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The Fifth Estate

The relations which exist between the social and political condition of a people and the genius of its authors are always numerous; whoever knows the one, is never completely ignorant of the other. - Alexis de Tocqueville

Monday, October 11, 2004

Legal Blogger: Why Bush Will Lose

Via Legal Fiction:
Rove figured out that you reach more people by getting all the arms of your political and media team to say the exact same thing in every medium in which they communicate. If the people who read Drudge don’t listen to Rush, it’s OK because they’ll read the same message that the Rush audience hears. If people don’t watch the news regularly, they’ll eventually hear the same message in a prime-time presidential speech, and so forth. When you think about - and aggregate - the effect of all of the communications conveyed across all the various nodes of the vast political and media network, it’s sort of like one giant, monolithic Super Bowl ad that reaches literally hundreds of millions of people. It’s quite an innovation and it will be noted by historians – and emulated by future campaigns. And that’s why so many people – maddeningly – parrot the narrative listed above. They’ve heard the same thing over and over for seven months. That’s how Bud Light stays in business.

So here’s how Bush went and screwed it all up - perhaps tragically. Over sixty million people watched the first debate – SIXTY MILLION. It was the Super Bowl of politics. You never get that many people in one place at one time. And what happened? Bush completely contradicted the narrative, and allowed Kerry to do the same. And just like that, seven months of careful planning got flushed down the toilet as uninformed, impressionable Americans watched Kerry seem more consistent, more knowledgeable, more articulate, more honest, and much stronger than the irritated and unlikeable Bush, who seemed like he didn’t know what he was talking about. These people – that is, the impressionable people who actually matter (unlike me, and very likely you too) – probably caught wind somewhere of the post-debate conclusion that Bush came across horribly. That confirmed their impressions and then poof, they’re gone. They disappear back into the black recesses of sitcoms and reality shows where the news does not intrude. If they heard anything else, they heard that Kerry was surging (in every poll) or saw Bush ridiculed on Saturday Night Live. The dissonance was too great, and the Rove narrative broke down (again, to those who matter, not the people who have already made up their minds).



posted by Ileana  # 4:22 PM

Boob Tubed

Errors and omissions? No, they just lied. And there's more than 1,000 soldiers that died because of it.

Look out: major scandal. Those who have been persuaded for a long time that the White House lied about Iraq will perhaps shrug their shoulders, but it's one thing to suspect, another to prove. The huge article published in last Sunday's "New York Times", equivalent in length to six pages of the "Nouvel Observateur", is a turning point in the investigation of the American decision to invade Iraq.

At the center of the argument are the famous tubes Saddam Hussein sought to procure for himself, some of which were intercepted in June 2001 in Jordan. According to the White House, all the evidence pointed to these tubes being designed for the production of uranium enrichment centrifuges. It was these tubes that allowed Dick Cheney to assert that "Saddam has started up his efforts to acquire nuclear weapons again." It was these tubes that "couldn't really be used except for nuclear armament programs," according to Condoleezza Rice. It was these tubes that, finally, "most American experts consider are intended for use as rotors in centrifuges to enrich uranium," Colin Powell claimed in his sadly famous presentation to the UN.

The "New York Times" has good reason to denounce these lies today: at the time, it took them up and ran them, an error all the more serious given that the nuclear threat was the most important argument the Americans advanced to justify the invasion. Now, what does this inquiry demonstrate? That the tubes, which corresponded exactly to the specifications for Iraqi rockets, were unusable for centrifuge production; that the certainty of the CIA, which judged the opposite, was essentially supplied by the expertise of a single minor analyst whose presentation at the International Atomic Energy Agency was described as "embarrassing and disgusting" by the Vienna experts; that other very sharp experts from the Energy Department even before the June 2001 interception, had, repeatedly, proclaimed their doubts loud and clear, going so far as to assert that if the Iraqis really wanted to use those tubes for centrifuges, "we should give them to them"!

