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eRiposte

Leading With The Left
The daily view from the oasis

May 27, 2004 PERMALINK
Bush Moving Toward Kerry on Iraq? Hardly.
by Sam Seder
(posted May 27 9 AM ET)

In their never ending quest to have you believe Kerry should fear for his left flank, the Republican surrogates are trying to push the notion that Kerry is vulnerable on Iraq.

Why? Because Bush is now supposedly adopting Kerry's plan.

Referring to Kerry's address at Westminster College (the site of Cheney's stinker just weeks prior) and of Bush's address at the Army War College (which published a blistering critique of the Iraq war in Jan.), Bill "The Shill" Safire suggested in the NY Times yesterday that:

...the speeches of the two candidates show that they see eye to eye not only about staying the course, but about what course to pursue.

NYT also ran yesterday a separate piece suggesting that Bush's repositioning makes it much harder for Kerry to take advantage of Bush's political crisis.

That assumes that Kerry needs to stake out a dramatic policy difference with Bush rather than a dramatic ability difference.

Kerry needn't risk taking a supposed politically expedient position on Iraq.

This is Bush's war and, to paraphrase a man who was once considered to have had integrity, Bush broke it, it's his responsibility to fix it and so far, he hasn't come close to convincing anyone that he has the ability to even stop breaking it.

And despite offering a plan that is seemingly so simple you need only one hand to count out its steps, the plan offers nothing new beyond cheap cosmetics. Real cheap cosmetics. As in, gives you a rash, cheap.

Bush's plan has already stalled at Point One, turning over "full sovereignty" to the Iraqis on June 30th.

Even those as gullible as the media are exposing the plan's empty rhetoric easier than one can make up a story about falling off a bike.

The LA Times needed only a headline:

U.S. Emphasizes Intent to Transfer Full Power to Iraqis -- With Limits

And Bush's redefinition of the word "full" is causing a "coalition" rift, with those who tend to think the English language isn't so malleable.

Not to mention those in the now suddenly, relevant UN, which tends to think full sovereignty might include the capacity to object to violent military incursions into densely populated areas.

Whether Kerry's position on Iraq will drive voters to Nader is debatable. However, it won't be because of anything Bush offered in his Fox-trumpeted five-point plan.

In fact, it may just open Bush up to the charge of "flip-flopper."

Ed. Note: You can hear Sam Seder M-F with Janeane Garofalo on Air America's The Majority Report from 8-11 PM ET. To listen, go to airamericaradio.com.

May 26, 2004 PERMALINK
Woodward Was Right
But Only Kerry Will Admit It
(posted May 26 2 AM ET)

If you recall, last month Bob Woodward said:

[Oil prices] could go down very quickly. That's the Saudi pledge.

Certainly over the summer, or as we get closer to the election, they could increase production several million barrels a day and the price would drop significantly.

That sure looks like the plan. From the 5/24 USA Today:

Saudi Arabia promised the U.S. on Sunday that it would boost oil production up to 2 million barrels a day to combat rising fuel prices.

U.S. Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham says Saudi Oil Minister Ali Al-Naimi told him Saudi Arabia's daily oil output will rise to 9.1 million barrels in June, a 600,000-barrel increase.

Al-Naimi also said Saudi Arabia would go to its full capacity of 10.5 million barrels if needed, which Abraham called "a very important comment on his part."

Granted, there a lot of news swirling about these days.

But you'd think something that caused big ruckus just four weeks ago when it was a mere accusation, would justify some attention when it became reality.

It wasn't as if no one made the connection.

In fact, John Kerry pushed the Woodward point hard on Monday.

But only local papers in the states on his current campaign swing (not insignificant mind you) picked them up. The national media ignored them.

(Perhaps because Woodward's dissembling in an attempt to downplay his earlier statements, and the Beltway media are taking his cue.)

Still, even if the Saudi attempt at price fixing isn't getting the explosive coverage it deserves, Kerry's aggressiveness is showing some payoff.

His charge yesterday that we are paying a "Saudi-George Bush gas tax" won AP attention, while Reuters highlighted his energy independence plan.

On top of fending off those attacks, the Bushies have another unexpected problem.

According to the NY Times, opening the Saudi spigot wider doesn't seem to be doing to oil prices what they thought it would.

