Thursday, September 28, 2006

GOP Prowess

If nothing else, the W, Rove and Co is good at drilling for donations from their wealthy pals. My goodness the figures are staggering presented in Thursday's press gaggle with Tony the Snow job.

Might the publicized figures be conclusive proof that government at its highest levels is really only for the wealthy? I know that I wouldn't be able to generate that kind of "politica capital."

Have a look at how much they raised from fund raising recent events:
...And also at 1:20 p.m. remarks at Bob Riley for Governor Luncheon in Birmingham for expanded pool. We expect that event to raise $1.76 million for the Riley campaign, $750,000 for the Republican Governors Association. Approximately 2,100 attendees.

Q The $750,000 is in addition to the $1.76 million, or a part of it?

MR. SNOW: I think it's separate.

Q So the total is --

MR. SNOW: It looks like two-and-a-half. That's as I read it. I'll double check to make sure.

Then a Deb Pryce for Congress, closed press event in New Albany, Ohio. Expected to raise $500,000 for the reelection campaign and Ohio Victory 2006, which is a state party get out of the vote effort. Approximately 300 attendees. Returning to the White House at 8:35 p.m.

Truth Or Not?

I found an intersting quote in the NYTimes today that I thought was provocative. My mind is not clear about how much truth there is in this sentence. So, I thought I would put it to you. What say you?
There are four enemies of human rights: oil, gas, the war on terror and geopolitical considerations, and we have all four.
- Yevgeny A. Zhovtis of the Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law

Complaining About Complaining: Raising Things Philosophical

Really, if you think about it the only thing worse than blogging about blogging is complaining about complaining. I'm about to commit both sins.

Did you ever wonder why so many “frightwing” bloggers spend an inordinate amount of time complaining that you are questioning the W, Rove and Co? Really, if you are complaining about the current government at least you are kvetching. It gives some release for those of us without the funds to generate a PAC to lobby the appropriate politicians.

If you are a blogger who spends a great deal of time in comment columns complaining about all the kvetching, what does that make you?

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Treading On Thin Ethical Ice: Tony Is Going To Raise Funds For The GOP

In case you didn't notice, Tony the Snow job had said yes to front the dog and pony political fund raising show for the GOP in the very near future. And, this really is not SOP for Whitehouse Press Secretaries.

Now if you ask me, that seems like he is treading on very thin ethical ice as a person who is supposed to be representing the president. Do notice that even he acknowledges that this was a tenuous situation and he consulted with Harriet Miers to make sure he wasn't going to get legally fried for doing it.

Anyway, you tell us: Is it proper and ethical for Tony Snow to raise cash for the flush GOP?
Q How did this all come about?

MR. SNOW: It came about when I was approached by the political office saying that we've got a lot of inquiries and a lot of people would like you to do this -- would you do it? What followed were a long series of conversations, because I think this is pretty unplowed ground -- Mark and I have been through this -- I think it's unplowed ground. And you want to make sure that you do it in such a way that you're still able to function effectively as the Press Secretary, which means that from a red meat standpoint, they're likely to be pretty dull.

What you have to do is to present a factual account of what the President is doing and not draw yourself into ongoing political disputes between Democrats and the President because that, to me, I think, would be crossing a line that I don't want to cross.

Q -- a fundraiser?

MR. SNOW: Yes, sort of.

Q Did you take some pause to think about the ethical considerations?

MR. SNOW: Oh, yes, and had a number of conversations with Harriet Miers and others. Absolutely, this was not like, oh, yes, no-brainer. You had to think it through and had to think it through in the way that would be appropriate to do it. And it's --

Q When were you approached by the political people? Last week?

MR. SNOW: No, no, no, it has been several months. It has been quite a while.

Q To your knowledge, have Press Secretaries in the past done fundraising?

MR. SNOW: I don't think so. I have not found any case in which -- there may be some cases, but I'm not aware of them.

Q Then why are doing one now? Why are you the one breaking this precedent?

MR. SNOW: I was asked.

Q Being "asked" is not sufficient -- you could have said, no.

MR. SNOW: I could have said no.

Q You've been a journalist most of your life. You tell us that all the time --

MR. SNOW: And I'm -- you know what, and I'm the President's Press Secretary, and one of the things I want to try to do is to help the President, but do it in a way that's consistent with my role as Press Secretary. And if we find that there is an unalterable conflict, then the Press Secretary role dominates. But keep your eyes out on --

Q Did people like Harriet Miers tell you what you could say and couldn't say, or you set the ground rules?

MR. SNOW: No, I've got to be able to be trusted to set the ground rules. And if I overstep, you can whack me. You don't have to blame Harriet or anybody else.

Q How will we know what you said?

Q But they're closed.

MR. SNOW: Well, most of these things are going to be open, so you'll have plenty of opportunities.

Q What are the ground rules?

MR. SNOW: The ground rules?

Q Yes.

MR. SNOW: What do you mean?

Q In terms of what you can and cannot say.

MR. SNOW: My ground rules are you stick to factual defenses and advocacy for the President.

Watch Out For "The Heckle Zone" Tony, Because Helen Has Got A Cast Iron Skillet

I love Helen Thomas because she has no fear of people resting behind bully pulpits. Wednesday's press briefing was a hot house - or as Jon Stewart would say, the "seat of heat" - for Tony the Snow job. He was busy dodging the NIE bullets and trying to defend his master all the while trying to explain why W thinks he is "winning the war on terror." This is a job I would never want.

Helen raises a very good issue that springs forth from a concern for the people of Iraq, who I might add have been extremely marginalized by our actions there. She asks, essentially, what right do we have to turn Iraq into the "central front on the war on terror?" And, more importantly, who specifically is responsible for doing that?

Have a look at how Tony gets tangled up in what he calls "The Heckle Zone." It strikes me that it only feels like the "heckle zone" because indeed there is some truth laced within these questions. Enjoy:

Q Change of subject, but not venue. The Washington Post is carrying a series of polls saying that the Iraqi people most affected by our so-called war want us out, want us out of Iraq. What is the President's reaction?

MR. SNOW: Not really surprised. I mean, nobody wants to have an occupying army. It's understanding that when you have an army on your soil, that you want them out. But on the other hand, the Iraqi government has made it clear, and you've heard statements by Prime Minister Maliki, and now President Talabani, as recently as last week, saying, don't leave until the job is done.

We understand the sentiments of the Iraqi people and we'd love to be out of there as soon as possible, but you have to have the end state --

Q Well, do they count?

MR. SNOW: Of course, they count -- and one of the reasons why their elected officials want us to stay is that they don't want them subjected to tyranny. They want the ability to win the battle of terror on Iraqi soil. So the President does understand it. It's also interesting, Helen --

Q -- on Iraqi soil. We want it on Iraqi soil.

MR. SNOW: Let me just finish the -- I'm sorry, what?

Q I said, the question of winning, we declared Iraq a central front and so forth -- we want it there, instead -- and they want out.

MR. SNOW: Well, no, we didn't declare Iraq the central front, bin Laden did.

Q Yes, we did.

MR. SNOW: Bin Laden declared it the central front in the war on terror. But we're quibbling here. They want us out. Yes, of course. The Europeans wanted us out after World War II. We ended --

Q Why do we stay there?

MR. SNOW: The reason we're staying is that we have made a commitment to providing a government -- a democracy --

Q A commitment to whom?

MR. SNOW: To the people of Iraq and to their government, a government than can sustain itself, defend itself, and govern itself. And we are continuing --

Q We invaded that country.

MR. SNOW: Please, please, we're getting into the heckle zone here. The point is that the government has asked us and you have now had a Shia prime minister and a Kurdish President saying, stay, finish the job.

The other interesting thing is if you look in the region, there are only two countries that want us to leave immediately. And you know what they are? They're Syria and Iran. They're the key supporters of terror. They understand that our departure is good for them, and success for us in the region is bad for them. And we're simply not going to back off our commitment.
Excuse me? The government asked us? For what? To invade their country and turn it into the "central front on the war on terror? My goodness.

Since When Does "Confluence Of Shared Purpose And Dispersed Actors Will Make It Harder To Find And Undermine Jihadist Groups" Mean We Are Winning?

With the declassification of the NIE document segments, Tony the Snow job had a difficult time defending the president's suggestion that we are "winning the war on terror."

If you dare go to the whitehouse web location and read through the transcripts of Wednesday's press briefing, you will see the fur flying all about as Tony scratches for an answer that is defendable.

Do you think he wins his argument? have a look:
Q Well, again, the report says, "factors fueling the movement outweigh the vulnerabilities." It says they're not --

MR. SNOW: Yes, but --

Q -- that the movement has grown, and that it's harder to find and harder to prevent attacks.

MR. SNOW: I believe what it says. You've gotten it about right.

Q And they're training new leaders who are being battle-tested in Iraq.

MR. SNOW: No, it says -- let's run through it, because these are all good questions. First, it says -- let's see -- what you're talking about -- I'm sorry. Where are we here? Rephrase the one that you're going after here.

Q Let's see --

Q The vulnerabilities question.

Q Right. Well, we can go back over -- I can read you verbatim --

MR. SNOW: All right, here we go. Yes, the -- okay, that's -- thank you.

Q -- but we're also talking about harder -- you know, the "confluence of shared purpose and dispersed actors will make it harder to find and undermine jihadist groups."

MR. SNOW: Right. Which is precisely why the President has said -- if you look back at what the President has been saying, he says it's numerous and more dispersed. We're not disagreeing with that. I'm not trying to pick a fight with it.

What I'm trying to tell you is, there's a difference between an al Qaeda that has training camps, that has the operational ability. What this is talking about is the ability to get people to say, I'm a jihadist, and be angry, to identify themselves as part of a movement. It's not the same --

Q Tony, he says we're winning the war on terrorism. That's what he says.

MR. SNOW: I know.
As one reporter later in the briefing suggests, it seems that the release of the declassified segments of the NIE are like a "political Rorschach test. If you're looking at the NIE and you're predisposed to be critical of the war in Iraq, you see -- you read it that more terrorists are being created." But, if you read it like the President and his pals, it reads like we are winning the war on terror. What say you?

Everyone Congressperson Loves A Republican Lead Congress Because...

