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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...

ReddIt this story!



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...

ReddIt this story!



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.
ReddIt this story!



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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Irony Watch Flashback Edition
By Brad Friedman on 5/8/2004 7:17pm PT  

"As long as the Middle East remains a place of tyranny and despair and anger, it will continue to produce men and movements that threaten the safety of America and our friends."
- George W. Bush, State of the Union address, Jan 20, 2004

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Flip-Flop Flashback Edition
By Brad Friedman on 5/8/2004 7:15pm PT  

"It really depends upon how [our] nation conducts itself in foreign policy. If we're an arrogant nation, they'll resent us. If we're a humble nation, but strong, they'll welcome us."
-George W. Bush, Presidential Debate at Wake Forest University Oct 11, 2000

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If you believed they put a man on the moon...
By Brad Friedman on 5/8/2004 6:34pm PT  

Something fun to ponder from LA Weekly while the rest of the world crumbles...

Before Kaufman died (or “died”) on May 16, 1984, he told several friends that he was planning to fake his death, disappear and return in 20 years, precisely. So, on May 16, 2004, Comic Relief, the charity organization [best friend and writing partner, Bob] Zmuda founded in 1985, will present . . . something. Something secretive, something at House of Blues on Sunset Strip. Title: Andy Kaufman — Dead or Alive?

“So this May 16 isn't going to be exactly like [Andy's infamous show at] Carnegie Hall,” Zmuda concludes...“But it's gonna be in the ballpark.”

...

“Is this a Comic Relief fund-raiser?”

“No. It's a Comic Relief event, but it's not a fund-raiser. And there will be an important Comic Relief announcement made there.”

“What kind of announcement?”

“I can't tell you.”

“Thank you. What can you tell?”

“Well, it's going to take place at the House of Blues, which usually holds 1,200, with people standing on the main floor. But because of the nature of what we'll be doing that night, we're bringing in chairs. So there's only gonna be 350 seats available.”

“And what is the nature of what you're doing? Perhaps some form of . . . entertainment?”

“I can tell you some of it, some of it I can't. [Kaufman alter-ego, now supposedly embodied by Zmuda] Tony Clifton will perform — if he shows — with his band, the Cliftones, and his dancers, the Cliftonettes. And there's going to be the premiere of an Andy Kaufman film that's never been presented in public, and will never be shown again.”

“How do you know it won't be shown again?”

“It won't. I can't explain, but . . . it won't.. . . and I really can't tell you any more. But we really want the hardcore Kaufman fans to show up, because it is going to be a historical night, around one basic theme: Andy did say that if he was going to fake his death, he would return 20 years later, to the day. That's the day.”

“You know, in your book, it says 10 years.”

“Yeah, I know. When I wrote the book, that's what I thought he'd decided. But after [Andy's girlfriend] Lynne read it, she called and said, ‘You got that wrong.' I said, ‘Whaddya mean?' She said, ‘Don't you remember? Andy was always debating whether it should be 10 or 20 years,' and that he decided, as he put it, to ‘separate the men from the boys.' If he was going to be a boy about it, it'd be 10 years. If he was going to be a man, it'd be 20 years."

“Have you considered someone trying to fake it?”

“Yes. I'm sure there'll be some nuts showing up that night, claiming to be Andy Kaufman. And who knows how Andy'd look, 20 years later? But we will have there, that night, a foolproof way to determine if in fact they are.”

“And that foolproof way is . . .?”

“I can't tell you.”

The full article actually has some tantalizingly "credible" info on a return of Andy. Which --- of course --- may be the point. On the other hand, we live right around the corner from the House of Blues...should we pop $50 a piece for SRO tickets to be there? Just in case...? I'd bite! :-)

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By Brad Friedman on 5/8/2004 4:40pm PT  

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Even the NeoCons are trying to get the message to Bush
By Brad Friedman on 5/8/2004 3:13pm PT  

Neo-Cons Robert Kagan and William Kristol (one of the early principal architects and supporters of the whole Iraq Mess) are at least intellectually honest enough to recognize when things are going horribly wrong.

From their article in the latest Weekly Standard:

The Bush administration seems not to recognize how widespread, and how bipartisan, is the view that Iraq is already lost or on the verge of being lost. The administration therefore may not appreciate how close the whole nation is to tipping decisively against the war.

Bush's predictably sluggish reaction to what Americans already perceive (rightly or wrongly) as necessary in Iraq continues to damage his case. Witness the foot-dragging about increasing the troop numbers in Iraq --- called for now for over a year from both sides of the aisle --- which has lead directly or indirectly to the latest mess at Abu Ghraib (or Camp Hubris, as I like to call it) and Bush's painfully inadequate baby steps towards appropriate apology for the disaster, followed by his inability to recognize the good (for America, if not his own re-election chances) that would come from removing Rumsfeld immediately.

But George W. Bush has never been one to put America before his own political interests, so why should he start now?

Well, one answer is Bill Kristol! If Bush listens to nobody else in the press, he does (or at least his advisors seem to) listen to Kristol from time to time, as Kristol generally takes the lead in representing Neo-Con interests in the media. Lose them, and Bush has lost everything.

In their column, Kristol and Kagan go on to call for moving up the current January '05 election date to September '04 and they spell out a number of good reasons for it. Amongst them, the need to increase troop size:

The Pentagon continues to fiddle while Iraq burns. Everyone in Iraq with whom we talk bemoans the shortage of troops and equipment. It is now impossible to travel safely throughout most of Iraq. This is terrible news, and would be even if we weren't preparing for an election. But if elections are announced, the Pentagon could be forced to overcome its arrogant stubbornness and beef up the force.

Team Bush seems to have painted itself into a corner on the Elections issue. They want "free and fair elections", but they've been spending over a year now trying to figure out how to avoid the inevitable outcome of the Shi'ite Majority in the country turning the place into an Iranian-style Theocracy. Seems like they shoulda thought of that before they moved in.

There's a lot it seems like they shoulda thunk of first --- but that sort of common-sense look-more-than-one-move-ahead planning has never gotten in their way before. So --- again --- why should they start now? Answer: Bill Kristol is talking to you! I'd expect Bush may soon begin paying attention. Maybe.

ReddIt this story!



By Brad Friedman on 5/8/2004 2:03pm PT  


SEN. BAYH: Would it serve to demonstrate how seriously we take the situation --- and therefore help to undo some of the damage to our reputation --- if you were to step down?

SEC. RUMSFELD: That's possible.

SEN. BAYH: I appreciate your candor.

Me too.

On the Irony Watch, most impressive questioning of the day at yesterday's Senate Armed Services Committee hearings; Republicans Lindsey "House Impeachment Manager" Graham and John McCain. Least impressive: Joe "Missing the Point as Usual" Lieberman.

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