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(Thanks to alert Brad Blog reader, Jaime, for sending in these two quotes!)
By Brad Friedman on 4/27/2004 9:50pm PT  

"Senator Kerry has voted against funding weapons systems vital to fighting and winning the war on terror."
- Vice-President, Dick Cheney 4/27/2004

"Over the course of the last year, since I've been secretary, I've recommended terminating, canceling, shutting down 20 separate weapons programs. In most cases, most cases, Congress has resisted those cuts."
- Secretary of Defense, Dick Cheney 1990

(P.S. Who's the flip-flopper again? Don't even get me started on the many flips and even more flops of Dubya!)

(P.P.S. Wondering about the many faces of Richard B. Cheney? Take a look at the official Whitehouse photo on the right. Cover the left half of his face and take a look at the nice old man. Now, cover the right half of his face and meet his evil twin!)

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Or, the "Liberal Media" fails to strike again!
Or, remember when "Conservatives" cared about "The Rule of Law"?
By Brad Friedman on 4/27/2004 3:39pm PT  

There's an elephant in the living room. It's the $700 Million that Woodward reports Bush as having spent to prepare for War in Iraq back in July of 2002 - long before General Tommy Franks claims that his Commander-in-Chief had instructed him to prepare for War in Iraq.

The appropriation of the money, Woodward suggests, may have come from the money appropriated by Congress to wage War in Afghanastan.

The White House isn't talking. Perhaps, because few in the "Liberal Media" seem to be bothering to ask. So I will.

Having perused the US Constitution just now again, it still seems clear that only Congress may authorize the spending of US Tax Dollars.

Given the lack of explanation for this questionable, and possibly unlawful, expenditure by the President it's no wonder Team Bush is being silly enough to try and attack John Kerry on his war record! Even though such attacks inevitably lead back to questions of Bush's own military records (or lack thereof). I suppose the gambit to exhaust folks with Scandal Fatigue over a 30 year old issue, ridiculous in the case of Kerry's record, but on-the-mark in regards to Bush who's released records are still conspicuously absent of many key documents, is a goose chase the Administration would rather see followed by the sycophants in the Media rather than a potentially lethal question of High Crimes and Misdemeanors by Bush while in office just a year or two ago.

Of the scant reporting on the topic so far, Cass R. Sunstein in Salon offers a rather to-the-point examination of the possible authority from Congress that Bush may have felt had allowed him to use such funds in this clandestine expenditure.

It seems there are two different Congressional Acts from which Bush may have drawn his authority::

The most likely candidate is the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act, passed on Sept. 14, 2001, a direct response to the 9/11 attacks that appropriated $40 billion for five enumerated purposes:

1) providing federal, state and local preparedness for mitigating and responding to the 9/11 attacks.
2) providing support to counter, investigate or prosecute domestic and international terrorism.
3) providing increased transportation security.
4) repairing public facilities and transportation systems damaged by the attacks.
5) supporting national security.

Of these, 1, 3 and 4 could not possibly include preparations for war in Iraq --- and 2 and 5 even seem a bit of a stretch.

...

But let's suppose that these words are read very broadly. Even so, the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act clearly states that the "President shall consult with the chairmen and ranking minority members of the Committees on Appropriations prior to the transfer of these funds." [emphasis added]

Did President Bush consult with those leaders before committing millions of dollars to preparations for the war in Iraq? If so, there might be no problem. But at this stage it is far from clear that such consultation occurred.

He raises a very good question. But is anybody other than Sunstein (and me and a handful of others in the blogosphere) actually asking it? If they aren't, why aren't they? How lazy is this supposed "Liberal Media" anyway?

But back to the point and the other legislated possibility:

According to Woodward, the war preparations were partly funded "from the supplemental appropriation bill being worked out in Congress for the Afghanistan war and the general war on terrorism." This is apparently a reference to the appropriations act of Aug. 2, 2002 (which runs to well over 100 pages of dense text). But nothing in the Aug. 2 act unambiguously authorizes the $700 million expenditure. To be sure, one provision allows the secretary of defense to use up to $275 million "to meet other essential operational or readiness requirements of the military services." But even if fully available, this provision accounted for well under half of the $700 million reported by Woodward; and to use the money for that purpose, the law requires the secretary to notify the congressional defense committees. Did he? [emphasis added]

Don't know. But John Kerry might have thrown ribbons instead of medals over the fence in 1971! And Michael Jackson has fired his attorneys!

But I digress...

