Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps? (Yet Another New Republic Edition)

Could someone please stop the New Republic? In its pages, Edward Luttwak says that (i) Reagan was a true genius, (ii) Jeane Kirkpatrick was the master strategist of the modern age, and (iii) Jeane Kirkpatrick was the only real neoconservative--the rest are poseurs. He says this at 4000 words. And the New Republic prints it.

Never have I been happier that my New Republic subscription fees are now going to support Spencer Ackerman.

Here's the tape:

Edward Luttwak: Power and Prudence: Jeane J. Kirkpatrick became famous as the Reagan administration's combative ambassador to the United Nations from 1981 to 1985, but few believed that the almost gamine former college professor could have much of a voice in shaping foreign policy, what with tough guy Al Haig and big man George Shultz in command at the State Department, and successive National Security Advisers happy to keep her in New York making noisy speeches while they quietly made policy in the White House. The implicit assumption of that line of reasoning was that the late-to-rise and early-to-bed Ronald Reagan himself was not all that important in the Reagan administration, so that even if it were true that he had a particular regard for Kirkpatrick, it would hardly matter. Besides, few believed the tale that Reagan had appointed her after reading her pieces in Commentary--that magazine's articles run to several pages, after all, and Reagan supposedly read so little that as president he even received his daily intelligence briefing in the form of bite-sized videos. With Reagan a mere cipher manipulated by his handlers, Kirkpatrick could have no White House support against powerful men with bureaucracies to serve them, and therefore no power.

The newly published Reagan diaries overturn all of the above. We encounter a shrewd and watchful president...

OK. Stop it there. The newly published Reagan diaries do no such thing. Consider: Ronald Reagan on the Caribbean! Ronald Reagan on Free Trade! Ronald Reagan on the Imminent Coming of the Lord! Ronald "I Never Wanted to Trade Weapons for Hostages" Reagan! Ronald Reagan on the Budget Deficit! Ronald Reagan on Survivable Total Thermonuclear War! Ronald Reagan on Ambassador Hinton!

Now we can resume:

...who treated Kirkpatrick as a valuable colleague in reforming the status quo at the United Nations, in which the members of the "non-aligned bloc" collected their American aid before firmly aligning their votes with the Soviet Union on almost every issue, decorating the proceedings with frequent diatribes against the United States. Observing today's ultra-tame United Nations, where inferiority complexes are vented only in such hopeless sub-venues as the Human Rights Council (China, Cuba, and Saudi Arabia are members, the United States is not), one can scarcely imagine the General Assembly follies of those days, in which the perfumed representatives of smelly dictatorships competed in devising new accusations against the United States. The State Department thought all this was inevitable and harmless, and it vehemently opposed any strong response at the United Nations, let alone bilateral reprisals such as cutting aid. But Reagan did not agree, and he firmly supported Kirkpatrick's counter-attacks....

Even after [she resigned in 1985] she retained her access and her influence....

[F]or the anti-Semitic commentators from Washington to London to Tehran who keep saying that it was not really Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, or Rice who decided to invade Iraq but rather their subordinates with Jewish names, "neoconservative" is merely a euphemism for the eternally conspiring Jew, and Kirkpatrick obviously does not fit the bill. But there is another valid definition of a foreign policy neoconservative: a prudent activist. A resilient optimism about the United States and its potential to do good was the source of the activism, while an erudite knowledge of the complexities of the world induced prudence....

There is no point in prolonging the suspense... Kirkpatrick firmly opposed the Iraq War II of Bush II after vigorously supporting the Iraq War I of Bush I... because she was careful, as befits a true neoconservative...

[S]he recognized no compelling reason to send American troops in harm's way in any of the arguments advanced for the war.... Above all, Kirkpatrick (like the present writer) totally rejected the true motive of the war, which was to establish a successful democracy in the heart of the Arab world, to lead the way for the democratization of all the Arab states....

We may be certain that many a secretary in the Pentagon did more research on her next holiday destination than Secretary Rumsfeld and his officials did on Iraq before sending scores of thousands of Americans to visit the place. I was myself present at a pre-war military planning session in which it became clear that a couple of junior infantry officers who had done a few days of Internet searching knew more... than the proponents of the war.... An immediate withdrawal after the destruction of the regime was never a possible option, while it was and is absurd to employ much of the deployable strength of the U.S. Army and Marine Corps as a Mesopotamian constabulary sine die...

Why Ashcroft Threatened to Resign

Gavin McNett writes:

I'm just going to say this for the record. Please include this in your investigations and calculations.... The program that Ashcroft nearly resigned over included a component that clueless reporters are calling 'data mining,' but that was based on modern social-networking tech.

It worked legally and empirically like this: If Bin Laden's cousin's ex-chauffeur emailed the sister-in-law of someone who emailed John Kerry's campaign director, it was 'fair game' to read that campaign director's emails.

I researched this last year with phone and notebook, and what I'm saying now represents the consensus of the intelligence community, circa '06.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Lisa Shiffren Drives Matthew Yglesias and Commentors Shrill!

Yglesias writes:

Worst Corner Post Ever?: I think this is a pretty strong contender. Let's consider that this -- "my own view is that, considering the efforts all candidates go to in creating their image, discussing what they wear and whether they display cleavage at work, or ever, in their quest to make the nation comfortable with the idea of them holding ultimate power is legit" -- isn't even the most ridiculous thing Lisa Shiffren says.

And commentors:

Most ridiculous part: "It also displays just a tiny bit of internal conflict about whether she wishes to be Leader of the Free World or a still attractive woman of a certain age." Gawd help me, but it's so awful that it's kind of awesome. Anyway, "Worst Corner Post" is kind of a cheat. The competition of the moment is "dumbest thing ever written by anyone in any venue." I think Applebaum beats Slaughter by several lengths, but Atrios is right to note that Henley hasn't considered most of the serious contenders. Posted by SomeCallMeTim | July 28, 2007 3:22 PM

I thought I was having an acid flashback reading Shiffren's post. Posted by Ben Cronin | July 28, 2007 3:25 PM

Are we to presume that if the candidates spent no time on grooming and clothing that none of our "serious" pundits would have anything to say? Posted by MikeJ | July 28, 2007 3:31 PM

And the line between right-wing politics and Cosmopolitan blurs just a little bit more. Are we really going to have a second week focused on Hillary's chest? Also--nice touch throwing in the deceased mother-in-law. Posted by danimal | July 28, 2007 3:40 PM

To me the most depressing thing about the post is actually the characteristic reflex reference to the U.S. president "holding ultimate power" which fairly encapsulates the worldview of today's leader-worshiping Right. Posted by Bill | July 28, 2007 4:31 PM

Friday, July 27, 2007

Shrill Movie of the Week: Phil Carter Reviews Charles Ferguson's "No End in Sight"

Phil Carter has seen the movie, and thinks it is your duty as a citizen of the United States of America to see it:

INTEL DUMP - Review: "No End in Sight": On Tuesday, I attended a screening of the new Iraq documentary "No End in Sight" in Los Angeles which was co-sponsored by the Center for American Progress and USC's Center for Public Diplomacy. (The movie is reviewed today in the New York Times.) Bottom line up front: go see this movie. It presents the history of the Iraq war in clear, sober, and vivid footage, and makes a compelling argument that we are past the point of "winnability" (whatever that means) today in Iraq...

The Belgravia Dispatch Channels Shrill Conservative Bruce Fein, Who Wants Bush and Cheney Impeached Long Ago!!

The Belgravia Dispatch: Sane Conservatives: They Still Exist: Bruce Fein, a real conservative, has been on fire recently. Witness today, in the opinion pages of the FT:

To borrow from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, upon what meat doth this our vice-president, Dick Cheney, feed that he has grown so great? Mr Cheney’s imperial vice-presidency has trampled the conservative constitutional philosophy of the Founding Fathers. He has used the law to evade checks and balances. For example, he declared himself part of the legislative branch – as president of the US Senate – to exempt his office from President George W. Bush’s order governing classified information. But days later he draped himself in the mantle of the presidency to defend the confidentiality of vice-presidential communications and claim immunity from suit for any constitutional violations.

The constitution entrusts the vice-president with a single puny chore: to preside over the Senate, without a vote except to break ties. Occupants of the vice-presidency have bewailed its insignificance. Their typical tasks have been handing out blankets after earthquakes and attending state funerals. Presidents have been characteristically jealous of their constitutional turf.

Mr Bush is a monumental exception. He entered politics not because of philosophical conviction or even a raw desire for power, but for a lack of anything better to do. His policies fluctuate like a human weather vane. Mr Bush eagerly agreed to Mr Cheney’s tacit demand that the lion’s share of the presidency be outsourced to the vice-president’s office. Unlike Mr Bush, Mr Cheney craves unchecked power....

...Chastened by his time as chief of staff in a weakened White House under President Gerald Ford after Watergate, Mr Cheney has endeavoured to aggrandise the executive at the expense of Congress and the judiciary. He has urged the people to trust the Cheney-Bush duumvirate to act wisely and benevolently.

But what about the Iraqi quagmire; Abu Ghraib; the National Security Agency’s unrestricted spying on Americans in contravention of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act; the detention of citizens and non-citizens as enemy combatants on the president’s say-so alone; claiming the US as a battlefield where lethal military force can be employed to kill or maim al-Qaeda suspects; playing judge, jury and prosecutor and using secret evidence in the trials of war crimes; creating a secretive government shielded from legal or political accountability by the invocation of executive privilege or state secrets; and secretly kidnapping and imprisoning terrorist suspects abroad? To justify these misadventures and excesses, the vice-president has vastly inflated the dangers of international terrorism.

