Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Tucker you ass!

Below is a transcript of Tucker Carlson's interview with Meda Matter's David Brock. This is a great example of the true face of fanatic conservatism's lack of respect for and tolerance of another person's perception and belief. They sure as hell don't give an inch in their blowhard approach to a conversation. Take this as a warning! When trying to have a conversation with one of these close minded jerks, it might be a good idea to come well prepared for not a gentlemanly debate, but a bar room brawl! Watch out for the sucker punch!
Note: my comments are in blue....of course

CARLSON: Now the left-wing blog Media Matters for America is calling on its readers to e-mail ABC, urging the network to postpone “The Path to 9/11.” Joining me now from Washington, the head of Media Matters, David Brock. David, welcome.


CARLSON: So a bunch of Clinton people, former Clinton officials, want to censor this project. Why are you helping them?
"a bunch of Clinton people".....something like a "bunch of bananas".....thanks Tuck!

BROCK: I don‘t really think it‘s about what former Clinton people want or even what we want. I mean, the story‘s changed today, as you know. I mean, ABC now admits—ABC admits—that they made stuff up in the production of this movie, that there are composite characters and made-up dialogue. The writer-producer today is quoted as saying that a key scene involving Sandy Berger, the former national security adviser, where he supposedly is declining to give an order to kill Osama bin Laden and slams down a phone—and the writer-producer of the movie says Sandy Berger did not slam down the phone. This is not in the 9/11 report, and accidents occur in making the film. And Tom Kean, the adviser, the Republican former co-chair of the 9/11 commission, has said some of the people shown there probably weren‘t there. So all the people involved in this movie have now said that it‘s fiction. That‘s the issue.

CARLSON: Well, it is fiction, David. I mean, you‘ve got to be kidding! This is by definition partly fictionalized. It‘s a docudrama. It is not a documentary, and it‘s not billed as such. This is a broad-brush account of what ABC and the producers of this film think happened in the run-up to 9/11. No one is claiming every part of this actually happened. That‘s the whole point! I mean, that‘s news from nowhere, isn‘t it?

BROCK: It‘s not. I mean, they do claim that the movie is based on facts in the 9/11 commission report. So when you go to the 9/11 commission report and try to check some of the scenes, you find in many cases that the 9/11 commission report says the opposite of what...

CARLSON: No, they actually don‘t find that, David!

BROCK: ... this is represented as.

CARLSON: Actually...

BROCK: And this is...

CARLSON: Wait. Hold on. That‘s just—just to correct what you said, because what you said is incorrect. ABC is no longer claiming—if they did, they are not, at this point, anyway, claiming that it is based on or taken directly from the 9/11 report. They‘re saying they used the 9/11 report in putting together this docudrama. But the point that they‘re making, that the Bush administration and the Clinton administration both had a hand in allowing America to be unprepared for 9/11, and that the Bushy—the Clinton administration didn‘t take terrorism seriously enough and didn‘t do all it could to apprehend Osama bin Laden. That‘s beyond dispute! We know that to be true. That‘s a fact. So the Clinton people are mad about it. They‘re defensive about it. I get it. But why are you helping them to rewrite history? Why are you being a shill for their interests in this case?
SorryTuck, I did not see anything related to blaming anything on Bush....all I saw was Bush the hero!....and,who is trying to rewrite history!......Tuck please! posterior of a donkey (oops,,sorry Democrats...did not mean anything by the donkey comment)

BROCK: Look, this is, as you say being billed as a docudrama, but there‘s no docu to the drama. It‘s all drama. The Media Matters mission is to fight misinformation in the media, and everything we know about this movie, including the admissions by ABC, by the writer-producer, by Tom Kean, show that it‘s a total distortion and totally fictionalized...


BROCK: I just have to add one thing.


BROCK: You know there are educational materials being disseminated by ABC and Scholastic to 100,000 teachers across the United States. So even if one was to take your point, OK, the movie‘s all made up, it‘s inexcusable—it‘s inexcusable that educational materials that have false information, that say Iraq was integral to 9/11 -- now, you know, even President Bush says that‘s not true.

CARLSON: But actually...

BROCK: How could this be happening?

CARLSON: ... the educational material don‘t say that. But one point at a time.

BROCK: But...

CARLSON: Now, wait! Hold on. Sit down! You are, I think, in partisan hitman mode, and that‘s a shame—I‘m serious! -- because this—history is important because it informs how we take on the future.
Come on Tuck! about partisan about serious! about history, information,and future! You remind me of a character right out of the pages of George Orwell's 1984.

This is a quote from “The Washington Post,” not from any right-wing cabal. Quote, “The Clinton administration had as many as four chances to kill or capture Osama bin Laden between December 1998 and July 1999,” just between that period. “The Post” also goes on to say, “In 1996, the government of Sudan offered to hand over Osama bin Laden.” The Clinton administration gave up on that because, quote, “It lacked a case to indict him in U.S. courts.”

The point is, the Clinton administration did not, in a series of well-documented, beyond-dispute instances, do all it could to apprehend or kill Osama bin Laden. We know that as a fact!

BROCK: Look...

CARLSON: So I‘m sorry you don‘t like it, but that‘s just true!
I have compete confidence in your knowledge of the truth, Tuck.......You Repubs sure do have it all together!......Thank GOD that you have HIM on your side!

BROCK: It‘s not what I like or don‘t like. What I don‘t like is a film that—you know, any film can show failures of any administration. That‘s fine. But don‘t make up the failures. Don‘t fictionalize. Stay true to the facts.

CARLSON: But that‘s the claim that this film makes, that the Clinton administration did not do it could to apprehend Osama bin Laden...


CARLSON: ... very touchy about that.
Yes Tucker, we are somewhat touchy about the truth

BROCK: They make the case...

CARLSON: It wounds. It hurts to hear it, but it‘s true!
Wow!....thanks Tucker.....I was starting to get confused about the truth again!

BROCK: They make the case with false depictions. They show Madeleine Albright—they defame Madeleine Albright, saying that she tried to warn Pakistan about U.S. air strikes. She didn‘t. The 9/11 commission said it was the U.S. military that did that. That‘s defamation.

CARLSON: OK. It‘s defamation? That‘s ridiculous! That‘s—that‘s
you know what? You‘re reading off a list of talking points! And again, you‘re not addressing...
yea....good old "talking points".....seems like FOXY NEWS is great at that stuff!

BROCK: I‘m not reading.

CARLSON: No, no! You‘re—yes, you are!
ok tucker, what is it no,no or yes yes!.....are you starting to lose it or something!

BROCK: I am not.

CARLSON: You‘re repeating talking points distilled, come up with,written by...
hear we go again with the talking points!

BROCK: Come on!

CARLSON: ... people who worked in—no, who represent... are starting not to make sense Tuck!

BROCK: You don‘t know that.

CARLSON: ... the interests...
yes....keep going!

BROCK: That‘s not the case.

CARLSON: I do know that! I‘ve read everything you‘ve been e-mailing to me and other journalists all day long!
and you didn't like it much, did you Tucker

BROCK: What we‘ve been e-mailing...

CARLSON: And it is basically...
yes.....keep it coming!

BROCK: ... is our original research, Tucker.

