Sunday, October 31, 2004

Scott McConnell: Shrill

American Conservative flip-flopped their way all over the endorsement map before giving up and letting every man woman on child write their own presidential editorial. Here's executive editor Scott McConnell's view, apparently an attempt to get blackballed from his past with the New York Post, the National Review, and Commentary:

Bush has behaved like a caricature of what a right-wing president is supposed to be, and his continuation in office will discredit any sort of conservatism for generations. The launching of an invasion against a country that posed no threat to the U.S., the doling out of war profits and concessions to politically favored corporations, the financing of the war by ballooning the deficit to be passed on to the nation’s children, the ceaseless drive to cut taxes for those outside the middle class and working poor: it is as if Bush sought to resurrect every false 1960s-era left-wing cliché about predatory imperialism and turn it into administration policy. Add to this his nation-breaking immigration proposal—Bush has laid out a mad scheme to import immigrants to fill any job where the wage is so low that an American can’t be found to do it—and you have a presidency that combines imperialist Right and open-borders Left in a uniquely noxious cocktail.

Yes, it's Pat Buchanan's magazine. No, he still can't join the order.

Colin Powell Is Shrill!

Senior bat-winged horror David Talbot of Salon reports that Colin Powell is shrill!

Salon.com Politics:Secretary of State Colin Powell has privately confided to friends in recent weeks that the Iraqi insurgents are winning the war, according to Newsweek. The insurgents have succeeded in infiltrating Iraqi forces "from top to bottom," a senior Iraqi official tells Newsweek in tomorrow’s issue of the magazine, "from decision making to the lower levels."

Land's End Founder Reaches Wit's End

Chicago area weblog Polis reports that Gary Comer, the founder of Land's End and a long-time Republican, has placed a full page ad in the Wisconsin State Journal in which he implies he is joining the order:

I have been a Republican and voted Republican most of my life. But in my opinion, this administration has high-jacked the Republican Party I knew and is taking Wisconsin and the United States in dangerous directions. If Bush is re-elected, you and your children and grandchildren and mine will pay dearly in their freedoms and opportunities long after his term of office expires. I believe that four more years of President Bush and the people who surround him is not in our Nation's best interest.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Shrill Christians Speak Out

Some followers of the famous liberal Israeli social critic Jesus Christ are becoming rather shrill and unbalanced:

Using religious beliefs as justification for exercizing  government influence and power, however, is not faith, but dangerous extremism. Such political leadership threatens the integrity of both government and religion, and perverts the holiness of human freedom. People of Faith for Truth emerges from a growing sense of unease among many devout Christians – as well as people of other beliefs – that religious fundamentalism has spilled into policymaking, in the United States, and elsewhere in the world. The early results have been tragic, leaving the world a more dangerous place, one in which decisions of powerful government leaders are based on personal relationships with God at the expense of reason, truth, and judgment.

And to Think That Two Years Ago William Saletan Was a Bush Booster

Today, however, his shrillness can only be measured on the Chait scale:

Codependent No More - Can Bin Laden keep Bush in office? By William Saletan: Well, it took him long enough, but Osama Bin Laden has finally repaid his debt. Maybe just in time.

The debt is to President Bush, who has spent the three years since the Afghan war doing everything he could, inadvertently, to help Bin Laden. He let Bin Laden get away, turned our attention to Saddam Hussein, and conducted both prewar diplomacy (if I may use that word) and the postwar occupation of Iraq in a manner perfectly calculated—or rather, not calculated—to discredit the United States and piss everyone off. Bin Laden couldn't have scripted it better.

It wasn't scripted, of course. Bush would gladly kill the leaders of al-Qaida with his bare hands. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that he'd gladly do to them what he did to the North Vietnamese: send somebody else to kill them. Anyway, with the worst intentions, Bush did Bin Laden the best favor.

Now Bin Laden is returning the favor with poetic symmetry. With the worst intentions, he's brought Bush the best possible October surprise, short of turning himself over to the NYPD. Bin Laden would like to see Bush thrown out of office, like that Spanish prime minister with the mustache who served as our beard for the Iraq invasion. If Bush loses, Bin Laden thinks he'll have another scalp to hang on his wall, or cave, or whatever it is. He'll claim to have brought down the president.

Except he won't bring down the president. More likely, by showing up four days before our election, he'll scare Americans into re-electing Bush. The only thing that keeps a clear majority of us from recognizing Bush as the worst president in memory is that history has graced him with such an ugly adversary. Bush hasn't had to do anything well. All he's had to do is point out that he's on your side and that the guy on the other side is a mass-murdering lunatic. For a blissful month and a half, we managed to cut through that shtick and notice how badly Bush has run the country. Now Bin Laden has brought the shtick back. Bush can talk about his values instead of his record. He can stop running against John Kerry and go back to running against people who hate America and murder children.

I remember when Bush addressed Congress after Sept. 11. I thought history had given him a mission he couldn't screw up. Bush had only two virtues--moral clarity and resolve—and a terrorist attack on our country called for both of them. I didn't realize that his judgment was so bad it could turn these virtues into vices, confusing two enemies and letting the more dangerous one get away.

Later, I remember defending the buildup to the Iraq war. Some of my friends refused to support the war because it was Bush's. I thought that was petty of them. Now I understand. When you support a president going to war, you don't get your war. You get his.

Continue Article


That's the story of Bush. Clear intentions, lousy judgment, counterproductive results. I love his intentions as much as I hate Bin Laden's, but the two men turn out to be well-matched. Bin Laden pisses people off and drives them into the arms of Bush. Bush pisses people off and drives them into the arms of Bin Laden. Bush keeps Bin Laden in business; Bin Laden keeps Bush in office. With clear intentions and lousy judgment, Bin Laden has shown up on the eve of our election, full of the same impenetrable self-assurance Pat Robertson noticed in Bush. No doubt Bin Laden hopes to assist, or at least take credit for, the president's defeat. And no doubt the results will be counterproductive. I just hope they aren't counterproductive enough, because this is one codependent relationship the world can't afford.

Eleanor Clift Is Shrill

From Matthew Yglesias comes a report that Eleanor Clift has joined the Reality-Based Community:

Bush is like a pyromaniac who returns to the scene of the crime. This is his fiasco, and it's smart for Kerry to hold Bush accountable. The failure to guard the aptly named Al Qaqaa is emblematic of everything Bush is doing wrong. The administration clearly didn't send enough troops, and now 380 tons of the most dangerous munitions are out there for possible use against U.S. troops.

The Bush team’s response is also emblematic. First, they deny a charge that is undeniably true, that they went into Iraq with insufficient forces. Second, they slime the person telling the truth. Kerry wasn’t faulting U.S. troops for not finding and securing the missing weapons, as Bush asserted. Kerry was attacking the chicken-hawk civilians who brushed aside pleas from the military for more manpower. Third, Bush falls back on the tried and true, pointing to evidence of a cache of deadly explosives to say this proves Saddam really was dangerous. It’s still heresy to say it, but Americans were safer when Saddam was in power. He guarded his high-grade-weapons sites, and just days before the U.S. invasion, the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency had monitored the site, warning the Bush administration about the potential danger.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Marine Captain Josh Rushing Is Shrill

The Shrill Ones of Crooked Timber modem in and report:

Crooked Timber: Captain Josh Rushing : In the terrific documentary Control Room about the Al-Jazeera network, one of the most appealing figures was Marines spokesman Captain Josh Rushing.... I don’t think that I saw or read a more persuasive spokesman for the war in Iraq.... He’s recently left the Marines, and he’s given his first interview to Fresh Air today on NPR....

UPDATE: That was really something. He’s deeply pro-military, but critical of the way the war has been conducted. If the election wasn’t days away, I suspect that he’d be in for the full-strength “slime and defend” treatment.... Here are my real-time notes.... He feels “duped” about the intelligence. He says it hit him when Colin Powell admitted that the intelligence had been deliberately manipulated....He says that Fox reporters would ask him what points he wanted to get across before the interview, and they would essentialy script the interview before the cameras started rolling. Al Jazeera would ask extremely combatative questions, often based on false premises, and then simultaneously show an unrelated bloody scene to make it seem that he’s responding to the scene. He loved “Iraq for Dummies”; he read it on the plane, and it made him look like an expert by the time he arrived in Iraq.

He thinks there was too much White House influence in the communications corps. They brought in a White House insider, a civillian from the Bush campaign. They promoted him to two-star rank, so that he outranked the colonel who would normally have been in charge of communications. Several other Bush adminstration officials opened an office next to theirs, and it changed the way they operated. The communications corps have been proud of being non-partisan and straight shooters, but he thinks that they were compromised. He was occasionally accused of being a political flack by a reporter. During the war, he would have argued with that. Afterwards, he’d have to agree that sometimes they were carrying water for the administration. He cites a scene in the film about looting- they were promoting the message that Iraqis were responsible for protecting themselves from looting, which he personally thought was absurd. Since they had just taken over the city, of course they were responsible for security.

He says that his personal values say that you should admit mistakes. He believes that there’s a culture now that says that you never admit a mistake. Says that culture goes all the way to the White House, citing the second debate when Bush couldn’t think of a single mistake. “I find that kind of hubris disturbing, and I think the rest of the world finds it a little arrogant- even beyond arrogant, even delusional at some point.”

