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Leading With The Left
March 14, 2003 PERMALINK
LiberalOasis has argued that the Bushies never wanted UN support as much as they wanted to pronouce it irrelevant.
But they surely didn't want this.
The whiplash from the front page headlines of the W. Post says it all.
"U.S. Says It Gains Votes for Iraq Deal"
"U.S.-Backed Resolution Appears Doomed"
It ain't over Îtil it's over. But this is shaping up to be a colossal botch by this so-called "all-star" foreign policy team.
Surely, there will be conservatives blaming Colin Powell and/or Tony Blair for dragging the US into the UN morass.
Because it just can't be that George Bush himself made a (*gasp*) mistake. Not in the Responsibility Era.
But this failure rests on his shoulders.
Like many of his college intro classes, Dubya skipped out on Diplomacy 101, setting a tone of arrogance and false certainty.
(John Kerry got a few last licks in on this point.)
After failing to bribe Turkey into submission, Dubya still thought he could buy off the rest of the Security Council. (Perhaps France has a bigger-than-expected checkbook?)
After Pakistan helped nab Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, no one figured that maybe Musharraf needed to show his people he wasn't too close to Bush.
Dubya was just a plain thug to Mexico.
He never reined in Rumsfeld, despite past inflammatory comments. Now Rummy has completely humiliated Blair.
(LiberalOasis once said that Tony Blair was the only person who could stop this war. Maybe we'll find out if that's right).
And to add to the embarrassment, The Smirk has already choked on his "no matter what the whip count is" bravado, by raising the possibility of yanking the proposed resolution.
Even the most die-hard Republican has to be unnerved by the Keystone Kops quality of it all.
Because no matter how well the war goes, diplomacy will still be needed to win the peace.
The barrel of a gun may be able to overthrow a tyrant, but it cannot build a democracy from scratch.
Furthermore, Sen. Dick Lugar (R-IN) is criticizing the Administration for its lack of a credible postwar plan.
That means we'll be winging it.
And you're witnessing a preview of how well these guys can do that.
Aggressive Reporting Lives (In Utah)
Sen. Bob Graham (D-FL) came through and did not support bringing the nomination of Miguel Estrada to the floor, as the Dems stuck together again.
However, it appears Graham is still leaving the door open to supporting Estrada down the road.
March 13, 2003 PERMALINK
Big kudos to Sen. Tom Daschle and the Dems.
They have won the first battle of the Estrada nomination, as the GOP is putting it on the back burner for the time being.
With the Dems holding strong, the GOP couldn't discern any political value in grinding the Senate to a halt.
That shows the pro-Estrada PR campaign is not working.
Latinos are not flocking to the GOP. The public is not outraged if it takes 60 votes to confirm a judicial nominee.
The Dems had the spine to stick together and oppose Bush, even as the nation is girding for war.
And we in the grassroots did our job in letting the Senate Dems know that we were behind them.
Of course, this is far from over.
The GOP's next tactic is to throw up more controversial nominees and test the Dems' resolve.
Dems should see the light by now. There's no political risk, no downside. Stall these right-wingers to your heart's content.
Let everyone know that the GOP can forget about getting another conservative hack on the Supreme Court.
It's the GOP that's scrambling to find a winning strategy, not the Dems.
In the short-term, another Estrada vote is scheduled for today.
The result is not in question, but one vote is -- prez candidate Bob Graham.
Graham skipped out on the original cloture vote, buying himself time. Now, he's gotta decide.
It's certainly worth a phone call or email today to remind him that you will be factoring in his decision when you cast your presidential primary ballot.
March 12, 2003 PERMALINK
If this reckless war wasn't demoralizing enough, Jewish conspiracy charges are on the rise, further wounding our country.
Disturbing comments can be found all across the political spectrum, and it is incumbent upon all of us to speak out against them.
The Left has its anti-Semitic fringe element in the name of ANSWER. As the Nation's David Corn recently reported:
At its January march in Washington, ANSWER handed a microphone to Abdul Malim Musa, a Muslim cleric.
On October 31, 2001, Musa had appeared at a news conference...where speakers asserted that Israel had launched the 9/11 attacks...
