Wednesday, March 28, 2007

A Fight over HRC/Forbes Goes for the Money/Remembering Bush's WMD Jokes

WOMEN AT WAR. Outside the big fundraiser this past weekend for Hillary Clinton at the Beverly Hills estate of supermarket magnate Ron Burkle, activists from Code Pink protested. The Code Pink gals have been hounding Clinton for months about her vote for the legislation that granted George W. Bush the authority to invade Iraq whenever he deemed best. Days later, the political action of committee of the National Organization of Women endorsed HRC, calling her a "strong, experienced and principled" leader who can "restore faith in our government and repair its credibility at home and abroad." So the Code Pinkers think she's a weasel. The NOWers hail her as champion of progressive values. Let's see them work this out.

THAT WAS THEN. When Steve Forbes campaigned for the GOP presidential nomination in 2000, he noted how important abortion (that is, ending abortion) was as an issue for him. That was when he was looking to score well in Iowa among social conservatives. Well, this is now. Forbes today endorsed Rudy Giuliani for president. Giuliani, of course, is as pro-choice as Republicans come. "I am honored to support Rudy Giuliani for President," Forbes said. ‚"As Mayor of New York City, Rudy Giuliani showed how exercising fiscal discipline--including tax cuts--lowers deficits, spurs economic growth, and increases revenue. It is time the rest of the country benefit from a true fiscal conservative leader who gets real results." Forbes said nothing about Giuliani's abortion position. Is he putting economics ahead of all those babies-to-be who will never be? Yes. Social conservatives, attack!

ANY WMD JOKES TONIGHT? Tonight is the annual Radio and Television Correspondents' Association Dinner. Which means it's the third anniversary of one of my favorite columns. Three years ago, I attended the dinner and was astounded as President George W. Bush joked before a crowd of thousands about the absence of WMDs in Iraq. Few people in the room seemed to share my view that this was in poor taste and an insult to both the US troops and the American public. I returned home, stayed up late, wrote away, and posted a column the next day.

Here it is:

MIA WMDs--For Bush, It's a Joke
David Corn
March 25, 2004

Only in Washington.

Last night I was at the Radio and Television Correspondents' Association Dinner. It's a formal-and-fun affair where thousands of media folks assemble at the Hilton for a fancy dinner and fab pre- and post-parties. I'm not going to denigrate such soirees. I enjoy them. While bookers and producers jiggled and jostled on the dance floor and media and political celebs dissected the news du jour (this time it was Richard Clarke's dramatic appearance before the 9/11 commission), I was able to chat with former weapons hunter David Kay and learn about some troubling developments in the intelligence community (more on that down the road). And there was free sushi.

But an awful you're-all-alone moment came during George W. Bush's comments that followed the sit-down dinner. The current president is often the honored guest at this annual affair, and the audience toasts him in what is supposed to be a sign of communal and nonpartisan spirit. And the tradition is that the president has to be funny; he has to provide us with an amusing speech that pokes fun at himself and his political foes. After all, political journalists love to see politicians engage in self-deprecating humor. Bill Clinton was quite good at these performances. Bush seems to enjoy them less. Rather than do straight standup, he sometimes relies on a humorous slide show, and that was how he chose to entertain the media throng this time.

It's standard fare humor. Bush says he is preparing for a tough election fight; then on the large video screens a picture flashes showing him wearing a boxing robe while sitting at his desk. Bush notes he spends "a lot of time on the phone listening to our European allies." Then we see a photo of him on the phone with a finger in his ear. There were funny bits about Skull and Bones, his mother, and Dick Cheney. But at one point, Bush showed a photo of himself looking for something out a window in the Oval Office, and he said, "Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be somewhere."

The audience laughed. I grimaced. But that wasn't the end of it. After a few more slides, there was a shot of Bush looking under furniture in the Oval Office. "Nope," he said. "No weapons over there." More laughter. Then another picture of Bush searching in his office: "Maybe under here." Laughter again.

Disapproval must have registered upon my face, for one of my tablemates said, "Come on, David, this is funny." I wanted to reply, Over 500 Americans and literally countless Iraqis are dead because of a war that was supposedly fought to find weapons of mass destruction, and Bush is joking about it. Instead, I took a long drink of the lovely white wine that had come with our dinner. It's not as if I was in the middle of a talk-show debate and had to respond. This was certainly one of those occasions in which you either get it or don't. And I wasn't getting it. Or maybe my neighbor wasn't.