Doesn’t think that he’s alone. Cites the survey that says that most in the military are Republican, and says that’s been true for a long time, but in the past year he’s heard more criticism of the Administration than he’d ever heard before. Very frustrated because he was told “You can’t speak to the press about Control Room”....


Republican Ex-Senator Bob Smith of New Hampshire Is Shrill!!

Via that Tentacled and Bat-Winged Horror, Kos:

Daily Kos :: Political Analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation.: Bob Smith of New Hampshire lived at the far right of the GOP.... But in 2004, this hard right winger is endorsing Kerry:

As someone who worked with you daily for 12 years as a United States Senator, I am acutely conscious of the fact that we disagree on many important issues. Despite our differences, you have always been willing to engage in constructive debate in an effort to forge sound public policy.

I deeply respect your commitment to our nation and your patriotism which, I believe, was forged when you-like I-proudly wore the uniform of the United States Navy in Viet Nam...

Because of the courage and character you demonstrated in Vietnam, I believe you when you say that you'll do a better job than President Bush to win the peace in Iraq, as well as to win the war against terrorism.

President Bush has failed to restrain federal spending, sending our deficit spinning into the stratosphere. I well remember that you were one of a handful of Democrats who crossed the aisle to forge a bipartisan coalition in the Senate to balance the federal budget [...]

John, for each of these reasons I believe President Bush has failed our country and my party. Accordingly, I want you to know that when I go into the booth next Tuesday I am going to cast my vote for you. So will my wife, Mary Jo, and all three of my children: Jason, Bobby and Jenny.

Moreover, I will do all that I can to encourage my friends in New Hampshire and Florida to join me in supporting you.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

The FACTS Have Joined The Order of the Shrill!!

An event of unparalleled significance has occurred! Effective today, The Order has officially recognized the facts themselves as shrill and unbalanced, decisively breaking against the will of George W. Bush. The truth is now in diametrical opposition to the Bush government, and has in this extraordinary case conclusively proven the mendacity, malevolence, incompetence, and simple disconnection from reality of the George W. Bush administration.

In short, the Al Qaqaa ammunition dump was visited by U.S. soldiers after the start of the invasion. Bunkers were found with IAEA seals intact. The bunkers were opened and searched by U.S. troops. In the process, hundreds of containers were filmed that have been positively identified as the missing explosives, proving that they were looted after the war while under U.S. control.

Now, If you've been living under a rock for the past week you may not have noticed this little story going around about explosives in Iraq. Here is a useful crib sheet to follow what happened:

October 24th: The Nelson Report broke the story that 760,000 pounds of high explosive--the same type used in car bombs, terrorist attacks, and nuclear bomb detonators--was looted from a well-known ammunition dump outside of Baghdad in the days following the U.S. invasion. For reference, a single pound of this explosive was used to down Pan Am flight 103.

The report was triggered by a letter from the IAEA which learned of the plundered materials from the Iraqi government on October 10th.

But the Bush administration knew 18 month earlier: "The Iraqi authorities were...under heavy pressure from their sponsors in DOD and US occupation authorities not to cooperate with the IAEA, by confirming that all 350 tons of sealed explosives could not be accounted for, the Iraqi’s had to wait until the formal turnover of authority before notifying the IAEA, sources here suggest. So the Iraqis failed to act until Oct. 10, and the IAEA did not formally notify the US, by letter, until Oct. 15, according to the State Department’s official press guidance."

Following this original bombshell, the Bush administration has said:

  • It's not a big deal. (Di Rita, 10/24)
  • It's the Iraqi's fault. (McClellan, 10/25)
  • There was a lot going on, so we might have missed it. (McClellan, 10/25)
  • We've found lots of other less dangerous explosives. (McClellan, 10/25)
  • The Pentagon only learned about this a few days ago. (McClellan, 10/25)
  • U.S. forces completely searched the facility several times after the invasion. (Di Rita, 10/25)
  • The explosives were taken before the U.S. got there. (Di Rita, 10/26)
  • This NBC story proves that the explosives were indeed missing when U.S. forces first arrived. (Pentagon official, 10/26)
  • Oops, NBC pulled their story; their reporter's group wasn't the first on the scene. (AP, 10/26)
  • Oops again, the troops didn't search the facility--they were in combat. (MSNBC, 10/26)
  • We never found any explosives. (Pentagon official, 10/27)
  • We have satellite pictures of trucks at the bunkers, maybe taking the explosives. (Di Rita, 10/27)
  • Oops, wrong bunkers. (Global Security, 10/28)
  • The Russians took the explosives. (Shaw, 10/28)
  • The troops didn't search hard enough. (Giuliani, 10/28)
  • Kerry hates the troops. (Bush, 10/28)

And after all that equivocation and grasping at straws, the administration managed to avoid telling the truth even once: that the weapons were there, that the Bush administration knew, that the troops were not given the intelligence, training, or manpower necessary to secure the weapons, that the bunkers were opened and then abandoned--and subsequently looted. And now the 760,000 pounds of explosives are being used on American soldiers, Iraqi police, and innocent civilians.

According to former Iraq weapons inspector David Kay there are 80 such sites in Iraq--and that the evidence is damning.

The facts have become unbearably shrill. They explicitly show:

  1. mendacity -- to repeatedly lie about what was known about this incredible failure of security and planning
  2. malevolence -- to try to shift the blame to the troops, the Iraqis, the Russians, and anyone else they can think of
  3. incompetence -- knowing the location of the explosives since 1991 but not having a plan to secure them
  4. disconnection from reality -- to believe that reasonable people can look at this and think that the safety of the U.S. or Iraq is best served by this administration

And so we lower our heads and chant with increasingly shrill voices:

Aaaiii! Ph'nglui Mglw'nafh Da Motherfuckin' Facts Beyotch R'lyeh Wagn'nagl Fhtagn! Aaaiii!!! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII!!!!!!!!!!

David Kay Is Shrill

Greg from the Talent Show modems in to say:

The Talent Show: An Expert Opinion: Wow. Former weapons inspector David Kay just tore apart the Bush Administration's missing weapons arguments on Aaron Brown's show. He confimed that the explosives were there after the invasion, that the barrels contained the HMX and RDX, and he indicted the Administration for not providing enough troops to secure these sites. I'll post a transcript when it shows up on the CNN site.

Nobody likes the Bushies. Nobody trusts the Bushies. Nobody believes the Bushies. Nobody--except for those who have drunk the koolaid, are bought and paid for, or are select members of the elite press.

This Dude I Know Slightly Is Shrill

This dude I know is shrill! Shrill, shrill, shrill! And while he may not really be the last person you'd expect to be shrill, he's a good way on down the list! You're kind of going to have to take my word on this, because you've never heard of him! But he is shrill!

Now fast forward from Viet Nam to the present era. I was against GW Bush in the 2000 elections mainly because of what he had done in and to Texas. Like a friend and candidate for a Texas House District seat here in Austin, Kelly White, I used to consider myself independent as a voter. But in recent years, and especially since I have read about the character and career of one George W. Bush, I have become more stridently a Democrat. As I sat and listened to friends and colleagues discuss why they favor the Republican Party, I began to realize that I was not a part of that group. In fact, I wasn’t even close to them. Rightly or wrongly, I began to see Republicans as a repudiation of all the good attributes that were instilled in me by my mother since I was a child. I began this journey, I believe, when Ronald Reagan became president. I saw through his plan to privatize all that was being done in the public sector. He was going to rely upon private businesses to solve the unemployment problems and many other social ills that had befallen our country. I was incredulous. I remember heated debates in class at the Air Force Academy about whether the private sector would act for the general good or for what was good for them and their shareholders. The answer to me was obvious – but it took 8 years of Reaganomics to show the unbelievers that the private sector was corporately selfish when it came to helping the general population. It demonstrated that there is a definite need for the federal government in the protection of the general population.

The present administration and its Neo-conservative politics have gone way beyond that approach to governance. It has catered to special interests in a way that no other administration has ever dared to do…and all under the guise of “family values.” “If you’re not with us; you must be the enemy.” That’s exactly the approach this administration took to those who dared question what happened before and after September 11, 2001. Like most Americans, I supported the president’s decision to go after Osama Bin Laden and the Taliban in Afghanistan. And like many in this country, I strongly opposed the decision to invade Iraq. My arguments at the time - this is for oil and to bail out the senior Bush’s decision not to go into Iraq – were a bit simplistic, but not far from the truth. I have read reports, analyses and books in recent months and discovered, to my surprise, that many moderate conservatives and MANY former military officers hold views similar to mine or even more insightful as to the danger of the neo-conservative strategy for domestic and international dominance. It’s not a coincidence that all these threads intertwine, nor is it a coincidence that so many people have written about the basic flaws within this administration, more than have written about any other administration in our history. It’s actually scary. If you have any questions as to how and why, just READ. There are plenty of sources that bring to light all these ties.

