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February 28, 2003 PERMALINK
Thank Goodness We Got That War Thing Coming Up
(posted February 28 12:30 AM ET)

You might think that public opinion would be no match for the war drums, the scare tactics, the patriotic appeals, and the relatively cowed media.

Yet Bush's numbers can't stay up.

(UPDATE Mar. 1 3 PM ET -- The latest Fox News poll has the Bush vs. generic Dem matchup at a virtual tie, 42%-38%, with the margin of error +/- 3%.

Via MyDD and DailyKos.)

The CNN-USA Today-Gallup poll showed that Dubya's re-elect number -- those who will certainly vote for him again -- dropped below 50%.

(And we should note, since LiberalOasis was hard on CNN back in Dec. about covering up bad Bush numbers, prominently headlined the drop in support.)

Also interesting, when asked, "Do you favor or oppose Bush's economic plan" only 45% favor, while 40% oppose.

That's without getting into the specifics of the plan. The mere association of Bush's name with the plan sparked the opposition.

That finding is in line with the Pew survey that was released this week, with more disapproving of Bush's handling of the economy than approving.

In fact, after Colin Powell's UN presentation pushed Bush's overall approval numbers back into the 60s, they've now returned the tepid mid-50s in almost every major poll:

Surely, the weak economy is a major factor.

But one must also assume that these numbers wouldn't be crumbling if Dubya was successfully selling the war.

Barreling into war with such a softening of public approval is akin to heading into the playoffs on a losing streak.

And if Bush can't pull off another UN resolution, that may become even more obvious -- Gallup says 59% would be against war in that scenario.

Of course, many expect the war to go smoothly. Quick work of Hussein, few American casualties.

That is the only scenario that would make this downward public opinion trend moot. And surely, that's what General Rove is banking on.

But as Gary Hart said on CNN yesterday:

The Pentagon uses worst case scenarios. Politicians use best case scenarios.

February 27, 2003 PERMALINK
It's Not A Conspiracy
If It's All Out In The Open
(posted February 27 1:50 AM ET)

In the NY Times Magazine last Sept., Bill Keller wrote an in-depth piece on Paul Wolfowitz, which noted:

Iraqi democracy, it should be said, is not the president's declared purpose of "regime change" in Iraq, which is to get rid of a very bad man with a fondness for terrorists and a hunger for weapons of hideous power.

But it is, to many in the administration, including Wolfowitz, a large part of the enticement.

And so that was the firewall shielding Dubya from the "conspiracy theory," centering on The Project for the New American Century (PNAC).

A firewall that was decimated by Dubya's speech last night.

Some background first (this may be a recap for some of you).

PNAC was founded in 1997 to stamp out the isolationist wing of the GOP and "support...American global leadership," which includes the need to "challenge regimes hostile to our interests and values."

Among those that signed PNAC's Statement of Principles were Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz.

As it pertains to current situation, PNAC is known for two specific things.

One, in Sept. 2000, PNAC released a 90-page report "Rebuilding American Defenses,".

The Scottish Sunday Herald called it a "blueprint for US global domination" and SF Gate's Harley Sorensen referred to it, with a dash of hyperbole, as the "take over the world plan."

A couple of choice passages:

The American peace has proven itself peaceful, stable and durable...Yet no moment in international politics can be frozen in time; even a global Pax Americana will not preserve itself...If an American peace is to be maintained, and expanded, it must have a secure foundation on unquestioned U.S. military preeminence.

...the United States has for decades sought to play a more permanent role in Gulf regional security. While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein.

The second thing PNAC is known for is the letter it sent -- signed by Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz among others -- to President Clinton in 1998 that said:

The only acceptable strategy is one that eliminates the possibility that Iraq will be able to use or threaten to use weapons of mass destruction.

In the near term, this means a willingness to undertake military action as diplomacy is clearly failing.

In the long term, it means removing Saddam Hussein and his regime from power. That now needs to become the aim of American foreign policy.

Other media accounts have noted this letter -- most notably Glenn Kessler's W. Post account of how the Iraq decision was made.

But the mainstream press wouldn't fully connect the PNAC dots all the way to Bush.

