www.FamilyEntertainer.com  Joe Gandelman

      The Moderate Voice

A political independent and moderate's irreverent comments,
     analysis and links on important stories in the news.
      Written by veteran journalist
- Joe Gandelman -
    who is now a fulltime ventriloquist.

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Wednesday, March 31, 2004  

OREGAN MAN GIVES COWS PEDICURES: So NOW I know where my next door neighbor at my condo goes to get her nails done.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 10:27 PM


WE HUMBLY SAY "THANK YEW": A reader accused The Moderate Voice of being the Modest Voice by not quoting the kind comments by Dean Esmay about this site, which Dean discovered himself. TMV admits it was gratifying to see these comments on Dean's World, since as of April 1 this blog is officially three months old. Here are the parts in his post that deal with us (other parts cut):
---"Joe Gandelman's 'Moderate Voice' is the best new weblog I've seen in quite some time. It's both fair and thoroughly, genuinely non-partisan, not to mention funny. Although I call myself non-partisan, I'm not entirely; I do admit who I vote for, and have been very outspoken with just how unhappy I've been with Democrats the last few years, and how foolishly self-destructive they've been. But Joe's got me beat: he is thoroughly non-partisan, and in a friendly likeable, and thoughtful way (as opposed to my grumpy, irritable, snarly way)....Anyway, to get back to it, go check out Gandelman's weblog. It's truly excellent. Plus he tells funny Jewish jokes, so you know it's good!"
---In California's official language we say: "GRACIAS!"
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 10:05 PM


GOOD THING HE DIDN'T HAVE CHILI FOR LUNCH: A 92-year-old motorist got help from another motorist and saved a man on a bridge from commiting suicide by sitting on him. He talked with him and sat on the man until police arrived to take the nauseated man to a hospital.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 12:15 PM


JOHN KERRY'S OWN PAST WORDS ON 911: The always fun conservative website Free Republic has a long research post that shows you what he said then. A MUST for conservatives and liberals (eveyone will find something). Read it and bookmark it.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 10:53 AM


Patrich Buchanan maintains: "Both the ferocity of the White House attacks and his lionization by the liberal press testify: Richard Clarke has drawn blood."
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 10:42 AM


AL FRANKEN HAS COMPANY: Clear Channel Radio announced that Jesse Jackson is going to host a live one hour Sunday morning radio show. Can Dennis Kucinich be far behind?
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 9:58 AM


IF YOU WANT TO LISTEN TO LIBERAL RADIO TALK SHOW HOST AL FRANKEN AND SEE HIM FLOP OR DO WELL: This should give you Al Franken's "The O'Franken Factor," which airs 12-3 in most markets.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 8:50 AM


THEY WORKED HARD FOR IT, TOO: Michael Jackson and his little sister Janet have been named the Most Foolish Americans of 2004. This was the second year in a row Michael was named in this annual April Fool's Day opinion poll, done by New York-based PR consultant Jeff Barge. Michael came in first (77%) and his sister with the malfunctioning wardrobe came in second (70 percent). Third place was Martha Stewart. Fourth was Britney Spears. President George Bush got 50 percent, making him the 10th most foolish American of the year.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 8:11 AM


ANOTHER BAD NEWS BOOK FOR THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION? Yep. But this time the administration won't be able to go after its author. According to New York Daily News gossip columnist Lloyd Grove the book will be by legendary Watergate reporter Bob Woodward, whose last book Bush At War was highly complimentary of President George Bush and his administation. It'd be hard to attack Woodward for being anti-Bush, given the fact his last book took lots of heat from some critics for being a near love-letter. Grove reports:

Fit of conniption: I hear that "Plan of Attack," supersleuth Bob Woodward's still-secret study of President Bush's war on terrorism, will be very bad for the Bush reelection campaign - which is still reeling from gun-toting former terrorism chief Richard A. Clarke's critique of Bush, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and other administration figures in "Against All Enemies."
Woodward's book, to be released next month, will receive not only a multipart series in The Washington Post, but also the Mike Wallace treatment on "60 Minutes" April 18 - when I am absolutely confident that the common corporate ownership of CBS and Woodward's publisher, Simon & Schuster, will be mentioned.

---If you add Woodward's upcoming book, plus the final 911 Commission report this summer, it appears as if the administration will have to play some defensive action again.......
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 1:31 AM

Tuesday, March 30, 2004  

ANALYSIS: CHICKEN AND RICE: So the White House did a 180 degree turn and in the end agreed to basically what 911 Commission members of BOTH parties (nudged on by the hungry press and blood-smelling Democrats) were clamoring for: National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice's public sworn testimony.
---And the question raised by some (on the right and left) is: was this battle 100 percent what it seemed to be --or could it have possibly been it a classic game of chicken (and Rice)?
---Your opinion on the outcome, depends on where you sit. To President George Bush, making the announcement, it means standing on principle but yielding in the end to the fact that the attacks on September 11 were unprecedented -- so in this sole case precedent could be broken.
---Others saw it differently. For instance, the BBC reported: "President George W Bush has made a habit and a trademark out of standing on principle. He did so over the war in Iraq and over his tax cuts and he tried, ever so hard, to do the same over whether his National Security Adviser, Condoleezza Rice, should testify in public before the commission investigating the 9/11 attacks. On Tuesday, he lost the battle."
---Some thoughts from the Moderate Voice and others on the Internet. TMV notes this:
--THE PRESIDENT DID PROTECT A PRINCIPLE: The argument was that if a close adviser was compelled to give details of private conversations under oath it would set a bad precedent and force future advisors to watch what they say in private. The White House will get formal assurances that this is a one time deal. There WERE other instances of National security advisors testifying. But in the end the White House came out looking bungling and evasive, as if they were "splitting thinner and thinner hairs" as the conservative National Review's Kate O'Beirne puts it.
--THE WHITE HOUSE (by normal appearances) BUNGLED IT: The President and Rice got lots of press suggesting they were trying to hide something. Yet, what's largely ignored in American coverage is this: the Rice controversy gave potent ammunition to those abroad who oppose the United States war with Iraq and U.S. policies in general. The picture of U.S. policymaking presented to foreign audiences has not been a pretty one. Both political parties and the White House contributed to this stumbling portrait.
---The Rice testimony flap didn't significantly hurt Bush in the polls. But if Rice had testified sooner, and it had been over and done with, they could have squelched the story driven by former White House terrorism Czar Richard Clarke's contentions much sooner.
---In the end, the White House simply helped spur Clarke's booming book sales. (Here in San Diego some bookstores are already sold out.)
--THE DEMOCRATS MAY GET MORE THAN WHAT THEY WISHED FOR WITH RICE: She is telegenic, highly intelligent, will be well briefed and primed. And it's highly unlikely that her testimony is going to contain some massive revelation that is going to destroy Clarke or convince critics and/or Democrats that Bush was totally on top of the pre-911 events. In the end, it may come down to nuance.
---Nuance alone will NEUTRALIZE the worst part of the issue: she will have testified, held her own, impressed many viewers with her presence, charisma and intellect...and the Democrats will have lost part of their 911 issue. (And Clarke's book will likely sell more and more copies). If a Democrat is excessively patronizing or rough on Rice, he/she/it may face a backlash. Rice is an up and coming star and the hearings will showcase her. She is no (pardon the expression) dummy.
--THERE COULD BE FIREWORKS: The commission members want to use the hearings to clear up "discrepancies" between Clarke's version of events and Rice's and will likely ask Rice some questions that could fall into touchy areas. So new controversies could be in the offing -- but these will likely be dwarfed by the mini-firestorm that has raged the past few weeks over Rice's testimony (which came down to the fundamental issues of credibility and candor).
---Meanwhile,reaction to the news about Rice's testimony on the ever-blunt Internet was mixed.
---Balloon Juice's John Cole wrote:"I think what happens next is that we all need to push to get Clinton to testify under oath. We all remember how much fun he is when he is under oath. Hell, he doesn't even have a law license to lose or an office from which he can be impeached.'
---Michele Catalano of the highly-popular A Small Victory web log said this:

Let's see - just yesterday they were screaming that Condi should testify, and screaming loud. Now that the White House has agreed to let her testify, this is what I've found on left blogs and Dem sites:
---It really doesn't matter if she testifies or not
---She's just going to lie, so why bother
---The White House is flip flopping
---This is all some kind of Vast Right Wing Conspiracy
---Who cares?
---It was a plan by Bush to begin with to have it turn out this way
---This means the CNN poll was a big lie.
(What is it with) you people? You want her to testify, then when she does you find something else to complain about. My head is going to explode. I need to read some comics....

