An ongoing discussion of power, politics and progressive change.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

What Went Wrong in Iraq

Foreign Affairs has a damning article of what went wrong in Iraq. It makes for telling reading, the author repeatedly citing examples of where Ideology over-road experience and basic knowledge of the Middle East.

What makes the piece all the more damning is who the author is: Larry Diamond, Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution. He also was hired by the CPA as a Senior Advisor this year.

Here's a BRIEF snip:
Many of the original miscalculations made by the Bush administration are well known. But the early blunders have had diffuse, profound, and lasting consequences-some of which are only now becoming clear. The first and foremost of these errors concerned security: the Bush administration was never willing to commit anything like the forces necessary to ensure order in postwar Iraq. From the beginning, military experts warned Washington that the task would require, as Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki told Congress in February 2003, "hundreds of thousands" of troops. For the United States to deploy forces in Iraq at the same ratio to population as NATO had in Bosnia would have required half a million troops. Yet the coalition force level never reached even a third of that figure. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his senior civilian deputies rejected every call for a much larger commitment and made it very clear, despite their disingenuous promises to give the military "everything" it asked for, that such requests would not be welcome. No officer missed the lesson of General Shinseki, whom the Pentagon rewarded for his public candor by announcing his replacement a year early, making him a lame-duck leader long before his term expired. Officers and soldiers in Iraq were forced to keep their complaints about insufficient manpower and equipment private, even as top political officials in the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) insisted publicly that greater military action was necessary to secure the country.

In truth, around 300,000 troops might have been enough to make Iraq largely secure after the war. But doing so would also have required different kinds of troops, with different rules of engagement. The coalition should have deployed vastly more military police and other troops trained for urban patrols, crowd control, civil reconstruction, and peace maintenance and enforcement. Tens of thousands of soldiers with sophisticated monitoring equipment should have been posted along the borders with Syria and Iran to intercept the flows of foreign terrorists, Iranian intelligence agents, money, and weapons.

But Washington failed to take such steps, for the same reasons it decided to occupy Iraq with a relatively light force: hubris and ideology

Read the ENTIRE article and then ask yourself: Is the United States truly a safer and better nation after 4 years of Bush's leadership??

Foreign Affairs - What Went Wrong in Iraq - Larry Diamond

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Couldn't happen to a nice guy

From Josh Marshall's blog:
The Kerry campaign is sending Max Cleland and Jim Rassman down to the president's 'ranch' to hand deliver a letter signed by seven veterans serving in the United States Senate asking Bush to "recognize this blatant attempt at character assassination, and publicly condemn it."

Nice political theater and it couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

Maybe it's time for Bush to bug out?
Ha! And Perhaps Bush will release is W-2s from 1970-73, including those for the missing months(? years?) from the TANG (Texas Air National Guard).

But I'm not holding my breath.

Talking Points Memo%3A by Joshua Micah Marshall%3A August 22%2C 2004 - August 28%2C 2004 Archives

Monday, August 23, 2004

What Bush was doing while John Kerry was getting shot at...

From Juan Cole's website--He should be read by EVERYONE, EVERY DAY!

This little-noted interview with Blount's nephew Murph Archibald, which appeared on National Public Radio's "All Things Considered on March 30, 2004, gives a devastating insight into what it was like to have to suffer through Bush in that period.

"All Things Considered (8:00 PM ET) - NPRMarch 30, 2004 TuesdayThis campaign season, there have been questions about whether George W. Bush fulfilled his obligations to the National Guard as a young lieutenant in the early 1970s. For weeks, reporters scoured Alabama in search of pilots or anyone who might have remembered seeing Mr. Bush at the time he was serving in the National Guard there. There is one place in Alabama where Mr. Bush was present nearly every day: the headquarters in Montgomery of US Senate candidate Winton "Red" Blount.

President Bush has always said that working for Blount was the reason he transferred to the Alabama Air National Guard. NPR's Wade Goodwyn has this report about Mr. Bush's time on that campaign.

WADE GOODWYN reporting:In 1972, Baba Groom was a smart, funny young woman smack-dab in the middle of an exciting US Senate campaign. Groom was Republican Red Blount's scheduler, and in that job, she was the hub in the campaign wheel. Ask her about the handsome young man from Texas, and she remembers him 32 years later like it was yesterday.

Ms. BABA GROOM (Former Campaign Worker): He would wear khaki trousers and some old jacket. He was always ready to go out on the road. On the phone, you could hear his accent. It was a Texas accent. But he just melded with everybody.

