Telling the Truth: Joseph Wilson on the Leaks, Lies, and the War

On November 2, 2003, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson sat down with journalist Jerry Cornfield for an in-depth interview for the Santa Barbara Independent. Wilson, who strongly supported the first President Bush in 1988 and 1992 - and is endorsing John Kerry this time around - paints a stark picture of the son's administration as overrun by neo-conservatives. He speaks candidly of the lies, the leak that outed his wife (a CIA operative), and restoring the United States' reputation, which he believes had been severely damaged under the current government.

I strongly urge you to grab a cuppa joe, link to the interview, and read how Dick Cheney ("a shady manipulator"), Donald Rumsfeld ("willing front man for the neo-cons"), Condi Rice ("not credible"), and the President ("not in charge"), duped the people of the United States of America and the world community.


Report, Beach!

Well, it is a bit foggy, though not quite rainy -- a little like my gorgeous girl, Miss San Francisco. Ya'll seen this yet?



The Baby Tax

I can't believe the party of so-called fiscal responsiblity continues to push forward with borrowing more and more money for boondoggles like Iraq, while refusing money for domestic matters like, say, fire prevention, or debt reduction. Where is all this money going? Where's it coming from? Who's going to pay for this? Apparently, if we can't tax the people who can best afford to pay for this, then who has to pay for this? How long is this going to take to pay off? When will this country ever be out of debt?

Estimates are running as high as $1500 per household for this "war". I sure as hell don't have an extra $1500 to spend, let alone on Iraq, and if I did, I'd be a lot more inclined to want to put it toward domestic needs as opposed to a military action that seems to only serve political ambitions and the coffers of corporations that donated to those political ambitions. Talk about wasting tax dollars.


The Last Round-Up

As Scott motors to the coast and another weekend draws near, how about a little levity! Here's a slightly skewered look at some recent news, supplied as always with the occasional editorial barb from yours truly.

NEWS HEADLINE: "Republicans call for special counsel investigation."
NEWS HEADLINE: "GOP pushes for independent counsel."
NEWS HEADLINE: "Republicans demand independent counsel."
NEWS HEADLINE: "GOP House members formally request independent counsel."

What? Oh. Wait. Those are 1997 headlines; not 2003 headlines. Silly me. My mistake.

NEWS ITEM: Attorney General John Ashcroft orders federal prosecutors to come down harder on criminal defendants, instructing them to seek maximum penalties.
NEWS ITEM: Attorney General John Ashcroft starts criminal investigation to find out who in the Bush administration leaked the name of a CIA operative, in criminal violation of the Identities Protection Act.

Memo to Mr. Ashcroft: The maximum penalty is 10 years in prison. Now go get 'em, Tiger!

NEWS ITEM: The Pentagon has agreed to pay Linda Tripp $595,000 to settle her claims that the Department of Defense violated her privacy rights.

Now... if she would take her money and just leave.

NEWS ITEM (May): President Bush visits the Timken Company in Canton, Ohio, to promote his "jobs growth" policies.
NEWS ITEM (October): The Timken Company cuts 1,000 jobs.
NEWS ITEM (October): Timken family donates $400,000 to the Bush/Cheney 04 campaign

You know...so those "jobs growth policies" can continue.

NEWS ITEM: Republican rocker Ted Nugent puts his odds of running for governor of Michigan in 2006 at 50/50.

I see it didn't take long for that circus to relocate.

NEWS ITEM: FBI says it used the USA Patriot Act to investigate the finances of a strip-club owner in Las Vegas.

Because...well...you know...those nude terrorists...they're evil doers!

NEWS ITEM: Actor Ashton Kutcher endorses Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) for the presidency.

Senator, you've just been Punk'd!!

NEWS ITEM: By a 67%-33% margin, the town of Bolinas, California voted to love blueberries, bears, and skunks.

Next up - Modesto will vote to love Scott Pederson, Gary Condit, and peaches.

TONIGHT ON ABC: Martha Stewart tells Barbara Walters, "I'm scared."

And, purely by coincidence, Martha is spreading compost this afternoon.

DUMB CROOK OF THE WEEK AWARD GOES TO: The man in Sylmar, California who drove to a court hearing to face charges of driving on a suspended license.

