Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Putting Politics Before Country: The House of Cards

"Only part of the failed Bush economic policies"?!? What planet are you from?!

Thank you, Nancy Pelosi! We're all in this together, Republicans and Democrats, and the leader of the do-nothing Congress couldn't put partisan politics aside for just one moment during a national crisis.

More later, after I go blow off some steam.

Ok...it's now later (I actually had to take off and work with a couple of clients this morning).

Call me a "wishy-washy" conservative, but I'm actually of the mind to vote for the bill to be passed. It may not be perfect, but I do feel that the longer the delay, the greater the harm to our economy, let alone affecting the global economy.

Republicans who stand opposed do so for ideological reasons: Let the free market run its course, and those who made bad decisions suffer the consequences of having made bad decisions. Democrats oppose the bill for ideological reasons as well, thinking this is a bail-out for Wall Street. Caught in the cross-fire of this mess, is all of the rest of us. If we simply stand aside and allow financial institutions to fail on free market principle, we will all suffer together for the mistakes of others.

Hugh Hewitt reprints a letter from David Parker who sent it to every House member that voted "no" yesterday:

Dear Honorable Member of the House:

Having observed the failure of the House of Representatives to pass the proposed Financial Institutions Rescue Bill today, I wanted to express my serious concern and displeasure. The effective price that the American people paid today for your individual “NO” vote on the Rescue Bill (which monies are now lost to all who sold in today’s market) was $4,824,561,403.51 ($4.8 billion), if you calculate that the American taxpayers lost $1.1 trillion in today’s market decline on 228 votes, or nearly $92 billion for each of the 12 votes that failed to pass the measure. Today’s market decline is not retrievable to those who sold into it, in a panic because of your failure to act in the best interests of the American and global economies. I completely agree that Speaker Pelosi failed to lead and bring a consensus to the vote in her hyper partisan introduction – she showed anything but leadership on the point. Even so, and in spite of such an offense, the American people deserved better from their elected officials who are called to SERVE.

Tuesday’s market will also be a costly experience for the American people as well. How long must we wait? Unlike the proposed Rescue Plan where the Treasury would have received a reasoned return on its investment (like unto Chrysler and the S&L Rescue Package), the American people lost today and will tomorrow and each day thereafter until confidence is restored to our markets. Many of you call this socialized economics, when in fact it is anything but. Wait until the markets completely dissemble and the Democratic majority in Congress takes hold of corrective actions – that will render us on the slippery slope of socialism.

As a lifelong conservative Republican, and one who has been actively involved in the financial markets, I am completely dismayed by the lack of financial capacity, integrity and character in your vote. I truly believe that you voted out of fear of the ballot box, and disbelief in the realities of the market. Are you that much smarter and more capable than some of the finest economic minds who are leading our markets, Hank Paulson and Ben Bernanke? What must be said or done to illustrate the severity of your actions today? The PRIDE of both Republicans and Democrats, evidenced in pointing fingers, taking credit, trying to preserve elected positions, etc. is compromising every American. The lack of confidence in the global economies is costly, far more than the invested dollars of the proposed Rescue Plan. It is manifest in 401k’s, pension funds, savings accounts, employment, housing, food, energy and every other element of society. Your failed actions today will cost us eventually, both in market losses and in an ultimate rescue plan that will bear an even greater cost.

Hat tip: Flopping Aces

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Sunday, September 28, 2008

"I've got one, too"

Democratic presidential hopeful, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., wears a bracelet in memory of a soldier killed in Iraq, during a news conference in Indianapolis, Sunday, April 27, 2008. The bracelet was given to him by Tracy Jopek of Merrill, Wis., at a rally in Green Bay, Wis,, in February 2008. AP photo by Jae C. Hong

"Jim, let me just make a point. I've got a bracelet, too, from Sergeant - from the mother of Sergeant Ryan David Jopeck, sure another mother is not going through what I'm going through.

No U.S. soldier ever dies in vain because they're carrying out the missions of their commander in chief. And we honor all the service that they've provided. Our troops have performed brilliantly. The question is for the next president, are we making good judgments about how to keep America safe precisely because sending our military into battle is such an enormous step."
- Senator Obama, presidential debate Sept. 26, 2008

About that bracelet....

Hot Air makes this point:
It’s possible that they have changed their minds again, and not unlikely, given the family’s support for Obama. Jopek is divorced from his wife and may not have been speaking for her. If Tracy Jopek wanted Obama to continue to use the bracelet to make this case, or changed her mind about him stopping, then Obama did nothing wrong.

However, if the Jopeks did ask him to stop wearing the bracelet and stop talking about it on the campaign trail, it’s disrespectful for Obama to continue to do so. He should have honored their wishes and used a different example. Obama could have talked about Cindy Sheehan’s loss if he was desperate for one, but there are other Gold Star families who oppose the war and probably would support Obama’s use of their loss as a campaign talking point.

Since this interview was six months ago, we should wait for the Jopeks to say whether they object to the use of the bracelet by Obama. Obama’s use of the bracelet was obviously planned, and I’d have a hard time believing that no one would have thought to check with the Jopeks first.

Ryan Jopek was a Sgt. in the Wisconsin National Guard, 2nd Battalion, 127th Infantry. On was killed on August 2nd by an IED in Tikrit, 2 years ago. He was 20 years young. Sgt. Jopek was on his last mission, due to come home in 2 weeks.

The father, Brian Jopek, also served in Iraq with a Wisconsin National Guard unit.

You can read about how Tracy Jopek gave Obama the bracelet, here. Misgivings?

She said she was honored by Obama mentioning her son in his speech.

"I couldn't believe it. It was such an honor, such an honor," she said. "To know that he does know his name. It means a lot."


But a month later, Ryan's father Brian -- who is no longer married to Tracy -- told Wisconsin Public Radio that his ex-wife had misgivings about Obama wearing the bracelet and mentioning their son on the campaign trail. It seems as though just as Tracy Jopek supports Obama and wants to end the war, Brian Jopek has a different take on what should happen in Iraq and may be more inclined to support McCain.

Let's be clear that neither side speaks for ALL military families. And their wishes should be respected. I hope the right side of the blogosphere doesn't embarrass itself by making more out of this than is warranted. As Hot Air points out, we don't know how the family currently feels on this. Although, this might be a hint:
After pointing out that he and Tracy are not married anymore, Brian says that "from what I understood from email exchanges with Tracy….she wanted to put a name, she wanted Sen. Obama to know Ryan's name...She wasn't looking to turn it into a big media event...She just wanted it to be something between Barack Obama and herself."
Sounds like Tracy supports Obama's campaign, but doesn't want her son's memory to be politicized. I would imagine that means from either side.

You can see a video of Sgt. Ryan D. Jopek's funeral here.

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Sunday Funnies

More Sunday Funnies at Flopping Aces

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Saturday, September 27, 2008

The False Derision that We Weren't Greeted as Liberators

“And so John likes — John, you like to pretend like the war started in 2007. You talk about the surge. The war started in 2003, and at the time when the war started, you said it was going to be quick and easy. You said we knew where the weapons of mass destruction were. You were wrong.

You said that we were going to be greeted as liberators. You were wrong.”-Barry, Presidential debate September 26, 2008, on the campus of the University of Mississippi.

Read my post at Flopping Aces

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"You go left, I'll go right"

Democratic presidential nominee Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) (top) and Republican presidential nominee Senator John McCain (R-AZ) pass each other onstage after the first U.S. presidential debate in Oxford, Mississippi, September 26, 2008. REUTERS/Jim Bourg (UNITED STATES) US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION CAMPAIGN 2008 (USA)

So....thoughts on the debate last night?


Caption This

U.S. Senator John Kerry (D-MA) holds his head in his hands as he talks on his phone after the first presidential debate at the University of Mississippi in Oxford, Mississippi September 26, 2008. REUTERS/Chip Somodevilla/Pool (UNITED STATES) US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION CAMPAIGN 2008 (USA)

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Friday, September 26, 2008

"Oh, it's on!"

"Remember....let's keep it clean; keep your gloves up at all times; no headbutting, no hitting below the belt..."

Foreign Policy Fight Night:

Barack "the One" Obama
John "the PO'ed on 'W' " McCain

"Let's get it on!"


Pro-Palin Advocacy Group Releases Anti-McCain Ad: "Unfit to Command"

No, not really. But I thought I'd do as Scott did, to draw some attention.

The real ad, of course, was produced by Brave New PAC and Democracy for America. It suggests that Senator McCain is unfit to live out his presidential tenure, due to health reasons:

Two liberal political action committees, Brave New PAC and Democracy for America, launched an aggressive attack on John McCain's health this morning in an ad featuring unflattering images of his melanoma scars. The ad calls for McCain to release his medical records, something he already did earlier this year.

"Another bout of cancer for John McCain while he is president of the United States would profoundly impact his capacity lead," Dr. Michael D. Fratkin says in the ad. "Melanoma is the deadliest of skin cancers," Dr. Noah Craft then explains, adding "the chances of survival if you have melanoma spread through your body are very slim." The ad closes with a graphic asking, "Why won't John McCain release his Medical Records?"

Of course, as the CBS link notes, McCain did release his medical records back in May:

On May 23, a small group of reporters were sequestered in a reading room outside of Phoenix, Ariz., and given several hours to review 1,173 pages of McCain's medical records spanning from 2000 to 2008. In 2000, during McCain's first presidential bid, his campaign released hundreds of pages of medical records including psychological tests run after his prisoner of war confinement.

Apparently though, the McCain campaign was not willing to release the documents to the general public nor allow reporters to make copies of them.