As Keller's piece indicates, that's because the media would not assume that just because Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz had documented designs on Iraq years ago, and supported an essentially imperialist foreign policy, doesn't mean that Bush's thinking is identical.

Keller's piece is also notable because it quotes Wolfowitz arguing that regime change in Iraq could reshuffle the entire Gulf region:

You hear people mock it by saying that Iraq isn't ready for Jeffersonian democracy. Well, Japan isn't Jeffersonian democracy, either.

I think the more we are committed to influencing the outcome, the more chance there could be that it would be something quite significant for Iraq.

And I think if it's significant for Iraq, it's going to cast a very large shadow, starting with Syria and Iran, but across the whole Arab world, I think.

Back to last night.

Dubya gave a speech to the American Enterprise Institute, the conservative think tank whose fellows include that lovable Pentagon advisor Richard Perle, and the principal author of PNAC's "Rebuilding American Defenses," Thomas Donnelly.

And Dubya didn't disappoint the crowd, moving away from arguments rooted in weapons of mass destruction, and embracing far broader geopolitical goals.

Echoing the Wolfowitz quote given to Keller, Bush said:

There was a time when many said that the cultures of Japan and Germany were incapable of sustaining democratic values. Well, they were wrong. Some say the same of Iraq today. They are mistaken.

Bush went on to say:

A new regime in Iraq would serve as a dramatic and inspiring example of freedom for other nations in the region.

But he did not explicitly name Iran and Syria, the way Wolfowitz did, as that would have raised the specter of a World War III.

Instead he looked to a Palestinian state, and dressed it up in the hippiest of terms:

Old patterns of conflict in the Middle East can be broken, if all concerned will let go of bitterness, hatred, and violence, and get on with the serious work of economic development, and political reform, and reconciliation.

America will seize every opportunity in pursuit of peace. And the end of the present regime in Iraq would create such an opportunity.

A beautiful vision, it must be said.

But now that Bush has made a clear connection to the Wolfowitz vision, that means he is also now linked to the PNAC vision of "Pax Americana" through military might.

And that makes a huge difference.

Because if the military is the tool bringing about regime changes, that raises the question of how democratic these future "democracies" will be.

Dubya speaks of democracies magically appearing because of the Iraqi "example."

But as U. Penn professor and Middle East expert Ian Lustick paints a different picture.

From the Philadelphia Daily News:

[Lustick] said Bush administration hawks believe that a show of force in Iraq would somehow convince Palestinians to accept a peace plan on terms favorable to Israel.

Basically, instead of supporting gradual political reform through positive means, such as economic development, the game plan is democracy via threat.

Which is sure to produce phony democracies that lack credibility, if it can even produce regime changes without further military conquest.

To those who think there is no other way, hear the words of Bishop Desmond Tutu, from the now-defunct Donahue:

We in South Africa [wanted] democracy and we asked the world, "Please help us. We want to be free." We didn't [say], "Bomb us into democracy." We said, "Please apply sanctions."

But bomb we will.

This is no conspiracy theory. This is all on paper. This is all on the internet.

Sure, there are lies, feints, misdirections and the like.

But Bush himself has just tied pretty much everything together.

And he has done so at the midnight hour, practically ensuring that most mainstream media outlets won't bother connecting the dots.


A Kucinich Smear Job?

Talking Points Memo today raised allegations that presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich engaged in divisive, unethical racial politics back in 1970s Cleveland.

While it is fair game to look at a candidate's past record, TPM handled this in an unfair manner.

Unlike most bloggers, TPM is a pro journalist.

He has the access and stature that allows him to pick up the phone and talk to Kucinich directly.

That means, instead taking a cheap shot, offering one side of the story, and saying "an accounting seems in order."

TPM could have presented the info to Kucinich, asked him some questions, and then given readers a fuller picture.

Now LiberalOasis, in recent days, has expressed concern at Kucinich's ability to carry the liberal banner in a productive way. And LiberalOasis is not in a position to defend Kucinich from these allegations.

Nevertheless, Kucinich deserves better treatment.

The usually fantastic TPM should be more interested in telling the complete story than in drawing blood and making news.


