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(But don't quote us on that!)
By Brad Friedman on 4/28/2004 2:56pm PT  

Tomorrow, Dubya and his friend Dick Cheney will answer the tough questions from the 9/11 Commission. Together. At the same time. The joint "visit", as Bush refers to it, is unprecedented before such a committee, but such were the demands of the Whitehouse if they wanted the President to answer any questions at all essentially. So, the two boys will be able to get their story straight and stick to it.

Since the "visit" must also be in private, off the record, unrecorded, not under oath, and will not be transcribed, all as demanded by the Whitehouse, all that we --- the American Public who have entrusted these guys to protect us --- can do is speculate on what may go down.

Oh, well then. Here is one such amusing speculation of the transcript that won't be taken courtesy of DemocraticUnderground.com.

ReddIt this story!



Or, the Dunderhead versus the Dangerous Dunderhead.
By Brad Friedman on 4/28/2004 2:08pm PT  

As Brad Blog readers will know, I've never been much of a Kerry supporter. I am, however, ardently against another disastrous four years under this dangerous and incompetent administration and to that extent will be considering, at least, a nose-holding-vote for Kerry this November. I've argued for some months that it's Bush's election to lose (which he seems to be working hard on), rather than Kerry's to win (which he doesn't seem to be working as hard on).

But now the mostly Far Left-ish Village Voice has out and out called for Kerry to go, a position I'm not necessarily against, though the efficacy of such a move in regaining the Whitehouse is certainly questionable at this late date.

The most notable and agreeable graf in the short editorial, the final one:

If things proceed as they are, the dim-bulb Dem leaders are going to be very sorry they screwed Howard Dean.

Uh...yup.

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Slashing and Burning his way to another Term?
By Brad Friedman on 4/28/2004 12:45pm PT  

Following up last night's item displaying just the tip of Cheney's Hypocratic Iceberg, here's a bit more detail on the programs Cheney is now (misleadingly) accusing Kerry of being against, even while Cheney himself was attempting to gut these programs himself back when he was Secretary of Defense.

Will these guys say anything just to get elected? Apparently so...

As a comment made on the previous items attempts to continue the misleadingly errant echoes of the Right concerning Kerry, it seems details are in order.

This item, well sourced, courtesy of our friends at the O'Franken Factor. As O'Franken doesn't yet include direct links to their blog items, I'm forced to re-post the whole thing here in it's entirety. Sorry about that.

BUSH/CHENEY: FAILING THE TROOPS

Vice President Richard Cheney gave a brutal hatchet job of a speech yesterday. And it would have been a convincing attack on Kerry, had it not been so stomach-churningly inaccurate and malicious.

Among other things, Cheney said:

[Kerry] proposed reductions in funding for the Tomahawk cruise missile and the Bradley Fighting Vehicle. And at numerous times, Senator Kerry has voted against funding weapons systems vital to fighting and winning the war on terror, such as the Blackhawk helicopter and the Predator drone.

If you check Kerry's record...

Kerry supported at least $6 billion in defense authorizations for the Tomahawk.

Kerry backed at least $8.5 billion in defense authorizations for Bradley Fighting Vehicle.

Kerry has supported at least $13 billion in defense authorizations on versions of the Blackhawk.

As for Dick Cheney...

Cheney's defense budget was so pared-down that it didn't include any funds for more Tomahawk missiles in 1991, despite stocks rapidly diminished by the military action in the Persian Gulf.
- Washington Post, 2/5/91; Aerospace Daily, 1/23/91; AP, 6/20/90

"Major weapons killed include the Army's M-2 Bradley Fighting Vehicle, the Navy's Trident submarine and F-14 aircraft, and the Air Force's F-16 airplane. Cheney decided the military already has enough of these weapons."
- Boston Globe, 2/5/91

"The Pentagon's internal budget deliberations recommended termination of the Black Hawk program under Secretary Cheney."
-Aerospace Daily, 5/15/90

The Washington Post also did a nice job of debunking Cheney's attack on Kerry on intelligence funding. Give it a read if you're interested in hearing how much bigger the proposed Republican cut was, and how Cheney distorted Kerry's actual record.

Cheney, Bush and their cronies are going to extravagant lengths to paint Kerry as soft on defense. It's pure spin. Put side by side, he's consistently stronger than Cheney.

But here's the bigger picture. Not only does Kerry come out better on specific defense-related votes, he beats Bush on national security because he wouldn't undercut our troops.

He wouldn't send them into unnecessary wars without help from allies, or  repeatedly cut
combat pay
, or slash veteran's health care, or withhold needed equipment.

Bush is trying to distract us from the fact that he himself hasn't supported the troops. Kerry has, does, and will.

J.R. Norton [research director]

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By Brad Friedman on 4/27/2004 11:20pm PT  

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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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