McCain's physical fitness to command was brought up earlier this year in the New York Times. Questions regarding his health are nothing new:

"In 1999, during Mr. McCain’s first race for president, he gave the public an extraordinary look at his medical history — 1,500 pages of medical and psychiatric records that were amassed as part of a United States Navy project to gauge the health of former prisoners of war," Altman writes. "This reporter, who is a physician, interviewed the senator’s doctors in 1999 with his permission."

Here's the scare ad:

Aimed at independent voters, maybe it means something. For conservative Republican voters, it means something else entirely:

If elected, McCain will be the oldest U.S. president inaugurated for office (not counting Reagan's reelection at age 73).

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Economic Crisis in a Nutshell


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Who Gets to Define Islam?

Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri? The salafi fundamentalists? Sufi Islam? Farrakhan and The Nation of Islam? Baha'ism? Sunni or Shi'a? The Ayatollahs who wish to bring about the end time and reign in the 2nd coming of the 12th Imam? Modern "reformers" like Sayyid Qutb and Mohammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, the inspiration for al Qaeda and modern Islamic fundamentalism? What gives them the religious authority to define a religion that does not have priests? Is CAIR really the voice of "moderates"? Is Islam inflexible and incapable of embracing modernity and a divorce from the violence and hatred of political Islam and 7th, 12th century backwardness? Or, can it be reformed by those devout Muslims like Dr. Zuhdi Jasser?

Personal photo of Dr. Zuhdi Jasser after a Q & A at a free Los Angeles screening of PBS's Islam vs. Islamists, June 13, 2007. My post.

Z had an opportunity to listen to Dr. Jasser speak. And I think came away from the talk, a better person for it, and a better advocate for fighting the war against Islamic terror and Islamism, without lashing out at at the hundreds of millions of Muslims who practice the faith, in peace.

I know this doesn't sit well with many right-wingers. Good. Sometimes, we need the stupid smacked out of us. We've become so educated on the dangers of the Islamist threat by immersing ourselves in Robert Spencerian research and anti-Jihad books, blog any and every news story on honor killings and Islamic cultural encroachments upon our western society, that we find validation in our dim view of Islam as a whole.

I'm not saying there aren't real dangers and a real threat from wahhabism and Islamist fundamentalism. But I am saying that some of us are becoming religious bigots, where our prejudice and hatred are based upon self-indoctrination of anti-Islam literature. Our views against Islam are shaped not by a lack of education, but by an overabundance and an overbalance of education, tilted in one direction. We are all-too willing to believe the worst about Islam, and zero-in only on repeating the negative stories. Positive stories about Muslims get ignored or dismissed as the exception; we seize upon the negative news, then cry out "where are the moderate voices?" We don't see them, because we're too busy looking for the worst.

We are under threat of becoming the stereotype that multicultural liberals wish to see us as: intolerant, warmongering, religious and ethnic bigots.

I have an anti-Islam troll living under the bridge of my blog; anytime I come out with a post that doesn't condemn the entire religion, he will crawl out of his hole to tell me how I am a dhimmi and defender of evil. Bigots like him are part of the problem and have their heads up their asses every bit as much as they rightfully accuse some of us as having our heads in the sand.

bin Laden and Zawahiri tried to convince the Muslim world that the West are at war with Islam. They have failed. That is, unless they've simultaneously convinced the West that Islam is at war with them.

Dr. Jasser represents the kind of modernity and reformation that Islam needs to undergo if it is to survive peacefully alongside the other great world religions in the 21st century. We should not fall into the trap of becoming what we hate.

Here's an excerpt from Islam vs. Islamists (apparently uploaded by Tarek Fatah):

Another clip:

This is the PBS episode from their program series that they had initially pulled, apparently influenced by the likes of CAIR, who they deem to be the "true" "moderates", because they are bearded. I got to see a free screening of this documentary in June of 2007 and highly recommend it to everyone. It is the irony of ironies that the multiculturalist liberals at PBS would suppress Islam vs. Islamists, when the four voices of those in the program are the very "moderates" people need to hear from.

When we lament, "where are the moderate voices in Islam?", "Why aren't they speaking out and denouncing Islamic terror?".....well, you can thank, in part, PBS.

Ok, readers: Let me have both barrels in the face, and tell me why I'm wrong.

An elderly man reads the Koran on the second day of Ramadan, the holiest month in the Islamic calendar, at the Grand Mosque in Sanaa September 2, 2008.
REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Caption This

President George W. Bush leaves the podium after his final address to the U.N. at the 63rd United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York September 23, 2008. REUTERS/Mike Segar

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Monday, September 22, 2008

Origins of the "Swiftboating" of Sarah Palin?

"Partly, as you will recall, we, for several weeks, were putting up with a lot of silliness from the other side. Britney Spears ads, we were talking about lipstick and pigs,"
-Senator Obama answering Steve Kroft in his 60 Minutes interview.

So Obama is a "new kind of politician", representing hope and change; and a new tone for Washington that rises above lipstick smears and the dirty tactics of character defamation?

From the Jawa Report:
Extensive research was conducted by the Jawa Report to determine the source of smears directed toward Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin. Those smears included false allegations that she belonged to a secessionist political party and that she has radical anti-American views.

Our research suggests that a subdivision of one of the largest public relations firms in the world most likely started and promulgated rumors about Sarah Palin that were known to be false. These rumors were spread in a surreptitious manner to avoid exposure.

It is also likely that the PR firm was paid by outside sources to run the smear campaign. While not conclusive, evidence suggests a link to the Barack Obama campaign. Namely:
  • Evidence suggests that a YouTube video with false claims about Palin was uploaded and promoted by members of a professional PR firm.
  • The family that runs the PR firm has extensive ties to the Democratic Party, the netroots, and are staunch Obama supporters.
  • Evidence suggests that the firm engaged in a concerted effort to distribute the video in such a way that it would appear to have gone viral on its own. Yet this effort took place on company time.
  • Evidence suggests that these distribution efforts included actions by at least one employee of the firm who is unconnected with the family running the company.
  • The voice-over artist used in this supposedly amateur video is a professional.
  • This same voice-over artist has worked extensively with David Axelrod's firm, which has a history of engaging in phony grassroots efforts, otherwise known as "astroturfing."

  • David Axelrod is Barack Obama's chief media strategist.
  • The same voice-over artist has worked directly for the Barack Obama campaign.
This suggests that false rumors and outright lies about Sarah Palin and John McCain being spread on the internet are being orchestrated by political partisans and are not an organic grassroots phenomenon led by the left wing fringe. Our findings follow.
Read the research at The Jawa Report

Cross-posted at Flopping Aces

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He's got a "track record of believing in this stuff", folks

Scott Pelley, left, interviewing John McCain in Wisconsin on Sept. 18, 2008. (Photo: CBS/Rob Fortunato)

Kroft: Senator McCain made some of the same noises this week, blaming Wall Street greed, promising reform and oversight, and new regulations to protect investors. What's the difference between the two of you?

Obama: Well, the difference is, I think, that I've got a track record of actually believing in this stuff. And, you know, Senator McCain, fairly recently, said, "I'm a deregulator." It's one of his top chief economic advisors was Phil Gramm , who was one of the architects of deregulation in this sector. And he's always taken great pride in believing that we have to eliminate regulations.

Obama's got a track record in his head? As Bill Clinton said: "This whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I’ve ever seen."

Look at the headline blurb for last night's 60 Minutes on the CBS site:
McCain, Obama Grilled On Issues, Obama lightly toasted and buttered

Really, it should read:
McCain, Obama Grilled On Issues

Overall, there were some good questioning of both candidates. Bias can be subtle, though. It's not so much that there is intentional unfairness. But certainly, there is a liberal perspective laced in some of the underlying assumptions- especially in some of the voiceovers.

Watch the interview or read the transcript. Then tell me there isn't any bias and I'll tell you that I have a bridge up in Alaska to sell you.

Here's some transcript snippets:
Pelley: In 1999 you were one of the senators who helped pass deregulation of Wall Street. Do you regret that now?

McCain: No, I think the deregulation was probably helpful to the growth of our economy.

Then here's the voiceover where McCain can't defend himself:
McCain has been an advocate of deregulation most of his career, but Thursday he endorsed the biggest bailout in history - a plan for the government to take on the bad debts of financial institutions.
From the WaPo Editorial last week:
It's fair to say that Mr. McCain has dramatically ramped up the regulatory rhetoric in the wake of the meltdown on Wall Street. Mr. Obama made the argument about the need for increased oversight much earlier. And Mr. McCain has generally taken an anti-regulatory stance, although not in all cases -- his support for federal regulation of tobacco and boxing being prominent counter-examples. Mr. McCain backed a moratorium on all new federal regulation in 1995, saying that excessive regulations were "destroying the American family, the American dream." On the campaign trail in 2000, he touted his record of voting "for smaller government, for less regulation."

However, when it comes to regulating financial institutions and corporate misconduct, Mr. McCain's record is more in keeping with his current rhetoric. In the aftermath of the Enron collapse and other accounting scandals, he was a leader, with Sen. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.), in pushing to require that companies treat stock options granted to employees as expenses on their balance sheets. "I have long opposed unnecessary regulation of business activity, mindful that the heavy hand of government can discourage innovation," he wrote in a July 2002 op-ed in the New York Times. "But in the current climate only a restoration of the system of checks and balances that once protected the American investor -- and that has seriously deteriorated over the past 10 years -- can restore the confidence that makes financial markets work."

Mr. McCain was an early voice calling for the resignation of Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Harvey Pitt, charging that he "seems to prefer industry self-policing to necessary lawmaking. Government's demands for corporate accountability are only credible if government executives are held accountable as well."

In 2006, he pushed for stronger regulation of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac -- while Mr. Obama was notably silent. "If Congress does not act, American taxpayers will continue to be exposed to the enormous risk that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac pose to the housing market, the overall financial system, and the economy as a whole," Mr. McCain warned at the time.