It' means V A C A T I O N! Following the President's lead is wonderful if you work in Congress:
This Congress hit the ground stumbling and has not lifted itself into an upright position. With few accomplishments and an overloaded agenda, it is set to finish its tenure with the fewest number of days in session in our lifetimes, falling well below 100 days this year.
Oh, but that's not all.
This new modern record is even more staggering when one realizes that more than 25 of those days had no votes scheduled before 6:30 p.m., making them half- or quarter-days at best. The typical workweek in Congress (when there is a week spent in Washington) starts late Tuesday evening and finishes by noon Thursday. No wonder satirist Mark Russell closes many of his shows by telling his audiences what members of Congress tell their colleagues every Wednesday: "Have a nice weekend."
Perhaps they like going to their hobby ranches while they are busy not voting on issues that concern all Americans. But wait, there's more:
This part-time Congress has other parallels to the famous "Do-Nothing 80th Congress" that Harry Truman ran against successfully in 1948. The output of the 109th is pathetic measured against its predecessors and considering its priorities, which included a comprehensive immigration bill, tax reform and the research and development tax credit, lobbying and ethics reform, healthcare costs and insurance coverage, trade agreements, procedures for the detention and trial of suspected terrorists, and regulations for the oversight of domestic wiretaps, among many others. With just days to go before Congress adjourns and the fiscal year begins, not a single one of the 11 appropriations bills that make up the range of government programs has been enacted into law.
Click on over to the actual article if you like to read more.

Just as an aside, don't you wish that people paid attention to the goings on in Congress to the same degree they pay professional sports? Wouldn't it be a different world if there were box scores reported daily for congressional votes?

Cut, Run, Or What?

Over time, the republican propaganda machine has been trying to push the Iraqi malaise down our throats as something that will, with a nice spoon full of sugar, be good for us. In the process, they have tried to paint all those who would disagree with their actions with one brush: "Cut and Runners."

Contrary to the belief on the "right," I don't believe that all who disagree with the war in Iraq suggest that we should "cut and run." Moreover, I think it does a great disservice to resolving the republican lead, republican fueled, and republican sustained Iraqi conflagration. Oh, and before you slap me with the "it wasn't just the republicans who supported the war," bit - yes I know that the Dems voted for it, but it was the republicans who led the charge and spoon fed us the intelligence that got that vote. But I digress.

Iraq a serious problem that requires a serious solution, not more dualistic rhetorical arguments that pose as debate. In fact, we don't need debate. We need solutions. It does no one any good to paint those who point out it was wrong to go in to Iraq in the first place as something other than those who disagree with the president and his ilk. Wagging the finger of blame expose facto does a similar amount of good, although, I do think that there will be a time for folk who brought us the war in Iraq to be judged for their actions and justice meted out. Even so, we can't eat food purchased with predictions of what might have been if our government behaved differently.

Certainly, the release of recently declassified documents (timed politically, of course) doesn't seem to do anything to resolve the Iraq crisis:
Mr. Bush said he wanted to release the document so voters would not be confused about terrorism or the war when they voted for Congressional candidates in November. But the three declassified pages from what is certainly a voluminous report told us what any American with a newspaper, television or Internet connection should already know. The invasion of Iraq was a cataclysmic disaster. The current situation will get worse if American forces leave. Unfortunately, neither the report nor the president provide even a glimmer of a suggestion about how to avoid that inevitable disaster.

I think it is time to put aside our disagreement about the legitimacy of the Iraq invasion and come up with real solutions. What say you?

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Say What, Mr. President?

I have ten questions that you should keep in mind as you read through the President's words that stem from just one answer to one reporter's question at Tuesday's Press Availability with President Karzai.
  1. Did the president admit that Iraq has become a recruiting tool for terrorists?

  2. W is still defending the decision to go into Iraq, but does he give us a different rationale for it yet again?

  3. Is the reason W cites for why terrorists are in Iraq the real reason why terrorists are in Iraq?

  4. What will happen to the terrorists if we "defeat them in Iraq?"

  5. Does W try one more time to subliminally link Nine Eleven and Iraq?

  6. If we kill to achieve our objectives, how does that separate us from the the terrorists who "kill to achieve their objectives?"

  7. To whom is W referring when he suggests we are not going to let "lies and propaganda by the enemy dictate how we win this war?"

  8. Does W openly admit that yet another person in W, Rove and Co. administration has leaked classified information?

  9. Might there be another reason other than what W holds in his mind as to why whomever leaked it did so?

  10. If you accept the president at his challenge, what conclusions do you draw?
Q Thank you, sir. Even after hearing that one of the major conclusions of the National Intelligence Estimate in April was that the Iraq war has fueled terror growth around the world, why have you continued to say that the Iraq war has made this country safer?

And to President Karzai, if I might, what do you think of President Musharraf's comments that you need to get to know your own country better when you're talking about where terror threats and the Taliban threat is coming from?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Do you want to start?

PRESIDENT KARZAI: Go ahead, please. (Laughter.)

PRESIDENT BUSH: I, of course, read the key judgments on the NIE. I agree with their conclusion that because of our successes against the leadership of al Qaeda, the enemy is becoming more diffuse and independent. I'm not surprised the enemy is exploiting the situation in Iraq and using it as a propaganda tool to try to recruit more people to their -- to their murderous ways.

Some people have guessed what's in the report and have concluded that going into Iraq was a mistake. I strongly disagree. I think it's naive. I think it's a mistake for people to believe that going on the offense against people that want to do harm to the American people makes us less safe. The terrorists fight us in Iraq for a reason: They want to try to stop a young democracy from developing, just like they're trying to fight another young democracy in Afghanistan. And they use it as a recruitment tool, because they understand the stakes. They understand what will happen to them when we defeat them in Iraq.

You know, to suggest that if we weren't in Iraq, we would see a rosier scenario with fewer extremists joining the radical movement requires us to ignore 20 years of experience. We weren't in Iraq when we got attacked on September the 11th. We weren't in Iraq, and thousands of fighters were trained in terror camps inside your country, Mr. President. We weren't in Iraq when they first attacked the World Trade Center in 1993. We weren't in Iraq when they bombed the Cole. We weren't in Iraq when they blew up our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. My judgment is, if we weren't in Iraq, they'd find some other excuse, because they have ambitions. They kill in order to achieve their objectives.

You know, in the past, Osama bin Laden used Somalia as an excuse for people to join his jihadist movement. In the past, they used the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It was a convenient way to try to recruit people to their jihadist movement. They've used all kinds of excuses.

This government is going to do whatever it takes to protect this homeland. We're not going to let their excuses stop us from staying on the offense. The best way to protect America is defeat these killers overseas so we do not have to face them here at home. We're not going to let lies and propaganda by the enemy dictate how we win this war.

Now, you know what's interesting about the NIE -- it was a intelligence report done last April. As I understand, the conclusions -- the evidence on the conclusions reached was stopped being gathered on February -- at the end of February. And here we are, coming down the stretch in an election campaign, and it's on the front page of your newspapers. Isn't that interesting? Somebody has taken it upon themselves to leak classified information for political purposes.

I talked to John Negroponte today, the DNI. You know, I think it's a bad habit for our government to declassify every time there's a leak, because it means that it's going to be hard to get good product out of our analysts. Those of you who have been around here long enough know what I'm talking about. But once again, there's a leak out of our government, coming right down the stretch in this campaign, -- to create confusion in the minds of the American people, in my judgment, is why they leaked it.

And so we're going to -- I told the DNI to declassify this document. You can read it for yourself. We'll stop all the speculation, all the politics about somebody saying something about Iraq, somebody trying to confuse the American people about the nature of this enemy. And so John Negroponte, the DNI, is going to declassify the document as quickly as possible. He'll declassify the key judgments for you to read yourself. And he'll do so in such a way that we'll be able to protect sources and methods that our intelligence community uses. And then everybody can draw their own conclusions about what the report says.

Thank you.

Why Must The President Run A Cloak And Dagger Fund Raising Strategy?

In case you didn't notice, there are some republicans that may be a tad wary of having the president kiss them in public. Could it be that the overuse of "private" fundraising events is a sign the president is losing public credibility and political capital?

It seems to me that there is a growing trend by the W, Rove and Co to deploy a cloak and dagger style fundraising strategy. That is, under the guise of holding a fundraising event at a "private" home, they use that as leverage to "close" the event and block out the public spotlight. This got me wondering, might this ruse be a euphemistic way to keep dirty little things secret? Getting right to the heart of the matter, I have a few related questions for the blogisphere.

First, we do know that the President has not nor will he come out and publicly endorse the Connecticut GOP elected candidate for Senate. Even so, the President will be in CT to raise money there, but for whom?

Second, I am not the only one suspicious of the W, Rove and Co.’s cloak and dagger strategy for fund raising. The bigger questions are who are going to be at these fundraisers, and why do you think they are purposefully held at private homes?

Lastly, when money is raised privately for public campaigns, should we be concerned about how those monies raised flow to various agencies? Moreover, toward what end and means will those funds be deployed?

Of course, you are not going to get anything but the standard, stock answer from Tony the Snow job, but I would be curious to hear what you all think:
Q Tony, the President is doing five closed fundraisers this week, beginning with these two today. We're in Connecticut, and then he's going to Ohio -- places where candidates maybe have not been entirely eager to be seen with him. Is that why we're having all these closed fundraisers? Are Republicans --

MR. SNOW: No, we're having them because they're in private homes. So I think you're going to find in a lot of places we're going to be doing -- as I've already told you before, Sheryl -- we'll have a lot of open events -- we'll let your phone turn off.

Q Sorry.

MR. SNOW: It's really quite elegant; it fits the circumstances. But there will be plenty of open events.

Q Can you tell us a little bit about who's inside? Is the Republican Senate candidate inside, or any --

MR. SNOW: I'll go and check. I saw Chris Shays, but I don't know who else.

Q Tony, how do you justify five events where the public has no idea what the President is saying, what the pitch is, who he's meeting with -- in some cases, how much money is raised --

MR. SNOW: I think people understand what the President stands for. It's not as if -- typically, you try to make sure that if you're having an event in somebody's private home, that it remains private. That's been a standard not only in this administration, but prior. It's not like the administration is pulling rabbits out of his hat. He's saying things that you've heard before and that you're aware of.