Regarding the LiberalOasis interview with Greg Palast, Reader Alan S. says Palast is wrong when, in his discussion of global financial institutions, he said Goldman Sachs was affiliated with Citigroup:

Goldman Sachs is not affiliated in any way with Citibank or Citigroup. They are indeed competitors. The fact that Bob Rubin used to be head of Goldman and is now a high-ranking official of Citigroup doesn't make them affiliated.

(UPDATE Feb. 27 11 AM ET -- Greg Palast responds: "Your astute reader is correct. There is and never has been any official affiliation between Goldman Sachs and Citigroup. Robert Rubin left Goldman Sachs to join Citigroup. I regret the error.")

February 26, 2003 PERMALINK
Bye-Bye Nelson
Enjoy Hanging With The Losers
(posted February 26 12:30 AM ET)

If you're following the Miguel Estrada battle closely, you might be upset that Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) caved and announced he'd support the nomination.

Probably seems like a precursor to another Dem collapse, right?

Well, if you need a little pep talk, look no further than...Bob Novak!

From CNN's Inside Politics:

...the Republicans figured that they would be home at their recess last week and find out what the people wanted. Apparently, the people weren't interested in Estrada...

...They had a leadership meeting yesterday afternoon, couldn't figure anything out. Had a luncheon of all the Republican senators, didn't figure it out.

All that's decided is, they're not going to ask for a cloture vote to force an end to the filibuster, because they'd lose that.

But they have no strategy for around-the-clock sessions. They don't know what to do. The Democrats are winning.

That's on top of what Novak indicated earlier, that GOP Senators may not be as committed to Estrada as the Bushies are.

Plus, yesterday's report implies that the new Majority Leader, Sen. Bill Frist, hasn't developed the skills to properly navigate his party through a tough issue.

With that in mind, this, from Reuters, doesn't seem like mere bluster: Democratic aides said they did not anticipate any defections and still expected to be able to block Estrada.

CNN's Jonathan Karl echoed the same:

Republicans really think this is their opportunity to show the party as a champion for someone who is Hispanic, and make inroads into Hispanic voters.

But Democrats say they are not worried about that. Their interest groups are very fired up about this and want them to hold the line.

This is a classic example of how GOP is (to be generous) chronically clueless about race.

While white unemployment stands at 5.1%, Latino unemployment is 7.8% (and African-American 10.3%).

Call this a wild guess, but if you want Latinos to back your party, maybe a jobs program is the way to go.

But in these tight economic times, particularly for Latinos, the GOP thought a Hispanic court appointee (a financially secure one at that) would be enough to get them to switch parties.

They even thought they could slyly peg Dems with racism, even though the Congressional Hispanic Caucus opposes Estrada too.

Clearly, it's not working. Or else you'd be seeing a lot more panic of the Dem side of the aisle, and a lot more pressure from the Hispanic Caucus to relent.

As Novak indicated, these Senators are starting to realize that U.S. Court of Appeals nomination fights don't get past page A14, and don't arouse the broader public one way or the other.

Still, the Nelson loss shows how the Beltway echo chamber can disorient politicians. We can't sit back and assume that moderate Dems will stay put.

The Right is targeting the following Senators, of which they need five:

Evan Bayh (IN)
Joe Biden (DE)
Jeff Bingaman (NM)
Robert Byrd (WV)
Tom Carper (DE)
Ernest Hollings (SC)
Daniel Inouye (HI)
Jim Jeffords (VT)
Mary Landrieu (LA)
Blanche Lincoln (AR)
Mark Pryor (AR)

Don't cede the phone, fax and email war. Contact these Senators, especially if one or more of them are from your state.

But wait until the Virtual March is over.


Picking Apart Pollack

LiberalOasis has agreed with those that said Ken Pollack, former CIA analyst under Clinton and author of "The Threatening Storm," at least makes an intellectually honest case for war.

But that doesn't make him right. Read this excellent takedown from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (via Terminus, Body and Soul and Daily Kos).

Sizing Up the Dems

David Corn from The Nation has the best round-up of the last Fri.-Sat. DNC prez cattle call that LiberalOasis has seen.