---Donald Sensing ponders whether the White House wanted to maneuver it so they wound up having the last word in the end:"But I wonder - was the White House more clever in this flop than we give it credit?... I wonder why the White House didn't tell the committee, backchannel, that Rice would testify as requested, but only last, and that if the commission made a stink about it, the White House would simply claim executive privilege and withhold her until it wanted. Of course, maybe that's what they did."
---Pejman Yousefzadeh writes:"If the White House was going to let Condi Rice testify anyway, it should have done so from the beginning instead of sustaining political pain and torture from the entire affair. Now, it simply appears that the White House backed down from intense political pressure over the issue, and political opponents will feel that they can push this Administration around on other issues as well."
---Oliver Willis asks: "Why is it so hard to get the Bush people to admit they made a mistake? Not even a fierce partisan like me believes that they allowed 9.11 to happen, but they are so focused on creating a 'narrative' they can't just say 'mea culpa' and move on to the next battle."
---According to Seth Farber aka The Talking Dog "the deal, for those of you who need to be told it, is that she will get to see the questions ahead of time so she can rehearse her responses-- like the President was for the Russert interview; even having rehearsed, the President still wasn't up to it-- but I think Condi will put on a good show herself." And TTD asks his readers to look at this.
---Josh Marshall, who has enraged many on the right with his recent writings on the 911 commission, asks:"What if Condi Rice, when she testifies, makes statements in flat contradiction of earlier statements by Richard Clarke? Nothing, it would seem, since the Commission appears to have agreed not to "request additional public testimony from any White House official, including Dr. Rice."
---Suburban Guerilla adds: " Condi will testify in public in front of the 9/11 commission. They will have a signed agreement that this does not set a precedent. Even though it does, but it makes them look 'principled' in that way Karen and Karl seem to like."
---But no matter what happens, one thing is clear: the Bush administration's handling of the events BEFORE September 11 will remain under the Congressional, journalistic and opposition Democratic microscopes for a while. For every action there is a reaction; there will be domestic political and foreign consequences as an administration not quite wounded....but bruised... tries to steady itself for the next round.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 11:34 PM


TOO MUCH GORE ON TV: Al Gore is reportedly ready to close the deal on his very own cable television channel. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 8:13 PM


THEN THEY ALL MUST BE CLOSET DEMOCRATS AND IN ON THE CONSPIRACY (some will say): The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the government's refusal to publicly release four detailed photographs showing Vincent Foster, former deputy White House counsel, lying dead in a suburban Washington, D.C., park in July 1993. The Christian Science Monitor notes that in reversing an appeals court ruling "Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote that the privacy interests of Foster's family outweigh the public interest in disclosure of the photographs."
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 5:43 PM


LIBERAL TALK RADIO DEBUTS TOMORROW: Tomorrow is the very limited debut of the highly touted liberal talk radio network. The key debut is of comedian/author/Bill O'Reilly nemesis Al Franken, who has titlted his show "The O'Franken Factor" after you-know-whose...
---If you're a liberal, you'll want to listen. If you're a nonpartisan or want to hear something a bit different, you'll want to see what all the advance hub-bub is about. If you're a conservative you might not want to hear it, but it might be interesting to see what the other side is saying, realizing that their whole reason for being is to counter what conservative talk show radio hosts are saying, and also provide an alternative.
---But the stations are limited so far. Franken can be heard 12 noon through 3 p.m. on these stations so far:
NYC (WLIB, 1190AM)
LA (KBLA, 1580AM)
Chicago (WNTD, 950AM)
Portland (KPOJ, 620AM)
Inland Empire, CA (KCAA, 1050AM)
XM Radio Channel 167.
---The new network Air America has promised that the shows will be streamed online by going to http://airamericaradio.com/ and that shows will be archived.
---FOOTNOTE: I live in San Diego and tried getting the L.A. station...and I can't. So obviously this new network is going to have very limited rollout. There are many predictions from radio pros both liberal and conservative that it'll never succeed, but the same thing was said about CNN and Fox. But it's definitely starting bare-bones. For it to grow it'll need (a)buzz from the press, (b)conservative radio talk show hosts mentioning it or blasting it (it'll create curiosity..and we bet the liberal talk show hosts will be trying to goad their ratings-fattened conservative counterparts to talk about them...and they'll bite the bait), (c)the bottom-line: even on these limited number of stations, does it seem like there is interest (ratings growth) or is no one listening?
---Forget ideological biases (liberal or conservative): remember that many experiments were written off as failures before they began. Predictions were often right...but sometimes wrong. In this case, it's going to be interesting to see if there's interest, if there's a market, if the hosts can function as BROADCASTERS/ENTERTAINERS and if management is professional and tough enough to make this tiny wannabe network a business filling a niche versus a short-lived political counterstatement.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 5:15 PM


JOE GANDELMAN ON THE ROAD: Joe Gandelman & Friends will be appearing at Imperial Valley College in Imperial, CA today. New posts on this site will resume later today.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 5:42 AM


SCORE ONE FOR THE GOOD GUYS: British anti-terrorism police arrested 8 terror suspects in England police arrested eight people suspected of preparing a terrorist attack. Police seized 1,000 pounds of ammonium nitrate fertilizer, the key ingredient in making explosives.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 5:32 AM


WILL THE DEMOCRATS TAKE BACK THE HOUSE? .House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi thinks they will. She believes that Reps. John Dingell of Dearborn and John Conyers of Detroit next year will once again chair the committees where they now are the ranking Democrats. Pelosi believes that come Nov. 2, Democrats will end the GOP’s decade-old House rule — the longest period of Republican control since 1918-30. (Check back here later today for our summary of Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball where he predicts some changes in the Congressional balance of power).
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 5:27 AM


THE BUSH ADS ARE WORKING: USA Today takes a look at the latest poll that has put President George Bush ahead again in his re-election battle against John Kerry and finds that GOP political ads have done the trick. The Bush campaign has has a huge war chest; Kerry does not. Big problems in the longrun (and as we see short run) for Kerry.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 5:22 AM

Monday, March 29, 2004  

BUSH'S POLL NUMBERS GO UP: Was Richard Clarke creating a controversy to secretly help George Bush in the polls? It almost seems so. The latest CNN USA/Today/Gallup Poll shows Bush's position against John Kerry getting stronger as the controversy over 911 dominates the news -- along with (not uncoindentally) attacks from the Bush camp suggesting Kerry is King of the Flip Flops and a serial taxer.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 9:19 PM


NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO COMES OF (CORRUPTED) AGE: Well, it seems like government-funded National Public Radio, armed with a huge grant from the late McDonald's owner Joan Kroc, has decided to cast off its less-corporate vestiges and structure itself to be more like one of the mass-media for-profit networks: by being heartless, clueless and dumb.
---NPR, which does some good work but has been under fire from conservatives and needs ALL the friends it can get, decided to unceremoniously dump Bob Edwards, host of Morning Edition, the second most popular morning radio show.
---Edwards' Morning Edition is second only to a show hosted by a former DJ who says he has "talent on loan from God."
---NPR's bigwigs apparently have brains-on-loan from an ostrich.
---The reason: corporate honchos simply announced it was time to move on and set April 30 as the date when Edwards would be treated the way for-profit radio companies treat their out-of-favor talk show hosts -- with thinly-hidden contempt, by being abruptly dumped or transferred and giving few real details to loyal listeners. And listeners NEEDED a viable explanation, since ratings weren't a problem. And if ratings aren't the problem what was left? A personality clash (some reports suggest yes)?
---Officially, original news stories quoted a spokesperson as basically saying it was time to get someone younger. So at 56 NPR claims that Edwards is too over the hill to host a show (WARNING TO DICK CLARK: NPR THINKS YOU SHOULD HAVE BEEN TAKEN OFF THE AIR 60 YEARS AGO).
---The NPR website has the usual filled-with-baloney public relations corporate gloss-over on what actually happened -- written exactly as a similarly evasive for-profit network would have done -- but listeners haven't accepted the party-line and NPR has been (rightly) flooded with furious emails, letters and angry phone calls. And there is even www.savebobedwards.com for those (including some readers of this modest blog?) who want to let NPR know what they think (I am sure Dick Clark will protest).
---Why is this dumb?
---It was done with little advance notice to NPR's loyal morning listeners. This is as if it was suddenly announced that Rush Limbaugh would be moving on to be staff announcer, or Dr. Laura Schlessinger would now host a food show (her food would probably give you heartburn).
---And it was especially dumb because it comes as NPR stations are launching their necessary but hideously obnoxious fund-raising drives. The Save Bob Edwards website is urging people not to withold funding since they don't want to hurt NPR...but people bond with radio hosts and NPR is now expecting people to contribute when management has done the equivalent of professionally assassinating their morning radio pal..then offering lame explanations as to why they did it.
---PERSONAL NOTE: Edwards has hosted the show since 1979. In 1979 I was in Washington looking for my first staff newspaper job after reporting from New Delhi and Madrid from 1973-1978. I had done some phone reports from Madrid for All Things Considered on Spain's first post-Franco democratic elections in 1978. While in D.C. I visited NPR and met Susan Stamberg, who introduced me to Edwards. So a young Joe Gandelman met a young Bob Edwards. It wasn't a very long visit but he seemed like a genuinely nice and thoroughly professional guy. And over the years I've often thought about that visit, and how the two of them seemed like serious, quality people.
---I still remember how nice Edwards was. Morning Edition's many multi-party listeners obviously got the same impression.
---So NPR yanking a popular host and giving listeners a lame explanation why he'd be off the show at the end of April means NPR may really need that Kroc grant.
---Because to many listeners, the firing of Edwards from Morning Edition is the biggest crock of all.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 7:58 PM


CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR COMMENTARY SAYS RICE SHOULD "DO THE RIGHT THING": My former news outlet, the Christian Science Monitor (STILL one of my favorite papers) has an unusually blunt commentary on the Richard Clarke-Condoleeza Rice controversy. Diane Chinni's main point is this:

If you've forgotten what it looks like when the wheels come off an administration, you're seeing it happen before your eyes.

