003:

Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:)

Consistent with section 3(b) of the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 (Public Law 107-243), and based on information available to me, including that in the enclosed document, I determine that:

(1) reliance by the United States on further diplomatic and other peaceful means alone will neither (A) adequately protect the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq nor (B) likely lead to enforcement of all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq; and

(2) acting pursuant to the Constitution and Public Law 107-243 is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.



UPDATE: Let's never forget, either, that Condoleezza Rice, with whom Bush shares a frontal lobe, was saying things like this on the very day that Bush sent his final draft of the AUMF to Congress:

"There clearly are contacts between al Qaeda and Iraq that can be documented; there clearly is testimony that some of the contacts have been important contacts and that there's a relationship here," Rice said.


"We clearly know that there were in the past and have been contacts between senior Iraqi officials and members of al Qaeda going back for actually quite a long time," Rice said. "We know too that several of the (al Qaeda) detainees, in particular some high-ranking detainees, have said that Iraq provided some training to al Qaeda in chemical weapons development."


"No one is trying to make an argument at this point that Saddam Hussein somehow had operational control of what happened on Sept. 11, so we don't want to push this too far, but this is a story that is unfolding, and it is getting clearer, and we're learning more," Rice said.

Right, no operational control. Saying Saddam had "operational control of what happened on Sept. 11" was pushing it "too far." But they were "clearly" in league with one another. And it was only a matter of time before the evidence proved Saddam was behind 9/11 because it was becoming "clearer" and that's the direction it was going as the story was "unfolding" in front of their careful eyes.

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Surrender Date

DB went away for the weekend to meet the newest member of the family (she is adorable). On the way to the airport, the cab driver had NPR on the radio, with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell talking to Robert Siegel:

MCCONNELL: Well, obviously the veto is going to be sustained. And then, we'll have to get serious about providing funding for the troops. The surrender date needs to come out. The pork needs to come out and we need to send the president a bill he can sign. And I'm optimistic that that'll be done relatively soon. I've had good preliminary conversations with Sen. Reid about the next round and I'm hoping that we can reach an agreement that's satisfactory to all the parties.


I think there is a possibility for bipartisan agreement on some kind of benchmarks. What is unacceptable is any kind of surrender date. Any kind of date that indicates to the terrorists on the other side if you can just hang on until this particular date, you get to win

SIEGEL: "Surrender date" we should say is your characterization of the withdrawal...

MCCONNELL: Yeah, a withdrawal date is the same as surrender. I mean, it's saying if you can hang on until this particular day, that's when we're going to give up.

That's the term of the week, apparently... Surrender date. The White House responded quickly to the Senate and House votes on the Iraq emergency funding bill:

PERINO: Eighty days after President Bush submitted his troop funding bill, the Senate has now joined the House in passing defeatist legislation that insists on a date for surrender, micro-manages our commanders and generals in combat zones from 6,000 miles away, and adds billions of dollars in unrelated spending to the fighting on the ground.


PERINO: His principle is that he is not going to put our troops into the position of having a date -- a surrender date without providing the Iraqis the chance that they need in order to get the political reconciliation that they need.

The conservative parrots at the Washington Times penned an op-ed entitled Surrender Date and everybody's favorite former Democrat, Joe Lieberman, followed with his own op-ed in the NY Post, "IRAQ: NO RETREAT, NO SURRENDER."

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said "the Democrats need to stop pleading for surrender."

Add to the Democrats-surrendering list House Minority Leader John Boehner, Sen. John Ensign (R-NV), Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), Sen. Jim Inhofe, (R-OK) and a number of conservative editorials. [Update: Add GOP No. 3 Rep. Adam Putnum (R-FL) to the mix.]

I began this post by mentioning that I went to the airport. As it happens, I took with me a copy of the May 2007 issue of Vanity Fair, which contains several outstanding articles, one of which is "The Kissinger Presidency" by historian Robert Dallek. I found this paragraph interesting:

Vietnam. Using language that has a painfully contemporary echo, Kissinger and Nixon very quickly came to private conclusions about Vietnam that they never revealed publicly and denied entertaining. "In Saigon the tendency is to fight the war to victory," Nixon told Kissinger, according to the transcript of a 1969 phone conversation. "But you and I know it won't happen—it is impossible." Even so, according to Haldeman's unpublished diaries, Nixon later urged that Democratic critics making this same point should be labeled "the party of surrender." When someone told Kissinger that Nixon could not be re-elected, because of Vietnam, he disputed it and added, according to a memo of a conversation, that "anytime we want to get out of Vietnam we can," and that "we will get out of Vietnam before the [1972] election." Nixon wanted to plan the removal of all U.S. troops by the end of 1971, but Kissinger cautioned that, if North Vietnam then de-stabilized Saigon during the following year, events could have an adverse effect on the president's campaign. According to Haldeman's diaries, Kissinger advocated a pullout in the fall of 1972, "so that if any bad results follow they will be too late to affect the election." He apparently had nothing to say about the American lives that would be lost by deliberately prolonging the war. Just before a peace treaty was signed, Kissinger in a phone conversation advised Nixon against stating that this was a "lasting peace or guaranteed peace because this thing is almost certain to blow up sooner or later."

Dallek also reminds us:

Nixon is dead, but Henry Kissinger remains very much a man in public life. In recent years, President George W. Bush has consulted him for advice on the Iraq war, which Kissinger has supported. Since 2001, Kissinger has, according to Bob Woodward's State of Denial, met with the president every other month, and with Vice President Dick Cheney every month, and he has advised President Bush that "victory ... is the only meaningful exit strategy" for Iraq.

I've always believed the "history repeats itself" cliche was easily disproved, but if Kissinger is going to keep writing new chapters, we're going to be treated to the same tragedy over and over.

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Context matters

Via Atrios, DB sees that CBS' Mark Knoller has a beef with Bill Moyers.

Now, I’m the first to concede there are plenty of good reasons to criticize the White House Press. We’re an irascible and unlikable bunch. I’m one of us and I don’t like us very much. But the point made by Bill Moyers at the start of his program last night is just off base.

The broadcast began by focusing on the performance of reporters at President Bush’s news conference on March 6, 2003. We didn’t know it at the time, but it turned out to be 13 days before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

Moyers charges in his opening sentences that the press “largely surrendered its independence and skepticism” and joined with the Bush Administration in marching to war.

Pointing to that news conference, Moyers claims that the White House press corps asked “no hard questions” about the president’s arguments for war.

He shows only a single, brief example of a question – deep in the news conference – in which a reporter asked Mr. Bush to reflect on how he was guided by his faith at that difficult time. Admittedly, it was a softball.

But Moyers did not cite any of the other much more pointed questions put to the President that evening in the East Room.

That would be a great point if a) "much more pointed" than a softball was a real standard; b) the entire thing wasn't scripted; and c) that scene represented the entirety of Moyers' broadcast.

Others have already written about their favorite parts. Jane Hamsher enjoyed seeing Tim Russert play the blue-collar card. Christy Harden Smith enjoyed Judy Miller's moments in the spotlight. Atrios enjoyed seeing Peter Beinart change the subject when he was called on his lack of expertise. Glenn Greenwald highlights the tragic reality that the most demonstrably clueless pundits have even more prominence today and didn't have the guts to talk to Moyers.

All of those segments reverberated with DB as I reflected on the program. But there was another I thought was telling. Moyers (and Eric Boehlert) pointed out that the real story -- THE TRUTH -- was out there for a real reporter to find. The proof was Knight-Ridder.

This news conference wasn't only pathetic because the questions weren't tough enough, it was horrible because by the time it happened, a Washington press corps filled with skeptical and aggressive reporters -- like Jonathan Landay and Warren Strobel at Knight Ridder -- would have been armed with enough evidence to make that press conference something Mark Knoller wouldn't feel compelled to defend in 2007.

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No longer in the backwash

Almost every day, when DB goes for a walk in the neighborhood, my eyes glance over at the window in one particular house. Actually, the first thing that happens is that I notice how lovely the flowers are in front of that house.

Then, I look up to see the big sign in the window:


And there's a flag and something about 9/11. Every day for the past six years, there it is, causing my brow to furrow and some muttering to escape from my lips.

Well surprise, surprise. Yesterday, my eyebrows arched instead.


No more Bush? Wow! I guess the residents of that house fit somewhere in the 29-32 percent range. Twenty-eight percent? Count even them out.



DB learned today that FEMA and the Center for Disease Control, among other agencies, exist only to make me feel better about myself.