One element of the Obama campaign's brief against Mr. McCain is that he supported repeal of the law separating commercial banks from investment banks. "He's spent decades in Washington supporting financial institutions instead of their customers," Mr. Obama said yesterday. "Phil Gramm, one of the architects of the deregulation in Washington that led directly to this mess on Wall Street, is also the architect of John McCain's economic plan." Would it be churlish to point out that another author of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley law is former congressman Jim Leach, a founder of Republicans for Obama? Or that Obama advisers Lawrence H. Summers and Robert E. Rubin supported the repeal -- which was signed by President Bill
And for those who only wish to play the fingerpointing blame-game, here you go.

And some other previous posts:
Follow the Money!
McCain Ad Hits Obama on Financial Crisis
Financial Crisis a Democrat Scandal
Democrats Rewriting History Once More

Also note that President Bush has called for reform 17 times in 2008 alone; and the brilliant acumen of the do-nothing Congress is summed up by Harry Reid: "No one knows what to do."

Another voiceover:
Senator Obama's plan would cut taxes more than McCain for the middle class, but Obama would raise taxes for those making more than $250,000 a year. And last week, McCain turned up the temperature on the rhetoric.
Obama's patriotic tax "cuts" will do what exactly?

Pelley: The criticism of Governor Palin is that she was a brilliant marketing choice for the campaign, but she's not well versed on the economy or foreign affairs.

McCain: Well, actually, the most popular governor in America so, and the largest geographically state. But the most important thing is…

Pelley: But foreign affairs and the economy, those are things that people are concerned about.
I'll take, not only Governor Palin's experience over that of Senator Obama's anytime, but most importantly her judgment.
Pelley: Senator Biden, Senator Obama's running mate, has done 84 interviews and news conferences by our count. And Governor Palin has done two. And I wonder why that is. There's a perception that you might be nervous about what she might say, that you're not putting her in front of reporters.

McCain: She's gonna be doing more all the time. She's, as you know, been introduced to the country.
It's fair to say that Senator Biden doesn't need as much exposure as Governor Palin, because he has a long history in the media spotlight that she doesn't have. We already know him. But it's unfair of Pelley to trot out this "84 interviews" number, unless that's the number of interviews Biden's given since being chosen by Team Obama for the VP slot.

From Steve Kroft's interview with Senator Obama:
Kroft: The McCain campaign, the last day or two, has been running nothing but ads talking about you and the surge…that you were opposed to the surge.

Obama: That's all they had to talk about. You notice that, according to the McCain mythology, I guess the Iraq war started with the surge. They seem to forget that there were five years before that where they got everything wrong, where they anticipated that we would be greeted as liberators. Where they said this would be easy. These are John McCain's quotes. That this would all pay for itself. Because the Iraqi oil revenues would more than cover it. The fact of the matter is that John McCain has been consistently wrong on Iraq.
Can anyone find me the quotes where McCain said, "We'd be greeted as liberators, that this would be easy, and that the oil would pay for the war."? John McCain has supported the war in Iraq but has been heavily critical of its management. Even Bob Woodward recognizes this (transcript from the Mike Gallagher Show):

MG: Our guest is Bob Woodward. His book is The War Within: A Secret White House History. Let’s talk a little bit about Senator McCain, his presidential race. You know, you’re aware that John McCain was an early critic of Donald Rumsfeld…

BW: Yup.

MG: …and Rumsfeld’s strategy of light troop presence so we could try to get out fast and hand the baton to the Iraqis. John McCain always demanded a stronger troop presence. It feels like John McCain was always an advocate of the surge. Let’s face it, Barack Obama, on the other hand, doesn’t appear to have sounded off on anything about Iraq other than he was against being there. Is that fair?

BW: That’s absolutely true. And I asked the President about Senator McCain. I said Mr. President, John McCain since the end of 2003 has been calling for more troops.

MG: Right.

BW: And year after year. Don’t you wish you had listened to him? You know what President Bush said? He said well, we’re going to have to let history decide whether we needed more troops and at what point. The President doesn’t even embrace McCain’s very strong, consistent message we need more troops in Iraq.

MG: Well, you write indeed about a place where John McCain was furious with the Bush administration because they were spinning, even…that he felt they were spinning even the worst possible news. McCain thought we should be more straightforward with the highs and the lows. I mean, in many ways, I’m finding that your book is a pretty amazing endorsement of some of the, at least the military instincts that Senator McCain has had.
So how is McCain running on a 3rd Bush term, again? Oh yeah, they both actually campaigned to win a war.

Who had the superior judgment here? Who has been consistently wrong on Iraq?

This is all I have time for. If anyone else wants to go through the transcript and take issue with the interview questions and answers, have at it.

By the way, over the weekend, SNL bashes "old man" McCain....again, because comedians can't seem to find anything about Obama to laugh about.

Oh, and apparently the Emmys took place last night. When I heard about it, I joked with a client of mine this morning whether or not there was any Hollywood politicking on the podium. Sure enough, Hollywood "know-it-all" libs didn't fail to disappoint.

Cross-posted at Flopping Aces

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

How Do You Measure Success in Iraq?

Amy Proctor points out another rod by which to measure:
How do you know things are going really well in Iraq? The State Department doesn’t have to threaten to draft employees to fill positions in Iraq anymore. All 300 jobs are now filled with willing volunteers.
Recall how in Kenneth Timmerman's The Shadow Warriors, the author describes how State Department officials, as well a some in the CIA and political appointees held over from the Clinton Administration, have worked to undermine the Bush Administration out of political partisanship over professionalism and patriotism.

FP: Shed some light for us on the shadow warriors at the State Department. How much have they hurt Bush administration policies?

Timmerman: Let me answer with an anecdote I describe in the book. After President Bush was elected to a second term in November 2004, Secretary of State Colin Powell called a town meeting at the State Department in Washington . Faced with a sea of Kerry-Edwards stickers in the parking lot, Powell decided to confront the problem head on. “We live in a democracy,” he said. “As Americans, we have to respect the results of elections.” He went on to tell his employees that President Bush had received the most votes of any president in U.S. history, and that they were constitutionally obligated to serve him.

One of Powell’s subordinates, an assistant secretary of state, became increasingly agitated. Once Powell had dismissed everyone, she returned to her office suite, shut the door, and held a mini town meeting of her own. After indignantly recounting Powell’s remarks, she commented: “Well, Senator Kerry receive the second highest number of votes of any presidential candidate in history. If just one state had gone differently, Sen. Kerry would be President Kerry today.” Her staff owed no allegiance to the president of the United States , especially not to policies they knew were wrong, she said. If it was legal, and it would slow down the Bush juggernaut, they should do it, she told them.

Here was an open call to insubordination, and, I might add, it was not an isolated incident.

Cross-posted at Flopping Aces

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Sunday Funnies

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Maybe He Shoulda Just Let Him Feed the Birds?

The video ends too soon. Right after the song, little Michael creates a "run on the bank", by demanding he be given his tuppence back. Other bank customers overhear the commotion. Thinking the bank won't give someone his money back, a panic ensues, and everyone begins demanding their money be withdrawn from their accounts. I found an interesting article from the AP printed in the Herald Tribune, dated September 18th, 2007- a year ago from this week's crises. It's an interesting read in light of what's going on today:

There's a run on a bank in Britain: Could it happen in the U.S.?

The Associated Press

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

NEW YORK: For many Americans born after the Depression, bank runs are just scenes out of movies.

The troubles at British lender Northern Rock PLC show they can still happen, but it's much less likely that Americans will be seen "queueing up" outside banks anytime soon to collect their cash as British depositers have this week. The U.S. banking system has different rules and procedures than its U.K. counterpart to guarantee that the nation's $4.2 trillion (�3.08 trillion) in insured deposits are backed by the government.

The U.S. banking industry has its share of problems now, too. Several small mortgage lenders have declared bankruptcy because of the recent spike in mortgage defaults, and other banks have suffered steep losses.

Americans can get spooked just like anyone else � when the U.S. lender Countrywide Financial Corp. acknowledged sharp losses in its mortgage industry, customers packed its bank branches and jammed its online operations, trying to get answers and cash out.

The United States has seen nothing in decades like the billions of dollars that Britons have withdrawn from banks in recent days, however.

The reason is, largely, that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. guarantees up to $100,000 (�73,217) per account per bank, and $250,000 (�183,043) for retirement accounts. In Britain, the government guarantees all deposits below 2,000 pounds ($4,000, �2,929), 90 percent of deposits up to 35,000 pounds ($70,000, �51,252) ), and nothing above that.

Furthermore, in the United States, even deposits beyond the $100,000 limit are probably safe, given that the Fed has procedures to keep banks solvent.

The chance of a run on a U.S. bank is "almost nil," according to Richard Bove, a bank analyst at Punk Ziegel & Co. He added that Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has repeated that he's willing to rescue the banking system, but Mervyn King, governor of the Bank of England, has been less supportive.

Depositors began lining up at Northern Rock branches on Friday. It took until late Monday for British officials to assure customers that the government would guarantee their savings, but not before customers had withdrawn about 2 billion pounds, or $4 billion (�2.9 billion), in deposits.

The United States has had bank runs in the past. The scene in Frank Capra's 1946 film "It's a Wonderful Life" where the good people of Bedford Falls flock to the struggling Bailey Building and Loan to get their money back may be fictional, but it has some basis in reality.

During the Great Depression in the 1930s, many banks went out of business due to runs because they didn't have the backing of the U.S. government. During the debt crises in the 1980s, people in Maryland and Ohio may remember people lined up outside the few remaining uninsured savings and loans.