Most seriously: neither Cheney, nor Rice, nor Powell - and consequently, Bush - could be unaware of this disagreement among the experts, nor of the extremely strong and detailed arguments put forward by the Energy Department. Consequently, it has been proven today that they all lied, not only by omission, but by defending a thesis they knew to be contested by the best American experts. It is difficult to imagine a more harmful scandal one month away from the election.


posted by Ileana  # 3:56 PM

Boob Tubed

Errors and omissions? No, they just lied. And there's more than 1,000 soldiers that died because of it.

Look out: major scandal. Those who have been persuaded for a long time that the White House lied about Iraq will perhaps shrug their shoulders, but it's one thing to suspect, another to prove. The huge article published in last Sunday's "New York Times", equivalent in length to six pages of the "Nouvel Observateur", is a turning point in the investigation of the American decision to invade Iraq.

At the center of the argument are the famous tubes Saddam Hussein sought to procure for himself, some of which were intercepted in June 2001 in Jordan. According to the White House, all the evidence pointed to these tubes being designed for the production of uranium enrichment centrifuges. It was these tubes that allowed Dick Cheney to assert that "Saddam has started up his efforts to acquire nuclear weapons again." It was these tubes that "couldn't really be used except for nuclear armament programs," according to Condoleezza Rice. It was these tubes that, finally, "most American experts consider are intended for use as rotors in centrifuges to enrich uranium," Colin Powell claimed in his sadly famous presentation to the UN.

The "New York Times" has good reason to denounce these lies today: at the time, it took them up and ran them, an error all the more serious given that the nuclear threat was the most important argument the Americans advanced to justify the invasion. Now, what does this inquiry demonstrate? That the tubes, which corresponded exactly to the specifications for Iraqi rockets, were unusable for centrifuge production; that the certainty of the CIA, which judged the opposite, was essentially supplied by the expertise of a single minor analyst whose presentation at the International Atomic Energy Agency was described as "embarrassing and disgusting" by the Vienna experts; that other very sharp experts from the Energy Department even before the June 2001 interception, had, repeatedly, proclaimed their doubts loud and clear, going so far as to assert that if the Iraqis really wanted to use those tubes for centrifuges, "we should give them to them"!

Most seriously: neither Cheney, nor Rice, nor Powell - and consequently, Bush - could be unaware of this disagreement among the experts, nor of the extremely strong and detailed arguments put forward by the Energy Department. Consequently, it has been proven today that they all lied, not only by omission, but by defending a thesis they knew to be contested by the best American experts. It is difficult to imagine a more harmful scandal one month away from the election.


posted by Ileana  # 3:56 PM

Out of Baghdad


Iraq Veterans Against the War get some press in Mother Jones' next issue. Here's their Web site.

When Hoffman arrived in Kuwait in February 2003, his unit’s highest-ranking enlisted man laid out the mission in stark terms. “You’re not going to make Iraq safe for democracy,” the sergeant said. “You are going for one reason alone: oil. But you’re still going to go, because you signed a contract. And you’re going to go to bring your friends home.” Hoffman, who had his own doubts about the war, was relieved—he’d never expected to hear such a candid assessment from a superior. But it was only when he had been in Iraq for several months that the full meaning of the sergeant’s words began to sink in.

“The reasons for war were wrong,” he says. “They were lies. There were no WMDs. Al Qaeda was not there. And it was evident we couldn’t force democracy on people by force of arms.”

When he returned home and got his honorable discharge in August 2003, Hoffman says, he knew what he had to do next. “After being in Iraq and seeing what this war is, I realized that the only way to support our troops is to demand the withdrawal of all occupying forces in Iraq.” He cofounded a group called Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) and soon found himself emerging as one of the most visible members of a small but growing movement of soldiers who openly oppose the war in Iraq.



posted by Ileana  # 3:37 PM

Monday, October 04, 2004

Another resignation, another book?

So, Bush's head of Cybersecurity, Amit Yoran, has bailed. Same story, different position:
The government's cybersecurity chief has abruptly resigned after one year with the Department of Homeland Security, confiding to industry colleagues his frustration over what he considers a lack of attention paid to computer security issues within the agency.
Some background on the guy.

posted by Ileana  # 4:25 PM

And the 'Iraq Equivalent' is...