GOODWYN: The candidate Mr. Bush was working for, Red Blount, had gotten rich in Alabama in the construction business. Prominent Southern Republicans were something of a rare breed in those days. Blount's support of the party led him to be appointed Richard Nixon's postmaster general. In Washington, Blount became friends and tennis partners with Mr. Bush's father, then Congressman Bush. That was how 26-year-old Lieutenant Bush came to Montgomery, at his father's urging . . . It was Mr. Bush's job to organize the Republican county chairpersons in the 67 Alabama counties. Back in 1972 in the Deep South, many rural counties didn't have much in the way of official Republican Party apparatus. But throughout Alabama, there were Republicans and Democrats who wanted to help Red Blount. It was the young Texan's job to find out what each county leader needed in the way of campaign supplies and get those supplies to them. Groom says this job helped Mr. Bush understand how even in a statewide Senate campaign, politics are local.. . . Murph Archibald is Red Blount's nephew by marriage, and in 1972, he was coming off a 15-month tour in Vietnam in the infantry. Archibald says that in a campaign full of dedicated workers, Mr. Bush was not one of them.

Mr. MURPH ARCHIBALD (Nephew of Red Blount): Well, I was coming in early in the morning and leaving in mid-evenings. Ordinarily, George would come in around noon; he would ordinarily leave around 5:30 or 6:00 in the evening.

GOODWYN: Archibald says that two months before the election, in September of '72, Red Blount's campaign manager came to him and asked that he quietly take over Mr. Bush's job because the campaign materials were not getting out to the counties.

Mr. ARCHIBALD: George certainly didn't seem to have any concerns about my taking over this work with the campaign workers there. My overall impression was that he didn't seem as interested in the campaign as the other people who were working at the state headquarters.

GOODWYN: Murph Archibald says that at first, he didn't know that Mr. Bush was serving in the Air National Guard. After he found out from somebody else, Archibald attempted to talk to Mr. Bush about it. The president was a lieutenant and Archibald had been a lieutenant, too; he figured they had something to talk about.

Mr. ARCHIBALD: George didn't have any interest at all in talking about the military. In fact, when I broached the subject with him, he simply changed the subject. He wasn't unpleasant about it, but he just changed the subject and wouldn't talk about it.

GOODWYN: Far from Texas and Washington, DC, Mr. Bush enjoyed his freedom. He dated a beautiful young woman working on the campaign. He went out in the evenings and had a good time. In fact, he left the house he rented in such disrepair--with damage to the walls and a chandelier destroyed--that the Montgomery family who owned it still grumble about the unpaid repair bill. Archibald says Mr. Bush would come into the office and, in a friendly way, offer up stories about the drinking he'd done the night before, kind of as a conversation starter.

Mr. ARCHIBALD: People have different ways of starting the days in any office. They're going to talk about their kids, they're going to talk about football, they're going to talk about the weather. And this was simply his opening gambit; he would start talking about that he had been out late the night before drinking.

GOODWYN: Archibald says the frequency with which Mr. Bush discussed the subject was off-putting to him.

Mr. ARCHIBALD: I mean, at that time, I was 28; George would have been 25 or 26. And I thought it was really unusual that someone in their mid-20s would initiate conversations, particularly in the context of something as serious as a US senatorial campaign, by talking about their drinking the night before. I thought it unusual and, frankly, inappropriate.

GOODWYN: According to Archibald, Mr. Bush would also sometimes tell stories about his days at Yale in New Haven, and how whenever he got pulled over for erratic driving, he was let go after the officers discovered he was the grandson of a Connecticut US senator. Archibald, a middle-class Alabama boy--who, by the way, is now a registered Democrat--didn't like that story.

Mr. ARCHIBALD: He told us whenever he was stopped, as soon as the law enforcement found out that he was the grandson of Prescott Bush, they would let him go. And he would always laugh about that. "
It's time to ask GWBush about his substance abuse history: What drugs, etc. have you consumed???

Bush thinks he might lose...

This little tidbit was buried in Saturday's LA Times. The setting is Ohio, the must-win swing state for W.

At the end of the meeting, Bush turned to his reelection prospects. Although he expressed his belief that he would win on Nov. 2, Bush said he would be at peace with himself "if people elect to send me home."

"He said he wanted to be remembered as being effective and he was not worried about trying to be popular," said Chancelor Wyatt, a marketing manager at Timken.

John Grogg, a furnace operator who put on the dress blues of his Pennsylvania Air National Guard unit for the occasion, quoted the president as saying: "You know, if I should lose this reelection for president of the United States, I know that I've done as good a job as I can do. And God would say, 'Good servant, take a break.' "
From W's lips to God's ears, or so the saying goes... Even a miserable servant needs a break (*GRIN!*).