But the Cheney doctrine of an unchecked presidency is now unravelling. The Supreme Court has rebuked the executive branch over military commissions and its unfettered authority to detain citizens as enemy combatants. A federal appeals court has held that resident aliens may not be detained indefinitely as enemy combatants without accusation or trial. On Capitol Hill, Congress is demanding White House documents and witnesses pertinent to the firing of US attorneys and the legal rationale for the NSA’s spying on Americans. A popular and congressional crescendo is growing against keeping US troops in Iraq. Some Republicans are scheming to remove Mr Cheney from office prior to the November 2008 elections. And the vice-president’s approval rating is minuscule and plunging.

Congress is too timid and constitutionally illiterate to be awakened to the need to impeach Mr Cheney for his acts against the nation. Like old soldiers, he will simply fade away after the expiry of his term, but probably in disrepute. Whether any of the Cheney doctrine will survive is uncertain. The events of September 11 2001 are still distorting the judgments of many Americans and office-holders.

Right-Wing Talk Show Hosts Drive Duncan Black into Shrill Unholy Madness

At Eschaton:

Eschaton: Nancy Boyda: And finally, I would just like to share a story. When I was speaking back at home with one of a very right wing conservative talk show hosts and after, thank God, after we were off the air, I said something that I assumed he would agree with and I just said ‘you know, I’m really worried about these guys and gals, but mainly guys, that have gone, that they’ve been redeployed now three and four times’ — he came back to me and said ‘you know what, they should have thought about that before they enlisted, before they signed up.’ He said ‘it’s their fault.’

Power Cuts in Baghdad: Juan Cole and Andrew Sullivan Are Shrill

Andrew Sullivan channels Juan Cole. Both are shrill:

The Daily Dish: Juan Cole is in a good mood:

The LA Times reports that Baghdadis are down to one or two hours of electricity a day, but that the Bush administration will no longer be measuring or reporting on that sort of local data. It will give Congress only the general statistic for the entire country. But obviously whether the capital has electricity would help you know whether the current policies are working.

But we're not trying to find out whether current policies are working, are we? The Decider has decided they are. Our job is to give him the money and shut up. More protests about government information black-out on the power black-outs here, here and here...

Dana Milbank Drives Mark Kleiman Shrill!

It's his failure to cover the "executive privilege" issue coherently:

The Reality-Based Community: Is it something in the water?: Dana Milbank is a good, competent reporter. It's not a secret to him that the Bush Administration is monumentally lawless and corrupt.

But instead of reporting on the confrontation between BushCo and a newly energized Congress committed to performing its oversight function, Milbank gives us 25 grafs of pure snark and sneer, clearly implying that Congress is a contemptible institution.

The story starts and ends with nasty, feeble humor:

There's a reason why being in contempt of Congress is classified as a misdemeanor.

... if most Americans were to express their true feelings about Congress, they'd be guilty of a misdemeanor.

Ha. Ha. Ha.

At no point does Milbank suggest what it is he thinks the House Judiciary Committee is doing wrong, or what he thinks the Committee should do instead, in the face of Administration stonewalling. Nor does he make an argument about why the Congress shouldn't be concerned about whether it will win or lose the coming Constitutional clash. Instead, he sneers about the tendency to "discuss the forthcoming court battle as if it were a prizefight."

Milbank "even-handedly" expresses his contempt both for the Democrats attempting to uphold the Constitution and for the Republicans attempting to subvert it. But of course in an institutional confrontation between the Congress and the Presidency, slamming all Members of Congress indiscriminately favors the Presidency: an institution no respectable Washington reporter would dare denounce in such sloppy fashion. The story couldn't better serve Karl Rove's purposes if he had written it himself.

Milbank isn't entirely even-handed even among Congressfolk: he offers his only word of praise is a for a Sensenbrenner proposal that would tie the "executive privilege" question up in a lawsuit that would allow the Administration to run out the clock. The fact that the President has just ordered the Justice Department not to do what a long-standing statute requires it to do — refer a contempt citation to a grand jury — is not so much as hinted at. The underlying scandal — the political skulduggery around the U.S. Attorney firings and the ludicrously incompetent cover-up, featuring multiple perjuries — is never mentioned.

Is this really what it takes to keep your standing among the Washington Kool Kidz and your column in the Washington Post.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Joe Klein's Attacks on Paul Krugman Have Driven Glenn Greenwald into Shrill Unholy Madness!

Greenwald starts by quoting Klein today:

Joe Klein: [A]mong certain precincts in the blogosphere -- those prohibitively clever sorts who opine daily and endlessly about journalism without doing any reporting (or much thinking) about it -- a new epithet: serious. This is meant to convey disdain for those of us who grant undue credibility to people in positions of authority or people of moderate political views.... But... [I] will continue to use "serious" as I always have, unironically. Usually. To my mind, being a "serious person" means the following: you study the facts on the ground, you study the history, you take into account opinions on all sides -- not just your side -- and then you come to a conclusion. Essentially, that's what I try to do, and also the people I admire...

In Greenwald's view, this misses the point entirely:

Glenn Greenwald: [T]he term "Serious" when wielded by Beltway denizens is nothing more than a cheap and manipulative tactic to demonize those with non-Beltway-approved views without actually doing the work to demonstrate that those views are wrong. Beltway "Seriousness" has nothing whatever to do with the studious and careful methods one uses to reach conclusions. It has everything to do with the ideologically correct nature of the beliefs and, much more importantly still, the Authority and Place in the Beltway Court of those who are expressing them. That is how, prior to the invasion of Iraq, Howard Dean and other war opponents became so terribly "unserious" while Bill Kristol, Peter Beinert, Jonah Goldberg, Charles Krauthammer, the Brookings Institution, Joe Lieberman, Newt Gingrich and Dick Cheney were Very Very Serious.... Klein thinks that he is mocked as "Serious" because he does too much work studying ideas and information. Actually, the opposite is true....

Several days ago, I referenced a Joe Klein post from January in which he called Paul Krugman an "ill-informed dilettante" and said Krugman made "a fool of himself" when Krugman argued against the Surge. Illustrating the Virtues of Beltway Seriousness, Klein complained that Krugman failed to study the Complex, Important Issues surrounding the Surge, unlike Serious Analysts like himself, Bill Kristol and Fred Kagan...

Here's Klein from 1.1 Friedman units ago:

Joe Klein: I'm afraid I'm going to get cranky about this: The Democrats who oppose the so-called "surge" are right. But they have to be careful not to sound like ill-informed dilettantes when talking about it. The latest to make a fool of himself is Paul Krugman... who argues that those who favor the increase in troops are either cynical or delusional... like Bill Kristol and Fred Kagan.... But what about retired General Jack Keane--whom Krugman doesn't mention--and the significant number of military intellectuals who have favored a labor-intensive counterinsurgency strategy in Baghdad for the past three years? They are serious people. They may be wrong about Iraq now, reflexively trying to complete a mission that has been lost, but they are not delusional. The counterinsurgency doctrine they published in 2006 is exactly what the U.S. military should be doing in places like Afghanistan.... Kagan and Kristol... at least they've taken the trouble to read the doctrine and talk to key players like Keane and General David Petraeus. Liberals won't ever be trusted on national security until they start doing their homework...

And Greenwald opposes Klein to Paul Krugman, who points out that he had done his homework--Klein just hadn't noticed--and references a column from 1.5 Friedman units ago:

Paul Krugman: The Arithmetic Of Failure: The classic analysis of the arithmetic of insurgencies is a 1995 article by James T. Quinlivan, an analyst at the Rand Corporation. ''Force Requirements in Stability Operations,'' published in Parameters, the journal of the U.S. Army War College, looked at the number of troops that peacekeeping forces have historically needed to maintain order and cope with insurgencies. Mr. Quinlivan's comparisons suggested that even small countries might need large occupying forces.

Specifically, in some cases it was possible to stabilize countries with between 4 and 10 troops per 1,000 inhabitants. But examples like the British campaign against communist guerrillas in Malaya and the fight against the Irish Republican Army in Northern Ireland indicated that establishing order and stability in a difficult environment could require about 20 troops per 1,000 inhabitants.

The implication was clear: ''Many countries are simply too big to be plausible candidates for stabilization by external forces,'' Mr. Quinlivan wrote.

Maybe, just maybe, the invasion and occupation of Iraq could have been managed in such a way that a force the United States was actually capable of sending would have been enough to maintain order and stability. But that didn't happen, and at this point Iraq is a cauldron of violence, far worse than Malaya or Ulster ever was. And that means that stabilizing Iraq would require a force of at least 20 troops per 1,000 Iraqis -- that is, 500,000 soldiers and marines.

We don't have that kind of force. The combined strength of the U.S. Army and Marine Corps is less than 700,000 -- and the combination of America's other commitments plus the need to rotate units home for retraining means that only a fraction of those forces can be deployed for stability operations at any given time. Even maintaining the forces we now have deployed in Iraq, which are less than a third as large as the Quinlivan analysis suggests is necessary, is slowly breaking the Army...

The Craven Fecklessness of Fred Hiatt Drives Joshua Micah Marshall Is Unusually Shrill!!

Joshua Micah Marshall watches as the Washington Post's Fred Hiatt cravenly and fecklessly tries to save his job:

Talking Points Memo: As Bad As Bush: (ed.note: This is a post I was working on a few days ago but had set aside. But with attention fixing again today on the Post's editorial page's egregious record of distortions on Iraq, I thought I'd pull it out of Movable Type oblivion.)