Mother Jones does an analysis of the needs of America's home security versus the time it takes for the money to be spent in Iraq.

Amount needed for basic security upgrades for subway and commuter trains in large cities: $6 BILLION
(Iraq spending equivalent: 20 days)

Bush budget allocation for train security: $100 MILLION
(Iraq equivalent: 8 hours)

Amount needed to equip all U.S. airports with machines that screen baggage for explosives: $3 BILLION
(Iraq equivalent: 10 days)

Bush budget allocation for baggage-screening machines: $400 MILLION
(Iraq equivalent: 32 hours)

Amount needed for security upgrades at 361 U.S. ports: $1.1 BILLION
(Iraq equivalent: 4 days)

Bush budget allocation for port security: $210 MILLION
(Iraq equivalent: 17 hours)

Amount needed to buy radiation portals for U.S. ports to detect dirty bombs in cargo: $290 MILLION
(Iraq equivalent: 23 hours)

Bush budget allocation for radiation portals: $43 MILLION
(Iraq equivalent: 3 hours)

Amount needed to help local firefighters preparefor terrorist attacks: $36.8 BILLION
(Iraq equivalent: 122 days)

Bush budget allocation for firefighter grants: $500 MILLION
(Iraq equivalent: 40 hours)

Amount needed to get local emergency medical crews ready for terrorist atttacks: $1.4 BILLION
(Iraq equivalent: 5 days)

Bush budget allocation for emergency medical training grants prior to eliminating program altogether: $50 MILLION
(Iraq equivalent: 4 hours)


posted by Ileana  # 3:50 PM

From the trenches in Iraq

Subject: From Baghdad

Being a foreign correspondent in Baghdad these days is like being under virtual house arrest. Forget about the reasons that lured me to this job: a chance to see the world, explore the exotic, meet new people in far away lands, discover their ways and tell stories that could make a difference. Little by little, day-by-day, being based in Iraq has defied all those reasons. I am house bound. I leave when I have a very good reason to and a scheduled interview. I avoid going to people's homes and never walk in the streets. I can't go grocery shopping any more, can't eat in restaurants, can't strike a conversation with strangers, can't look for stories, can't drive in any thing but a full armored car, can't go to scenes of breaking news stories, can't be stuck in traffic, can't speak English outside, can't take a road trip, can't say I'm an American, can't linger at checkpoints, can't be curious about what people are saying, doing, feeling. And can't and can't....

There has been one too many close calls, including a car bomb so near our house that it blew out all the windows. So now my most pressing concern every day is not to write a kick-ass story but to stay alive and make sure our Iraqi employees stay alive. In Baghdad I am a security personnel first, a reporter second. It's hard to pinpoint when the 'turning point' exactly began. Was it April when the Fallujah fell out of the grasp of the Americans? Was it when Moqtada and Jish Mahdi declared war on the U.S. military? Was it when Sadr City, home to ten percent of Iraq's population, became a nightly battlefield for the Americans? Or was it when the insurgency began spreading from isolated pockets in the Sunni triangle to include most of Iraq? Despite President Bush's rosy assessments, Iraq remains a disaster. If under Saddam it was a 'potential' threat, under the Americans it has been transformed to 'imminent and active threat,' a foreign policy failure bound to haunt the United States for decades to come.

Iraqis like to call this mess 'the situation.' When asked 'how are things?' they reply: 'the situation is very bad." What they mean by situation is this: the Iraqi government doesn't control most Iraqi cities, there are several car bombs going off each day around the country killing and injuring scores of innocent people, the country's roads are becoming impassable and littered by hundreds of landmines and explosive devices aimed to kill American soldiers, there are assassinations, kidnappings and beheadings. The situation, basically, means a raging barbaric guerilla war.