Bush Hears Straight Talk From Steelworkers

Jeb Bush's Banana Republic

I truly hope Bob Herbert gets the Pulitzer. His current reporting on the intimidation of African American voters in Florida certainly derserves it.

Here's a fast snip:
The G.O.P. was stung again in 2003 when Buddy Dyer, a Democrat, was elected mayor of Orlando. He won a special election to succeed Glenda Hood, a three-term Republican who was appointed Florida secretary of state by Governor Bush. Mr. Dyer was re-elected last March. As with Mr. Gore, the black vote was an important factor.

These two election reverses have upset Republicans in Orange County and statewide. Moreover, the anxiety over Democratic gains in Orange County is entwined with the very real fear among party stalwarts that Florida might go for John Kerry in this year's presidential election.

It is in this context that two of the ugliest developments of the current campaign season should be viewed.

"A Democrat can't win a statewide election in Florida without a high voter turnout - both at the polls and with absentee ballots - of African-Americans," said a man who is close to the Republican establishment in Florida but asked not to be identified. "It's no secret that the name of the game for Republicans is to restrain that turnout as much as possible. Black votes are Democratic votes, and there are a lot of them in Florida."

The two ugly developments - both focused on race - were the heavy-handed investigation by Florida state troopers of black get-out-the-vote efforts in Orlando, and the state's blatant attempt to purge blacks from voter rolls through the use of a flawed list of supposed felons that contained the names of thousands of African-Americans and, conveniently, very few Hispanics.
As events prove again and again, when conservatives yap about making the US a color-blind society, they mean blinding society to the government-sponsored abuse of people of color.

The New York Times %3E Opinion %3E Op-Ed Columnist%3A A Chill in Florida

A Kerry Landslide???

This is something I've suspected since early July, which has been confirmed by my August travels.

Stick a fork in him: Bush is cooked.

Here's a snip from the Gadflyer article:
********'s the key point: the number of battleground states has grown since the beginning of this race, and in each case a state that Bush won easily in 2000 has, to the surprise of many, become highly contested, complete with multiple candidate visits and a tsunami of television ads. Arizona, Nevada, and Colorado were all supposed to be safely Republican; Kerry could win one or more.

In fact, there is not a single battleground state save Louisiana (which many people don't consider and actual battleground state) in which a non-partisan poll shows Bush with a lead larger than the poll's margin of error, while in many, things are trending Kerry's way. Bush won Missouri comfortably in 2000; Kerry now leads in polls there. Pennsylvania, the state Bush has visited more times than any other save Texas, now looks like it might not even be close, with Kerry garnering double-digit leads in some polls. Kerry also leads by a good margin in Michigan. Ohio was supposed to be the Florida of 2000, the state on which all could hinge; most polls show Kerry with a lead there.

Which brings us to Florida itself. After Jeb Bush coasted to re-election in 2002, some were saying Democrats shouldn't even bother trying to contest the Sunshine State; now Kerry leads there in every poll. And the situation on the ground is favorable to Kerry as well: According to the St. Petersburg Times, the Bush campaign, the state GOP, and the RNC combined have only 68 paid staffers in Florida, compared to the 300 working there for the crack anti-Bush field organizing group America Coming Together; that doesn't even count the Kerry campaign itself. Through June, the Democrats had added 129,423 new voters to the Florida rolls, compared to 75,132 for Republicans. And the Democrats will be watching the vote counting very carefully.

The question now becomes, Does Kerry have any coat-tails??

Additionally, I've been watching this campaign very carefully, and there seems to be a looming battle for the heart and soul of the GOP. For every two PO'd dems, there is a simliarly PO'd Republican. It's why Bush is working so hard in solidly GOP states (say SC): He may well lose his own party in a number of states.

It's probably why John McCain is campaigning with him. The 2000 GOP primary campaign was too rancorous for either Bush or McCain to truly "kiss and make up." But the only way McCain is going to be able to lead the fight for control of the GOP is to be a loyal soldier right now.

Go and read the entire article--The data are damning for W.
The Gadflyer%3A Landslide

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Kerry: Slo-Mo on Swifties

Normally Maureen Dowd drives me crazy...Too cute and too sloppy on her facts. But today in her NYTimes column, she does drives some important points home.

Here's just a snip:

It's easy for the Bushes to stay gallant. They delegate the gutter.

There are always third-party political assassins, ostensibly independent, to do the dynasty wet work.

The New York Times %3E Opinion %3E Op-Ed Columnist%3A Kerry%3A Slo-Mo on Swifties

Bush Campaign Drops Swift Boat Liar

This entire bruhaha is nothing more that a crass smear. As the details emerge, it's pretty clear that there has been a fair amount of coordinating between the Swift Boat Liars and the Bush Campaign.