Q Well, actually, in the previous administration they started this way and there were a lot of protests from the media -- and from Republicans, as a matter of fact -- and they allowed a feed to come out to reporters and they allowed a print reporter to be in.

MR. SNOW: Understood.

Q So are you all considering that at all?


Q Why not?

MR. SNOW: As I said, because, frankly, we're just not in the business of revisiting this. The President is certainly going to be plenty accessible to you guys and he's going to be accessible to the public and you know what his positions are. And we're going to continue to express them.

Q But is this the way for Republican candidates who perhaps might not want to be pictured publicly with the President to avail themselves of his fundraising prowess while not being seen with him?

MR. SNOW: You're going to have ask them. That's not my reading, but feel free to ask them.
Blog on friends, blog on all.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

What Happens When The Facts Are In Direct Contrast With What The President Says?

A while back I wrote a post about the trouble caused by reducing complex geopolitical issues to dichotomous rhetorical points. As practiced by many a W, Rove and Co. stalwart, this supposedly passes for debate mainly framed by dualistic choices between only good and bad options.

Of course, the President and his pals continue this exercise of oversimplification to the detriment of us all. Witness this week's Presidential radio address (which I am still waiting for some one to admit they actually listen to this propaganda). There in rest at least two more examples of such a reduction; and it's not the wine and persimmon reduction I might toss on to some medium rare steaks to go with a snazzy glass of Petite Syrah.

Before I provide you with a taste, let me prep you with some questions that may help you cogitate your way through the rhetoric.
  • First, might there be another option that provides a better way to peace than those choices provided by the president?
  • I said that every nation must make a choice: We can support the moderates and reformers working for change across the broader Middle East, or we can yield the future to the terrorists and extremists. America has made its choice - we're standing with the moderates and reformers.

  • Second, what happens when what the president suggests will happen should we follow him is in direct contrast with the outcomes of what he has been doing for the last few years?
  • In the broader Middle East, the world faces a straightforward choice: We can allow that region to continue on the course it was headed before September the 11th, and a generation from now our children will face a region dominated by terrorist states and radical dictators armed with nuclear weapons; or we can stop that from happening by confronting the ideology of hate and helping the people of the Middle East build a future of hope.
    It seems to me, in this latter case, that the President again is choosing to see the reports he wants to see and disregard the rest.
    The war in Iraq has made global terrorism worse by fanning Islamic radicalism and providing a training ground for lethal methods that are increasingly being exported to other countries, according to a sweeping assessment by U.S. intelligence agencies.

GWB's War On Terror = Bad For America

So, I guess all the left wing nuts who suggested that Iraq was and is a bad idea weren't so far off, eh?
The war in Iraq has made global terrorism worse by fanning Islamic radicalism and providing a training ground for lethal methods that are increasingly being exported to other countries, according to a sweeping assessment by U.S. intelligence agencies.
I know I don't feel as safe as the W, Rove and Co suggest I should because of their actions in this theoretical "Global War on Terror."

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Have We Been Fooled By Another W, Rove And Co. Political Ruse?

Regarding the Detainee Treatment Act that just came to fruition Thursday, it seems rather suspicious that the W, Rove and Co. didn't have to give up one inch of their position on the matter. This is very curious and leads me to a number of questions.
  • Did the GOP folk who squawked about the original version of the DTA proposed by the President really care about the details?

  • Or, was this a ruse to feign care about the original version so that certain potential Republican candidates could look strong by standing up to the President just prior to the elections cycle?

  • If so, who would be devious enough to plot out such a strategy?

  • Would I be wrong for assuming that this rouse could have been perpetrated by our dear old GOP friends?

  • Is any one else sickened by the very fact that these thoughts have crossed my mind?

Have a look at Thursday’s press briefing with Steve Hadley acting as W's trumpet:

Q What did the administration give up in this negotiation? Because it seems like you got everything that you asked for.

MR. HADLEY: This was a situation where both the Congress and the administration shared a common objective. And what we did in a fairly creative way was come up with ways that we could all support to achieve that objective. And that's really what I think is the most important thing. And it really came out of the commentary subsequent to the President's speech of two weeks ago, that everybody came together on the proposition that we need this very important program to go forward. It's one of the best tools we have in the war on terror. We need to do it in a way that gives clear guidance to our men and women in -- our men and women who run this program, clear congressional support, and legal protections. And everybody agreed we ought to try and do it in a way that did not involve modifying or amending our international obligations.

That was the objective that we all came to here in the last week. And the goal was whether we could find language mutually agreed between the Senate and the White House that would achieve those objectives. And the good news is, we could and did.

Q Was there anything that you didn't get that you would have wanted to see on this?

MR. HADLEY: I've said all I said -- I can say on that issue. I just want to thank everybody for their time, and thanks very much for your time and attention.

The Growing List Of Disavowed Republicans

Let's see, there's the republican candidate running in Connecticut. Now there is Katerine Harris that may escape with no endorsement from the W.

The question remains to be seen if a non-endorsement from W is a good thing or a bad thing. Or could the stain of W's kiss remain that of death for incumbents?

Any thoughts?

Q Katherine Harris says that she's going to be at the GOP's meeting at 4 p.m., at the Ritz Carlton. Does the President plan to meet with her as the Republican nominee for the Senate race?

MS. PERINO: I don't know if there is any specific separate meeting, but I believe she is going to be there as part of the event.

Q Does he have any plans to raise money for her?

MS. PERINO: I don't know of anything that's scheduled.

Psst: "When There Is Actionable Information, That Osama Bin Laden Will Be Brought To Justice"

Fitting squarely in the WTF does that mean category, we see another cryptic message coming from yet another Whitehouse spokes model delivered in another Presidential PR junket to Florida. As to why the President feels like he needs to go to Florida again is beyond me. Certainly, there are other States in this Union that would be happy to host the Presidential Propaganda Catapult Parade, but I digress.

Today, Dana Perino, subbing in for Tony the Snow job held a press gaggle aboard Air Force One. In that meeting one reporter asked an interesting question about OBL. Her answer was rather cryptic, which leads me to the following question:

If we read between the lines, should we anticipate that OBL will be caught, nicely tied, and delivered to justice with a snazzy red bow affixed atop his turban some time before November's election?

Q Would the President find it necessary to seek General Musharraf's permission to launch military action against Osama bin Laden inside Pakistan?

MS. PERINO: Let me tell you what I'll say on that. You know that President Musharraf is going to be at the White House tomorrow, and there will be an availability in the late morning hours. As we've said before, Pakistan is an important partner in the war on terror and a friend to the United States. We've had excellent cooperation in many areas, including counterterrorism. And the President has repeatedly said how much he appreciates Musharraf's commitment to pursuing al Qaeda and continuing to work with us in cooperation in the search for Osama bin Laden. Pakistan and the United States remain close allies, working not only on the war on terror together, but on many other areas.

What I can tell you is that -- without getting into any operational details -- that when there is actionable information, that Osama bin Laden will be brought to justice.

Do You Know What The President Thinks?

It's hard to tell what the President is thinking now that a number of political leaders that are not beholden to the US of A for any reason spoke their minds freely at the UN over the past few days.

Have a look at how Tony the Snow job deflects some interesting questions at his last press gaggle:
Q Did the President watch President Ahmadinejad's speech last night?


Q He didn't. Has he been briefed on it? Does he have any reaction?

MR. SNOW: He's been briefed on it and his reaction was that we've been pretty clear on conditions for meeting with and talking with the Iranians -- which is to suspend the enrichment and reprocessing related activities and come to the table. There are a whole variety of benefits we want to make available to them, but we're not going to engage on specific points in his speech.

...Q Does the White House or the President have any reaction to the assertions that Ahmadinejad made regarding the U.S. having too much power in the U.N.?


...Q There have been a number of deadlines already set in the past. Specifically, how much longer would the U.S. wait -- days, weeks, months?

MR. SNOW: We're working with our allies.
What exactly is the President thinking? Hard to say.

A more important question is why he refused to meet with these people as they have flown to US soil on their own dime to be here. It would have been a very inexpensive way to build new bridges. Instead the W, Rove and Co. insists on using the three year-old-child's "we-won't-talk-to-you-if-you-don't-do-what-we-tell-you-to-do" approach to diplomacy? It's clearly a winning approach, isn't it?

The Big Dick: Spilled Lemonade On The Trail All The Way Up To The Veep's Office

This is a very interesting read regarding our illustrious Vice President; The Big Dick Cheney.
He reached public life with every reason to believe that he would continue to both court failure and overcome it, take the lemons he seemed determined to pick for himself and make the lemonade, then spill it, let someone else clean up.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The President Gives Us Yet Another Reason We Should Not Have Invaded Iraq

In case you didn't notice, today marked another PR attempt by W speechifying in front of the UN General Assembly. Via our professsional presidential propaganda catapult, we see one more reason why we never should have invaded Iraq:
Freedom, by its nature, cannot be imposed -- it must be chosen
Hmmm, so, are we imposing freedom, spreading freedom, or something else in Iraq?

P.S. I just started a new job on Monday and should be back up to posting spec in a week or two once I figure out what the hell I am doing time-wise.

Blog on all.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

The Iraq Distraction: When Their "Right" Hand Strokes And Their Left Hand Slaps, The Outcome Is All Bad For America

Say it ain't so. Could it be that there is one more reason why the decision to invade Iraq was wrong?

Certainly, it doesn't help to point out more failures of the W, Rove and Co. On the other hand, here's another sign that things have been going south under the W, Rove and Co for a great long time.

As you read through the first paragraph, ask yourselves which country is this reporter discusssing?
A car bomb rips through a U.S. military convoy in the capital. A suicide bomber assassinates a provincial governor; another bomber kills six guests at the governor's funeral the following day. Gunmen launch fierce daily attacks on Western troops and government security forces.

However much it sounds like the war in Iraq, this is the war in Afghanistan, started in 2001 to oust the radical Taliban regime, capture Osama bin Laden and destroy the safe haven for his terrorist network al Qaeda.