The Iraq fiasco provides few opportunities for mirth. But one is watching Fred Hiatt, czar of the Washington Post editorial page, try to kick up enough dust to wriggle out of his own position on the war.

A necessary preliminary to this discussion is to realize that there is probably no editorial page in the United States that has advocated more influentially on behalf of the Iraq catastrophe at every stage of the unfolding disaster -- from the Iraq Liberation Act, the the WMD and al Qaeda bamboozlement, to the lauching of the war, to the longstanding denial of what was happening on the ground to the continuing refusal to brook any real change of course in policy. Other papers have been more hawkish certainly. But because of its location in the nation's capital and even more because of its reputation as a non-conservative paper, the Post's fatuous and frequently mendacious editorializing has without a doubt had a greater role in pushing the public debate into the war camp than any other editorial page in the nation.

Which brings us to the unsigned editorial that ran in the paper on Saturday, July 21st. According to the editorial, there's [the] existence [of a] consensus in favor of a major change of course in Iraq. And all that is holding it up is the Democrats' insistence on polarizing the debate for political gain. According the Post, most senators from both parties, the Baker-Hamilton commissioners and even the president are all part of the same broad consensus.

A large majority of senators from both parties favor a shift in the U.S. mission that would involve substantially reducing the number of American forces over the next year or so and rededicating those remaining to training the Iraqi army, protecting Iraq's borders and fighting al-Qaeda. President Bush and his senior aides and generals also support this broad strategy, which was formulated by the bipartisan Baker-Hamilton commission. Mr. Bush recently said that "it's a position I'd like to see us in"...

The problem is [that] "Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.) [seeks] to deny rather than nourish a bipartisan agreement." And this is so dangerous because we need to be discussing now what we do after September when we learn that the president 'new way forward' has failed.

The country will desperately need a strategy for Iraq that can count on broad bipartisan support, one aimed at carrying the U.S. mission through the end of the Bush administration and beyond. There are serious issues still to resolve, such as whether a drawdown should begin this fall or next year, how closely it should be tied to Iraqi progress, how fast it can proceed and how the remaining forces should be deployed...

Here we get down to the stem of a whole world turned inside out. 'Serious issues still to resolve' -- like when to leave, whether to condition leaving on things getting better, how fast to leave and how many should stay and what we should have them do. I would say that covers quite a bit of the debate, doesn't it? Indeed, that's the entire debate, which is to say there's little consensus on anything.

The Iraq debate now turns on two related questions: 1) the importance of Iraq to US national security and 2) whether we want to leave and will so long as various conditions in Iraq are met or whether we've decided that it is in our interests to leave and will begin to do so now without waiting for conditions to be met. All of the different permutations of the debate can be explained in terms of different answers to those two questions.

So what you have in the Post's editorial is Mr. Hiatt's desire to take a nominal and meaningless agreement -- that everyone would like to have most US troops withdrawn from Iraq -- and stretch it so thin that it can cover most members of the senate, the president and even the Baker-Hamilton report that the president dumped in the trash last winter. Meanwhile the key questions that are the meat [of the] debate become points of detail that the members of the grand consensus still need to hash out if malefactors won't keep on cynically injecting politics into the proceedings.

It is truly the world we are living in through the looking glass. And I think the reason for this outlandish contortion is not hard to see. Hiatt and the Post editorial crew can see the writing on the wall and the direction which public opinion is inevitably taking us. But they want to twist and distort and most of all stretch the terms of the debate so far as to appear to come out on the winning side even as they never actually change their position which has been a consistent and bullheaded advocacy of the position the entire country is now abandoning. So when troops come out of Iraq -- due to the votes of the evil polarizers -- Hiatt can say, yes, that was our position and it would have come sooner if Harry Reid would have just butted out of things. Until then, it's full speed ahead with the surge.

BBC Radio 4 Is Shrill: The 1933 Anti-Roosevelt Coup Plot

Starring the Heinz and Bush families:

BBC - Radio 4 Document - Greenham's Hidden Secret: Document uncovers details of a planned coup in the USA in 1933 by a group of right-wing American businessmen. The coup was aimed at toppling President Franklin D Roosevelt with the help of half-a-million war veterans. The plotters, who were alleged to involve some of the most famous families in America, (owners of Heinz, Birds Eye, Goodtea, Maxwell Hse & George Bush’s Grandfather, Prescott) believed that their country should adopt the policies of Hitler and Mussolini to beat the great depression.

Mike Thomson investigates why so little is known about this biggest ever peacetime threat to American democracy.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Journamalism of NPR Drives Lance Knobel Shrill!

He writes:

Davos Newbies » Blog Archive » Way short of “a detailed case”: NPR usually does a better job than most of reporting accurately and maintaining the appropriate skepticism about our country’s leaders but it let me down this morning. While I was shaving, they had a report on president Bush’s speech yesterday about Iraq as the front line of the so-called war on terrorism. Mary Louise Kelly said: “In his speech, the president laid out a detailed case linking Osama Bin Laden’s terror network to its offshoot in Iraq.”

His case consisted of saying, “Al Qaeda in Iraq is Al Qaeda. In Iraq.”

Dan Froomkin Is Shrill! Bush Is Osama's Publicist!!

He says that Osama bin Laden should pay Bush more to be his best publicist:

Dan Froomkin - Al Qaeda's Best Publicist: By Dan Froomkin: Like any terrorist organization, al-Qaeda wants attention. It wants to be perceived as powerful. And it particularly wants Americans to live in fear. Could al-Qaeda possibly have found a better publicist than President Bush? At a South Carolina Air Force base yesterday, Bush mentioned al-Qaeda and bin Laden 118 times in 29 minutes, arguing that the violence unleashed by the U.S. invasion in Iraq would somehow come to America's shores if U.S. troops were to withdraw.

But the majority of that violence in Iraq is caused either by Iraqis murdering each other for religious reasons or by Iraqis trying to throw off the American occupation. The group that calls itself al-Qaeda in Iraq is only one of a multitude of factions creating chaos in that country, and the long-term goals of its Iraqi members are almost certainly not in line with those of al-Qaeda HQ (which is safely ensconced in Pakistan). Furthermore, the administration's own intelligence community has concluded that the war in Iraq has helped rather than hurt al-Qaeda.

What effect would a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq really have on al-Qaeda? Is it true that "surrendering the future of Iraq to al Qaida would be a disaster for our country," as Bush admonished yesterday? Bush's predictions about the region have been uniformly abysmal, so the opposite may be at least as likely. And in that scenario, a U.S. troop withdrawal would rob al-Qaeda of its greatest recruiting tool. It would also free American and Iraqi fighters to hunt down bin Laden and his fellow vermin wherever they are and give them what they deserve -- which is not publicity, but ignominy and extinction.

Bill Gross Joins the Ancient and Hermetic Order of the Shrill

Bill Gross Joins the Ancient and Hermetic Order of the Shrill « Mercury Rising 鳯女: Posted by Charles on July 24th, 2007: Please listen:

[W]hen the fruits of society’s labor become maldistributed, when the rich get richer and the middle and lower classes struggle to keep their heads above water as is clearly the case today, then the system ultimately breaks down; boats do not rise equally with the tide; the center cannot hold.  

Of course the wealthy fire back in cloying self-justification, stressing their charitable and philanthropic pursuits, suggesting that they can more efficiently redistribute wealth than can the society that provided the basis for their riches in the first place. Perhaps. But with exceptions (and plaudits) for the Gates and Buffetts of the mega-rich, the inefficiencies of wealth redistribution by the Forbes 400 mega-rich and their wannabes are perhaps as egregious and wasteful as any government agency, if not more. Trust funds for the kids, inheritances for the grandkids, multiple vacation homes, private planes, multi-million dollar birthday bashes and ego-rich donations to local art museums and concert halls are but a few of the ways that rich people waste money.... “The way our society equalizes incomes” argues ex-American Airlines CEO Bob Crandall, “is through much higher taxes than we have today. There is no other way.” Well said, Bob. Enough said, Bob. Because enough, when it comes to the gilded 21st century rich, has clearly become too much....  

If gluttony describes the acquisitive reach of the mega-rich, then the same gastronomical metaphor applies to today’s state of the credit markets. Stuffed! Both borrowers and lenders may have bitten off more than they can chew, and even those that swallow their hot dogs whole – Nathan’s Famous Coney Island style – are having a serious bout of indigestion. As Tim Bond of Barclays Capital put it so well a few weeks ago, “it is the excess leverage of the lenders not the borrowers which is the source of systemic problems.” Low policy rates in many countries and narrow credit spreads have encouraged levered structures bought in the hundreds of millions by lenders, in an effort to maximize returns with what they thought were relatively riskless loans.

The Cossack Works for the Czar, Fred!

Fred Hiatt calls for Alberto Gonzales to resign, but pretends that the cossack is out freelancing on his own. Fred would never call for George W. Bush to resign for protecting and encouraging Gonzales. That would be unthinkable.