At that press conference, Musa blasted the "Zionists in Hollywood, the Zionists in New York, and the Zionists in D.C." who "all collaborate" to put down blacks and Muslims.
The most recent incident from the Left happened last week, as Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) tainted himself with anti-Semitic scapegoating:
If it were not for the strong support of the Jewish community for this war with Iraq, we would not be doing this....the leaders of the Jewish community are influential enough that they could change the direction of where this is going and I think they should.
This would appear to support the contention of The Weekly Standard's David Brooks.
He wrote that anti-Semitism was dead on the "Buchananite right" and he tried to pin such sentiments on the "peace-movement Left."
David Brooks probably forgot that Pat Buchanan isn't dead.
Buchanan, whose anti-Semitism is well-chronicled, has been railing against Israel's influence on American foreign policy for years.
We charge that a cabal of polemicists and public officials seek to ensnare our country in a series of wars that are not in America's interests. We charge them with colluding with Israel to ignite those wars and destroy the Oslo Accords...
...[They want] to conscript American blood to make the world safe for Israel...[They] seek American empire and the Sharonites seek hegemony over the Middle East. The two agendas coincide precisely.
Nice choice of words with "cabal." His old boss Richard Nixon once suspected that a "Jewish cabal" was dragging down his administration.
Now, there are plenty of people, who are not anti-Semitic, who are critical of Ariel Sharon and of Israeli government policies (and you can count LiberalOasis).
But when you have a history of disturbing statements regarding Jews, then it is fair to question the motivations of your criticism, and in turn, the validity of your claims.
For example, Buchanan's ideological kin regarding Israel is Robert Novak, who recently battled back at the anti-Semitic charge:
Any suggestion that the present course largely echoes policies of the present Israeli government risks accusations of anti-Israeli and, indeed, anti-Semitic bias...
...But more than misrepresenting me is involved.
Origins of the decision to wage the war against terrorism by removing Saddam Hussein has nothing to do with the ethnic origins of its supporters, but constitute something that should be explored without being attacked.
But Novak's history is suspect and encourages attacks.
For example, he tried to help mainstream Louis Farrakhan, following a 1997 meeting between the Nation of Islam leader and a group of white conservatives.
Novak wrote at the time:
Minister Farrakhan has been branded an anti-Semite and no repudiation of bigotry by him will suffice. He is viewed with such loathing by the Jewish community that any effort to talk with him to pursue racial harmony is prohibited.
In addition to past history, the Anti-Defamation League's Abe Foxman also offers a fair guideline to determine anti-Semitism:
...does [the person] raise questions of moral behavior, of standards of decorum of nations? Does he raise those issues across the board? If he does, then it is OK to question Israel...
...Those who only find fault with the Jewish people, the Jewish State and the actions of the Jewish sovereignty and never find anything that is positive are anti-Semites under the guise of anti-Zionism and anti-Israel.
Having said all this, Novak is partly right. We should be looking at the real origins of the decision to attack Iraq.
In addition, NYT's Bill Keller examined the possible Israel connection last Saturday.
Like Buchanan and his ilk, Keller focused on a 1996 Israeli strategy document, prepared by a group of Americans, including three now in the Bush Administration.
Among other things, the doc called for the removal of Saddam.
But Keller notes that then-PM Binyamin Netanyahu didn't exactly swallow the doc whole.
Which raises the question: is Israel leading the US by the nose, or is it vice-versa?
Let's not forget that the Bush family does not have a great historical relationship with the Jewish community, nor the pro-Israel community.
Poppy Bush pressed Israel hard on expanding settlements, and helped legitimize Arafat.
In 2000, the Bushies were not chasing the Jewish vote, but the Muslim vote -- in part because of Lieberman, in part of because they wanted Michigan Arab swing vote.
Furthermore, the Christian evangelicals that are close to Bush have a strong interest in Jews controlling all of the Holy Land.
This not because they like Judaism, but because they believe the Second Coming of Jesus will only happen when Jews completely control Israel. Then the Jews get converted and saved, or destroyed.
(Foxman and other Israel supporters are ignoring this and working with the Christian Right on Israel issues.)