Before you know it, people will say tax cuts didn't work either.

May 25, 2004 PERMALINK
Message: I Got Nothing
(posted May 25 1:15 AM ET)

Talking Points Memo said Bush was "down into Daddy territory" after a CBS poll pegged his approval at an awful 41%.

LiberalOasis won't go that far yet.

This is a reaction to recent events, not necessarily a fundamental shift away from 50-50 Nation.

In turn, a temporary lull in Iraq would likely allow Bush to tick back up. (The "Bush Cycle," Bush's historic gravitational pull towards the 50% mark, can work both ways.)

But there is one key way he appears to be like his father, why "Daddy territory" is Dubya's likely destiny.

Their refusal to propose new directions in policy when situations demand it.

Back in January 1992, Poppy Bush went up to New Hampshire, and tried to show he was in touch:

I think I've known, look, this economy is in free-fall. I hope I've known it.

Maybe I haven't conveyed it as well as I should have, but I do understand it.

But instead of proposing policy solutions and taking substantive action, all he could muster was uninspiring hope:

Without having it sound like Mrs. Rose Scenario, this is New Hampshire. You've done a lot. You've accomplished a lot.

And this State is going to pull out of this. This national economy is going to pull out of this.

You look back in history of this country. It always has, and it will.

To adhere to GOP ideology -- that the government has no business interfering with the glorious business cycle -- Poppy had no choice but to ride it out, and beg the public to do the same.

Last night, Dubya found himself in a similar situation: acknowledging at least a little bit of reality with typical Bush-family finesse:

There's likely to be more violence before the transfer of sovereignty, and after the transfer of sovereignty.

And he also offered his version of uninspiring hope: "We will persevere, and defeat this enemy."

But Dubya added his own special twist.

Instead of simply refusing to propose any new direction in policy, he also lied about the current policy:

The occupation will end, and Iraqis will govern their own affairs.

Sounds straight-shootin'. But, on CNN's Inside Politics, the occupation authority's chief spokesman was all spokesman-y:

JUDY WOODRUFF: So Iraqi leaders will be running Iraq. Will they have control, though, over U.S. forces?

Will they be able to determine whether U.S. or multinational forces remain in Iraq?

DAN SENOR: You know, I wouldn't focus so much on the word "control," as I would "partnership."

Later, on CNN's Newsnight, John King reported on what "partnership" really means:

If US troops stay in Iraq once there is a sovereign government, France and Germany and others want those troops to answer to the sovereign government.

The White House says no. There will be a letter of understanding, but no firm authority.

As most everyone saw through Bush's feints, the speech was essentially newsless.

And Fox News' Fred Barnes briefly stopping shilling an hour prior to the speech to make a spot-on prediction:

If [the razing of] Abu Ghraib is the big headline coming out this speech, then...I suspect Bush will have failed in his effort to change the political atmosphere in Washington [and] reverse the panic...

May 24, 2004 PERMALINK
The Sunday Talkshow Breakdown
A weekly feature of LiberalOasis
(posted May 23 11 PM ET)

I will cooperate with any investigation conducted in the United States, not here, where we have Abu Ghraib prison.
-- Ahmed Chalabi, ABC's This Week, 5/23/04

Do excuse the overused Survivor reference, but Chalabi is reminiscent of Richard Hatch, a manipulative bastard no really likes, but always manages to win anyway.

If someone in the Administration thought the raid was going to be the end of Chalabi, someone forgot to tell Chalabi, as he hit four Sunday shows to play up his newfound martyr role.

Does this increased profile mean the whole raid was staged?

Tim Russert, in his interview of Chalabi on NBC's Meet The Press raised the possibility:

The Christian Science Monitor said there is [sic] rumors all over Baghdad that said this was all part of a constructed charade by you and American officials in order for you to position yourself as independent of America so that you can seek to obtain power in Iraq.

LiberalOasis is not inclined to think it's that simple.

As floated here on Friday, the possibility that the neocons encouraged Chalabi to provoke Viceroy Paul Bremer, the State Dept. and the CIA to take such action continues to intrigue.

(Perhaps because Chalabi is as committed to thoroughly diminishing UN influence as the neocons are, whereas Bremer/State have given it a role, albeit a limited one.)