But Britain has allowed depositors to take losses in recent memory � not just in the Edwardian era, which inspired the scene in Disney's "Mary Poppins" where young Michael triggers a bank run by screaming "Give me my money!" after old Mr. Dawes snatches his tiny deposit.

In 1991, when the scandal-ridden Bank of Credit and Commerce International collapsed, British investors didn't get a full payout, said George Benston, a finance professor at Emory University's Goizueta Business School.

U.S. bank runs are possible, as the brief panic over Countrywide suggested. But even if one happens, U.S. depositors shouldn't fret too much about losing their shirts.

Not only are most investors' deposits guaranteed by the government, the Fed is obligated to bail out a bank if its failure would be detrimental to the economy, Benston said. "If it were Citi, Chase, Bank of America � they'd step in."

And as the late economist Murray Rothbard wrote in a 1985 article for the publication "The Free Market" during the savings and loan panic: "Everyone knows that, in the case of a bank run, the U.S. Treasury would simply order the Fed to print enough cash to bail out any depositors who want it. The Fed has the unlimited power to print dollars, and it is this unlimited power to inflate that stands behind the current fractional reserve banking system."

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Friday, September 19, 2008

Yo-ho, yo-ho, a pirate's life for me...."

A year late, but I must say, "talk like a pirate day" on the Hugh Hewitt Show in 2004 was one of the most entertaining hours I've listened to in the car. It was hilarious how he was with his callers, when they didn't talk like a pirate.
Avast! Today be International Talk Like a Pirate Day! Aye, unless you're lea'in' a joke, my cabin boy bloganeers and buxom beauties, any comments left in this post will be deleted if you aren't talkin' like a pirate. Arrr! Ye'll ne'er get me buried booty!

Also Swashbloggin':
Get Stewed
The Flying Space Monkeys Chronicles (Nereheard o' 't? Dasn't worry. I nereheard o' 't until today, eith-arrrr!)

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

It's Time to Be Patriotic

“I was coming back from Africa on one of my trips,” she said. “I had taken one of my wealthy friends with me. She said, ‘Don’t you just feel guilty? Don’t you just feel terrible?’ I said, ‘No, I don’t. I do not know how me being destitute is going to help them.’ Then I said when we got home, ‘I’m going home to sleep on my Pratesi sheets right now and I’ll feel good about it.’ “
-Oprah Winfrey,
4/11/06 People Magazine

C'mon you Democrat fat cats....why not 90%? What's keeping you from donating as much of what you care to spare to the federal government and for the greater good? No one's holding a gun to your head, saying, "keep your money." Matt Towery:

Rather than arbitrarily declare someone "rich" when they cross that $250,000 level, let's raise the bar. Heck, let's even let an individual keep the first $1 billion he or she earns. After that, let's let them have a taste of what real taxes are all about.

How about a net worth tax? I know I've kidded about it before, but it's even more fun thinking about it under the current circumstances, both political and economic.

Let's tax the excess amount of anyone's net worth that exceeds $1 billion at 90 percent. Of course we would have to undo those charitable foundations where the super-wealthy have the ability to demand, say, accountability and successful results for the use of their generously given dollars. They would instead have to let the old wheel of fate known as the federal government spend those dollars. There would be no huge parties honoring them, no honorary doctorates for their donations, not so much as a thank you letter.

But think how happy folks like Gates and Buffett would feel. Gates alone would be "donating" $45.6 billion to the United States Treasury. And hey, we wouldn't need cash from Bill -- the government would be happy to just take possession of his excess assets.

As for Warren, the $54.9 billion he would owe could help cover Fannie, Freddie and so many other worthwhile causes. Of course no one would be meandering over to Omaha to hear his wisdom on making money, because he would be "just another billionaire," instead of the richest man in America.

Sound absurd? Of course. But it makes a strong point.

The two wealthiest individuals in America believe that if you strive to become wealthy, government should take more of your money and determine where and how it can be wasted. The problem is, there aren't enough "rich" $250,000-plus living on the edge, scared to death, stretched-to-the-max people in America to cover for the billions of dollars being printed and distributed before the ink dries. All of it to prop up rotten lending institutions and Wall Street crooks.

From Power Line:

Stephen Moore previews the most recent data in today's Wall Street Journal: "My contacts at the Treasury Department tell me that for the first time in decades, and perhaps ever, the richest 1% of tax filers will have paid more than 40% of the income tax burden. The top 50% will account for 97% of all federal income taxes, while the bottom 50% will have paid just 3%." Moore's preview does not include the companion income data.

Given that poorer citizens always outnumber the rich, political philosophers have worried that government based on majority rule could lead to organized theft from the wealthy by the democratic masses. "If the majority distributes among itself the things of a minority, it is evident that it will destroy the city," warned Aristotle.

The founders of the United States were deep students of politics and history, and they shared Aristotle's worry. Up through their time, history had shown all known democracies to be "incompatible with personal security or the rights of property." James Madison and others therefore made it the "first object of government" to protect personal property from unjust confiscation. Numerous provisions of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights were included to protect the property rights of citizens. We've fallen off from the spirit of the founders on this issue, but it would be good to recall it in connection with the release of the income tax data previewed in Moore's column.

Cross-posted at Flopping Aces

Other articles of interest:
Presidents and the Economy by Randall Hoven at American Thinker
Scapegoating Tax Cuts by David Limbaugh
Who Pays What on Tax Day? by Scott A. Hodge and Brian Phillips
Ten Myths About the Bush Tax Cuts by Brian M. Riedl
Democrats Lie About Reagan Tax Rates by Michael Medved

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Who Ran More Negative Ads Last Week?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Personal Politics Over Professionalism

How often do we see this occur from the Left? Recall that this isn't the first time Jill Greenberg has stooped to the level of despicability:

This is unbelievably sick. A left-wing photographer, Jill Greenberg, deliberately makes toddlers cry and turns the pictures into a Los Angeles art exhibit called “End Times” to indulge her Bush Derangement Syndrome. She slaps titles like “Grand Old Party,” “Four More Years,” and “Apocalypse Now” onto photos of the poor children she manipulated and goaded.

The Guardian covers the exhibit here with links to the children’s photos and reports how Greenberg deliberately provoked the children to tears:

When photographer Jill Greenberg decided to take a lollipop away from a small child, she had a broader purpose in mind.

“The first little boy I shot, Liam, suddenly became hysterically upset,” the Los Angeles-based photographer said. “It reminded me of helplessness and anger I feel about our current political and social situation.”

As the 27 two- and three-year-olds featured in her exhibition, End Times, cried and screamed, demanding the return of the lollipop given to them just moments before, Greenberg snapped away.


Invading a (Republican) Woman's Right to Privacy

Sarah Palin's Private Email Account Hacked!

What lowlifes...

Michelle Malkin


The Solution to America's Economy is Not Putting More Democrats Into Office

Just whose side are these fools on:
Why, after all the assistance we've given to Iraq over the past five years, was the first major Iraqi oil deal signed with China and not with an American or even a western company? The answer is, in part, because three Democratic senators intervened in Iraqi domestic politics earlier this year to prevent Iraq from signing short-term agreements with Exxon Mobil, Shell, Total, Chevron, and BP.

The Iraqi government was poised to sign no-bid contracts with those firms this summer to help make immediate and needed improvements in Iraq's oil infrastructure. The result would have been significant foreign investment in Iraq, an expansion of Iraqi government revenues, and an increase in the global supply of oil. One would have thought that leading Democratic senators who claim to be interested in finding other sources of funding to replace American dollars in Iraq, in helping Iraq spend its own money on its own people, and in lowering the price of gasoline for American citizens, would have been all for it. Instead, Senators Chuck Schumer, John Kerry, and Claire McCaskill wrote a letter to Secretary of State Rice asking her "to persuade the GOI [Government of Iraq] to refrain from signing contracts with multinational oil companies until a hydrocarbon law is in effect in Iraq." The Bush administration wisely refused to do so, but the resulting media hooraw in Iraq led to the cancellation of the contracts, and helps to explain why Iraq is doing oil deals instead with China.

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Which candidate had the foresight, and which candidate stood in the way?

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Hobknobbing with the Elites

From the Los Angeles Times:

Barack Obama raises millions in Beverly Hills

TV crews are kept from two Beverly Hills fundraisers as John McCain mocks the Democrat's connection to celebrities.
By Dan Morain and Michael Finnegan
Los Angeles Times Staff Writers

September 17, 2008

It was clear why Barack Obama's campaign barred television crews from a Beverly Hills mansion at twilight Tuesday as the Democratic presidential nominee mingled with movie stars on a giant terrace overlooking Los Angeles.

The cocktail reception was part of Obama's biggest night of Hollywood fundraising so far, an evening capped with a live performance by Barbra Streisand at the Regent Beverly Wilshire.

But it came fraught with risk. As if on cue, John McCain used the Illinois senator's lucrative detour from battleground states to Beverly Hills to mock Obama's professed solidarity with working people "just before he flew off to Hollywood for a fundraiser with Barbra Streisand and his celebrity friends."

"Let me tell you, my friends, there's no place I'd rather be than right here with the working men and women of Ohio," McCain told cheering supporters in Vienna, Ohio, with running mate Sarah Palin at his side.

McCain, too, raised money in Beverly Hills last month, but with a smaller cluster of stars, including actors Robert Duvall and Jon Voight.

Even before the likes of actors Jodie Foster, Will Ferrell and Leonardo DiCaprio paid tribute to Obama at the landmark Greystone Mansion -- setting for numerous films, including "Ghostbusters" and "Air Force One" -- the entertainment industry had given Obama more than $5.6 million, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

McCain's take from the industry has reached $885,000, the center said.