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Most e-mailed

From Glenn Greenwald's interview with Pulitzer-winner Charlie Savage:

In a related way, our website's "most e-mailed stories" lists, which I know editors pay attention to, provides a useful barometer for which stories are capturing readers’ attention. Several of these signing statements stories were among the most e-mailed at the Globe's website in 2006.

If that's how editors identify important work, then by all means, when you come across a critical piece of work or a reporter who is doing the work worthy of his profession (like Savage), use that website's email tool. Mail it to yourself if you have to.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Fun times

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Rudy's no hero

Atrios caught this sentence in today's speech by John McCain:

McCain Takes it to Rudy

His speech today:

They won't accept that firemen and policemen are unable to communicate with each other in an emergency because they don't have the same radio frequency.

Heckuva job, Rudy.

Free lifetime subscription to Eschaton for the first mainstream media person who picks up on that.

I just saw McCain deliver that line on MSNBC, for what that's worth.

But I link to this because this subject is one that is personal to DB. Longtime readers of this blog will remember that DB wrote furiously on the topic (here, here, here, here, here and here) when there was time for Congress to rectify the problem back in 2005, which still would have been close to two decades too late.

I won't be real happy if John McCain is president (and I was delighted to see Jon Stewart shoot down all his talking points last night), but I would be dishonest if I didn't give him high marks on this particular issue.

You see, 18 days ago, April 7, 2007, would have been the deadline for all the frequencies our first responders need to become available to them. At least it would have if Sen. Ted Stevens' Commerce Committee hadn't defeated McCain's amendment (5-17) back on Oct. 20, 2005. He also introduced an amendment to the entire Senate two weeks later and that, too, was defeated, 60-39.

McCain isn't just taking pot shots at Rudy. He's got the credentials on this issue. He kept fighting for it in the wake of Katrina:

"Let’s remember that Congress provided additional spectrum for first responders in the Telecommunications Act of 1996," said McCain. "So, after spending millions of dollars in funding and additional spectrum for our nation’s first responders why aren't we better off than we were on 9/11 when it comes to interoperable communications? Because the spectrum Congress provided to first responders in 1996 is being held hostage by television broadcasters even though broadcasters have been given new spectrum."

But nothing prevented the City of New York from working on its own to solve the problems they encountered at the first World Trade Center bombing. When I first started to write about this travesty, I began it with this quote:

No responsibility is more fundamental and reflective of the nation's values than that of its Public Safety agencies. The citizens' legitimate expectation is that when their life or property is endangered, their government will respond. Vast federal, state, and local resources are committed to ensure this obligation is met. The effectiveness of police officers, fire fighters, emergency medical services (EMS) personnel, and other Public Safety officials is inextricably tied to communications capability. Today's communications environment, however, impedes meeting this responsibility. Rescuing victims of the World Trade Center bombing, who were caught between floors, was hindered when police officers could not communicate with fire fighters on the very next floor. Similarly, the inability to communicate among the agencies that had rushed to the Oklahoma City bombing site required resorting to runners to relay messages. The lack of sufficient, quality radio spectrum suitable for Public Safety use deters technological innovation, diminishes the responsiveness and effectiveness of Public Safety, and ultimately compromises the safety of the responding officers and of the very individuals seeking their help.

That is from Sept. 11 -- 1996. It is the introduction to the Final Report Of The Public Safety Wireless Advisory Committee (PDF). Five years later, our first responders were in the exact same predicament. Rudy was Mayor from Jan. 1, 1994 - Dec. 31, 2001.

So when Rudy walks around boasting about his heroism on 9/11, remember this:

A NYPD helicopter pilot reported early, before the fall of the South Tower, that the North Tower was going to fall, but the fire chiefs did not hear of this. When the pilot saw that the South Tower was falling his announcement to police command was instant, and police command issued a forceful and robust order to evacuate the remaining building and to move all department vehicles to safety. Notwithstanding that this was a successful communication that resulted in the saving of many lives, the fire chiefs did not hear this order.

The command of the North Tower was covered with debris when the South Tower fell, and Chief Joseph Pfeifer, in complete darkness, gave the order, "All units in Tower One evacuate the building."

Just how many firefighters escaped in the twenty-nine minutes from Chief Pfeiffer's order is not certain, but we do know that one police officer, at least five Port Authority police officers, and 121 firefighters were killed when the second tower collapsed. Others were killed on the street, including four ESU 5 officers and a number of other firefighters who had successfully evacuated the building. -- 9/11 testimony of Dennis Smith, June 19, 2004

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007


DB has (finally) finished retroactively adding labels to old posts, taking advantage of this new blogger feature. Apologies to Dover Bitch readers who use the RSS feed and have been seeing old posts appear in the recent post list.

I'm sure the arbitrary system I came up with isn't the best, but it will have to do.

Here's an awesome poem to make amends:

Danse Russe
by William Carlos Williams

If when my wife is sleeping
and the baby and Kathleen
are sleeping
and the sun is a flame-white disc
in silken mists
above shining trees,-
if I in my north room
dance naked, grotesquely
before my mirror
waving my shirt round my head
and singing softly to myself:
"I am lonely, lonely.
I was born to be lonely,
I am best so!"
If I admire my arms, my face,
my shoulders, flanks, buttocks
against the yellow drawn shades-

Who shall say I am not
the happy genius of my household?

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Jake Plummer on Pat Tillman

DB just watched this clip of former Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer on HBO, posted at Crooks & Liars by John Amato last September.

Even if you've seen it before, watch it again because it really puts the entire sorry affair in perspective. Watching the bogus storyline delivered at Pat Tillman's memorial service, knowing that the Pentagon knew what really happened... it's infuriating. Thank you Henry Waxman for giving the Tillman family a chance to speak their minds. They deserve so much more.

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The Top 100

Sure is great to see the most popular right-wing blogs up in arms about the way Pat Tillman's family described the treatment they received from the Bush/Rumsfeld military after giving this country the ultimate sacrifice:

Michelle Malkin:



Hugh Hewitt:

Captain's Quarters:

The Corner:

But don't worry, there is one bold wingnut blog ready to expose the real crisis with the Tillman case:


UPDATE: I see that Powerline finally addressed the topic. And of course, they have concluded that there's nothing to see here, move along.

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Monday, April 23, 2007

The Geranium

Theodore Roethke wrote one of DB's favorite poems of all time. I'll save that one for a special occasion, but in the meantime, Roethke has been on my mind, so here's The Geranium:

When I put her out, once, by the garbage pail,
She looked so limp and bedraggled,
So foolish and trusting, like a sick poodle,
Or a wizened aster in late September,
I brought her back in again
For a new routine--
Vitamins, water, and whatever
Sustenance seemed sensible
At the time: she'd lived
So long on gin, bobbie pins, half-smoked cigars, dead beer,
Her shriveled petals falling
On the faded carpet, the stale
Steak grease stuck to her fuzzy leaves.
(Dried-out, she creaked like a tulip.)

The things she endured!--
The dumb dames shrieking half the night
Or the two of us, alone, both seedy,
Me breathing booze at her,
She leaning out of her pot toward the window.

Near the end, she seemed almost to hear me--
And that was scary--
So when that snuffling cretin of a maid
Threw her, pot and all, into the trash-can,
I said nothing.

But I sacked the presumptuous hag the next week,
I was that lonely.


More media professionalism

David Ignatius wrote, in his bland mea culpa for the Iraq War:

In a sense, the media were victims of their own professionalism. Because there was little criticism of the war from prominent Democrats and foreign policy analysts, journalistic rules meant we shouldn't create a debate on our own.

Even though I fundamentally disagree with this pathetic construct... let's just accept that that's the way the MSM sees it's job. Take what the Democrats say and compare and contrast it with the Republicans' description of reality.

They're not even living up to that lousy standard. Reid says the war is lost, Bush says we're winning. Instead of hashing that out, they are talking about whether it is even appropriate for Reid to state his opinion at all.

They've set the lowest possible bar of "professionalism" for themselves and still can't climb over it.

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The speed of Kaus

Before DB started blogging, I used to read Mickey Kaus' blog on Slate. I read Slate before I started reading pretty much any blogs, so Kaus' was really my introduction to political blogging.

I almost always came to the conclusion that Kaus was wrong, but I enjoyed his blog because sometimes it would take me hours to come to that conclusion. It was thought-provoking and I enjoyed reading it.