---And she makes a point that Republicans will consider the ultimate insult: can it be that the GOP and the White House are behaving the same way someone named C-l-i-n-t-o-n did?
Faced with a raft of damaging allegations from Clarke's book and testimony - covering everything from ill- preparedness on 9/11 to misguided choices in Iraq - the White House and its defenders have fallen back on this city's favorite game: blame the accuser. Clarke was angry he didn't get the promotion he wanted, they say...Back in the good old days - about six years ago - this was called the "nuts and sluts" strategy, and the Clinton administration used it to try to calm the numerous "bimbo eruptions" that hit it. The point then, as it is today, was to shift the discussion away from the allegations and focus on the credibility of the person who's come forward - change the topic among this town's chatterers from the substance of the allegations to their source.

The press and the public didn't appreciate the game then. The test before them today is to apply the same standards to this White House that they did to the Clinton era.

She recounts the Rice controversy and wonders why some kind of agreement can't be reached to let her testify (there are efforts to reportedly to just that -- and REPUBLICANS on the 911 Commission are the ones pressing particularly hard for it). She concludes:
But the biggest irony of all is the fact that the group that wanted to "restore honor and integrity" to the White House now finds itself looking awfully similar to the group it rousted from the place - falling back on character attacks and legalese to get out of a jam.

The administration still has time to correct this situation, but it needs to do something fast. Letting Rice testify is a start. It won't solve everything, and there may be some irreversible damage for the administration, but it's the right thing to do politically and the administration owes the nation that much.

---Indeed, Chinni hits the nail on the head. There truly seems to be a blurring of how the parties handle controversies, what they try to do to the sources of bad information that place them in controversies, and how each party gives their own leaders a pass on things they would never allow from a leader of the party they oppose.
---It's not unconstitutional.
---It's not even necessarily wrong.
---It's politics..
---But in this case the best defense is not a good offense -- it's a good defense.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 3:12 PM


RICHARD CLARKE CONTROVERSY REVISITED (and dissected): CNN's website has a superb Time article on Richard Clarke's path to making his charges, Republican and White House reaction, and an analysis of how his allegations hold up. Prediction: some CNN details should provide a LOT of material -- and debate -- for partisans on both sides. The article's chilling conclusion:

In the end, the drama produced by Clarke in Washington was not about the last terrorist attack against the U.S. but about the next one. Since it began its work in early 2003, the commission has uncovered huge failings in the national-security system, including how even a presidential order can be misunderstood down the chain of command. But these dangers got lost in a high-stakes political showdown. Unless Washington can focus on them, someone may risk having to ask forgiveness again.

---Indeed, you get the sense that with people and groups going after each other and controversies swirling round Clarke and National Security Advisor Condi Rice, terrorists could detect new weaknesses and quietly slip through (just like in Spain) as a divided and distracted American government and electorate conduct the equivilent of verbal civil war. Hope Time's prediction (and my feeling) is wrong.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 12:09 PM


DID PAKISTAN KILL A TOP Al-QAEDA OFFICIAL? That's what Pakistani officials are saying -- but (as a former journalist I must add this) given the track record of the breathless proclamations coming from Pakistani news sources (including the country's President) on huge developments on the anti-terrorism war, let's see what develops first. To coin a phrase I want to use before Jesse Jackson uses it: Confirmation before expectation and elation.
---Here's the crux of the AP report:"WANA, Pakistan - Pakistan's massive sweep through western tribal areas to root out suspected terrorists resulted in the deaths of an al-Qaida intelligence chief and 62 suspected militants and the arrests of 167, a military official said Monday."
---It goes on to say:"The army spokesman, Maj. Gen. Shaukat Sultan, identified the al-Qaida operative only as Abdullah — an extremely common name in the Islamic world — and said he had no more information about him. The army confirmed Abdullah's death through 'independent intelligence sources,' but Sultan would not say whether it had his body."
---Hopefully these aren't the same sources that were announcing on several weekends that Osama bin Laden would be captured very soon, or that his second-in-command was cornered. Confirmation before expectation and elation....
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 10:34 AM


IS THIS WHAT'S REALLY GOING ON WITH CONDI RICE? Now TWO people have put forward a theory that, if proven to be true, will represent stunning political strategy.
--- It's this: what if President George Bush's White House planned to let National Security advisor Condoleeza Rice testify ALL ALONG...and that the present political stink was intentionally provoked to heighten television viewership so the administration could use it's best weapon -- Rice -- in a way that decimates Democratic and other critics?
---Now I've heard this suggested from two sources:
---1)A hint of it from New Jersey's William Drury, who has suggested all along that Bush may be using his just-go-ahead-and-underestimate-me-as-a-dumb strategy, which he has used successfully before in his career.
---2)An elaborate scenario by Dean Esmay, who contends this raging controversy over her testimony could in the end prove to be elaborate political stagecraft. His FASCINATING scenario contains these highlights (we still urge you to read his full post):

However, I think Gandelman's missing a point, and it's something that most observers, particularly Democrats, usually miss about how Bush operates. My own prediction for Joe and others is that Bush will allow Rice to testify, and fairly soon. Because he planned to all along, you see. He's just waited for the clamor to make him do it to grow to a loud enough racket.

It's breathtaking to watch. There hasn't been a President this canny or able to outmaneuver his opponents since Lyndon Johnson. Bush waits for his opponents to work themselves into a fever pitch, an absolute froth, over something utterly trivial. Then he quietly gives them what they want, they crow in triumph that they "embarrassed him into" doing what they demanded--then they look stupid. Democrats always fall for this when it comes to Bush. Every. Single. Time.

---He believes Bush will probably lose in November, but is using his best strategy. And he flatly predicts:
You watch. Rice will testify, and do just great, and Democrats will suddenly look like obsessive jerks beating up on a woman. Mark my words. Dubya has driven them quite mad, you see.

---It sounds logical to me (but then politics is not always logical in the 21st Century). One hint that he may be right: The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli is said to be one of Karl Rove's favorite books.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 9:46 AM


WHY DO WEB LOGS LINK? If you don't have a "blog" you may be wondering about the links on the side of the page. You may also notice you go to some websites and web logs and see lots of links. On others you may see very few. I've visited a few that don't have any other web logs linked at all. What you may not realize is that there is an actual philosophical debate about posting links, with sincere people on both sides convinced their view is the way to go.
----Why post on this subject at all? From all indications, "blogging" is rapidly becoming an important part of journalism, sometimes influencing the mainstream press (read this and this and especially this) as well as political campaigns. As of April 1 this blog is three months old and it's interesting to get emails from my friends who have just learned the word "blog" and find it exciting to find out about a new one to visit (and sometimes leave peppery comments).
----There are several components in the links debate: (1)how do you best serve the interest of site visitors (a lot of links or keep them limited), (2) how do you get your word out (do you advertise but that costs $$$, get noticed by the bigger blogs or use links?). (3) And what does all of this say about the way web logs have exploded to become a new arm of journalism and commentary -- so much so that blogs are now dissected and monitored at some universities and journalism schools?
----One of the best explanations of the debate over links is by Dean's World's Dean Esmay. Read it for yourself. Esmay not only explains the varying points of view, he offers a pin-point accurate explanation of why people of all ages and walks of life become "bloggers." PLUS, if you check out this archieved post make sure you read the comments -- from bloggers of all walks of life and political persuasions (you can discover some new sites just by clicking on their names).
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 7:55 AM

Sunday, March 28, 2004  

CONDOLEEZE RICE ON 60 MINUTES: After watching 60 Minutes I have to say this: The administration is clearly making a huge mistake in nixing attempts to get her to testify publicly under oath before the 911 commission. And there are now signs that the administration knows it.
---Even if some of Rice's points made under oath could be debated and challenged, the bottom line is she remains a credible and charismatic presence and could help defuse an issue that could wound President George Bush in his re-election campaign and abroad.
---According to the Washington Post:

Administration officials were searching for a compromise last night with the commission that would limit the political damage from her refusal to testify. But a defiant Rice gave no hint of that as she defended the Bush administration's counterterrorism performance on CBS's "60 Minutes" -- the same venue used a week earlier by former White House counterterrorism chief Richard A. Clarke to launch his criticism that the Bush administration did too little on terrorism before Sept. 11, 2001, and wound up strengthening al Qaeda by pursuing war in Iraq.