Five years later, U.S. and NATO troops are fighting a resurgent Taliban at the highest scale since the government was toppled in November 2001. Bin Laden remains at large, opium production is at a record high, and Afghanistan resembles a feudal hodgepodge of fiefdoms run by warlords instead of a centrally governed nation of 31 million people.
Is it me, or does anyone else find it ironic that we are improving things for the illegal opium industry by fighting the GWoT? Given that we have been running a "war on drugs" longer than a "war on terror," could it be we haven't learn from the mistakes in execution of the former to win both? It's like the W, Rove and Co stroke and stoke the fires of war on terror only to slap our guys fighting the war on drugs.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Rhetorical Dualism Is No Substitute For Real Debate

I am convinced that the next time the President, the Vice President or another of their GOP surrogates suggest that they are open to honest, “healthy debate” about the issues facing our country, we should simultaneously stand up and say: “Okay, lets have one right now.” The trouble is, as we have seen over and over again, the W, Rove and Co is very good at espousing a desire for debate, but not so good at following through with that promise.

If said politician does not agree to the debate then and there, ask: “When are you going to host one?" It would be entirely refreshing to have a debate rather than subject the people to more speechifying at great expense to the American Taxpayers. Speeches delivered in front of friendly audiences and from podiums equiped with telepromters and microphones hold no room at all for opposing views.

But the issue is bigger than the simple void of real, healthy debate in the town halls across America and on national stages. Do the republicans truly welcome healthy debate or are they simply blowing more smoke up our skirts, not unlike the smoking "mushroom cloud" Condi was hinting at a while back?

Certainly, if you review the text of many of the W, Rove and Co's top brass over the course of a hand full of days (and stretching way back to the outset of their political travesty started long ago when W was selected, not elected), you will find evidence that they are not the least bit interested in "healthy debate," unless they control your side of the argument.

Beware the dualistic argument, my friends. It's a simple, but deliberate trick issued by the W, Rove and Co to appeal to the lowest common denominator. Rhetorical dualism is no substitute for genuine, healthy debate. You are right or wrong, black or white, or "with us or against us." Rhetorical props such as these are not a form of debate, but debate killers. Would you call this healthy? Not me.

Using dualistic rhetoric as a surrogate for debate is like handing your opponent broken crutches and telling him or her to use the sharp end under one arm. It hurts when you lean on one side of the argument. This practice is not only deceitful and disingenuous, it is dangerous for America. It presents only one viable choice for voters. Folks with little to no time to digest very complex issues rest their decisions on whom to vote for based on which option they believe to be the answer to all of America’s ills.

The W, Rove and Co has proven time and again that they are getting nothing but rich by appealing to the lowest common denominator as they present their arguments to the American people. Dualistic rhetorical arguments riddle the speeches of those in the W, Rove and Co.

Dualistic thinking is almost at the very lowest rung of behavioral development for responsible humans. It is dangerous for America because it reduces complex situations that require complex thinking and complex solutions to sound bites that further divide our country. They do nothing to forward positive solutions to very troubling geopolitical problems created by the same dualistic thinking.

Let’s have a look at some illustrations from speeches given by various W, Rove and Co agents so you can see for yourselves how pervasive this practice is. Together we can "out" this practice as the Rovian designed political parlor trick it is, shall we?

Let's start with a classic case. We are all now, unfortunately, deeply familiar with the post Nine Twelve slogan "You are either with us or against us," made famous by our glorious president. It is only one small example of the dangerous dualistic surrogate for diplomacy that has put America at great risk. Moreover, it is a terrible approach for argument, debate and political reason because the W, Rove and Co. brand of dualism is a forced choice option where one side of the choices is always wrong. There is always one false argument presented as one side of two options. The latter is almost always bad, and the former the GOP party line. What is more, if you choose neither, you are seen as a treacherous traitor.

Here's a classic double dose from the Big Dick:
But there is a difference between healthy debate and self-defeating pessimism. We have only two options in Iraq -- victory or defeat.
Of course, we can't just have one day of this rhetorical nonsense from the Big Dick. The very next day, he gave another speech to yet another friendly (and maybe even captive) audience at an Air Force base in Nebraska.

Here The Veep hits the Political dualist's trifecta: Three pairs for the price of one. To finish it off, the Big Dick gives you a double couplet, where in one fell swoop he hands us two broken crutches with the pointed end inserted directly under our armpits.
But there is a difference between healthy debate and self-defeating pessimism. We have only two options in Iraq -- victory or defeat. And I want you to know, as members of the United States military, that the American people do not support a policy of retreat or defeat.
Oh, don't you love that last couplet - it even rhymes.

The President takes lessons from his pals and even tries to sway us with dualistic arguments that split the world into only two camps: The good guys (that would be us) and the bad guys (that would be those against us):
The war we fight today is more than a military conflict; it is the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century. (Applause.) On one side are those who believe in the values of freedom and moderation -- the right of all people to speak, and worship, and live in liberty. And on the other side are those driven by the values of tyranny and extremism -- the right of a self-appointed few to impose their fanatical views on all the rest. As veterans, you have seen this kind of enemy before. They're successors to Fascists, to Nazis, to Communists, and other totalitarians of the 20th century. And history shows what the outcome will be: This war will be difficult; this war will be long; and this war will end in the defeat of the terrorists and totalitarians, and a victory for the cause of freedom and liberty. (Applause.)
Isn't magical the way W paints us such a stark and easily definable picture of the good and bad. Unfortunately, he leaves out a whole lot of ugly ignored by this Administration.

By the way, if it really is an ideological struggle, can't we have the ideologs duke it out instead of having to endure the death of so many of our and their folk in the name of said struggle? But I digresss.

The President even works to amplify his argument by lacing one side of the dualism with the support of the "Almighty."
On this struggle are those who believe in the universality of liberty. I personally believe there's an Almighty, and I believe that one of the great gifts of that Almighty to every man, woman and child on the face of the Earth is the desire to live in freedom. (Applause.)

And on the other side of this ideological struggle are those who are driven by tyranny and extremism, the right of a self-appointed few to impose their fanatical views over the rest of us. And that's the struggle. And it's important that our fellow citizens understand that struggle.
The Grand Prize winner for the Presidential Lowest Common Denominator Rhetorical Dualist medal goes to the President himself. This example is taken from GW’s political speech designed to lever our sympathies for the victims of Nine Eleven for his political gain.
At the start of this young century, America looks to the day when the people of the Middle East leave the desert of despotism for the fertile gardens of liberty, and resume their rightful place in a world of peace and prosperity.
Zowie! “The desert of despotism” versus “the fertile gardens of liberty?” Which do you choose: Sodom, Gomorra, or Eden?

The very next day we get to witness Tony the Snow job’s attempt to defend the President once again – a thankless job, and I’m glad it’s his not mine.
Q Last night, the President asked Democrats and Republicans to put aside differences in the war on terrorism. And I wanted to see how you think that's going, a day later, when Harry Reid accuses the President of playing election year politics and House Majority Leader Boehner says of Democrats, "I wonder if they're more interested in protecting the terrorists than protecting the American people. They certainly don't want to take the terrorists on and defeat them." So --

MR. SNOW: Apparently, there are differing points of view. (Laughter.)

Q Even at that, you don't think it's -- so did the President fail in his mission?

MR. SNOW: No, I don't think so. It's interesting, we're going to have a lot of political conflict this year. Perfectly understandable, acceptable, predictable. That's the way it works. But yesterday gave the American people a chance to reflect on September 11th and how it froze us in an instant and made us understand that there was something out there we hadn't seen before, hadn't even expected, didn't have any suspicion that it existed. And that was a network of terrorists who would use any means possible, including things that are -- at least for you and me -- unimaginable, which was to turn airliners into weapons of mass destruction.

It also revealed that there was an ideology abroad that said that freedom is a terrible thing and that people were going to twist and pervert the Koran in an attempt to create a holy war, when, in fact, theirs was an ideology of despotism and terror, and that they were serious about it; that they had plans; that they were organized and that they were trying to kill Americans. We all realize that. Before that day, I daresay very few people in this room were then focusing in any serious way on Osama bin Laden.

So we learned about that. And as a nation, we remain united to beat those guys. And we remain united in our desire to remember the people who died -- the President yesterday having met with friends and family of many of them.

So, no, I think Americans are united on the important things, and they also understand that in politics there will be a vigorous debate about how best to pursue the goal. But I don't think there's any disagreement that, ultimately, our freedoms are precious, and that this country is an extraordinary place that remains not only the beacon of the world but the envy of many, and that it is our responsibility to preserve that for this and every future generation. And Americans also understand political seasons.

Q But, Tony, wait --

Q Do you think that both sides -- Democrats and Republicans -- want to defeat the terrorists?

MR. SNOW: Yes, I do. I mean, I think -- I don't think --

Q So you disagree with --

MR. SNOW: I'm not going to get in a debate over statements that I haven't seen. I think that there are going to be plenty of debates about who is going to be more effective in waging that battle. But I'll let John Boehner and Harry Reid duke it out on their own. I'll speak for the President.
So you may find yourself asking, "when do we get our promised 'plenty of debate?'” Better yet, if and when we eventually do, we should not swallow the rhetorical dualist’s pill as it certainly does nothing to pull our country out of the mess created by the GOP and their leaders.

Leaning on crutches handed to you by your political foe is not only bad for debate, but it is bad for America. Throw them back at the person offering them to you. Then ask them to debate you on the issues instead of the rhetoric offered. If you look sharply at the current administration's record, they have warehouses full of broken crutches (not to mention morgues and hospitals full of wonded and KIA), and not a single leg to stand on.

Friday, September 15, 2006

What The Bleep Is The "Third Awakening?"

Is it me, or does this notion of the "Third Awakening" seem rather biblical in reference? I had not heard of this until I read it in the Presidential press briefing on Friday.

Really, I find the president to be rather confusing here. I sure could use some help understanding what this "Third Awakening" is all about.

Are there any one out there in the blogisphere who can assist?
Q Thank you, Mr. President. It was reported earlier this week that in a meeting with conservative journalists, you said you'd seen changes in the culture, you referred to it as a Third Awakening. I wonder if you could tell us about what you meant by that, what led you to that conclusion? And do you see any contradictory evidence in the culture?