After a while though, I realized that it was taking me less and less time to figure out why he was wrong. By the time he basically wrote that Valerie Wilson was to blame for her own outing by allowing her husband to have an opinion, I said enough. It only took me until the end of the paragraph to know just how wrong Kaus was.

For no good reason, I checked out Kaus' blog on Thursday and discovered something interesting. It's not that I got used to Kaus' style and became more enabled to spot his wrongness quicker... He's actually been steadily increasing his economy with wrongness in the absence of my readership. He begins:

Is the wrong party dissatisfied with its presidential candidates? I think so. ... 4:19 P.M.

No! One sentence! Where can he go from there? Well, the next item begins by asking:

Isn't Michael Ledeen right

No! Four words! It's amazing! I might have to start reading his blog again, just to see him reach wrongness singularity.

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Saturday, April 21, 2007

A glimpse of the Governator

DB just saw the Governator with Maria Shriver in Santa Monica. I went out to buy some tiny outfits for the newest member of our family, born on Wednesday, and there they were, out for a bite.

Too bad I was in such a hurry. I've been hoping to run into him, actually. I would like to tell him that if he really believes in accountability, he ought to bail on the GOP for good. He might as well become an independent.

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Friday, April 20, 2007

Smerconish in the Morning

DB is a night owl, but rarely stayed awake late enough on the West Coast watching TV to catch Imus in the (wee hours of the) Morning. So it won't hurt my brain so much when this guy takes over his slot on MSNBC:

Ok, let’s take it a step further. Let’s assume she knows Zarqawi’s whereabouts but won’t give up that information for a piece of quiche and a warm blanket.

Now what?

I say do whatever is necessary to get her to talk. Waterboard her. Strap her to a pig. Do whatever it takes.

Well done, MSNBC. Here's how he reacted to your coverage of the alleged massacre at Haditha:

Isn't it conceivable that the Marines, under attack or believing they were under attack, shot up the area with their automatic weapons, mistakenly killing innocent civilians in the process? Then, fully understanding that the media would vilify them for their mistake, they compounded their error and lied, saying that the IED that killed their comrades, also killed the civilians. If so, I think the lie was a mistake, but an entirely understandable one.

My sympathies to the eyes and ears of other time zones.

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Gonzales has failed us all

DB didn't get a chance to do any blogging yesterday, but my two Gonzales Haiku submissions at FDL seem to have been pretty much spot on.

I don’t remember
I’m not prepared to answer
I cannot recall

That one pretty much speaks for itself. My other haiku requires maybe a little more background:

You covered his ass,
Spared him from jury duty
He’s not your “client”

When Gonzales' nomination was being considered by the Senate, he stated that he understood his job would be to represent the American people, and no longer would Bush be his client.

During his testimony in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee at their February 2006 hearing on the president's ability to wiretap without a warrant, Sen. Schumer asked Gonzales if the administration was preventing people like former Attorney General John Ashcroft from volunteering to testify:

SCHUMER: I'm asking you what the administration would think in terms of exercising any claim of privilege.

You're not going to have -- I'm sorry, here -- you're not going to have different rules for yourself, an administration advocate, then for these people who might be administration dissenters in one way or another, are you?

GONZALES: Sir, I don't know if you're asking what are they going to say...

SCHUMER: I'm not asking you that.

Would the rules be same? I think you answer that yes or no.

GONZALES: If they came to testify?

SCHUMER: Correct.

GONZALES: Well, sir, the client here is the president of the United States. I'm not sure it's in my place to offer...

SCHUMER: Or his chief...

GONZALES: ... up a position or my recommendation to you about what I might recommend to the president of the United States would not be appropriate here.

In November, as he failed to recall any mistakes he might have made, Gonzales referred to his "client" again. He still hadn't embraced the idea that he works for the American people.

And so it was easy to predict that Gonzales would again cover the president's sorry butt instead of helping the American people get to the bottom of what is an ugly, ugly mess at his department. Glenn Greenwald really hits this point home with eloquence:

[W]hat Alberto Gonzales did today -- and what he has done in this scandal since its inception -- is what he has been doing for the last six years, and particularly, during the last two years during his tenure as Attorney General. He has repeatedly lied to Congress, evaded their questions, concealed wrongdoing, expressed contempt for oversight and checks, particularly when it comes to the actions of the Leader, whom -- even as Attorney General -- he still plainly sees as his client and whose interests are his paramount, really his only, priority.

That is what Alberto Gonzales is -- he is a supremely loyal servant of George Bush and he was installed as the nation's chief law enforcement officer precisely because of that attribute. There really is very little he would not do, if there is anything, in service to the White House. And that has been evident for quite some time.

Nor is there anything unique about Gonzales himself. His conduct is the conduct of this administration, and his mindset is its mindset. The U.S. Attorneys scandal is merely illustrative, not unique in any way -- except that Bush's weakened state and subpoena power in the hands of Democrats have combined to produce slightly more oversight and scrutiny than before.

For DB, the whole spectacle could really be summed up with this exchange. That clip doesn't show the question Gonzales was asked, but essentially, Sen. Cardin asked why the Department of Justice has investigated voter fraud issues, but they have not investigated voter intimidation cases. This, despite the fact that there are scant examples of actual voter fraud and the examples of disenfranchisement are legion.

Gonzales first claimed he can relate to poor minorities and then explained, falsely, that the department follows guidelines to prevent anybody from being intimidated from voting by the DOJ investigations into voter fraud, themselves. Nothing about why he doesn't take voter intimidation and suppression cases seriously enough to investigate.

That was the day in a nutshell... try to seem sympathetic, evade answering the question by talking about something else, and say whatever sounds like a legitimate reason for keeping the job. It was pathetic.

Finally, DB's two favorite summaries of the day. Dahlia Lithwick (of course) encapsulated the day quite well and even included a picture of Sen. Whitehouse's amazing chart (on Page 2). And this NY Times editorial is just perfect.

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What Roy said

Roy Edroso at Alicublog, one of DB's favorites, succinctly sums up the wingnut blog-o-sphere (and, quite frankly, many who often appear as "Republican Strategists" on our televisions) with this rebuttal to the right-wing reaction to NBC's coverage of the Virginia Tech killer:

When you read anything by these awful people that has to do with what should and should not be covered, please recognize that they are not trying to inform you. For them everything -- news, art, science -- is propaganda. There is no aspect of human life which they do not see an opportunity for partisan advantage.

That's why I'm so hard on them -- not so much because they're wrong on the issues, but because they're twisted freaks who seek power, and that sort always needs resisting.


Which is also why, when somebody complains about the "liberal media," the MSM should laugh it off instead of reacting like this jackass. I have always maintained that if they feel the forums provided to them are places that are fundamentally dishonest, unless they are personal hallmarks of integrity, they will have no qualms about lying with abandon.

My own personal view is that many of these hacks are so completely solipsistic they see the world as propaganda because that's all they are capable of delivering themselves and cannot imagine anything else.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007


DB would write about how dark today's SCOTUS decision on abortion is...

But a new member of DB's family entered the world this morning, so we're celebrating life over here today.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Department of Injustice

One of these days, the complete record of what the Bush administration has done to minorities will be revealed and the GOP will be broken. Of course, the racists among us will find another vehicle for their warped agenda. But the damage that has been done to the Department of Justice will take a long time to repair.

Here's one thing that the Bush political appointees insisted didn't raise any red flags. The sponsor of the bill, Georgia state Rep. Sue Burmeister told voting section staff that "if there are fewer black voters because of this bill, it will only be because there is less opportunity for fraud," and that "when black voters in her black precincts are not paid to vote, they do not go to the polls."

Once again, Josh Marshall and his staff are taking the lead on this issue. Please join DB in awarding him the honorary title Chief Justice of the Internet.

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Our supporters are becoming more mature

Steve at Crooks and Liars spots the ever-more-desperate Brit Hume and Co. consoling themselves by pointing out how cultivated they are:

“What we have is a situation where some people seem to be reading the newspapers every day, and if there’s a big episode it shows that the strategy is failing. That’s not a mature way to look at it. And we desperately need some people looking at this in a mature way right now.” (emphasis added)

Good to know. If there’s less violence in Iraq, it’s progress. If there’s more violence, it’s still progress because the mature grown-ups say so.

If we disagree, the problem isn’t just that we’re wrong, it’s that we’re childish. It’s as if the right is rewriting the rules for stages of grief — start with denial (”last throes”), move on to demagoguery (”critics are emboldening the terrorists”), and end up at misplaced, condescending arrogance (”That’s not a mature way to look at it”).