In four days, 110 people died and over 300 got injured in Baghdad alone. The numbers are so shocking that the ministry of health- which was attempting an exercise of public transparency by releasing the numbers-- has now stopped disclosing them. Insurgents now attack Americans 87 times a day. A friend drove thru the Shiite slum of Sadr City yesterday. He said young men were openly placing improvised explosive devices into the ground. They melt a shallow hole into the asphalt, dig the explosive, cover it with dirt and put an old tire or plastic can over it to signal to the locals this is booby-trapped. He said on the main roads of Sadr City, there were a dozen landmines per every ten yards. His car snaked and swirled to avoid driving over them. Behind the walls sits an angry Iraqi ready to detonate them as soon as an American convoy gets near. This is in Shiite land, the population that was supposed to love America for liberating Iraq.

For journalists the significant turning point came with the wave of abduction and kidnappings. Only two weeks ago we felt safe around Baghdad because foreigners were being abducted on the roads and highways between towns. Then came a frantic phone call from a journalist female friend at 11 p.m. telling me two Italian women had been abducted from their homes in broad daylight. Then the two Americans, who got beheaded this week and the Brit, were abducted from their homes in a residential neighborhood. They were supplying the entire block with round the clock electricity from their generator to win friends. The abductors grabbed one of them at 6 a.m. when he came out to switch on the generator; his beheaded body was thrown back near the neighborhoods.

The insurgency, we are told, is rampant with no signs of calming down. If any thing, it is growing stronger, organized and more sophisticated every day. The various elements within it-baathists, criminals, nationalists and Al Qaeda-are cooperating and coordinating. I went to an emergency meeting for foreign correspondents with the military and embassy to discuss the kidnappings. We were somberly told our fate would largely depend on where we were in the kidnapping chain once it was determined we were missing. Here is how it goes: criminal gangs grab you and sell you up to Baathists in Fallujah, who will in turn sell you to Al Qaeda. In turn, cash and weapons flow the other way from Al Qaeda to the Baathisst to the criminals. My friend Georges, the French journalist snatched on the road to Najaf, has been missing for a month with no word on release or whether he is still alive.

America's last hope for a quick exit? The Iraqi police and National Guard units we are spending billions of dollars to train. The cops are being murdered by the dozens every day-over 700 to date-- and the insurgents are infiltrating their ranks. The problem is so serious that the U.S. military has allocated $6 million dollars to buy out 30,000 cops they just trained to get rid of them quietly.As for reconstruction: firstly it's so unsafe for foreigners to operate that almost all projects have come to a halt. After two years, of the $18 billion Congress appropriated for Iraq reconstruction only about $1 billion or so has been spent and a chuck has now been reallocated for improving security, a sign of just how bad things are going here.

Oil dreams? Insurgents disrupt oil flow routinely as a result of sabotage and oil prices have hit record high of $49 a barrel. Who did this war exactly benefit? Was it worth it? Are we safer because Saddam is holed up and Al Qaeda is running around in Iraq?Iraqis say that thanks to America they got freedom in exchange for insecurity. Guess what? They say they'd take security over freedom any day, even if it means having a dictator ruler. I heard an educated Iraqi say today that if Saddam Hussein were allowed to run for elections he would get the majority of the vote. This is truly sad.

Then I went to see an Iraqi scholar this week to talk to him about elections here. He has been trying to educate the public on the importance of voting. He said, "President Bush wanted to turn Iraq into a democracy that would be an example for the Middle East. Forget about democracy, forget about being a model for the region, we have to salvage Iraq before all is lost."One could argue that Iraq is already lost beyond salvation. For those of us on the ground it's hard to imagine what if any thing could salvage it from its violent downward spiral.The genie of terrorism, chaos and mayhem has been unleashed onto this country as a result of American mistakes and it can't be put back into a bottle.

The Iraqi government is talking about having elections in three months while half of the country remains a 'no go zone'-out of the hands of the government and the Americans and out of reach of journalists. In the other half, the disenchanted population is too terrified to show up at polling stations. The Sunnis have already said they'd boycott elections, leaving the stage open for polarized government of Kurds and Shiites that will not be deemed as legitimate and will most certainly lead to civil war.I asked a 28-year-old engineer if he and his family would participate in the Iraqi elections since it was the first time Iraqis could to some degree elect a leadership. His response summed it all: "Go and vote and risk being blown into pieces or followed by the insurgents and murdered for cooperating with the Americans? For what? To practice democracy? Are you joking?"