Here's a snip from today's Pravda on the Potomac:

The Bush campaign said Kenneth Cordier, who appears in a new advertisement to be aired by the anti-Kerry group, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, will no longer serve in his voluntary position on Bush's veterans steering committee."


Here's a wonderful smoking gun of collusion between the smear machine and the Bushies. Glad that Kerry is filing a FEC complaint. I doubt much will come of it, but it's still important to nail these guys--to the degree it's possible.

Stay tuned.

Bush Campaign Drops Swift Boat Ad Figure

Friday, August 20, 2004

Kerry's going to romp

I've suspected this since July, when traveling through rural PA and talking with families who have been Republican since the Civil War. --They're voting for Kerry this time, or sitting on their hands.

Today, economics James Galbraith says the same thing in a Salon column. You have to subscribe to see the entire piece, so here's a snip.

To compare George W. Bush to Jimmy Carter is unfair to Carter, who showed his worth as a world citizen last week by upholding the plain fairness of the vote count in Venezuela. Carter was tough-minded and courageous in Caracas. He single-handedly forced the U.S. media -- which in early stories was giving equal play to spurious claims of vote fraud -- to fall in line with the truth. So let me apologize to that great American, a Nobel Peace laureate, for a parallel that, on a personal level, does him disservice.

And yet, George W. Bush is uncannily like Carter in one more respect. Remember the "malaise" speech of the summer of 1979 -- that unfortunate effort by a failing president to ignite the American imagination and get our juices flowing again? Well, Bush has given one of those too. This was the "ownership society" speech, a less-than-stirring call to Americans to go out and "own something." No doubt Bush will repeat this phrase in his acceptance speech at the Republican Convention. There's not much to say about this in a country where homes, college degrees and public pensions -- Social Security -- are already the property of millions, because of government programs that Bush is trying hard to destroy and which destructive efforts he will redouble if he gets a second term. If ever there was an "ownership society," it's the one we live in today, thanks to the New Deal and the efforts of presidents ever since who built on that foundation -- but not Bush.
The question isn't that Bush is going to loose in November, he will, but how badly. And if he goes down, how many other Republicans who blindly drank his WMD kool-aide will follow?? %7C November surprise%3F

Voting While Black

Bob Herbert has been following this story for the last few weeks. Seems like the FL State Storm Troopers are going in the homes of elderly black voters in Orlando. WHy?? To look for evidence of voter fraud.

This is scary, scary stuff.

Here's a snip:
The officers were armed and in plain clothes. For elderly African-American voters, who remember the terrible torment inflicted on blacks who tried to vote in the South in the 1950's and 60's, the sight of armed police officers coming into their homes to interrogate them about voting is chilling indeed.

One woman, who is in her mid-70's and was visited by two officers in June, said in an affidavit: "After entering my house, they asked me if they could take their jackets off, to which I answered yes. When they removed their jackets, I noticed they were wearing side arms. ... And I noticed an ankle holster on one of them when they sat down."

Though apprehensive, she answered all of their questions. But for a lot of voters, the emotional response to the investigation has gone beyond apprehension to outright fear.

"These guys are using these intimidating methods to try and get these folks to stay away from the polls in the future,'' said Eugene Poole, president of the Florida Voters League, which tries to increase black voter participation throughout the state. "And you know what? It's working. One woman said, 'My God, they're going to put us in jail for nothing.' I said, 'That's not true.' "
Grandma got run over by Jebbie's goon squad.


The New York Times %3E Opinion %3E Op-Ed Columnist%3A Voting While Black

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Differences on Dissent

The following is posted at the Mediocrelawstudent weblog. It speaks volumes regarding which Presidential candidate tolerates dissent--not that this should be a surprise. The complete message is posted. It is dated August 3, 2004.

I just wanted to tell you all about my experiences last Saturday. I found out last week that John Kerry was going to speak on July 31 in Wheeling, and so I went to get tickets. In addition, I made a general offer to pick up tickets for anyone at my work that wanted them. In response, some people noted that George Bush was also speaking in Cambridge, OH (which is not too far away) earlier the same day. Since it is not often that one gets to see both candidates for President on the same day, I went and got a ticket for the Bush rally as well.

On Saturday morning, I went to Cambridge with a friend. Wanting to see the President, but not wanting to be seen as supporting his policies, I wore a Kerry/Edwards T-shirt. I want to emphasize, however, that I was not there to protest, only to listen to my President. We stood in line in the rain for an hour an a half in the rain just like the other 10,000 or so people. And while I did get a few curious or dirty looks, very few people said anything to me, and I said nothing to the other people at the event outside of occasional small talk.