That the entire rest of the Washington Post editorial board has not resigned tells us something about them as well:

Credibility Collapse: SOMETHING IS terribly, terribly wrong when the attorney general of the United States is called to testify under oath before Congress and much of the hearing revolves around his credibility -- or lack thereof.... [W]hat can only be described as incredible testimony by Mr. Gonzales yesterday.... But it's not just Mr. Comey's word against Mr. Gonzales's.... At what point does someone lose so much credibility that he should no longer serve in public office? In the case of Mr. Gonzales, we believe that time has come and gone.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Matthew Yglesias Reads the New Republic

It drives him shriller than ever:

Matthew Yglesias: Blaming John Rawls: I would take issue with a variety of things Linda Hirschman says in her article bashing John Rawls, but surely it's obviously insane to blame Rawls for Democratic Party electoral defeats. I read it again, because I thought Hirschman might be making a more subtle claim, but, no, she's actually describing a causal connection between Democratic defeats and Rawls' philosophy, arguing that "It is not a coincidence that the only successful two-term Democratic presidency of the Age of Rawls was engineered in part for Bill Clinton by Bill Galston, a political theorist with a background in classical thought. "

I'm reasonably confident that this actually is a coincidence. You can read the classic essay on political strategy that Galston wrote with Elaine Kamarck "The Politics of Evasion" and you'll see it has very, very, very little to do with the sort of philosophical issues that divide him from Rawls.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Keith Olbermann Is Shrill

The Poor Man directs us to:

Davey Hume Is Shrill!

One of our oldest members:

"Hume on Patriotism and Tyranny" (Harper's Magazine): Mankind are, in all ages, caught by the same baits: The same tricks, played over and over again, still trepan them. The heights of popularity and patriotism are still the beaten road to power and tyranny; flattery to treachery; standing armies to arbitrary government; and the glory of God to the temporal interest of the clergy.

-–David Hume, “Of Public Credit,” pt. ii, essay ix in: Essays Moral, Political and Literary (3d ed. 1754) in the Liberty Fund ed., p. 363.

But Duncan Black Is Shrill!

At Eschaton:

Eschaton: Bonded: I think an important if generally ignored point is that not only were war supporters shouting down war opponents over the years, they also did everything they could to shout down people who were suggesting even tepidly that maybe Dear Leader and his Merry Gang of Incompetents were fucking the whole thing up. While I don't have much respect for the "incompetence dodgers" on the question of whether the Great and Glorious Invasion of Iraq was a good idea, it is true that the whole adventure was handled about as incompetently as it could have been by the Bush gang. More than that, this was pretty apparent from the beginning. The pro-war gang will, for the most part, never rethink their support for their pet war, but I'd hope at least a few of them might consider that their blind support for these idiots helped ensure that their pet war, their central mission, was a colossal fuckup.

Oh, and lots of people died too. Mustn't forget that.

Matthew Yglesias Is Not Shrill Today, But Is Snarky

Yglesias writes:

Eschaton: Quality Snark: Yglesias: "If all this had gone well, Gerson could have left his government job and become a pillar of the Washington Establishment. Since it turned out to be a tremendous failure, instead he got a Council on Foreign Relations fellowship and a Washington Post column."

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Bush Drives Jimmy Breslin Shrill!

Jimmy Breslin says: Impeach George Bush to stop war lies, deaths:

Impeach George Bush to stop war lies, deaths - Newsday.com: I am walking in Rosedale on this day early in the week while I wait for the funeral of Army soldier Le Ron Wilson, who died at age 18 in Iraq. He was 17 1/2 when he had his mother sign his enlistment papers at the Jamaica recruiting office. If she didn't, he told her, he would just wait for the months to his 18th birthday and go in anyway. He graduated from Thomas Edison High School at noon one day in May. He left right away for basic training. He came home in a box last weekend. He had a fast war.

The war was there to take his life because George Bush started it with bold-faced lies.

He got this lovely kid killed by lying.

If Bush did this in Queens, he would be in court on Queens Boulevard on a murder charge.

He did it in the White House, and it is appropriate, and mandatory for the good of the nation, that impeachment proceedings be started. You can't live with lies. You can't permit them to be passed on as if it is the thing to do.

Yesterday, Bush didn't run the country for a couple of hours while he had a colonoscopy at the presidential retreat, Camp David. He came out of it all right. He should now take his good health and go home, quit a job he doesn't have a clue as to how to do.

The other day, Bush said he couldn't understand why in the world would some people say that millions of Americans have no health insurance. "Why, all they have to do is go to the emergency room," he said.

Said this with the smirk, the insolent smug, contemptuous way he speaks to citizens.

People, particularly these politicians, these frightened beggars in suits, seem petrified about impeachment. It could wreck the country. Ridiculous. I've been around this business twice and we're all still here and no politician was even injured. Richard Nixon lied during a war and helped get some 58,500 Americans killed and many escaped by hanging onto helicopter skids. Nixon left peacefully. Mike Mansfield of Montana, the Democratic Senate majority leader, said on television that the Senate impeachment trial of Nixon would be televised and there would be no immunity. That meant Nixon would have to face the country under oath and if he lied he would go to prison. He knew he was finished as he heard this. Mansfield said no more. He got up and left. Barbara Walters, on the "Today" show, said, "He doesn't say very much, does he?"

The second time the subject was Bill Clinton for illegal holding in the hallway.

This time, we have dead bodies involved. Consider what is accomplished by the simple power of the word impeachment. If you read these broken-down news writers or terrified politicians claiming that an impeachment would leave the nation in pieces, don't give a moment to them.

It opens with the appointing of an investigator to report to the House on evidence that calls for impeachment. He could bring witnesses forward. That would be all you'd need. Here in the impeachment proceedings against Richard Nixon came John Dean. His history shows how far down the honesty and honor of this country has gone. Dean was the White House counsel. Richard Nixon, at his worst, never told him not to appear or to remain silent in front of the Congress. Dean went on and did his best to fill prisons. After that came Alexander Butterfield, a nobody. All he had to say was that the White House had a taping system that caught all the conversations in the White House. Any of them not on tape were erased by a participant.

The same is desperately needed now. Curious, following the words, an investigator - the mind here sees George Mitchell and Warren Rudman, and you name me better - can slap a hand on the slitherers and sneaks who have kept us in war for five years and who use failing generals to beg for more time and more lives of our young. A final word in September? Two years more, the generals and Bush people say.

Say impeachment and you'll get your troops home.

As I am walking in Rosedale, on these streets sparkling with sun, I remember the places I have been in the cold rain for the deaths of our young in this war. Rosedale now, Washington Heights before, and the South Bronx, and Bay Shore and Hauppauge and too many other places around here.

And in Washington we had this Bush, and it is implausible to have anyone who is this dumb running anything, smirking at his country. He sure doesn't mind copying those people. On his PBS television show the other night, Bill Moyers said he was amazed at Sara Taylor of the White House staff saying that she didn't have to talk to a congressional committee because George Bush had ordered her not to. "I took an oath to uphold the president," she said.

That president had been in charge of a government that kidnapped, tortured, lied, intercepted mail and calls, all in the name of opposing people who are willing to kill themselves right in front of you. You have to get rid of a government like this. Ask anybody in Rosedale, where Le Ron Wilson wanted to live his young life. His grave speaks out that this is an impeachable offense.

National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell Is Shrill!

From Think Progress:

Think Progress: National Intel Director: Bush Admin. Manipulated Iraq Intel ‘Because They Didn’t Like The Answers’: In Stephen Hayes’s upcoming biography on Dick Cheney, he writes that the current Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell appears to side with “those who believe that the administration manipulated intelligence on Iraq for political purposes before the 2003 invasion.”

McConnell reportedly said he had “serious reservations” when asked by President Bush to become the DNI because of the Pentagon’s manipulation of intelligence in the lead up to the Iraq war. Today, Meet the Press host Tim Russert previewed the relevant portion of the book:

McConnell was honored to be asked [to be DNI], but he had serious reservations. He had been unimpressed with many aspects of the Bush administration and its conduct of the war on terror, particularly what he felt was a politicized use of intelligence in the lead-up to the Iraq war.


“My sense of it is their political faith and convictions influenced how they took information and interpreted [it], how they picked up and interpreted outside events. … I’ve read much more about the current set of players and they did set up a whole new interpretation because they didn’t like the answers. They’ve gotten results that in my view now have been disastrous,” [McConnell said].

Saturday, July 21, 2007

And Duncan Black Joins the Thomas Friedman Birthday Party

Yes, he is shrill:

Eschaton: Worst America Birthdays: Happy birthday to Tom Friedman, who turns 108 Friedman Units today. Here at Eschaton we'll honor him with his most profound quote: "What they needed to see was American boys and girls going house to house, from Basra to Baghdad, um and basically saying, 'Which part of this sentence don't you understand? You don't think, you know, we care about our open society, you think this bubble fantasy, we're just gonna to let it grow? Well, Suck. On. This. Okay.'

"That Charlie was what this war was about. We could've hit Saudi Arabia, it was part of that bubble. We coulda hit Pakistan. We hit Iraq because we could."

Lawyers, Guns and Money: Worst American Birthdays, vol. 22: Thomas Friedman

Yes, Lefarkins is shrill!

Lawyers, Guns and Money: Worst American Birthdays, vol. 22: Billionaire Scion Thomas Friedman... turns 108 Friedman Units today.

Known mostly for his oracular declarations on the high wisdom of free trade, Friedman has also cultivated his inner thug, whose obscene bellowing he occasionally insists his readers hear. Friedman has, for example, observed in The Lexus and the Olive Tree that

[t]he hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist. McDonald’s cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas, the designer of the U.S. Air Force F-15, and the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley’s technologies to flourish is called the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.