-Farnaz



posted by Ileana  # 3:47 PM

Attention 'Undecided' Trekkies

This just in from a friend: Shatner and Nimoy give Kerry a big thumbs up!

Hi There,
OK, so, for real. I'm something of a Trek fan, and I went
to check out a Star Trek convention this past weekend, in Cherry Hill NJ.
Celebrities attending, included William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy.

Each did a big stage appearance of an hour or so, where they did
casual free form reparte, sharing anecdotes, topical chit chat, etc,
and question & answer.

So Nimoy (Spock) appeared first, and he kicks off saying "So this is a
swing state". Dead silence. Leonard continues "You dont follow this stuff?".
So I call out "That's Pennsylvania, across the river, this is Jersey,
safetly Democrat". Through audience laughter, Leonard says "ah yes". When he
got to questions and answers, I was 3rd or 4th at the mic. After giving him
kind compliments, I asked "So I know this a question one isn't supposed
to ask, and maybe you won't want to answer, but the Bush administration,
thumbs up, or thumbs down?". The audience went nuts wanting to know.
Leonard egged them on, asking if they wanted to know. Then he laughed
for a while, gave a couple false starts, you could see he wanted to answer,
but then said "I probably shouldn't say". Again the crowd went nuts. So I
walked up to him on the low stage, leaned towards him, cuffing one hand
to my ear, and I watched him theatrically mouth "Thumbs way down". Now
the audience went crazy, because they weren't in on the answer. So Leonard
stands there for a moment, then addresses the mic, and says quickly "I'm
voting Kerry". Much applause. Later that evening, I got about 2 minutes to
talk with Leonard pretty much alone during a photo op thing, where he
stated, "I'm a big Kerry supporter", as I gave him a copy of the new anti-Bush CD
single we just finished making, Whole World - "Two Fake Plastic Turkeys".
It'll be on the CMJ music marathon issue CD as well. Yea Team!

Much later, it was Shatners turn. This time I was first on line, to ask him
the same question. The crowd cheered and Ooo'd, as Bill pondered, waited for relative
silence, and said matter of factly "I'm voting Democrat". Again, the crowd cheered.
Shatner is less friendly, and less accessible, than Nimoy, but I did get about a minute
to talk with him about Paragliding, and I gave him a copy of the CD as well.

So there you have it. Kirk and Spock are anti-Bush, and voting Kerry.

That's one piece of news you won't hear on Fox, or probably anywhere else.


posted by Ileana  # 3:43 PM

The Voting Game

Try to vote for the democratic candidate. I dare you.

posted by Ileana  # 3:40 PM

Friday, October 01, 2004

Dumbing it Down

After the debate last night, I surfed around the TV, listening to a variety of reactions from pundits and people. This one guy noted how great it was the Bush got down the names of political leaders. Ooooh, golly gee, Georgie Porgie remembered people's names and even pronounced them correctly. Good boy. He gets a gold star that he can stick to the notepad on his podium with the names of all the leaders next to their country's names. Probably in crayon, phonetically spelled. Uh, Georgie, that's pronounced fo-net-i-klee.

Steven Cobble over at Alternet gets it:
George W. has always only had to "exceed expectations", which are always set low to begin with. He has never actually had to "win" a debate; he wins by not losing, or in some cases, even by not losing badly.




posted by Ileana  # 4:09 PM

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Thought for the Day


Off the Web site of the National Priorities Project...

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."

President Dwight D. Eisenhower
April 16, 1953

posted by Ileana  # 5:01 PM

'Deep trouble'

I must say, I was deeply pleased to see this headline when my homepage popped up.
Republicans Criticize Bush 'Mistakes' on Iraq
Ah, doesn't that just feeeeel good. Thanks Reuters! Check it out...
Leading members of President Bush's Republican Party on Sunday criticized mistakes and "incompetence" in his Iraq policy and called for an urgent ground offensive to retake insurgent sanctuaries.