Tickets to Tuesday's reception and dinner at the mansion went for $28,500 apiece; about 300 people attended. Entry to the hotel event cost $2,500; about 800 were in the audience.

The campaign relied on Hollywood moguls David Geffen, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Steven Spielberg, among others, to raise money. To comply with federal donation caps, it planned to split the proceeds with the Democratic National Committee.

David Axelrod, Obama's chief strategist, suggested that voters would ignore McCain's attacks on the Democrats' ties to Hollywood.

"I think they've heard the whole Republican whoop-de-do before, and this time, I don't think they're going to subscribe to it, because there's so much at stake," Axelrod said.

At Greystone, a 55-room Tudor-style mansion famous for the 1929 murder of oil heir Edward Lawrence "Ned" Doheny Jr., Obama told dinner guests that he knew many were "nervous and concerned" about his chances of winning.

"I know that a lot of you, just in conversations while we were in the photo lines, had all sorts of suggestions," he said.

But the crisis on Wall Street "has suddenly focused people's attention, and it's reminded people of what's at stake. It's reminded people that this is not a game. This is not a reality show, no offense to any of you," Obama said as the crowd erupted in laughter. "This is not a sitcom.

"We always knew this was going to be hard, and this is a leap for the American people," he continued. "And we're running against somebody who has a formidable biography, a compelling biography. He's a genuine American hero, somebody who served in uniform and suffered through some things that very few of us can imagine. And so he is a worthy opponent."

Obama told the crowd that there was "enormous work to do because of the enormous resistance out there -- resistance because people have been fed cynicism for a long time."

"So when my opponent and the operation that they've put together start feeding into that cynicism and start feeding into that resentment, it's not always clear which way things are going to tip," he said.

But Obama said he was "confident about winning because I've looked at John McCain, I've looked at Sarah Palin, I've looked at their agenda, and they don't have one."

The crowd laughed.

"They don't have answers to our economic problems," he said, "and they don't have answers to our foreign policy problems."

He urged his supporters to "keep steady" in the days ahead and never forget what his candidacy is about. In case they did, he offered a reminder: The campaign "is about those who will never see the inside of a building like this and don't resent the success that's represented in this room, but just want the simple chance to be able to find a job that pays a living wage."

Lest anyone be diverted by the Hollywood spectacle Tuesday evening, Obama's campaign denied TV crews access to the mansion and hotel events -- perhaps mindful of the political damage wrought by TV images of celebrities at Democratic nominee John F. Kerry's fundraisers in 2004.

Other stars attending included comedians Chris Rock and Sarah Silverman, actors Tobey Maguire and Pierce Brosnan and director Ron Howard.

Obama's team also barred the entire press corps from hearing Streisand, who hugged Obama and walked offstage at the Regent Beverly Wilshire as the band played "Happy Days Are Here Again."

After thanking Streisand, the candidate struck a somber tone in his remarks.

"This should be a celebratory evening," he said. "We've got 48 days to go in a campaign, a campaign that started 19 months ago, at a time when a lot of folks thought we might not get here."

But, he added, "I'm not in a celebratory mood." He ticked through the series of crises that had taken place in recent days, including the hurricane on the Gulf Coast and the deadly train crash in Chatsworth.
So what did Senator Obama mean by, "this is a leap for the American people"? That if we don't elect a half-black man for president, we're racist? Is it a slip of his elitist attitude, like the comment about people clinging to their guns and religion, because they're bitter? Senator Obama is an arrogant out of touch elitist, as far as I'm concerned.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

So the Candidate of Change is Giving Out More of the Same...

His Messiahship has come down from his lofty high horse and dropped all pretense of being "a new kind of politician" above the typical "Washington politics" and has taken off the kid gloves to get down and dirty in the rough and tumble Chicago-style politics, straight out of the Karl Rovian playbook.

Has he ever been anything different? Methinks not. Just the mask has been dropped.

Well played, Senator! Well played!


Lindsay Lohan Does Not Have a Substance Abuse Problem

In order for that to occur...she first has to demonstrate that she has substance (from her MySpace Page):
Sunday, September 14, 2008

Current mood: shocked

I really cannot bite my tongue anymore when it comes to Sarah Palin.

I couldn't be more supportive of a woman in office, but let's face it, it comes down to the person, and their beliefs, male or female.

Is it a sin to be gay? Should it be a sin to be straight? Or to use birth control? Or to have sex before marriage? Or even to have a child out of wedlock?

I find it quite interesting that a woman who now is running to be second in command of the United States, only 4 years ago had aspirations to be a television anchor. Which is probably all she is qualified to be... Also interesting that she got her passport in 2006.. And that she is not fond of environmental protection considering she's FOR drilling for oil in some of our protected land.... Well hey, if she wants to drill for oil, she should DO IT IN HER OWN backyard. This really shows me her complete lack of real preparation to become the second most powerful person in this country.

Hmmmm-All of this gets me going-Fear, Anxiety, Concern, Disappointment, and Stress come into play...

Is our country so divided that the Republicans best hope is a narrow minded, media obsessed homophobe?

I know that the most important thing about this election is that people need to exercise their right to vote, regardless of their choice... I would have liked to have remained impartial, however I am afraid that the "lipstick on a pig" comments will overshadow the issues and the fact that I believe Barack Obama is the best choice, in this election, for president...

Palin's Desire to "save and convert the gays"-really??

According to this Associated Press story, the church of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is hosting a kind of conference devoted to the "conversion of Gays" -- no kidding.

Here's the AP text:

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) ? Gov. Sarah Palin's church is promoting a conference that promises to convert gays into heterosexuals through the power of prayer.

You'll be encouraged by the power of God's love and His desire to transform the lives of those impacted by homosexuality," according to the insert in the bulletin of the Wasilla Bible Church, where Palin has prayed since she was a child.

Palin's conservative Christian views have energized that part of the GOP electorate, which was lukewarm to John McCain's candidacy before he named her as his vice presidential choice. She is staunchly anti-abortion, opposing exceptions for rape and incest, and opposes gay marriage and spousal rights for gay couples.

I feel it's necessary for me to clarify that I am not against Sarah Palin as a mother or woman.

Women have come a long way in the fight to have the choice over what we do with our bodies... And its frightening to see that a woman in 2008 would negate all of that.

Oh, and...Hint Hint Pali Pal- Don't pose for anymore tabloid covers, you're not a celebrity, you're running for office to represent our, your, my COUNTRY!

And in the words of Pamela Anderson, "She can suck it"..

Lindsay- "I have faith that this country will be all that it can be with the proper guidance. I really hope that all of you make your decisions based on the facts and what feels right to you in your heart-vote for obama!"

Samantha- "I love this country- however i wasn't born here and don't have the right to vote- so i beg of you all to really do your research and be educated when you cast your vote this coming november.... and if you're in doubt- vote for obama! Mainly because if she gets elected my green card probably won't get renewed!!!"

Lindsay and Samantha

Yes, folks: Palin Derangement Syndrome is officially here. And apparently, Hollywood celebrity idiocy never left, and is alive and well, kicking and screaming. God bless America!

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Bush Blame Alert!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Why President Bush was Late....

President Bush is known for his obsessive love of punctuality and routine. From Dead Certain, by Robert Draper, Pg 106:
The president often described this fidelity to schedule as a courtesy bestowed on others. "Whether it's John McCain or an average citizen, they shouldn't be kept waiting," he would say.

Bush moved through his schedule with type A vengeance. He was restless and he hungered to compete. For a man thought to be leisurely, he seemed forever to be racing the clock. He did not eat a meal so much as disappear it. Eighteen holes of golf- why not make it a contest of speed as well as skill? George W. Bush always did. It seemed a point of pride to him that he could arrive at a finish line- any finish line- faster than the next guy. And if there was no other guy, only him...well, get it over with regardless.
One time, Colin Powell was running late to a Cabinet meeting. "Lock the door", President Bush said. When a few minutes passed until finally there was a scuffling of the doorknob causing the Cabinet Room to erupt in laughter, President Bush signaled to allow the Secretary of State into the room. The President made his point.

It is framed against the backdrop of this story and understanding of how important punctuality and "staying the schedule" is to this President, that I bring you the following story on why President Bush allowed himself to depart 15 minutes behind schedule on his way to the Beijing Olympics...

The Value of Service

Commentary by Lt. Col. Mark Murphy
354th Maintenance Group deputy commander

8/15/2008 - EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- I learned a big lesson on service Aug. 4, 2008, when Eielson had the rare honor of hosting President Bush on a refueling stop as he traveled to Asia.

It was an event Eielson will never forget -- a hangar full of Airmen and Soldiers getting to see the Commander in Chief up close, and perhaps even shaking his hand. An incredible amount of effort goes into presidential travel because of all of the logistics, security, protocol, etc ... so it was remarkable to see Air Force One land at Eielson on time at precisely 4:30 p.m.--however, when he left less than two hours later, the President was 15 minutes behind schedule.

That's a big slip for something so tightly choreographed, but very few people know why it happened. Here's why.

On Dec. 10, 2006, our son, Shawn, was a paratrooper deployed on the outskirts of Baghdad. He was supposed to spend the night in camp, but when a fellow soldier became ill Shawn volunteered to take his place on a nighttime patrol--in the convoy's most exposed position as turret gunner in the lead Humvee. He was killed instantly with two other soldiers when an IED ripped through their vehicle.

I was thinking about that as my family and I sat in the audience listening to the President's speech, looking at the turret on the up-armored Humvee the explosive ordnance disposal flight had put at the edge of the stage as a static display.

When the speech was over and the President was working the crowd line, I felt a tap on my shoulder and turned to see a White House staff member. She asked me and my wife to come with her, because the President wanted to meet us.