CARLSON: OK. Well, I think, in this case...
what! tuck??????

BROCK: And if you don‘t like it...

CARLSON: ... as many others, you are acting as a partisan Democratic shill, and it‘s a shame...
Ouch!.....that really hurt Tucker!

BROCK: That‘s absolutely...

CARLSON: ... on behalf—hold on! -- on behalf of people...
tell it the way it is "on behalf of all the people"....tell us all the truth again!

BROCK: If we‘re going to get into name-calling, Tucker...

CARLSON: ... who have a vested interest—I‘m not name-calling!
ut oh.....this is taking me back to the school yard.....grade school even!

BROCK: Yes, you are.

CARLSON: I just think this history is important, and there are people...
looks to me like you are calling this "Docudrama" history.....say it isn't so Tuck!

BROCK: It is important.

CARLSON: ... John Podesta, Sandy Berger, who were there at the time, who have a vested interest in presenting their side of the case, and I think it‘s important that our viewers know that, that this is coming from a specific perspective. It‘s not just disinterested historians trying to correct the record!

BROCK: It‘s coming from the writer-producer of the film, who says Sandy Berger never hung up the phone. It‘s coming from ABC, that admits the film is inaccurate. And when CBS found inaccuracies in their Reagan biopic, which was, you know, a docudrama, they pulled the movie.

CARLSON: They pulled the movie because of pressure—political pressure from conservatives and former Reagan administration employees, who said they didn‘t want their hero presented in this way. And at that time, liberals had a fit! They said, This is censorship, this is outrageous. No one claimed this was a—they‘re making the same argument that I am making now. And I actually didn‘t argue with them because I sort of agree. I mean, people have a right to take poetic and artistic license to get a true point across. And in this case, you‘re acting on...
yea......keep just had to say "to get a true point accross", instead of just plain old "to get a point accross"......telling us about the TRUTH again, right Tucker!......thanks so much!

BROCK: So you‘re saying...


CARLSON: ... censor the truth!
"censor the truth".....please Tucker, we already talked about how this is fiction!

BROCK: ... the facts can be wrong if some overall point is true?


BROCK: Is that what you‘re saying?

CARLSON: That‘s not—that‘s not at all what I‘m saying!


CARLSON: I am saying that this docudrama does not purport to be a documentary, A. And B...

BROCK: Educational materials are going out to school children based...

CARLSON: Those educational materials...

BROCK: ... on this movie.

CARLSON: No, but those educational materials...


CARLSON: You can‘t point to one thing that is inaccurate! You can‘t point to a single thing that is inaccurate in those materials!

BROCK: Yes, I gave you...

CARLSON: Go ahead and point to one!

BROCK: ... one earlier. I gave you one earlier. They said Iraq was integral to—an integral country in 9/11, and that‘s not the case.

CARLSON: No, actually—actually, they did not say that. The statement that it—no! In those materials, it said the president responded and the Congress responded to 9/11 by invading Afghanistan and invading Iraq and doing a number of other things. It doesn‘t...

BROCK: Was Iraq integral to 9/11?

CARLSON: It said he responded to 9/11 by doing it. The point is, you are twisting—you‘re spinning this...

BROCK: Why do they...

CARLSON: ... from a certain perspective.

BROCK: Why do they say that it was thought that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and never come back and say, Hey, those weren‘t found?

CARLSON: Well, actually, weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq, just not enough to justify a war...
oh no!!....not the old WMD's again....please!.....I can't take much more of this!


CARLSON: ... in the opinion of many, including me. I mean, I‘m not defending the war in Iraq, I‘m merely saying that you can‘t point to those materials and say they‘re factually wrong. You‘re just taking the side of people who...

BROCK: I am not.

CARLSON: ... are mad because their inadequacies are being held up to public view!

BROCK: We‘ve looked at those materials closely, and anybody who wants to can go on our Web site and see that they are filled with misinformation.

CARLSON: OK. I think your Web site is filled with misinformation, and never moreso than in this case. I think it‘s embarrassing, what you‘re doing, and I would be ashamed, if I were you, but you‘re not.

BROCK: I‘m not.

CARLSON: And I‘m sorry that you‘re not. David Brock, thanks for coming on.

BROCK: Thank you.

Great ending Tucker....just a great ending....absolutly full of class! Remind me to wear full body armour next time.

(Sorry, I just had to use red for this last comment......I was seeing red!)


Tuesday, September 12, 2006


This is quite a comment from Keith Olbermann on the five year anniversary of the 9/11 attack. I've always felt that we, "as a country" had an opportunity immediately following the attack to unite the world against these insane people. We had the entire world on our side. Afganistan was the right war, and Al-queda the right enemy. Then we, as a country" were led in the wrong direction. I was not sure what was happening at first, but it soon became evident that there was too much politics, and not enough bi-partisanship. Too much fear, and not enough faith. Too much hubris, and not enough intelligence.....the "Bring it on Kid" was playing war!
CLICK HERE FOR LINK TO MSNBC KEITH OLBERMANN (BLOGGERMANN) SITE Below is all of his comments on the 5 year anniversary of the attack on this country.

Sept. 11, 2006 | 8:32 p.m. ET

This hole in the ground
By MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann

Half a lifetime ago, I worked in this now-empty space. And for 40 days after the attacks, I worked here again, trying to make sense of what happened, and was yet to happen, as a reporter.

All the time, I knew that the very air I breathed contained the remains of thousands of people, including four of my friends, two in the planes and -- as I discovered from those "missing posters" seared still into my soul -- two more in the Towers.

And I knew too, that this was the pyre for hundreds of New York policemen and firemen, of whom my family can claim half a dozen or more, as our ancestors.

I belabor this to emphasize that, for me this was, and is, and always shall be, personal.

And anyone who claims that I and others like me are "soft,"or have "forgotten" the lessons of what happened here is at best a grasping, opportunistic, dilettante and at worst, an idiot whether he is a commentator, or a Vice President, or a President.

However, of all the things those of us who were here five years ago could have forecast -- of all the nightmares that unfolded before our eyes, and the others that unfolded only in our minds -- none of us could have predicted this.

Five years later this space is still empty.

Five years later there is no memorial to the dead.

Five years later there is no building rising to show with proud defiance that we would not have our America wrung from us, by cowards and criminals.

Five years later this country's wound is still open.

Five years later this country's mass grave is still unmarked.

Five years later this is still just a background for a photo-op.

It is beyond shameful.

At the dedication of the Gettysburg Memorial -- barely four months after the last soldier staggered from another Pennsylvania field -- Mr. Lincoln said, "we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."

Lincoln used those words to immortalize their sacrifice.

Today our leaders could use those same words to rationalize their reprehensible inaction. "We cannot dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground." So we won't.

Instead they bicker and buck pass. They thwart private efforts, and jostle to claim credit for initiatives that go nowhere. They spend the money on irrelevant wars, and elaborate self-congratulations, and buying off columnists to write how good a job they're doing instead of doing any job at all.

Five years later, Mr. Bush, we are still fighting the terrorists on these streets. And look carefully, sir, on these 16 empty acres. The terrorists are clearly, still winning.

And, in a crime against every victim here and every patriotic sentiment you mouthed but did not enact, you have done nothing about it.