Clearly, America's response to the threats of the world has been mature. And naturally, if you're looking for sophistication, look no further than Fox News Sunday and Special Report with Brit Hume:

  • Nancy Pelosi is the Wicked Witch of the West.

  • "[W]omen with their breasts exposed are a matter of public interest to some people."

  • Dick Cheney did the "manly thing" by withholding the news that he shot a man in the face.

  • Teresa Heinz Kerry is not unlike Eva Peron.

  • The Isley Brothers are more familiar than the Black Eyed Peas, whose lyrics "Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah" are "popular in the swing states."

  • War critic John Murtha has "never been a big thinker."

    Yes, it's only the strongest swimmers who brave the deepest waters. That's Hume we're talking about. It kind of reminds me of something...

    Marty: The last time Tap toured America, they where, uh, booked into 10,000 seat arenas, and 15,000 seat venues, and it seems that now, on their current tour they're being booked into 1,200 seat arenas, 1,500 seat arenas, and uh I was just wondering, does this mean uh...the popularity of the group is waning?

    Ian: Oh, no, no, no, no, no,, no, not at all. I, I, I just think that the.. uh.. their appeal is becoming more selective.

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  • Monday, April 16, 2007

    John Bolton

    I don't even know what to say anymore. They're all pathological.

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    Congratulations Charlie Savage

    ...and all the 2007 Pulitzer Prize winners.

    Savage deserves it for all his tremendous work, not the least of which was his reporting on Bush's signing statements.

    And for those of you who were pulling for Josh Marshall and TPM to win... you can still join DB in bestowing upon him the honorary title of Chief Justice of the Internet.

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    Sunday, April 15, 2007

    Gonzales Haiku

    Here's DB's FDL Alberto Gonzales Haiku:

    I don’t remember
    I’m not prepared to answer
    I cannot recall

    Looks like he might as well send it to the Hill.

    (corrected spelling in post title)

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    Before Jon Stewart earned DB's permanent respect for killing Crossfire, that show was on TV here all the time. One of the moments that made it watchable was this:

    JAMES CARVILLE: I'll tell you what, that is the best money the government spent in all of 2002.

    Trent Lott isn't the only Republican that wants to turn the clock back to the years of segregation. The embattled senator from Mississippi wants to take us back to 1948. Attorney General John Ashcroft, though, would rather return to 1848. Four years ago, Ashcroft gave an interview to "Southern Partisan Magazine," in which he described the importance of "defending southern patriots like Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson and Jefferson Davis."

    (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to say not only segregation, but (UNINTELLIGIBLE). So tonight, I want to announce the formation of Liberals for Lott. Libs for Lott is dedicated to the American principle of equal justice for all. Leadership based on character and full accountability to those who seek to govern. Libs for Lott demands equality. If Senator Lott stays, so can Ashcroft. But if Lott goes, we insist that the Republican Party send Ashcroft with him.


    Our group...

    TUCKER CARLSON: Your group.

    CARVILLE: Because I don't know what we're going to tell the children. Because when the little children come home and they say, mommy, why did Senator Lott lose his job? He was just for segregation.

    CARLSON: But Senator Byrd...


    CARVILLE: ... Ashcroft, who spoke out nostalgically about slavery keeps his. I don't understand. We have to be willing to have the courage to teach the little cowboys and cowgirls out there in America the lesson that everybody is responsible for their actions, even the attorney general.

    CARLSON: Well, good luck, James. And in the absence of any real ideas, that would probably make a good platform for you. And I hope you do a great job with it.

    CARVILLE: Please join Libs for Lott, because we're standing with Trent. Because we say equal justice for all. If it's good for the majority leader, it's good for the attorney general.

    CARLSON: If the idea that the attorney general is a racist or a supporter of slavery, someone...

    CARVILLE: Well why keep giving interviews to "Southern Partisan Magazine," a magazine that regularly praises the assassination of Abraham Lincoln? Do you think that was a good idea that Lincoln was assassinated? Speak out against it.

    CARLSON: This is so insane, that I can't continue this conversation.


    CARVILLE: ... wrong to assassinate Abraham Lincoln.

    CARLSON: We're going to have to take a commercial break. Insanity demands it.

    Do you think that was a good idea that Lincoln was assassinated, Tucker? Comedy gold.

    DB is writing this post today for several reasons. First, it is timely. President Lincoln was killed 142 years ago today (and I'm a sucker for anniversaries).

    Today is also Jackie Robinson Day at stadiums across America. The same TV stations that have spent the last two weeks hosting debates about racist comments directed at some fantastic young athletes and scholars will spend the afternoon celebrating, quite rightly, an American hero who heard the same and worse when he broke the color barrier in baseball 60 years ago.

    Robinson was named Rookie of the Year in September 1947, just five months before President Truman delivered his civil rights agenda to Congress, which led to the segregationist 1948 presidential candidacy of Strom Thurmond. The candidacy that Lott romanticized above.

    We've come a long way in America, but obviously not far enough. Over at Josh Marshall's TPMmuckraker, we saw this report by Paul Kiel last week:

    During the first five years of the Bush administration, the Justice Department's voting section only filed a single case alleging voting discrimination on behalf of African American voters. That's despite the fact that the section, part of the Civil Rights Division, was created mainly to protect African American voters from discrimination.

    But during that same time period, the section managed to file the first ever "reverse" discrimination case under the Voting Rights Act.


    A similar shift has occurred in the division's employment litigation section, which is tasked with preventing discrimination in employment. That section has managed to file two "reverse" discrimination cases alleging discrimination against whites under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, while filing only one alleging discrimination against African Americans in the past six years.


    All of this is of course compounded by the examples of misconduct emerging from the U.S. Attorneys scandal, which is breaking open in large part because of the persistence of Marshall and TPM.

    Which brings DB to the main point of this post and also to the reason this it begins with that ridiculous exchange on Crossfire.

    While Marshall and TPM have been appropriately receiving accolades for their work in "PurgeGate," the truth is that Marshall has been an online hero for justice for a long time. Here's Ashcroft praising that racist southern magazine:

    "Your magazine helps set the record straight," said Ashcroft. "You've got a heritage of doing that, of defending Southern patriots like [Robert E.] Lee, [Stonewall] Jackson and [Jefferson] Davis. Traditionalists must do more. I've got to do more. We've all got to stand up and speak in this respect or else we'll be taught that these people were giving their lives, subscribing their sacred fortunes and their honor to some perverted agenda."

    Who do you think broke that story for Slate in 2000? That's right, Josh Marshall. And here's what he humbly wrote at TPM:

    And finally, why hasn't more been said about Ashcroft's interview with the Southern Partisan magazine? I'd like to take heaps of credit for being the first to mention this story late on the evening of December 22nd. But, honestly, a few Nexis searches are all that's required to get all the details. But a quick search on the self-same Nexis reveals that only one article (that by Tom Edsall in the Washington Post) has even mentioned the Southern Partisan interview since Ashcroft's nomination (and even then only in passing).

    Isn't this sort of a big deal? Is it really too much to ask that nominees for Attorney General not give interviews to crypto- (or not-so-crypto) racist publications like the Southern Partisan?

    The media did, finally, begin to notice and Marshall kept the questions rolling:

    More on point is the fact, reported in the AP story, that George Bush, Sr. appointed Ashcroft to his commission on race and minorities in America. And Ashcroft was one of only two of the forty commission members who refused to sign the final report. Ashcroft said the report's "generalizations about setbacks in progress are overly broad and counterproductive."


    Talking Points hasn't seen the report. But he imagines that since it was sponsored by President Bush it probably wasn't a particularly afro-centric document, if you know what I mean.

    Anyway, the point isn't that Ashcroft's a racist. But then that's not the standard, is it? Given all the evidence, let's just say that civil rights enforcement just doesn't really seem like John Ashcroft's cup of tea.

    And since the AG is the head civil rights enforcer. Maybe he just ain't the right guy for the job.

    So here we are, seven years later, and the results are in. The Department of Justice has not just abandoned its Civil Rights responsibilities. It has deceptively and deliberately worked to undermine its own mission.

    Josh Marshall saw it coming and rang the alarm bell. Too bad it's taken seven years for him to make it to prime time cable news shows and to get some notice in the "Paper of Record."

    DB thinks America is a better country when people are paying attention to Josh Marshall and I'd like to keep him in the spotlight.


    Who's with me?

