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By Brad Friedman on 5/13/2004 3:09pm PT  

After endlessly criticizing Democrats for "politicizing this war" and more specifically the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, Sean Hannity --- as I railed on Tuesday --- has been pointing folks to his website where he's proudly featured links to the Nick Berg beheading.

As if that's not both hypocritical and horrendous enough, he's been playing the audio from the beheading on his radio show - over the public airwaves! (FCC are you listening?) - for the last two days.

Does this guy have any self-respect left? Or entirely too much of it?

"Let Freedom Ring" indeed...

ReddIt this story!



Or, more 'With Friends Like These...'
By Brad Friedman on 5/13/2004 2:12pm PT  

Following up my "With Friends Like These..." article from Tuesday (which is, incidentally, now being run at DemocraticUnderground.com - the third such article of mine they've run in as many weeks, I'm proud to say) wherein I described how even the NeoCons at The Weekly Standard are falling away from Bush, a lot more evidence is emerging that Conservative support for Bush is rapidly evaporating.

The Washington Post on Monday ran a piece about exactly that, citing - among others - two Hard Right Commentators who have been very critical lately of Bush:

Conservatives have become unusually restive. Last Tuesday, columnist George F. Will sharply criticized the administration's Iraq policy, writing: "This administration cannot be trusted to govern if it cannot be counted on to think and, having thought, to have second thoughts." Two days earlier, Robert Kagan, a neoconservative supporter of the Iraq war, wrote: "All but the most blindly devoted Bush supporters can see that Bush administration officials have no clue about what to do in Iraq tomorrow, much less a month from now."

But it's not just the War where Bush is losing what should be his core support:

Richard W. Rahn, a prominent Republican economist, excoriated the administration's telecommunications, antitrust and international economic policies in a Washington Times column April 30 along similar lines. "From the beginning of the Bush administration, sympathetic, experienced economists have warned its officials about the need to avoid some obvious mistakes," he wrote. "Unfortunately, these warnings have gone unheeded."

...Rahn said he has grown concerned over what he sees as "a lack of vision and policy consistency" in the Bush administration. "I mean, we knew where [President Ronald] Reagan was heading; at times there were deviations from the path, but we knew what it was all about," he said. In contrast, he said, now "there doesn't seem to be a clear policy vision."

While all the polls continue to trend away from Bush support, showing his Job Approval Ratings at an all-time low, falling now well below the crucial %50 mark, I'll take a counter-position from Conventional Wisdom to say that dumping Rumsfeld (and a few other folks) would put Bush in better stead with the public than he will otherwise be, running up the down escalator for the next 6 months.

Conventional Wisdom also had it that Presidential Apologies would be bad for Public Opinion and Good for the Opposition, but that was proven wrong with Clinton, and seems to have been proven wrong with Bush as well, as his Almost-Apologies last week didn't seem to directly add to his woes, and may in fact have briefly shored him up.

Add to it all, Mark Mellman's piece at The Hill, bolstering John Zogby's article by pointing out that, contrary to the lazy through-line being echoed throughout the supposedly "Liberal Media", Kerry's current position is "better than any challenger in modern times has ever been doing at this point in this race" and you know that Team Bush must be pulling out whatever's left of Karl Rove's hair just about now.

Either that, or they're still in the same Bubble of Denial that kept Bush's Daddy from reading the writing on the wall before it was far to late to change the fates.

So Democrats (and people who care about America) should take heart...Even with Kerry leading the ticket, all signs seem to be heading your way.

(Thanks to KJO for the pointer to the WaPo article!)

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As of 5/11/04
By Brad Friedman on 5/12/2004 7:08pm PT  

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By Brad Friedman on 5/12/2004 2:42pm PT  

I see both pros and cons in releasing all of the Iraqi Prisoner Abuse photos to the public. Yet for a week, I've been having trouble coming up with an opinion on this matter one way or another. Do you have one? Would really appreciate hearing any of your thoughts, if you have them, on this matter...

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By Brad Friedman on 5/12/2004 2:24pm PT  

Either Bush/Rumsfeld is lying or Colin Powell is. I'll let you decide.