So it is not at all obvious that Bush wants Jewish interests and goals to be dictating his policy.
Furthermore, a number of pro-Israel political leaders are opposed to this war, including Al Gore, Howard Dean and Gary Hart.
So while we criticize Bush and criticize war, we must also criticize those who try to falsely malign a people, a culture and a religion in the name of our cause.
Returning to the Moran episode, it's important to note that Dem leaders promptly criticized Moran's remarks.
Also, Moran is apologizing and is reaching out to the Jewish community in his district.
Bush, via Ari Fleischer, criticized Moran too.
That's nice, but where were you after the GOP House Majority Leader said this last year:
I always see two Jewish communities in America: [a conservative] one of deep intellect and [a liberal] one of shallow, superficial intellect.
Sadly, we can't expect much consistency from this White House. But we can expect it from fellow liberals and the Democratic Party.
And we're going to need it.
March 11, 2003 PERMALINK
A CBS/New York Times poll usually is occasion for conservatives to complain about liberal bias.
But today, it's our turn.
"Growing Number in U.S. Back War, Survey Finds" fronts NYT today.
Here's NYT's justification for that spin:
...58 percent of Americans said the United Nations was doing a poor job in managing the Iraqi crisis, a jump of 10 points from a month ago.
And 55 percent of respondents in the latest poll would support an American invasion of Iraq, even if it was in defiance of a vote of the Security Council...
...a majority of respondents, 52 percent, say inspectors should be given more time [but] that number has dropped [from 59%] over the past month...
But, based on the rest of the poll data, here are some alternate headlines that could have been written:
Nation Split Over Prospect of War
When asked if "you have confidence that George W. Bush will make the right decision about a possible war with Iraq or are you uneasy about his approach?", only 52% expressed confidence, while a shocking 46% voiced unease.
At the same time, just 50% said war with Iraq was worth the costs, and 43% said it was not. Similarly, 51% approve of Bush's handling of Iraq, and 42% disapprove.
People Say Bush Withholding Crucial Info
That finding follows a recent Gallup poll that showed just under half believe the Administration would present false evidence and 58% believe it would conceal unhelpful evidence.
Americans To Bush: Listen To The Protesters
Bush did not appear to do that last week when, at a session with regional newspaper reporters, he marginalized the protesters, saying:
...obviously some people in Northern California do not see there's a true risk to the United States posed by Saddam Hussein. And we just have a difference of opinion.
Americans Diverge With Bush on Policy Goals In Iraq
However, 51% believe Bush mostly wants to get Hussein. Only 26% say that Bush's priority is removing weapons of mass destruction.
War Drums Don't Boost Bush Approval
Only 56% of those polled approved of his job performance, a two-point tick up from last month, but nine points lower from his standing following the November elections.
Also troubling for Bush, more than half of Americans disapprove of his handling of the economy, while only 40% approve.
Laugh While You Can
Two funny Bush short movies to check out.
The Adventures of HercuBush, reminds us that lust for oil goes back all the way to ancient times.
Read My Lips, lets us see what Dubya and Tony Blair really mean to each other, and also show us how well they can stay on-key.
The Hardball Damage Control Plan
Yesterday, LiberalOasis recounted Richard Perle's attack on The New Yorker's Seymour Hersh, following an article that raises questions about Perle's business dealings.
Last night on MSNBC's Hardball, Perle was the opening guest. Did he face a slew of questions about the article from that tenacious Chris Matthews?
Nope. 99% of the segment was the standard Iraq discussion.
Only at the very end did Matthews mention the article, asking two softball questions -- What's your response? Are you going to sue?
March 10, 2003 PERMALINK
Et Tu Fox?
You know something's in the air when Fox News Sunday's Tony Snow feels compelled to point out Bush's bad poll numbers to Colin Powell:
The United States...decided to go before the United Nations and seek ratification of a series of policies designed to get Saddam Hussein to disarm.
During that time, the President's ratings have slipped precipitously in the United States. Our polls show that his ratings have gone from 77 percent to 55 percent in the course of just one year...
...So what have we gained?