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    Play ball

    DB went to Dodger Stadium tonight to see L.A. get knocked around by San Diego, but mostly to take Brian Williams' advice and leave the apartment.

    "American Idol" is never broadcast into this apartment, but because of the endless fascination with Sanjaya on virtually every cable news program, when his face flashed up on the scoreboard video screen, I recognized him before his name was added to the image. Scary. But it was amusing when practically the entire stadium started booing him.

    Tomorrow, the Dodgers and all of baseball will celebrate Jackie Robinson Day. He certainly deserves the honor.

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    Friday, April 13, 2007

    Various matters

    Here are a bunch of random thoughts for the day. Blogging is light today, both because DB was busy, but also because I wanted to let my last post stay on top for a while. In fact, I tried my hand at my first cross-post on Daily Kos, but I'm starting to think from the comments in it, which almost all have to do with Tony Blair, that a diary posted when Europe is waking up and America is sleeping, entitled "We didn't elect Tony Blair" -- well, that was probably a mistake (blushing).

    In any event, please consider calling your Senators and ask them if they were aware that the Bush administration was on the verge of provoking a war with Iran until England declined the offer. At least two Senators have already said that Bush does not have the Constitutional authority to attack Iran. If Congress is waiting for Bush to make a move before fighting back, reacting to the news of this offer would be immeasurably preferable to reacting to a war that's already claiming lives and will probably be impossible to stop.

    If your Senators weren't informed that Bush was ready to go to war with Iran, ask them when they are planning to get an explanation from him. Shouldn't they be concerned by the fact that the decision to take America to war with Iran was left up to Tony Blair, not Congress or the American people?

    Let me know what they say.

    A few other items of interest:

  • Thanks for the link, Greg Sargent. And great work.

  • Abstinence-only programs have failed. Seems to me the people of Connecticut should ask Joe Lieberman why all that taxpayer money that leaves the state and comes back at a lower rate than almost every other state in the country should be getting funneled into the worthless faith-based abstinence programs he helped make possible.

  • COOT OFF! Like the grouchy "get off my lawn" neighborhood curmudgeon who lives forever, Ted Stevens sets a longevity record. Couldn't have happened to a lousier Senator. "I just the other day got, an Internet was sent by my staff at 10 o'clock in the morning on Friday and I just got it yesterday. Why??"

  • Great job on the document dump, blog-o-sphere!

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  • Thursday, April 12, 2007

    We did not elect Tony Blair

    (Cross-posted at Daily Kos)

    Back in January, Senator Biden (D-DE) told Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in no uncertain terms, that he felt the president did not have the Constitutional authority to go to war with Iran.

    Secondly, I also want to make it clear, as chairman of the committee, that I feel very strongly that the authorization of the use of force in the provision that the Senator [Webb] read from it explicitly denies you the authority to go into Iran. Let me say that again: explicitly denies you the authority to go into Iran. We will fight that out if the President moves but I just want the record to show, and I would like to have a legal response from the State Department that if they think they have authority to pursue networks or anything else across the boarder into Iran and Iraq [Syria] that will generate a Constitutional confrontation here in the Senate, I predict to you. At least I will attempt to make it a confrontation.

    On several occasions, Rice has been asked whether the president would come back to Congress for authorization, and each time she has refused to answer the question, other than to declare that she will not "circumscribe" or "constrain" the President's authority as Commander in Chief. Glenn Greenwald has documented some of those interactions here (on his old blog).

    DB's contribution to this discussion was to remind people that the President already asked for the authority to attack Iran and Syria and was absolutely denied. Senator Hagel (R-NE) recently confirmed this to be true.

    So that left us with a scary hypothetical. What if the Bush administration decides, for whatever reason, that they want to initiate a war with Iran? Will they go to Congress to ask for the authority? Will the president brazenly declare that he doesn't need the authorization? Or will there be some incident involving American troops or civilians, requiring an immediate military response, pulling us into a war, but saving the administration from having to deal with pesky old Congress?

    While DB was on vacation in London, Iran captured 15 British sailors. Happily, the British have cooler heads than the people responsible for American foreign policy, and the situation was resolved without an unnecessary armed conflict escalating into God only knows what kind of war. I thought, as did many I'm sure, that it was a very good thing that those weren't American sailors. I had little doubt that our hypothetical would have been answered -- we would have had the incident the administration required to expand the war to yet another country, possibly with nuclear ramifications. Instead, it seemed, we will still have to wait for an answer and hope that nothing horrible happens.

    As it turns out, we may already have an answer. If this story in last Saturday's Guardian is to be believed, the Bush administration was already prepared to go to war with Iran without asking Congress and without even using a threat to American troops or citizens to justify expanding the war.

    The US offered to take military action on behalf of the 15 British sailors and marines held by Iran, including buzzing Iranian Revolutionary Guard positions with warplanes, the Guardian has learned.

    In the first few days after the captives were seized and British diplomats were getting no news from Tehran on their whereabouts, Pentagon officials asked their British counterparts: what do you want us to do? They offered a series of military options, a list which remains top secret given the mounting risk of war between the US and Iran. But one of the options was for US combat aircraft to mount aggressive patrols over Iranian Revolutionary Guard bases in Iran, to underline the seriousness of the situation.

    The Pentagon was offering military options. Was Congress notified? Did Senators Biden or Hagel know this? Was anybody outside of the Cheney cabal told that it was up to Tony Blair to decide whether or not America would be involved in a new war?

    If you live in Delaware or Nebraska, you should call Biden or Hagel and find out if they knew this was happening and, if not, if they plan on asking President Bush to explain why the Prime Minister of England has more say in the lives of their constituents and U.S. troops than they do. If there was ever a reason for Congress to ask questions, this is it.

    UPDATE: Greenwald reminds us, via TPM, that Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) had been unsuccessful at getting "a clear response" from Condi. Does he have his answer now?

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    Liz Cheney's 'qualifications'

    In response to an earlier post, reader Bryce pointed out in comments that the Washington Post failed to identify Liz Cheney as the daughter of the vice president in her op-ed.

    After agreeing that her bylines were unsatisfactory, DB went on a Google search to see if the WaPo even took it upon themselves to report on what exactly Liz Cheney has done in her capacity at the State Department. I haven't found much at all.

    While I've been on my quest, I see that Greg Sargent has taken an interest in this topic as well. He got Fred Hiatt to answer for the lack of full disclosure on her relationship to her father:

    We published Liz Cheney's piece based on her qualifications as a former high-ranking State Dept. official with oversight of Near Eastern Affairs. I don't believe qualified professional women need to be identified by their husbands or fathers, even when well-known.

    Pathetic. But what about the news division? If Liz Cheney is so qualified, why aren't there more reports about what she's been up to? As I've noted before, the Iran Syria Operations Group's existence was denied by the White House initially. Liz Cheney has had a budget of $80 million dollars to spend on influencing politics (one way or another) in Iran. What has her group been up to? Shouldn't the WaPo be reporting on that?

    Isn't it incumbent upon a newspaper that gives prime real estate to an individual based solely on her "qualifications" and not relationship to a certain world leader to actually report once in a while what exactly she has been doing?

    Can anybody out there find some examples of the Washington Post (or anyone else for that matter) reporting on what exactly Liz Cheney was up to while working at State?

    UPDATE: I'd add... What qualifications can anybody working in the Cheney operations claim to have with regards to Syria? Is there even a policy other than do nothing and hope for something to trigger a war?

    UPDATE II: As far as Hiatt's response goes... what is he talking about? It's got nothing to do with respect for a professional woman. She didn't work her way up in the world of advertising or construction or something, writing about something unrelated to her father and his work. She got a choice position in her father's administration. She no longer works in that administration, but she's writing an attack on her father's primary political opposition and the only other thing she's written in the Post was a similar attack mirroring her father's arguments. All that on top of the point of this post... If she's so qualified to attack the Speaker of the House, what has the Post ever written about her excellent deeds?

    UPDATE III: Leaching off Sargent's blog... One of his commenters found this Hiatt column, dated Jan. 29, 2005:

    When we publish a letter to the editor, we formally ask writers whether they have any conflict of interest that should be disclosed. By that we mean any relationship -- financial, family, employment or otherwise -- that a reasonable reader might consider relevant. We try to ascertain the same from op-ed writers, though the question has not been part of our official acceptance process. From now on it will be.