On a related note, after the NARAL cattle call, LiberalOasis said John Edwards "needs to show he can bring a crowd to its feet."

For the record, at the DNC show, he did.


Reader Ralph L. Craig takes on Tim Russert's grasp of the facts.

Russert, in a question to Rep. Dennis Kucinich, said:

...the U.N. weapons inspector has said to Iraq you must destroy the Al-Samoud missiles because their range is too far, by some 140 miles.

Craig writes:

This is totally incorrect, the total range of the Al-Samoud 2 is 140 kilometers and exceeds the limits permitted by the UN by about 10 kilometers or roughly 7 miles.

This is a huge difference from what Timbo the Clown purported. If Dennis had picked up on that factual error, he could of, and should of, nailed Bozo's brother's ass to the wall.

Reader Richard E. takes issue with another reader's letter from last week.

Last week, Chris S. wrote:

If we truly want to discredit the policies that put us in this situation and avoid further and redoubled efforts in that direction, we unfortunately need to downplay the importance these protests. We need to use the resulting solidarity to focus worldwide attention on the long-term effects of the war and the policies that created it.

Richard responds:

Exactly wrong. First we stop the war. Regardless of whether that's successful, we then focus on getting Bush out of office. Then we clean up the awful mess he'll have left.

But for now, we stop the war. Everything else pales in comparison to the importance of trying to keep Bush and Saddam from starting a worldwide catastrophe. "Worldwide attention" cannot be focused on "policies" or "long-term effects." That's just boilerplate hoo-hah of interest to only a small group of activists.

But worldwide attention can be focused rather easily, as George Bush has inadvertently shown, on an immediate perception of an awful calamity around the corner. And as Liberal Oasis showed, it can be very effective in helping to change minds

February 25, 2003 PERMALINK
LiberalOasis Interviews Bestselling Author Greg Palast
(posted February 25 12:15 AM ET)
(correction made February 25 4 PM ET)

Today, the man that has been called "the greatest investigative reporter of our time," Greg Palast, released the new, expanded American edition of the New York Times bestseller, "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy."

The book will be the LiberalOasis Book of the Month for March. You can read the intro here and order the book here.

About 40 percent of the material in this paperback edition was not part of the original hardcover import.

Combining tenacious reporting and a fierce pen, Palast connects the dots on the biggest stories in recent years, including: Sept. 11, the economic collapse of Argentina, the 2000 election, Enron, and the attempted coup in Venezuela.

To mark the occasion, Palast joined LiberalOasis for a one-on-one interview.

LiberalOasis: In your view, what is the real motivation for the Bush Administration to start a war with Iraq?

Greg Palast: You don't seem to buy the notion that Saddam is the Butcher of Baghdad. He's Bush's Butcher of Baghdad.

The most important phrase from Condi Rice was when she said it's immoral to leave Saddam in power for 12 years.

Of course, it's been 24 years. He was their favorite dictator. They kept him in power because he was against the Unicycle of Evil, Iran.

Saddam is a killer, a murderer and a berzerker. A Frankenstein created by Bush. He hired him, so I guess he has the right to fire him.

LO: What's changed?

GP: One, Saddam's gone renegade. Two, the war on Iraq is the weapon of mass distraction. When you say attack Osama, he says attack Iraq. It's bait and switch. Don't watch that man behind the curtain.

Bush put a turban and a beard on Saddam. Now most Americans believe Saddam played a part in the Sept. 11 attacks.

Bush also wants an endless war economy. We have an economy completely in the toilet, the same thing that defeated his daddy.

But if you have an endless war economy, you create a distraction through patriotism, and you boost the economy, by spending money on the military, on the berzerker weapons.

LO: Does all that mean oil is not the main motivator here?

GP: Bush is oil. His number one donor is the petroleum and energy industry. We didn't hold an election. We held an auction, and they put up the money.

And you can't look at Iraq alone. You have to look at the entire picture, including Venezuela, which is a swing nation in OPEC.

Just as we're concerned about Iraq, we're concerned about Venezuela. But we can't get away with attacking Venezuela because Hugo Chavez was elected.

LO: Some conservatives would argue that if it was all about oil, we'd be cutting deals with Saddam, not attacking him.