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By Brad Friedman on 5/12/2004 1:58pm PT  

While Rush squirms like a worm defending his latest reprehensible statements of last week, today he as much as admitted that the Bush policy for "The War on Terror" is a disastrous failure.

An "irate" caller phoned in to tell Rush how angry he is at the way things are going in Iraq, and that he's beginning to think "the only way to defeat these animals once and for all" may just have to be "complete and total annihaltion".

Of course, Rush was pleased with the call, and agreed with the sentiments. Which would imply, of course, that even Rush agrees Bush's "War on Terror" is not working. On which Rush and I would agree.

Let's just hope when the current strategy to "rid the world of evil-doers" is abandoned for a plan that may actually have a chance of working, that's it's not Rush or his caller who's advice is heeded.

Have I mentioned lately what a dangerous man Rush Limbaugh is? How long did it take before McCarthy's assault on America was actually recognized for what it was? How long will it take America to realize the same about Rush?

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And they say we're politicizing this thing?!
By Brad Friedman on 5/11/2004 11:48pm PT  

All day long Hannity was yammering on --- "Where's the outrage?!...They were so angry about the abuses by our guys, but where's the outrage now that terrorists have beheaded an American?!"

I got your outrage right here, Sean.

I'm outraged that you find any moral equivalence in comparing those hoodlum thugs to what should be the squeaky clean symbols of goodwill, peace, democracy and fair play that should be the Servicemen and Women of the United States Armed Forces.

I'm outraged that you are using this tragic event to demonstrate how "our Army isn't nearly as bad" as Saddam and the rest of the terrorists goons who are now attacking and killing our men and women in Iraq everyday thanks to the backwards policies of your "President".

I'm outraged that you are unable to see the clear systematic failure of the command structure in Iraq.

I'm outraged that you haven't demanded that your "President" and his Department of Defense stop cutting corners, stop lying about how it's going and how much money, troops and resources we really need to be sending over there to make this work and keep our people safe.

I'm outraged that you seem to imply that we should all shut up and stop criticizing those like Donald Rumsfeld and George W. Bush who are accountable for this mess...or that you would support the words of a Vice-President who deplorably tells Americans that we "should all get off his case".

I'm outraged that you can't see that unless actions are taken to correct these failures, such attacks by our enemies --- growing in size everyday, again thanks to your "President" --- will most likely become the regular course of events for decades to come. Even after your boy has long ago moved back to Crawford in shame.

I'm outraged that you would do what you accuse us of doing --- putting Party before Country --- as you and your fake conservative cronies have done every single day since 9/11/2001.

I'm outraged that you --- after criticizing CBS for releasing the pictures of abuse at Abu Ghraib --- have posted links to a live beheading on your own website.

I'm outraged that you continue to stand by a "President" that spends $200 Billion to under-fund an unnecessary war instead of spending on the needs of our own country, so that a 26 year-old boy from Pennsylvania would choose to take a job in the most dangerous place in the world, where he has no business even being, to do the work that your newly "privatized" military should be doing.

I'm outraged that you stand behind arrogant and pointless and self-destructive world-wide aggression and a "President" with an inability to heed any single piece of advice that doesn't tell him what he already wanted to believe before he even started.

And I'm outraged that you, Sean Hannity, can't seem to tell the difference between a bunch of backwards unaccountable bandits and a chain of command in a (theoretically) civilized country where behavior such as rape, murder, torture and sodomy with broken chemical lightbulbs is not supposed to happen. Not ever. And when it does --- somebody --- even if they happen to be your political friends --- must be held accountable.

I'm outraged, but I'm hardly surprised.

UPDATE: The next day after posting this entry, Sean Hannity began playing the uncut audio from the Nick Berg beheading live on his national radio show. And on his many Disney owned affiliate stations to boot! God Bless America.

ReddIt this story!



...Who needs Democrats?
By Brad Friedman on 5/11/2004 10:47pm PT  

The Conservatives, clearly an important pillar of Bush support if he is to still have a chance of winning in November, seem to be going rather wobbly on the old boy.