At the end of the slide show, Bush displayed two pictures of himself with troops and noted these were his favorites. The final photograph was a shot of special forces soldiers--with their faces blurred to protect their identities--who were posing in Afghanistan where they had buried a piece of 9/11 debris in a spot that had once been an al Qaeda camp. Bush spoke about the prayer the commander had said during the burial ceremony and noted he had this photograph hanging in his private study.

So what's wrong with this picture? Bush was somber about the sacrifice being made by U.S. troops overseas. But he obviously considered it fine to make fun of the reason he cited for sending Americans to war and to death. What an act of audacious spin. One poll recently showed that most Americans believe he either lied about Iraq's WMDs or deliberately exaggerated the case to justify the war. And it is undeniable that in seeking public support for the war he made many false assertions that went beyond quoting intelligence that turned out to be wrong. (I've written about this in many other places. If you still don't believe Bush mugged the truth, check out this short guide. [Sorry, that link is dead now.]) As the crowd was digesting the delicious surf-and-turf meal, Bush was transforming serious scandal into rim-shot comedy.

Few seemed to mind. His WMD gags did not prompt a how-can-you silence from the gathering. At the after-parties, I heard no complaints. Was I being too sensitive? I wondered what the spouse, child or parent of a soldier killed in Iraq would have felt if they had been watching C-SPAN and saw the commander-in-chief mocking the supposed justification for the war that claimed their loved ones. Bush told the nation that lives had to be sacrificed because Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction that could be used (by terrorists) against the United States. That was not true. (And as Kay pointed out, the evidence so far shows these weapons were not there in the first place, not that they were hidden, destroyed or spirited away.) But rather than acknowledge he misinformed the public, Bush jokes about the absence of such weapons.

Even if Bush does not believe he lied to or misled the public, how can he make fun of the rationale for a war that has killed and maimed thousands? Imagine if Lyndon Johnson had joked about the trumped-up Gulf of Tonkin incident that he deceitfully used as a rationale for U.S. military action in Vietnam: "Who knew that fish had torpedoes?" Or if Ronald Reagan appeared at a correspondents event following the truck-bombing at the Marines barracks in Beirut--which killed over 200 American servicemen--and said, "Guess we forgot to put in a stop light." Or if Clinton had come out after the bombing of Serbia--during which U.S. bombs errantly destroyed the Chinese embassy and killed several people there--and said, "The problem is, those embassies--they all look alike."

Yet there was Bush--apparently having a laugh at his own expense, but actually doing so on the graves of thousands. This was a callous and arrogant display. For Bush, the misinformation--or disinformation--he peddled before the war was no more than material for yucks. As the audience laughed along, he smiled. The false statements (or lies) that had launched a war had become merely another punchline in the nation's capital.

Posted by David Corn at March 28, 2007 02:49 PM


David B. Benson said...


Emmm, peach!

capt said...

The Politico's Reporting Problems

Concocted claims about Barack Obama and Bill Richardson, along with several high profile mistakes, are raising suspicions over the new online insider magazine.

On March 7, The Politico published a critique of the Beltway daily ("Is Politico a GOP Shill?") by Simon Maloy of Media Matters for America. Maloy noted that it was The Politico's editor, John Harris, who had coined the misleading phrase "slow bleed," to describe House Democrats' strategy for the war in Iraq; a loaded and damning phrase the GOP then quickly co-opted.

Maloy also noted that in general Politico has been generous in printing Republican talking points in its news articles and columns. (See Monday's piece regarding the U.S. attorney purge for a perfect example of how pure GOP spin passes for analysis at Politico.) Maloy's essay sparked an extended back-and-forth among The Politico's editors and writers. (Maloy's piece ran approximately 900 words; The Politico's rebuttal was nearly 2,400 words.) While acknowledging some missteps, Politico staffers seemed to take comfort in the fact that because Media Matters identifies itself as a progressive organization, its analysis and criticism can be dismissed as "partisan" attacks. The Politico proudly announced it was free of any bias. (Although Maloy never alleged that Politico suffered from "bias.")

So before Politico bosses wave off another assessment by someone at Media Matters, let's be clear -- this critique has nothing to do with bias or partisanship. This critique revolves around facts. In other words, The Politico does not have a bias problem. The Politico has a reporting problem.