All of which may be true enough; that Friedman celebrates this state of affairs, however, makes him not only factually accurate but morally reprehensible. In a typical stream of billingsgate unleashed during the 1999 Kosovo war, Friedman -- the self-appointed organ-grinder for globalization -- openly declared his indifference to international law, advocating collective punishment of the Serbian people in language that recalled the worst atrocities of the second world war:

Let's at least have a real air war.... It should be lights out in Belgrade: Every power grid, water pipe, bridge, road, and war-related factory has to be targeted. Like it or not, we are at war with the Serbian nation (the Serbs certainly think so), and the stakes have to be very clear: Every week you ravage Kosovo is another decade we will set back your country back by pulverizing you. You want 1950? We can do 1950. You want 1389? We can do 1389 too.

In yet another flight of aggro fancy, Friedman urged President Clinton in 1998 to bomb Iraq "over and over and over again," atomizing a "different power station in Iraq every week, so no one knows when the lights will go off or who’s in charge." On this last count, at least, Friedman eventually got his wish.

The next six months may or may not prove to be a decisive period for the American war in Iraq, but we may be assured of one simple, gleaming fact: in six months, Thomas Friedman will still be a wanker of colossal and undeserved repute.

Marc Ambinder Has Made Jamison Foster Our New Grand Heresiarch

We have a new grand heresiarch:

Media Matters by Jamison Foser: Someone's got it in for me, they're planting stories in the press

America's political reporters don't like John Edwards, and have tried to destroy him.

But don't take my word for it.

Marc Ambinder was one of the founders of ABC's The Note and is a contributing editor to the National Journal's Hotline newsletter. The Note and the Hotline consist largely of links to and excerpts of political news and commentary by other reporters with ample doses of snark and Rove-worship thrown in. Whatever they may lack in insight and judgment, The Note and the Hotline are at the center of the D.C. political media establishment.

Ambinder, in other words, is a political reporter whose job has largely been to understand the political media.

This week, Marc Ambinder explained why the media has covered John Edwards' grooming regimen so much and Mitt Romney's so little:

There is a difference in the political reality: fairly or unfairly, a healthy chunk of the national political press corps doesn't like John Edwards.

Fairly or unfairly, there's also a difference in narrative timing: when the first quarter ended, the press was trying to bury Edwards. It's not so much interested in burying Romney right now -- many reporters think he's the Republican frontrunner.

Now, if reporters dislike a candidate, that's their business. But when they wage a relentless and petty campaign to "bury" that candidate, that's our business. All of us.

And we've been through this before.

The 2000 election was close enough that any number of things can fairly be described as having made the difference. But what Bob Somerby describes as the media's "War Against Gore" was undoubtedly one of the biggest factors in Bush's "victory." The contempt many political reporters felt for Gore is clear, as is the inaccurate, unfair, and grossly distorted coverage of Gore that decided the campaign. And, again, you needn't take my word for it: Bob Somerby, Eric Alterman, Eric Boehlert, and others have chronicled the acknowledgements by working journalists of their colleagues' hate for Gore. Jake Tapper described reporters "hissing" -- actually hissing -- Gore. Time's Eric Pooley described an incident in which a roomful of reporters "erupted in a collective jeer" of Gore "like a gang of 15-year-old Heathers cutting down some hapless nerd."

And Joe Scarborough -- conservative television host Joe Scarborough; former Republican Congressman Joe Scarborough -- has said that during the 2000 election, the media "were fairly brutal to Al Gore. ... [I]f they had done that to a Republican candidate, I'd be going on your show saying, you know, that they were being biased."

Somerby has long argued that one of the reasons the media's hatred for Gore was able to define the 2000 campaign so completely is that too few people talked about it -- and demanded that it stop -- at the time. Indeed, as he writes today, too many of those who should be combating these nonsensical but damaging storylines repeat them instead:

But then, inside Washington, establishment liberals and Democrats often seem congenitally unable to understand the shape of the past fifteen years. Haircuts -- and earth tones -- have destroyed the known world! But so what? Dems and libs keep reciting these trivia! We keep inviting the public to draw conclusions from these idiot tales.

One recent example occurred during Wednesday's Lou Dobbs Tonight, when Air America Radio host Laura Flanders said that Barack Obama has "kind of become the female on this race. ... He's seen as the weaker -- cute, attractive. ... Hillary is the one with the balls." In just a few moments, Flanders managed to suggest that a male progressive is feminine and that a female is masculine -- one of the conservatives' favorite tactics for marginalizing progressives -- and to equate being "female" with being "weak." With progressives like Laura Flanders, who needs Ann Coulter?

For anyone who would rather fight these absurd media storylines than repeat them, coverage of Edwards' haircut presents a valuable opportunity to do so.

Last week, we noted that NBC senior correspondent Jim Miklaszewski took $30,000 from the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce for a speech in which he reportedly called John Edwards a "loser" for defending his haircut. (Not that it really matters, but Edwards hasn't defended the haircut.)

This is a grossly unethical act on Miklaszewski's part -- taking tens of thousands of dollars from a special interest group for a speech, then attacking a candidate in that speech. Last year, NBC president Rick Kaplan said that company policy prevented anchors from taking speaking fees, and that anyone who violates that policy "would risk being fired."

But this is worse than simply taking speaking fees: this is taking a speaking fee from a special interest group that has supported tax cuts for the wealthy -- and attacking a candidate who has proposed eliminating a tax break for the wealthy in order to pay for health care.

If Miklaszewski took $30,000 from, say, the Children's Defense Fund to give a speech in which he attacked President Bush for announcing that he would veto a children's health program, you can bet the Right would be up in arms and calling for his head. They'd claim it proves that the media is biased against them. And their criticisms would promptly be amplified by that same media. Howard Kurtz would waste no time at all in telling you what Rich Lowry and Glenn Reynolds thought of the matter.

Well, Miklaszewski didn't take $30,000 from the Children's Defense Fund, and he didn't blast George Bush for threatening to veto health care for kids. He took $30,000 from the business lobby, and in exchange for it, he attacked John Edwards.

If you care about stopping misinformation in the media -- if you care about the media at all, really -- it doesn't get much clearer than this. Contact NBC. Tell them Miklaszewski's actions are unacceptable. Ask them if he violated NBC policy -- and if he hasn't, ask NBC to change their policies to prevent such behavior.

This isn't going to stop unless you make it stop.

After you contact NBC, contact Howard Kurtz. As the media beat reporter for The Washington Post and the host of CNN's Reliable Sources, Kurtz may be the nation's highest-profile media critic. Yet a Nexis search shows that Kurtz hasn't written a word about media coverage of Edwards' haircut for the print edition of the Post. And it has come up only in passing on his television show. (In a "Media Backtalk" online discussion with Washington Post readers, Kurtz acknowledged that "[t]he haircut thing has been overdone." Then -- in the next sentence -- he defended Post reporter John Solomon's much-maligned effort to count Edwards' haircuts.) So: contact Howard Kurtz. Ask him to cover Miklaszewski's unethical attacks on Edwards.

This isn't going to stop unless you make it stop.

How can we be so sure? Well, the 2000 campaign should be all the proof anyone needs. But here's another indication of how relentless the media will continue to be in harassing John Edwards about his haircut: So far this week alone, there are nine Washington Post articles available in Lexis-Nexis that mention John Edwards. Four of the nine mention his haircuts. Three mention his haircuts or his wealth in either the first or second sentence. Another doesn't mention either until the fifth paragraph -- but then makes up for lost time with three paragraphs about "controversies" including the haircut, Edwards' big house, and his work at a hedge fund before finally focusing on the ostensible topic of the article: Edwards' poverty tour.

And that doesn't even include an online-only article by Dan Balz and Chris Cillizza about an interview Edwards gave to the washingtonpost.com "PostTalk" program. The article began: "Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards defended himself against criticism that his expensive haircuts and lucrative income from a hedge fund undercut his campaign's effort to highlight the issue of poverty in America."

Keep in mind that it has been more than three months since the haircut story first appeared. But the media continue cover it as though it is both new and important. It is not. It is old and utterly insignificant.

There's another lesson to be drawn from 2000. Too often, those who weren't actively participating in the media's War Against Gore were enabling it by suggesting he brought it on himself. Sure, the media was unduly harsh toward Gore -- but he gave them ammunition. We hear the same thing said about John Edwards today: The Washington Post's decision to assign its star investigative reporter to count Edwards' haircuts may be absurd, but Edwards opened himself up to the attack by getting the pricey cut in the first place. It showed poor judgment; he should have known it would provide fodder for the media.

This is blame-the-victim nonsense.

If you think it is foolish to suggest that John Edwards' haircut makes him a hypocrite, it is foolish to hold him responsible for such suggestions. If there is nothing inherently wrong with a haircut, it's unfair to hold it against a candidate just because some reporters decide to pretend there is.

But shouldn't the candidate have known it would be unfairly held against him? No. If reporters don't like a candidate and decide to "bury" him, they're going to do so. If they can't do it by pointing to his "ostentatious" displays of wealth, they'll do it by claiming he is hiding his wealth. It isn't hard to imagine the media reaction if John Edwards, like Fred Thompson, rented a red pickup truck to campaign for office: he's a phony, they'd say; a rich man pretending to be otherwise. Or they'd find out he gets the Biggie Fries during his anniversary dinners at Wendy's. The key details here are that reporters don't like him, and they're willing to be unfair in order to bury him.

John Edwards could not have avoided making a "mistake" that the media would trash him for, because they were willing to trash him for any dumb thing they could think of. And if they couldn't have found something dumb-but-real, they'd have used something dumb-but-made-up, like they did in falsely claiming Al Gore had taken credit for discovering Love Canal. If it is impossible for a candidate to avoid unfair, absurd coverage like this, then it is unfair to hold that candidate responsible for a meaningless "mistake" that is only a "mistake" in that it plays into that coverage.

