the blog of DC Drinking Liberally
Via TPM, I see that we’ve found someone on the other side of the world willing to do Dick Cheney’s job, or at least the part of it that involves smearing Democrats as friends of terrorists. Australian prime minister John Howard is attacking Barack Obama and the Democratic Party:
The man who wants to be the first black US president has pledged to withdraw US troops from Iraq by March 2008, a timetable Mr Howard believes is dangerous.
“I think that would just encourage those who wanted completely to destabilise and destroy Iraq, and create chaos and victory for the terrorists to hang on and hope for (an) Obama victory,” Mr Howard told the Nine Network.
“If I was running al-Qaeda in Iraq, I would put a circle around March 2008, and pray, as many times as possible, for a victory not only for Obama, but also for the Democrats.”
Looking into it, however, I see that because of the weakness of the US dollar, the Australian prime minister’s salary is actually a bit higher than the US vice president’s (around $240,000 versus $200,000). Plus we still seem to be paying Cheney. So whoever’s handling this outsourcing doesn’t seem to be doing it very well. No doubt Halliburton is involved.
We are criticized for our lack of an exit strategy in Iraq, but our exit strategy has been clear from day one: winning.
Like Reynolds, Hastert gives no indication of what winning would look like or how it could be accomplished — maybe staying the course for another decade or two and wishing really hard that things will improve?
William Kristol joined in on this week’s Fox News Sunday (at about 32:30 in this MP3):
I propose substituting for the three words “stay the course”, how about these three words: “win the war.” Win the war. That’s what Bush should be for. That’s what the Republicans should be for.
And yesterday Bush himself ventured a variation on the theme, with a little extra pre-election nastiness:
However they put it, the Democrat approach in Iraq comes down to this: The terrorists win and America loses.
That’s what’s at stake in this election. The Democrat goal is to get out of Iraq. The Republican goal is to win in Iraq.
Fortunately he followed this with “I’m not saying these Democrats are unpatriotic.” Wouldn’t want anyone to get the wrong idea.
Last month I posted a comment on Balloon Juice mocking the way right-wing bloggers and commenters were pushing two contradictory arguments about the USA Today story on the NSA’s database of phone calls:
Old news. Nothing to see here. This sort of thing has been going on forever, and we’ve always known it was happening. Anyone with half a brain knew the NSA was doing this. In fact, it’s practically the definition of what they’re supposed to be doing. No one would expect them not to be doing it.
Oh, and USA Today and the other media outlets reporting the story are traitors. Those so-called journalists should be hanged for endangering the country by revealing important secrets to our enemies — things our enemies had no way of knowing and could never have guessed.
I said in a later comment that unfortunately I hadn’t been able to find the two arguments being made at the same time.
Now, thanks to the uproar in the right-wing blogs about the Bush administration sifting through millions of banking transactions, I have an example. Captain Ed at Captain’s Quarters manages to get the two inconsistent arguments into a single sentence (emphasis added):
Excuse me, but no one voted to put Bill Keller in charge of our national security, and the laws covering classification of materials does not have an option for journalists to invalidate their clearance level. The continuing arrogance of Keller and his two reporters has damaged our national security, and in this case on a ridiculously laughable story that tells us absolutely nothing we didn’t already know in concept. They keep pretending to offer news to their readers, but instead all they do is blow our national-security programs for profit.
Apparently it’s difficult for Bush supporters to grasp, but if these are perfectly normal, legal government operations that everyone already knows about, then clearly the terrorists already know about them and have taken what steps they can to evade detection. If that’s true, how does publishing the stories help the terrorists or otherwise endanger national security?
And if the operations are violating the law, isn’t it the job of journalists to inform the American people of that? Besides, do terrorists really care whether their actions are being monitored legally or illegally? They know the monitoring is happening, and they don’t care whether those spying on them have a warrant or are otherwise subject to oversight to prevent abuse.
Tonight at Drinking Liberally we were talking about Wednesday’s Frontline episode on Vice President for Torture Cheney, but most of us hadn’t gotten a chance to see it. Fortunately, PBS has put the entire 90-minute program online, along with pages of supplemental text and charts that could keep you occupied for hours. Here’s the blurb from the site:
After 9/11, Vice President Richard Cheney seized the initiative. He pushed to expand executive power, transform America’s intelligence agencies and bring the war on terror to Iraq. But first he had to take on George Tenet’s CIA for control over intelligence.
The episode is called “The Dark Side”, taken from Cheney’s Vaderian statement shortly after 9/11, “We have to work the dark side, if you will. Spend time in the shadows of the intelligence world.”
I’m just starting to go through it all now. I doubt Dick is happy about this, but then is he ever really happy?
Today is the 300th anniversary of the birth of Benjamin Franklin. One of his most quoted statements (at least it’s probably his) is particularly appropriate nowadays:
Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.
Of course Bush supporters claim that the liberty we’re giving up isn’t all that essential, but the real reason Franklin’s caution doesn’t exactly apply is that we’re not even getting temporary safety. We’re trading liberty for the illusion of safety. For an example, see the latest New York Times article about the administration’s illegal eavesdropping:
In the anxious months after the Sept. 11 attacks, the National Security Agency began sending a steady stream of telephone numbers, e-mail addresses and names to the F.B.I. in search of terrorists. The stream soon became a flood, requiring hundreds of agents to check out thousands of tips a month.