*****end of clip*****

Simple formula - bullshit doesn't fly. When the poor work is clearly slighted there is an easy solution - don't go there (Politico) and don't believe liars and shills. It is a giant waste of time.


Ivory Bill Woodpecker said...

Can former presidents and vice-presidents be prosecuted for crimes committed while they held their former offices, subject to the usual statutes of limitations? If not, our only hope of seeing these creeps brought to justice is if the power brokers behind the GOP decide that PR President Bush and Real President Cheney are dragging the GOP down with them, and so decide to throw them to the wolves.

kathleen said...

It is discourging when the media spends so much time on whether Hillary is warm and fuzzy. Instead of her ability to make strong decisions and create bridges. The one thing I know about Hillary is that one of the first things on her list will be a national health care plan. She will not mess around on this issue,

Code Pink lost me when they had (the first code pink male) stand just behind Valerie Plame during her testimony in front of congress. The pink guy was distracting made no point and undermined Plame's testimony. Code Pink should have apologived for going way over the line. THEY DID DAMAGE TO PLAMES TESTIMONY.

Saladin and all. Our dear friend Peggy Gish who has been in Iraq with the Christian Peace maker Team close to three and a half years since before the invasion has returned from Iraq.

I had let you know that she had been kidnapped (this was kept very quiet, not reported in the mainstream). Peggy was effected very deeply by this kidnapping and is need of all of our prayers.

Over at Firedoglake one of the regular bloggers has asked that folks write Judge Reggie Walton(Libby trial judge) and ask him to "throw the book" at Libby. Jeffress one of Libby's defense attorneys has been asking the "fat cats" the "important folk" to contact Walton and let him know what a wonderful guy Libby is (even though he outed a undercover agent). We must do the same. Let Walton know that the "peasants" out here need to see our justice system work. THROW THE BOOK AT LIBBY. WE NEED SOME PLAME JUSTICE. WRITE JUDGE WALTON BEFORE MAY 1.

I was able to attend the Libby trial for close to two weeks. Judge Walton (and Fitz) really helped restore my faith in our justice system (a little). This guy is the real deal.

Visiting my youngest daughter in Boulder,Colo. We just fininshed watching "Mr. Smith goes to Washington". I had not watched this film in 20 years. Worth it to watch again.

kathleen said...

Ivory Bill. Senator Hagel brought up impeachment on a Sunday news program. There is an article in Esquire where Hagel brings up IMPEACHMENT. The Republicans are well aware that the peasants are restless. DE-ESCALATE..INVESTIGATE..OR LOSE IN 2008.




John Dean @ findlaw wrote a three part piece on impeachment of lower level officials. With the idea that if you impeach them this would KNOCK them out from ever reappearing in a future all the Iran Contra thugs. (and others who have had their security clearnances scrutinized) LEDEEN PERLE FEITH ETC.

kathleen said...

The Aipac/Rosen trial is going to be big. That is unless the powers that be (Israeli lobby) are successful at having it dismissed.

Hopefully the MSM will show some chutzpah and cover this trial honestly. (I am not holding my breath)

Saladin said...

Politicians are the same as those parasitic fungi that kill ants, if you didn't watch that you should! Invading brains and turning people into non-thinking, conforming zombies!

capt said...


"Big Brother in the form of an increasingly powerful government and in an increasingly powerful private sector will pile the records high with reasons why privacy should give way to national security, to law and order, to efficiency of operation, to scientific advancement and the like.":
Justice William O. Douglas - (1898-1980), U. S. Supreme Court Justice - Source: Points of Rebellion, 1969


"Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will." : Frederick Douglass - 1818 - 1895


"[Y]our national greatness, swelling vanity; your denunciation of tyrants, brass-fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are, to Him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy -- a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages." : Frederick Douglass - 1818 - 1895


Thanks ICH Newsletter!

Saladin said...

To add to your excellent quotes Capt:

"It is pointless to talk about corruption in government. Every government program is corruption, because it is organized on the basis of who has the most political influence. Thus corruption – the buying and selling of legislators – is inherent in every government program."

- Harry Browne

capt said...

I WISH I collected those quotes. The quotes are courtesy of the ICH (Information Clearing House) newsletter.