THE PRESIDENT: No, I said -- Mike, thanks. I was just speculating that the culture might be changing, and I was talking about when you're involved with making decisions of historic nature, you won't be around to see the effects of your decisions. And I said that when I work the ropelines, a lot of people come and say, Mr. President, I'm praying for you -- a lot. As a matter of fact, it seems like a lot more now than when I was working ropelines in 1994. And I asked them -- I was asking their opinion about whether or not there was a Third Awakening, I called it.

I'd just read a book on Abraham Lincoln, and his presidency was right around the time of what they called the Second Awakening, and I was curious to know whether or not these smart people felt like there was any historical parallels. I also said that I had run for office the first time to change a culture -- Herman and Hutch remember me saying, you know, the culture that said, if it feels good, do it, and, if you've got a problem, blame somebody else -- to helping to work change a culture in which each of us are responsible for the decisions we make in life. In other words, ushering in a responsibility era. And I reminded people that responsibility means if you're a father, love your child; if you're corporate America, be honest with the taxpayers; if you're a citizen of this country, love your neighbor.

And so I was wondering out loud with them. It seems like to me that something is happening in the religious life of America. But I'm not a very good focus group, either. I'm encapsulated here. But I'm able to see a lot of people, and from my perspective, people are coming to say, I'm praying for you. And it's an uplifting part of being the President; it inspires me. And I'm grateful that a fellow citizen would say a prayer for me and Laura

When You Are Loading Up the Propaganda Catapult Up, It Is Important To Get Your Terms Straight

From Friday's presidential press briefing:
Q On both the eavesdropping program and the detainee issues --

THE PRESIDENT: We call it the terrorist surveillance program, Hutch.
Ah, I see, that makes the fact you are violating our consititutional rights better. Okay.

"I Never Said There Was An Operational Relationship."

Nine Eleven and Iraq. Are they connected?

Finally, the President is asked directly about the rhetorical confusion he has caused amongst the American populace. Martha has to be Helen Thomas' understudy. She has her own cast iron skillet to wield, and she does it quite plainly.

Have a look at Martha's query and as you read the President's reply, ask yourself these questions:
  1. Were we misled by the president to get us to buy into the Iraq attack?

  2. Is there a reason the President is now qualifying his statements with the word "opperational?" What is it and why?
Q Mr. President, you have said throughout the war in Iraq and building up to the war in Iraq that there was a relationship between Saddam Hussein and Zarqawi and al Qaeda. A Senate Intelligence Committee report a few weeks ago said there was no link, no relationship, and that the CIA knew this and issued a report last fall. And, yet, a month ago you were still saying there was a relationship. Why did you keep saying that? Why do you continue to say that? And do you still believe that?

THE PRESIDENT: The point I was making to Ken Herman's question was that Saddam Hussein was a state sponsor of terror, and that Mr. Zarqawi was in Iraq. He had been wounded in Afghanistan, had come to Iraq for treatment. He had ordered the killing of a U.S. citizen in Jordan. I never said there was an operational relationship. I was making the point that Saddam Hussein had been declared a state sponsor of terror for a reason, and, therefore, he was dangerous.

The broader point I was saying -- I was reminding people was why we removed Saddam Hussein from power. He was dangerous. I would hope people aren't trying to rewrite the history of Saddam Hussein -- all of a sudden, he becomes kind of a benevolent fellow. He's a dangerous man. And one of the reasons he was declared a state sponsor of terror was because that's what he was. He harbored terrorists; he paid for families of suicide bombers. Never have I said that Saddam Hussein gave orders to attack 9/11. What I did say was, after 9/11, when you see a threat, you've got to take it seriously. And I saw a threat in Saddam Hussein -- as did Congress, as did the United Nations. I firmly believe the world is better off without Saddam in power, Martha.

Looks Like We Are Not Getting That Steel Cage Grudge Match Tony Snow Hinted At This Past Week

Where is the courage from our President to meet with the President of Iran?

Shit, they are going to be in the same building. Can't they just walk across the hall and talk about their issues like real men, or do they have to posture like immature children?

Ah, you guessed it...posture like immature children it is:
Q Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian President, will actually be in the same building as you next week, in Manhattan for the United Nations General Assembly. You say that you want to give the message to the Iranian people that you respect them. Is this not an opportunity, perhaps, to show that you also respect their leader? Would you be willing to, perhaps, meet face-to-face with Ahmadinejad, and would this possibly be a breakthrough, some sort of opportunity for a breakthrough on a personal level?

THE PRESIDENT: No, I'm not going to meet with him. I have made it clear to the Iranian regime that we will sit down with the Iranians once they verifiably suspend their enrichment program. I meant what I said.
I suppose using the presidency as bait is a good diplomatic tactic (well, not really), but I sure wish we could set these two into a room somewhere and have them hash out the problem instead.

Getting It "Right" The Republican Way

Is it me, or do the GOP politicos always spin things even if they were wrong to discredit otherwise credible individuals for their own political gain? Have a look at one more Rovian-style political parlor trick I call, "Smear The Academic."
A typical Horowitz cause celebre: a Colorado student whose professor allegedly gave her an F when she refused to agree that George W. Bush is a war criminal. When critics took a close look, though, it turned out that the student actually got a B, that she had misrepresented the assignment and that the professor was … a Republican.
Looks like it is open season on any one who disagrees with the "fright wing" agenda, even if they are dead wrong about said individuals. No worries on the "right," as the damage is done regardless and there will be no apologies for getting it wrong in the first place.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Did You Ever Notice...

...that when a republican questions the W, Rove and Co they are not usually painted as unpatriotic, unamerican, terrorist sympathizers. But, when a democrat questions the W, Rove and Co they get painted as exactly that?

This is a fantastic question raised by one Whitehouse beat reporter in Thursday's press briefing:
Q Okay. So the President is having this debate not with a bunch of Democrats on the other side; he's having this debate with some Republicans on the other side -- there would be no attempt to question their commitment to the war on terror. Senators Warner and McCain and Graham are just as committed to winning the war on terror as anybody else.

Is the President concerned that should you give ground on this, or what the American public is hearing is not a debate between Republicans and Democrats, where it's easy to box the other side in as being weak on terror, but that perhaps the examination of the administration's policies for fighting the war on terror are going to be looked at through a different prism, and that perhaps you end up sort of losing a lot more ground by getting involved in this fight.

MR. SNOW: I hate to tell you, but once again you're trying to apply a political construct to the practical matter of trying to fight a --
Yeah, right. I thought so.

If Construing International Conventions Are Good For The US, Then Doing So Is Allowable For Her Enemies, No?

It looks to me like the W, Rove and Co is looking to do an end run around the Geneva Conventions, not unlike their use of signing statements afixed to various bits of legislation that has come down from Congress.

Ah, finally, we get down to the point at the tail end of thursday's Whitehouse press briefing. If the W, Rove and Co is going to construe Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions to their advantage, then what is stopping our enemies from doing so but in a more sinster way?

Have a look at some more bits from today's Whitehouse press briefing:
Q What are other countries to make of the U.S., as you put it, adding definition to the Geneva Convention? Is the U.S., in effect, saying, all the rest of you do this, too -- adversaries and friends, alike?

MR. SNOW: Look, I think this is something that we'd be -- we would not be frightened if adversaries did this. We would not be at all frightened if they did this. I think there's a perception going around that this is going to condone and counsel all sorts of horrible treatment. It's not. And therefore, if we allow -- if we set a standard to treaty obligations that in the past have been vague -- and again, we did it with genocide; we did it with other things. This is not unusual. And I think what we're doing is setting a standard for clarity and transparency, because we do want people to know what the rules are, and the people we especially want to know what the rules are are our people going out in the field who are going to be charged with trying to bring back information and save American lives. We want it to be legal. We want it to be constitutional. We want it to be consistent with Common Article III.
And when Iran suggests they want their interpretation of the same article to be legal under their law, what's stopping them from "goin' medevil" on the GCs?

There's more...
Q I think it would be fair, then, for some people in the world to look at this process as a questioning of defining how close you can go to Common Article III before you reach cruel and inhuman, until you put that stuff into play in an interrogation?

MR. SNOW: Explain to me how that would work. Explain to me how they would draw that conclusion, because I don't get it.

Q You don't understand how someone could draw that conclusion?

MR. SNOW: No, I don't.

Q By trying to create a definition of an article --

MR. SNOW: So what you would rather have is a law with no definitions so that people would go into the field not knowing whether they're obeying or not obeying the law? I mean, that's the whole point here. You've got to know what the law says; nobody knows.

Q That's what you guys say is the point here. I'm saying people around the world could view this process very differently, and, frankly, through a much more sinister lens, that you're actually --

MR. SNOW: Well, no, I think what you're trying to do is to import a sinister -- I don't think -- there's nothing sinister about trying to say what the law is. Do you disagree?

Q It's not for me to agree or disagree --

MR. SNOW: Well, wait a minute, of course you are, and what you're doing is that you're putting a highly cynical interpretation on what should be an open and transparent attempt to try to figure out what the rules are.

Q There are people -- I think it's fair to say there are people around the world who have questioned this administration's commitment to the Geneva Conventions, starting with GITMO, some of the questions on POWs versus --

Its About Time Some GOP Heavy Weights Started Doubting The Moral Basis For The GWoT

Thursday's Whitehouse press briefing was astonishing. Some one really should have got the hook out for Tony the Snow job.

I kind of feel sorry for him because he really got his ass handed to him on a platter numerous times. Ah, but he deserves it because he and the master he serves belong in the trash heap along side the road to the moral high ground. From there, it is a slippery slope into the fiery pits of Hell.

Have a look at this bit on the morality play the W, Rove and Co is pushing upon us by redefining their glorious Global War on Terror as the "decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century:"
Q But, yes, Colin Powell, what about his larger point, that the world is beginning to doubt the moral basis for the war on terror?

MR. SNOW: I don't think so. Look at what happened on September 11th. You had Jacques Chirac sending regards this week. We've had a number of other people. I think everybody understands that the moral basis of the war on terror is that there are people who are determined not to abide by any of the standards of civilization. And they want to slaughter us, and they want to scare us, and they want to change the way the world works.

Q But this is the assertion of a former Secretary of State who was with the administration --

MR. SNOW: I understand that.