I'm talking about real Conservatives here, not the Hannity's, Limbaugh's and other ersatz armchair faux "conservatives" who wouldn't know real Conservatism if it came up and bit them on their Goldwaters. Yes, there are still a few of them left in America. And yes, they will have to grease up their walkers and get to the polling place if Bush hopes to have a chance of winning the Presidency for the first time again this year.

Another critical article from The Weekly Standard (hardly a card-carrying member of the "Liberal Media", senior-edited by Bill Kristol whose own critical Bush article I discussed a day or two ago), nicely enumerates many (if not all) of the issues on which Bush is failing to make the grade by (true) Conservative standards.

Irwin M. Stelzer's Standard piece aptly entitled "All Hat and No Cattle", spends the bulk of it's ink outlining where Bush has gone entirely off the Conservative reservation. And then, as if prodded by a Standard editor, somehow shoehorns all of those arguments to make them fit the article's paradoxical sub-title, "Why, despite everything, Bush should win". Go figure.

Anyway, in case any of those ersatz armchair faux "conservatives" (several of whom troll this Blog regularly) are wondering what real Conservatives think of Dubya, here's a short list of just a few of their, or at least Stelzer's, critiques:

Much disappointment in the "breakdown of civilian control over the military" and "chain of command that is in disarray" as seen via the US retreat from Fallujah and promotion of two anti-Shiite Generals from Saddam's former army left behind to keep "peace" in the city, while "Saddam sits comfortably in prison...awaiting an eventual return to power, which is just what happened the last time he was thrown into prison by a legitimate Iraqi government." Toss into the mix what is seen as broken pledges "not to allow a few thugs and remnants of the old regime to recapture Falluja" and the failure to kill or capture Moktada al-Sadr. All of that just the latest in a series of similar examples where Bush has failed to deliver in Iraq.

On the budget front, they are none to happy with Bush "presiding over the largest expansion of the welfare state since the glory days of Lyndon Johnson." From exploding "non-military non-homeland-security expenditures" such as the prescription drug program "likely to end up claiming 2 percent of GDP" to the stalled energy bill which "to anyone who knows anything about energy markets says will do nothing to reduce our reliance on oil imported from the Bush family friends in Saudi Arabia."

Then there's the fiscal sitch. Stelzer's happy that Bush's tax cuts have seen us out of "the recession he inherited from Clinton", but "that was then and this is now" and the deficit is out of control even while Bush "continues to increase spending and press for still more tax cuts...The time is long past when anyone believed that the tax cuts would be self-financing...his talk about cutting the deficit in half is nothing more than that--the talk of a man with a large hat and a very small herd."

Which brings it all back to Iraq...The Generals calling for more troops were right, and Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz were wrong about what would be needed in both numbers and dollars. Furthermore, Bush has drained resources and man power from other places around the world to fight this battle, leaving us "vulnerable to the lunatics who run North Korea, and to any other regime that, sensing our lack of resolve in Iraq, decides that now is the time to strike against American interests." Add to that a beauracratic mess on the ground which has lead to a "reconstruction program [that] languishes." And the final blow: Bush's plan to "hand off power to some version of a sovereign Iraqi government cobbled together by the U.N.'s Israel-hating Lakhdar Brahimi."

Wow...and I thought that Kerry's core supporters were pretty tepid. He'll really have to work to screw this one up! Or...he could choose Dick Gephardt as his running mate.

Stay tuned...

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By Brad Friedman on 5/10/2004 9:40pm PT  

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By Brad Friedman on 5/10/2004 7:56pm PT  

Josh Marshall can turn a phrase...

When President Bush says Don Rumsfeld is doing a "superb job" you really have to shudder to think what we'd have in store for us if the guy came off his winning streak.

Heh...And in re: Bush's over-praising of Rummy at the Pentagon today...

You expect --- or perhaps better to say, you hope --- soon to see the sober, serious grown-up come along, put his hand on the guy's shoulder and say, "It's over" --- perhaps saying it a few more times, with arresting finality, until he understands.
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Don't kid yourself, it goes all the way up to the top.
And not just to Rumsfeld...
By Brad Friedman on 5/10/2004 2:49pm PT  

From AP:

Up to 90 percent of Iraqi detainees were arrested by mistake, according to coalition intelligence officers cited in a Red Cross report disclosed Monday...