As I approached the security area, one low-level security person asked me to turn my shirt inside out. As I said, I was only there to hear the President, and so I complied. When I got to the main security area, however, the same man came up to me again, told me he had checked with his superiors, and that I would not be allowed into the event with the Kerry/Edwards T-shirt. I had been a little afraid of this eventuality and had brought another non-political T-shirt just in case. So I agreed to change shirts. The man took my other T-shirt and put it where I could find it after the speech.Thinking that was the end of that, we went inside and tried to find a place in the crowd where I could see the President. I had no intention of heckling the President or causing trouble of any sort. I just stood with the rest of the crowd waiting for the speech. After a few minutes (maybe 10-15), the first security person came up to me again, this time with a second burlier gentleman. I was asked to stand with the second man in an area somewhat away from the main crowd, and again I complied. A couple of minutes later a third man who told me he was with the President's advance team (or something like that) came up and escorted me out of the event. Still not wanting to cause trouble, I went out as I was asked, and waited for my friend who was allowed to stay. Incidentally, while outside, I did get to do what I came for. I got to see the President briefly waving from his motorcade on the way into the event.

Now being the curious sort, I obtained a Bush shirt to see what would happen at the Kerry rally in Wheeling. Still not wanting to be perceived as a Bush supporter, I waited and put the Bush shirt on about 10-15 minutes before we reached the security checkpoint. This time no one said anything to me, and I was allowed to enter with no questions asked. After entering, I put on my Kerry T-shirt, and listened to the speakers as I had planned.Now I don't know what others will make of this experience, but you should feel free to forward this email to anyone that you would like. I would ask that you include my name, however. Too many people spread lies and rumors on the internet anonymously. What I have said is true, and I am not afraid to sign my name to it.

John Prather

P.S. If you would like to see a newspaper article written about this, you can access it by going to Then click on local news. At the bottom of that page is a calendar for previous stories. Click on August 1. The story is titled "Rally draws only few with opposing views."

Retiring GOP Congressman blasts Iraq War

It looks like a major fight is brewing in the GOP, with the Iraq war fracturing Bush supporters.

According to the Lincoln Journal Star (Nebraska for non-mid-Westerners), SNIP
In a dramatic departure from the Bush administration, Republican Rep. Doug Bereuter says he now believes the U.S. military assault on Iraq was unjustified.

"I've reached the conclusion, retrospectively, now that the inadequate intelligence and faulty conclusions are being revealed, that all things being considered, it was a mistake to launch that military action," Bereuter wrote in a letter to constituents in the final days of his congressional career.

That's especially true in view of the fact that the attack was initiated "without a broad and engaged international coalition," the 1st District congressman said.

"Knowing now what I know about the reliance on the tenuous or insufficiently corroborated intelligence used to conclude that Saddam maintained a substantial WMD (weapons of mass destruction) arsenal, I believe that launching the pre-emptive military action was not justified."

As a result of the war, he said, "our country's reputation around the world has never been lower and our alliances are weakened."

Bereuter is a senior member of the House International Relations Committee and vice chairman of the House Intelligence Committee

Lincoln Journal Star Online
Too bad he had to retire to make this statement. But then again, who wants to risk the wrath of the Bush crowd??? If W goes down in flames in November there's going to be one whale of a fight for the heart & Soul of the GOP. MOre on this in a bit.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Harkin Unloads on Cheney

I lived in Des Moines Iowa for 6 years (1985-1991). Harkin is a pretty easy going guy, not one for hot, emotional outbursts. That he's unloaded all over Cheney indicates just how nasty the BUshies are.

Here's a snip from the CNN site.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) -- Vice President Dick Cheney's questioning of John Kerry's war record and his ability to protect America is "cowardly," Sen. Tom Harkin said Monday.

"It just outrages me that someone who got five deferments during Vietnam and said he had 'other priorities' at that time would say that," said the Iowa Democrat, a former Navy fighter pilot.

Harkin said he had seen clips of the vice president saying in Iowa last week that Kerry lacks a basic understanding of the war on terrorism.

He accused President Bush and his vice president of "resorting to dirty attacks on John Kerry's war record."

"They're running scared because John Kerry has a war record and they don't," said Harkin. "What he (Cheney) is doing and what he is saying is cowardly. The actions are cowardly."

Hooray--FINALLY, FINALLY, FINALLY, the political pros are going after the chicken hawks. - Harkin%3A Cheney%27s comments %27cowardly%27 - Aug 16%2C 2004