Q -- at the outset of the war on terror. He is now, obviously, not part of the administration and it's X number of years later, and he is looking at the world and saying, they're having doubts.

MR. SNOW: Go ask him. I don't want to read his mind. It's worth having -- you can ask Colin Powell precisely what he meant.


Q Outside Colin Powell's mind, is that not an issue for this administration? Is that not something you should be thinking about?

MR. SNOW: Well, why do you think -- why on earth, Martha, do you think we're not taking such pains to try to be absolutely transparent and lay out for the entire world not only standards by which we conduct these things, but say to the rest of the world you've got to be precise --

Q But you said, "I don't think so," about moral basis, you didn't think so because Jacques Chirac --

MR. SNOW: He said, "moral basis of the war on terror." The moral basis of the war on terror is -- I don't think you're going to try to claim moral equivalence between George W. Bush and Osama bin Laden. I don't think you want to go there. And that is --

Q I don't think I'd be going there.

Coercion: Not Just For Enemy Combatant Detainees In Secret CIA Prisons - Subtitle: "It's Not As If These Guys Are A Bunch Of Toadies"

I'm serious, you can't make this shit up. Tony the Snow job was having a terrible time containing the spin in Thursday's Whitehouse Press briefing.

There is so much to this line of inquery that I can't paste it all in here. If you find this slice the least bit entertaining, you may want to actually pop on over to the whitehouse web location for a closer look-see. I dare ya! I double dare ya.

Have a look:
Q All right, the second question is, you kind of laughed off this rumor you said on Capitol Hill that the JAG had been coerced to write this letter.

MR. SNOW: JAGs, yes.

Q The officers, the JAG officers.

MR. SNOW: Yes.

Q Senator Graham is telling reporters on Capitol Hill that the White House had them in a meeting for five hours last night and tried to force them to sign a prepared statement. And he said, reading this JAG letter they ended up writing leaves total ambiguity on interpretation. This is Senator Lindsey Graham. What's your response to that?

MR. SNOW: It sounds like he's talking there's a detainee crisis.

Q Wait a minute, I think he deserves an answer, a real answer.

MR. SNOW: Well, here's the answer -- here's the answer, the real answer is, go back and read the testimony from August.

Q Was there a meeting?

MR. SNOW: I don't know if there -- there was not a White House meeting -- I don't think so. I don't think there was a White House meeting. I do know that they were asked to express in a letter the opinions that they had -- that they had expressed in open committee, in testimony before the United States Senate -- I believe it was the Judiciary Committee, maybe Armed Services -- in August. I don't know who asked.

Ask who -- the thing is if you start going into who asked whom to write letters, I don't know. We can ask each side. Here's the important thing --

Q You say it wasn't a White House meeting. Were there White House people there? Who called it together?

MR. SNOW: I don't think so -- I honestly -- Martha, I'll find out.

Q You've got to get us some clarity on that meeting.

Q It's been reported that Jim Haynes, who is the counsel at the Pentagon, convened this meeting and got these guys to write this letter. And it's something that they told people they didn't agree with.

MR. SNOW: Well, I don't think so because these -- if it's possible --

Q You don't think so, or you know that's not the case.

MR. SNOW: It's not the case. They were asked to write a letter that reflected their views, and they edited and signed the letter. Furthermore --

Q Who asked them?

MR. SNOW: I honestly don't know. I honestly don't know.

Q You only know what didn't happen.

MR. SNOW: I don't know who asked Colin Powell to write letters. I don't know who asked others to write letters.

Q But you say you don't know, what didn't happen --

MR. SNOW: Please, please let me finish, and then you can -- then you can pick away at the process. These are the same guys who opposed us on other matters of the legislation here. It's not as if these guys are a bunch of toadies who sit around and say, what does the White House want us to do. These are JAGs who have important obligations that they take seriously. I think maybe the best thing to do is go swarm them and ask them. They're generals -- there is one colonel on the letter. They're able to speak for themselves.

What Do You Get When Three Republican Senators and General Powell Contradict The W, Rove And Co?

Just exactly what do you get when three republican senators and General Powell contradict the W, Rove and Co?

At what point do the W, Rove and Co admit that they are wrong?

How about when when we add three republican senators and to General Powell, who I might add is also a veteran of the fisrt Bush War in the big kitty litter box that is Iraq?

Let's see...
Q So do you think that Colin Powell, a former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is just confused about what you're trying to do?

MR. SNOW: Yes.

Q And you think that he would write a letter like this without an understanding --

MR. SNOW: I don't know -- it's interesting -- we didn't hear from him, so I don't know.

Q So you think that John McCain and Senator Warner and Lindsey Graham are confused about what you're trying to do?

MR. SNOW: I think what's -- no, but there's a difference here, because what -- there's a difference and there's an opportunity. The assertion that we are trying to amend or change Common Article III is wrong. And I think it's worth saying to everybody, no, we're not trying to change anything; we're trying to figure out what it means. That's what the Supreme Court -- that is the burden the Supreme Court laid before the Congress of the United States and the White House. And you need to work collaboratively with it.

There has been no suggestion that we amend or alter Common Article III. In fact, we thought we found a pretty good standard, which was the Detainee Treatment Act standard that was adopted by Congress and people subjected it to rigorous review. So that's the important point. And I think -- let me put it this way -- we think that the approach we take not only addresses the concerns that are expressed by General Powell and General Vessey. And again, we had no conversations with them; we don't know what they had seen, and I'll let them speak for themselves on this.

But the whole purpose of this is to make sure that we place our troops out of harm's way, and also the people who are doing the interrogations, by making clear what the standards are. This is not an attempt to subject detainees to lawlessness. It's an attempt to try to codify in law exactly what the rules and boundaries are.

Q Well, how do you account for the fact that three Republican senators oppose you so vehemently on this?

MR. SNOW: It's a free country, you're allowed to oppose -- and what I'm suggesting is that there are still ongoing conversations and I wouldn't prejudge.
Ah, I see, the answer to my questions above is never admit you are wrong, and most certainly not for these guys.

Reclassifying Illegal Behaviors As Legal By Wrangling Some New Legislation: Ethics, GW-Style

Lucky for us, the President took some questions in Thursday's introduction and welcome of the South Korean President. Let's have a look at what kind of rhetoric we get from our fair el Presidente, shall we?

W has a natural tendency to reveal more than he should while he goes off on tangents from the script provided by his dedicated team of speech and propaganda writers. Ah, here we go...

The very first question is a good one. Here we find another republican, once a friend off the W, Rove and Co, that is now coming to his senses and going contrarian:
Q Thank you, sir. Your former Secretary of State endorsed the plan to block the terror suspect interrogation legislation that you have proposed. He says it would raise doubts about the moral basis for the U.S. fight against terrorists and would put U.S. troops at risk. Does this hurt your efforts?

PRESIDENT BUSH: We have proposed legislation that will enable the Central Intelligence Agency to be able to conduct a program to get information from high-value detainees in a lawful way. And that idea was approved yesterday by a House committee in an overwhelmingly bipartisan fashion. It is very important for the American people to understand that in order to protect this country, we must be able to interrogate people who have information about future attacks.

So the question I ask about any piece of legislation is, will the program provide legal clarity so that our professionals will feel comfortable about going forward with the program? That's what I'm going to ask. And I will resist any bill that does not enable this program to go forward with legal clarity. And there's all kinds of letters coming out -- and today, by the way, active duty personnel in the Pentagon, the JAG, supported the concept that I have just outlined to you. This is an important program for the security of this country. And we want to work with Congress to make sure that the program can go forward. If there's not clarity, if there's ambiguity, if there's any doubt in our professionals' minds that they can conduct their operations in a legal way, with support of the Congress, the program won't go forward and the American people will be in danger.
So, a little expos facto construction of laws to remove said actions from the ethical low ground to the moral high ground. Sounds like a nice plan.

Or could it be that the W, Rove and Co is just confused? Have a look:
...In the case of Common Article III, of course, you have had some of -- the "prohibitions against cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment" -- that's important to figure out what that means. As you know, in --

Q It's vague to you?

MR. SNOW: Yes, it is.

Q Mean, cruel, inhuman, degrading?

MR. SNOW: Yes, because you have to specify exactly what you mean.

Q Keep smiling. (Laughter.)

"Short Of A Crime, Anything Goes At The Highest Levels Of The Department Of The Interior"

Is this good news or bad news for the W, Rove and Co? Have a look:
WASHINGTON, Sept. 13 — The Interior Department’s chief official responsible for investigating abuses and overseeing operations accused the top officials at the agency on Wednesday of tolerating widespread ethical failures, from cronyism to cover-ups of incompetence.

“Simply stated, short of a crime, anything goes at the highest levels of the Department of the Interior,” charged Earl E. Devaney, the Interior Department’s inspector general, at a hearing of the House Government Reform subcommittee on energy.

“I have observed one instance after another when the good work of my office has been disregarded by the department,” he continued. “Ethics failures on the part of senior department officials — taking the form of appearances of impropriety, favoritism and bias — have been routinely dismissed with a promise ‘not to do it again.’

...“Absent criminal charges, however, they are sent off in the usual fashion, with a party paying tribute to their good service and the secretary wishing them well, to spend more time with their family or seek new opportunities.””
Unfortuantely, this sounds more like business as usual for the W, Rove and Co. Perhaps "culture of corruption" is the right label for the GOP these days.

Secret Tribunals Good: SCOTUS Bad

Here's another fun Mark Fiore Vid: View, Enjoy and Comment away.

Blog on Friends, Blog on all.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

What About Osama?

Does OBL matter to GWB?
Q Tony, in Afghanistan, there's been a spike in Taliban activity recently, some 2,000 people killed this year, increasing efforts to destablize the democratic government. Is the White House, then, concerned about the fact that recently, when a significant number of Taliban leaders were attending a funeral and they were in the sights of a U.S. drone, that our rules of engagement there prohibiting attacking anyone in a cemetery came into play and they were allowed to walk free?

MR. SNOW: Well, I'm aware of the story. I don't have -- I have not received any guidance on it, but I think it's safe to say, on matters like rules of engagement, it's best to kick that over to the Pentagon. If you need help, Martha can get you in touch with the right people. (Laughter.)

Q I know who to get in touch with over there.