And there is something worse still than this vast gaping hole in this city, and in the fabric of our nation. There is its symbolism of the promise unfulfilled, the urgent oath, reduced to lazy execution.

The only positive on 9/11 and the days and weeks that so slowly and painfully followed it was the unanimous humanity, here, and throughout the country. The government, the President in particular, was given every possible measure of support.

Those who did not belong to his party -- tabled that.

Those who doubted the mechanics of his election -- ignored that.

Those who wondered of his qualifications -- forgot that.

History teaches us that nearly unanimous support of a government cannot be taken away from that government by its critics. It can only be squandered by those who use it not to heal a nation's wounds, but to take political advantage.

Terrorists did not come and steal our newly-regained sense of being American first, and political, fiftieth. Nor did the Democrats. Nor did the media. Nor did the people.

The President -- and those around him -- did that.

They promised bi-partisanship, and then showed that to them, "bi-partisanship" meant that their party would rule and the rest would have to follow, or be branded, with ever-escalating hysteria, as morally or intellectually confused, as appeasers, as those who, in the Vice President's words yesterday, "validate the strategy of the terrorists."

They promised protection, and then showed that to them "protection" meant going to war against a despot whose hand they had once shaken, a despot who we now learn from our own Senate Intelligence Committee, hated al-Qaida as much as we did.

The polite phrase for how so many of us were duped into supporting a war, on the false premise that it had 'something to do' with 9/11 is "lying by implication."

The impolite phrase is "impeachable offense."

Not once in now five years has this President ever offered to assume responsibility for the failures that led to this empty space, and to this, the current, curdled, version of our beloved country.

Still, there is a last snapping flame from a final candle of respect and fairness: even his most virulent critics have never suggested he alone bears the full brunt of the blame for 9/11.

Half the time, in fact, this President has been so gently treated, that he has seemed not even to be the man most responsible for anything in his own administration.

Yet what is happening this very night?

A mini-series, created, influenced -- possibly financed by -- the most radical and cold of domestic political Machiavellis, continues to be televised into our homes.

The documented truths of the last fifteen years are replaced by bald-faced lies; the talking points of the current regime parroted; the whole sorry story blurred, by spin, to make the party out of office seem vacillating and impotent, and the party in office, seem like the only option.

How dare you, Mr. President, after taking cynical advantage of the unanimity and love, and transmuting it into fraudulent war and needless death, after monstrously transforming it into fear and suspicion and turning that fear into the campaign slogan of three elections? How dare you -- or those around you -- ever "spin" 9/11?

Just as the terrorists have succeeded -- are still succeeding -- as long as there is no memorial and no construction here at Ground Zero.

So, too, have they succeeded, and are still succeeding as long as this government uses 9/11 as a wedge to pit Americans against Americans.

This is an odd point to cite a television program, especially one from March of 1960. But as Disney's continuing sell-out of the truth (and this country) suggests, even television programs can be powerful things.

And long ago, a series called "The Twilight Zone" broadcast a riveting episode entitled "The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street."

In brief: a meteor sparks rumors of an invasion by extra-terrestrials disguised as humans. The electricity goes out. A neighbor pleads for calm. Suddenly his car -- and only his car -- starts. Someone suggests he must be the alien. Then another man's lights go on. As charges and suspicion and panic overtake the street, guns are inevitably produced. An "alien" is shot -- but he turns out to be just another neighbor, returning from going for help. The camera pulls back to a near-by hill, where two extra-terrestrials are seen manipulating a small device that can jam electricity. The veteran tells his novice that there's no need to actually attack, that you just turn off a few of the human machines and then, "they pick the most dangerous enemy they can find, and it's themselves."

And then, in perhaps his finest piece of writing, Rod Serling sums it up with words of remarkable prescience, given where we find ourselves tonight: "The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs and explosions and fallout. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, prejudices, to be found only in the minds of men.

"For the record, prejudices can kill and suspicion can destroy, and a thoughtless, frightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all its own -- for the children, and the children yet unborn."

When those who dissent are told time and time again -- as we will be, if not tonight by the President, then tomorrow by his portable public chorus -- that he is preserving our freedom, but that if we use any of it, we are somehow un-American...When we are scolded, that if we merely question, we have "forgotten the lessons of 9/11"... look into this empty space behind me and the bi-partisanship upon which this administration also did not build, and tell me:

Who has left this hole in the ground?

We have not forgotten, Mr. President.

You have.

May this country forgive you.


Sunday, September 10, 2006

Bush the Pitiful

Great article that tells it the way it is!


September 9, 2006
Bush the Pitiful
by Paul Craig Roberts

People are beginning to feel sorry for President George W. Bush. And with good reason.

A new poll by Harris Interactive published in the Financial Times reveals that our traditional European allies regard the United States as a much greater threat to world stability than Iran, Iraq, and North Korea.

In European opinion, the axis of evil is Bush’s America.

Almost twice as many British, whose Prime Minister Tony Blair is complicit in Bush’s war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq, see the US as the greatest threat to world stability than see Iran as the danger. In Spain three times more people regard the US as the threat than see Iran as the threat. Only in Italy does Iran edge out the US as the greatest perceived threat, a result no doubt due to the propaganda that spews from the media empire of Silvio Berlusconi, the Rupert Murdoch of Italy.

Another reason to feel sorry for Bush is because he is regarded by his own political party and his own Attorney General as a war criminal. Republicans recognize that Bush has committed felonies by violating the US War Crimes Act of 1996 (legislation aimed at the likes of Saddam Hussein and Slobodan Milosevic). Bush’s Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales, and the Republican Congress have produced draft legislation that aims to protect Bush retroactively by gutting the 1996 War Crimes Act. Republicans hope to quietly pass this unconstitutional legislation before they are defeated in the November elections.

The fact that retroactive law is prohibited by the US Constitution adds to Bush’s shame.

Bush is also pitied because a large majority of Americans no longer believe in the single over-riding cause of Bush’s presidency – the "war on terror." A recent Ipsos-Public Affairs poll released by the Associated Press shows that 60 percent of Americans believe that Bush’s invasion of Iraq has created more terrorism and that Americans are less safe as a result of invading Iraq.

Talking heads on television now discuss whether Bush is an idiot. The frequency of such discussions is likely to increase as Bush makes such declarations as "the battle for Iraq is now central to the ideological struggle of the 21st century."

Bush evokes more pity, because he has lost the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In Iraq, the Kurds in the north have replaced the Iraqi flag with the Kurdish flag. The rest of Iraq is governed by Sunni insurgents or Shi'ite militias. The US puppet government is powerless and dares not leave its US-protected fortified bunker, and on September 5, the dominant Shi'ite political alliance prepared legislation that would divide Iraq into Kurd, Sunni, and Shi'ite autonomous regions.

Apparently, no one has told Bush that he is spending American lives and money on a cause that the Iraqis themselves have abandoned.

Bush still crows about his defeat of the Taliban. Those of us who have served in the government at high levels wonder every day about Bush’s daily briefing. Does he get one? Who gives it to him? I think Bush’s briefing must come from Dick Cheney, Richard Perle, and William Kristol. Where else could he get such bogus information?