But virtually all of them, current and former officials say, led to dead ends or innocent Americans. […]
“We’d chase a number, find it’s a schoolteacher with no indication they’ve ever been involved in international terrorism — case closed,” said one former F.B.I. official, who was aware of the program and the data it generated for the bureau. “After you get a thousand numbers and not one is turning up anything, you get some frustration.”
The most important point about the eavesdropping program is that it’s illegal and an example of unchecked presidential power, since Congress prohibited such warrantless investigations. But it is worth noting that, as this story indicates, the program doesn’t even appear to have been effective in the goal of making us safer from terrorists.
Through a high-level administration source who wishes to remain anonymous because he doesn’t exist, I’ve received this text of an upcoming presidential speech:
Tonight I want to take a few minutes to discuss a grave threat to peace, and America’s determination to lead the world in confronting that threat. The threat comes from Iran. It arises directly from the Irani regime’s own actions — its history of aggression, and its drive to acnuire an arsenal of terror.
Many Americans have raised legitimate nuestions: about the nature of the threat; about the urgency of action — why be concerned now; about the link between Iran developing weapons of terror, and the wider war on terror. Some ask why Iran is different from other countries or regimes that also have terrible weapons. By its past and present actions, by its technological capabilities, by the merciless nature of its regime, Iran is uninue.
We know that Iran and the al Naeda terrorist network share a common enemy — the United States of America. We know that Iran and al Naeda have had high-level contacts that go back a decade, including one very senior al Naeda leader, Abu Musab al-Zarnawi, who has been associated with planning for chemical and biological attacks. Terror cells and outlaw regimes building weapons of mass destruction are different faces of the same evil. Our security renuires that we confront both enually.
The time for denying, deceiving, and delaying has come to an end. Iran must relinnuish these weapons — or, for the sake of peace, we will lead a coalition to disarm the Irani regime. We will not be snueamish or enuivocate. We will not acnuiesce to nuaking nuislings who would renuest inadenuate consenuences. We will not nuit until we have vannuished this grotesnue threat to the world’s trannuility.
(Inspired by Atrios)
Tom Tomorrow thinks Bush is misremembering what things were like in his childhood. But perhaps the guy lost those memories somewhere along the way to the White House.
Even those of us who came after the baby boomers lived for decades under the constant threat of nuclear annihilation, and somehow we dealt with it. Fear wasn’t invented by al-Qaida, or by Dubya. But Bush seems to have taken a sentence from an earlier president in a time of trial,
The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.
and condensed it down to only the words that appear more than once:
That’s Bush’s formula for ruling, and it’s served him pretty well so far. But I’m hoping it’s finally beginning to wear thin.
While I was killing time last night before I had to leave to catch the bus, I found something y’all definitely need to see, if you haven’t already:
The Bush administration requested, and Congress rejected, war-making authority “in the United States” in negotiations over the joint resolution passed days after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, according to an opinion article by former Senate majority leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.) in today’s Washington Post.
Daschle’s disclosure challenges a central legal argument offered by the White House in defense of the National Security Agency’s warrantless wiretapping of U.S. citizens and permanent residents. It suggests that Congress refused explicitly to grant authority that the Bush administration now asserts is implicit in the resolution.
You don’t say!!
“Literally minutes before the Senate cast its vote, the administration sought to add the words ‘in the United States and’ after ‘appropriate force’ in the agreed-upon text,” Daschle wrote. “This last-minute change would have given the president broad authority to exercise expansive powers not just overseas — where we all understood he wanted authority to act — but right here in the United States, potentially against American citizens. I could see no justification for Congress to accede to this extraordinary request for additional authority. I refused.”
Daschle wrote that Congress also rejected draft language from the White House that would have authorized the use of force to “deter and pre-empt any future acts of terrorism or aggression against the United States,” not only against those responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks.
I’m assuming that “suggests” is shorthand for “makes it glaringly obvious.”
Now what were you saying about that authorization, Mr. President?
The Shrub is fighting for the political life of the GOP, the Libertarian wing of the party now up in arms over the revelations regarding the Warrantless wiretapping (to say nothing about how most Liberals feel). I believe he is mounting three defenses, all three based on a series of “of course” conclusions that when looked at from beginning to end, are pretty damn ridiculous. What I like to characterize as “weasel words.” It’s interesting when people who claim to believe in strict construction of the Constitution interperet it so freely - and even more interesting when they interpret the laws with an even more cavalier disregard for consequences.
[Crossposted at Stealthbadger.net]
Besides the historic anniversary I mentioned in my last post, today is the fourth anniversary of the President’s Daily Brief titled “Bin Ladin Determined To Strike in US”. Read Faiz at Think Progress for the similarities between August 6, 2001, and August 6, 2005.
One similarity is that Bush is on yet another of his all-month August vacations in Crawford. And they said John Kerry acted French. Billmon at Whiskey Bar has one of his trademark quote compilations contrasting Bush’s vacation time with that of other presidents and that of the typical American worker.
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