GP: He cut his deal with the French and the Russians. Exxon and British Petroleum [BP] are sliced out of the action. It is not true that without a war that we would have access to Iraqi oil.

But it's never that simple. It's a combination of geopolitical factors.

LO: So does that call into question France's motivations?

GP: I don't like war for oil and I don't like peace for oil and that's France's game at the moment.

We can't show the French any tricks how to run their empire, They're pretty good at it. [Besides,] if they're against war, then what are their troops doing in the Ivory Coast?

LO: What is motivating Tony Blair to stand with Bush on the war? Are they political, economic or moral considerations?

GP: BP has been cut out of the action. And remember that Iraq was a British colony created for BP out of nothing, by Winston Churchill drawing mad lines on a piece of paper.

So they're upset, they want it back. It's a definite economic interest.

But politics is local. There's no opposition [to the Labor Party] in Britain. [The Tories are so weak,] you have an effective one-party state.

But like Margaret Thatcher, who was voted out by her own party members, Blair risks the same fate.

So he's using war to beat up the left wing of his party and maintain control. However, it's beginning to backfire on him.

LO: On Venezuela, liberals certainly opposed attempts by the White House to subvert democracy and back a coup to depose Hugo Chavez.

But is Chavez a guy that liberals can be comfortable standing by? Does he have respect for democracy? Is he above oppression, human rights violations, and political assassinations?

GP: This guy is the real voice of democracy in Venezuela. I have never seen such misinformation in the media. The New York Times has literally fabricated reports. I have never seen anything like it.

Chavez is the Nelson Mandela of his country. 20 percent of the country is white, while millions of brown people live in intense poverty. And they finally elected their own guy and they fighting as hard as they can to keep him.

But the white reporters meet the white elite in the white part of Caracas and based on that, they call Chavez a would-be dictator, even though he was elected with 56 percent of the vote.

George Bush was never elected, and I've never seen him called would-be dictator in the American media.

Chavez has gone as far as to pardon those who have attacked him. That's what he is willing to do to avoid a civil war between his people and the armed, jealous white elite.

LO: Does the Bush Administration's aversion to multilateralism extend to institutions that epitomize globalization -- such as the IMF, the WTO and the World Bank?

GP: No, because those institutions are not multilateral. They are controlled by the financial axis of Europe and the USA. They have become instruments of the financial centers.

What I talk about in my book are the documents, from these institutions, that explain how they handle nations such as Argentina, Bolivia and Tanzania.

It involves "conditionality," what the nations have to change about their economy to receive assistance. And the changes happen to link to the interests of the banks in New York.

When I talked to Joe Stiglitz [top economist for President Clinton and the World Bank], he said that when he discussed these issues with [former Clinton Treasury Secretaries] Bob Rubin and Larry Summers, they would talk about how these policies would affect Goldman Sachs, which is affiliated with Citigroup [now headed by Rubin].

(PLEASE NOTE: In the original post of the interview, LiberalOasis made a transcription error and said Goldman Sachs "is part of Citibank" when it should have read "is affiliated with Citigroup.")

Their world view was that -- what ╬s good for Goldman Sachs was good for the world.

And so, they have seized control of economies like Argentina's, and we've seen what happens when they do so.

In trying to create free-market oases, they've torn economies to pieces.

Argentina was supposed to be poster-child. But now the once-richest Argentineans pick through garbage for food.

LO: Was Former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill's initial approach, refusing to bailout Argentina, any better?

GP: That's just ratcheting up the threat. Paul O'Neill wasn't going let Citigroup take a drenching. No way.

LO: How does your book, "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy" shed light on this issue?

GP: The value of the book is that I go through documents, with Stiglitz, to find out what this stuff means. Then you can you make up your mind.

You don't need my views. If you want views, go read Arianna Huffington. The point of my book is to give you real ammo that you don't get in the US press.

The book is important to me because it's the only way I can get this information to Americans, since the mainstream media won't touch this stuff.

It's interesting. I'm mainstream in the Continent, but in America, I'm the Unabomber.

LO: It seems like no matter how much hard work you put in, how much you uncover about what's really happening behind the scenes, unethical corporate interests still have undue influence on our society.