Perhaps Bush’s wife or one of his daughters could smuggle him a copy of the recent report on Afghanistan by the Senlis Council, a security and development policy group that closely monitors the situation in Afghanistan.

According to this report, "Afghanistan is spiraling into uncontrollable violence." The Taliban have regained control over half of the country:

"Despite the international community’s concerted five-year focus on military operations, the security situation in Afghanistan is worse than in 2001. The Taliban now have a strong grip on the southern half of the country. Afghans perceive that the US and NATO troops in southern and eastern Afghanistan are being defeated by the Taliban. The legitimacy of the international community’s presence in Afghanistan is undermined by its incapacity to protect the Afghan population.”

Bush was betrayed by the neoconservatives he appointed, protected, and promoted. Public opinion polls in the Arab and Muslim world show that Bush’s invasions, aggressive stance toward Syria and Iran, and unconditional support for Israeli aggression have created a powerful Islamic political movement that experts say will sweep away the corrupt governments allied with the United States.

The ignorant actions of Bush the Pitiful have marginalized moderate Arabs and destroyed America’s standing both in Muslim lands and the wider world.

Bush has defeated no one, but he has destroyed American’s reputation and his own.

Chilling numbers for the Republicans

If this ain't good news, I don't know what is! Let's keep the ball rolling!

Chilling numbers for the Republicans
If something doesn't change, GOP will likely lose House, hang on in Senate
By Charlie Cook
National Journal

Updated: 3:15 p.m. ET Sept 7, 2006

WASHINGTON - Republicans are facing a motivation deficit unlike anything they've seen at least since 1982 and probably since the post-Watergate midterms of 1974.

Labor Day weekend marks the unofficial beginning of the fall campaigns. And if the political climate remains as it is today -- a very big "if" -- Republicans will likely lose the House and their dominance of the nation's governorships but hang on to the Senate by a thread. Every sign points to a reappearance of the "time for a change" dynamic that has hit one or both chambers of Congress in five of the last six midterm "six-year-itch" elections -- those held during a president's second term.

The latest Cook Political Report/RT Strategies national poll [PDF], a survey of 801 registered voters conducted Aug. 25-27, confirms what the vast majority of other surveys have shown for months: The "change" dynamic is strong, antipathy toward President Bush remains high and the outlook for the Republican Party is grim.

Just 28 percent of voters said that the country is headed in the right direction, while 64 percent said it is on the wrong track, virtually the same results as the 27-percent "right direction," 63-percent "wrong track" split in the Cook/RT poll taken in late July. For the party controlling the White House and both chambers of Congress, these numbers should be chilling.

In the August Cook/RT poll, Bush's job-approval rating is 39 percent, the same as July, while his disapproval rating is up 4 points to 55 percent. Although 21 percent of respondents said they "strongly approve" of Bush's performance, 46 percent "strongly disapprove," an extraordinarily high level of intensity that the GOP should find disturbing.

Congress' approval rating is 31 percent in the new poll, 3 points higher than a month ago; disapproval is 58 percent, 1 point higher. The Gallup Organization has found that when Congress has a job-approval rating of 40 percent or above, the party in power loses an average of just five House seats in a midterm election, but when congressional approval is below 40 percent, that party loses an average of 29 seats.

Finally, on the generic congressional ballot question -- asking voters which party they'd like to see in control of Congress after the election -- the latest Cook/RT survey found Democrats leading by 11 points, 51 percent to 40 percent, compared with 13 points in late July and 12 points in early June. In past elections, this gauge has tended to skew about 5 points more Democratic than the actual popular vote for the House. Lopping off 5 points brings the Democrats' edge down to 6 percentage points, a bit wider than the lead that Republicans had going into the 1994 election.

Predicting turnout is tricky
Predicting voter turnout is especially tricky in midterm election years, because participation is always lower than in presidential elections. Current signs indicate, though, that Republicans are not as motivated as Democrats to vote, a sharp turnaround from 2000 and 2004, when the GOP was the fired-up party.

When voters were asked how interested they are in the upcoming election, on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being "extremely interested," 61 percent of Democrats said "10," but only 50 percent of Republicans did. On the generic congressional question, Democrats had a whopping 17-point lead (56 percent to 39 percent) among voters who ranked themselves an extremely interested "10," and a 15-point lead (55 percent to 40 percent) among the "highly interested," those who rated themselves "9" or "10".

No one should expect the Democrats' popular vote advantage to be nearly that wide in November. It is safe to say, however, that Republicans are facing a motivation deficit that is unlike anything that they've seen since at least the 1982 midterm election, when unemployment hit 10 percent just weeks before Election Day, and probably since the 1974 post-Watergate midterm election.

Ultimately, the GOP's biggest challenge heading toward Nov. 7 is getting its people out to vote. When a party's voters are disillusioned and disinclined to participate, candidates' leads in pre-election polls can disappear in the blink of an eye. And some who appeared headed toward victory end up giving concession speeches.

The political climate is key for the next 66 days. Will it change enough for the GOP to hang on to its majorities?
Charlie Cook is the founder and publisher of the Cook Political Report.


In a pivotal year, GOP plans to get personal

Here they go! Off to the bottom of the barrel. In the 2004 election cycle, I got so much junk from the GOP in the mail, it was totally disgusting. I wish I had saved some of it. It would have been interesting to look back at the dribble.....probably directly from the "Architect" himself, the Karl Rove (winner of elections,master of lies and propaganda). This time I plan on keeping the crap that comes in the mail. I might save it all up, and get a committee together to figure out how to dump it from 10,000 feet right on "Turd Blossoms" head.

In a pivotal year, GOP plans to get personal
Millions to be spent digging up dirt, ‘defining’ Democratic candidates

By Jim VandeHei and Chris Cillizza
The Washington Post

Updated: 12:06 a.m. ET Sept 10, 2006

Republicans are planning to spend the vast majority of their sizable financial war chest over the final 60 days of the campaign attacking Democratic House and Senate candidates over personal issues and local controversies, GOP officials said.

The National Republican Congressional Committee, which this year dispatched a half-dozen operatives to comb through tax, court and other records looking for damaging information on Democratic candidates, plans to spend more than 90 percent of its $50 million-plus advertising budget on what officials described as negative ads.

The hope is that a vigorous effort to "define" opponents, in the parlance of GOP operatives, can help Republicans shift the midterm debate away from Iraq and limit losses this fall. The first round of attacks includes an ad that labeled a Democratic candidate in Wisconsin "Dr. Millionaire" and noted that he has sued 80 patients.

"Opposition research is power," said Rep. Thomas M. Reynolds (N.Y.), the NRCC chairman. "Opposition research is the key to defining untested opponents."

The Republican National Committee, meanwhile, has enlisted veteran party strategist Terry Nelson to run a campaign that will coordinate with Senate Republicans on ads that similarly will rely on the best of the worst that researchers have dug up on Democrats. The first ad run by the new RNC effort criticizes Ohio Rep. Sherrod Brown (D) for voting against proposals designed to toughen border protection and deport illegal immigrants.

Challengers make easy targets
Because challengers tend to be little-known compared with incumbents, they are more vulnerable to having their public image framed by the opposition through attacks and unflattering personal revelations.