---If she does eventually testify, or they find a face-saving formula, it'll be interesting to see what hard-line-partisans who have insisted it is IMPOSSIBLE for her to testify say about that. Or what they say about key Republicans clamoring (see below) for her testimony (the only explanation, if you listen to talk radio, is that all of these Republicans are RINOS...Republican In Name Only).
---One of the Republican commissioners who think the White House is shooting itself in the foot is John Lehman, who hit Clarke with the most aggressive questioning during Clarke's public testimony last week. Lehman told ABC's This Week that Rice "has nothing to hide, and yet this is creating the impression for honest Americans all over the country and people all over the world that the White House has something to hide, that Condi Rice has something to hide. And if they do, we sure haven't found it. There are no smoking guns. That's what makes this so absurd. It's a political blunder of the first order."
---I thought Rice came across as someone to whom you'd want to give the benefit of the doubt (an 8 year old girl who was with me when I watched it said:"SHE should be President.") But others such as Atrios disagree:
First of all, this isn't even about testifying in front of congress. Second, to the extent that there is any long-standing principle, it's about being compelled to testify in front of congress by congress and its committees - not about being compelled to testify to an independent committee set up by an Act of Congress and signed into law by the preznit. Third, National Security Advisors have testified before congress. Fourth, and most importantly, we aren't talking about compelling you to testify at all. LIAR LIAR LIAR LIAR LIAR LIAR

---The Moderate Voice humbly opines:
---1. She still comes across great on t.v. During her private Congressional hearings she reportedly wowed them.
---2. She had a few shaky moments on 60 minutes but her charisma and intelligence lend her instant believability.
---3. But in an important sense, you can say the 60 Minutes appearance was a flop since it did NOT LAY TO REST the clamor for her to testify -- and in fact some of the strongest requests for her to take an oath and give public testimony comes from Republicans. Nor did it seem the kind of refutation of the Clarke interview that blew him away.
---4. It's still dangling out there that somehow the administration has something to hide and won't her hold up her hand, take an oath, and testify to Congress. The 60 Minutes appearance -- with her explanations that she would actually love to testify but she can't do it due principle -- didn't undangle anything..
---5. There are foreign policy consequences: policy makers in other countries may feel this administration is on the ropes or too risky to be closely allied to since credibility questions on Iraq remain unanswered.
---6. A compromise measure would at least halt the political bleeding, even if it didn't obliterate Clarke's charges.
---OVERALL: She was good but it's unlikely to negate the power of the Clarke interview (or of his best-selling book).
---AND NOW IT GETS EVEN MORE DIFFICULT FOR THE WHITE HOUSE: Amid Republican threats to go through his classified testimony and perhaps charge him with perjury, Clarke called for all of his testimony to be declassified and released. And, amid what he said was the selective leaking to the press of private emails he sent when he was the White House's terrorism chief, Clarke called for all of his emails to be released.
---SO WHAT IS THE IMAGE NOW? Of a White House battling full disclosure, versus a bipartisan committee (with members who have staunchly defended the president) and a whistleblower battling for extensive disclosure. How can the present situation be anything but a net minus for the White House -- and endanger American security due to the growing image of an administration under fire?
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 8:38 PM


ARE YOU AN AMERICAN IDOL FAN? If you are you've got to click on this link to Blogcritics which has a great page chock full of posts on the inspiring sado-masochistic top-rated music-talent search.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 7:01 PM


DUMBEST HATE MAIL ON THE FACE OF THE EARTH DEPARTMENT: The ever-lively and blunt conservative website Power Line got this hate mail:

""Your blog sux. And Bush knew, and is responsible for thousands of deaths. So are you."

---Well, now we have the answer (and I am sure you will agree with The Moderate Voice on this, no matter what your position is on the administration): hate mail is NOT written by rocket scientists. (This guy doesn't even KNOW HOW to spel "suks!").
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 5:44 PM


STRUGGLING WITH THE CLARK AFFAIR: The furor over former White House terrorism Czar Richard Clarke's sworn testimony before the 911 commission, his red-hot new book, and his previous statements continue to polarize the nation -- but they're all causing some folks to question the political magnetization's impact on the life-and-death terrorism issue.
---We've run posts showing such thoughtful conservatives such as Citizen Smash decrying the underlying partisan fight-to-the-death battle over Clarke, and now over at the web log Winds of Change we see Armed Liberal also looks at both sides and doesn't like what he sees:

I'm not overly interested in the tactical elements of this war; what I'm interested in is seeing if there are grownups at some level of the U.S. Government - my government that can somehow stop this crap.

Here's the problem. A Damn Bad Thing happened - a series of attacks against our people and places that culminated in an act of war on 9/11. In the decade or so leading up to this, we didn't do enough, which is, in part why it happened. In the next decades, while we try and reduce the number of people willing to engage in these kind of acts - by bribing, converting, or killing them - we ought to not make the same mistakes. We'll make different mistakes, and we will be attacked, make no mistake about that. But it would be nice to have a reasonably objective and levelheaded look at what happened.

---"Level-headed" in an election year? Does this mean Armed Liberal is just going after the GOP and is motivated by Bush hatred. NOPE:
It'd be even better to have a government in place ...and here I point at both sides of the aisle...that was capable of taking such a reasonable and levelheaded look.

---A.L. then quotes a Daniel Drezner posting that actually gives a rational personal motive for Clarke's varying views of different administrations at which he worked (read it for yourself on Sondheim's post: it makes sense; we point...YOU decide). And he says that some liberal bloggers "and the rest of the anti-Administration chorus are just singing a different part than those in the Administration.... And personally, I'm tired of it. The Democrats... are furious at Bush for not walking into a trap. "
---MOST DAMNING: He then quotes from leaked Democratic intelligence committee memos indicating how precise plans to use the issue for maximum political advantage and impact.
---OH! So he's believes its a case of the Democrats out to get Bush and the White House shares no blame. N-o-p-e:
Bush isn't faultless in this; and his team is playing thug-style hockey right alongside the Democrats when they should be winning the war. And I'm going to have to vote for one of them in November.

So you notice a segment on the left and on the right concerned about how BOTH sides are behaving. Now project this on to how all this is playing with the non-partisan swing voters. Intriguing. Except for the economy it's the issue to watch.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 10:49 AM


THE ANTIDOONESBURY? A lot of conservative websites and weblogs link to a cartoon by Chris Muir called Day By Day. And it is indeed very interesting. It reminds me of Doonesbury in its comedic style, wit and even in its drawing. You can check it out for yourself since it offers you, true to its name, a day by day strip. It has been mentioned on or linked by web logs such as InstaPundit, Balloon Juice and Right Wing News. Several websites such as Balloon Juice are urging their readers to write to their newspapers to get it carried. As The Moderate Voice has said before (see below) there should be unfettered left-wing and right-wing humor...in newspapers, talk radio and on TV. Day by Day uses humor as effectively as Doonesbury. PS: You don't get brain cancer if you laugh at humor on both sides.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 9:53 AM


RALPH NADER IS GETTING MONEY....FROM REPUBLICANS: DemWatch, one of our favorite, content-solid Democrat-oriented blogs, reports:

It turns out that 10% of Ralph Nader's $250+ contributors are actually Bush supporters. This isn't a surprise, really. There have been a number of cases in the past in which GOPers have given a ton of money to Green Party candidates to help 'spoil' races for Democrats....Nader seems to be in denial that he will help tip the scales towards Bush in November. With this high-powered GOP donations to his campaign, he can no longer deny the fundamental truth that the far right is using him as a weapon against John Kerry and the Democrats....Here's hoping this is Ralph's wake up call..

---Indeed, there was little attempt to hide the glee among Republicans when Ralph Nader again entered the fray. And poll numbers are ensuring that the Dirty Little Secret is no longer Dirty: Nader can help the GOP capture the White House again. It'll be quite interesting to watch Nader's funding sources as the race tightens up. Still, Democrats shouldn't gripe too much: Ross Perot helped elect Bill Clinton so Nader was The Political Gods' payback. The key is: the second time around will Nader-inclined voters, knowing he cannot be elected, still feel there isn't much difference between the Democrats and the Republicans and vote for Ralph?
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 2:49 AM


THIS JUST IN! Greg Piper reports: "President Bush is calling for broadband to every home by 2007. It's the first time he's spoken at length on the subject since fall 2002, and the main action happening in broadband policy has been the FCC's slow and fumbling attempts to make broadband rollout less regulated."
---George Bush wants broadband for every home by 2007. Bill Clinton wants a Broad Band in every bar by 2005.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 12:46 AM