Q Maybe not the right -- (laughter.)

Q Seriously, though, I mean, if Osama bin Laden is still believed to be hiding somewhere in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, wouldn't the White House -- if this, indeed, is -- if these are our rules of engagement, would it not be a prudent time to reexamine them, considering that they would, I assume, apply to him, as well, if he were in a cemetery, that he could not be attacked?

MR. SNOW: I'll repeat what I said: Ask the Pentagon about this one.

Q No concern, whatsoever, then?

MR. SNOW: I'm not saying that. I'm saying I have not -- it's been a very busy day, it continues to be a busy day, and I'm not sure anybody has had an opportunity to study fully the report and, therefore, to provide the proper emotional or factual response.
Does OBL matter to GWB?
Q Tony, in Afghanistan, there's been a spike in Taliban activity recently, some 2,000 people killed this year, increasing efforts to destablize the democratic government. Is the White House, then, concerned about the fact that recently, when a significant number of Taliban leaders were attending a funeral and they were in the sights of a U.S. drone, that our rules of engagement there prohibiting attacking anyone in a cemetery came into play and they were allowed to walk free?

MR. SNOW: Well, I'm aware of the story. I don't have -- I have not received any guidance on it, but I think it's safe to say, on matters like rules of engagement, it's best to kick that over to the Pentagon. If you need help, Martha can get you in touch with the right people. (Laughter.)

Q I know who to get in touch with over there.

Q Maybe not the right -- (laughter.)

Q Seriously, though, I mean, if Osama bin Laden is still believed to be hiding somewhere in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, wouldn't the White House -- if this, indeed, is -- if these are our rules of engagement, would it not be a prudent time to reexamine them, considering that they would, I assume, apply to him, as well, if he were in a cemetery, that he could not be attacked?

MR. SNOW: I'll repeat what I said: Ask the Pentagon about this one.

Q No concern, whatsoever, then?

MR. SNOW: I'm not saying that. I'm saying I have not -- it's been a very busy day, it continues to be a busy day, and I'm not sure anybody has had an opportunity to study fully the report and, therefore, to provide the proper emotional or factual response.
By the way, did you know that US troops were moved to somewhere else besides Afghanistan?

Q Tony, quickly, how concerned is the White House, though, about the re-emergence of the Taliban in Afghanistan, about the spike in activity, about the threat it poses to the democratically elected government there?

MR. SNOW: Well, what's happened is there has also been a spike in dead members of the Taliban. The Taliban has been suffering a series of significant battlefield defeats. They have been trying to stand up and they've been losing. As I've said before, it's understandable that at a time when the Afghanistan government is trying to extend its sphere of authority, that the Taliban is going to test it, and it's going to test forces also as you make a transition from U.S. to NATO. But so far, each time they've been doing the testing, they've also been doing the losing.

Q Are there any methods justified to take them out, considering the danger they pose?

MR. SNOW: I'm sorry, what?

Q I said do you believe that any methods are justified in taking them out?

MR. SNOW: In any time of war you have rules of engagement, and our troops are instructed to follow them. And that remains the same whether you're fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan -- and you must keep in mind, most of the engagements we're talking about here do not involve U.S. troops, but, in fact, NATO troops that have been deployed as U.S. troops have moved elsewhere.

What Is The Definition Of "Operational Relationship?"

It is disturbing how big a hole the W, Rove and Co has gotten themselves into. First there is a relationship with terrorists and Saddam, then there is none.

Then it's an "opperational relationship," which means what? That Saddam knew the terrorists were in Iraq?

Well, the W, Rove and Co apparently knew there were terrorsts in America, how is George Bush any different from Saddam in the category of relationships with terrorists?
Q Just one more. Back to something from yesterday, you said that the President never said there was an operational relationship between Saddam Hussein and Zarqawi. Are you saying he didn't suggest there was a relationship --

MR. SNOW: He said there was a relationship --

Q What does that mean?

MR. SNOW: What it means is -- again, had you been in Iraq before the war? You may have. And I had, too. And you understand --

Q Before the war? No, no --

MR. SNOW: Okay, well, let me tell you about the old days, when you went in before the war, strangers didn't just sort of wander into Baghdad when Saddam was there. They knew who was there. And Zarqawi was in Baghdad. And he, in fact -- as we've said, they organized the murder of a U.S. diplomat in Amman, Jordan. We also know that there were other members of al Qaeda operating within Iraq. But what we've taken pains to say is -- being a little colloquial about it -- but they didn't have a corner office, the Mukhabarat. They were not line-items in the Iraqi budget. They were people who were there, but they were also not officially part of the Iraqi government and there was no official or functional coordination, at least as far as we can tell. And this was what the CIA has told us, that there was no operational relationship -- no direct, demonstrable operational tie between the two --

Q They said there was no relationship.

MR. SNOW: They weren't -- a relationship means that they were there. We knew they were there.

Q So all of your comments about the relationship between Saddam Hussein and Zarqawi -- we just knew they were there. Did we know what they were up to? I mean, how far does that go?

MR. SNOW: I don't know. We'll have to look at the documents --

Q No, but that's important, Tony.

MR. SNOW: How so?

Q You don't know -- I mean, there was a lot of rhetoric coming out of the White House in the build-up to the war, and since, that there was this relationship between Saddam Hussein and Zarqawi, and thus linking them to al Qaeda.

MR. SNOW: No, the argument has been that Saddam Hussein was a supporter and sponsor of terror. And we talked more often about, for instance, the fact that people who went in and committed suicide bombings against Israelis were getting paid bounties, and that Saddam was working as best he could to try to support and foment terror.

Q -- no relationship with al Qaeda, no relationship with Zarqawi.

MR. SNOW: That's right, no operational relationship, as far as we can tell. But they were there. And Zarqawi was committing acts of terror while he was in Baghdad, but we don't -- look, if we had the goods, we'd share them, but we don't have the goods to demonstrate --

Q But Saddam Hussein didn't know about that?

MR. SNOW: I don't know. I don't know if he knew about it. What we have been unable to demonstrate or discover is whether they're sitting around in the map room, spreading out the map, saying, okay, you bomb there. We just don't have that kind of granularity in terms of the relationship, and therefore, we're not going to go -- we're going to -- not going to out-run the facts.

Standing Down When They Stand Up

Looks like the Whitehouse beat reporters are really on fire today. Have a look at this fantastic question, which I have been pointing out for a good long while:
Q But, Tony, you say all the time, "stand up; stand down." There are now 270,000 Iraqi troops, and there's been no draw-down. There are 147,000 American troops over there now.

MR. SNOW: That's right.

Q Which is equal to how many there were a year ago when you sent them up for elections. What does that say about the ability for the American troops to stand down when the Iraqi troops are now numbering 270,000 --

MR. SNOW: Well, what it says is, you continue -- a couple of things have happened, which is, especially in a lot of key areas, you have seen Iraqi forces moving into the fore, where American forces have been before; American troops being moved into support missions. A lot of times, the numbers can be deceptive. You also have to look at the mix of forces, whether you've got people doing combat or support roles or logistics or whatever. Ultimately, again, all I can do is repeat -- what it says is, you still have people who are determined to have this Iraqi government fail, and we're not going to let it.

Islamo-Fascism: A Definition

Today, one of the Whitehouse beat reporters grew a new set of cohones and decided to confront Tony the Snow job on the new term -Islamo-Fascism - coined by one of the "fright wingers."

Have a look and let us know what you think about the "president's" verson of the definition as presented by Tony:
Q Can I ask you about the term, Islamo-fascism, that the President has used quite often in explaining the nature of the threats that we confront --

MR. SNOW: Right.

Q A little slow day, I was reading a dictionary -- (laughter) -- and I'm looking at the term --

MR. SNOW: Big print, little print? (Laughter.)

Q Small words. The definition of fascism: "A philosophy or system of government that's marked by stringent social and economic control; a strong centralized government, usually headed by a dictator; and often a policy of belligerent nationalism." It doesn't quite seem to fit what we're talking about -- something that exalts the nation above the individual and centralized government? How does that fit?

MR. SNOW: Well, it actually does fit. But let's draw some distinctions here, too, because I want to be clear that the President is not taking broad swipes at Islam. And I know there are sensitivities in the Muslim community. The President quite often has taken pains to say Islam is a religion of peace -- and we're not talking about Islam here. What we're talking about is people who are trying to use the Koran as cover for engaging in this.

Now, listen to what Osama bin Laden has said. He has said that his envisions an "Islamic nation," to reestablish the caliphate -- I don't know if it would still be headquartered in Baghdad, but if you want your pristine historic analogy, that's where it would be, and it would extend from Asia all the way back to Spain, because memories are still raw about 1492 when the Moors were expelled from Andalusia. That's what he's talking about. So in that sense, what you end up having is strict centralized government under repressive conditions, the likes of which we saw with the Taliban. If you look at the interpretation of sharia law that has been championed by bin Laden and others, it fits all of the descriptions you've had. And if you talk about an unbroken government using those kinds of regulations over an extended landmass, which is what he's talking about, that it does fit the description.

Q Just so we understand this, when the President talks about Islamo-fascism and confronting that, he's talking about stopping a movement before it builds an entire nation, a terrorist nation?

MR. SNOW: There are a couple of things. Perhaps -- I don't know if you've heard the references; they've been repeated. He's taking -- what he's doing is saying, yes, you want to fight the efforts of bin Laden and others to establish a caliphate. The history of the caliphate was that you had centralized leadership at that time. It had control over the impressive landmass that was controlled by Muslims during that period. And they want to establish that sort of thing. So the President's notion is absolutely right, you want to preempt that.

Speaking of Iraq, he has said that part of the strategy is to create failed states so that you can go in, you can use their land for training, but also you can make use of their resources. He's spoken a couple of times recently, for instance, of the dangers of such a state that would have access to oil and the ability to bring Western and industrialized nations economically to their knees.
Well, did Tony successfully answer the reporters question? What say you?

Tony Snow Admits He Is In Over His Head Trying To Explain The Illegal Wiretaping Authorized By His Boss

My goodness, truth is stranger than fiction. Today, Helen stumps Tony today and he admits it.

Really, I love Helen Thomas. She wips out the cast iron skillet and pops him soundly. I think his bells are still ringing.

