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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):
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.
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.
Patrich Buchanan maintains: "Both the ferocity of the White House attacks and his lionization by the liberal press testify: Richard Clarke has drawn blood."
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?
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.
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.
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."
---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.
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:
---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...
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."
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...
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
---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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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!!
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.
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...
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).
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.......
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.
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.
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).
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:
RIGHT - Links