SUPERMARKET TABLOID HEADLINE OF THE WEEK: "Vengeful frogs eat French chef's legs!!"

SATURDAY'S BIRTHDAYS: HBO, 31; Morley Safer, 142

HOW WILL YOU CELEBRATE? November 8th is National Harvey Wallbanger Day.

Finally, your Bush-ism of the week: Mr. Bush, last week at a White House photo op: "The ambassador and the general were briefing me on the - uh - the vast majority of Iraqis want to live in a peaceful, free world. And we will find these people and we will bring them to justice."

Damn peaceniks, be warned!

Thankyouverymuch and Happy National Bittersweet Chocolate with Almonds Day.


Last Sand

Okay, I'm leaving for the weekend again -- even though it's probably gonna rain, I need one last trip to the beach before Winter. On a rare personal note, what I miss most living in California's Central Valley is the ocean. The smell, the view, the water -- I'm just not good at being land-bound. So, ya'll have a great time here on the range, I'm heading for Points West.


Spread 'Em

So, Bush threatens to spread democracy:
President Bush laid out a broad vision Thursday of an American mission to spread democracy throughout the Middle East and the rest of the world, saying, "Freedom can be the future of every nation." [...]
Yeah, just don't try this at home!
He offered no new program for promoting democracy nor any specifics for how the United States will encourage what he called the "global democratic revolution." [...] "Sixty years of Western nations excusing and accommodating the lack of freedom in the Middle East did nothing to make us safe, because in the long run stability cannot be purchased at the expense of liberty," the president said. [...] "Freedom is worth fighting for, dying for and standing for, and the advance of freedom leads to peace," he said.
You would think a man of faith would have heard the term "practice what you preach" -- right?
Critics said the president's remarks were long on abstract principles and short on specific methods to achieve them.
Those Democrats just won't leave our God-like figures alone!!! Bastards.
The speech occurred before Bush signed a bill setting aside $87.5 billion to fund military and reconstruction efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan in the coming year. "The establishment of a free Iraq at the heart of the Middle East will be a watershed event in the global democratic revolution," the president said.

"It's democracy lite," said Dmitri K. Simes, a scholar at the conservative Nixon Center in Washington. "It's like apple pie. Who could disagree with the idea that the people of the Middle East deserve democracy? The question is, what credible steps are you prepared to take to get there? What are you willing to spend in soldiers' lives?"
Democrcy lite? It's bullsh*t! And hey, by the way, wasn't it about the WMD? Wasn't this guy against nation-building? These neo-cons are whack!

In other news from PW's spread-em file, Governor Gangbang is, uh, doing, ummm -- well, I'd like to say it's the right thing, but it's actually the most quizzical thing that I ever did see:
Gov.-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger said Thursday that he is in the process of hiring a private investigator to look into allegations that he groped more than a dozen women over a 30-year period.
Egads -- a private investigator? Ummm...

1). Doesn't he know what he did? And...

2). A private investigator on his own payroll? Now there's an independent inquiry!

Yup, good people, the WMD is in our own backyard and we can't even locate it.....
Schwarzenegger's disclosure came in response to comments from Atty. Gen. Bill Lockyer, who had said earlier in the day that he had encouraged the governor-elect to address the allegations, raised during the governor-elect's recent campaign, because "they are not going to go away."

Schwarzenegger spokesman Rob Stutzman refused to reveal the name of the investigative firm he is hiring and said the scope of the investigation had yet to be determined.

Despite skepticism that a prominent public official can pay for an investigation of himself, Stutzman said the "impeccable reputation" of the firm chosen would allay any concerns about the credibility of the investigation.

Stutzman accused Lockyer of violating a legal ethic that prohibits lawyers from revealing confidential discussions with clients. Lockyer and several independent legal experts said that no such confidentiality exists. Nevertheless, Stutzman said Schwarzenegger may not be turning over the investigation results to Lockyer as he had planned. [...]

"Unbelievable," said Democratic campaign consultant Richie Ross. "How ironic that California's strangest political bedfellows would find themselves in an argument about groping."
Nope, good people, the circus didn't just come to town -- it unpacked in the extra bedroom, and it's here to stay.