Have a look:
Q Can you give me the administration's reason why 72 hours and 60 days isn't enough, and you don't want to get a warrant to wiretap?

MR. SNOW: I'm not sure if I understand exactly --

Q You oppose getting any warrant for a wiretap.

MR. SNOW: No, we've been working -- what we're trying to do is we are working with Congress to find ways to reform FISA so that you're able not only to have a court proceeding that allows you to gain court warrants when necessary, to do so in a quick and timely basis.

Q But why -- you think a warrant is not necessary?

MR. SNOW: No, I'm just -- look, call me later. I'll talk to the lawyers, I'm getting over my head.

We Know What The W, Rove And Co Thinks; How About The Rest of The World

Here's a great point articulated by the first question in today's whitehouse press briefing. It seems that more than one dignitary thinks things are not going well because of our Iraq Conflagration:
Q Kofi Annan, back from two weeks in the Middle East, says that most of the leaders that he spoke to thought the invasion of Iraq had been a real disaster for them and believe it's destabilized the region. Do you agree with that?
Well, now we can see how deep the denial is that Tony the Snow job and the rest of his cronies are about the situation in Iraq:
Well, that was definative:
Q Do you think it -- why not? I mean, it certainly looks like there's unrest.

MR. SNOW: Well, I'll tell you why. If you take a look at what's gone on in the region, you have attempts to establish democracies in Lebanon, you have an attempt to establish a democracy in the Palestinian areas. You have democracies now up and gaining their footing in Afghanistan and Iraq. And those are developments that are positive. Now, I'm not going to engage in a further disputation with the Secretary General of the United Nations, but I disagree with the characterization.
Again, we see that just because the whitehouse says something doesn't make it true. And, simply because Tony is going to disagree with Kofi's assessment doesn't make Annan wrong.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Was The President's Speech On Nine Eleven Political?

Tony the Snow job promised on Nine Eleven Aught Six that the President's speech that evening was not going to be political. In fact he said:
I've been at some pains to say in the last few days, it's not a political speech, it's not trying to draw political distinctions or issue calls to action.
However, if you have a look at the president's speech, I think it was. What say you?

Now have a look at how Tony tries to defend himself and his president:
Q Was the President's speech last night political?


Q How can you say that?

MR. SNOW: Because, I'll tell you -- how can I not?

Q Because -- Tony, you were here Friday.

MR. SNOW: What was the political statement? Tell me what the political sentence was. Give me the sentence.

Q I'll tell you exactly what it was. It was a crystallized greatest hits of the eight-day period in which he made four speeches where he laid out his philosophical underpinnings about the war on terror heading into the election. And he boiled it down, crystallized it and laid it out last night on network TV for 17 minutes. And it was in direct contrast to what you came in here and told us Friday.

MR. SNOW: No, that's not in direct contrast.

Q Yes, it was. You said Friday that there would be no drawing of lines, distinctions between Democrats and Republicans --

MR. SNOW: And there wasn't.

Q -- it would focus on unity.

MR. SNOW: There wasn't.

Q Was it a speech about unity, or was it a speech about a proposal about Iraq?

MR. SNOW: It was speech about -- let me -- out of the entire speech -- well, let's take a look at the Iraq section.

Q Let's do that.

MR. SNOW: Let's have some fun. (Laughter.) If you look at the Iraq statement -- let's back up. We're in a war on terror right now -- I'm going to start at the back and move forward, because the back end is something very important, which is Osama bin Laden, mastermind of September 11th, the person that many people talk about and still have concerns about, calls this fight, the fight in Iraq, "the third world war." And he says that, "Victory for the terrorists in Iraq will mean America's defeat and disgrace forever."

We are in Iraq. It is now seen as the central focal point of the war on terror by the very people who mounted September 11th. If the President of the United States, in talking about September 11th, did not make reference to the plans and the strategy and the beliefs of the very people who mounted September 11th on the anniversary of that date, it would have seen as dereliction. And you guys would have been out here just clubbing me like a baby seal, saying, why didn't --

Q No, I think it would have --

MR. SNOW: -- let me finish and then you can come back -- saying, why on earth did you -- why didn't you talk about Iraq; I know why it is, because the President is being political and he understands that Iraq is unpopular.

Last week the question was: Isn't it true that he wants to talk about the war on terror instead of Iraq. If this is supposed to be political, according to the calculus that is constantly presented to me, it's kind of a weird way to do it.

Instead, what the President was making reference to after September 11th -- the war on terror didn't end on September 11th, it began. It lifted the veil to us on a world that we didn't know existed, that we have to respond to. And it is also a real fact that the war in Iraq is clearly part of that war on terror, and where we proceed with it.

Q You've got to stop right there, because that --

MR. SNOW: Why do I have to stop right there?

Q Because that is the central point that will be debated in the next eight weeks between Democrats and Republicans. That will be in large part what the midterm elections are decided on.

MR. SNOW: I agree.

Q Okay, So if the President takes time in a speech that was advertised by you at this podium on Friday as being non-political and no drawing of distinctions --

MR. SNOW: I said it was no drawing of partisan lines.

Q -- and he gets up last night and lays out his case, and essentially it is an advertisement for the next eight weeks --

MR. SNOW: What you're saying is he shouldn't have talked about Iraq. Is that what you're saying?

Q I'm saying that it wasn't consistent with what it was billed.

MR. SNOW: No, I disagree, and I'll tell you why. Throughout the day, by the way, you're getting an interesting contrast.

You had Congressman Moran going at a memorial service in Arlington and bashing the President. The President never once talked about a Democrat by name yesterday, never once said, my policy is this, their policy is that, they're wrong, I'm right.

What I told you was there would be no drawing of partisan distinctions, and there wasn't. And furthermore, if you look at the section, what part of this -- this controversy -- "Al Qaeda and other extremists from across the world have come to Iraq to stop the rise of a free society in the heart of the Middle East." That's not offensive. How about, "We're training Iraqi troops so that they can defend their nation." Both parties support that. "We will not leave until this work is done." Quick show of hands for everybody who wants to leave until the work is done.

The point is that the use of the term "partisan" I think is being now tossed around as a way to fend off the debate or say, how dare the President talk about it. I guarantee --

Q No, because it was. This was supposed to a pause in all that, for 24 hours.

MR. SNOW: And it was. But if you look at it, what the President is explaining -- and everybody in vast majorities of both Houses of Congress agree, it was important to go ahead and address the issue of Saddam Hussein. And you have wide support in both Houses of Congress. Both Houses of Congress agreed to going into this war. We're there. We have to deal with it. For the President to ignore it -- let me -- I'll give you anecdotal evidence. Yesterday morning, we're in a firehouse in New York, talking with a lot of people who lost friends and buddies. Later in the day we went to Shanksville, and the President worked a long semi-circle of grieving family members. At the Pentagon there is -- as you saw, it was a very emotional meeting with family members. Not one said, don't fight, give up, quit, get out.

But the President did not want to try to turn this into a Democrats versus the Republicans thing, but you cannot talk about the war on terror without talking about Iraq. And furthermore, you can't talk about September 11th, especially when Osama bin Laden, himself, says, Iraq is at the center of all this -- without mentioning it.

What he tried to do was to lay it out in as neutral a way as possible and explain why he did it. And furthermore the question was, why are you there? This was the question that he answered.

This was not an attempt to stir the hornet's nest. Meanwhile, Senator Levine, before the speech, on Lou Dobbs hammering the President. You had people, as you all know, had their talking points out, accusing the President of being partisan the instant the speech was over. There was no talk out of the White House yesterday of Democrat versus Republican.

And, furthermore, a good 90 percent of the speech has to deal with the things that draw us together, including many of the sections -- many of the sentences on Iraq were expressions of things that are utterly uncontroversial with both political parties.

Q But, Tony, when the President said yesterday that the worst mistake -- talking about Iraq, that the worst mistake would be to think that if we pulled out, the terrorist would leave us alone. Who is he referring to, though? Isn't he suggesting implicitly that --

MR. SNOW: No, he's not --

Q -- that's what his critics believe?

MR. SNOW: No, he's making a statement. Look, here's the question that people will ask, should we leave right now or not? Under what conditions should we leave? The President says he wants to get out, everybody wants to get out. The question is, under what conditions?

No, what he was actually doing was summarizing testimony that General Abizaid had given, and what General Abizaid has told him directly, which is, if we leave they will follow us. That's what he was trying to do. He was repeating what he's heard from the key General in the war.

Q But he said the worst mistake would be to think that if we pulled out the terrorists would leave us alone. Has someone suggested that they feel the terrorists would leave us alone if we left Iraq?

MR. SNOW: No, what he's trying to do is to repeat to you exactly what the terrorists think. That sentence is not an attempt -- look, I have a feeling that some people may feel pain because they think it's pointing to them. It's not pointing to them, it's pointing at the terrorists. It's pointing at the terrorists who, again, want to engage in the fantasy -- they've learned the hard way once, and let's pray they don't learn the hard way twice -- they don't realize that we love our liberty and we love our country. And if they strike, we're going to strike back. That's what that's all about. That's as much a warning to terrorists as anything else. It's not a desire to start pointing fingers at members of Congress.

Q Tony, when he says, let's put aside our differences, what is he referring to? Is he referring to Iraq or something else?

MR. SNOW: Look, I think it is perfectly possible and laudable -- getting back to David's question -- people can disagree about Iraq, they can disagree. But let's do it in a way where we keep our eye on the ball, which is to win the war on terror and do it in a constructive way to figure out how best to get the job done. If somebody wants to do it, that's fine, but don't start finger-pointing and all that kind of thing. I think the most important challenge facing the American people right now is to realize that it's a long war. And one of the key calculations of bin Laden and others is we'll run out of patience -- we won't, but that's their calculation.

And what the President -- look, it would be great if both political parties right now would start realizing that the national interest is to win the war on terror and to present a united front. It's not likely to happen in a political year. There are going to be disagreements. It's been that way in every war and in every administration, but we'll get through it.

Where the disagreement lies is how to win the war on terror, not if the Dems are hard or soft on terrorists? Moreover, it is not helpful when one person who suggests it is healthy to debate but then goes ahead and bends the truth, how can there be a good faith discussion about anything?