Of course, Snow was mouthpiecing for right-wingers who are angry at Powell and never wanted to go to the UN.
Still, the poll plunge -- while not mentioned by any other show yesterday -- is having an effect, with hosts more willing to ask tough questions.
Meet The Press' Tim Russert, also facing Powell, had the longest list:
-- The situation we're in now has been described as a failure of American diplomacy, some say enormous, some say colossal...
This is [from] an article in The Washington Post...
"...said a diplomat from a country that publicly supports the U.S. position on Iraq. ÎThe U.S. team often acts like thugs. People feel bullied, and that can affect the way you respond when someone makes request.'"
-- ...the U.S. image in the world is being held up to ridicule in many corridors...now 50 percent of Germans say that our president...is a warmonger. What happened?
--- ...how was it that we have lost a battle of public relations to a tyrant like Saddam Hussein?
--- The president talks about Saddam being a threat to his neighborhood...If he's such a threat to his neighborhood, why are [Arab] countries so silent?
--- Another rationale provided by the administration for action against Saddam is his connection to al-Qaeda. [In response,] Tom Friedman of The New York Times wrote this..."You don't take the country to war on the wings of a lie."
--- [IAEA's] Mr. El-Baradei [is] saying that you and the president misled the world on the aluminum tubes and that the documents in terms of [a uranium connection between] Niger and Iraq were fabricated. Those are very serious charges.
(ABC's George Stephanopolous was the exception, lobbing softballs at Condi regarding Iraq -- though he was a little harder on Korea.)
The Colin-Condi show, of course, was prepared for everything.
But being on the defensive for much of the day did not help their cause of turning the PR battle around.
On the Niger issue, both Colin and Condi did not deny the forgeries, but said the Niger link was not key to their case, and they didn't know who forged them.
Unfortunately, despite the all the hard questions, no one retorted:
Isn't the reliance on this forgery just one of a long line of questionable assertions: that the IAEA said Saddam was six months from a nuke, the plagiarized Brit dossier, the lack of evidence of any mobile units, and the tenuous links between Saddam and Osama.
More importantly, let's hope the media does not let go of the Niger story, and hunts down who did the forgery and why.
Dean Back For More
Howard Dean was on a Sunday show for the second week in a row, this time on ratings champ MTP.
Last week, LiberalOasis felt Dean came off a little flat, paired with the always flat Bob Schieffer on FTN.
This time, Dean had a livelier interview, and kept his cool against a fair amount of hardballs from Russert.
While Russert made him dance a little, Dean was steely, though low-key -- a stark contrast to his high-decibel speeches.
The low-key interview style cuts both ways.
Particularly when defending a liberal, antiwar position, Dean's calmness helps position the view as mainstream, not radical fringe.
Down the line though, don't be surprised if the punditocracy starts nitpicking about a lack of warmth (a la Dukakis, Gore and Kerry).
Onward to specifics.
Dean finally addressed his use of "unilateral" head-on, after a number of pols and pundits accused him of inaccuracy: Said Dean:
I'm not so sure how inaccurate it is. Tom Friedman used that word to describe [Bush's] actions today in The New York Times. And Tom Friedman knows a lot about foreign policy.
So although technically it might not be unilateral, the truth is this is driven by the president of the United States, and the rest of them are pretty much along for the ride...
... I don't think that we ought to go in -- if we don't want to use the word unilaterally -- then preventively or pre-emptively.
On Social Security, Russert hit Dean with an eight-year old quote of his, that seemed to say he supported raising the retirement age to 70.
Regardless of the merits, that's a sure way to lose the senior vote. Dean mostly disavowed it:
I am older and wiser and I know that you don't say things like that without looking at the numbers first.
Yet he didn't rule it out either, which gets him honesty points, but also leaves him open for some hit pieces from his Dem rivals in the future.
On balanced budgets, Dean appeared partial to a constitutional amendment mandating them.
LiberalOasis has said that liberals and Dems should embrace fiscal responsibility and balanced budgets in general.
But backing an amendment, while not a bad move politically, is terrible policy, for it allows little flexibility in times of recession or crisis.