    Ouch. But, again, what has the Post ever written about Liz Cheney's work involving Syria? What has she done that makes her a credible critic of Nancy Pelosi? And more important, when will Hiatt's paper write something about the Iran Syria Operations Group in the vice president's office and the $80 million of taxpayer money Liz Cheney once had at her disposal (and what she did with it)?

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    Dahlia Lithwick nails it again. DB has said it before... Lithwick and Fred Kaplan are the only reasons Slate is still bookmarked in my browser.

    It's easy to be distracted, even slightly amused, by the banal office shenanigans that make up the day-to-day coverage of the scandal. Increasingly, the Justice Department is revealed in all its wacky Dunder Mifflin glory. Alberto Gonzales is unmasked as The Office's Michael Scott—in so far over his head that he has no idea what his youthful employees are up to. With our daily focus on who was e-mailing whom and who was spending what on their fancy investitures, it's tempting to dismiss senior Justice Department staff ranking U.S. attorneys for their "loyalty" to the president as sophomoric. The Duke case is a useful reminder that the little plastic game cards being shuffled around and swapped by Kyle Sampson and Monica Goodling were, in fact, loaded weapons.

    Federal prosecutors, like state district attorneys, have tremendous power and almost limitless discretion to launch investigations, to subpoena, to file charges, to question witnesses, and to drop charges when the facts don't bear them out. And if the Duke case reminds us of anything, it's that the innocent targets of such investigations and indictments have only one power: to wait it all out and hope for the best.

    While Tucker spent his time on the air today shouting "I was right!!!" about the Duke case like a five-year-old, Lithwick shows how a thoughtful person responds to a serious problem with our legal system.

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    Memo to Brian Williams

    You’re going to be up against people who have an opinion, a modem, and a bathrobe. All of my life, developing credentials to cover my field of work, and now I’m up against a guy named Vinny in an efficiency apartment in the Bronx who hasn’t left the efficiency apartment in two years.”

    You were remarkably close, but I have three bathrobes.

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    Voter fraud

    75,000 Voter Registration Cards Found in Trash Bin in Atlanta:

    ATLANTA (AP) -- The Georgia Secretary of State's office has begun an investigation into who threw more than 75,000 Fulton County voter registration cards into a trash bin.

    The cards contained a voter's full name, address and Social Security number. The office says a random sampling showed many of the cards were for active voters.

    In a statement, Secretary of State Karen Handel said the finding "represents a significant and serious breach of the personal information of Fulton County voters and an outrageous violation of the trust and integrity of Fulton County's elections."

    After getting a call from a resident, officials with Handel's office found more than 30 boxes of voter registration application cards, precinct cards and other documents Monday in a construction trash bin at Atlanta Technical College in southwest Atlanta.

    Gee, I wonder what the student body at Atlanta Technical College looks like:

    Student Body Size and Diversity

    In Fall 2002, the school had 2,135 (full-time equivalent) students.

    Minority enrollment included African-American (85)%, Hispanic (1)%, and Asian (3)%.

    Atlanta Technical College is a Minority Serving Institution as defined by the Office of Civil Rights.

    I'm sure Karl Rove's Department of Justice will be sprinting to the scene to find a remedy.

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    Another Cheney boondoggle

    When DB heard speculation around the blog-o-sphere that Elliott Abrams was behind the recent Pelosi smears, that came as no surprise, for many reasons. The biggest reason was that I heard this exchange at a State Department press briefing:

    MR. MCCORMACK: I can't tell you exactly how this -- how it works. There were some staff- level contacts. Typically when congressional delegations do make plans for a visit, they do have to work with the Administration in terms of arranging the logistics and, you know, mundane things like getting country clearance from the embassy. So there is a necessary level of work that needs to be done before any foreign travel by official visitors from the government, whether that's in the Executive Branch or the Legislative Branch. I can't tell you exactly when those contacts were initiated. But of course, when we learned of the intentions of a visit, we huddled, thought about whether or not that it was in fact a good idea, whether or not this -- our position had changed from previous such proposed visits, and at that point we initiated staff-level contacts.

    And when it became clear that Speaker Pelosi intended to move forward with her visit, then we offered up the briefing about where we stand in our policy vis-à-vis Syria and how we saw events in the region. Jim Jeffrey, our number two guy in the Near East Bureau, Middle East bureau, went up to Capitol Hill and I think he was actually briefing Speaker Pelosi herself as well as other members of the delegation and their staffs.

    QUESTION: You said that --

    QUESTION: Jim Jeffrey was going to ask Pelosi to deliver a tough message to --

    MR. MCCORMACK: That's our advice. That was our advice.

    Jim Jeffrey is more than a diplomat in the Near East Bureau. He's got an important job in the Iran Syria Operations Group, whose very existence was at one point denied by the White House. Here's how Laura Rozen described his position in January:

    Formally overseen by a steering committee headed by National Security Council Middle East adviser Elliott Abrams and James Jeffrey, the State Department's principal deputy assistant secretary for Near Eastern affairs, the so-called ISOG is managed day to day by David Denehy, a senior adviser at State's Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs and a former official with the International Republican Institute. Denehy has recently told some associates that he plans to move sometime early this year to the Office of the Vice President, where he would continue to coordinate the Iran-Syria group.

    I wrote about the ISOG and the cast of characters (war-mongers) and former Office of Special Plans (con artists who now work there) back in January, when a ridiculous op-ed by Liz Cheney hit the pages of the Washington Post.

    What do you know? She's at it again! Dick sent his daughter on another journalistic boondoggle today to keep the pressure on Pelosi and to hide the fact that the only policy the State Department has for Syria is to hold their breath and hope it will be our sailors who wind up in an Iranian or Syrian prison instead of the wimpy British, who no longer remember how to start a glorious war.

    How do you know you are dealing with people who love war? Ask if we should consider using nuclear weapons. If they say "We should keep all our options on the table," ask them if we should negotiate. When they say you cannot, you'll know for sure. No matter how much you increase the threat of violence, all options are on the table. No matter how much you reduce the potential impact of dialog, that option is off the table.

    "All our options" doesn't include talking. Talking is not an option. There's no reason in the world to expect any cooperation from Syria. Period.

    During the past five years, there have been no acts of terrorism against US citizens in Syria. The Government of Syria has cooperated significantly with the United States and other foreign governments against al-Qaida, the Taliban, and other terrorist organizations and individuals. It also has discouraged any signs of public support for al-Qaida, including in the media and at mosques. -- U.S. State Dept. (PDF)

    Uh... Er... Well, we can only ask for cooperation if they'll going to torture a Canadian for us. That's an offer the Cheneys can't refuse. Otherwise, expect more op-eds about what rotten people they are.

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    The newer version of blogger allows me to add "labels," categorical links to the bottom of posts here. So DB is wasting time retroactively adding them to old posts.

    The upside is that I'm finding stuff like this: Pay attention, Satveer.

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    Wednesday, April 11, 2007

    R.I.P. Kurt Vonnegut

    He was one of the greatest. The first time I read Vonnegut was in elementary school. Sixth grade. I read some of his short stories.

    The first of his novels that I read was Slaughterhouse Five, in high school. I was hooked. Cat's Cradle; God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater; Breakfast of Champions; Player Piano; Sirens of Titan...

    Thanks for everything, Kurt.

    UPDATE: I should have mentioned that Harrison Bergeron is a short story that everybody must read.


    Last post on Imus (I hope)

    If any Imus defenders talking about rap music right now really gave a crap about that particular issue, there would be significant evidence in their countless appearances on television that they are bothered by rap lyrics. It wouldn't just come up now.

    But more important, instead of saying things like...

    CRAIG CRAWFORD: But I think further discussion as he goes down the road on this you know, some of these terms, particularly the term “ho,” comes from gangsta rap.

    ...if you really cared about rap lyrics, you would be saying something like...

    It's bad enough that rappers are using language like this, but it's even more disappointing to hear comments like this directed at specific young women by a man who was the featured speaker at the White House Correspondents Dinner and who interacts with America's most powerful leaders on a daily basis.

    If you really cared about rap lyrics, you'd be even more upset by Imus, not less.

    And finally... I'm as outraged by these comments as Al Sharpton claims to be. So when you're done complaining about his past and calling him a hypocrite, come back to me and explain why I shouldn't be angry when I hear comments like what Imus said. It's the same thing the media did to Jon Stewart when he skewered Crossfire. They ripped his show. Well, I don't have a show and I felt the same way.

    UPDATE: Good riddance.


