• July 9, 2004 | 11:29 AM ET
Thank goodness, therefore, that, instead of focusing on shutting down al-Qaida, we’ve encouraged it to rebuild and flourish, pulling troops and agents out of Afghan-Pakistani border in order to fight a war in Iraq and thereby created a second terrorist haven. I’m also thrilled that we’ve pretty much ignored homeland security while spending hundreds of billions on making sure that the entire Arab world hates our guts.
And I think it rather amazing that so serious a warning can be issued by the Department of Homeland Security and is pretty much ignored by everyone, save the page-one editors of the Times. Can it be that this administration has lost so much credibility in its deliberate misleading of the nation on just about everything that it has lost the capacity to protect the country, even if it were ever to decide to take the job seriously? Who knows, and it really doesn’t matter because it’s never going to happen. Bush himself says he cannot think of a single mistake in his policies in which, according to at least one CIA officer, the president launched...
"an avaricious, premeditated, unprovoked war against a foe who posed no immediate threat but whose defeat did offer economic advantages."
For Osama bin Laden, Anonymous argues, the American invasion and occupation of Iraq were like "a Christmas present you long for but never expected to receive" — a gift from Washington that "will haunt, hurt, and hound Americans for years to come." Moreover, "U.S. forces and policies are completing the radicalization of the Islamic world, something Osama bin Laden has been trying to do with substantial but incomplete success since the early 1990's… As a result, I think it fair to conclude that the United States of America remains bin Laden's only indispensable ally."
There you have it. Read Michiko Kakutani’s review here. If, somehow, in an alternate universe, a bunch of liberal Democratic ideologues had been allowed to endanger the nation's security so profoundly while being found to have deliberately misled the nation to do so, my guess is that the likes of DeLay and Company would have tried them for treason.
(And can anyone ever remember a time when the CIA had declared open warfare on the White House for being too hawkish, too reckless? Never, that’s when. But this book would not have been published if the top agency brass had not decided to hell with it; the honor and the future of the agency are at stake. And yesterday's Times report demonstrates that the administration’s cover-up strategy will be (a la the yellowcake madness) to blame the whole mess on Tenet and the CIA. They picked the wrong patsy, methinks.
Sure it wasn’t the dog that ate them?
I know it’s Slacker Friday, but Ralph is not resting in his efforts to re-“elect,” George W. Bush, and so neither can I. The headline says it all: Michigan GOP gathers names for Nader.
Boehlert wonders why Murdoch's interested in publishing Ralph Nader's new book. But I think the charge is overblown. What about Stupid White Men? What about Bullworth? What about the Simpsons? What about Sound & Fury? It's an enormous corporation and Murdoch likes money at least as much as he likes Republicans. (Having said that, don’t forget about the “Outfoxed" premier.)
Now, finally, here’s the man.
Name: Charles Pierce
Hometown: Newton, MA
Greetings from Charlotte, where the news about John Edwards nearly fought the news about Mike Krzyzewski to a draw this week. And let us all now forget, please, about John McCain.
There is nobody I respect more in public life than McCain, and I like him more than I respect him. But there is something of the too-cute-by-half about his open willingness to be as active as he has been on behalf of C-Plus Augustus. I don't buy for a moment this business about how he wasn't ready for them to use him in one of their ads on the day that Edwards's selection was announced. He didn't get to where he is on a watermelon truck. If there ever was a politician who had a better right to leave an administration of his party on hold until December, it's McCain, against whom the Bushies ran an unspeakably sleazy campaign. Yet, there he is, seriously on board with people who'd sell him back to the Vietnamese if they thought it meant 10 points in Ohio this fall. I don't care how much he wants to be Secretary of State, this can't be worth it. And it is a measure of how dumb the whole flirtation with him by the Democratic party always has been.
P.S. -- And, as I will be flying on Sunday, I would like to ask Tom Ridge just what in the hell I am supposed to do with the ghost story he's been mumbling on every network for two days. Just once, if they really had any respect for our intelligence, they'd have one of those scary puppet shows in which Ridge told us, "The threat is real. Stay home. Don't fly!" Of course, that would cost somebody a buck, and we don't want to do that. So the national motto becomes, "Be afraid! Put yourself in harm's way!"
I believe this warning as much as I believe that police dogs ate the president's crucial National Guard records.
Hello again, Dr. Alterman.
You may remember that I e-mailed you a while back about my concerns about the condition of reserve forces in general and my own unit in particular.
