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It's nice occasionally to come across the intellectually honest Conservative. A rare breed these days. So it was nice to catch this blog item from Andrew Sullivan today. Of note...
Not sure if it's because he's British or gay, but it's certainly nice to see a bit of both "nuance" (overworked word of the year so far in 2004) and honesty from the Right.
Most of the country won't yet get Air America, the new Liberal radio network featuring Al Franken's "The O'Franken Factor" program, which launched today. Even in Los Angeles, where Air America currently is on the air (along with NY, Chicago, Portland, a couple of other cities and on XM Radio) many may have trouble picking it up on it's tiny 1580-am broadcast signal. To make matters worse in L.A., the show is running here on tape delay at Noon, instead of LIVE at it's 9am PT air time. (I guess they're avoiding going direct against Rush out here, but I'm not sure why.)
Nonetheless, with all of those first-day strikes against it, there is some good news to report. For one, the show does stream live on the Internet at 9am PT and offered a far better signal streamed on the net then it does on it's current on-air tape delay broadcast in L.A.
After hearing the first show's live stream, I can report - in general - so far, so good. The first show was head and shoulders above O'Reilly's freshman day on the radio. That would be due in no small part to the smart move of including Katherine Lanpher, a seasoned radio professional, as Franken's co-host. She kept the show moving smartly along without all the amateurish hemming and hawing we got from O'Reilly's first day (and continue to get, quite frankly, from his Radio Factor - although he's much improved.)
A good guest line-up today included former Senator and 9/11 Commissioner Bob Kerry, Liberal icon Michael Moore and a call-in from Al Gore, among others. Also, it seems that Conservative icon Ann Coulter was present as well, though mercifully (for us) locked in the green room in a running gag (and sounding suspiciously like an unbilled Bebe "Dr. Lillith Sternin-Crane" Neuwirth).
Breath-of-fresh-air topics included the lousy deal made by the 9/11 Commission with the Bush Administration for Condoleezza Rice's public testimony in exchange for Bush and Cheney's joint, private, unsworn, unrecorded and untranscribed testimony, Michael Moore's publication of his best-seller "Stupid White Men" originally planned for September 11th, 2001 release and some of the rather stunning Email he's received directly from the troops in Iraq which seem to indicate that perhaps the media (whadda suprise!) may not be reporting the whole story on troop morale and the toll that this whole dubious affair is taking on their psyche.
Obviously, judging a new show of this sort on it's first broadcast is a mistake, so I'll avoid to much criticism or praise just yet, but suffice to say, it's a welcome voice on the Radio, and frankly anywhere in the media which until now has ranged from Far Right to Middle of the Road without a single outlet - anywhere - for the Left. So, welcome to the fray Air America! What took you so long?!
So the Whitehouse has finally come to their senses and will "allow" Condoleezza Rice to testify in public under oath before the 9/11 Commission. How very thoughtful. I guess I was wrong, they really do wish to investigate what went wrong that day and how it might be avoided in the future.
But wait, another caveat or two from the Whitehouse counsel before proceeding:
...That way, they won't have to bother with cleaning up any inconvenient loose ends in the future.
Furthermore, they care so much that they will not only have the President testify (in private, not under oath) to the Commission, but they'll be kind enough to throw in the Vice-President on that same day, at that same session at no additional cost! More from the counsel to the President:
Why waste time asking the President and Vice-President to testify separately, when they can be in the same room at the same time in a "joint private session" to keep their stories straight and avoid any confusion?!
These guys are amazing.
From Drudge just now...
...Could that be right? Condi's first testimony was not even allowed to be recorded? By order of the Whitehouse?!
So she not only had to testify under oath, but they wouldn't even allow the session to be recorded or a stenographer to take a verbatim transcript of the National Security Advisors testimony with the Commission investigating the greatest National Security failure in the history of our nation!
Man...Of course, the pundit echoes continue to the effect of "We've heard Condi on every show in the world, clearly she has nothing to hide! She should testify".
The more I keeping hearing that "Condi has nothing to hide" from the talking heads, the more I begin to wonder if she must!