How frustrated do you get? How do you find the motivation to keep digging?

GP: What the work can do is change minds. That's the point of my work. I can't run a movement but I can provide information.

You know, they call me a conspiracy nut, but it's the conspirators are who are grinning when they say it.


Read the intro to "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy" and then place your order.

February 24, 2003 PERMALINK
The Sunday Talkshow Breakdown
A weekly feature of LiberalOasis
(posted February 24 1:45 AM ET)
(minor edits February 24 11:15 AM ET)

Another ripple effect from last week's massive antiwar demonstrations.

The four network shows booked five antiwar guests -- Reps. Dennis Kucinich and Charlie Rangel, and actors Janeane Garofalo, Susan Sarandon and Mike Farrell.

Overall, they were treated with respect by their hosts and were able to make their points.

Some highlights.

On CBS' Face The Nation, Sarandon nicely connected the cost of luring Turkey into the coalition with the cost of homeland security:

All of this money that's going out--$36 billion to Turkey to try to get try to get them on our little side here.

What's happening with the money for our own homeland security?

All these neighborhoods are going broke trying to get first response people to even have walkie-talkies.

We don't have the money. Bring those kids and let them protect our shores is what I say.

This is a far better approach than complaining that war is taking money away from health care and education.

That may be true, but it's beside the point.

The paramount question for many Americans is: how are you going to keep me safe?

Lamenting that other needs will be shortchanged doesn't answer that. Noting that homeland security is being shortchanged does.

Garofalo, who is rumored to be part of the lineup for the planned liberal talk radio station, was constantly two steps ahead of Fox News Sunday's Tony Snow.

One nice exchange:

GAROFALO: I would say that it has been the idea since 1990, '91 to go into Iraq and to have hegemony over the region, redraw the map. Oil is a part of it, not all of it...

SNOW: Well, OK, whoa, whoa, whoa. This seems highly fanciful. Go in, occupy the region and redraw the map?

GAROFALO: Yes. Oh, don't pretend that this is like some crazy conspiracy theory and I'm...

SNOW: Well, but it strikes me as a little far-fetched. I mean, the British tried to do it in the beginning of the century.

GAROFALO: Well, what is far-fetched... about wanting hegemony over the region?

Since the 1940s, American diplomats and government people have been very vocal about the fact that there is a lot of wealth to be obtained in that area.

And it behooves anyone to be in charge of that area.

SNOW: Well, wait, wait, wait...I'm just curious about it, because again, the idea of hegemony -- trade relations are a way to build wealth.


SNOW: Hegemony is a way to build trouble...

GAROFALO: Yeah, absolutely, hence my problem.

(Though that moment was slightly undercut by Garofalo's next comment: "Oh, I just spit. Sorry.")

Kucinich, sadly, gave the weakest performance of the five.

When faced with hard questions from Tim Russert on NBC's Meet The Press, Kucinich was too prone to falling back on generic talking points.

For example:

RUSSERT: ...the U.N. weapons inspector has said to Iraq you must destroy the Al-Samoud missiles because their range is too far, by some 140 miles.

If the Iraqis refuse to do that, would you then use military force in order to make sure they did it?

KUCINICH: I think that you always have to keep the option open for world security, to make sure that any nation that stands outside the world community understands that it has to conform to the requirements of security for the world.

However, to automatically say that that means that you launch into a war, that doesn't follow.

Diplomacy involves taking measured steps. And I think that this administration, and the United Nations, can still go quite a distance before a case can be made that there is no other option but war.

Kucinich wouldn't answer how exactly he would handle that specific, plausible scenario.

As a result, he fed the perception that those who support peace can't deal with reality.

Kucinich should have noted that:

-- Bush sent a message to Saddam yesterday that war was coming, whether or not the missiles were destroyed.

-- In turn, Bush is giving Saddam every incentive to hold on to what weapons he has in preparation for imminent war.

-- Such comments are not the way to seek a peaceful resolution

-- if Kucinich was president, he'd similarly pressure Saddam to comply, but it would be in good-faith, so Saddam would have a real incentive to disarm.