And with polls showing the Republicans' House and Senate majorities in jeopardy, party strategists said they have concluded that their best chance to prevent big Democratic gains is a television and direct-mail blitz over the next eight weeks aimed at raising enough questions about Democratic candidates that voters decide they are unacceptable choices.

"When you run in an adverse political environment, you try to localize and personalize the race as much as you can," Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) said.

In a memo released last week, Cole, who is running to succeed Reynolds at the NRCC, expanded on that strategy. The memo recommended that vulnerable incumbents spend $20,000 on a research "package" to find damaging material about challengers and urged that they "define your opponent immediately and unrelentingly."

GOP officials said internal polling shows Republicans could limit losses to six to 10 House seats and two or three Senate seats if the strategy -- combined with the party's significant financial advantage and battled-tested turnout operation -- proves successful. Democrats need to pick up 15 seats to win control of the House and six to regain power in the Senate.

Going for the local body blow
Against some less experienced and little-known opponents, said Matt Keelen, a Republican lobbyist heavily involved in House campaigns, "It will take one or two punches to fold them up like a cheap suit."

Republicans plan to attack Democratic candidates over their voting records, business dealings, and legal tussles, the GOP officials said.

John Geer, a political scientist at Vanderbilt University and the author of a book on negative advertising, said Republicans and Democrats alike lack positive issues on which to run because of divisions over the war and economic policy. This will be a "very negative campaign and probably a more negative campaign than any in recent memory," Geer said.

As Republicans try to localize races, Democrats' hopes for the most part hinge on being able to nationalize the election and turn it into a referendum on the Iraq war, President Bush, and the performance of the Republican Congress -- all faring poorly in polls this year.

Bush will try to make terrorism the issue nationally, casting the election as a choice between two distinct approaches for protecting the nation from attack. Beyond that, however, most Republicans want to distance their elections from the national context.

That strategy is born of necessity. Republicans are alarmed by the large number of House and Senate incumbents who are trailing or tied in their internal polling. Many are attracting the support of less than 45 percent of likely voters -- a danger zone for any incumbent 60 days before an election. The political rule of thumb is that incumbents rarely draw a majority of voters who make up their minds in the days shortly before Election Day.

Do voters have an appetite for change?
History shows how the combination of opposition research and negative advertising can work. In 2000, Republicans unleashed a furious attack on the spending practices of Democratic House candidate Linda Chapin, including her purchase of an $18,500 bronze frog as a legislator in Florida. Chapin, then the favorite to win an open Florida House seat, lost to Republican Ric Keller. That same election cycle, Republicans dug up a tape of state Rep. Eleanor Jordan (D-Ky.) asking to speed up a vote so she could attend a fundraiser, an image that destroyed her chances of knocking off Rep. Anne M. Northup (R).

This year, the challenge is tougher, as national polling shows voters dissatisfied with the party in power and ready for a change.

"When all [Republicans] do is launch potshots, they look like they're trying to cover up the fact that they have no solutions" said Phil Singer, communications director for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

As in past elections, the bulk of negative advertising this year probably will be delivered by party committees -- a strategy that allows the candidates to distance themselves from the trash-talking messages that turn off some voters.

Digging for dirt
Wisconsin's 8th District offers an example. Earlier this summer, the NRCC sent a young staff member to the district for one week to look through court records, government and medical documents, and local newspapers to find embarrassing information about physician Steve Kagen, one of the leading Democratic candidates in an important swing district, an NRCC aide said. The researcher discovered that Kagen's allergy clinic has sued more than 80 patients, mostly for failing to pay their bills.

A new NRCC ad airing in the Green Bay area, the district's main media market, warns: "What Dr. Millionaire doesn't want you to know is his clinic left more than 80 patients behind -- suing them. That's right, suing more than 80 patients."

In recent elections, Democratic officials have complained that Republicans are much better at opposition research. But Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) and Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), who chair the Democrats' House and Senate campaign committees, have invested more heavily in research. Notably, the researchers dig not only into Republicans, but also their own candidates. This allows Democrats to anticipate what is coming and be ready to respond quickly.

Dems also do opposition research
One Democratic research success this year came when Emanuel's staff combed though the archives of several universities to find a copy of an article Colorado Republican candidate Rick O'Donnell wrote for an obscure publication in the mid-1990s. A researcher eventually found the article at George Washington University. In it, O'Donnell argued that Social Security should be abolished -- a revelation that was highlighted in three sharply worded DSCC mailings in the district.

Direct-mail appeals often carry the most negative and potentially damaging messages. Dan Hazelwood, a leading GOP direct mail consultant, said that if a hypothetical Democratic candidate favors the establishment of a garbage dump in a section of the district, for instance, it makes more sense to "narrow-cast" this message by mail to the people most affected rather than buying an expensive, districtwide television ad.

The RNC's expanded role in part reflects concerns that Senate Republicans may not have enough money to take the fight to Democrats. The National Republican Senatorial Committee, under Chair Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.), had $15 million less to spend than the DSCC at the end of July. But, the RNC is planning to make up the difference. The committee ended July with nearly $44 million in the bank, four times what the Democratic National Committee had on hand.

In setting up a separate arm to spend money on Senate races, the RNC is altering its past practice. In the past, the RNC simply transferred a large sum of money to the House and Senate campaign committees and let the chairmen decide how to spend it. This year, Nelson -- a former top official in the Bush reelection effort and political strategist for House Republicans -- will work with consultants Tony Feather and Curt Anderson to oversee the TV and direct-mail campaign, which by law must remain independent of coordination directly with candidates.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company


Progressive Spin On Traditional Faith

I find this article compelling in that people of faith need to address the completely hypocritical message that is delivered by the Christian Right. If you get anything out of reading the bible, it is that we are all on this planet for a short time, and we need to help each other. Christ was a liberal!

Evangelical Author Puts Progressive Spin On Traditional Faith

By Caryle Murphy
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, September 10, 2006; A01

Lyndsay Moseley was no longer inspired by the evangelical Christian faith of her youth. As an environmental activist, she believed that it offered little spiritual support for her work and was overly focused on opposing abortion and gay marriage.

Then the 27-year-old District resident discovered Brian D. McLaren of Laurel, one of contemporary Christianity's hottest authors and founding pastor of Cedar Ridge Community Church in upper Montgomery County.

"He always talks about the environment as a priority when he talks about the church being relevant to the world," Moseley said. "He's leading a [spiritual] conversation that needs to happen," one that "I've been hungry for."

McLaren has emerged as one of the most prominent voices in an increasingly active group of progressive evangelicals who are challenging the theological orthodoxy and political dominance of the religious right. He also is an intellectual guru of "emerging church," a grass-roots movement among young evangelicals exploring new models of living out their Christian faith.

Progressives, who range from 11 to 36 percent of all evangelicals, according to various polls, are still overshadowed by the Christian right among evangelicals. But the steady popularity of McLaren's books over the past eight years signals an expanding diversity of thought in this important political constituency.

McLaren, 50, offers an evangelical vision that emphasizes tolerance and social justice. He contends that people can follow Jesus's way without becoming Christian. In the latest of his eight books, "The Secret Message of Jesus," which has sold 55,000 copies since its April release, he argues that Christians should be more concerned about creating a just "Kingdom of God" on earth than about getting into heaven.