Earlier this year, Ambinder inadvertently illustrated the circularity of the blame-the-victim approach to these bogus media stories.

The truth is that the media seems to be confusing "hypocrisy" -- doing what one says one must not do -- with bad optics and a few cases of ill-considered judgment.

The fact is, if you're in politics and you talk about poverty, extra attention will be paid to the manner in which you display your personal wealth -- whether, by dint of expensive haircuts and mammoth homes, you spend the money you earn and don't care about "what it looks like."

Edwards has been uncautiously ostentatious. That's the basic mistake. He's set himself up for questions about the work his poverty center did, the Cayman Islands, why he joined Fortress, Sudan holdings, etc, not because he held himself to a different moral standard, but because he didn't hold himself to a high enough political standard. The press reads this as arrogance.

Knowing he was going to focus on poverty, he probably should have dialed back his displays of wealth. The optics would look better. Roger Simon wrote that the problem with Edwards's $400 haircut was not the haircut itself; it was the fact that it slipped into his campaign finance report. Wrong. The problem was the haircut -- or, more precisely, the shrug of the shoulders that accompanied his decision to get it. The press pays attention to these things. It -- we -- have a fetish for the discrepant, the unseemly, the showy. You just don't get a $400 haircut during a campaign to eradicate poverty. Your credibility as a messenger suffers.

It may seem at first like Ambinder's explanation makes sense. But if -- as Ambinder stipulates -- there is nothing hypocritical about a rich man talking about poverty, or about a haircut, what are we left with? Precious little.

Ambinder tells us: "If you're in politics and you talk about poverty, extra attention will be paid to the manner in which you display your personal wealth" But why? Why will extra attention be paid to the wealth of the candidate who talks about poverty rather than to the wealth of the candidate who wants to lower taxes for the wealthy? There is no logical reason; nor is there a legitimate emotional reason. Ambinder has already acknowledged there is no hypocrisy at play in the former case. In the latter, there is arguably self-serving greed. So why will "extra attention" be paid? Ambinder doesn't tell us -- he doesn't even seem to think the question needs an answer. Extra attention will be paid because it will be paid.

The haircut is bad "optics," Ambinder tells us. But why? Candidates (all humans, really) do a dozen things a day that could look bad if they were endlessly repeated and mocked. Why is this one bad "optics"? What makes it different from, say, lobbyist Fred Thompson renting a red pickup, or Mitt Romney spending a lot of money on makeup (or strapping his poor dog to the roof of the Family Truckster)? Why are those not optically bad? All we're left with is that the optics of the haircut are bad because the press covers it so much, and the press covers it so much because the optics are bad.

These aren't reasons, they are excuses.

Grasping, Ambinder announced that the media "have a fetish for the discrepant, the unseemly, the showy."

Bunk. "Discrepant" doesn't apply, as there is nothing inconsistent with being rich and talking about poverty, as Ambinder himself already acknowledged. So, we're left with "unseemly" and "showy." But that cannot explain the media's focus on Edwards. Mitt Romney has a big house -- in fact, he has three. President Bush hand-picks the cloth for his custom-made suits, each of which costs thousands of dollars. That's awfully "showy," and coming from people who support tax policies that benefit ... themselves. No, the media's "fetish" for the "showy" can't explain the abuse Edwards has taken, because other "showy" behavior isn't treated similarly.

"You just don't get a $400 haircut during a campaign to eradicate poverty," Ambinder finally announces. But ... why not? You "just don't." That's the best Ambinder can come up with: you just don't. And that is perhaps the best indication that there is no real reason; that there is no actual problem with the haircut.

If the media is going to spend three months -- and counting -- relentlessly covering a damn haircut, is it too much to ask that they have a better explanation for it than that "you just don't" get such a haircut? These are professional journalists, who hold enormous power over our political process, and they can't come up with a better reason than a parent gives for not letting a teenager stay out 15 minutes later? "You just can't."

This kind of media coverage, as Bob Somerby says, is what gave us President Bush. It is why we are in Iraq today. It isn't going to go away on its own, and it isn't going to go away if John Edwards is no longer a candidate. There is an endless supply of nonsense for reporters to say about progressives, whether it is Hillary Clinton's alleged display of cleavage (the horror!) or bogus attacks on Barack Obama's comments about teaching kindergarteners about "inappropriate touching."

This isn't going to stop unless you make it stop.

Fred Hiatt of the Washington Post Drives Matthew Yglesias to an Even Higher Stage of Shrillness!

Anybody see any reason why the Washington Post should publish a print edition tomorrow? Anyone? Bueller?

Matthew Yglesias: No, F--- You 21 Jul 2007 01:34 pm: The Washington Post's latest editorial on Iraq is, of course, idiotic:

The decision of Democrats led by Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.) to deny rather than nourish a bipartisan agreement is, of course, irresponsible.... A Democratic strategy of trying to use Iraq as a polarizing campaign issue and as a club against moderate Republicans who are up for reelection will certainly have the effect of making consensus impossible — and deepening the trouble for Iraq and for American security.

Yes, yes . . . providing political cover to moderate Republicans who want to distance themselves from Bush while minimizing the practical impact of their actions would solve our problems in Iraq.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates Succumbs!

Yes, the Secretary of Defense is shrill:

Talking Points Memo | : In response to our inquiries, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has issued a statement responding to the uproar over the letter from Undersecretary of Defense Eric Edelman to Sen. Hillary Clinton condemning her for reinforcing "enemy propaganda." Says Gates:

I have long been a staunch advocate of Congressional oversight, first at the CIA and now at the Defense Department. I have said on several occasions in recent months that I believe that congressional debate on Iraq has been constructive and appropriate. I had not seen Senator Clinton’s reply to Ambassador Edelman’s letter until today. I am looking into the issues she raised and will respond to them early next week.

I'd stop short of calling that a rebuke to Edelman, but just barely short. Greg, who has been dogging this story for the last couple of days, has more at Election Central.

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Poor Man Institute Watches Glenn Greenwald

It is scary:

The Poor Man Institute » Glenn Greenwald is shrill: Actually, he has moved beyond shrill into some strange, nameless territory beyond the outer reaches of shrillness, where Azathoth and his insane and churning pipers of emptiness howl mindlessly for him to pipe down because it’s late and some people have to get up in the morning and scream mindlessly at the dead uncaring stars already, fer Chrissakes! And I like it:

I confess some difficulty here in becoming particularly outraged over this latest theory [that the President and all his creatures are above the law]. There is nothing new here. As has long been known, this administration believes themselves to reside above and beyond the reach of the law. What else would they need to do in order to make that as clear as can be? They got caught red-handed committing multiple felonies — by eavesdropping on Americans in precisely the way the law we enacted 30 years ago prohibited — and they not only admitted it, but vowed to continue to break our laws, and asserted the right to do so. And nothing happened.

This latest assertion of power — to literally block U.S. Attorneys from prosecuting executive branch employees — is but another reflection of the lawlessness prevailing in our country, not a new revelation. We know the administration breaks laws with impunity and believes it can. That is no longer in question. The only real question is what, if anything, we are willing to do about that.

Yes, it is true that, as various Democratic statements are claiming, this theory poses a constitutional crisis since, yet again, the President declares the other two branches of government impotent and himself omnipotent. But we have had such a crisis for the last five years. We have just chosen to ignore it, to acquiesce to it, to allow it to fester.

There is no magic force that is going to descend from the sky and strike with lighting at George Bush and Dick Cheney for so flagrantly subverting our constitutional order. The Founders created various checks for confronting tyrannical abuses of power, but they have to be activated by political will and the courage to confront it. That has been lacking. Hence, they have seized omnipotent powers with impunity.

At this point, the blame rests not with the Bush administration. They have long made clear what they believe and, especially, what they are. They have been rubbing in our faces for several years the fact that they believe they can ignore the law and do what they want because nobody is willing to do anything about it. Thus far, they have been right, and the blame rests with those who have acquiesced to it.

It has been six months since the Democrats took over Congress. Yes, they have commenced some investigations and highlighted some wrongdoing. But that is but the first step, not the ultimate step, which we desperately need. Where are the real confrontations needed to vindicate the rule of law and restore constitutional order? No reasonable person can dispute that in the absence of genuine compulsion (and perhaps even then), the administration will continue to treat “the law” as something optional, and their power as absolute. Their wrongdoing is extreme, and only equally extreme corrective measures will suffice.

John Derbyshire is Shrill! The Horror … The Horror …

From the Poor Man:

The Poor Man Institute » The Horror … The Horror …: Jonah: Nope, don’t care whether Iraqis “choose our side” or not. And I believe the American people have a much higher tolerance than you think for bloobaths caused by our giving up on people who—I think the American people would say—were so intrinsically hopeless, we had no choice but to give up on them. The American people barely turned a hair at Pol Pot.

And I must say, your ruthlessness seems pretty tame to me. REAL ruthlessness is what Winston Churchill (disapprovingly) called “frightfulness.” I think you’d have to conclude, looking back after the last century or so, that modern Anglo powers simply don’t do “frightfulness”—not as a land-war tactic, anyway: the city-flattening air raids of WW2 were in a category of their own. The Brits tried the well-proven Roman-Ottoman style counterinsurgency tactics in Ireland (the Black and Tans) and India (Amritsar—that was Churchill’s context), and discovered they had no stomach for it. That’s why Ireland* and India are independent. I doubt we have the stomach either.