Another bad exchange Kucinich had was with his fellow guest Richard "Prince of Darkness" Perle.

Perle attacked Kucinich for claiming the coming war was about oil:

PERLE: I find the accusation that this administration has embarked upon this policy for oil to be an outrageous, scurrilous charge for which, when you asked for the evidence, you will note there was none...

...It is a lie, Congressman. It is an out and out lie. And I'm sorry to see you give credence to it.

KUCINICH: I want to answer that. And that is that I think all over America, people are aware this administration has not made a case to go to war in Iraq.

And people are asking, "Well, if America is not at threat, then what's this about?" And many people are wondering: "How did our oil get under their sand?"

Such a missed opportunity.

He could have returned fire and said, "I didn't call you a liar when you contradicted the FBI and CIA and insisted that Saddam is working with Osama."

Or how about contrasting Iraq and N. Korea: "How else can Mr. Perle explain why we aren't attacking North Korea, except that its military is stronger and its oil supply is nonexistent?"

LiberalOasis will give to Kucinich the same advice given to Howard Dean.

You want to run as the peace candidate? Give the speech and lay it out, comprehensively.

Show that peace is more than an ideal, that it is a practical solution that will make us safer, and not the equivalent of doing nothing.

The pacifist argument faces a skeptical audience in the American people. That means you can't rely on platitudes.

Just as we demand of Bush, you have the make the case.


Not Ready For Duty?

Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) had some ominous words for Dubya, on ABC's "This Week:"

HAGEL: The UN is so critical in my opinion...We alone, the United States, cannot sustain any effort there [in Iraq] or anywhere else in the world.

Let's not forget. We have just committed 1700 combat troops to the Philippines this week. More troops to Colombia.

We've got troops, thousands of troops, in Afghanistan, the Balkans, all over the world.

We can't fight the world alone. And we need to move toward a better world, a more just world. And that's through, I think, organizations like the United Nations.

G. STEPHANOPOULOS: ...Have we become overstretched?

HAGEL: Well, I think we are dangerously close to that...

Now, recall what Bush said in his 2000 nomination acceptance speech:

If called on by the commander-in-chief today, two entire divisions of the Army would have to report -- Not ready for duty, sir.

That was roundly criticized by the Army as a dangerous distortion of the facts.

More importantly, Bush set himself up as someone who would handle the military better than Clinton and Gore.

If we face readiness issues, especially because of pursuits that lack deep support from the public, Dubya will be one ripe target for enterprising Dems.


Seeing The Forest takes Scalia to task

The Bloviator looks at how prevent future nightclub disasters

Soundbitten reports that the Weekly World News is all over Iraq

South Knox Bubba and his economic crystal ball see some bubbles bursting

The Sandbox
Humor By John Cougarstein

USA-Turkey Strike Deal

World Rejoices As Kinder, Gentler War Can Begin

ANKARA, Feb. 23, 2003 -- Turkey and United States forged an agreement today that paves the way for American troops to be based in Turkey in preparations for war with Iraq.

In addition to the disputes about loan guarantees and control of oil fields, several other issues needed to be hashed out. Among the many side agreements that composed the final resolution included:

1. No Kurds will be allowed to compete on the next season of "Turkish Idol."

2. George Bush will no longer address the Turkish Prime Minister Abdullah Gul with the nickname "Butterball."

3. Jenna Bush must go on a date with Gul's son Sinan, and permit him to get to second base.

4. Turkey gets Sammy Sosa and a player to be named later.

5. In order to facilitate Turkey's admittance to the European Union, Bush will start campaigning against it.

6. Turkey may block the import of any movie starring Matthew McConaughey.

7. Bush will lobby Congress to pass the No Turkish Millionaire Baby To Be Left Behind Without a Faith-Based Dividend Tax Cut Act.

8. The extradition of Winona Ryder to Turkey, regarding a five-year old littering violation, will go forward.

9. Gul gets to visit the Crawford Ranch, so long as he helps clear brush.

10. George P. Bush must go on a date with Gul's son Ali, and permit him to get to second base.

For more Cougarstein, check out The Cougarstein Ramble and download Cougarstein songs at


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