That’s just a small piece of the evil puzzle. I use that word, “evil” with hesitation. It’s not a word I use lightly, but after seeing what this administration has forced onto the people of the world, it’s the only one that fits. Sure, radical Islam is often to be feared as being dangerous to us, but I equate what the Bush Administration is doing to us, citizens of the United States, with a technique we learned when we were on a survival trek at the Air Force Academy. Each group of 10 cadets was given a live domestic rabbit for food (broth, smoked meat, etc). After the hunter in our element cut the rabbit’s throat and let it bleed all over the place, our element leader/instructor suggested an approach that was a bit more humane and a lot less messy. He told us that the best way was to pet the rabbit running your hand down its head, over its ears and down its back to get it to relax. Once it was relaxed, you would then deliver a swift karate-type strike to the back of its neck which would kill it swiftly and with a lot less mess. That’s what I see this administration attempting to do – pacify those of us who are unbelievers (be it with tax cuts or promises of better this or that) until we become relaxed and unawares. Then comes the karate chop – the one-party system envisioned by Karl Rove. Then Big Brother really will exist.
Aaaiii! Ph'nglui Mglw'nafh W----- R'lyeh Wagn'nagl Fhtagn! Aaaiii!!!

Richard Cohen Succumbs to Shrill Unholy Madness!!

Matthew Yglesias notes that only a month ago the Washington Post's Richard Cohen was sneering at the shrill:

TAPPED: October 2004 Archives: SHRILL LATELY? Richard Cohen, September 16, 2004: I nevertheless cannot bring myself to hate Bush or, as someone here told me, to consider his possible reelection as a reason to leave the country. In fact, Bush haters go so far they wind up adding a dash of red to my blue, pushing me by revulsion into a color I otherwise would not have.

And that a year ago last May 7 he was boldly comparing George W. Bush to Andrew Jackson:

George W. Bush is often compared to previous presidents.... My own recommendation would be Andrew Jackson.... I mention Jackson right at the top because I feel that it will hardly matter if, as now seems possible, no large cache of weapons of mass destruction is found in Iraq and the war to disarm that country turns out to have been unnecessary. All that will matter is that the United States won a magnificent victory -- never mind why the war was fought in the first place. Everyone likes a winner, and Bush is a winner. I supported the war and I like the outcome. I think there's a chance that Iraq will be democratized, that this will affect the entire Middle East (Syria is already behaving better) and that no matter what, it was good to get rid of the monstrous Saddam Hussein and free the Iraqi people.

And now? Now, on October 28, RICHARD COHEN IS SHRILL!!!!!:

I do not write the headlines for my columns. Someone else does. But if I were to write the headline for this one, it would be "Impeach George Bush."... Not since the Spanish-American War has the United States gone off to war so casually, so half-cocked and so ineptly. The sinking of the Maine, the casus belli for that dustup, has been replaced by missing weapons of mass destruction, and the Hearst and Pulitzer presses are now talk radio and Fox News Channel. Everything has changed. Nothing has changed. Still, though, we mourn the dead, look away from the wounded and maimed, and wonder what it was all about. We embarked, truly and regrettably, on a crusade.

Yet from Bush comes not a bleep of regret, not to mention apology. It is all "steady as she goes" -- although we have lost our bearings and we no longer know our destination. (Don't tell me it's a democratic Middle East.) If the man were commanding a ship, he would be relieved of command. If he were the CEO of some big company, the board would offer him a golden parachute -- and force him to jump. But in government, it's the people who make those decisions. We get our chance on Tuesday.

Matthew comments, wryly: "I guess it [shrill unholy madness at the incompetence, malevolence, mendacity, and disconnection from reality of George W. Bush and his administration] gets to everybody sooner or later. I also note that, weirdly, the Post refused to headline his column 'Impeach Bush'."

The headline is "Hold Bush Accountable."

The headline should, of course, be: " Aaaiii! Ph'nglui Mglw'nafh Richard Cohen R'lyeh Wagn'nagl Fhtagn! Aaaiii!!! "

Republican Ex-Senator David Durenberger Is Shrill! David Durenberger: For health care security, Kerry has the better plan

He likes Kerry's health care plan:

David Durenberger: For health care security, Kerry has the better plan: The presidential candidates are debating whether Iraq or the economy is headed in the right direction, but no one can dispute that the health care trend line is going in the wrong direction. With 5 million more uninsured Americans, bringing the total to 45 million (including a 12 percent increase in uninsured Minnesotans in the last year), family insurance premiums up more than $3,500 (including a 59 percent jump in Minnesota), prescription drug costs up over 70 percent, and businesses struggling to afford health care and stay competitive, there can be no doubt that we need to change our policy course.

Regardless of how voters view the candidates on all other issues, it is clear that the future of health care costs for Minnesotans has already been determined by President Bush's record of accomplishment. As a Republican, with some experience, I sincerely regret having to say the record over the last four years and the prescription for reform the president is proposing give me little confidence that this most challenging of all domestic priorities will be adequately addressed over the next four years.

His Medicare Modernization Act enhances access to prescription drugs for low-income, high-need seniors. It authorizes demonstrations to identify quality of care and chronic care management. But it all comes at a price neither taxpayers nor Medicare beneficiaries will be able to afford.

Drug companies have inflated prices from which "discounts" are derived and the Republican Congress has protected the drug companies from the price competition that Medicare applies to doctors, hospitals, and home health, dialysis and other care providers. President Bush and the GOP Congress have placed the future of Medicare in the hands of America's big health insurance plans and, again, protected them from the reality of competition with a guarantee of up to 123 percent higher payments than traditional Medicare.

The costs of all this will be borne not by those who profit most from health insurance or services, but by seniors and disabled Minnesotans whose Medicare premiums were increased 14 percent this year and will be 17 percent next year. With a budget deficit of more than $400 billion a year, that Medicare premium can only rise faster in the future. Plus, those of us working past age 64 will pay up to 80 percent of the costs to us of a Medicare program we have funded out of family income for the last 38 years.

President Bush's embrace of Health Savings Accounts would make little dent in the uninsured or in overall cost growth, but they would cut benefits and shift costs to workers. His Association Health Plans -- which are designed to pool certain businesses together and permit them to avoid most state consumer protection insurance laws -- would simply attract businesses with younger, healthier workers at the expense of others. His underfunded individual tax credits to be used in the fatally flawed and discriminatory individual market would -- like his other approaches -- undermine and weaken employer-based coverage and make it even more difficult to find insurance coverage for the least healthy among us.

The president constantly refers to Sen. John Kerry's health reform proposals as "big government." Not true. As one deeply involved in developing alternatives to President Bill Clinton's reform proposals, I must say that what Kerry proposes today for coverage expansion is in line with what mainstream Republican senators like Jack Danforth, John Chafee and I, working with Democrats like Bill Bradley, John Breaux and Kent Conrad, tried to accomplish in 1994.

Indeed, the Kerry plan appears designed to be responsive to those most in need -- people forced out of health care coverage by premium cost increases -- without being disruptive.

By providing employers and health plans with financial relief from catastrophic expenses, it should stabilize and make more affordable the employer-based insurance market. It opens up programs like the Congress' own Federal Employee Health Benefit Plan (FEHBP) and the Children's Health Insurance Program, and provides new private health insurance options -- not mandates -- for the uninsured.

By providing extra tax breaks for vulnerable groups like 55-to-64-year-olds, workers in between jobs, and small businesses, it ensures that health care is made even more affordable.

While far from perfect, it both builds on and learns from the past and takes us in a long-overdue new direction.

In this election people are making decisions on the basis of the candidates' stands on many issues. I have access to all of the health care I need through both FEHBP and Medicare. Like many Republicans, though, I believe our national goal is access for all, not just some.

For people who cannot afford the health insurance they need, for people whose access to care is threatened, the issue of which presidential candidate is most likely to come to their aid is their most important national security issue. It is the national security position on which President Bush and Sen. Kerry differ most and the one on which Kerry has the clearer vision for restoring security to all Americans.

David Durenberger, who was a U.S. senator from 1978 to 1995, is chair of the National Institute of Health Policy at the University of St. Thomas College of Business.

Ex Bush Ghostwriter Mickey Herskowitz Is Shrill!

He claims that well before being elected president, Bush and his aides wanted to wage a "short victorious war":

Russ Baker: Houston: Two years before the September 11 attacks, presidential candidate George W. Bush was already talking privately about the political benefits of attacking Iraq.... “He was thinking about invading Iraq in 1999,” said author and journalist Mickey Herskowitz. “It was on his mind. He said to me: ‘One of the keys to being seen as a great leader is to be seen as a commander-in-chief.’ And he said, ‘My father had all this political capital built up when he drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait and he wasted it.’ He said, ‘If I have a chance to invade... if I had that much capital, I’m not going to waste it. I’m going to get everything passed that I want to get passed and I’m going to have a successful presidency.”...

That President Bush and his advisers had Iraq on their minds long before weapons inspectors had finished their work – and long before alleged Iraqi ties with terrorists became a central rationale for war – has been raised elsewhere, including in a book based on recollections of former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill. However, Herskowitz was in a unique position to hear Bush’s unguarded and unfiltered views on Iraq, war and other matters – well before he became president. In 1999, Herskowitz struck a deal with the campaign of George W. Bush about a ghost-written autobiography, which was ultimately titled A Charge to Keep : My Journey to the White House, and he and Bush signed a contract in which the two would split the proceeds. The publisher was William Morrow. Herskowitz was given unimpeded access to Bush, and the two met approximately 20 times so Bush could share his thoughts. Herskowitz began working on the book in May, 1999, and says that within two months he had completed and submitted some 10 chapters, with a remaining 4-6 chapters still on his computer. Herskowitz was replaced as Bush’s ghostwriter after Bush’s handlers concluded that the candidate’s views and life experiences were not being cast in a sufficiently positive light.