Stunned, we grabbed our two sons that were with us and followed her back into a conference room. It was a shock to go from a crowded, noisy hangar, past all of those security people, to find ourselves suddenly alone in a quiet room.

The only thing we could hear was a cell phone vibrating, and noticed that it was coming from the jacket Senator Stevens left on a chair. We didn't answer.

A short time later, the Secret Service opened the door and President Bush walked in. I thought we might get to shake his hand as he went through. But instead, he walked up to my wife with his arms wide, pulled her in for a hug and a kiss, and said, "I wish I could heal the hole in your heart." He then grabbed me for a hug, as well as each of our sons. Then he turned and said, "Everybody out."

A few seconds later, the four of us were completely alone behind closed doors with the President of the United States and not a Secret Service agent in sight.

He said, "Come on, let's sit down and talk." He pulled up a chair at the side of the room, and we sat down next to him. He looked a little tired from his trip, and he noticed that his shoes were scuffed up from leaning over concrete barriers to shake hands and pose for photos. He slumped down the chair, completely relaxed, smiled, and suddenly was no longer the President - he was just a guy with a job, sitting around talking with us like a family member at a barbeque.

For the next 15 or 20 minutes, he talked with us about our son, Iraq, his family, faith, convictions, and shared his feelings about nearing the end of his presidency. He asked each of our teenaged sons what they wanted to do in life and counseled them to set goals, stick to their convictions, and not worry about being the "cool" guy.

He said that he'd taken a lot of heat during his tenure and was under a lot of pressure to do what's politically expedient, but was proud to say that he never sold his soul. Sometimes he laughed, and at others he teared up. He said that what he'll miss most after leaving office will be his role as Commander in Chief.

One of the somber moments was when he thanked us for the opportunity to meet, because he feels a heavy responsibility knowing that our son died because of a decision he made. He was incredibly humble, full of warmth, and completely without pretense. We were seeing the man his family sees.

We couldn't believe how long he was talking to us, but he seemed to be in no hurry whatsoever. In the end, he thanked us again for the visit and for the opportunity to get off his feet for a few minutes. He then said, "Let's get some pictures." The doors flew open, Secret Service and the White House photographer came in, and suddenly he was the President again. We posed for individual pictures as he gave each of us one of his coins, and then he posed for family pictures. A few more thank yous, a few more hugs, and he was gone.

The remarkable thing about the whole event was that he didn't have to see us at all. If he wanted to do more, he could've just given a quick handshake and said, "Thanks for your sacrifice." But he didn't - he put everything and everyone in his life on hold to meet privately with the family of a Private First Class who gave his life in the service of his country.

What an incredible lesson on service. If the President of the United States is willing to drop everything on his plate to visit with a family, surely the rest of us can do it. No one is above serving another person, and no one is so lofty that he or she can't treat others with dignity and respect.

We often think of service in terms of sacrificing ourselves for someone in a position above us, but how often do we remember that serving someone below us can be much more important? If you're in a leadership capacity, take a good look at how you're treating your people, and remember that your role involves serving the people you rely on every day.
The world and much of my country may be Bush-weary of this president....but, God....I'm going to miss him.

Hat tip for the story link: Rocketsbrain

Previous related post: The Compassionate Conservative President

Cross-posted at Flopping Aces

Also blogging:
Brutally Honest

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Politics Before Country (The Obama Doctrine?)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sunday Funnies

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Is President Bush Responsible for Linking Saddam Hussein to 9/11?

Mr. RUSSERT: Do we have any evidence linking Saddam Hussein or Iraqis to this operation?

Meet the Press, September 16, 2001

I can't remember who it was now, but a commenter on another blog posed a challenge to me that echoed what I have already been pondering upon: If Bush didn't lie, why do (or did) so many Americans think that Saddam is linked to the events of 9/11? I ran a quick Google search, and found this Washington Post article by Dana Milbank, dated from September 6, 2003. This is months after the Invasion (and a year before I even knew what a blog was). The piece is fascinating to me, as I find disagreement with some of the facts, a perpetuation of some of the media distortions regarding Administration statements, and a few points that do make sense to me.
Hussein Link to 9/11 Lingers in Many Minds
By Dana Milbank and Claudia Deane
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, September 6, 2003; Page A01

Nearing the second anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, seven in 10 Americans continue to believe that Iraq's Saddam Hussein had a role in the attacks, even though the Bush administration and congressional investigators say they have no evidence of
The emphases are mine.

Whenever I ask Bush war critics for evidence where President Bush or Vice President Cheney ever stated that Saddam had a hand in 9/11, the response I get back is, "Well...it was insinuated."
Sixty-nine percent of Americans said they thought it at least likely that Hussein was involved in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, according to the latest Washington Post poll. That impression, which exists despite the fact that the hijackers were mostly Saudi nationals acting for al Qaeda, is broadly shared by Democrats, Republicans and independents. The main reason for the endurance of the apparently groundless belief, experts in public opinion say, is a deep and enduring distrust of Hussein that makes him a likely suspect in anything related to Middle East violence. "It's very easy to picture Saddam as a demon," said John Mueller, a political scientist at Ohio State University and an expert on public opinion and war. "You get a general fuzz going around: People know they don't like al Qaeda, they are horrified by September 11th, they know this guy is a bad guy, and it's not hard to put those things together."
That would make sense, given that even though America was largely asleep before 9/11 to the metastasizing threat of Islamic terrorism, media reports and politicians throughout the 90's were pointing to links between al Qaeda and to Saddam; those links weren't just magically pulled from out of thin air by Feith's Office of Special Planning.

You don't suppose the American public might have been "misled" into the Saddam/al-Qaeda connection belief, by following a decade's worth of news coverage regarding Saddam's defiance and brutality? "Regime change"/Iraqi Liberation Act of 1998 set as official U.S. policy toward Iraq under Clinton? How about tuning into TV news programs like this one:

The ABC news video segment, Target America: The Terrorist War, is from "Crime and Justice". It aired on January 14, 1999 and featured John Miller, the late John McWethy, Sheila MacVicar, and Cynthia McFadden.

Other examples:
“Last week, [television program] Day One confirmed [Yasin] is in Baghdad…Just a few days ago, he was seen at [his father’s] house by ABC News. Neighbors told us Yasin comes and goes freely.” -Sheila MacVicar, Former ABC News correspondent, “‘America’s Most Wanted’ – Fugitive Terrorists.” ABC News’ “Day One,” July 27, 1994

Saddam link to Bin Laden, by Julian Borger in The Guardian, Saturday February 6, 1999
Bin Laden reportedly leaves Afghanistan, whereabouts unknown reported by CNN/AP February 13, 1999

Numerous media reports in 1999 mention Saddam offering Osama bin Laden asylum.

Iraq-Bin Laden boat bomb link
, October 19, 2000 by Julian Borger in the Guardian:
Investigators in Yemen yesterday uncovered evidence suggesting the bomb attack on the warship USS Cole had been a meticulously organised conspiracy, which a leading US terrorism expert said may have been the first joint operation between Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein.

Vincent Cannistraro, the CIA's former head of counter-terrorist operations and a respected expert on Middle Eastern terrorism, said the timing, location and method of the attack pointed to Bin Laden's terrorist network, al-Qaeda.

He argued that the sophistication of the bomb - an estimated 272kg of high explosive shaped and placed within a metal container to channel the blast and penetrate the armoured hull of the USS Cole - suggested the involvement of a state.

"The Iraqis have wanted to be able to carry out terrorism for some time now," Mr Cannistraro said. "Their military people have had liaison with al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, and could well have supplied the training."

He said the theory was still speculative but was consistent with the series of recent contacts between Baghdad and the Bin Laden organisation.

Don't you suppose that if people were paying attention to the news, a decade of reports like these might have influenced and reinforced the dangers and defiance Saddam posed? The terror links and ties to bin Laden? I'm not talking about actual operational ties that might have since been discounted; just the perception of a connection, due to media reports, which took place before the Bush presidency, thereby cementing upon the American psyche, an indelible imprint of a link between Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein.

And then this from May 7, 2003, as reported on CBS News:
A federal judge Wednesday ordered Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein and others to pay early $104 million to the families of two Sept. 11 victims, saying there is evidence – though meager - that Iraq had a hand in the terrorist attacks.

Back to the September 2003 WaPo piece:
Although that belief came without prompting from Washington, Democrats and some independent experts say Bush exploited the apparent misconception by implying a link between Hussein and the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the months before the war with Iraq. "The notion was reinforced by these hints, the discussions that they had about possible links with al Qaeda terrorists," said Andrew Kohut, a pollster who leads the nonpartisan Pew Research Center for the People and the Press.

The poll's findings are significant because they help to explain why the public continues to support operations in Iraq despite the setbacks and bloodshed there. Americans have more tolerance for war when it is provoked by an attack, particularly one by an all-purpose villain such as Hussein. "That's why attitudes about the decision to go to war are holding up," Kohut said.

Bush's opponents say he encouraged this misconception by linking al Qaeda to Hussein in almost every speech on Iraq.
I'm a little lazy to go through all of these speeches; I've seen them before, and think it's mostly "Bush opponents", as described in the above, who are misrepresenting the actual text and context of what is said in those speeches.

Critics can't seem to wrap their minds around how something like the following:
“We've had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with the September 11th. There's no question that Saddam Hussein had al Qaeda ties.” – Pres. Bush 9/17/03
is not a contradiction in statements.

Many people also seem to have fixated narrowly on al-Qaeda as the sole enemy, not understanding the long war we find ourselves in against international terror, and how Saddam is connected to that, strategically. Basically, they are stuck on the 9/10 law enforcement mindset, thinking the war is about "bringing to justice, dead or alive" Osama bin Laden and his merciless band of al Qaeda crazies. Douglas Feith makes clear in his book, War and Decision, however, that war discussions were not about retribution, but about how to prevent the next terror attack.