Russell Baker Drives Brad DeLong Shrill

Russell Baker on America's newspapers. I find it kind of sad:

Goodbye to Newspapers? - The New York Review of Books: Instead of heroes, today's table talk is about journalistic frauds and a Washington press too dim to stay out of a three-card-monte game. Rupert Murdoch of course has long spread melancholy in newsrooms around the world, but it was the disclosure in May that the Bancroft family, which controls The Wall Street Journal, might be ready to sell him their paper for five billion dollars that really struck at journalism's soul. The sale of another newspaper is common enough these days, but The Wall Street Journal is not another newspaper. It is one of the proudest pillars of American journalism....

One document widely read among newspaper people is a speech delivered to the American Society of Newspaper Editors a year ago by John S. Carroll, formerly editor of the Los Angeles Times. It is an eloquent expression of the uneasiness many reporters and editors now feel about the future. Carroll titled his speech "What Will Become of Newspapers?" and, as the title suggests, his prognosis was not cheery. He was especially alarmed about the breakdown of understanding between owners and working journalists and about the loss of common purpose that once united them. This has come about, he said, because the functions that were once the realm of strong publishers have been taken over by Wall Street money managers.... Carroll's speech is invaluable for its working journalist's grim view of how competitive market practices have changed the business; but Donald Graham recently provided a similar view from the owner's seat. Graham is chairman of the board of The Washington Post.... Eliminate the two-tier [shareholding] structure, and "a line of buyers eager to purchase the company would form within minutes," Graham wrote. "No one could say no. The line would include private equity firms, high-ego billionaires, international media companies lacking a famous property and lots more." The New York Times, he predicted, would be "auctioned off like a side of beef."...

[M]any who comment on journalism these days... are angry about the press's flabby performance at the time when Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz & Co. were stoking public appetite for war in Iraq. Everyone, including most journalists, seems to agree that the press did a rotten job, but whether a superb job would have defeated the neocons' determination to have their war is another question.... [C]redit the administration with a masterful job of deception. It fooled its own secretary of state, Colin Powell. It even fooled itself about enjoying a swift flower-strewn triumph. Despite Congress's humiliating performance, the idea that the press could have averted the disaster is slow to die....

Contrary to popular impression, there was some very good journalism as the administration rushed toward war. There was articulate dissent, too, even at the Capitol when the war resolution was being rushed through Congress. The press simply did not give it much attention since, for one thing it came from people out of power-—Senators Kennedy of Massachusetts and Byrd of West Virginia, for instance, both Democrats.... [W]hereas Ari Fleischer-—voice of the White House—-was inescapable on the networks.... [T]here was also some good investigative reporting. Michael Massing... credits several reporters.... Walter Pincus and Dana Milbank at the Post.... Pincus told Massing the Post's editors "went through a whole phase in which they didn't put things on the front page that would make a difference."

Massing gave especially high marks to Jonathan Landay, Warren Strobel, and John Walcott of Knight Ridder's Washington bureau.... Knight Ridder's reporting on the reality behind the "script" had no influence at all on the rest of the press; because Knight Ridder had no paper in Washington, its reporting was not read there.

This may reflect something worse than a Washington press corps asleep at the switch. John Walcott, Washington bureau chief for Knight Ridder, speaking recently of his bureau's Iraq coverage, said the Washington press had had a problem worse than timidity and too much coziness with power:

There was simple laziness: Much of what the administration said, especially about Iraq and al Qaida, simply made no sense, yet very few reporters bothered to check it out.

It also took a little courage to irritate a White House pack famous for telling the world only what served their purpose and whim. Challenging the "script" invited punishment by White House enforcers. Knight Ridder reporters were barred from traveling on the secretary of defense's airplane for three years because their coverage had differed from the "script."...

One result has been a widening disconnection between public and press.... To the average person today, [Neil] Henry writes, "a Journalist is the television talker who is paid a considerable retainer to regularly make noise on cable news programs." The person hosting the program is a Journalist, too, drawing down big money "not to seek out and report the news but to entertain an audience with a certain glibness and an argumentative personality."... And there is "the inveterate Washington Beltway insider with shifting loyalties and ethics who works as a Pentagon spokesperson, political campaign adviser, or presidential speechwriter one year" and hires out next year as a network reporter or magazine correspondent worthy of trust.... Henry is clearly unhappy about all this. His assemblage of self-servers, frauds, political double-dippers, gasbags, mountebanks, spoiled reporters, and unprincipled swine make up that vague organism called "media." How the press and journalism became entwined in this squalor is a long and complicated tale, but there seems to be no escape. Indeed, the press seems to have become only a minor player in Henry's carnival, and there is even some question whether many people care. Nobody phones the paper expecting to find a hero anymore...

First of all, the Wall Street Journal is not "one of the proudest pillars of American journalism." The editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal are a sewer. To pretend that the editorial pages are not part of the newspaper... I would have thought that was beneath Russell Baker.

Second, the press coverage of the Iraq War was not the anomaly that Russell Baker portrays it as. Lots of us have longer memories of issues and events where the press has fallen down on the job. Lots of us have dealt with reporters and columnists whose behavior cannot be explained by either stupidity or a total lack of ethics, but requires both.

AFAIK, Russell Baker is wrong in claiming that Colin Powell was a bamboozlee rather than a bamboozler. Powell's chief of staff Colonel Wilkerson says that the night the two of them spent preparing Powell's UN speech was the worst moment of his life. To cover for Colin Powell on this... I would have thought that was beneath Russell Baker. The job of deception was not "masterful": the claim that the press was so weak that its defalcation didn't matter... I would have thought that was beneath Russell Baker.

The lowest moment was:

It also took a little courage to irritate a White House pack famous for telling the world only what served their purpose and whim. Challenging the "script" invited punishment by White House enforcers. Knight Ridder reporters were barred from traveling on the secretary of defense's airplane for three years because their coverage had differed from the "script."...

I think that John Walcott should have written this article, not Russell Baker. John Walcott nails it:

There was simple laziness: Much of what the administration said, especially about Iraq and al Qaida, simply made no sense, yet very few reporters bothered to check it out...

One thing people might do is to remind their readers at every opportunity that Jonathan Landay, Warren Strobel, John Walcott, Walter Pincus, Dana Milbank, and company have street cred as a result of their work on Iraq in 2002-2004--and that few other reporters and next to no editors and no owners do.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Elizabeth Edwards Writes To Slate's John Dickerson, and Is Shrill

"No," she says, "my husband and I are not exploiting my cancer":

Elizabeth Edwards Writes To Slate's John Dickerson: No, We Aren't Exploiting My Cancer | TPMCafe: Elizabeth Edwards has just written in to Slate to slam the online mag's chief political reporter, John Dickerson, for insinuating that she and John Edwards are using her cancer in an ad for political gain.

She was responding to a Dickerson piece in Slate today bearing this intriguing subhed: "A new ad exploits the suffering of the Edwards family. But that's okay."

In the article Dickerson seems to locate something contradictory in the fact that Edwards' latest ad features Elizabeth saying: "It's unbelievably important that in our president we have someone who can stare the worst in the face and not blink."

Dickerson asks what "the worst" is a reference to, and he concludes that it falls "laughably short" to suggest that it could refer to anything from Edwards' trial lawyer career. He decides that Edwards couldn't possibly be referring to anything but her cancer, and suggests that this shows Edwards to be a phony once again:

When we see an ad with Elizabeth Edwards talking about "the worst," we're talking either in whole or in part about her cancer. So, how does this square with Edwards' statement on 60 Minutes that he doesn't want anyone to vote for him because of his wife's cancer?

Now Elizabeth has hit back at Dickerson in the comments section at Slate, saying that John did indeed see some awful things in his career as a trial lawyer -- you know, clients who'd suffered horrible accidents and injuries.From Elizabeth's comment, which we've confirmed was really written by her:

John Dickerson needs to read my husband's book, Four Trials. In it, he will read the stories of four families uprooted by tragedy or accident who leaned, in their worst moments, on John Edwards. He was but a young man when he represented a former salesman, E.G. Sawyer, who, because a doctor prescribed an excessive amount of a pharmaceutical, was confined to a sliver of life in squalor. Without John's strength, intelligence and voice, he would have died that same way. Dickerson would not have to have read Four Trials to know the story of Valerie, whom John represented after a pump connected to a kiddie pool drain with a faulty cover sucked most of her intestines from her little body...

Yes, he has faced death and disease in our family, but the measure of his strength is the fights he has -- for his entire adult life -- voluntarily taken on, not just those that fate would not permit him to avoid...

Hullabaloo: This Is Why We Revile the Press. Digby on Marc Ambinder

It is a thing of beauty:

Hullabaloo: Marc Ambinder at the Atlantic defends the Edwards haircut story and condemns the undue coverage of Romney's make-up thusly:

The centerpiece of Edwards's campaign is his anti-poverty efforts; he presents himself as a dedicated messenger for the cause, and he likes expensive haircuts, bought a gimungous house, etc. etc. His credibility as a messenger comes into question when he spends money ostentatiously. (The haircut was inadvertently billed to the campaign, a spokesman later said).There is a difference in the political reality: fairly or unfairly, a healthy chunk of the national political press corps doesn't like John Edwards.Fairly or unfairly, there's also a difference in narrative timing: when the first quarter ended, the press was trying to bury Edwards. It's not so much interested in burying Romney right now -- many reporters think he's the Republican frontrunner.