According to Herskowitz... Bush and his advisers were sold on the idea that it was difficult for a president to accomplish an electoral agenda without the record-high approval numbers that accompany successful if modest wars. The revelations on Bush’s attitude toward Iraq emerged recently during two taped interviews of Herskowitz, which included a discussion of a variety of matters, including his continued closeness with the Bush family, indicated by his subsequent selection to pen an authorized biography of Bush’s grandfather, written and published last year with the assistance and blessing of the Bush family. Herskowitz also revealed the following: -In 2003, Bush’s father indicated to him that he disagreed with his son’s invasion of Iraq. -Bush admitted that he failed to fulfill his Vietnam-era domestic National Guard service obligation, but claimed that he had been “excused.”... -Bush described his own business ventures as “floundering” before campaign officials insisted on recasting them in a positive light....

According to Herskowitz, George W. Bush’s beliefs on Iraq were based in part on a notion dating back to the Reagan White House – ascribed in part to now-vice president Dick Cheney, Chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee under Reagan. “Start a small war. Pick a country where there is justification you can jump on, go ahead and invade.”

Bush’s circle of pre-election advisers had a fixation on the political capital that British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher collected from the Falklands War. Said Herskowitz: “They were just absolutely blown away, just enthralled by the scenes of the troops coming back, of the boats, people throwing flowers at [Thatcher] and her getting these standing ovations in Parliament and making these magnificent speeches.”...

Herskowitz considers himself a friend of the Bush family, and has been a guest at the family vacation home in Kennebunkport. In the late 1960s, Herskowitz, a longtime Houston Chronicle sports columnist designated President Bush’s father, then-Congressman George HW Bush, to replace him as a guest columnist, and the two have remained close since then....

In 1999, when Herskowitz turned in his chapters for Charge to Keep, Bush’s staff expressed displeasure —often over Herskowitz’s use of language provided by Bush himself. In a chapter on the oil business, Herskowitz included Bush’s own words to describe the Texan’s unprofitable business ventures, writing: “the companies were floundering”. “I got a call from one of the campaign lawyers, he was kind of angry, and he said, ‘You’ve got some wrong information.’ I didn’t bother to say, ‘Well you know where it came from.’ [The lawyer] said, ‘We do not consider that the governor struggled or floundered in the oil business. We consider him a successful oilman who started up at least two new businesses.’ ”... Herskowitz also said that Bush told him that after transferring from his Texas Guard unit two-thirds through his six-year military obligation to work on an Alabama political campaign, he did not attend any Alabama National Guard drills at all, because he was “excused.”...

In 2002, three years after he had been pulled off the George W. Bush biography, Herskowitz was asked by Bush’s father to write a book about the current president’s grandfather, Prescott Bush, after getting a message that the senior Bush wanted to see him. “Former President Bush just handed it to me. We were sitting there one day, and I was visiting him there in his office…He said, ‘I wish somebody would do a book about my dad.’ ”

“He said to me, ‘I know this has been a disappointing time for you, but it’s amazing how many times something good will come out of it.’ I passed it on to my agent, he jumped all over it. I asked [Bush senior], ‘Would you support it and would you give me access to the rest of family?’ He said yes.”

That book, Duty, Honor, Country: The Life and Legacy of Prescott Bush, was published in 2003 by Routledge. If anything, the book has been criticized for its over-reliance on the Bush family’s perspective and rosy interpretation of events. Herskowitz himself is considered the ultimate “as-told-to” author, lending credibility to his account of what George W. Bush told him. Herskowitz’s other books run the gamut of public figures, and include the memoirs of Reagan aide Deaver, former Texas Governor and Nixon Treasury Secretary John Connally, newsman Dan Rather, astronaut Walter Cunningham, and baseball greats Mickey Mantle and Nolan Ryan.

After Herskowitz was pulled from the Bush book project, the biographer learned that a scenario was being prepared to explain his departure. “I got a phone call from someone in the Bush campaign, confidentially, saying ‘Watch your back.’ ”

Reporters covering Bush say that when they inquired as to why Herskowitz was no longer on the project, Hughes intimated that Herskowitz had personal habits that interfered with his writing – a claim Herskowitz said is unfounded. Later, the campaign put out the word that Herskowitz had been removed for missing a deadline. Hughes subsequently finished the book herself – it received largely critical reviews for its self-serving qualities and lack of spontaneity or introspection.

So, said Herskowitz, the best material was left on the cutting room floor, including Bush’s true feelings.

“He told me that as a leader, you can never admit to a mistake,” Herskowitz said. “That was one of the keys to being a leader.”

Research support for this article was provided by the Investigative Fund of The Nation Institute.

Russ Baker is an award-winning independent journalist who has been published in The New York Times, The Nation, Washington Post, The Telegraph (UK), Sydney Morning-Herald, and Der Spiegel, among many others.

The London Economist Endorses John Kerry

Welcome aboard! Welcome to the reality-based community! Aaaiii! Ph'nglui mglw'nafh London Economist R'lyeh wagn'nagl fhtagn! Aaaiii!!!

The London Economist endorses John Kerry. Bill Emmott said: "It was a difficult call, given that we endorsed George Bush in 2000 and supported the war in Iraq. But in the end we felt he has been too incompetent to deserve re-election."

...we think American readers should vote for John Kerry on November 2nd.

You might have thought that, three years after a devastating terrorist attack on American soil... the campaign for the presidency would be an especially elevated and notable affair. If so, you would be wrong. This year's battle has been between two deeply flawed men: George Bush, who has been a radical, transforming president but who has never seemed truly up to the job, let alone his own ambitions for it; and John Kerry, who often seems to have made up his mind conclusively about something only once, and that was 30 years ago. But on November 2nd, Americans must make their choice, as must The Economist. It is far from an easy call, especially against the backdrop of a turbulent, dangerous world. But, on balance, our instinct is towards change rather than continuity: Mr Kerry, not Mr Bush....

Mr Bush's record during the past three years has been both inspiring and disturbing. Mr Bush was inspiring in the way he reacted to the new world in which he, and America, found itself. He grasped the magnitude of the challenge well. His military response in Afghanistan was not the sort of poorly directed lashing out that Bill Clinton had used in 1998 after al-Qaeda destroyed two American embassies in east Africa: it was a resolute, measured effort, which was reassuringly sober about the likely length of the campaign against Osama bin Laden and the elusiveness of anything worth the name of victory. Mistakes were made, notably when at Tora Bora Mr bin Laden and other leaders probably escaped, and when following the war both America and its allies devoted insufficient military and financial resources to helping Afghanistan rebuild itself.... The biggest mistake, though, was one that will haunt America for years to come. It lay in dealing with prisoners-of-war by sending hundreds of them to the American base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, putting them in a legal limbo, outside the Geneva conventions and outside America's own legal system....

Invading Iraq was not a mistake.... But changing the regime so incompetently was a huge mistake. By having far too few soldiers to provide security and by failing to pay Saddam's remnant army, a task that was always going to be long and hard has been made much, much harder. Such incompetence is no mere detail: thousands of Iraqis have died as a result and hundreds of American soldiers. The eventual success of the mission, while still possible, has been put in unnecessary jeopardy. So has America's reputation in the Islamic world, both for effectiveness and for moral stature.

If Mr Bush had meanwhile been making progress elsewhere in the Middle East, such mistakes might have been neutralised. But he hasn't.... To succeed... America needs a president capable of admitting to mistakes and of learning from them. Mr Bush has steadfastly refused to admit to anything: even after Abu Ghraib, when he had a perfect opportunity to dismiss Donald Rumsfeld, the defence secretary, and declare a new start, he chose not to....

If the test is a domestic one, especially an economic crisis, Mr Kerry looks acceptable, however. His record and instincts are as a fiscal conservative, suggesting that he would rightly see future federal budget deficits as a threat. His circle of advisers includes the admirable Robert Rubin, formerly Mr Clinton's treasury secretary. His only big spending plan, on health care, would probably be killed by a Republican Congress.... [O]n social policy, Mr Kerry has a clear advantage: unlike Mr Bush he is not in hock to the Christian right. That will make him a more tolerant, less divisive figure on issues such as abortion, gay marriage and stem-cell research.

The biggest questions, though, must be about foreign policy, especially in the Middle East.... [Kerry] has failed to offer any set of overall objectives for American foreign policy, though perhaps he could hardly oppose Mr Bush's targets of democracy, human rights and liberty. But instead he has merely offered a different process: deeper thought, more consultation with allies.

So what is Mr Kerry's character?.... His oscillations this year imply that he is more of a ruthless opportunist. His military record suggests he can certainly be decisive when he has to be and his post-Vietnam campaign showed determination. His reputation for political comebacks and as a strong finisher in elections also indicates a degree of willpower that his flip-flopping otherwise belies....

Many reader... will conclude that the safest option is to leave [Bush] in office.... But our confidence in him has been shattered.... [Kerry's] plan for the next phase in Iraq is identical to Mr Bush's, which speaks well of his judgment. He has been forthright about the need to win in Iraq, rather than simply to get out, and will stand a chance of making a fresh start in the Israel-Palestine conflict and (though with even greater difficulty) with Iran.... [T]here is a need in life for accountability. [Bush] has refused to impose it himself, and so voters should, in our view, impose it on him.... John Kerry, for all the doubts about him, would be in a better position to carry on with America's great tasks.

###

Now let us go and ululate our psychotic shrill screeds of Bush-hatred beneath the dead, uncaring stars!