Saturday, March 27, 2004  

MORE RICE PLEASE...RICE AND THE UPCOMING 60 MINUTES INTERVIEW: Partisan storm clouds are in place for political lightning over National Security advisor Condoleezza Rice, in the ongoing clamor for her to testify publicly under oath in the Congressional 911 hearings, the White House refusal to allow her to do so, and her high-profile 60 Minutes interview Sunday night.
---Like everything else in Campaign 2004, this issue has become highly polarized. If you make the slightest criticism of Rice, you are pigeon-holed as anti-Bush. If you defend her in the slightest way, you're a Bush supporter.
---A few things:
---1. SHE HAS A SUPERB REPUTATION. Before George Bush was elected, two academics who don't know each other personally told me that they wanted Bush elected BECAUSE OF Rice: they knew Rice and described her to me as a person with impeccable credentials, a superb intellect, a delight to deal with personally, and someone with lots of integrity. They felt the U.S. would be in skilled hands if Bush won and she played a role in the administration. These are prominent academics in their field. This was before she became well-known; their zeal about having someone like her in the government was NOT due to political agreement but academic and intellectual admiration.
---2. EARTH TO THOSE IN DENIAL...THERE IS INDEED A MAJOR CONTROVERSY SWIRLING HERE: There is precedent for a White House refusing to let a National Security advisor testify publicly under oath. And the case can also be made that the White House argument is a flawed case and that other top officials have been allowed to testify publicly under oath under other administrations in the past.
--- While on the road this week. we received comments suggesting that somehow The Moderate Voice was part of a media/Democrat conspiracy, that there was no controversy about her testifying and that she already had. One suggested we get "our facts straight." A reporter for Insight Magazine even wrote a letter to the readers using that same phrase, blasting the media.
---So we did a quick internet news search and here are the facts: She testified privately before commission members, and got extremely high marks. Many of those who support the White House position especially want to have her talk in public under oath (like former terrorism Czar Richard Clarke did) .
---So, YES, this battle over sworn testimony definitely is a BIG, fat, authentic controversial issue.
---To those who still insist anyone who mentions a controversy is either making it up or a closet Bush hater, just check a few places on the internet like this and this and this and this and this and this. And there are lots more, like this. Even this and also this.
---Clearly, this very quick medley of links above -- from the editorial, to the news report, to the downright anti-Bush -- indicates there is indeed a definite controversy out there that the White House must defuse because it's giving critics ammunition. And although none of these analysts and reporters above epitomize TRUE PERFECTION, the bottom line is: the storm clouds have gathered for months and 60 Minutes will likely the the catalyst that will cause them to burst.
---Also: those who suggested this is a non-issue and only Democrats want her to talk should go this link and you'll see how Senate Majority Bill Frist wants Rice to testify as well (he MUST be a closet Democrat or Bush hater or on the media elite's payroll...). So does Former New Jersey Gov. Thomas Kean (another person who must be out to get Bush and is an agent of the New York Times and Katie Couric...)
---3. THE WHITE HOUSE IS SHOOTING ITSELF IN THE FOOT: There have been exceptions made by Presidents to allow top security officials to testify publicly under oath. At this point it's irrelevant what the reasons were...the fact is, there have been instances where other presidents ALLOWED IT.
---If she testifies the Republic will survive and the White House will remove a potential credibility stumbling block that Democrats could use to win swing voter support.
---4. SHE IS A CHARISMATIC INDIVIDUAL WITH A BRIGHT FUTURE: You'd think the White House would want Rice to be talking under oath, getting massive international media coverage, presenting not only its case for its 911 efforts -- and case against Clarke's testimony -- but also use the testimony to profile a true rising Republican star.
---5. THE WHITE HOUSE HAS HURT ITS OWN ARGUMENT BY RAISING HER PROFILE: She has been on CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX and now comes 60 Minutes. It seems the only network she has not appeared on is Cartoon Network.
--- A friend emailed me this NEW JOKE (not a good sign): "AT&T is marketing a new Condi Rice public telephone. You can get information by dialing ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX but you can't get information if you dial 911."
---If she's on every network and on 60 Minutes refuting former terrorism Czar Richard Clarke but won't appear before the commission in public and under oath what is the net difference? All of her public appearances are brief ones and not under oath. Who testified under oath? Clarke...and he's the one GOPers are now suggesting just might have committed perjury. No one can accuse Rice of that...since she hasn't testified publicly under oath.
--- To someone who doesn't belong to either party, it seems as if oaths and perjury are vital values to the GOP, but not always. The are exceptions, except of course in cases that involve executive privilege ...although there are cases that show there HAVE been exceptions made in executive privilege..(Oh. Now I see the consistency...????)
---6: OVERALL: The White House is suppressing one of its best voices, prominent policy intellects, and appealing future stars -- and by not letting her testify under oath makes it seem as if they're afraid to have her give sworn testimony in front of the country. She can testify on 60 Minutes...but Mike Wallace doesn't require an oath (if he did that would probably mean spiking 60 percent of their stories and 90 percent of the "sources say" reporters' statements).
---7. IMPACT ON THE CAMPAIGN: No matter what she says or how effective it is, no matter how many more hours of private testimony she gives the commission, it won't be the SAME as sworn public testimony under oath -- and the Democrats will have a potent issue.
---You can already see John Kerry leaping on this political gift to his sagging campaign in this statement: "If Condoleezza Rice can find time to do `60 Minutes' on television before the American people, she ought to find 60 minutes to speak to the commission under oath," Kerry told reporters. "We're talking about the security of our country.. Certainly we can find a way to respect executive privilege, not to have it be an opening to the door, but nevertheless to accomplish America's needs to protect the security of our country."
---All this political verbiage means is: "Thank You White House lawyers for this opening that will be featured in our ads and speeches in the future!"
---Bottom line: Condi Rice unrestricted is the best defense for Condi Rice and the administration. White House lawyering will only hurt Rice and a Bush re-election campaign relying on the issue of his anti-terrorism leadership qualities. 60 Minutes won't erase the sworn public testimony issue; sworn public testimony will. UPDATE: That this issue won't be erased away by a 60 Minutes interview was evident Sunday, when the chairman of the commission said the panel UNANIMOUSLY feels Rice should testify under oath in public when she meets with it again.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 9:07 PM

Thursday, March 25, 2004  

GET A LIFE DEPARTMENT: The Moderate Voice is a tired voice after doing shows and driving from Ukiah, CA to Chico, CA where he is sending out this message and doing some limited posting. And he hates to yell but must say this: LIGHTEN UP!!
---The controversy over George Bush's satirical comments about weapons of mass destruction doesn't even deserve the Moderate Voice pushing his fingers (even his Simon Cowle finger) on this keyboard. So imagine his shock when he saw the Drudge Report item that the Kerry campaign is blasting Bush for his comments.
---I read this statement and realized that whoever wrote it is in the wrong business: he/she/it should be out posing in photos as the symbol of the Democratic Party, rather than issuing statements for a Democratic candidate.
---This sentence from the Kerry camp press release posted by Drudge sounds like a line from a bad Saturday Night Live sketch: "If George Bush thinks his deceptive rationale for going to war is a laughing matter, then he's even more out of touch than we thought. Unfortunately for the President, this is not a joke."
---Let's clarify the issue here: when any politician (Democrat or Republican) puts down their pompous persona long enough to take a poke at themselves, do a satirical comment echoing a serious criticism from the opposite side, they score some points with many voters.. Someone needs to take the Kerry camp (and Florida's Senator Bob Graham) and tell them: you ain't gonna win over swing voters or Republican voters by appearing petty. Examples:
-----Republicans looked downright silly over the stink they raised some months ago over a joke about India told by Hillary Clinton. Suddenly Republicans, who (rightfully) decry political correctness were dumping on The World's Smartest Woman over a joke because it was politically incorrect. The individuals and websites that seriously ranted on about the joke are honorary members of The Moderate Voice's Get A Life Club.
-----Al Gore's huffing and puffing while debating George Bush clearly turned off many voters who instinctively sensed that this guy not only took himself way too seriously but looked upon himself even more seriously than he TOOK himself.. and looked down on others. For blowing the election partly by turning off voters with a personality oozing self-importance, Gore has a SPECIAL CHAIR named for him in the Get a Life Club.
-----The recent World Class Stink over John Kerry (GASP!) swearing while skiing (as if the folks shocked at that had not read history books that detail how politicos speak or President Bush's famous statement to advisors upon launching the Iraq war) led to many reporters, websites and blogs being named nominees in the Get A Life Club. With a tiny bit of work, they can get in, too!
---So, Senator Kerry: have the staffer who wrote the petty statement on Bush's satirical comments transferred to something more befitting his/her/its intelligence -- like inserting politically correct words into all your speeches. Someone like me who is a swing voter thinks your "position" on this meaningless "issue" displays a sickening pettiness in attitude and a triviality in thinking that...makes you PERFECT to serve in Congress.
--- OH: I'm not a Republican. I am increasingly reviled by Republicans (who think I'm a Democrat) and by Democrats (who think I am a Republican). I care about the people who died in the war. I'm indeed troubled about the economy. But I love satire (aimed at ALL sides) and think political correctness is to humor what terrorism is to democracy. On that I will never, EVER yield.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 8:40 PM

Wednesday, March 24, 2004  

CLARKE BEFORE THE 911 COMMISSION: DEMOCRATS WERE DEMOCRATS AND REPUBLICANS WERE REPUBLICANS: (The Moderate Voice) UKIAH, CA -- I managed to watch a good part of Richard Clarke's testimony up here north of Santa Rosa and why bother trying to describe it when The Washington Post's Dana Milbank caught the abrupt shift perfectly?

The Sept. 11 commission shed its bipartisan spirit and turned a Senate hearing room into a courtroom yesterday for the testimony of Richard A. Clarke, the White House counterterrorism chief-turned-Bush administration whistle-blower.