These contentions, vague and conclusory as they seem, might ultimately be proved valid. But the underlying issues are extremely serious ones, and they deserve careful investigation. Perhaps the White House has a detailed explanation, on the facts and the law, that shows why any use of taxpayer funds was consistent with congressional enactments. But in the face of legitimate questions, such an explanation really needs to be offered. Its absence raises genuine problems both for democratic government and for the rule of law.

...Ah, there ya go. The "rule of law". We know it applies to Presidential Blowjobs, worthy of a Constitutional Crisis when lied about. But the secret, perhaps illegal, expenditure of $700 million of tax payer money to prepare for a war against a sovereign nation which --- even by the vaguest terms (and the terms were vague indeed when finally authorized by Congress several months later) - hadn't yet been approved by the branch of governement constitutionally mandated to do so is, apparently, just another one of those things not worth worrying about for the "Liberal Media".

After all, Kobe Bryant is still facing rape charges! And Rush Limbaugh's medical records may be used as evidence in a criminal prosecution against him!

The beat goes on. The fatigue sets in. And that's precisely what Karl Rove and Friends are counting on.

In the meantime, I'd love to remind the made-up and hair-sprayed crowd in the "Liberal Media" set that Woodward actually earned his reputation as an investigative reporter by actually investigating and reporting. I realize that remaining on Scott McClellan's "must call" list is important to keep your face regularly on the Nightly News, but so is doing the dirty work of following up on the tough issues that the American Public needs to know about. Even if the man who might have committed such illegal appropriations of American Funds wasn't running for re-election. The fact that he is, makes it even more important. Please get to work!

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By Brad Friedman on 4/27/2004 12:39pm PT  

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By Brad Friedman on 4/26/2004 9:00pm PT  

Doing some behind the scenes server work, and the COMMENTS may have been un-commentable for a few hours on Monday. Should all be cleared up now. Please comment away as you see fit. Or not. - BF

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By Brad Friedman on 4/26/2004 2:02pm PT  

Various quotes of note from a few of the Sunday News Shows:

Joe "Anonymous" Klein on The Chris Matthews Show:

"The President's policy was to go after those that fund and harbor terrorists. Well, Saudi Arabia funds them, Pakistan harbors them and yet they are our allies! It doesn't make any sense!"

The Bush Administration's new man in Iraq, U.N. Special Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, on This Week in re: the possibility of full-frontal attacks on the insurgencies in Fallujah and Najaf:

"This is exactly what your enemies want you to do. To alienate more of the people you want to support you...Sending the tanks rolling into [Najaf] is not the thing to do and I think the Americans know this now."

Hope so. But we'll see. One could apply that argument to every mis-step the Bushies have made so far in their "War on Terror" and yet they never paid it any mind prior to today.

Newsweek's Farid Zakaria, also on This Week, adds the old Neocon-ignored chesnut :

"Guerillas want you to use massive military force. [They know] you will kill 600 for every 6 they kill...The more you do this, the more you generate Anti-Americanism."

In the meantime, here's Brahimi on Bush throwing in with Sharon on the Palestinian "Right of Return" issue:

"[Palestinians now say] the Americans are giving blanket support to the Israelis. How can we expect them to do anything good for us?"

If true, it's another good point, since even by the most Conservative standards, it is understood that peace --- if it's ever to come to Israel/Palestine --- will be brokered by negotiations lead by the United States. All pretenses of impartiality in the matter would seem to be completely gone as of now.

And finally, Republican Senator Jon Kyl on the War in Iraq:

"We won the war there with very little collateral damage - we were concerned about collateral damage, we still are."

So far, the most conservative estimates of Iraqi Civilian Casusualties is a minimum of 8930 and a maximum of 10,781. John McLaughlin reports the number of Iraqi Civilians Killed at over 14,000.

That's all in a country with a population of a little more than 24.5 million according to the CIA World Factbook.

The United States --- with a population of 290.5 million --- lost 3,000 civilians on 9/11. We got kinda unsettled and angry at the perpetrators of that event as I recall.

You can do the math. Any idea how the Iraqis might feel about Americans at this point?

(Not to mention their 1.1 BILLION Arab brethren?)

And just to pile on, I'll add this quote again for perspective on it all. From George HW Bush (Dubya's Dad) in his 1998 Memoirs:

"An occupation of Iraq would have incurred incalculable Human and Political costs...there was no viable Exit Strategy...Had we gone the Invasion route, the United States could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land."

Father knows best, I guess.