Keep in mind, all the Whitehouse "precedent" protestations aside, including Condi's own tortured logic on 60 Minutes, to wit:
...Which is valid only if you disregard Sandy Berger (Clinton's NSA) and Zbignew Bzerzinksi (Carter's NSA), both "sitting national security advisors" at the time having testified in the past and consider their testimony to not have been about "policy" but about a criminal investigation. More to the point, though, the precedent being shoehorned into this situation concerns an NSA testifying before Congress. The 9/11 Commission, however, is not "congress". It was created by a vote of Congress with it's Head chosen by the President of the United States. A fact conveniently omited by the dubious and ultimately self-defeating explanation from Condi and friends.
As, once again, Josh Marshall so brilliantly put it:
UPDATE: Since writing the above yesterday, when this site was down due to a network outage, the Whitehouse has finalized their "accommodation" with the 9-11 Commission for Condi to testify. Well, that took long enough, huh? More on that shortly....
Looks like it's true. Al Franken's radio show, beginning this week, will in fact, be called "The O'Franken Factor". Too brilliant.
I wish him luck. He's gonna need it. It looks like they're starting in three big markets (NY, LA and Chicago), but on puny stations in each city. The unremarkable Air America website doesn't give me much confidence either considering they open for business this Wednesday! They've got some great folks in the line-up and it'll be nice to have someone - anyone - on the Left to give us all an occasional break from the big fat lying liars on the Right. But it remains to be seen if the Air America business folks can step up and get the job done. So far, I'm underwhelmed. But I sure as hell am looking forward to Wednesday!
What an astounding week. The crush of events and dirty dealing swirling around the bombshells Richard Clarke dropped this week have been almost too much for even me to keep up with. And I eat this stuff for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Kudos are due to the remarkable coverage this week from master blogger Josh Marshall of the Talking Points Memo for his detailed and meticulous blow by blow on the continuing fallout and the desperately run counter-offensive from the Whitehouse. He has been, minute by minute, exhaustively sourced, from the right and the left, exposing every hypocrisy and misstep as every shoe continues to fall. You're doing yourself a disservice if you don't follow him closely.
So who let the dogs out? Apparently it was Dubya hisself who realized last Monday morning that he may be on the verge of losing the only re-elect issue he has left with which to fool some of the American people some of the time.
But will the desperate, all-out, mis-coordinated flight of the Bush Attack Monkeys work to save the impression that a slim majority of Americans still have that George W. Bush has been so-far-so-good on the "War on Terror"? Or are they simply making matters worse for themselves?
To be fair, I'll disclose once again my personal view of what a horrible mistake I believe the War in Iraq to have been. In the early months following 9/11, I was all ears to the Bushies arguments on the despicable Saddam. Then, as it became increasingly clear that they had no real interest in their very own argument - that Saddam's WMD program was a danger the world couldn't afford to ignore - by undermining themselves with that whole UN/Hans Blix charade they put on, all credibility quickly dissipated, and has been in continuous freefall from where I sit ever since.
So through those eyes, I've watched as nearly 600 American servicemen died, some 13,400 medical evacuees, anywhere from 4800 to 6400 Iraqi military killed (the great majority of them inscripted by threat of death), and a stunning 7000 to 13,500 Iraqi Civilians killed (depending on the source, for example Bill O'Reilly likes to quote 10,000 as the number) in this disgraceful debacle waged under the guise of "Making the world safe from terror" or "Liberation" or "Draining the swamp" or whatever the hell the talking points of the week were.
Then comes forth Richard Clarke, registered Republican, and top Counterterror Advisor to four US Presidents going back to the Reagan Administration who originally appointed him. He unleashes the wrath of the Bushies in one fell swoop, stating in no uncertain terms - under oath - that "By invading Iraq the President of the United States has greatly undermined the war on terror."
Uh, oh. Game over.
And the Bushies went apeshit and began shooting in every possible direction, but continue to hit seemingly only themselves.
I have been, from time to time, the intended prey of wolves out to save themselves at any cost. I've seen such characters foolishly attempt to personally destroy those they see as opposition, instead of simply answering to the charges made with substantive information if it exists and/or simply taking accountability for failures. So as one who has been there - albeit on an admittedly smaller and ultimately insignificant level - I would like to go on record to say: Richard Clarke is an American Hero. History, I'm certain, will bare me out on that one.