Mister Roberts

Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kas.) is whining about a memo, evidently written by a member of the Democratic staff of the Senate Intelligence Committee, that outlines strategies for talking points about the troubles in Iraq, saying it is "a road map for how the Democrats intend to politicize what should be a bipartisan, objective review of prewar intelligence."


Come on Sen. Roberts. It's not like we Democrats have an aircraft carrier to land on...


Zogby has bad news for Mr. Bush. The downslide continues.



Wanted: A strong, substantial debate

Three hundred and sixty four days from now Americans head to the polls for the next presidential election. Throughout the summer and early autumn, I've watched as the current crop of Democrats club each other over the head while trying to jockey to the nominating finish line and the chance to take on President Bush. At this point in the game, I was hoping for more substance from this crew. At this point in the game, that substance is lacking.

Bear with me here; especially my fellow Dean Nationals. I’m not abandoning ship necessarily, but rather expressing heart-heavy concern over the state of the debate and where it needs to go over the next 11 months.

This week’s argument: FOREIGN POLICY

The next presidential election is going to be decided on national security issues, homeland security, and the war on terrorism – like it or not. Voters can tell pollsters that the economy, education, or any number of other domestic issues are at the top of their lists, but believe me when I say that when the voters go into their booths next November 2nd, 9/11 will be on their minds.

What’s the problem you ask? Bush hasn’t exactly done a stellar job in this arena. Osama bin Laden is still at large, our ports are largely unsecured, and the bogus intelligence behind sending troops to Iraq more than holds up to the “Clinton standard” of a presidential lie.

Well, while the Democratic candidates have rightly denounced the President’s foreign policy, none of them have proposed any solid ideas for fixing what is wrong with Iraq or how they would repair the huge drop in our world standing. (And for the record, the debate can’t be “pull out of Iraq.” At this point there can be no premature withdrawal. We’re there and in context of the next election it doesn’t matter how we got there. It matters how well we succeed.) Now before the Dean Nationals, the Kerry supporters, and the Clark gang come flying at me with links to candidate proposals and quotes from previous debates, let me emphasize that I’ve heard them all. Thing is, none of our guys – or gal - is offering any solid substance. What I’ve heard is “things are a mess,” but there isn’t much else there.

Hoping things go awry does not a policy make. The American people, especially those in “red” states we’d like to make “blue” again, want a forward looking candidate with policy proposals they feel will keep their children and grandchildren safe from the lunatics who hate us so much.

Since 9/11 I’ve been a big fan of Tom Friedman, foreign policy columnist at the New York Times. The man has it together (if I were president, he’d be in my administration). He is by no means a Bush fan, and for the most part he knows what needs to be done in this new “September 12th world.” He’s the only guy in the “political opposition” (if I may put him in that context) that offers anything substantial on matters of foreign policy.

I’ll read Mr. Friedman’s columns twice a week and shake my head in wonderment, thinking "Why aren’t we hearing this stuff from the Democrats?” Some would answer that Friedman is a bit more hawkish than they would like. Well, guess what? We need to be hawkish right now. But there’s Bush-hawkish and Friedman-hawkish and I believe the United States’ would be more secure under many of the proposals Friedman has suggested in his columns.

And so to the Democratic field I suggest the following: Reduce the number of debates scheduled between now and the first caucuses and primaries. You’re not doing yourselves any favors by beating up on each other once a week. This contest is too important for that crap. Instead, perhaps meet twice more between now and the end of January. One debate about domestic policy; the other over foreign policy, with Tom Friedman as the sole moderator.

Yes...the war could be Bush's undoing. Things in Iraq could keep American voters uneasy over the next year. But to vote against the incumbent, they’ll need the best alternative possible. (The devil they know is better than the devil they don’t, the argument goes.) And if the Democratic candidate has a weak message on this most important issue….well, you do the electoral math.

Finally, I'm not, by any stretch of the imagination, jumping ship a la Zell Miller. I plan to vote for the Democratic nominee next year because, as Mr. Friedman once put it, George Bush has tried "to drive a narrow, right-wing agenda from September 10th into a September 12th world." I just want a more solid, effective debate among the party nominees. The path to Election Day will be long and hard if they don't start showing a bit more substance.