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...unless you look a little closer.
By Brad Friedman on 4/26/2004 1:07pm PT  

From TIME's "Numbers" column last week (Sources - Washington Post and NYPD):


$50 million Amount allocated by Congress for the creation of an indoor rain forest in Coralville, Iowa.

$84 million Amount it has allocated since 9/11 for counter-terrorism measures in New York City, which spends $200 million a year on such measures.

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..and another 'Liberal Media Myth' point exposed.
By Brad Friedman on 4/26/2004 11:38am PT  

Josh Marshall caught the following this morning:

ABC News is currently running a web headline which reads: "Medal Dispute, EXCLUSIVE: Did Kerry lie about Vietnam War medals?"

Here's a question. Can someone tell me the last time ABC used the "L" word about President Bush? Or is it always 'exaggeration' when it's President Bush?

Good question, Josh.

No, in fact, the "conservatives" absolutely love having their hackles raised by Democrats who either use or nearly use or they can bait into using (Hello, Hannity!) the "L" word. As if calling the President of the United States a "liar" (well, this one anyway) would be the absolute proof of the name callers Lack of Patriotism or Hate Americanism. Thus, that word is usually avoided by pundits, and certainly the media.

But I guess Kerry's not the President, yet? So it's okay?

Anyway, another "Liberal Media" myth shattered. From that headline, it would again seem to prove that ABC, at least, is not part of that elite "Liberal Media".

On the actual substantive point --- and it's truly beyond me why Team Bush would want to keep going back to this same well, since it always gives Bush Opponents permission to remind everyone of Bush's Lack-of-Military Record --- Marshall reminds us that Bush has challenged the military records of every opponent he's ever faced while running for President.

He (or more accurately his Attack Monkey Surrogates) have now challenged the records of all three Gore, McCain and Kerry.

I suppose it's a good thing Pat Tillman didn't live to run against George W. Bush at some point.

Marshall offers Kerry the following pretty-decent advise:

Don't get mixed up on the details. Take this directly to the president. Tell him to turn over a new leaf in life and stop being a coward. If the president wants to attack or question your war record or what you did after the war, tell him to do it himself. No special deals, no hidden help from family retainers, no hiding behind Karen Hughes. Tell him, for once, to fight his own fights.

Good advice. Let's see if the Kerry Operatives are paying attention to Josh Marshall.

UPDATE: Since posting the above, ABC has now changed it's headline on the story to: "Medal Dispute, EXCLUSIVE: Why did Kerry change story about Vietnam medals?" - To which one might add "Why did ABC News change it's headline inferring that John Kerry is a Liar"? :-)

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By Brad Friedman on 4/25/2004 5:22pm PT  

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An Irony News Alert!
By Brad Friedman on 4/25/2004 5:12pm PT  
"In a five day period earlier this month, al-Jazeera hyped, misreported or distorted events in Iraq a total of 34 times."

That straight-faced report courtesy of Media Watch on the FOX News Channel.

We report, you decide.

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By Brad Friedman on 4/25/2004 5:06pm PT  

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The Original Sunday Talker...
By Brad Friedman on 4/25/2004 2:49pm PT  

You still can't beat The McLaughlin Group for lively, entertaining Sunday Talk.

While McLaughlin's (usually) self-aware pomposity is at least half the fun, the spirited half hour --- sometimes substantive, sometimes less so --- never fails to amuse.

Interestingly enough, after having lost track of "The Group" for the last several years until I finally found them again recently out here on Saturdays and on PBS none the less, McLaughlin himself has taken a suprising turn to the Far Left. At least in regards to his views on Iraq and all the countless flaws thereabouts wrought by Team Bush.

None the less, Eleanor Clift still makes my ears bleed.

Last night's fumbled sign-off was a classic:

McLaughlin: NEXT WEEK! --- Is the oil at the...uh...UN scandal a tempest in a teapot or is it a tempest?!

Bye-bye!

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By Brad Friedman on 4/23/2004 5:47pm PT  

Charlie Rangel called for it over a year ago - before we sent 700+ to die in Iraq.

His point, as I took it at the time, was that perhaps this country would be a lot more judicious when it chose to wage Optional Wars if everyone in America had a real stake, or was likely to know someone who did.

As the death of Pat Tillman yesterday in Afghanastan finally helped remind us, these "wars" are real and there are real Americans who are getting killed over there every single day. Not simply numbers, but real Americans dying.