A friend of mine in Germany tells me that German TV has run a couple of reports regarding a children's section at the Abu Ghraib prison. I found a link to an American blogger who tells pretty much the same story. I was wondering what, if anything, the American press was doing with the story?
I have two children. Even if I didn't, this would make me heart-sick.
By the way, I got promoted, and we are expecting to redeploy to Iraq in 2005. Again, please don't use my name. Thanks.
Name: John S. Lucas
Hometown: El Cerrito, CA
Sometimes it is hard to know where to direct one’s anger. In the Ozarks they have a saying. Do not try to teach a pig how to sing. All you will do is end up annoying the pig and you will end up being frustrated. The President and his crew are beyond any help but people like you and the alleged Liberal media probably fit into that category also.
In the years that I drove truck the only thing on the radio, with a few exceptions such as NPR, was Limbaugh, his clones and Christian radio. If it was not for Bernie Ward and Ray Taliaferro on KGO I think I would have gone completely nuts. In an age with the computer things have improved but I still do not think you get it.
I am supporting Kerry because as a fellow Vietnam veteran I understand where he is coming from on the war. I love Edwards because not only does he get what the problem is but has articulated it so well with his two Americas theme.
My problem is with people like you and the alleged journalists who have covered the President. A capsule of what the main issue that is confronting America is what the President did to get into the Air National Guard and out of the draft. The then Secretary of Sate of Texas pulled strings to get the President into the Guard. Someone from the other America had to take his place and take the risks of being sent to war. As a veteran of that war I admit that it is personal. I knew many boys, for we were all boys then, who came from that second America and got to pay the many prices of doing what your country wanted you to do. I have no problem with those that were against the war and went to Canada. I think of draft resisters who went to jail for their beliefs as heroes. It does not bother me that the Vice President decided not to serve and got deferments. The hypocrisy of what the President and his father did is at the core of what is wrong with this country. Both men supported the Vietnam War and the father used political pull to get his son out of it. If you really give it some thought this is what the Republican Party stands for and the President is really the poster boy for what the Republicans are all about. First America, second America.
I cannot get real mad at Bush for a man who would do such a thing is missing something inside. That something is called Character and sadly one either has it or does not.
You on the other hand are a different cup of tea. I read your blog every day and I think you care about this country and all that live in it. You are obviously well educated and are certainly smarter than I am. How is it that you do not get what the President did to get into the guard as an important issue in this election? How is it that Chris Mathews, any of 60 Minutes crew, Tom Brokaw, Dan Rather, and the rest of these “journalists” have not asked the President or any of his crew about this? They say that 45% of the country will always vote for Bush. I will tell you that it is not true. If this story ever got the coverage it deserved and everyone was aware of it and of its implications Bush could not get elected to dog catcher.
Who is at fault here? It is not Bush for what he did lines up with his beliefs. In front of a bunch of his first America crowd he said, “Some would call you the elite but I call you my base.” He meant it. The problem is with all you smart commentators and journalists. It is your job to get the facts out to everyone. The facts of the President sending someone else to face the risks of the draft by using political pull should be known to every person in this country. That it is not is because of the “liberal media” and commentators like you. Though I like you and agree with you politically on 90% of what you write I must tell that you really piss me off.
Name: Rich Gallagher
Hometown: Fishkill, NY
A dubious milestone was reached today with the death of five more U.S. soldiers. The tally of coalition troops killed in Iraq has now surpassed the 1,000 mark. CNN has the most current figures. 882 were Americans; the rest of the breakdown is "60 Britons, six Bulgarians, one Dane, one Dutch, one Estonian, one Hungarian, 19 Italians, one Latvian, six Poles, one Salvadoran, three Slovaks, 11 Spaniards, two Thai and seven Ukrainians" as of July 8, 2004.
Hey Eric, it's Stupid. Are you excited about Paula Zahn Sudan Day? I know I can hardly wait. In the meantime, forgive me for the sucking-up that follows.
My biggest concern about the Kerry camp is that it hasn't planned for an economic boom in the fall. Haven't the Saudis pledged to provide Dubya with as much? Not to mention all that disingenuous Keynesian deficit spending? But I think the GOP are giving Kerry an opening to redirect the debate with all the tired "Liberal!" attacks. They remind me of when your collaborator on "The Book on Bush," Mark Green, was here in Chicago. He began his talk with a simple statement: "George W. Bush is different." Green didn't attack the administration's conservatism but its closed-mindedness to whatever evidence is presented to it.