I am not certain but I think ICH is run by one person (Tom). I always just strip the quotes from the email because the links and headlines are always available at:

That is why I always say "Thanks ICH Newsletter!" as a hat-tip to Tom.


capt said...

British pawns in an Iranian game

The 15 British sailors and marines who were patrolling the Shatt-al-Arab - or Arvand Roud, as it is known in Iran - were not exactly indulging in a little bit of Rod Stewart ("I am sailing/stormy waters/to be with you/to be free"). They had their guns loaded. These would certainly have been fired against Iraqi smugglers - or, better yet, the Iraqi resistance, Sunni or Shi'ite. But suddenly the British were confronted not by Iraqi but by Iranian gunboats.

This correspondent has been to the Shatt-al-Arab. It's a busy and tricky waterway, to say the least. Iraqi fishing boats share the waters with Iranian patrol boats. From the Iraqi shore one can see the Iranian shore, flags aflutter. These remain extremely disputed waters. In 1975, a treaty was signed in Algiers between the shah of Iran and Saddam Hussein. The center of the river was supposed to be the border. Then Saddam invaded Iran in 1980. After the Iran-Iraq War that this sparked ended in 1988, and even after both Gulf wars, things remain perilously inconclusive: a new treaty still has not been signed.

The British are adamant that the sailors were in Iraqi waters checking for cars, not weapons, being smuggled. It's almost laughable that the Royal Navy should be reduced to finding dangerous Toyotas in the Persian Gulf. Some reports from Tehran claim the British were actually checking Iranian military preparations ahead of a possible confrontation with the US.

Western corporate media overwhelmingly take for granted that the British were in Iraqi or "international" waters (wrong: these are disputed Iran/Iraq waters). Tehran has accused the British of "blatant aggression" and reminded world public opinion "this is not the first time that Britain commits such illegal acts" (which is true). Tehran diplomats later suggested that the British might be charged with espionage (which is actually the case in Khuzestan province in Iran, conducted by US Special Forces).

Chess matters
The coverage of the sensitive Shatt-al-Arab incident in the Iranian press was quite a smash: initially there was none. Everything was closed for Nowrouz - the one-week Iranian New Year holiday. But this has not prevented radicalization.

Hardliners like the Republican Guards and the Basiji - Iran's volunteer Islamist militia - asked the government of President Mahmud Ahmadinejad not to release the sailors until the five Iranian diplomats arrested by the US in Iraq were freed. They also demanded that the new United Nations sanctions imposed on Iran over its nuclear program be scrapped. And all this was under the watchful eyes (and ears) of the US Navy's 5th Fleet in Bahrain.

Much of the Western press assumed Iran wanted Western hostages to exchange for the five Iranian diplomats, without ever questioning the Pentagon's illegal capture of the Iranians in the first place. Then the plot was amplified as an Ahmadinejad diversion tactic as the UN Security Council worked out a new resolution for more sanctions on Iran and as Russia told Tehran to come up with the outstanding money or the Bushehr nuclear plant it is building in Iran would not be finished.

The Shatt-al-Arab incident has been linked to an Iranian response to Washington's accusations that Tehran is helping Shi'ite militias with funds, weapons and training in Iraq. For the record, Iran's ambassador in Iraq, Hassan Kazemi Qomi, said there is absolutely no connection: "They entered Iranian territorial waters and were arrested. It has nothing to do with other issues." Not surprisingly, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari had to take the side of the occupiers who installed him in his post: he said the British were in Iraq invited by the Iraqi government and were operating in Iraqi waters.

This doesn't stop people, especially in the Islamic world, questioning what business the British, as an occupation force, had in the Shatt-al-Arab to start with.

From the depths of their abysmal, recent historical experience, even the Arab world - which is not so fond of Persians - sees the US-orchestrated UN sanctions on Iran for what they are: the West, once again, trying to smash an independent nation daring to have its shot at more influence in the Middle East. More sanctions will be useless as China and India will continue to do serious business with Iran.

Tactically, as a backgammon or, better yet, chess move - in which Iranians excel - the Shatt-al-Arab incident may be much more clever than it appears. Oil is establishing itself well above US$60 a barrel as a result of the incident, and that's good for Iran. It's true that from London's point of view, the incident could have been arranged as a provocation, part of a mischievous plan to escalate the conflict with Iran and turn Western and possibly world public opinion against the regime.