The notion that a bunch of men - all of whom exploited opportunties to opt out of putting their own life on the line to serve our country in war when they had a chance to do so - are now so cavalierly willing to send off the sons and daughters of others to fight a war that needn't have been fought is nothing less than appalling.

As well, it is my understanding that there is only one - that's right just one - sitting member of the US Congress (including 535 members of both the House and Senate) who has a child in the active service.

As the curtain has been drawn back to expose the real reasons for the War in Iraq (hint: it didn't have much to do with a "War on Terror") and as the faulty premises on which it was sold to the Congress and the American People come to light (hint: there were no WMD's as everyone else in the world told them), it seems time to take another look at the resources America and it's (mostly) Elected Officials are so willing to expend so quickly on dubious and deadly military excursions.

When Dubya's daughters Jenna and Barbara are forced to serve the country in the military, perhaps George won't be as quick to pull the trigger before attaining a true level of certitude that such action is truly warranted to defend our country and it's interests.

Bring back the Draft and perhaps the real consquences and costs of War will become real again. Not just another ratings bump for Fox News.

When everyone in America has a son, a daughter or a next door neighbor that might be shipped off to fight and die in one of these things, perhaps it'll become as real as it became for just a few minutes this morning, when someone that more than just a few Americans actually had heard about was killed in the bargain.

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By Brad Friedman on 4/23/2004 2:04pm PT  

Cpl. Pat Tillman, 1976 - 2004

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The tale of the tape...
By Brad Friedman on 4/22/2004 6:20pm PT  

As we were rolling back from a few peaceful days in the desert this week, steam was building in the Republican Attack Machine against John Kerry's war record. That, in and of itself, should be jaw-dropping coming as it does from the blustering "We Support our Troops!" crowd. I guess by troops, they don't mean John Kerry. But it seems Americans are becoming immune to such baseless and unsubstianted attacks - and perhaps that's the whole point.

So, kudos are due Kevin Drum (formerly blogging as CalPundit) at The Washington Monthly for putting things in a bit of perspective...

A TALE OF TWO SOLDIERS....Our story so far:

George Bush, fresh out of Yale, uses family connections to join the Air National Guard in order to avoid serving in Vietnam. After four years of a six-year term he decides to skip his annual physical, is grounded, and heads off to Alabama, where he blows off even the minimal annoyance of monthly drills for over six months.

Conservative reaction: why are you impugning the patriotism of this brave man? He got an honorable discharge and that's as much as anyone needs to know.

John Kerry, fresh out of Yale, enlists in the Navy and subsequently requests duty in Vietnam. While there, according to the Boston Globe, he wins a Purple Heart and then follows that up with more than two dozen missions in which he often faced enemy fire, a Silver Star for an action in which he killed an enemy soldier who carried a loaded rocket launcher that could have destroyed his six-man patrol boat, a Bronze Star for rescuing an Army lieutenant who was thrown overboard and under fire, and two more Purple Hearts.

Conservative reaction: Hmmm, that first injury wasn't very serious. This is something that deserves careful and drawn-out investigation, and it would certainly be unfair to impugn "craven or partisan motives" to those doing the impugning.

Are these guys a piece of work, or what?

POSTSCRIPT: Kerry's military records are here.

None the less, I'm sure such to-the-point perspective won't keep the chattering usual suspects from repeating their contemptable claims over and over again until every uninformed DittoHead in America buys it. Or until everyone else is so sick of it they simply give up caring. Mission accomplished.

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Republicans Imitate Satire
By Brad Friedman on 4/22/2004 5:53pm PT  

I'd been pondering some kind of a satirical blog item for some time that would line up all the former Bush folks that have been branded as "liars" for exposing information that the Bushies didn't want exposed. It's a growing list of rather impressive and credentialled individuals who have patriotically spoken up and subsequently found themselves systematically trashed by the Whitehouse Attack Monkeys and their loyal band in the Rightwing Echo Chamber.

And then, incredibly, I came across a page called "Meet the Liars: The People Leading the Reckless Charge Against President Bush and the War on Terror" at BushPresident2004.com:

Surely this was a satirical Anti-Bush website in disguise, no?! Incredibly - and sadly - after several astounding pages browsed, I learned that it wasn't.

UPDATE: As eagle-eyed satire exposer and Brad Blog commenter Larry pointed out, the site in question is indeed a satirical one! So kudos to the folks at BushPresident2004.com for putting one over on me! Well done! I guess the lesson is either that I should read more closely next time, or that real Republican sites have become so outrageously ridiculous that they have become virtually indistinguishable from the fake ones making fun of them!

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