    Here's why, Joe

    JOE SCARBOROUGH: Hold on a second. Hold on. Craig, Don Imus—and this is the thing—there are a lot of things about this that bother me. One of the main things is the fact that Don Imus has attacked Irishmen. He‘s attacked Catholics. You look at the skits that they do, hugely offensive to a lot of Catholics. He‘s attacked Jews. I mean, this is what they do! They skate on thin ice every day!

    CRAIG CRAWFORD: Well, I—I just...

    SCARBOROUGH: The question is this, though, Craig. Why is it that he says “nappy-headed ho‘s,” and suddenly a volcano erupts in mid-town Manhattan?

  • It was wrong.
  • Those women didn't do anything to deserve that.
  • It was wrong.
  • Enough is enough.
  • It was wrong.
  • If more people heard his show, it would've happened a long time ago.
  • It was wrong.
  • It was wrong.
  • It was wrong.

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  • 100 Miles and Running

    What the hell is wrong with people lately? Why is it so hard to figure out that nothing that comes out of a rapper's mouth has anything to do with Don Imus' behavior?

    If Imus pulled out a gun and shot at those young women, would anybody say he was just trying to get his street cred? Would anybody say he should only be held accountable when the murder rate drops in South Central Los Angeles? (Not called that anymore)

    Seriously, shouldn't the fact that people object to that language in rap be even more of a reason to condemn Imus for stooping to that level?

    Again, Imus' defenders are all talking about "context" and how his show is comedy. If context is so damned important, why is it so hard to notice that nobody asked Rudy if he'll continue to appear with Snoop after his arrest?

    Is this that freaking hard to understand??

    And by the way, the last time I saw Public Enemy, practically everybody in the audience was white. A lot of white people paid to listen to these NWA lyrics, too:

    Runnin' like a nigga I hate to lose.
    Show me on the news but I hate to be abused.
    I know it was a set-up.
    So now I'm gonna get up.
    Even if the FBI wants me to shut up.
    But I've got 10,000 niggas strong.
    They got everybody singin' my "Fuck Tha Police" song.
    And while they treat my group like dirt,
    Their whole fuckin' family is wearin' our T-shirts.

    African-Americans didn't invent -- and don't deserve to be credited with -- being an asshole to a bunch of hardworking young women. Imus isn't a victim, he's a dick. Stop making excuses for him.

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    Please, Mr. D'Agostino...

    Another campaign, another round of questions about the price of milk.

    If it makes Rudy look out of touch, fine with me. But when I buy milk, I look at the date on top and that's it. The price of milk doesn't fluctuate enough for me to debate about whether or not to buy it as part of my routine shopping. And I drink a lot of coffee (with milk).

    If I were a candidate faced with that question, I'd say something like "I can't tell you how much caviar or a Lamborghini costs, either. But I bet I can come closer guessing the price of milk."

    But what's with the $4.19 milk, Mr. D'Agostino? They nickel and dime you to death in NYC. And that's before taxes. Glad I don't live there.

    Oh, and white bread? Any candidate who actually knows the price of white bread doesn't get my vote.

    UPDATE: Maybe an even better answer would be "Sorry, I don't drink milk... only champagne. I find the diamonds in my cereal stay crunchier in champagne."


    Tuesday, April 10, 2007

    TIME, get your facts straight

    The numbers are equally grim around impoverished Latin America, where the United Nations estimates more than 4 million clandestine abortions are performed each year, resulting in more than 5,000 women's deaths. Underground abortions are one of the leading causes of maternal mortality in Chile. Although Chile has one of South America's strictest anti-abortion codes, it's estimated to have twice as many abortions each year (200,000) as Canada — a country with twice Chile's population. (Abortion is legal in Canada.) As a result, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, a socialist, late last year sanctioned the free distribution of abortion-inducing "morning-after" contraception pills at government-run hospitals. In a nation where three-fourths of the public say they oppose liberalizing the abortion law — which, like Nicaragua's, bars abortion in all circumstances, even in cases of rape or when the mother's life is in danger — women's rights groups concede Bachelet's contraceptive tack was the most legally and politically feasible for now.

    Well done, Tim Padgett and TIME. Why not just get J.C. Watts to write your columns on reproductive health?

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    Racism vs. Hate

    I like Craig Crawford. I bought and enjoyed his book. I appreciate the perspective he brings to the shows he's on. But he's dead wrong on the issue of Don Imus and his offensive remarks.

    At the end of his segment today on "Hardball," Crawford repeated a claim made earlier on MSNBC by Pat Buchanan: In order for something to be racist, it has to be hateful.

    Absurd. Just absurd. So absurd, that I will respond with an outrageous analogy:

    I have a cat. I love my cat. But I wouldn't hire my cat. I wouldn't recommend my cat for a job. I wouldn't sue a landlord or restaurant for discriminating against pets. But I do love my cat.

    (OK. OK. I said it was an outrageous analogy.) But my point is simple. You don't have to hate someone to believe he or she is inferior or, at least, incapable of doing something you or people like you can do.

    You don't have to hate people of color in order to think they aren't as capable as whites. In fact, it probably makes it easier to get away with having those kinds of thoughts. "Sure, I've never hired an African-American... but I don't hate them."

    I don't know whether Imus "hates" anybody. I don't really care. What he said was racist. Period.

    And no matter how many rappers say ugly things, unless Crawford has been on a crusade to end that, there's no reason in the world for him to start talking about that right now. Sure, it's an "opportunity." But the wonderful thing about America is that every day presents us with opportunities to do great things. He's had more opportunities to make an issue out of that or anything else than 99 percent of the country. He said he's been on Imus' show over 70 times. That's a pretty good platform right there. Has he ever used that microphone to raise awareness on this issue?

    And the last time I checked, senators, members of congress, top-tier journalists and presidential candidates aren't hanging out talking policy with Fifty Cent every weekday. For these Imus defenders to all talk about how much "context" matters and then go on to compare his show to the lyrics on a 2 Live Crew CD is a reach of epic magnitude.

    And if the president is going to invite radio hosts to his office, when they have called Congresswomen "ghetto trash," among other things, when the vice president is going to give interviews to a radio host who told an African-American caller to "get the bone out of your nose," and nobody in the national media seems to think that's inappropriate, then these people have some serious nerve whining about hip-hop.

    UPDATE: No, I am not comparing people of color to cats. I am pointing out that you don't have to hate something in order to think you are superior to it. I chose my cat because there's no ethnic group I feel is inferior. And for what it's worth, my cat is probably cooler than I am. He definitely makes friends faster.

    UPDATE II: The exact quote from Crawford was "To be a racist, you have to hate black people."

    UPDATE III: What the hell is wrong with Paul Begala? Seriously.

    UPDATE IV: CASE CLOSED ON IMUS. In addition to the luxury of being represented by Congressman Waxman, I can count among my West Coast blessings that Imus' show airs when even a night owl like myself shuts it down.

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    Monday, April 09, 2007


    Well, March has come and gone. Where is it already, Lee?

    I'm looking for a research assistant to help me with a book about Internet culture that I'm writing for Doubleday, which is due to be finished by the end of next March. My name is Lee Siegel, and I'm a senior editor at the New Republic, and the author of "Fallling Upwards: Essays in Defense of the Imagination," a collection of essays that has just been published.

    I would prefer a graduate student. Salary is to be decided with the person I hire.

    Anyone who is interested can respond to me at this email address : [address redacted]

    Thank you.


    Lee Siegel

    The baseball-cap-wearing pottymouths on the Internets are unrelenting. Save us, Sprezzatura!


    More free music for the masses!

    DB saw pretty much the same flaws as everybody else in Gene Weingarten's article about Joshua Bell's subway performance, although this blogger didn't really take as much offense to the condescending tone as some.

    In general, I'm in favor of experiments like this, just for the sake of the spectacle. Plus, it was a provocative article, considering the reaction. I would like to have seen the experiment done in more locations, different times of day, different types of music, etc... As it was, it didn't really tell us a great deal more than most people could've guessed, though apparently not the staff at the Washington Post.

    But above all, what I am absolutely in favor of is what Tristero suggests: More free performances in public places by world-class musicians!!

    UPDATE: Even though I wasn't consumed by the condescending tone, it really was pretty snotty. For example:



    Sunday, April 08, 2007

    Who's better off?

    For a little Easter fun and in light of the Pope's comments that "nothing positive" is happening in Iraq, DB decided to have a little Crossfire fun at Bob Novak's expense.