---Milbank catches the mood perfectly: Democrats trying to defend Republican Clarke; Republicans trying to discredit him. If you want to read one account read that one. It's unlikely Clarke came out discredited or strengthened and few partisan positions are likely to have changed. The question is: how will all of this play in Peoria? Will swing voter Mrs. Smith in Peoria (if she watched) shift her view of how administrations handled terrorism?
---But even more important, how will all of this play in the tribal areas of Pakistan or Afghanistan, or wherever Osama bin Laden is lurking? Partisan finger-pointing aside, won't he assume that the United States is at its weakest unity point in an election year where each side is playing "GOTCHA!," seeking to discredit key players on EACH side?
---The latest twist on the war of words, accusations, documents, rebuttals and rebuttal-rebuttals came after yesterday's hearings when National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice forcefully rebutted some of Clarke's charges by releasing unclassified documents that, she said, prove false his "scurrilous allegation that somehow the president of the United States was not attentive to the terrorist threat." She also dismissed as "Arrogance at its extreme" a suggestion in Clarke's book that she had been unfamiliar with some aspects of the terrorist network until he told her.
---One of the most intelligent comments on this divisive verbal-ping-pong match comes from the blogosphere, from Citizen Smash, a young conservative who fought in the Iraq war:
SO WHO IS TO BLAME for 9/11? It isn't Bill Clinton, or Al Gore, or Madeleine Albright, or Bill Cohen, or Janet Reno, or Frederico Pena, or Norm Mineta, or Dick Clarke, or John Kerry. It isn't George W. Bush, or Colin Powell, or Donald Rumsfeld, or John Ashcroft, or Karl Rove, or Condoleeza Rice, or Louis Freeh, or Trent Lott. It is Usama bin Laden, Ayman al Zawahiri, and the al Qaeda terror organization. I realize it's an election year, and there are partisan points to be made-- but can we please stop pointing the fingers of blame at each other, and instead concentrate our combined efforts on capturing or killing these murderous bastards? Or is that too much to ask?

---Clarke is underfire for a variety of reasons: William F. Buckley feels Clarke wants to have it both ways. Fox News posted the transcript of an August 2002 press backgrounder that the White House and Republicans insist shows Clarke changed his political tune. But Clarke replied that he was acting as an official spokesman at the time -- and anyone who has done any reporting (or acted as spokesperson for a group) can indeed attest that an official source doesn't usually use a meeting with the press to blast his or her group.
---Meanwhile, Tony Blankley, writing in the Washington Times, also feels the fingerpointing is dangerous and stresses the changed political context:
Obviously both the Clinton administration and the Bush administration until September 11 failed to be seized of a sufficient sense of urgency in combating the danger. But it is unfair to blame them: they existed in a different political world. If Bill Clinton had tried to go to war in Afghanistan in 1998, both the Republicans and the major media would have run him out of town. So, also, would a Bush invasion of Afghanistan in July of 2001 been rebuffed by the entire body politic.

---Two of the most fascinating perspectives on Clarke come from these sources:
---1. Daniel Drezner: He makes these key points:
---a)Clarke is no Paul O'Neill (former treasury secretary) and is highly skilled in art of bureaucratic politics. By pushing out Clarke, the Bush team made an enemy out of him. "So, does Clarke have a personal incentive to stick it to this administration? Absolutely. Does he know what he's talking about? Absolutely. Can what he says can be ignored? Absolutely not."
---b)The administration's attempt to discredit Clark is hurting its own case. He points out that "every new administration needs about six months to work out the foreign policy kinks -- flash back to the Clinton team's first six months.." and to claim the Bush administration was slow on Al Qaeda misses that point.
---c)He sees a parallel between "current debates over how to wage the war on terror and previous debates over how to contain the Soviet Union.
---2. Fred Kaplan, reporting in Slate. He details the contradictions in the efforts to discredit Clarke (which The Moderate Voice feels are downright counterproductive, because they are "red political meat" for supporters but turn off swing voters or boomerang when inconsistencies in them emerge). And gives three prime reasons why he believes Clarke:
---a) "First, his basic accusations are consistent with tales told by other officials, including some who had no significant dealings with Clarke."
b)"Second, the White House's attempts at rebuttal have been extremely weak and contradictory. If Clarke were wrong, one would expect the comebacks -- especially from Bush's aides, who excel at the counterstrike -- to be stronger and more substantive."
I went to graduate school with Clarke in the late 1970s, at MIT's political science department, and called him as an occasional source in the mid-'80s when he was in the State Department and I was a newspaper reporter. There were good things and dubious things about Clarke, traits that inspired both admiration and leeriness. The former: He was very smart, a highly skilled (and utterly nonpartisan) analyst, and he knew how to get things done in a calcified bureaucracy. The latter: He was arrogant, made no effort to disguise his contempt for those who disagreed with him, and blatantly maneuvered around all obstacles to make sure his views got through.

The key thing, though, is this: Both sets of traits tell me he's too shrewd to write or say anything in public that might be decisively refuted. As Daniel Benjamin, another terrorism specialist who worked alongside Clarke in the Clinton White House, put it in a phone conversation today, "Dick did not survive and flourish in the bureaucracy all those years by leaving himself open to attack."

---The hearings seemed to confirm that today...and also that the U.S. focus on anti-terrorism has been diverted...not by Iraq but by politics as usual on both sides during an election year.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 10:24 PM


STEAMED RICE: National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice is very angry. She is accusing former counter-terrorism aide Richard Clarke of blatantly changing his position of backing President Bush's war on terrorism to now questioning it.
---Clarke's recent high visibility forums are known (unless you have been on Jupiter the past week): a high-profile 60 Minutes interview, a heavily promoted upcoming book, and assertive testimony today before the Congressional 911 commission. (The Moderate Voice is in Ukiah in Northern California's Mendocino County and will try to do a post on Clarke's appearance later tonight). While the media has focused almost exclusively on Clarke's allegations about what he claims was the Bush administration's fixation on Iraq, and about President George Bush's attitude, a less emphasized subtext of his allegations is riveted on Rice's performance in her job.
---So there does seem something personal here (on both sides) and, according to Reuters, when reporters met with her today Rice was steamed.
---For one thing, she said, despite his pronouncements, Clarke had never raised concerns with her that she felt the administration was unduly fixated on Iraq. Reuters reports this:

She said after his resignation 13 months ago, she invited him to lunch three weeks before the start of the U.S.-led war against Iraq to thank him for his years of service. Clarke had "not a word about concerns that Iraq was going to somehow take us off the path of the war on terrorism. It would've been easy to do, kick the others out, close the door, say 'I just want you to know I think you're making a mistake.' He didn't do it," she told reporters in her West Wing office. She also read from a letter from Clarke on Sept. 15, 2001, in which Clarke detailed meetings from the previous June and July about preparations being taken to prepare for the possibility of a "spectacular al Qaeda terrorist attack."

---The former White House terrorism czar's allegations have roiled the White House, which has tried to discredit him with a variety of accusations put out through a variety of friendly news sources. The biggest charge is that he is a disgruntled employee who is bitter over not being promoted and that he is in effect trying to help John Kerry because his best friend is a Kerry foreign policy advisor. These accusations included a half-joking comment that Clarke is trying to get a job in a new Kerry administration -- but Clarke pointedly noted that he was under oath today when he said he would not accept any post in a Kerry administration.
---Meanwhile, Rice also told reporters that Clarke's multi-fronted criticism directly contradict what he told reporters in an August 2002 briefing.
"There's two very different pictures here, and the fact of the matter is these stories can't be reconciled," Rice said. "Either we were ignoring the threat, or now it's changed that it was important but not urgent, or we were actually responding to the things that he actually suggested, which is what he said in the August 2002 interview."

---During today's hearings Clarke repeatedly contended that during that briefing he was doing his official job as a spokesman for the administration's point of view the way officials traditionally would deliver a press briefing in an official capacity.
---The White House has nixed requests by the commission to allow
Rice to give sworn public testimony before ithe 9/11 commission based on a White House principle that a presidential adviser who has not been confirmed by the U.S. Senate should not give public testimony. Commissioners are calling on her to testify and her testimony remains big sticking point for many of them (especially since they have said that she presents the administration's case extremely well).
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 5:23 PM


MORE GREAT ROLE MODELLING FOR YOUTH DEPARTMENT: Now, according to the Drudge Report, American Idol "bad guy" judge Simon Cowell is in hot water for apparently giving the finger to judge Paula Abdul. Drudge has the item and (apparently from a reader) a still photo. At least he didn't reveal his breast...
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 4:52 PM


CITIZEN SMASH GOES TO ANTI-WAR: Citizen Smash, a fellow San Diegan and one who gained true fame as he blogged from the front lines, has perhaps the most delicious post I've seen on a web log yet. It's so priceless it deserves wider dissemination (which is why I am also alerting my former co-workers at the San Diego Union-Tribune).
---What happens when a thoughtful supporter of the war -- someone who even fought for it -- decides to mark the start of the anniversary of Operation Iraqi Freedom...by attending an anti-war demonstration? Does he try to shout the demonstrators down, call them names and express his indignation? Or does he simply sit, watch, let them conclude he is on their side, take it in, even do an interview with one a leader...then record the words and images (via photos) in a profusely linked and documented post on his always-lively website?
Smash chose the latter:

SATURDAY was the first anniversary of the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom. I decided to mark the occasion in a most unusual way: I attended an anti-war protest.