Overall, however, Dean showed he could take Russert's heat, and burnished his rep as a straight talker.
Perle versus Hersh
CNN's Wolf Blitzer, while interviewing top Pentagon adviser Richard "Dark Prince" Perle, called attention to a potential controversy:
There's an article in the New Yorker magazine by Seymour Hersh that's just coming out today in which he makes a serious accusation against you.
That you have a conflict of interest in this because you're involved in some business that deals with homeland security, you potentially could make some money if, in fact, there is this kind of climate that he accuses you of proposing.
Let me read a quote...
"There is no question that Perle believes that removing Saddam from power is the right thing to do. At the same time, he has set up a company that may gain from a war."
While denying the charge, Perle showed defensiveness by leveling a personal attack on Hersh:
Look, Sy Hersh is the closest thing American journalism has to a terrorist, frankly...He's widely irresponsible...He sets out to do damage and he will do it by whatever innuendo, whatever distortion he can...
Here's betting that Hersh will respond in a delightfully, delicious way.
The Kosovo Charge
On This Week (and FTN), Condi Rice picked up the retort, in vogue among the Right, that the UN blew it on Kosovo:
We need a strong vital Security Council, not one that is still reeling from a history of having been unable to act in Kosovo...
But Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) on Late Edition, knocked that charge out of the park:
Number one, the NATO was together when it came to Kosovo.
Number two, the Charter of the United Nations says that regional organizations such as NATO are authorized to take actions in security of the region, and in the case of Kosovo...we had the NATO organization totally and thoroughly behind us.
Alexander Pierre Luboknovich, a Soviet in exile, is a political commentator, water comedian, diplomatic impersonator, and importer of international wives.
He is currently at work on a book of essays entitled "Power to the Peep-hole: Lewd Propositions for a New Sexual Revolution."
I Freed The Fries Before Freeing Fries Was Cool
Like most aliens, I am sometimes frustrated by an inability to attract attention in Washington.
When others were making jokes about Janet Reno, I separated myself and targeted mainly Robert Rubin. Did it work?
I covered myself in silver paint and stood completely still, naked, in the middle of the National Gallery.
I even hid under the covers on Lincoln's deathbed and scared a group of Chevy Chase schoolchildren. But nobody noticed.
Nobody wanted to listen to what Luboknovich had to say.
I spent years lobbying Congress to change the name of items on the Congressional lunch menu. But no fruit was reaped.
I was laughed at, and at times, ignored. But finally, on Tuesday, justice was served, along with a side of Jello.
If you haven't heard already, Congressional leaders finally opened their ears and their eyes and turned some of Luboknovich's ideas into hard legislation.
That's right! They added amendments to the Constitution, all in the name of patriotic eating!
But while last week's decision to change the name of congressional cafeteria "French Fries" to "Freedom Fries" is a major victory for both the American people and Luboknovich, it is not enough!
The French have done many things wrong, and as a result, they deserve a harsher molestation.
They have debilitated and demoralized the American people with their stubbornness against warfare, and their utter lack of respect for Dr. Phil.
They have embarrassed the U.S. and have forced our leaders to scramble like wild orangutans in a frozen microwave.
And what's the best we can do in return?! What's the harshest stance we can take against THEM?!
Yes, we must ban the export of Woody Allen films.
This will not only deprive the French of their favorite intellectual stimulation, it will deprive Woody of his only source of income.
But why stop there? France's entire legal system is antiquated and perfumed. We must update our own legal system and make all of our laws the opposite of France's laws!
But why stop there? Last I checked the Congressional cafeteria still served Hamburgers and Frankfurters.
Hello?! Last I checked both of those were named after cities in Germany - which is the Tubbs to France's Crockett.
In order for these changes to have their intended economic and psychological effect, we need to be consistent. No more double standards, or free refills on coffee.
I propose that we change the name of Hamburgers to Topekas and Frankfurters to San Diegos. Two all-American towns with lots of babes, instead of two German places I've never even been to.
Such legislation would be easy to pass at this time when most Americans are focused on the NHL playoff race. We have not a month to lose.
Luboknovich can be contacted through his manager, Robert Elstein
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July 29, 2002
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