UPDATE: Eminem Is WAY Shrill

Longtime readers have witnessed poor souls from all walks of life who have been driven mad by the mendacity, malevolence, incompetence, or simple disconnection from reality of the George W. Bush administration. But the conversion of our newest member is beyond words. We can only respond: welcome, Brother Eminem.

Gen. Wesley Clark, Uber-Shrill

Bush was quoted today saying the following without a hint of irony:

For a political candidate to jump to conclusions without knowing the facts is not a person you want as your commander in chief.

But before anyone could spin, Clark shrillfully pounced:

Today George W. Bush made a very compelling and thoughtful argument for why he should not be reelected. In his own words, he told the American people that "...a political candidate who jumps to conclusions without knowing the facts is not a person you want as your Commander in Chief."

President Bush couldn't be more right. He jumped to conclusions about any connection between Saddam Hussein and 911. He jumped to conclusions about weapons of mass destruction. He jumped to conclusions about the mission being accomplished. He jumped to conclusions about how we had enough troops on the ground to win the peace. And because he jumped to conclusions, terrorists and insurgents in Iraq may very well have their hands on powerful explosives to attack our troops, we are stuck in Iraq without a plan to win the peace, and Americans are less safe both at home and abroad.

By doing all these things, he broke faith with our men and women in uniform. He has let them down. George W. Bush is unfit to be our Commander in Chief.

Clark is by no means a moderate, but The Elders were tickled by the distilled shrillosity of the general's point.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Ambassador Peter Galbraith Is Shrill

Wow:

Peter Galbraith: IN 2003 I went to tell Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz what I had seen in Baghdad in the days following Saddam Hussein's overthrow. For nearly an hour, I described the catastrophic aftermath of the invasion -- the unchecked looting of every public institution in Baghdad, the devastation of Iraq's cultural heritage, the anger of ordinary Iraqis who couldn't understand why the world's only superpower was letting this happen.

I also described two particularly disturbing incidents -- one I had witnessed and the other I had heard about. On April 16, 2003, a mob attacked and looted the Iraqi equivalent of the Centers for Disease Control, taking live HIV and black fever virus among other potentially lethal materials. US troops were stationed across the street but did not intervene because they didn't know the building was important.

When he found out, the young American lieutenant was devastated. He shook his head and said, "I hope I am not responsible for Armageddon." About the same time, looters entered the warehouses at Iraq's sprawling nuclear facilities at Tuwaitha on Baghdad's outskirts. They took barrels of yellowcake (raw uranium), apparently dumping the uranium and using the barrels to hold water. US troops were at Tuwaitha but did not interfere.

There was nothing secret about the Disease Center or the Tuwaitha warehouses. Inspectors had repeatedly visited the center looking for evidence of a biological weapons program. The Tuwaitha warehouses included materials from Iraq's nuclear program, which had been dismantled after the 1991 Gulf War. The United Nations had sealed the materials, and they remained untouched until the US troops arrived.

The looting that I observed was spontaneous. Quite likely the looters had no idea they were stealing deadly biological agents or radioactive materials or that they were putting themselves in danger. As I pointed out to Wolfowitz, as long as these sites remained unprotected, their deadly materials could end up not with ill-educated slum dwellers but with those who knew exactly what they were doing.

This is apparently what happened. According to an International Atomic Energy Agency report issued earlier this month, there was "widespread and apparently systematic dismantlement that has taken place at sites previously relevant to Iraq's nuclear program." This includes nearly 380 tons of high explosives suitable for detonating nuclear weapons or killing American troops. Some of the looting continued for many months -- possibly into 2004. Using heavy machinery, organized gangs took apart, according to the IAEA, "entire buildings that housed high-precision equipment."

This equipment could be anywhere. But one good bet is Iran, which has had allies and agents in Iraq since shortly after the US-led forces arrived.

This was a preventable disaster. Iraq's nuclear weapons-related materials were stored in only a few locations, and these were known before the war began. As even L. Paul Bremer III, the US administrator in Iraq, now admits, the United States had far too few troops to secure the country following the fall of Saddam Hussein. But even with the troops we had, the United States could have protected the known nuclear sites. It appears that troops did not receive relevant intelligence about Iraq's WMD facilities, nor was there any plan to secure them. Even after my briefing, the Pentagon leaders did nothing to safeguard Iraq's nuclear sites.

I supported President Bush's decision to overthrow Saddam Hussein. At Wolfowitz's request, I helped advance the case for war, drawing on my work in previous years in documenting Saddam's atrocities, including the use of chemical weapons on the Kurds. In spite of the chaos that followed the war, I am sure that Iraq is better off without Saddam Hussein.

It is my own country that is worse off -- 1,100 dead soldiers, billions added to the deficit, and the enmity of much of the world. Someone out there has nuclear bomb-making equipment, and they may not be well disposed toward the United States. Much of this could have been avoided with a competent postwar strategy. But without having planned or provided enough troops, we would be a lot safer if we hadn't gone to war.

Peter W. Galbraith, a former US ambassador to Croatia, is a fellow at the Center For Arms Control and Non-Proliferation. In the 1980s, he documented Iraqi atrocities against the Kurds for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Monday, October 25, 2004

A Proposal to Shrill Naderites, Libertarians, And Other Third Party Faithful

As we have mentioned before, The Charter of our humble Order allows all walks of shrill in our secretive cult--just so long as the applicant passes the simple test of shrillness. Longtime readers know that this of course means that the poor soul has been driven mad by the mendacity, malevolence, incompetence, or simple disconnection from reality of the George W. Bush administration.

But it should be explicitly clarified that Our Manifesto does not require that said Brother or Sister support any particular challenger to the Bush regime. No, in fact, we welcome all creatures that live under the Clear Skies and among the Healthy Forests of this great nation. And even if you dislike Bush's competition only slightly less than Bush himself, there is a place for you by our fire.

Of course, should Bush prevail, our fire will be quickly extinguished by a dramatic rise in ocean levels, followed by locusts, famine, disease, and slow, painful death. And that’s if we're lucky.

We realize that there are those among us who--while most assuredly shrill--cannot stomach a vote that would violate their conscience or principles. To quote Elder Franken, "that's okay." The good news is that you can forestall the apocalypse for a few years and acheive your goals of bolstering a multi-party system by vote swapping. Brother Raskin at Slate explains the process.

We also feel it is our duty to note that one of the OS (Original Shrill), none other than Ralph Nader himself, supports this idea.

Joshua Micah Marshall's Shrillness Level: Now at 380 Chaits

There is nothing appropriate to say but Aaaiii! Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Joshua Micah Marshall R'lyeh wagn'nagl fhtagn! Aaaiii!!!

Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall: October 24, 2004 - October 30, 2004 Archives: ...the al Qa Qaa debacle... give the public one more view of the goofball buck-passing that has been such an asset to the president's administration? Look at the latest from Scott McClellan on Air Force One. This from CNN ... "White House spokesman Scott McClellan said President Bush wants to determine what went wrong. McClellan, on Air Force One, stressed that the missing explosives were not nuclear materials, and said the storage site was the responsibility of the interim Iraqi government, not the United States, as of June 28, when the United States turned over the nation's administration to the Iraqis."

This reminds me of when I wanted to know why my Palm Pilot stopped working after I dropped it in the bath tub. Doesn't this capture Bush's entire presidency? The thing happened more than a year ago, his administration has taken active steps to cover it up and now that the truth finally comes out, he 'wants to determine what went wrong.' The idea of accepting responsibility for anything is simply alien to the man. He doesn't even have the good grace to scam us by finding a scapegoat to pin the blame on. And what about Scott McClellan trying to pin it on the Iraqis? Does he not read the newspapers or does he think everyone else to too stupid to remember what they just read in them this morning. The stuff was taken more than a year before the Iraqis took over the US occupation authority. And even the highly-cautious Times piece makes clear that Jerry Bremer was told about it no later than May of this year.

Yes, he does think that the press corps is too stupid to remember what they just read in the newspapers this morning. He's probably right, too.

The Financial Times Is Shrill!

>Aaaiii! Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Financial Times R'lyeh wagn'nagl fhtagn! Aaaiii!!!!

FT.com / Comment & analysis / Editorial comment - The bursting of the Bush bubble: Over the past three years, the gap between ambition and reality has created what could be termed a "Bush bubble". It began after September 11 when the president united a stricken nation behind the struggle against radical Islamist terrorism. Yet success bred excess. Mr Bush launched a pre-emptive war against Iraq on a false prospectus. Few would dispute that the world is better off without Saddam Hussein, but the weapons of mass destruction cited as the casus belli appear a figment of the imagination. Mr Bush's vision of spreading democracy in the Middle East is a noble one, but the execution has been execrable. The occupation of Iraq looks like a rallying-point for the Islamic fundamentalists who are the real enemy.

The US needs allies in the struggle against terrorism but Mr Bush's crusading moralism has alienated the rest of the world, and a large constituency at home already fearful about the influence of the religious right. The scandal of Abu Ghraib has stained America's reputation for a generation. The administration's disdain for international law has shaken faith in American values. Overall, the US-led war on terror misreads the battle against al-Qaeda as a clash of civilisations rather than a battle within the Muslim world.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

A Chain Reaction of Shrillness of MegaChait Intensity

I used to think that I was not as shrill as Jon Chait: that my shrillness was not of the white-hot intensity of a thousand suns. Now it is. Impeach the f*****s. Impeach them tomorrow:

The New York Times > International > Middle East > Tracking the Weapons: Huge Cache of Explosives Vanished From Site in Iraq: The Iraqi interim government has warned the United States and international nuclear inspectors that nearly 380 tons of powerful conventional explosives - used to demolish buildings, produce missile warheads and detonate nuclear weapons - are missing from one of Iraq's most sensitive former military installations.