Even if the neocon leaders Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz keep mum, other neocons continue to attack the raid, at times attacking Bremer personally.

And on ABC's This Week, Defense Policy Board member and Rumsfeld confidant Newt Gingrich became the highest-profile Chalabi-loving raid-basher:

This is a man who was not intimidated by Saddam Hussein.

He's not likely to be intimidated by a raid on his personal home, where a family pictured was shattered, where a Koran was stolen...

...It is utterly inexplicable how Americans could have raided his home without having informed the Governing Council, which by the way has unanimously repudiated the raid.

(Oh why does Newt give comfort to the enemy by criticizing America in wartime? Why does Newt hate America?)

That's a lot of friendly fire to for GOPers to unload on each other for something staged top to bottom.

It speaks more to a real rift within the Administration, with Chalabi a (manipulating) man in the middle.

Though these conservatives have to put on some serious blinders to keep voicing Chalabi support.

While the neocons often extol Chalabi by favorably contrasting him with the "thug" Muqtada al-Sadr, Chalabi was openly praising Sadr on Sunday, as he seeks to create a new political base for himself among the Shiites.

On CNN's Late Edition, Chalabi said:

There are many people in Iraq who look to [Sadr] for leadership.

And it is important that all political parties committed to democracy in Iraq, committed to the rule of law in Iraq, should participate in the political process...

...There is no interest, either for Iraq or for the United States, for United States forces to continue to kill Shia young men to pursue a war objective of arresting Muqtada al-Sadr.

In another interesting twist, Newt spoke highly of the incoming Ambassador to Iraq, John Negroponte:

Negroponte is a remarkable career civil servant who served in Vietnam, he served in Honduras, he has a terrific track record in very difficult places...

...I'm very comfortable that [he is] going to do a very good job over there.

George Stephanopoulos neglected to call Newt on what is meant by "a terrific track record in very difficult places" -- his horrible human rights record in Honduras.

(For Negroponte background, see the landmark '95 series in the Balt. Sun, and this '01 NY Review of Books piece by former NY Times Nicaragua bureau chief Stephen Kinzer.)

But that wily Chalabi knew his history, and undercut his buddy Newt across town on MTP:

Iraq is not Latin America. It's not Honduras.

And I would say a piece of advice for Ambassador Negroponte.

If he thinks he comes here and provides diplomatic cover for the control of Iraq through covert operations, I think he would be sadly mistaken.

But it is OK for Chalabi to cross wires with the neocons sometimes. He has their support locked up.

It's the Iraqis he needs to work on.

(UPDATE May 24 11 AM ET -- More Chalabi from War and Piece, Tapped, Political Animal, Daily Kos and Talking Points Memo.)

The Sandbox
Humor Column by Alexander Pierre Luboknovich

Purple Hearts

It is not well documented in the United States, however, I am writing now to reveal to my audience that Luboknovich, like John Kerry, has three purple hearts.

You see, my hearts were not granted based on some wonderful military achievement, nor have they recently been questioned by any New England media source.

On the contrary! The prestigious New England Journal of Medicine recently named me "Medical Oddity of the Year: 2003" (December 2003) and "An anomaly to watch" (March 2002).

You see, my purple hearts are literal hearts!

Yes, that's correct. My body cannot operate on the one heart granted to most people. Instead, I need three.

My condition is the result of a serious palimony mutation known as Pulmonary Equestrians Triadic Conglomerated Ovation (PETCO).

I did not ask for these hearts, nor was I thrilled when I received them.

You see, they are the result of extreme stress induced by divorce proceedings with my late wife Kirstie Alley.

The more she irritated me, the purpler my heart grew. I soon grew two new hearts once my body determined that my original heart was not strong enough to sustain me. However, I experienced so much stress that each of the new hearts turned purple as well.

Fortunately, my three defective hearts, when working together, are sturdy enough to keep me going.

Born in 1957 in Byelorussia, 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 Peephole: Lewd Propositions for a New Sexual Revolution" and is an associate fellow at the Ruzzzivixxxxxxen Importing Co., Brighton Beach, NY. He is one of the leading practitioners of the high Russian art of "water comedy" and a regular columnist for LiberalOasis.

**************

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