In the meantime, what a godforsaken mess they've handed themselves at the Whitehouse.
For a bunch who claim to be fighting to protect America, isn't a bit strange that they seem to be tone deaf to the spontaneous applause for Clarke by the families of the 9/11 victims at this week's hearing? That they ignore their pleas for them to cooperate with the 9/11 Commision? That they laugh off the complaints of those same families when they suggest it might be inappropriate to use the dead bodies of their loved ones in campaign commercials? That they didn't understand in advance that jokes about the lack of WMD's aren't particular funny when so many thousands have died in a war predicated - falsely or otherwise - by same? That they'd allow their National Security Advisor, the once-respected Condoleezza Rice, to testify only privately and never via SWORN testimony to the bipartisan blue ribbon commission convened to investigate the greatest National Security failure in the history of the country?
Who are these folk really trying to protect? And what must they be thinking?
Now, of course, as you know by my admissions above concerning the war, I'm an Anti-American, Liberal, Communist, Pinko, God Hating, Heathen, so don't listen to me. But when Conservatives like Pat Buchanan concede that "the cancer of Terrorism has metastasized due to the War in Iraq" (McLaughlin Group, 3/27/04) you'd think this bunch might wanna sit up and start paying attention.
Of course, they have been sitting up, and they have been paying attention. They just don't seem to be getting the message. Or perhaps they do, but having gone so far down the wrong path, with eyes and ears shut to anyone - even within their own ranks - who didn't tell them what they wanted to believe, they have no choice but to follow the same misbegotten path no matter where it now leads. No matter how many more dead Americans lay along it. No matter how much farther on this fools errand we seem to be running in this misconceived, ill-waged "War on Terror".
There may be good news at the end of the path, however. It's looking more and more each day like that path may, in fact, soon reach it's end. Smack dab in the middle of Midland, Texas. Game over. Or so we can only hope.
Never one to shy away from tooting my own horn, regretfully or otherwise, I came across this item this morning about a crop of babies born in Gaza today, named after the Hamas Leader, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, who was assassinated yesterday by Israel.
On September 14th, 2001, I wrote a "Speech to the Nation�were I President" to no one in particular that I shared only with my family and a friend or two at the time (the family, by the way, was quite critical of it).
Reading the news item above, I recalled the following paragraph from that "speech":
I've heard Bush and Israeli Officials over the last 24 hours describe Yassin as "Israel's Bin Laden". And today, we seem to - quite literally - have quite a few more "Yassins" born in his place.
Something to ponder as we continue down the short-sighted, narrow-minded, fear-based, vengeful, seek-and-destroy strategy currently employed as our own "War on Terror". I have no reason to believe that this strategy will work any better for us than it has for Israel.
Just a note of advice to the John F. Notbush Media Team from someone you'll pay no attention to whatsoever:
In your Campaign Commercials, such as the one you released yesterday, when the Senator is speaking to the camera --- telling us "We need to get some things done in this country" and "Really investing in our kids" --- it'd be wise if he wasn't nodding "NO" while hoping to convince us that he actually means what he's saying.
You can thank me later.
A good catch this morning by the ever-vigilant Josh Marshall vis a vis the Rush/Cheney interview referenced in my previous entry on the stunning Richard Clarke revelations.
Tag-teaming for their attempted one-two knockout blow to Clarke, Cheney, once again, as is his proclivity, happily mis-states the facts in order to paint his preferred Rosey Scenario. Completely misleading the DittoHeads about Clarke's actual responsibilities in the Bush Administration.
Easy enough to do for the benefit of Rush's Will-Believe-Anything audience. But, of course, worth continuing to let you know about, since we believe an informed and de-spun American Electorate is a far less dangerous one.
Wow...Stunning and explosive info from former Bush Terrorism Czar, Richard Clarke on last night's 60 Minutes. But the real "Must See TV" will be this week when he testifies publically before the 9/11 Commission. Here's the star-studded schedule. Not to be missed!