"Our war on terror begins with al Qaeda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated."
-President Bush in an address to a Joint Session of Congress and the American People, United States Capitol, Washington D.C., September 20, 2001.
Indeed, administration officials began to hint about a Sept. 11-Hussein link soon after the attacks.
Read my opening quote, dated the first Sunday following 9/11. It is true, though, that Iraq was mentioned early on in discussions, given that "9/11 did not mean simply that the United States had an al Qaida problem. We had a terrorism problem. A strategic response to 9/11 would have to take account of the threat from other terrorist groups...and state sponsors beyond Afghanistan, especially those that pursued weapons of mass destruction." [pg. 50, War and Decision]

According to Feith, in regards to the charge that the Bush team came into the office hell-bent on going to war with Iraq,
The question of how to deal with Iraq was a key national security issue inherited from the Clinton administration.

Feith also writes in War and Decision, pg. 51-2:
Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz also wanted to sketch out the case for acting soon, in one way or another, against the threat from Iraq. Powell and Armitage had been arguing that the U.S. response to 9/11 should focus tightly on Afghanistan and al Qaida. State officials assessed, probably correctly, that our allies and friends abroad would be more comfortable with retributive U.S. strikes against the perpetrators of 9/11 than with a global war against Islamist terrorists and their state supporters. A narrowly scoped campaign of punishment would keep U.S. policy more in line with the traditional law enforcement approach to fighting terrorism.

Here we came back to the distinction between punishment and prevention. Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and I all thought that U.S. military action should aim chiefly to disrupt those who might be plotting the next big attack against us. Of greatest concern was a terrorist attack using biological or nuclear weapons. We needed actions that would affect the terrorist network as extensively as possible.

Rodman and I proposed in our memo that "the immediate priority targets for initial action" should be al Qaida, the Taliban, and Iraq. Iraq was on this list, we noted, because Saddam Hussein's regime posed a "threat of WMD terrorism," and was systematically undermining the ten-year-old efforts of the United States and the United Nations to counter the dangers of his regime. Among terrorist-supporting states with records of pursuing chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons, only Iraq had been subjected to prolonged, multinational diplomatic pressure, yet Saddam remained defiant and securely in power- and hostile to the United States. The experience of 9/11 sharpened the concern about anti-U.S. terrorism from any quarter, not just al Qaida.

The purpose of a campaign in Iraq, we noted, would be "to destabilize a regime that engages in and supports terrorism, that has weapons of mass destruction and is developing new ones, that attacks U.S. forces almost daily and otherwise threatens vital U.S. interests." Action against Iraq could make it easier to "confront- politically, militarily, or otherwise- other state supporters of terrorism" such as the regimes of Muammar Qadafi in Libya and Bashar al-Assad in Syria, which had a record of backing down under international pressure. We identified Libya and Syria as problems that might be solvable through coercive diplomacy rather than through military action.

At the Camp David strategy sessions, Rumsfeld's remarks generally tracked the ideas in our memo. He left it to Wolfowitz, however, to present the case for action against Saddam Hussein. The President decided to initiate U.S. military action in Afghanistan, but to defer such action against Iraq.

The "link" the Administration drew early on in regards to Saddam and 9/11, wasn't about fabricating a belief that Saddam had a role in plotting 9/11. It was about preventing the next terror attack that might come in the form of a wmd attack, supplied by a state-sponsor of terrorism, known also for its love for acquiring wmd capabilities.

Of course, given what we did know about Saddam, the Bush Administration would have been derelict in its duty to protect the American public had it not examined that possibility.

In late 2001, Vice President Cheney said it was "pretty well confirmed" that attack mastermind Mohamed Atta met with a senior Iraqi intelligence official.

Speaking on NBC's "Meet the Press," Cheney was referring to a meeting that Czech officials said took place in Prague in April 2000. That allegation was the most direct connection between Iraq and the Sept. 11 attacks. But this summer's congressional report on the attacks states, "The CIA has been unable to establish that [Atta] left the United States or entered Europe in April under his true name or any known alias."
I've already gone through a number of Cheney's MtP interviews for those "gotcha" statements that the vice president is alleged to have made, and have yet to see the damning evidence that Dick Cheney misled the American public.
December 9, 2001:
RUSSERT: The plane on the ground in Iraq used to train non-Iraqi hijackers.

Do you still believe there is no evidence that Iraq was involved in September 11?

[in a previous appearance on MTP, the Sunday following 9/11, when directly asked if there was evidence that Iraq had a part in 9/11, Cheney flat out said “No.” So much for the theory that since day one the Bushies had war in Iraq on their collective minds- wordsmith]

CHENEY: Well, what we now have that’s developed since you and I last talked, Tim, of course, was that report that’s been pretty well confirmed, that he did go to Prague and he did meet with a senior official of the Iraqi intelligence service in Czechoslovakia last April, several months before the attack.

Now, what the purpose of that was, what transpired between them, we simply don’t know at this point. But that’s clearly an avenue that we want to pursue.

RUSSERT: What we do know is that Iraq is harboring terrorists. This was from Jim Hoagland in The Washington Post that George W. Bush said that Abdul Ramini Yazen (ph), who helped bomb the World Trade Center back in 1993, according to Louis Freeh was hiding in his native Iraq. And we’ll show that right there on the screen. That’s an exact quote.

If they’re harboring terrorist, why not go in and get them?

CHENEY: Well, the evidence is pretty conclusive that the Iraqis have indeed harbored terrorists. That wasn’t the question you asked the last time we met. You asked about evidence involved in September 11.

MTP 3/24/02:
VICE PRES. CHENEY: With respect to the connections to al-Qaida, we haven’t been able to pin down any connection there. I read this report with interest after our interview last fall. We discovered, and it’s since been public, the allegation that one of the lead hijackers, Mohamed Atta, had, in fact, met with Iraqi intelligence in Prague, but we’ve not been able yet from our perspective to nail down a close tie between the al-Qaida organization and Saddam Hussein. We’ll continue to look for it.

MTP 9/08/02:
Mr. RUSSERT: One year ago when you were on MEET THE PRESS just five days after September 11, I asked you a specific question about Iraq and Saddam Hussein. Let’s watch:

(Videotape, September 16, 2001):

Mr. RUSSERT: Do we have any evidence linking Saddam Hussein or Iraqis to this operation?


(End videotape)

Mr. RUSSERT: Has anything changed, in your mind?

VICE PRES. CHENEY: Well, I want to be very careful about how I say this. I’m not here today to make a specific allegation that Iraq was somehow responsible for 9/11. I can’t say that. On the other hand, since we did that interview, new information has come to light. And we spent time looking at that relationship between Iraq, on the one hand, and the al-Qaeda organization on the other. And there has been reporting that suggests that there have been a number of contacts over the years. We’ve seen in connection with the hijackers, of course, Mohamed Atta, who was the lead hijacker, did apparently travel to Prague on a number of occasions. And on at least one occasion, we have reporting that places him in Prague with a senior Iraqi intelligence official a few months before the attack on the World Trade Center. The debates about, you know, was he there or wasn’t he there, again, it’s the intelligence business.

Mr. RUSSERT: What does the CIA say about that and the president?

VICE PRES. CHENEY: It’s credible. But, you know, I think a way to put it would be it’s unconfirmed at this point. We’ve got…

Mr. RUSSERT: Anything else?

VICE PRES. CHENEY: There is-again, I want to separate out 9/11, from the other relationships between Iraq and the al-Qaeda organization. But there is a pattern of relationships going back many years. And in terms of exchanges and in terms of people, we’ve had recently since the operations in Afghanistan-we’ve seen al-Qaeda members operating physically in Iraq and off the territory of Iraq. We know that Saddam Hussein has, over the years, been one of the top state sponsors of terrorism for nearly 20 years. We’ve had this recent weird incident where the head of the Abu Nidal organization, one of the world’s most noted terrorists, was killed in Baghdad. The announcement was made by the head of Iraqi intelligence. The initial announcement said he’d shot himself. When they dug into that, though, he’d shot himself four times in the head. And speculation has been, that, in fact, somehow, the Iraqi government or Saddam Hussein had him eliminated to avoid potential embarrassment by virtue of the fact that he was in Baghdad and operated in Baghdad. So it’s a very complex picture to try to sort out.


Mr. RUSSERT: But no direct link?

VICE PRES. CHENEY: I can’t-I’ll leave it right where it’s at. I don’t want to go beyond that. I’ve tried to be cautious and restrained in my comments, and I hope that everybody will recognize that.
Timelines are important. And it's one of those things that Bush-haters conveniently ignore when they criticize a statement made in the past, based upon the best available information at the time, and "debunk" it, with more recent information that makes the old beliefs obsolete.

Bush, in his speeches, did not say directly that Hussein was culpable in the Sept. 11 attacks. But he frequently juxtaposed Iraq and al Qaeda in ways that hinted at a link. In a March speech about Iraq's "weapons of terror," Bush said: "If the world fails to confront the threat posed by the Iraqi regime, refusing to use force, even as a last resort, free nations would assume immense and unacceptable risks. The attacks of September the 11th, 2001, showed what the enemies of America did with four airplanes. We will not wait to see what terrorists or terrorist states could do with weapons of mass destruction."

Then, in declaring the end of major combat in Iraq on May 1, Bush linked Iraq and the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks: "The battle of Iraq is one victory in a war on terror that began on September the 11, 2001 -- and still goes on. That terrible morning, 19 evil men -- the shock troops of a hateful ideology -- gave America and the civilized world a glimpse of their ambitions."