Kerry can easily say, "George W. Bush calls himself conservative. But is it conservative to run up record deficits that your children will pay off? Is it conservative to RISK BRINGING BACK THE DRAFT, which a single significant military conflict would surely do? (Amazing enough, three months before 9/11 the Weekly Standard urged Rumsfeld to resign to protest Dubya's weakening of the defense). Is it conservative to put government shackles on stem cell research? Is it conservative to keep our economy shackled to foreign oil interests?" Kerry needs to focus the campaign on the future, not the present, because the GOP are masters at presenting chimeras. And I'd hit that draft thing hard -- let's see if John McCain is really willing to bail the administration out on that one.
After a months-long dry spell, I've finally heard some thoroughly enjoyable CD's: Call and Response's "Winds Take No Shape" is great soft/hazy mid-fi pop, Brandy's Aphrodisiac shows her the true heir to the underrated Jody Watley (both with and without Andre Cymone) and Razorlight's "Up All Night" is what would have happened if the Gang of Four had been high school dropouts and listened to top-40 radio.
Name: Graham Strouse
Hometown: Doylestown, PA
Hey Dr. E,
I'm thinking a Nader-MacGruder ticket (yes he is six years shy of legal age but maybe they could count in dog years) would be rather apropos, don't you?
There's a line in "God-Emperor of Dune," where one of Leto II's underlings asks to justify a particularly heinous-seeming decision. The reply:
"I did what I always do. I created an effect."
That's really what Ralph Nader & Aaron MacGruder do, isn't it? They create effects without thought to the consequences.
I admit that the first time I read about that MacGruder's speaking engagement at the banquet, the one that sent you off sputtering into the lobby to work on your book, my disestablishmentarian self was amused. Later, I had my doubts. Two days ago, spinning madly away at level 20 in the recumbent bike at the local YMCA, I decided I was 180 degrees wrong. MacGruder's "Boondocks" can be genuinely hysterical--I'm thinking of the find-a-man-for-Condi thread here. Thing is, he's so utterly indiscriminate in his condemnations, so cynical and well, such a punk, that when I think of him now, my mind conjures the image of Spike Lee on a serious bender.
Nader's the same way, but maybe even more pathetic. He's an old man who can't stand the idea that he's no longer relevant. He'll protest anything if it means a little press. Remember his stern rebuke to Bud Selig after the All-Star game tie?
Remember the Corvair, GM's semi-revolutionary rear-engine bust which, in its earliest incarnations, had an unfortunate tendency to swap ends at speed? Unlike the Pinto, which was a truly dangerous little POS, the Corvair wasn't such a bad little ride after GM came down on the bean counters and forced them to start installing a $44 dollar sway bar. It took a couple years, but the last several runs were certainly not "unsafe at any speed." It was ugly, but light & economical & efficient in a day when dinosaurs ruled the roads. But it was too late. The damage was done.
Ralph's always doing that sort of thing. So is MacGruder.
Brahma creates. Vishnu preserves. Shiva destroys. What these punks fail to grasp, however (or in MacGruder's case, callously ignore), is the fact that once Shiva's work is done the field must once again be cleared for Brahma to create once more. I'm all for a little creative anarchy & real advocacy of any stripe. But these guys aren't "for" anybody. It's just not in their game plans.
Name: David S. Bernstein
Hometown: Boston, Mass.
I offer the following analogy as analysis: John Edwards was the Christmas present your kid (ie, the media) has been asking for every day since Thanksgiving. You can give the kid something you think he'll like better in the long run, but you'll have to get through the moping and pouting on Christmas morning. John Kerry made a calculation that a happy Christmas morning -- ie, good pre-convention VP coverage -- was more important than future utility -- ie, bringing in Missouri or Florida in November.
Sure enough, the media has treated the Edwards announcement like a kid who found what he wanted under the tree.
This is all part of a calculated July marketing scheme not much different from the build-up to Spiderman 2. The moment the media starts running low on Edwards stories, we'll have leaks of convention speakers, convention plans (a Town Hall stage with REAL PEOPLE in the seats!), a new policy announcement, even a controversy of some nature to build interest.
Barring something unexpected, Kerry should lead by double digits by the end of July, and the media story coming out will be that the GOP convention is do-or-die for Bush. These Kerry people aren't stupid.
Name: Mark W. Budwig
Hometown: New York, NY
You wrote, "I would have gone with a Garry Wills or an Alan Brinkley ... ."
"A" Gary Wills? "An" Alan Brinkley?
Where are these other Willses and Brinkleys? Bring 'em on! We need 'em!