Of course, as with the previous Bushmen-Who-Left-the-Reservation like Paul O'Niell and David Kay before him, the Right Wing Attack Dogs are wasting no time trying to get out in front of the story to call their own man a complete whacko.
When Rush gets Dick Cheney for a live interview, and Condi Rice Op-Eds in the Washington Post you know the Whitehouse understands they're in trouble and they'd better get out in front quickly. They're trying.
Clarke, a Reagan appointee who worked for Bush 41 and then as Clinton's Terrorism Czar and then stayed on in the post for Bush 43, is no whacko. In other words, whatever they will try to do now to crush him, this man is no Dick Morris, and that is clearly scaring the hell out of them.
His words and credentials speak volumes, which is what makes him so dangerous, and why he must be discredited immediately! Most alarmingly, we may finally begin to see why the Administration has been - shall we say - less than eager to give their whole side of the story to the 9/11 Commission.
It's tough to isolate the most damning revelations from Clarke's appearance last night:
There's so much incredible stuff to chose from, but here's a few key items for you. I'd suggest you check out the whole interview if you missed it last night...
"There's a lot of blame to go around, and I probably deserve some blame, too. But on January 24th, 2001, I wrote a memo to Condoleezza Rice asking for, urgently --- underlined urgently --- a Cabinet-level meeting to deal with the impending al Qaeda attack. And that urgent memo-- wasn't acted on.
"I blame the entire Bush leadership for continuing to work on Cold War issues when they back in power in 2001. It was as though they were preserved in amber from when they left office eight years earlier. They came back. They wanted to work on the same issues right away: Iraq, Star Wars. Not new issues, the new threats that had developed over the preceding eight years."
Clarke finally got his meeting about al Qaeda in April, three months after his urgent request. But it wasn't with the president or cabinet. It was with the second-in-command in each relevant department.
For the Pentagon, it was Paul Wolfowitz.
Clarke relates, "I began saying, 'We have to deal with bin Laden; we have to deal with al Qaeda.' Paul Wolfowitz, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, said, 'No, no, no. We don't have to deal with al Qaeda. Why are we talking about that little guy? We have to talk about Iraqi terrorism against the United States.'
"And I said, 'Paul, there hasn't been any Iraqi terrorism against the United States in eight years!' And I turned to the deputy director of the CIA and said, 'Isn't that right?' And he said, 'Yeah, that's right. There is no Iraqi terrorism against the United States."
Clarke went on to add, "There's absolutely no evidence that Iraq was supporting al Qaeda, ever."
"I said, 'Mr. President. We've done this before. We have been looking at this. We looked at it with an open mind. There's no connection.'
"He came back at me and said, "Iraq! Saddam! Find out if there's a connection.' And in a very intimidating way. I mean that we should come back with that answer. We wrote a report."
Clarke continued, "It was a serious look. We got together all the FBI experts, all the CIA experts. We wrote the report. We sent the report out to CIA and found FBI and said, 'Will you sign this report?' They all cleared the report. And we sent it up to the president and it got bounced by the National Security Advisor or Deputy. It got bounced and sent back saying, 'Wrong answer. ... Do it again.'
"I have no idea, to this day, if the President saw it, because after we did it again, it came to the same conclusion. And frankly, I don't think the people around the president show him memos like that. I don't think he sees memos that he doesn't-- wouldn't like the answer."
It's still a long way to November 2nd, but if the story continues unfolding this way on Bush's number one issue, the "War on Terror", he may find himself in big big trouble on Election Day.
(If you're scratching your head, trying to figure out why Bush is keeping CIA Head, George Tenet on board, I think you can wonder no longer!)
But don't underestimate the ability of, John F. Kerry --- or John F. Notbush, as I prefer to think of him --- to rise to the typical Democrat talent of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
And here I thought it possible that the Bush Administration would figure out that decieving, misleading and keeping secrets from the American People was actually counter-productive to their chances of staying in office.
What was I thinking?!
A stunning report today from AP uncovers a recent memo from a National Park Services Deputy Director that not only outlines planned cutbacks to our National Treasures, but the directive to keep them a secret from the public, the media and even congress!
From the memo:
It then goes on to say:
"If you must inform the public"?? Good lord. Anyone up for an 'executive branch adjustment' this November?
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