Along with such other progressive evangelicals as Washington-based anti-poverty activist Jim Wallis and educator Tony Campolo, McLaren is openly critical of the conservative political agenda favored by many evangelicals.

"When we present Jesus as a pro-war, anti-poor, anti-homosexual, anti-environment, pro-nuclear weapons authority figure draped in an American flag, I think we are making a travesty of the portrait of Jesus we find in the gospels," McLaren said in a recent interview.

Scot McKnight, a professor of religious studies at Chicago's North Park University who has studied McLaren's career, said that "he wants there to be greater cooperation among Christians, and he thinks evangelical Christians have aligned themselves too closely with the Republican Party. He wants to see Christians . . . pursue what is right, regardless of the political party's platform."

What makes McLaren's ideas attractive to progressive evangelicals appalls the more numerous conservatives. Noting that he fails to condemn homosexuality, one conservative Web site called him "A True Son of Lucifer" for ignoring "absolute biblical truth." And last year, Baptists in Kentucky revoked a speaking invitation after McLaren said that followers of Jesus might not be the only ones to gain salvation.

"If you have some person or movement coming along calling into question the non-negotiables of Christianity, then those who espouse Christianity find such a challenge dangerous," said Donald A. Carson, professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Illinois, who has criticized McLaren's theology.

Though a "creative, sparkly writer," added Carson, McLaren has "got so many things wrong in his analysis that his work is not going to last that long."

Modernizing the Message

"Emerging church" is a loose network of mostly young evangelicals who believe the Christian message needs to be made more relevant in a time of rapid technological and societal change, particularly to those who've never been part of any church. Participants refer to their interaction as a "conversation," much of which takes place on the Internet at sites such as and blogs such as

"We are questioning a lot of presuppositions of conventional Christians: What should a church look like? How do we really understand Scripture in a modern context?" said Tony Jones, the conversation's national coordinator. "To conservatives, we seem like relativists, and to liberals, we seem like Jesus freaks."

The movement has no membership rolls, set beliefs or creed; liturgical diversity is encouraged. There is no way to know how many congregations are putting "emerging church" ideas into practice, Jones said. But "thousands of churches and pastors are . . . listening in, coming to hear Brian and reading my weekly e-mails."

McLaren said the name "emerging church" came out of a 2001 discussion he had with Doug Pagitt, pastor of Solomon's Porch in Minneapolis, about "why the megachurches were not attracting young people." The reasons, experts said, were becoming evident in the 1990s: dissatisfaction with the rightward drift in evangelical politics; worship styles so contemporary and casual they had no spiritual uplift; a lack of emphasis on social justice; and a theology that some say reduced Christianity to a recipe.

"The modern Christian formula of 'I mentally assent to the fact that Jesus died for my sins and therefore I get to live forever in heaven' . . . is entirely cognitive," said Ken Archer, 33, a D.C. software entrepreneur who is studying philosophy at Catholic University. "It's a mathematical formula [that] leaves the rest of our being unfulfilled."

McLaren's 2001 book, "A New Kind of Christian," captured the dissatisfaction. "I felt like someone had read my mind," said Michael Lamson, 31, an evangelical youth pastor in Mercersburg, Pa. Three years later, in "A Generous Orthodoxy," McLaren elaborated his theological outlook, which became a major influence on the "emerging conversation."

"What Brian is contributing is excellent questions that expose the modern roots of our spiritual angst," said Archer, who has had long conversations with McLaren. "He sees the answers coming from others, and he has encouraged thousands of people, including myself, to find the answers."
A Fellowship Expands

Cedar Ridge, the congregation McLaren founded, is a far cry from the religious environment in which he was raised in Rockville. His family belonged to the ultraconservative Plymouth Brethren, which also is the childhood church of activist Wallis and radio celebrity Garrison Keillor.

As someone who loved books, music and science, "I was on the way out from the Christian faith" in his mid-teens, said the balding McLaren, who wears glasses and a closely cropped grey beard.

But that changed with the Jesus Movement of the 1970s, whose anti-establishment spirit attracted him. "I've always had the sense that Jesus's message is not a chaplaincy to the establishment," he said, "but that it is countercultural."

In 1982, while he was teaching English at the University of Maryland, McLaren and his wife, Grace, started a small "fellowship group" in their College Park apartment. "We'd have prayer, I'd do a little Bible study, then we'd have dinner. It was mostly grad students," he recalled.

The group met for several years in homes and school buildings until it ended up at Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Beltsville and took the name Cedar Ridge. McLaren left teaching -- and his unfinished doctorate studies -- to be pastor. In the late 1990s, the congregation of about 250 bought a 63-acre farm in Spencerville and moved there in January 1999.

The church now has an average attendance of 600 at Sunday services, and members say a big reason for the growth was McLaren's openness to ideas that are unconventional in evangelical circles.

"I don't see the issue of homosexuality as the simple black-and-white issue that some of my fellow evangelicals make it out to be," said McLaren, who last year was named by Time magazine among the "25 most influential evangelicals in America."

And while not happy about widespread abortions, he added, "to just say 'Okay, let's pass laws about it' seems to me to skip a number of important steps, like honest and open dialogue, persuasion and seeking to remove the conditions that make abortion so prevalent."

McLaren, who never attended seminary or divinity school, said his congregants' questions made him realize that the old answers no longer worked. "I remember thinking these are a different kind of question, and I didn't have good answers," he said. "I went through a real period of doubt . . . about the form of Christianity that I'd inherited. . . . In many ways, that struggle is what gave birth to my first book."
A Bigger Mission

The scent of summer grass hung in the steamy air on a recent Sunday morning as a parade of Toyota and Honda SUVs turned off Route 198 into the bucolic compound of Cedar Ridge. The onetime farm's brick silo stood in front of the new church -- built to look like a barn, complete with loft door. No religious symbols adorned the exterior.

Volunteers stood at the door greeting young families, elderly couples, singles and teenagers with studded ears. In the lobby, coffee and bagels were available. "Make yourself a nametag," invited a sign next to pens and labels.

The sanctuary is a huge open space with folding chairs circling a platform that serves as a pulpit. Behind that is an altar covered in purple cloth with a two-foot-high wooden cross. Behind that is a stage with two electric guitars, a keyboard, drums and tambourines. Two large video screens display words to contemporary hymns. The liturgy, which includes Communion, is casual but reverent.

Beverly Farmer of Silver Spring, a traffic reporter with WUSA (Channel 9), has attended Cedar Ridge for five years. "The big, metal building, the folding chairs, was not my idea of church . . . but it appealed to me," Farmer said. "I felt I was at home."

With McLaren's books drawing increased international attention, he asked to step down last year so he could travel more. Matthew Dyer took over as pastor in February.

But McLaren returned on a Sunday in July to preach on the theme of his latest book. Farmer, who was in the congregation that day, said she misses her former pastor but understands.

"Brian's mission is bigger than just Cedar Ridge," she said. "I know he has more work to do in this world."
© 2006 The Washington Post Company

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Where's the Clarity?