The huge facility, called Al Qaqaa, was supposed to be under American military control but is now a no-man's land, still picked over by looters as recently as Sunday. United Nations weapons inspectors had monitored the explosives for many years, but White House and Pentagon officials acknowledge that the explosives vanished after the American invasion last year.

The White House said President Bush's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, was informed within the past month that the explosives were missing. It is unclear whether President Bush was informed. American officials have never publicly announced the disappearance, but beginning last week they answered questions about it posed by The New York Times and the CBS News program "60 Minutes."

Administration officials said yesterday that the Iraq Survey Group, the C.I.A. task force that searched for unconventional weapons, has been ordered to investigate the disappearance of the explosives.

American weapons experts say their immediate concern is that the explosives could be used in major bombing attacks against American or Iraqi forces: the explosives, mainly HMX and RDX, could be used to produce bombs strong enough to shatter airplanes or tear apart buildings. The bomb that brought down Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988 used less than a pound of the material of the type stolen from Al Qaqaa, and somewhat larger amounts were apparently used in the bombing of a housing complex in November 2003 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and the blasts in a Moscow apartment complex in September 1999 that killed nearly 300 people.

The explosives could also be used to trigger a nuclear weapon, which was why international nuclear inspectors had kept a watch on the material, and even sealed and locked some of it. But the other components of an atom bomb - the design and the radioactive fuel - are more difficult to obtain. "This is a high explosives risk, but not necessarily a proliferation risk," one senior Bush administration official said.

The International Atomic Energy Agency publicly warned about the danger of these explosives before the war, and after the invasion it specifically told United States officials about the need to keep the explosives secured, European diplomats said in interviews last week. Administration officials say they cannot explain why the explosives were not safeguarded, beyond the fact that the occupation force was overwhelmed by the amount of munitions they found throughout the country....

We had enough troops, right? We always had enough troops: that's the line, right?

And the chain reaction begins, driving the intensity of the shrillness field beyond all possibility of measurement:

Michael Froomkin: Mistakes, Incompetence, and Coverup Beyond Fevered Imaginings: ...a staggering disaster which occurred in the early days of the US occupation of Iraq: someone stole 350 tons of RDX and HDX, highly specialized explosives. These materials are so powerful that only a few pounds suffices for a roadside bomb; do the math (2000 lbs to the ton) and that means the ‘insurgents’ in Iraq have got enough bomb power to carry them on basically forever. But that’s not the really bad news. The really bad news is that these specialized explosives are what countries use to make nuclear bombs. It’s well known that there are three basic obstacles to making a small nuclear weapon: getting the fissionable material, getting the specialized explosives needed to implode it in order to compress the fissionable material to criticality, and calculating the right amount of explosives to use. The number of people who know how to solve the last problem is increasingly large, and it’s increasingly easy to work it out from published material. Getting the fissionable material still takes some apparatus…unless you are a rogue state or unless those guys in the former Soviet Union are really selling fissionable materials on the black market like the rumors say. >Perhaps you are thinking that it’s wrong to blame the Bush administration for letting 350 tons of material vanish in the fog of war. Yes, that’s a lot of stuff, but Iraq is a big place, and perhaps you think we can’t expect them to keep track of everything. But this wasn’t a secret stash: it was under IAEA seal, they would or should have known about it, and one would expect any competent planner to make securing it a priority. But they didn’t. And that’s not all. What was the administration’s reaction to this debacle? It only gets worse. Having loosed this enormous stash of high explosive on the world, this enormous enabler of WMD-fueled terrorism, what did the administration do? It covered up. It didn’t even report the problem to the International Atomic Energy Association. And it pressured the Iraqi authorities to keep quiet, forestalling any disclosure by them until very recently, which means presumably that other countries were not on notice about this new threat any more than the American voter (unless, of course, word was slipped to our allies, but kept from the American voter)...

<

Joshua Micah Marshall: ...an administration version of events in which no one was put in charge of ascertaining what happened to the al Qa Qaa materials, then Iraqis mentioned it to Bremer in May but he seems not to have passed on word to anyone else, then Condi was told "within the past month" but it's not clear whether she told the president. If that's true, you've really gotta marvel at the chain of command this crew has in place. The whole thing is "I forgot", "I didn't know", "I didn't tell anybody", "It wasn't my responsibility", "What?" and so on. There even moments of refreshing candor like this line: "Administration officials say they cannot explain why the explosives were not safeguarded, beyond the fact that the occupation force was overwhelmed by the amount of munitions they found throughout the country." As I wrote earlier, there are very good reasons to disbelieve this Keystone Cops explanation for what happened.... But even if you accept this explanation on its face, I think it's almost worse.... The explosives at al Qa Qaa were one of the primary -- and much-publicized -- concerns of non-proliferation officials at the IAEA and elsewhere prior to the war. During and after the war there was apparently no effort to secure the facility or catalog its remaining contents. Then no one realized there was a problem until more than a year later when someone told Jerry Bremer. But he didn't tell anyone in Washington, or at least no one remembers. And then Condi Rice only found out about it within the last month, but it's not clear she told anyone (i.e., the president or other principals) either...

Linkmeister: Unfit for Command, Bush-style: Now we learn that not only were regular munitions dumps unguarded, but the site which held extraordinarily high explosives which "can be used in the triggering process for a nuclear weapon" was raided. Worse, the IAEA, which had the site "under seal" prior to the war, was not told of the theft of 350 tons of this stuff. Why not? A highly informed official offered the assessment that, "this is the stuff the bad guys have been using to kill our troops, so you can’t ignore the political implications of this, and you would be correct to suspect that politics, or the fear of politics, played a major role in delaying the release of this information."

Obsidian Wings: This Defies Belief.: 350 tons of extremely high explosives were looted from a site in Iraq that had been secured by the IAEA prior to the invasion. This has only come out now because the administration kept it secret and pressured Iraq not to disclose the fact... explosives... used to trigger nuclear weapons... "administration officials privately admit this material is likely a primary source of the lethal car bomb attacks which cause so many US and Iraqi casualties. (...) A highly informed official offered the assessment that, “this is the stuff the bad guys have been using to kill our troops, so you can’t ignore the political implications of this, and you would be correct to suspect that politics, or the fear of politics, played a major role in delaying the release of this information.” Also: "experts were reluctant to say exactly how much of this stuff it takes for a successful road side bomb, for example, but the guesstimates were “a few pounds, at most.” In other words, “with 350 tons out there, the bombing can go on for years...” Sources also discount any possibility except that “this was a highly organized operation using heavy equipment, and it was done right under our noses.”... its location, and what was there, was known to us before we invaded. What, exactly, were our troops doing that was more important than making sure terrorists didn't make off with 350 tons of very high explosives that can be used either to trigger a nuclear weapon or to kill our troops?... And is there any point at which those of you who support Bush will conclude that his administration has screwed too many things up too badly to be left in charge?...

The Kennebec Journal of Augusta, Maine Is Shrill And Unbalanced

George W. Bush: Excuse me, but how do you get from Augusta, Maine to the White House?

The KJ Editorial Board: Ya can't get they-ah from he-yah.

The presidency of George W. Bush is a disaster. It is time for him to be replaced by John F. Kerry.

Bush is not competent to continue serving in the highest office of the world's most powerful and richest nation.

His understanding of national and global affairs is frighteningly -- and embarrassingly -- inadequate. His domestic and foreign policies are much too radical.

In 2000, Bush won by promoting his "compassionate conservatism." He called himself "a uniter, not a divider."

Over the past four years, Bush has been the opposite. His extreme conservatism and partisanship have widened the divide among Americans.

The country cannot endure another four years of Bush's bold claims and unkept promises, which since January 2001 have resulted in tragedy after disaster after calamity.

Bush's own words throughout this campaign confirm that if he is elected, we can expect more of the same failings that have led us into an unjustifiable war in Iraq and produced economic, employment and health-care chaos at home.

Most of what Bush has done as president has come at huge human and economic expense.

In this, the first presidential election since Sept. 11, 2001, Kerry offers Americans the opportunity to go in a new direction.

Kerry is the right candidate for many reasons, one of which, yes, is that he is not George Bush.

Bush, after all, is the president who inherited a huge budget surplus, only to turn it into a record deficit that he is now promising to cut in half within five years. How, we have no idea.

Bush's tax cuts won applause from certain voters but have done little to stimulate the economy. The mild upswing the country is experiencing appears to be little more than the normal adjustment of an economic cycle.

These concerns, enormous as they are, pale to the biggest issue coming out of the Bush presidency: His hasty and inexplicable march to war in Iraq after terrorists -- with no connection to Iraq -- attacked the United States.

Today, almost 1,100 American troops are dead, another 9,000 members of the military and civilians are injured and tens of thousands of Iraqis have been injured or killed.

An end to the war is nowhere in sight. This makes tragic sense, given that Bush invaded Iraq without an exit plan. This debacle could last many more years, and almost certainly will if Bush is re-elected.