But from Tehran's point of view, for all purposes British Prime Minister Tony Blair is a soft target. The episode has the potential to paralyze both President George W Bush and Blair. Neither can use the incident to start a war with Iran, although Blair has warned that his government is prepared to move to "a different phase" if Iran does not quickly release the sailors.

If the Tehran leadership decides to drag out the proceedings, the Shi'ites in southern Iraq, already exasperated by the British (as they were in the 1920s), may take the hint and accelerate a confrontation. Strands of the Shi'ite resistance may start merging with strands of the Sunni resistance (that's what Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has wanted all along). And this would prove once again that you don't need nuclear weapons when you excel at playing chess.


*****end of clip*****

I have been reading Pepe for a while and he has been reliable and factual.


capt said...

Freaky: Lab Sheep are 15 Percent Human

According to an article in The Mail, scientists have created sheep with half their organs being human and, overall, 15 per cent human cells. Now that’s freaky.

But there’s potential scientific benefit, the scientist say: They aim to match the DNA in transplantable organs from a sheep to a particular transplant patient, improving the odds of a successful transplant by reducing the chance the patient’s body will reject the foreign organ.

The work, at the University of Nevada-Reno, has been going on for many months.

The latest news on the sheep comes just as a debate has flared over interspecies cloning, in which researchers are trying to put human DNA into animal species eggs in order do study human diseases without using human eggs.

Some say all this sort of work is morally wrong. Others just think it’s creepy. And some point out potential risk such as new types of viruses being introduced into the human population.

"Many silent viruses could create a biological nightmare in humans. Mutant animal viruses are a real threat, as we have seen with HIV," said atrick Dixon, an international lecturer on biological trends, in the Mail article.

Should scientists be doing research like this? While you ponder that, check out our Top 10 Freakiest Lab Animals.


*****end of clip*****

I wonder if the "real scientists" have ever seen a sci-fi horror flick? Maybe fantasy is not scary enough and reality it too freaky to believe?

Of course there has been some interspecies goings-on but . . .


capt said...


"An honest politician is one who, when he is bought, will stay bought."
~ Simon Cameron (1799 - 1889)

capt said...

Unfit for Duty: Bush's "Pet Goat" Minutes Revisited

Vital questions about Bush's mental condition during this infamous five minutes of frozen befuddlement on 9-11 got lost in the aftermath of the attack. Was he then and is he now mentally unfit to serve?

On Tuesday night Keith Olbermann on MSNBC threw a question to guest Bill Maher that seemed to give this quick witted comedian a few seconds of pause.

The question was, basically, if you could ask Bush one question while he was hooked up to a lie detector, what would it be?

Maher's first answer was that he'd ask Bush under truth serum if he really thought he was in over his head.

But then he gave it some more thought and said what he'd really like to know was exactly what Bush was thinking about when told that we were under attack on 9-11 and he just sat there like Forrest Gump. See enlarged image.

Newpaper accounts vary as to the exact words Andrew Card, Bush's chief of staff, whispered to him while he was sitting in the classroom with "The Pet Goat" upside-down on his lap. But it hardly matters whether Card said "a second plane has hit the second tower. America is under attack" or "a second plane has hit the World Trade Center, America is under attack."

The salient facts are not in dispute. You can see a series of still pictures taken every ten seconds from Card telling Bush about the attacks until, five minutes later, Bush left the room, or look at a video of the five minutes on The Memory Hole website here.

Bush knew about the first plane hitting one of the towers, but at that time there was no way to know for certain it was anything but a tragic accident.

When the second plane hit there was no doubt this was an attack.

Bill Maher reminded viewers that Bush, the man who could launch a nuclear retaliation, had no way of knowing the extent of the attack. You can view the entire Olbermman - Maher interview here, after a 30 second commercial.


*****end of clip*****

I know what Bunnypants was thinking - "what will Cheney tell me to do?"


Saladin said...

Capt, my theory on his thought process, if you can call it that, at that critical moment, "here we go."

Kathleen, please give Peggy my best wishes for her well being and let her know that even though we've never met I consider her a true hero and champion for all that is good and right. I do hope I will get to meet her sometime in the not too distant future.

Saladin said...

"You need not support either the enemy or your own lying government. If neither one tells the truth, be the Lone Ranger, if you must, but insist on the truth."

- Christopher Manion

capt said...

New Thread