I honestly don't quite know what to say. Plenty of effort has already been expended reminding people that you don't have to be poor to advocate for the poor --- and that historically some of the most ardent advocates were quite wealthy. The press corps really needs to examine whether they truly believe that the rich are required to be selfish jackasses who care about nothing but the stock market and tax cuts and only poor people can care about poverty. Perhaps that's a country they want to live in, but most of the rest of us aren't so keen on it. But that's not the part of this post that's startling.

Ambinder says right out that "fairly or unfairly" the press can't stand John Edwards and so they are going to bury him. This is, of course, not unprecedented, since we saw what they did to Al Gore for the same reason. The matter-of-factness of his statement still made my head spin a little, but I appreciate the candor. At least we now know what we are dealing with. (And there is no question about whether it's fair. It most certainly isn't.)

Now, I am not especially surprised that the press corps doesn't like John Edwards. Many of these people probably didn't like guys like him in high school either and one thing we know about the political press corps is that they have never matured beyond the 11th grade. (See: chilean bass stupidity.) But I have to ask, once again, just who in the hell these people think they are and why they think they are allowed to pick our candidates for us based upon their own "feelings" about them? I don't recall electing them to anything. (But, hey, maybe we should just poll the kewl kidz and find out which candidate they "like, totally, like" and we can cancel the election and save a lot of time and money.)

This is exactly this kind of thing that makes people like me laugh when I get lectured by professional journalists about "objectivity" and "ethics." At least I put my political biases up front. These phonies hide behind a veil of journalistic conventions so they can exercise their psychologically stunted desire to stick it to the BMOC, or the dork or whoever these catty little gossips want to skewer for their own pleasure that day. Please, please, no more hand-wringing sanctimony from reporters about the undisciplined, unethical blogosphere. Their glass houses are lying in shards all around their feet.

Each time they've pulled this puerile nonsense in the last few years, it's resulted in a mess that's going to take even more years to unravel. And they learned nothing, apparently, since they are doing exactly the same thing in this election. If the press really wants to know why they are held in lower esteem than hitmen and health insurance claims adjusters, this is it.

Brian Beutler Is Shrill Because of George Will and David Broder

Brian Beutler writes:

Brian Beutler: More McCain: Option 1, from George Will: "McCain, whose reservoir of righteousness is deep, thinks the parlous condition of his campaign is the price of his principled behavior in supporting an immigration reform that is intensely unpopular with the Republican base (read: the party's nominating electorate) and the war, which is intensely unpopular with almost everyone else."

Option 2, identical to Option 1, from David Broder: "John McCain...is the most stubbornly principled person in the Republican field. He is being punished now for saying what he believes about Iraq and immigration, among other things."

Option 3, from Gail Collins: "His presidential campaign is falling apart and everyone is debating whether it’s due to his principled stand on Iraq or his principled stand on immigration. But the alternate plotline was the one in which the stalwart maverick senator sells out to everybody from the irrational religious right to the irresponsible tax-cut crowd, and then loses the nomination anyway."

This is quite enough McCainnery for one day, if you ask me. But I think the ratio of reverential conventional wisdom to alternative-but-also-correct analysis here pretty well represents what readers can generally expect from their pundits on any given point of order.

Shailagh Murray Drives Duncan Black Even Shriller!

Just stop. Just stop printing the Washington Post. Just stop printing it now:

Eschaton: The Devil Writes Copy for the Post: I was trying to convince someone who disagreed that the Washington Post's Shailagh Murray was, in fact, the devil. Now I didn't mean in the sense of literally being the Lord of the Underworld, but a very bad reporter who has a very twisted sense of how American democracy and press do and should operate. So, I make the case. First we have this:

Washington, D.C.: I am somewhat surprised at the debate about the surge. In October, The Post's own polling showed that 19% of voters favored an immediate withdrawal. Yesterday, CNN reported that more than 50% want an immediate or by year's end withdrawal. Still, the politicians debate more or less, not sooner or later. Why won't the politicians follow the polls when it comes to leaving Iraq?

Shailagh Murray: Would you want a department store manager or orthodontist running the Pentagon? I don't think so. The reason that many politicians are squeamish about hard and fast goals of any kind in Iraq is that there is no simple response or solution -- it would have emerged by now. A withdrawal by year's end carries enormous, very serious implications.

And then, of course, is her regular habit of suggesting that opposition to the war is anti-military. Her falsehoods about polling on Bush's illegal wiretapping. Her misrepresentation of the Lieberman campaign.etc....

Sidney Blumenthal: Tragedy as Farce

Sidney Blumenthal is shrill:

Talking Points Memo | Tragedy as Farce: By David Kurtz: Sidney Blumenthal previews the next scene of the Iraq debacle:

Gen. Petraeus is promised as the dramatic hero who will stride to triumph in the last act. The author of a recent study of counterinsurgency who has not previously fought such a war, he has been thrust into the spotlight partly because his halo is yet untarnished. Bush's unpopularity disqualifies him from the "Mission Accomplished" moment. So he pushes out his handpicked general and walks behind his chariot, hoping the cheering of the crowd will be also for him. In his July 12 press conference, Bush mentioned Petraeus 11 times, his name flourished as a talisman for "victory." The generals with the greatest experience with the Iraq insurgency, who opposed Bush's surge, such as Gen. John Abizaid, an Arabic speaker, have been discharged or reassigned. The burden on the ambitious general to produce a military solution is unbearable and his breaking inevitable. But for now, Petraeus' tragedy foretold is being cast as the first dawn of a happy ending.

As Josh mentioned a few days ago, Bush still wants his parade

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Michael Gordon's Omissions Would Drive Anybody Shrill

And Moon of Alabama certainly is:

M of A - Gordon's Source on Iran: Michael Gordon (NYT co-writer of Judith Miller) has another hate-Iran piece in today's NYT:

U.S. Ties Iranians to Iraq Attack That Killed G.I.’s: BAGHDAD, July 2 — Iranian operatives helped plan a January raid in Karbala in which five American soldiers were killed, an American military spokesman in Iraq said today.


General Bergner declined to speculate on the Iranian motivations. But he said that interrogations of Qais Khazali, a Shiite militant who oversaw Iranian-supported cells in Iraq and who was captured several months ago along with another militant, Laith Khazali, his brother, showed that Iran’s Quds force helped plan the operation.[...]“Both Ali Musa Daqduq and Qais Khazali state that senior leadership within the Quds force knew of and supported planning for the eventual Karbala attack that killed five coalition soldiers,” General Bergner said.

Glenn Greenwald points out that Gordon's only source for this piece is a "military spokesman" Brig. Gen. Kevin J. Bergner. The source is not doubted, there are no other sources or viewpoints present. It is in fact, a pure U.S. military press release.

What Glenn doesn't not tell is the background of Brig. Gen. Kevin J. Bergner. Via sourcewatch we learn:

Kevin J. Bergner was named February 3, 2006, by President George W. Bush as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Iraq. Brigadier General Bergner recently served as Deputy Director of Political-Military Affairs (Middle East) at the Department of Defense. He received his bachelor's degree from Trinity University and his master's degree from City University of New York.

Berger left the White House and became spokesman for the U.S. military in Iraq only three weeks ago.

You can bet with a very good chance that his statement, which Michael Gordon dutiful stenographs,  has its origins in the White House. This bomb-Iran propaganda, the accusation of direct, official Iranian military intervention in Iraq, is originating from within the center of the Bush administration. It is fed through a "military spokesman" who just left the White House to Michael Gorden who's editors dependably publish it unfiltered in the New York Times.

Given the schemes we know from the start of the Iraq war disinformation campaign, the next step is obvious.

Someone from Bush's administration will appear on television and will cite and confirm Gordon's New York Times reporting as proof for Iran's "bad intent".

Newsweek explained how this worked on Iraq:

The strongest evidence that Saddam was building a nuke was the fact that he was secretly importing aluminum tubes that could be used to help make enriched uranium. At least it seemed that way. In early September, just before Bush was scheduled to speak to the United Nations about the Iraqi threat, the story was leaked to Judith Miller and Michael Gordon of The New York Times, which put it on page one. That same Sunday (Sept. 8), Cheney and national-security adviser Condoleezza Rice went on the talk shows to confirm the story.

Here is the transcript Wolf Blitzer's interview with Rice and there is Cheney on Meet the Press:

VICE PRES. CHENEY: [...]The third thing you need is fissile material, weapons-grade material. Now, in the case of a nuclear weapon, that means either plutonium or highly enriched uranium. And what we’ve seen recently that has raised our level of concern to the current state of unrest, if you will, if I can put it in those terms, is that he now is trying, through his illicit procurement network, to acquire the equipment he needs to be able to enrich uranium to make the bombs.

MR. RUSSERT: Aluminum tubes.

VICE PRES. CHENEY: Specifically aluminum tubes. There’s a story in The New York Times this morning-this is-I don’t-and I want to attribute The Times. I don’t want to talk about, obviously, specific intelligence sources, but it’s now public that, in fact, he has been seeking to acquire, and we have been able to intercept and prevent him from acquiring through this particular channel, the kinds of tubes that are necessary to build a centrifuge. 

Thanks to Michael Gordon "it's now public that, in fact," Iran attacks U.S. forces in Iraq.

Here we go again ...

UPDATE: 1. As Glenn just added, the NYT has changed its story:

Gordon's article has now been edited substantially, most notably to include several sentences near the beginning of the article that cast at least some doubt on the military's claims. None of these facts were included in the original version...