In appearances on news talk shows, Republican senators also urged Bush to be more open with the American public after the disclosure of a classified CIA report that gave a gloomy outlook for Iraq and raised the possibility of civil war.

"The fact is, we're in deep trouble in Iraq ... and I think we're going to have to look at some recalibration of policy," Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska said on CBS's "Face the Nation."

"We made serious mistakes," said Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican who has campaigned at Bush's side this year after patching up a bitter rivalry.

McCain, speaking on "Fox News Sunday," cited as mistakes the toleration of looting after the successful U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 and failures to secure Iraq's borders or prevent insurgents from establishing strongholds within the country.

He said a ground offensive was urgently needed to retake areas held by insurgents, but a leading Democrat accused the administration of stalling for fear of hurting Bush's reelection chances.

The criticisms came as Bush prepared this week to host Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi and focus strongly on Iraq after stepped up attacks from Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry.

After the CIA report was disclosed on Thursday, Kerry accused the president of living in a "fantasy world of spin" about Iraq and of not telling the truth about the growing chaos.










posted by Ileana  # 4:06 PM

Friday, September 17, 2004

'Lazy,' 'flippant," 'devoid of compassion'

My, my...everyone's coming out of the woodwork to do their part on exposing Bush.

Yoshi Tsurumi, in his first on-camera interview on the subject, told CNN that Bush confided in him during an after-class hallway conversation during the 1973-74 school year.

"He admitted to me that to avoid the Vietnam draft, he had his dad -- he said 'Dad's friends' -- skip him through the long waiting list to get him into the Texas National Guard," Tsurumi said. "He thought that was a smart thing to do."

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"What I couldn't stand -- and I told him -- he was all for the U.S. to continue with the Vietnam War. That means he was all for other people, Americans, to keep on fighting and dying."

Tsurumi got to know Bush when the future president took his "Economics EAM" (Environmental Analysis for Management), a required two-semester class from the fall of 1973 to the spring of 1974, Bush's first year at Harvard's business school.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Tsurumi said he remembers Bush because every teacher remembers their best and worst students, and Bush was in the latter group.

"Lazy. He didn't come to my class prepared," Tsurumi said. "He did very badly."

Tsurumi concedes that he disapproves of Bush's politics. He wrote a letter to the editor of his hometown newspaper, the Scarsdale Inquirer, that derided the president's claims to "compassionate conservatism."

"Somehow I found him totally devoid of compassion, social responsibility, and good study discipline," Tsurumi said. "What I remember most about him was all the kind of flippant statements that he made inside of classroom as well as outside."







posted by Ileana  # 4:06 PM

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Feel the Love, Be the Love, 'Practice' the Love

Would somebody please fire this guy already so we're not subject anymore to his blathering comments.

At a rally of cheering supporters in Poplar Bluff, Missouri, Bush made his usual pitch for limiting "frivolous lawsuits" that he said drive up the cost of health care and run doctors out of business.

But then he added, "We've got an issue in America. Too many good docs are getting out of business. Too many OB-GYNs aren't able to practice their love with women all across this country."




posted by Ileana  # 11:52 AM

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Access with a Crowbar

Bought and paid for with taxpayer dollars, access to this medical research is should be free.

A battle over a proposal to make taxpayer-funded medical research reports available to the public is brewing on Capitol Hill, pitting some publishers and members of the scientific and medical communities against each other.

"The issue here is research that has been created with taxpayer money," said Rick Johnson, director of the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition. The coalition is part of the Open Access Working Group that has promoted the notion of open access to research.

At issue is language in the House Appropriations Committee report on the bill to fund the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education departments in fiscal 2005. The report calls for authors funded by the National Institutes of Health to deposit their research into a central, digital repository that would be freely available to the public.


posted by Ileana  # 10:19 AM

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