Here's a good article on what all the Bush rhetoric is attempting to accomplish

WhereÂ’s the Clarity?
Five years after 9/11, little of Bush’s ‘war on terror’ rhetoric is making sense.
By Michael Hirsh

Updated: 4:18 p.m. ET Sept 8, 2006

Sept. 7, 2006 - Terrible as they are, wars can be clarifying events. Like thunderstorms, they purge the diplomatic air. They force people to take sides and, if they are total wars, they leave one victor standing. This is what happened during World Wars I and II (the latter being mainly an extension of the former) and the cold war. In the end, fascism and totalitarianism were vanquished—with the exception of a few redoubts, like North Korea—freedom was left the sole victor and America was seen as its champion. George W. Bush would have us view the "war on terror," which turns five years old on Monday, in this light as well. "This is the great ideological struggle of the 21st century—and it is the calling of our generation," the president said this week in a dramatic rendezvous-with-destiny speech timed to the 9/11 anniversary. "Freedom is once again contending with the forces of darkness and tyranny"—the terrorists who would seek to impose what he called a "totalitarian Islamic empire."

The president's opponents say the war on terror is nothing at all like the last century's biggest conflicts. With a crucial midterm election approaching, Democrats in particular are eager to portray what Bush calls the war on terror's "central front"—Iraq—not as another glorious fight against totalitarianism but as another Vietnam, a quagmire unrelated to the fight against Al Qaeda. Vietnam, of course, was not a clarifying war, at least for Americans. Indeed the war provoked so much confusion and self-doubt about U.S. policy that its impact is still felt today, 31 years after the fall of Saigon. To Bush's critics, the "Vietnam Syndrome"—a casualty-shy reluctance to use force—has now been replaced by a parallel, and equally paralyzing, "Iraq Syndrome."

The truth is that, year by year, the so-called GWOT (global war on terrorism) has become less and less clear in its direction and goals—and less and less like any previous war. What began as a crystal-clear fight against a small, self-contained group of murderers has become a kind of murky, open-ended World War III in which the identity of the enemy is less certain and our allies seem to grow less reliable. While at the beginning no one had any use for Al Qaeda—Americans, Russians, Chinese, Europeans, Arab regimes—now that the Bush administration has expanded the war to include all terrorists and their "state sponsors," very few nations seem to be buying fully into the U.S. vision. Many of those who hated Al Qaeda, for example, never accepted the link to Saddam Hussein's Iraq. And some of these countries are ambivalent at best about making Hizbullah and Hamas (both of which disavow any link to Al Qaeda), or their sponsors, Iran and Syria, part of the same struggle. "We're a nation at war," Bush says. But we all must now ask: with whom exactly?

In two remarkable speeches delivered in Washington this week, the president sought to recover some of the clarity of 9/11, returning the war on terror to its origins. On Tuesday he restored Osama bin Laden to his place as America's central bogeyman—after a three-year period of barely mentioning his name—and compared him to Hitler and Lenin. The next day, the president brought families of 9/11 victims into the East Room for a dramatic speech in which he acknowledged, for the first time, the existence of the CIA's secret prison program and an "alternative set of procedures" used to interrogate key Al Qaeda suspects rounded up in the early years after 9/11. He made a vigorous case that "questioning the detainees in this program has given us information that has saved innocent lives by helping us stop new attacks."

He also pointed to his most signal success: the lack of a follow-up assault on the U.S. homeland in the five years since 9/11 (except for the still-unsolved anthrax attacks of that fall). Both speeches were political masterstrokes, especially coming two months before an election that has Republicans in serious trouble over questions of the president's competence and credibility. The problem is that, measured against the policies the president has pursued over the past five years, Bush's rhetoric does not describe the war on terror we have come to know.

On Tuesday, speaking before the Military Officers Association of America, Bush exhorted his listeners to take bin Laden's rants seriously, reminding them of what happened when the world powers of the day ignored "an exiled lawyer" (Vladimir Lenin) and a "failed painter" (Adolf Hitler) who laid out their bloody, revolutionary programs early on. "Bin Laden and his terrorist allies have made their intentions as clear as Lenin and Hitler before them," Bush said. "The question is: Will we listen? Will we pay attention to what these evil men say?" Bush declared that "we will not rest ... until this threat to civilization has been removed."

In light of the facts that have since been confirmed, this description does not fully account for Bush's own conduct over the past five years. Bin Laden, after all, didn't just write a pamphlet on 9/11—he carried out his plans, directing his henchmen to kill thousands of Americans on their own soil. It was a moment of absolute, terrifying clarity: in retribution for 9/11, according to every Western code of justice and honor, bin Laden should have been relentlessly pursued until he was dead or captured. Yet we now know that the Bush administration allowed itself to be distracted from that task as the months passed after 9/11. Gary Berntsen, the CIA officer in charge of the operation, told me a year ago that he knows for certain that bin Laden was trapped in Al Qaeda's Tora Bora hideaway after the fall of Afghanistan's Taliban rulers in late 2001. As Berntsen records in his 2005 book "Jawbreaker," bin Laden told his followers, "Forgive me," and apologized for getting them pinned down by the Americans. But Bernsten says, the Pentagon refused to put in the necessary troops.

This account is corroborated by Bernsten's then boss, CIA senior officer Henry Crumpton (now the State Department's counterterrorism chief), who made clear to Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney that America's Afghan and Pakistan allies couldn't take out bin Laden. "We're going to lose our prey if we're not careful," Crumpton told Bush and Cheney, according to Ron Suskind's new book, "The One Percent Doctrine." Numerous accounts have also established that, shortly after Tora Bora, the president began diverting Special Forces troops, Predator drones and other resources involved in the hunt for bin Laden to Iraq.

Yes, Bush sought this week to clarify his broader strategic goals in the war on terror. "The experience of September the 11th made clear, in the long run, the only way to secure our nation is to change the course of the Middle East," he said. And that may well be true. But what about the short run and the medium run? The chief culprit of 9/11 and his top deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, are still free. And Bush administration officials concede, anonymously, that there is a good chance the two will never be caught, especially now that Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, with the administration's blessing, has pledged not to continue troop incursions into the tribal areas where bin Laden and Zawahiri may be hiding.

We also know—again, these are now historical facts, not opinions—that while Bush resorts to the rally-the-citizenry (or electorate) rhetoric of World War II and the cold war, he has sought to tax-cut his way to victory, driving up record budget deficits, underfunding the U.S. Army and quashing all talk of a draft. Even in Iraq, the Army is desperately trying to stabilize Baghdad with one brigade of Stryker fighting vehicles because there are no others that are ready. "We need several brigades, but we don't have them," a senior military official told me this week, citing the Army's pleas for emergency funding. "Since 9/11, for all the rhetoric about us being involved in a global war, there's been nothing of the kind," historian Robert Dallek, who has written of the national mobilization efforts during World War II and the cold war, told me. "It's generally been business as usual."