(Next week: Domestic issues.)



An elephant at CBS!

Last week I mentioned that the United States was on the "long, slow crawl toward fascism." I get up this morning and find that the media is now run by the state!

THIS is not America!

I haven't seen the movie, but if it holds up to true mini-series form, it probably sucks. However, the fact that the Republican Party was able to strong-arm a major American television network into canceling a mini-series is mind boggling.

As Josh Marshall said yesterday: Wake me up when we're back in America.



Open Source

It seems the Aussies have the right idea about how to go about their e-voting process. An article in Wired talks about how they sent out a request for proposals for an electronic voting option, and because of what happened here in 2000, decided a completely transparent process was the way to go. Which, if you stop and think about it, actually makes a hell of a lot of sense.

The method for casting votes ought to be out in the open, to prevent guys like Diebold Chief Executive Walden O'Dell from making good on his promise to deliver Ohio and it's electoral votes for the current commander next year.

It's not enough that they're planning to raise $200 million, but they think they need to cheat? What does that say about their beliefs? Where's the honor and dignity? If only.



The Real Stupid Traitors

Friday on MSNBC's Scarborough Country the ever effervescent Ann Coulter stated, and the transcript isn't up yet, so I paraphrase:
Intelligent people who get involved in politics become conservative. (NOTE: the transcript is available now, full quote is: As soon as people know anything about politics, they become conservatives, which is why, it seems to me, [they'll] never have a liberal talk radio host succeed.)
In other words, Democrats and progressives and liberals aren't just pinko commie traitors, we're stupid pinko commie traitors. So, what's her excuse? She's little more than a walking, talking stream of invective that is meant to incite, not illuminate, and her smart mouth never translates into real smarts -- nor are she, or any of the members of Bush and the Cheney Gang, conservatives. The American Heritage dictionary defines it this way:
conservative: favoring traditional views and values; tending to oppose change; traditional or restrained in style; moderate; cautious
So what is conservative about the neo-cons? Beyond certain antiquated social views, well, nothing. Lord Randolph Churchill said:
If you wish to make a democracy conservative, you must give it something to conserve.
The Republicans in power make a mockery of the word. They might as well start calling themselves the Nationalist Party, and on that score, they have far more in common with Lenin and Mao than any Democrat I've ever known, so will the real traitors to the United States of America please stand up?

I want to conserve an America that respects freedom and individual liberties. I want to conserve an America that refuses to burden the next generation with mammoth debt and refuses to mortgage the future of the many to the benefit of the few. I want to conserve an America where our children have the best education on earth. I want to conserve an America that is respected in the world and treats our friends like allies and equals, not pesky annoyances. I want to conserve an America with a foreign policy based on multi-lateralism and millitary restraint.

I want to conserve an America where everyone who wants to be employed can find a job. I want to conserve an America that respects our natural resources and natural treasures and treats our environment with "shock and awe" rather than obstacles to be at best neglected and at worst paved over. I want to conserve an America that believes in an honest days pay and fair benefits for an honest days work. I want to conserve an America where labor is respected at least as much as up ticks in the Dow. I want to conserve an America that continues to seek healthcare for all. I want to conserve an America where everyone -- and I mean everyone -- gets a fair shot at the American Dream.

What's un-American about any of that? These neo-cons aren't conservatives, they are radical nationalists with an anti-American agenda. Worse, they are so blinded by their nationalist ideology and the insulated opinions of their oligarchy that they don't even see it. Anyone who says that they are a conservative and a supporter of George Bush should think long and hard before they have the unmitigated gall to say it with a straight face.

UPDATE: Dean National HarveyTheChainsaw makes this excellent observation in the comments: "I can't help but notice the disparity between two Republican statements. The first is that the Democrats are all 'liberal academics' and 'radical intellectuals' who don't understand what's really going on in America. The second is that intellectuals who enter politics become conservatives. This statement just goes to show that they simply make this shit up."

UPDATE TWO: Dana Blankenhorn sends this great link from the the conservative Rockford Institute's Chronicles Magazine. It's quite a read, purely by accident I was perhaps closer than I imagined: NEOCOSERVATISM, WHERE TROTSKY MEETS STALIN AND HITLER

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