Because of Bush, every American is less safe. Meanwhile, the United States has lost much of the world's respect and squandered virtually all of the sympathy and support that other nations felt for us following Sept. 11.

All of this leaves no doubt that the country must have a leader who makes better decisions. Kerry can be that leader.

Unfortunately, pettiness and ridicule, especially from Bush, have been the rules for much of the campaign. Each campaign, and the news media, became obsessed with Bush's and Kerry's decades-old military records instead of focusing squarely on who and what these men are today.

Despite what Bush would have you think, Kerry has had a long and distinguished career in the U.S. Senate and, before that, as lieutenant governor and an assistant district attorney in Massachusetts.

His is a logical, pay-as-you-go approach to governance. Unlike Bush, Kerry abhors the creation of enormous debts -- trillions of dollars -- that our children and their children will have to pay back. This is why Kerry has voted repeatedly in the Senate to control spending and, thus, deficits.

Kerry finds it a national disgrace that almost 50 million Americans -- about one in six -- do not have health insurance. His plan to reduce this seems workable.

Kerry is also the best candidate for voters who are concerned about the environment, maintaining a woman's right to choose whether to have an abortion, protecting gay rights, controlling government intrusion into private citizens' lives, developing an energy plan that looks beyond immediate needs, and making sure we have federal judges and Supreme Court justices who will preserve the intent of the U.S. Constitution rather than use it as a means to turn back the clock.

Kerry is also right when he says that Bush's tax breaks, which have disproportionately benefited the richest Americans, make no sense when the nation is drowning in deficits and paying $1 billion a week for a war that this president started.

We also endorse Kerry because, unlike Bush, he is not cozy with -- and looking to protect -- corporate America; he has a plan for creating better jobs and for further reforming welfare; he will not ignore the growing number of families living in poverty; and he understands and encourages science's role in curing sickness and disease.

Bush calls Kerry a flip-flopper. True, there have been times when the Democratic senator has finessed his words to the point they are unclear or in conflict with other things he has said. Most notably: "I actually did vote for his $87 billion, before I voted against it."

This only means that Kerry, who leaves Bush in the Texas dust when it comes to a command of the language, needs to remember that every quote or sound bite can be held against him.

The flip-flopper charge grew old months ago. Bush kept it front and center, however, because it distracted attention from his efforts to change the country and the world through his extreme policies.

Kerry is the right person to lead the nation as it struggles to recover economically, to regain its standing internationally and to find its way in Iraq -- all critical areas where Bush has performed miserably, even recklessly.

Kerry is a skilled, steady leader in the face of adversity. He understands the importance of adjusting as circumstances dictate.

Four years of President Bush have bought the country to its knees in many ways and in many places.

If Americans want to again stand tall and proudly, they should vote for John F. Kerry on Nov. 2.

Tommy Franks's Lies Have Driven Senator Graham Shrill!

Just one eentsy-weentsy lie by a Republican ex-general, and Senator Bob Graham succumbs to shrillness:

The New York Times > Opinion > Bush at War: Eye on the Ball?: To the Editor:

Re "War of Words," by Tommy Franks (Op-Ed, Oct. 19):

John Kerry is correct that resources were diverted from Afghanistan to Iraq before we accomplished our mission there. How can I be so sure? General Franks told me.

In my new book, "Intelligence Matters," I describe the moment that made me doubt the president's commitment to winning the war on terror.

On Feb. 19, 2002, I visited Central Command headquarters for a briefing on our mission in Afghanistan. After an upbeat assessment with maps, photographs and video, however, General Franks asked for an additional private word in his office. "Senator,'' he said, "we are not engaged in a war in Afghanistan. ...Military and intelligence personnel are being redeployed to prepare for an action in Iraq. ... The Predators are being relocated. What we are doing is a manhunt."

General Franks was telling me this 13 months before the beginning of combat operations in Iraq, and only four months after the beginning of combat in Afghanistan.

President Bush, when asked in his first debate with Senator Kerry whether he had made removing Saddam Hussein a higher priority than capturing Osama bin Laden, said, "We've got the capability of doing both."

If we had truly been able to do both, military and intelligence resources would not have been diverted from Afghanistan, and Osama bin Laden wouldn't be continuing to exhort his followers to greater acts of terror; he, like Saddam Hussein, would be in American hands.

Bob Graham
Washington, Oct. 22, 2004
The writer, a Florida Democrat, is a former chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Wow. Diana Moon Is Actually Too Shrill

Deep in the sub-basement beneath the Occult and Hermetic Corporate High-Rise Offices of the Shrill, dark and forbidden experiments are conducted into the fundamental nature of shrillness itself. In our cryogenics laboratory, we cool weblogs down to absolute zero, until quantum effects take over and enable them to conduct Bush-hatred without any resistance. With our powerful linear accelerator, we can accelerate Joe Conason essays to near-light speed and smash them into a collection of Mark Steyn's musical theater reviews, in order to study the behavior of the sub-shrillionic particles thereby created. And there are other experiments too ... darker, and more forbidden than these ... so dark and forbidden that I am not even allowed to leaf through my thesaurus looking for the perfect synonyms for "dark" and "forbidden" which would convey to you just how dark and forbidden they really are. Let's just say that however dark and forbidden you think they are, you could multiply that by fifty and not even be close to the true darkness and forbiddenosity of these experiments. And, even after I've told you this, and you've multiplied your previous estimate by fifty and then a whole bunch more, you still aren't close, although you are certainly much closer than you were before. You were waaaaay off back then. It was really pathetic.

Why do we perform these horrifying and daemonic experiments? Oh, high spirits, mostly. You know. Something to do, keeps us off the streets, that sort of thing. But there is a serious purpose as well: to probe to the very limits of Quantum Shrillodynamics, and try to answer questions that our current theoretical framework is unable to deal with. Questions such as: can a person ever be too shrill? As it turns out, the answer is "yes", one can be too shrill, and Diana Moon, upon reading a NY Times article about Republican efforts to challenge voters in Ohio, has become too shrill. Behold!

I'VE HAD IT. Up until now, I've been resolutely opposed, adamantly opposed, to facile equations between the Republicans and the Nazis. Until I read this.

So, I'll say it. The Republican Party under BushBakerRove is the Nazi Party of the United States of America. Underneath that smiling Christian face are fascist, Nazi fangs, dripping with blood.
Actually, no. As potentially unpleasant as this Ohio business is, it is a democratic paradise in comparison to 1930's Germany - and to 1930's America, for that matter. And despite some rather facile analogies of manner one could make - totalitarian tendencies here and there; an upsetting predisposition to blind hero-worship of Bush in certain circles; and the fact that, were it not for unfortunate historical echoes, a decent 4-word slogan for the Bush re-election campaign would be "triumph of the will" - there is no reasonable analogy of scale between the modern-day Republican Party and the Nazis. The modern Republican Party leadership is much, much, much better than the Nazis, probably better than Vladimir Putin, and not too much worse than the Republican Party of Nixon and McCarthy 50 years ago. It is important to remember that in 2 short weeks these people are going to voted out of office, soon to be but a memory, and it will be much easier for everyone moving forward if we don't have intemperate charges of Nazism on our consciences.

But this is not the real problem; the real problem is this: shrilly comparing republicans to Nazis is not only too shrill - it is also, paradoxically, not shrill enough. It is, in fact, but a pale shadow of true shrillness, which can only come from contemplation of the mendacity, malevolence, incompetence and simple disconnection from reality of the Bush administration. Looking for Nazi parallels blinds us to the fact that the Bush administration is made up of dishonest, incapable, easily-duped buffoonish ideologues, and takes up free time that could be more usefully spent ululating mindlessly to the dead, uncaring stars. If anyone else is having problems with excessive shrillness, I suggest you draw yourself a nice, hot, bubble bath, put your favorite Tangerine Dream LP on the turntable, close your eyes, and meditate on the mellowing image Thomas Friedman's moderate mustache until you feel better. You will be glad you did.

[UPDATE: Oops - Tom Friedman is shrill. Well, I don't know what to tell you. Try going for a walk or something.]

Back-Door Draft Victims Increasingly Shrill

Republican soldier serves honorably for eight years, fulfilling his commitments, and then leaves in June of 2004. This week he gets order to report to Iraq. Shrill lawsuit ensues:

A decorated Army captain asked a judge yesterday to bar the military from sweeping him up in a "back-door draft" and shipping him off to Iraq on Monday.

Jay Ferriola, a 31-year-old Manhattan resident, handed in his resignation in June after eight years of active and reserve duty, according to the suit filed in Manhattan Federal Court.

But even though his commanding officer recommended that he be granted a discharge, the military never sent out the paperwork, the suit says, and on Tuesday, Ferriola got orders dated Oct. 8 sending him to war.

Ferriola's suit says the order in unconsitutional and amounts to "involuntary servitude." "I complied with my obligation," he said. "I never intended to make a career of the Army. I want to pursue other careers in civilian life."

Attorney Barry Slotnick said Ferriola, a registered Republican, is not motivated by fear or opposition to the war but wants the Army to uphold the contract it signed with him in 1993. "He has served his country heroically and patriotically," Slotnick said.

"At no time prior to his resignation or during the pendency of his resignation was Mr. Ferriola ever informed that he or his unit were on alert or placed under stop-loss," the suit says. "He was asked to turn in his issue equipment and was told that he was no longer required to report for monthly drills."