I didn't go as an active participant, mind you, but more out of a sense of perverse curiosity. I have no regrets about the war, or my participation in it. Although our work in Iraq is not yet complete, I feel that we have come a long way in just one year, with Saddam behind bars, a new Bill of Rights for Iraq, and the Iraqi people expressing optimism about their own future for the first time in decades. I'd do it all over again, no doubt about it.

No, I decided to go to the protest because I wanted to learn what this anti-war movement is all about. Why were these people so vehemently opposed to the overthrow of a brutal dictator, and the liberation of 25 million people from under the yoke of tyranny? So I messed up my hair, didn't bother to shave, threw on some dirty jeans and a wrinkled shirt, and headed down to Balboa Park.

---(HEY! He messed up his hair, didn't bother to shave, threw on some dirty jeans and a wrinkled shirt...now, if he added skipping a bath for a week that would describe The Moderate Voice perfectly!)
---What follows in Smash's post is a classic: the protesters' cliches, their attempt to inflate the crowd count, their further mistake in mixing issues (a pro-Palestinian presence which would automatically undermine potential support from Jewish and non-Jewish segments of San Diego's population who are not pouring into the streets clamoring for a Palestinianian homeland). And through it all, Smash is respectful -- sort of like Forest Gump or Peter Sellers in "Being There," letting the protesters fill-in-the-blanks and assume what they want about him, while he takes it in, takes notes, tape records comments, and snaps photos...and passes it it all onto us.
---A devastating post done without resorting to any name calling. Read it yourself (and special thanks to Greg Piper for the tip. The Moderate Voice is on the road and visits Citizen Smash daily but this time we saw it mentiioned on Piper's site first).
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 9:11 AM

Tuesday, March 23, 2004  

EXPECT FIREWORKS IN WASHINGTON ON WEDNESDAY: Former White House terrorism honcho Richard A Clarke will testify before the 911 commission. But Clarke's allegations, made on 60 Minutes and in a new book, are unlikely to be left unchallenged when he goes before the commission. He will be under oath and surely be peppered with questions about precisely what his role was in the Clinton administration's increasingly discredited terrorism policy. And it's actually a positive development: in the crucible of high-stakes Congressional hearings Clarke is likely to face some stiff (perhaps hostile) questioning and the resulting sound bites will eventually help shape public opinion. Can he convincingly stand up to the heat? Or will he wither and be seen as just another sensationalic rhetorical belch on the American political scene? Stay tuned.......
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 10:59 PM


WHAT WAS THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION MIND SET: I saw a small portion of the 911 hearings today and was struck by one truly sad figure -- Clinton administration Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who kept almost pleading with commission members to remember the pre-911 mindset. Apparently I wasn't the ONLY one who noticed it: so did Duke University Political Science Professor Peter D. Feaver. And in a column in the Washington Post he makes the case that this mindset was less one of calculated policy than of a highly flawed and dangerously hesistant worldview.
---The crux of his argument is this: the big change was not September 11 as much as George Bush's election because it meant there was no longer a commander in chief who had a "casualty" phobia but who was more concerned about the impact of America looking weak. He writes:

Albright is partly correct; there was a pre-9/11 mindset that shaped Clinton-era responses. The mind-set was "counterterrorism as law-enforcement." The role of the military was at best a supporting one. Moreover, because the uniformed military themselves opposed a military role, the law enforcement mind-set was reinforced by Clinton's pathological civil-military relations. Even if President Clinton wanted to conduct military operations against al Qaeda, he was simply too weak a commander in chief to prevail over a military that wanted nothing to do with a war in Afghanistan.

---He's right: Clinton did NOT have the clout to so totally veer the military into any kind of a major military operation that so totally went against the accepted philosophy at that time. Nor did his key administration players. He goes on:
The Clinton record on military operations was clear: frequent resort to low-risk cruise-missile strikes and high-level bombings, but shunning any form of decisive operations involving ground troops in areas of high risk. The Clinton White House was the most casualty phobic administration in modern times, and this fear of body bags was not lost on Osama bin Laden. Indeed, al Qaeda rhetoric regularly "proved" that the Americans were vulnerable to terrorism by invoking the hasty cut-and-run after 18 Army soldiers died in the 1993 "Black Hawk Down" events in Somalia -- a strategy developed and implemented, ironically enough, by the same Richard Clarke who torments the Bush team today.

---Feaver recounts those who insisted the war on Afghanistan would not succeed and notes that the Bush administration was willing to take risks. He then ties in Iraq...which is something of a mistake because the jury is indeed still out (and screaming amongst themselves) on key aspects of the validity of that war. But his final point is a vital one: "...determined commanders in chief have the mind-set and the resolve to act in spite of the political climate and military resistance." Still, as we are now seeing, that itself may lead to other consequences...
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 10:13 PM


MICHIGAN TOWN WANTS TO BUST TOPLESS COFFEE SHOP: The formula sounds like a winning one and maybe they can get Janet Jackson to be on their commercials if they go national...But it's a big if.
---The formula: topless waitresses and bottomless cups of coffee. The man who came up with this idea to sell coffee with no bump but lots of grind: Java Coffee Shop owner Jason Pries.
---At first local businesses welcomed him with open arms, until they learned what would welcome customers at the coffee shop. So now city officials are going to discuss all aspects of the issue in a tit for tat debate. It's clear people want to go to the coffee shop for things that aren't in cups...
---Pries may have trouble with people coming in his store for change asking: "Can you give me a dime for two nipples --- I mean NICKELS!"
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 9:07 PM


ON THE RICHARD CLARKE CONTROVERSY: "Gee, you missed the biggest story -- Richard Clarke on 60 Minutes!" the Moderate Voice was told. The reason is that TMV embarked on a 600 mile car trip to Ukiah, CA (part of a week on the road).
---But we had run an item days before the appearance predicting that after the interview there would be political and international fallout coupled with a huge White House effort to discredit Clarke as a disgruntled employee come Monday morning.
---So in a sense we did this story..But here is our view as we take a deep breath, ignore the frenzied media hype, and forget about the proclamations of True Believer Partisans on both sides. The following is from someone (TMV) who supported the war in Iraq and has supported the Bush administration's anti-terrorism measures here and abroad. Stepping back, here are some observations:
---1. CLARKE WAS CREDIBLE ON 60 MINUTES: I watched it with two people who sympathize with Bush. One said "This explains why he (Bush) won't meet with the full 911 commission!" The other, a stronger supporter,seemed disappointed. As a former fulltime journalist, the White House's rep on the show lost me. When he denied Clarke had ever met with GWB and Leslie Stahl noted that CBS had two sources including "an eyewitness" I stopped believing the White House account. One source is one thing; two is another...three is confirmation. Are Clarke and the other two all disgruntled employees, secret Kerry supporters or nut cases?
---2. CLARKE WAS ANGRY: He was indignant. An axe to grind, or fury over what happened? Depends on your party, which supplies you with your world view (and an easy answer).
---3. DEMOCRATS IMMEDIATELY YELLED "AHA!!" AND REPUBLICANS IMMEDIATELY SET OUT TO DEMONIZE CLARK (who apparently wasn't such a bad person until he said what he did): Reaction was swift and predictable along party lines. underscoring how U.S. politics is becoming a virtual religion these days when the U.S. polity is nearly as sharply divided as during the Civil War. Democrats were salivating (while their candidate was too busy skiing to pounce on the issue). Republicans were steaming, and dismissing Clarke -- who served Ronald Reagan, George Bush Sr, Bill Clinton, George Bush Jr -- as a Democratic tool or blatant Kerry supporter (he's teaching a college course with Kerry's national security advisor which of course proves he wants Kerry for President).
---Could there truly have been a middle ground, one that nonetheless didn't represent perfect policy making? Could the administration have genuinely believed that there was some kind of a connection or grave hidden threat posed by Sadaam using the old "then enemy of my enemy is my friend" theory? Is it possible the White House screwed up on this but that the error didn't mean it was negligent in pressing the rest of the anti-terror war? And is it possible that if this was the case and the administration had simply admitted it and moved on that it wouldn't be facing the present sustained political fire from various fronts?
---Those questions were less important than "GOTCHA!" and "NO YOU DIDN'T GET US BECAUSE CLARKE HAS A SECRET MOTIVE."
---4. RADIO TALK SHOW HOSTS HELPED WHITE HOUSE QUICKLY GET OUT THE PARTY LINE (which was quickly asborbed and accepted): Three Rush Limbaugh listerners told me Clarke clearly had a "grudge" against Bush and I only learned via the morning papers that Vice President Cheney used the same words in his interview with Limbaugh. Radio and cable talk shows provide a script for the party's troops.
---5. FORGET BOTH SETS OF PARTISANS: HOW WILL IT PLAY WITH SWING VOTERS? Even with White House officials calling Clarke a liar, releasing his pro-forma resignation letter saying how delightful it was to serve the President, saying the charges are only to sell books or reflecting sour grapes for not getting a bigger administration job, the overall impact is another drip-drip-drip erosion of credibility; and when those drops fall, it's hard to put them back. Now two ex-administration officials (both with books) have told the same tale.
---6. IT WILL HURT THE U.S. ABROAD: Clarke's contentions, no matter what their validity and accuracy, will provide powerful ammunition to countries and factions of governments in countries that want to distance themselves from U.S. policy. It won't help strengthen the Coalition of the Willing, which increasingly looks like the Coalition of the Wavering.
---7: IT CHANGES THE DYNAMIC OF THE 911 HEARINGS: It means the hearings now become a forum where each side tries to confirm or undermine Clarke's account..and when he testifies there could be fireworks. Get ready for the final report in July to become one sticky political football.
---8: IT TARNISHES BUT WON'T TOTALLY DISCREDIT BUSH'S POSITIVE 911 IMAGERY IN HIS POLITICAL ADS: When the ads are aired some eyebrows will be raised; if they're the eyebrows of swing voters, Bush will have problems.
---9.THERE IS NO SMOKING GUN: People who want to dismiss former administration officials who blast Bush as "disgruntled employees" (when I was a fulltime journalist if someone said that to me about a whistleblower it meant I needed to take the charges a lot MORE SERIOUSLY) or as nut cases will continue to do so. People who embrace them 100 percent because its something to use against Bush will do so. But Clarke's account is one more account that echoes other views in the press and in books. Still: there is no smoking gun.
---The situation now is akin to what existed at the height of Watergate when Republicans steadfastly defended Richard Nixon and Nixon-hating democrats staunchly lambasted him. Even John Dean's testimony wasn't enough to take it to a bipartisan level. It was only the existence of the tapes that did that.
---Once again, Oxblog's David Adesnik put it best:

I don't put much stock in the administration's efforts to discredit Clarke or cover its exposed posterior. But when it comes down to getting votes, I think there are only two questions that really matter: Did Bush ignore (and then withhold) compelling evidence that Al Qaeda was preparing a major attack? And did Bush knowingly lie about Iraq's possession of chemical and biological (not nuclear) weapons? Unless Clarke can answer one or both of those questions in the affirmative, his revelations won't amount to much more than a very loud footnote.

---Clarke's comments, book and the debate squarely put 911 and the Bush administration's policies and policy making under the microscope. But a bit more than allegations and predictable diatribes from pro and anti-Bush forces will be needed to make it a political watershed.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 4:45 PM

Sunday, March 21, 2004  

ANALYSIS: WHAT WE'VE LEARNED ABOUT TERRORISM AND ITS IMPACT: The bombings in Spain, the ongoing dragnet for top Al Qaeda members in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and defections from the "Coalition of the Willing" in Iraq, have given the terrorism issue higher priority than ever before. So what can we learn from the past several tumultuous weeks? This:
---1. INTELLIGENCE ON TERRORIST GROUPS REMAINS SHOCKINGLY FAULTY: It's still astounding that with billions spent the anti-terrorism, anti-terrorist safety measures, countries' intelligence networks, links between countries' security services, and Spain's own highly sophisticated intelligence and security services, that the Madrid bombing was executed without a hitch. It was similar to 911 in a key way: it caught the country totally by surprise. Indeed, unless new details emerge, we now know that 911 was proceeded by "chatter" that then-rival U.S. intelligence services failed to analyze but Spain's bombing that murdered 201 innocents was like a sudden sucker punch to the gut for the Iberian nation. No one had the slightest inkling. NOT a good sign...
---2. VOTERS CAN TURN ON A GOVERNMENT IF THEY FEEL THEY'RE NOT HONEST ABOUT SUCH A CLEAR CUT LIFE AND DEATH ISSUE: The ruling Popular Party government clearly angered voters (as we noted in posts shortly after the elections) by insisting the Basque separatist ETA was behind the carnage. But information started to trickle out -- some in the form of news reports from Spanish security officials (who in retrospect were upset that the government was claiming it was ETA so they started to leak out the findings) that Muslim terrorists were to blame. By the time the government begrudgingly revealed that signs pointed to it NOT being ETA, voters felt they had been mislead. Couple that with 90 percent disapproval for Spain's being in Iraq in the first place and you have a classic backlash.
---3. VOTERS DON'T WANT TO KISS A SMALLPOX VICTIM: You can't discount it: a certain amount of voter cowardice did seem at play in Spain, but perhaps not as much as most analysts thought. There were indeed some voters who were furious that their government got them into Iraq where they were close to the United States which meant Spain was targeted. Hopefully Spanish encyclopedias have good translations of the bio of a late British politician named Neville Chamberlin. The desire to distance one's self from danger (U.S. policies) seems there, as well as philsophical differences over U.S. policy.
---4. PRESIDENT GEORGE BUSH IS NOT BELOVED IN ALL CIRCLES: The vehemence with which the new Socialist leadership dropped Spain's previously solid alliance with the United States in the Iraq war, plus subsequent statements about its hopes that GWB would lose the election, underscore the fragility of the U.S. Coalition of the Willing in Iraq, which looks shakier every day. It's no secret that George Bush is perceived as a too-quick-to-use violence "cowboy" in parts of Europe. The previous Spanish government resisted that perception; the new government shares it.
---5. POLICEWORK (although we don't know what techniques were used) WORKS AFTER THE FACT: It's clear that once the Spanish police sprang into action they began to uncover details about precisely what happened. This further lends credence to the belief that the PP government wanted to delay release of the information until after the election due to their hard-line stance on ETA and alliance with Washington on the Iraq war. Spain's security forces are tough and thorough. Notice how quickly leads and arrests materialize...underscoring again the crucial need for better on-the ground intelligence on terrorist groups not only in Spain but in other free countries...and in unofficial terrorist home bases.
---6. IT'S GOOD FOR THE U.S. THAT HOWARD DEAN CANNOT GET THE DEMOCRATIC NOMINATION: Even if there was some truth in Dean's comment that Bush's war is what ultimately led to the 201 people being killed, it was incredibly irresponsible to say it. The Iraq war and the existence of weapons of mass destruction can be debated separately and people will differ. But Dean clearly blamed the Bush administration indirectly for the deaths and then tried to backtrack by saying he was only repeating what a letter from an alleged terrorist group had said.
---7: ANY REPUBLICAN OR MAINSTREAM DEMOCRATIC ADMINISTRATION IS AGAINST TERRORISM AND WILL FIGHT IT: Read the comments via the internet made by members of both parties and you'll see bipartisan unanimity on the revulsion felt over terrorist acts and the determination to fight terrorism. This should be (and really is) an issue that cuts across party lines. Dean's comments were out there in Dennis Kucinichland -- as were Rush Limbaugh's comments that somehow the Democrats welcomed the Spain bombing.
---8. WASHINGTON WILL HAVE TO WORK HARDER ON THE DIPLOMATIC FRONT: There is a lot of fence mending to do since the Spanish elections have ripped a hole in what was an already fragile coalition.
---9: FRANCE IS STRONGER THAN EVER IN EUROPE NOW: Look for Spain to be allied more with France than the U.S. .
---10: AL QAEDA IS LIKE A MULTINATIONAL CORPORATION OF TERRORISTS: All signs in Spain point to a Moroccan terrorist group linked to Al Qaeda. So we have proof positive that the experts are correct: Al Qaeda, with most of its top leadership in jail or killed, has become an umbrella organization providing ideology (kill as many innocents as you can to build up a body count to impact policy) and expertise (1001 Ways You Can Murder Civilians). It signals a MORE DANGEROUS era for those of us who don't think it's admirable to butcher babies, grandmas, or any other human beings.
---11. PAKISTAN'S PRESIDENT IS NOT PLEASED WITH AL QAEDA: The fact that they've tried to assassinate General Pervez Musharraf several times may have something to do with it. But Pakistani forces apparently are now engaged in a fever-pitched effort to mop up bin Laden honchos living or operating on Pakistani soil.
---12. THE FRAGILITY OF IT ALL: What happens if something happens to Pakistan's President? What happens in Afghanistan if there are assasinations of key leaders (one was killed today)?) How will British voters -- already split on government policy regarding Iraq -- react if a major terrorist attack happens in their country? What impact will Spain's new government have on European policy towards the United States? If Iraq policy aggravates relationships between governments, will that impact cooperation between them in sharing intelligence on terrorists or make no difference at all?
---13. BEWARE OF THE COPYCAT FACTOR: Intelligence services all over the globe will have to be vigilant. Even if Spain was not an operation mandated by Al Qaeda but the product of an Al Qaeda-linked Moroccan group, small terrorist groups may want to match -- or surpass -- the operation in Spain on their home turf. Why? Because -- no matter what the actual reason for Spanish voters' verdict -- there was a tangible cause-and-effect relationship between the terrorist act and the political result.
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Article Link - Joe Gandelman 3:35 PM