The 24-page report...says abuse of Iraqi prisoners by American soldiers was broad and "not individual acts," contrary to President Bush's contention that the mistreatment "was the wrongdoing of a few."

Red Cross delegates saw U.S. military intelligence officers mistreating prisoners under interrogation at Abu Ghraib and collected allegations of abuse at more than 10 other detention facilities...

Once again, giving the lie to the "Who cares, these were bad guys who deserved it" theory, the "It was just a few bad apples" theory and "It was just one prison out of control" theory. In just three short paragraphs.

Then there's this:

The Red Cross has emphasized that the report was only a summary of its repeated attempts in person and in writing from March to November 2003 to get U.S. officials to stop abuses. Those earlier interventions by the Red Cross far preceded the Pentagon's decision to investigate after a low-ranking U.S. soldier stepped forward in January.

...And so much for the "We acted decisively and immediately as soon as we heard about it" theory as well.

There's more in the full article about the fact that this was all "systematic" and "part of the process" as issued from the chain of command above. As of now, however, only a coupla low-level privates and lieutenants have lost their job. As of now...

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By Brad Friedman on 5/10/2004 1:30pm PT  

BRAD BLOG readers will know that I don't put too much stock in most polls. But when it comes to Zogby, one must sit up and take notice as he's been the only one to have called the last 3 or 4 major elections almost entirely correctly (even while all the other pollsters had gotten it entirely wrong).

Based on his latest poll, John Zogby puts forth four arguments to back up his prediction now that "Kerry will win the election", or at the very least "it's John Kerry's to lose". His arguments for why this is so, are worth taking a look at. Particularly considering his excellent track record. (It's also worth noting that his article is based on polls taken before the Prison Abuse Scandal broke.)

Here's just one of his four arguments:


My most recent poll (April 12-15) shows bad re-election numbers for an incumbent President. Senator Kerry is leading 47% to 44% in a two-way race, and the candidates are tied at 45% in the three-way race with Ralph Nader. Significantly, only 44% feel that the country is headed in the right direction and only 43% believe that President Bush deserves to be re-elected - compared with 51% who say it is time for someone new.
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By Brad Friedman on 5/10/2004 12:06pm PT  

The more you actually bother to learn about this mess (and I'm referring to the whole Iraq Mess, not just the Prison Abuse Mess), the harder it is to like any part of it. Perhaps that's why the information was kept from Bush for so long.

Baghdad Burning is a fascinating Blog said to be written by a "girl" in Iraq. The latest entry, entitled "Just Go" is quite moving and well-worth reading in full.

Here's a graf or two posted after the prison pictures story broke...the last one certainly caught my attention, as well - apparently - as many others in the Blogosphere...

Bush...makes an appearance on Arabic tv...He asks Iraqis to not let these pictures reflect on their attitude towards the American people… and yet when the bodies were dragged through the streets of Falloojeh, the American troops took it upon themselves to punish the whole city.

...

I sometimes get emails asking me to propose solutions or make suggestions. Fine. Today's lesson: don't rape, don't torture, don't kill and get out while you can- while it still looks like you have a choice... Chaos? Civil war? Bloodshed? We'll take our chances- just take your Puppets, your tanks, your smart weapons, your dumb politicians, your lies, your empty promises, your rapists, your sadistic torturers and go. [emphasis added]

So if the Battle for Hearts & Minds has been lost --- and I don't know that it is, but it certainly doesn't look good --- can we possibly win the War?

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By Brad Friedman on 5/10/2004 11:43am PT  

A letter writer cuts through the clutter, in this weekend's LA Times:

Bush logic: Saudis blow up the World Trade Center --- invade Iraq. Our troops abuse Iraqi prisoners - apologize to the king of Jordan.
Pat Mauer - Pasadena
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By Brad Friedman on 5/9/2004 8:49am PT  

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