    NOVAK: Steve, your old candidate Howard Dean got in trouble when he that said Americans weren't necessarily safer because Saddam Hussein was captured. As a political consultant, what would you tell Senator Kerry to -- how would you advise him to answer the same question, better off or not?

    STEVE MCMAHON: As a political adviser, I'd say probably you have to say what the pundits expect to you say, which is, we're all better off. As a fact, it's not true.

    Which is why Novak liked to ask that stupid question. Is a hungry man better off eating a sandwich? Sure, but if he killed somebody to get it, that's not such a great development, is it? Context matters, but Novak enjoys feeling clever.

    So now that his little trick's shelf life has long since expired, let's take a little walk down memory lane and see how some other people answered Novak's question. Here are a bunch of responses, in whatever order Google gave them back to me, offered without comment:

    NOVAK: I just have one question I want to get in. You said you're glad he's gone. Are you -- just, can I get a straight answer? Are you sorry that we attacked Iraq at the time we did?

    REP. ROBERT WEXLER (D), FLORIDA: I wished we had attacked Iraq based on the truth. That's what it needs to be done.

    NOVAK: Are you sorry that we attacked...

    WEXLER: No. The United States cannot act in a unilateral way.

    NOVAK: I want to ask you this. Do you think -- would you have preferred if we didn't go in and we still had -- that's the only way you're going to get rid of Saddam Hussein. Would you have preferred it, Mr. Wynn, if we didn't take that risk, no -- didn't shed that blood and we had Saddam Hussein still in Baghdad? Would you have preferred that situation?


    NOVAK: It's a yes or a no.

    WYNN: What I would have preferred was if we had gone after Osama bin Laden. Remember him?

    NOVAK: No, that isn't the question I'm asking you.


    WYNN: I think -- I think -- so that's what we should -- that's what we should -- should have done.

    NOVAK: But you have to answer. You have to answer yes or no. Would you have preferred that we didn't go after him and save those American lives?

    WYNN: I'm going to ask you a question. I would have preferred if we had done it intelligently with a larger coalition and saved some American lives that died needlessly.

    NOVAK: Ambassador Sherman, if James Carville and his ilk had their way and we didn't go into Iraq, do you think the world would be safer for Americans without Saddam Hussein in power in Baghdad?

    WENDY SHERMAN, KERRY FOREIGN POLICY ADVISER: Bob, I don't think anyone has said that the world would be better off with Saddam Hussein in power. That's not the issue. The issue is did we go in with a plan to make that there was a peace after Saddam Hussein was gone? Did we understand what we were doing? Were we prepared? Were we with allies? Do we have any respect left in the world? And can we get the job done for the American people both in our economy and our security?

    NOVAK: P.J. Crowley, do you think we'd be better off in the country and the world if Saddam Hussein was still in Baghdad?

    P.J. CROWLEY, FORMER SPOKESMAN, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL: No. That's not the issue. The issue is not whether we went to Baghdad. It's how we got there and what we do now.

    NOVAK: P.J. Crowley, Senator Rockefeller, the Democratic vice chairman of the committee, said today he wasn't sure that Iraq was any better off without Saddam Hussein than it was with him in power. Do you agree with that?

    P.J. CROWLEY, FORMER SPOKESMAN, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL: I think the Iraqi people are better off without Saddam Hussein. Unfortunately, because of what the Bush administration has done, we are not safer.

    NOVAK: Congressman Hastings, even if they never found any weapons of mass destructions in Iraq, are we or are we not better off with Saddam Hussein out of power?

    REP. ALCEE HASTINGS (D), FLORIDA: We are better off without Saddam Hussein out of power. But with the central argument being that there were weapons of mass destruction as the reason for why we went into the war, we certainly need to know whether or not there was a misinterpretation of analysis.

    NOVAK: Are you -- are you -- would you have preferred that we didn't go into Iraq and Saddam Hussein was still in power in Baghdad as a threat to his neighbors and to us?

    REP. RAHM EMANUEL (D), ILLINOIS: Well, first of all, I think everybody is pleased that Saddam Hussein is gone.

    I think what we would have preferred is done it right, which I find ironic here. The situation is, I really wish we had sent enough troops to secure the country, rather than to have to send more troops to secure the election. That's what's wrong with this policy. And that's what's got it all backwards. And I think that, in fact, if we had done it right, which is what Powell had recommended, send overwhelming force, body-slam that country down when you deposed Saddam Hussein, we wouldn't be having the problems today and have the terrorism that are killing more troops after so-called the peace was accomplished, and that is overthrowing Saddam Hussein, than when people had in the war.

    We did this wrong. And you didn't have to be this way. All the problems we face today of the deteriorating security situation were due for the way we secured this -- the way we pursued this policy, not because of the policy.

    NOVAK: Mr. Ford, do you think Iraq would be better off if President Bush had not invaded and Saddam Hussein were still in Baghdad?

    REP. HAROLD FORD JR. (D), TENNESSEE: We are better off without him there, but we should have had a plan once we took him out. That's the problem.

    NOVAK: Do you think the people of Iraq would have been better off if Saddam Hussein was still there?

    TOM ANDREWS, NATIONAL DIRECTOR, WIN WITHOUT WAR COALITION: No. But I think they're going to be worse off if the chaos that threatens that country and the tremendous terrorism that is affecting all of us is allowed to continue. And the roots of those problems and the roots of Iraq falling apart as it may -- very well may -- lie in this occupation and this very, very unfortunate illegal invasion of Iraq.

    NOVAK: Do you think the world would be better off if Saddam Hussein was still in Baghdad?

    RETIRED GENERAL WESLEY CLARK, U.S. ARMY: No, I think the world would be better off, though, if we had the entire United Nations unified and pressing and pulling Saddam out, rather than putting 170,000 Americans in the region and fighting a low-level guerrilla war there.

    NOVAK: Jamie Rubin, your candidate, Senator Kerry yesterday on "Good Morning America" gave what is one of the all-time 10 top worst interviews I have ever seen.

    And he made mistakes. But the worst thing he said was when he was asked was it worth it to go into Iraq and he answered, it depends on the outcome, ultimately. It depends. What kind of answer is that from a presidential candidate? Did you brief him to give that answer



    JAMIE RUBIN, ADVISER TO SENATOR JOHN KERRY: Bob, this is a serious issue, this war. And if George Bush remains in office and we lose the credibility of the world and America is discredited and we have to cut and run because George Bush doesn't have the staying power, then maybe it won't be worth it.

    But if John Kerry is elected president, despite all the mistakes that George Bush made, despite all the mistakes going into here, he's going to stay and finish the job and the world will be a better place.


    NOVAK: With all due apology, with all apologies, Jamie, he was asked whether it was worth to go in. The American people need an answer on that. Is he going to say it wasn't worth it or it was worth it? "It depends" is not an answer, is it?

    RUBIN: Well, Bob, this is not a sound bite. This is a war. And the issue needs to be taken very seriously.

    Are we better off today because of the way George Bush handled this war? No. We're worse off. Iraq is now a terrorist haven.


    NOVAK: You're saying it wasn't worth it.

    RUBIN: Iraq is now a terrorist haven. Iraq is now a terrorist haven. There were no weapons of mass destruction. American soldiers are dying. And $200 billion into this, he has got no plan to get us out. And were we -- wouldn't we have been better off going after Osama bin Laden on the Afghan-Pakistan border, as John Kerry has called for. Presidents have to make decisions. They have to get their priorities straight. Osama bin Laden should have been the priority of this president.

    NOVAK: All right. All right.

    Congressman Wynn, Saddam Hussein, we don't know where he is, but he's not in Baghdad running the government. Is Iraq better off or worse off today than it was when Saddam Hussein was in control?


    REP. ALBERT WYNN (D), MARYLAND: I think it's better off. I think we're just doing a bad job of bringing the light, as my colleague said, to Iraq. We could do a much better job. We should have done a much better job. We were too arrogant in saying we were going to be conquering heroes, instead of focusing on what we needed to do to rebuild Iraq.

    NOVAK: Ed Markey, since you think it was such a bad idea to invade Iraq, do you think the world would be better off if we still had Saddam Hussein as a brutal dictator in Baghdad?

    REP. ED MARKEY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Well, the world is a better place without Saddam Hussein.

    But if Saddam Hussein did not have a nuclear weapons program, then we could have contained him and we would not have to have lost a single...

    NOVAK: You would rather have him in Baghdad, contained?

    MARKEY: He was not a threat to the United States without nuclear weapons. And that's the only reason that we went in to fight.

    NOVAK: OK.

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