The definition of the word 'volunteer' is edging towards honorary membership in The Order.

Judd Legum Is Shrill

Judd Legum is shrill and has 100 Facts and 1 Opinion: The Non-Arguable Case Against the Bush Administration.

Abu Aardvark Is Shrill

I did not know that Aardvarks, or their fathers, had vocal cords that were capable of emitting shrill sounds. But it turns out that they do:

Abu Aardvark: The Election Made Simple: Torture1

Vote for this or against it.

It really isn't that complicated.

The world is watching. The world wants to know which America is the real America: the one which offers a vision of a better world, a more liberal and free world, a safer and more just world... or the one in this picture, a world brought to you by George Bush and his administration and for which no-one of any consequence has been held accountable.

Vote for one.

A Bose-Einstein Condensate of Shrillness!

A mysterious laboratory accident has turned mild-mannered physics professor Chad Orzel into 6.02 x 10^23 shrillatons, all phasing in lockstep with identical wave functions:

Uncertain Principles: There's an interesting post over at Making Light, analzying the Bush Administration in terms of pointy-haired boss psychology and the motivational posters.... [T]here was some discussion of the myth of the self-made man, and its importance in American political culture.

That, together with a College Republicans recruiting poster boasting a picture of George Bush in such soft focus it looked like it was shot through waxed paper, reminded me of the biggest puzzling thing about right wing politics: Why is it that a movement that relies so heavily on the rhetoric of individual achievement falls so easily into the cult of personality?

I mean, I look at this election, and the personal veneration of George Bush on the right is just profoundly creepy. It's all about him-- his personal faith, his moral clarity, his "doctrine" for foreign policy. The message is that you should vote for him because he is personally superior.

And yet, if you ask for reasons to support conservative policies independent of Bush personally, what you get is the rhetoric of individual achievement: conservatism is all about allowing individuals to take power over their own lives, and removing the heavy hand of the State from personal business (except where it's needed to squash uppity homosexuals), to allow every American the chance to become a self-made man. And yet, with few exceptions, these rugged individualists fall into lock step behind anything the Bush administration proposes, no matter how badly they need to contort basic logic to do so....

Of course, you could argue that it's always been this way-- the Cult of Reagan makes Bush's supporters almost look sane. It also extends to lower levels of discourse.... I think this is part of why I'm so creeped out by right-wing politics (that, plus the theocratic social policies). I could sort of buy some of the individual responsibility stuff (I think they take it way too far, but it's not all bad), but I find it hard to reconcile the rhetoric of individuality with the politics of personal veneration. I can't help thinking that a real devotion to individual freedom and personal responsibility should lead to at least an occasional disagreement on a major policy issue, but they just keep falling in line...

Somebody needs to shut down the main power switch before he begins talking about the "Leadership Principle" as the foundation of right-wing politics and commits a Godwin's Law violation...

Bush Lies Drive Josh Micah Marshall Shriller!

It is hard to believe that Josh Micah Marshall was once fired from the American Prospect for not being a shrill enough critic of George W.Bush:

Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall: October 17, 2004 - October 23, 2004 Archives: Last night when discussing the White House's truth-bending revisionism on Tora Bora, I wrote that I had been "pretty skeptical of the Bush team's revisionism on this

 
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  count since the outlines of the Kerry critique have been a commonplace in national security and counter-terrorism circles for literally years."

You'll remember that what I'm referring to here as 'Kerry's critique' is the charge that the US let bin Laden get away at Tora Bora because we 'outsourced' the job to local warlords and militiaman. The Bush campaign is now calling that a lie. Dick Cheney says it's "absolute garbage" and the campaign has enlisted retired general and now Bush surrogate Tommy Franks to help back their case.

Now Steve Soto points out one more reason why I and other who've followed this story for years were so skeptical.

Look at the lede of this Washington Post article from April 17, 2002 ...

The Bush administration has concluded that Osama bin Laden was present during the battle for Tora Bora late last year and that failure to commit U.S. ground troops to hunt him was its gravest error in the war against al Qaeda, according to civilian and military officials with first-hand knowledge.

That really says it all.

And there's more.

Was bin Laden there, a claim Cheney and the Bush campaign now discount or treat as mere speculation?

Again from the Post: "Intelligence officials have assembled what they believe to be decisive evidence, from contemporary and subsequent interrogations and intercepted communications, that bin Laden began the battle of Tora Bora inside the cave complex along Afghanistan's mountainous eastern border."

The article goes on to say that though the administration had never publicly acknowledged that bin Laden slipped the noose in this way, "inside the government there is little controversy on the subject."

Then the paper quotes a government official "giving an authoritative account of the intelligence consensus," who says that, "I don't think you can ever say with certainty, but we did conclude he was there, and that conclusion has strengthened with time."

And as to the issue of outsourcing?

One more time from the article ...

After-action reviews, conducted privately inside and outside the military chain of command, describe the episode as a significant defeat for the United States. A common view among those interviewed outside the U.S. Central Command is that Army Gen. Tommy R. Franks, the war's operational commander, misjudged the interests of putative Afghan allies and let pass the best chance to capture or kill al Qaeda's leader. Without professing second thoughts about Tora Bora, Franks has changed his approach fundamentally in subsequent battles, using Americans on the ground as first-line combat units.

In the fight for Tora Bora, corrupt local militias did not live up to promises to seal off the mountain redoubt, and some colluded in the escape of fleeing al Qaeda fighters. Franks did not perceive the setbacks soon enough, some officials said, because he ran the war from Tampa with no commander on the scene above the rank of lieutenant colonel. The first Americans did not arrive until three days into the fighting. "No one had the big picture," one defense official said.

I quote here at length for a simple reason, to make a simple. Though we cannot in the nature of things have absolute certainty about bin Laden's whereabouts, there is little doubt that bin Laden was there. We had a "reasonable certainty" he was there when the critical decisions were being made. And subsequent intelligence has only tended to confirm that belief. As to the issue of 'outsourcing,' the claim is unquestionably true. And it is widely believed that this was a key reason for the failure to capture bin Laden.

One might well argue, we hadn't hunted a bin Laden before. And I don't mean that flippantly. Had the Afghan tribesmen killed OBL in those hills, the decision might have seemed an inspired one, since it no doubt saved American lives. Perhaps a Gore or a Kerry administration would have made the same mistake.

What you simply cannot say is that the whole thing never happened. And yet that is precisely what the president and the vice president are now doing: Simply denying everything. Who you gonna believe? Me or your lyin' eyes?

They are, in old fashioned English, lying.

And the major news outlets covering the campaign -- as nearly as I've seen so far -- are just treating the disagreement as a he said/(s)he said in which both sides' arguments have equal merit.

Sums up the whole campaign.

Conservative Daniel Drezner Is Shrill

Dan Drezner started out in September 2002 as a hard core, sneering Bushie:

danieldrezner.com :: Daniel W. Drezner :: September 2002 Archives: I had a very, very peripheral role on the Bush foreign policy team during the 2000 campaign [You were one of the Vulcans?--ed. Hardly. I helped out on some preliminary debate prep for one of my former Stanford profs who now happens to be National Security Advisor. We were called the Young Turks.] The point is, during the campaign, I pored over a lot of what Gore was saying about foreign policy during the campaign. I obviously disagreed with some of it, but certainly not all of it. I thought it was competent.

Gore's speech on Iraq, however, is not competent. Or coherent. Or consistent with Gore's previous musings on the topic. It's a grab-bag of objections, none of which has a great deal of substance (it also looks like it was drafted three weeks ago and no one bothered to update it in light of recent developments]. My personal favorite, for example, is the claim that, "Great nations persevere and then prevail. They do not jump from one unfinished task to another. We should remain focused on the war against terrorism." Gee, I thought great powers were capable of doing more than one thing at a time. That's why they're called great powers. As for the facts, funny how in the same week that Bush promoted dealing with Iraq, significant progress was made on breaking Al-Qaida's back. Great powers can walk and chew gum at the same time.

This speech perfectly captures David Brooks' point that many of those opposed to Iraq are not making serious arguments. I disagreed with Gore before, but I did think he was serious. Not now.

Gore's inchoate speech makes me wonder if the paranoids who believe in the vast, right-wing conspiracy are actually correct. Maybe Gore is actually a Republican stooge, designed to thwart The Emerging Democratic Majority by tying Democrats up in knots every time they seem to acquire political momentum...

But now Dan Drezner is SHRILL!!!! His shrill screeds of Bush hatred poison flowers for miles around! Mwuhahahahaha! Aaaiii! Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Drezner R'lyeh wagn'nagl fhtagn! Aaaiii!!!!

danieldrezner.com :: Daniel W. Drezner :: I've made up my mind: My anger at Bush for the number of Mongolian clusterf***s this administration was discovered to have made in the planning process in the runup to Iraq was compounded by the even greater number of Mongolian clusterf***s the administration made in the six months after the invasion, topped off by George Bush's decision not to fire the clusterf***s in the civilian DoD leadership that insisted over the past two years that not a lot of troops were needed in the Iraqi theatre.... The failure by Rumsfeld and his subordinates to comprehend that occupation and statebuilding requires different resources, strategies and tactics than warfighting boggles my mind....

Maybe, maybe someone could give administration officials a pass in making that assumption. But once they realized that the Afghanistan analogy wasn't working, they never questioned their assumptions...