Moments later, Bush added: "The liberation of Iraq is a crucial advance in the campaign against terror. We've removed an ally of al Qaeda, and cut off a source of terrorist funding. And this much is certain: No terrorist network will gain weapons of mass destruction from the Iraqi regime, because the regime is no more. In these 19 months that changed the world, our actions have been focused and deliberate and proportionate to the offense. We have not forgotten the victims of September the 11th -- the last phone calls, the cold murder of children, the searches in the rubble. With those attacks, the terrorists and their supporters declared war on the United States. And war is what they got."
Again, I believe this is merely a failure on the part of those not paying attention (as well as the fault of the Administration for not communicating better, to the American public, what our war strategy was) and understanding that the connection between the events of September 11th and Iraq, as put forth by the Bush Administration, is one of dealing with stopping the next terror attack. Not going solely and surgically after those involved directly with planning and carrying out 9/11, but with taking a "zero tolerance" approach to dealing with not only those engaged in committing terrorist acts, but also in going after those who train, finance, support, and provide safe-haven for Islamic extremist terrorists.
A number of nongovernment officials close to the Bush administration have made the link more directly. Richard N. Perle, who until recently was chairman of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board, long argued that there was Iraqi involvement, calling the evidence "overwhelming."
Ah, yes....Richard Perle is one of those neocon boogeymen, along with Douglas Feith and Paul Wolfowitz. According to David Brooks,
the people labeled neocons (con is short for "conservative" and neo is short for "Jewish") travel in widely different circles and don't actually have much contact with one another. The ones outside government have almost no contact with President Bush. There have been hundreds of references, for example, to Richard Perle's insidious power over administration policy, but I've been told by senior administration officials that he has had no significant meetings with Bush or Cheney since they assumed office. If he's shaping their decisions, he must be microwaving his ideas into their fillings.

It's true that both Bush and the people labeled neocons agree that Saddam Hussein represented a unique threat to world peace. But correlation does not mean causation. All evidence suggests that Bush formed his conclusions independently. Besides, if he wanted to follow the neocon line, Bush wouldn't know where to turn because while the neocons agree on Saddam, they disagree vituperatively on just about everything else. (If you ever read a sentence that starts with "Neocons believe," there is a 99.44 percent chance everything else in that sentence will be untrue.)
As a civilian advisor to the Defense Department (Defense Policy Board Advisory Committee), Perle doesn't even count as an administration employee. I do admit, that there have been those like Perle and Wolfowitz who had at one time made mention of the possibilities of an operational connection, and/or a Saddam involvement or perhaps pre-knowledge of the 9/11 plot; and also those like Laurie Mylroie who pushed the angle hard; but at no time did the speculation ever become part of official Administration rhetoric when presenting its case to the American public:
Discussing the secretary's [Wolfowitz] comments on MSNBC on Friday, Tanenhaus [Vanity Fair] said that the reason Saddam's role in 9/11 never became the centerpiece of the Bush administration's rationale for war was because there was no consensus on the issue.
Here's a full context response by Wolfowitz during Tanenhaus' Vanity Fair interview:
TANENHAUS: Was that one of the arguments that was raised early on by you and others that Iraq actually does connect, not to
connect the dots too much, but the relationship between Saudi Arabia, our troops being there, and bin Laden's rage about that, which he's built on so many years, also connects the World Trade Center attacks, that there's a logic of motive or something like that? Or does that read too much into--

WOLFOWITZ: No, I think it happens to be correct. The truth is that for reasons that have a lot to do with the U.S. government bureaucracy we settled on the one issue that everyone could agree on which was weapons of mass destruction as the core reason, but . . . there have always been three fundamental concerns. One is weapons of mass destruction, the second is support for terrorism, the third is the criminal treatment of the Iraqi people. Actually I guess you could say there's a fourth overriding one which is the connection between the first two. . . . The third one by itself, as I think I said earlier, is a reason to help the Iraqis but it's not a reason to put American kids' lives at risk, certainly not on the scale we did it. That second issue about links to terrorism is the one about which there's the most disagreement within the bureaucracy, even though I think everyone agrees that we killed 100 or so of an al Qaeda group in northern Iraq in this recent go-around, that we've arrested that al Qaeda guy in Baghdad who was connected to this guy Zarqawi whom Powell spoke about in his U.N. presentation.
Some Democrats said that although Bush did not make the direct link to the 2001 attacks, his implications helped to turn the public fury over Sept. 11 into support for war against Iraq. "You couldn't distinguish between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein," said Democratic tactician Donna Brazile. "Every member of the administration did the drumbeat. My mother said if you repeat a lie long enough, it becomes a gospel truth. This one became a gospel hit."
The only lie repeated for the last 5 years, has been the narrative spun by the media into "gospel truth": "Bush lied, people died".
In a speech Aug. 7, former vice president Al Gore cited Hussein's culpability in the attacks as one of the "false impressions" given by a Bush administration making a "systematic effort to manipulate facts in service to a totalistic ideology."
Gore is all hot air and zero credibility. Next...

Finally, WaPo cuts through the feldercarb:
Bush's defenders say the administration's rhetoric was not responsible for the public perception of Hussein's involvement in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. While Hussein and al Qaeda come from different strains of Islam and Hussein's secularism is incompatible with al Qaeda fundamentalism, Americans instinctively lump both foes together as Middle Eastern enemies. "The intellectual argument is there is a war in Iraq and a war on terrorism and you have to separate them, but the public doesn't do that," said Matthew Dowd, a Bush campaign strategist. "They see Middle Eastern terrorism, bad people in the Middle East, all as one big problem."

A number of public-opinion experts agreed that the public automatically blamed Iraq, just as they would have blamed Libya if a similar attack had occurred in the 1980s. There is good evidence for this: On Sept. 13, 2001, a Time/CNN poll found that 78 percent suspected Hussein's involvement -- even though the administration had not made a connection.
The belief remained consistent even as evidence to the contrary emerged.

"You can say Bush should be faulted for not correcting every single misapprehension, but that's something different than saying they set out deliberately to deceive," said Duke University political scientist Peter D. Feaver. "Since the facts are all over the place, Americans revert to a judgment: Hussein is a bad guy who would do stuff to us if he could."

To me, the above is at the heart of why so many Americans believe(d), in 2003, there was a connection between Saddam and 9/11. Compound that with confusion on what exactly is meant by "connection", as one can read that multiple ways; and I'm sure some of those Americans who have been polled on this question, probably responded from an informed perspective. It all depends on how one interprets the question.

Key administration figures have largely abandoned any claim that Iraq was involved in the 2001 attacks. "I'm not sure even now that I would say Iraq had something to do with it," Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz, a leading hawk on Iraq, said on the Laura Ingraham radio show on Aug. 1.

A top White House official told The Washington Post on July 31: "I don't believe that the evidence was there to suggest that Iraq had played a direct role in 9/11." The official added: "Anything is possible, but we hadn't ruled it in or ruled it out. There wasn't evidence to substantiate that claim."

But the public continues to embrace the connection.
The general public seems to embrace a good many things that are not grounded in the facts; so I'm not at all that surprised.

This article and the polls were conducted in 2003. Today, I wonder how many Americans would respond informatively, when asked, "Were there any connections between Saddam's Iraq and al-Qaeda?" Apparently, it doesn't even take a 9/11-Truther to think this sort of kay-rap. (Osama and Zawahiri must be pissed).

I would suspect, due to the media and talking heads drumbeat, that most Americans would say there weren't any connections. And they'd be incorrect. And because so many people, informed and otherwise, put forth the strawman, "Saddam didn't have anything to do with 9/11", I bet if you polled the average American (and global citizen) with the question, "Did President Bush say Saddam had something to do with 9/11?", most would answer "yes", with the interpretation of the question to mean that President Bush said/stated/implied/insinuated/suggested that Saddam had a hand in orchestrating the events of 9/11.

More good stuff:
In follow-up interviews, poll respondents were generally unsure why they believed Hussein was behind the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, often describing it as an instinct that came from news reports and their long-standing views of Hussein. For example, Peter Bankers, 59, a New York film publicist, figures his belief that Hussein was behind the attacks "has probably been fed to me in some PR way," but he doesn't know how. "I think that the whole group of people, those with anti-American feelings, they all kind of cooperated with each other," he said.

Similarly, Kim Morrison, 32, a teacher from Plymouth, Ind., described her belief in Hussein's guilt as a "gut feeling" shaped by television. "From what we've heard from the media, it seems like what they feel is that Saddam and the whole al Qaeda thing are connected," she said.

Deborah Tannen, a Georgetown University professor of linguistics who has studied Bush's rhetoric, said it is impossible to know but "plausible" that Bush's words furthered such public impressions. "Clearly, he's using language to imply a connection between Saddam Hussein and September 11th," she said.

"There is a specific manipulation of language here to imply a connection." Bush, she said, seems to imply that in Iraq "we have gone to war with the terrorists who attacked us."

Tannen said even a gentle implication would be enough to reinforce Americans' feelings about Hussein. "If we like the conclusion, we're much less critical of the logic," she said.

The Post poll, conducted Aug. 7-11, found that 62 percent of Democrats, 80 percent of Republicans and 67 percent of independents suspected a link between Hussein and 9/11. In addition, eight in 10 Americans said it was likely that Hussein had provided assistance to al Qaeda, and a similar proportion suspected he had developed weapons of mass destruction.
Now, having just read the last few paragraphs alone, you'd think some people would come away from the article with the relevant information (which I emboldened). Yet there are plenty of kool-aid drinkers out there, who will read this piece and others like it, and will walk away from it, (mis)citing it, as supporting the notion that Bush said Saddam responsible for 9/11 and "Bush lied, people died".

Partisans and BDS sufferers really need to develop better comprehension skills.

As well as get a grip on reality.

Cross-posted at Flopping Aces

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