Then there is overarching issue of whether Iraq ever should have been part of the war on terror at all—or, instead, whether it made the GWOT hopelessly murky. In his speech Tuesday, Bush called Iraq the "capital" of Al Qaeda's would-be totalitarian caliphate and said it "is the central battlefield where the outcome of this struggle will be decided." But military experts now say that the continuing violence since the killing of Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi, the top foreign terrorist in Iraq, last June is evidence that the insurgency there is mainly indigenous, largely unconnected to the larger war on terror. "This proves how small a part foreign fighters play in Iraq," says John Arquilla, an intelligence expert at the Naval Postgraduate School. "There's a real Lewis Carroll quality to all of this rhetoric, where what is up is down, and what is right is wrong. The president says that Iraq is the central front. But the president also says Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. A visitor from Mars just entering into this debate would surely be struck by the contradictions in these statements. And then to invoke bin Laden as a bête noire now while closing down Alec Station [the CIA's bin Laden monitoring group, which was disbanded earlier this year] seems a contradiction as well."

Five years on, little of the GWOT conforms any longer to Bush's clarifying rhetoric. The president argued again this week, as he has tirelessly, that "the lack of freedom" in the Middle East helped create September 11. No one doubts that more freedom and democracy will help to cure the pathologies of the Arab world. But the truth is that the group that orchestrated 9/11 grew up in Afghanistan—not part of the Middle East—during the anti-Soviet jihad of the 1980s. It was conceived by Arab men who'd left their countries and formed European- and Asian-based cells. Their philosophy, mainly based on ultra-orthodox Salafism, was spread by a nominal American ally, Saudi Arabia, underwritten by petrodollars supplied by oil-addicted Westerners. Initially at least, the "Islamo-fascism" that the Bush team refers to had little to do with the mainstream struggle in Islam. It also remains a distinct phenomenon from Hamas and Hizbullah, or the Muslim Brotherhood movement in Egypt.

Some scholars of Islam, such as Gilles Kepel, also argue that extremist Islamist groups were shaped at least as much by European fascist and communist influences as by Arab dictatorships. In an interview, a senior administration official who helped draft Bush's latest "national strategy for combating terrorism"—also released this week—could not cite any authoritative studies linking the rise of democracy with the defeat of terrorism, other than to say, "I'm personally a huge fan of John Stuart Mill." "There's a real disconnect here," says Princeton scholar G. John Ikenberry. "They've come to this without serious thought about how you get democracy and what its impact is."

A parallel lack of clarity led to the interrogation scandal that Bush sought to put behind him Wednesday. The president announced the transfer of CIA-held Al Qaeda suspects to Pentagon custody and the prospect of future trials, in what a senior administration official described as a concession to June's Supreme Court ruling that held Bush's enemy-combatant detention policies to be unconstitutional. In his big speech, Bush defended these policies as a way of applying his broad doctrine of pre-emption of terror to the interrogation room, justified by the need to "break" often zealous and uncooperative Al Qaeda prisoners for clues on forthcoming plots and insights into the global terrorist network. The president was eager to describe how a daisy chain of intelligence breaks from the 14 men he named this week led to the exposure of Al Qaeda's anthrax program and numerous averted attacks, including a "planned strike" on U.S. Marines at Camp Lemonier in Djibouti, another one on the U.S. Consulate in Karachi "using car bombs and motorcycle bombs" and "a plot to hijack passenger planes and fly them into Heathrow or the Canary Wharf in London."

Most Americans, frankly, wouldn't have much of a problem if someone like Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the mastermind behind 9/11, was beaten to within an inch of his life in some dark room somewhere (which is probably what happened after he was captured in May 2003). But the exposure of the two-year-old interrogations scandal—culminating in an embarrassing series of stories about the CIA secret prison program—was also a direct result of the administration's conflation of the original "war on terror" with the counterinsurgency war in Iraq. As detailed in several Pentagon investigations, a handful of techniques that might be legally and even morally justifiable against a handful of true bad guys mentioned by Bush on Wednesday came to be used indiscriminately against many more detainees, a number perhaps running into the thousands in Iraq. What began as a carefully controlled experiment in new techniques used to ratchet up the pressure on resistant Al Qaeda leaders beginning with Abu Zubaida in the spring of 2002—handled by a small number of skilled operatives working for the CIA—came to be used by ill-trained guards at Abu Ghraib prison. If this conflation hadn't occurred, it's far less likely there would have been a scandal of this proportion in the first place.

Finally, another thing that hasn't been clarified five years on is the politics of the war on terror. And just two months from a critical election in which Bush won't be running, but his legacy will be at stake, the president has once again proved he is a master of the game, painting the congressional Democrats as defeatist. This debate, which we will hear a lot more about in coming weeks, is also very different from previous wars. During World War II and, to a lesser extent, the cold war, politicians made a conscious, painstaking effort to bridge party lines, which were every bit as viciously partisan as today. Democrat Harry Truman and Republican Dwight Eisenhower, says John Arquilla, "crafted grand strategy that everybody in America, right and left, accepted for decades. They knew they needed broad support. We don't have that now. We're trying to wage the war on terror with the support of only part of the American people."

Perhaps the only thing that is clear any longer is that the war on terror will continue for a long time to come. And so will the war of words over the war on terror.


Friday, September 08, 2006

John Kerry's major speech in Boston

I saw John Kerry catch and throw back quite a few "hardballs" on Chris Mathews the other night. Hope he and other Democratic politicans keep it up. We need nothing but strength of conviction in the upcoming battles of this war!

The topic of this email -- and the subject of a major speech I will deliver in Boston's Faneuil Hall tomorrow -- is national security.

If you think I'm planning to alert people to Republican pre-election fear-mongering on this vitally important issue, you're only half right.

Of course, we need to reject the Republicans' idea that a "debate" on national security involves them demanding another book of blank checks for policies that don't work. And, needless to say, we can't tolerate them smearing any Democrat who stands up to their miserable record of failure.

I will be campaigning for Democrats all across the country this fall. And, everywhere I go, I will talk about the Bush national security disaster and the need to change course in Iraq. They don't want Americans to remember that Osama bin Laden is still on the loose, the Taliban is gaining strength in Afghanistan, Iran is closer to nuclear weapons, and the mess in Iraq has become a recruitment poster for terror. There is no way to overstate how Iraq has damaged our efforts to actually fight global terror. It has overstretched our military, divided and pushed away our allies, and diminished our moral authority in the world.

But, here's the other half of the story. As Democrats, we have to do more than oppose what has failed. We have to actively propose a new course that can clean up the disaster in Iraq, and defeat jihadist terrorism once and for all.

We must offer the American people the kind of real national security debate they deserve -- and that the Republican Party, top to bottom, would deny them.

Tomorrow I will share my ideas on how we can do just that, achieving a more secure future for America. If you'd like to receive an emailed copy of this important address after it's delivered, please sign up here.


I look forward to working side-by-side with you on this critical issue in the weeks ahead.


John Kerry

P.S. Remember, we'd be glad to email you the speech after it's delivered. And we'll also be posting it on our website at I hope you'll read it yourself and share it as widely as possible.

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About Me

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Native of the Philadelphia "Kensington and Alleganey" northeast area. I spent 4 years in the Air Force (Titan-II missles in Tuscon Arizona). I Am currently retired, and among other adventures I spent 28 years working for AT&T in Telecommunications. I've lived in Florida for 33 years....20 years in Hollywood Fla., and 13 years North Florida. I've been married 42 years, and am a proud father of three adult offspring. All of them contributing to society in a very useful and creative manner.